Jennie C. Benedict’s The Blue Ribbon Cook Book represents the very best in the tradition of Southern regional cooking. Recipes for such classic dishes as Parker House rolls, lamb chops, corn pudding, Waldorf salad, and cheese-and-nut sandwiches are nestled among longtime local favorites such as apple butter, rice pudding, griddle cakes, and Benedictine, the cucumber sandwich spread that bore Benedict’s name.
Throughout the cookbook, Benedict’s delightful voice shines. Benedict, who was once the most famous caterer in Louisville, Kentucky, and also operated a celebrated tea room and soda fountain, trained with Fannie Farmer at the Boston Cooking School. Five editions of Benedict’s famous cookbook were published, and her aim in sharing her recipes was simple; as she mentions in the preface, “I have tried to give the young housekeeper just what she needs, and for more experienced ones, the best that can be had in the culinary art.”
As a creative entrepreneur, Benedict had a significant influence on the local culture and foodways. Her sweet and savory dishes were the stars of many Derby parties, and yet she placed equal emphasis on simple luncheon and dinner recipes to satisfy the needs of home cooks. While her popular dishes graced genteel tables all over the Bluegrass, Benedict’s chicken-salad sandwiches, sold from a pushcart, offered Louisville children the first school lunches in the city.
This new edition of The Blue Ribbon Cook Book will welcome new generations of readers and cooks — those who remember wearing white gloves and eating delicate tea sandwiches at the downtown department store as well as those who want to make satisfying regional classics such as blackberry-jam cake like their grandmother used to make.
Food writer Susan Reigler introduces the story of Benedict’s life and cuisine, and this edition is the first to come complete with the now-famous spread that bears Benedict’s name.
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