What a delightful gift Max Knight prepared, in deep secret, for his mother's birthday. He took her handwritten cookbook, written in German, of course -- for his mother, Margaret Kuhnel, was Viennese -- translated it, edited it a bit here and there, and had it printed.
One copy was put next to her place at her birthday dinner party. What a pleasant surprise it must have been.
The first printing of this little yellow, ringbound notebook of recipes was 1 ,000 copies, and out of those Mr. Knight gave 100 to his mother to distribute among her friends.
Word of the book got around quickly. The first printing was soon exhausted, as was the second printing of another 1,000 copies.
Now, 12 years later, Mrs. Kuhnel's recipes are republished in a much-improved edition, a fine-looking book bound appropriately in blue, with a blue jacket and many charming line drawings throughout by Wolfgang Lederer.
The former title, "The Blue Danube Cookbook," has been changed to "The Original Blue Danube Cookbook" ($8.95, Lancaster-Miller Publishers, Berkeley, Calif.).
Max Knight was so faithful to his mother's Old World style that I often felt as if I were reading my own mother's handwritten cookbook as I read of the dishes that were his mother's favorites. How nostalgic I became, on finding recipes for long-forgotten things such as liver-dumplings or "fried peas," which are garnishes for soups, or recipes for vegetables I hardly ever cook now, such as lentils.
The largest part of the book contains recipes for desserts and cookies, which is only natural, because Vienna was and still is famous for its pastries.
Here are recipes for the world-famous Sacher Torte, the Linzer Torte, and of course many kinds of delicious strudels.
So next time you feel like baking, try Mrs. K.'s Chocolate Slices or her Linzer Cookies. They are among the best known, most liked Viennese cookies. Chocolate Slices 1/2 cup butter 2/3 cup sugar 4 eggs, separated 3 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate 3/4 cup ground nuts 1/3 cup flour
Cream butter and sugar, then add egg yolks. Add the lukewarm melted chocolate and the nuts. Beat egg whites until stiff, then fold into mixture with flour. Mix well but gently.
Spread on a well-greased and dusted cookiesheet about 10 by 12 inches. Bake at 350 degrees F. about 25 minutes. Cool. Spread a thin layer of jam on the pastry, then a chocolate icing on the jam. Chocolate Icing 6 ounces semisweet chocolate 4 to 5 tablespoons cooking oil
Melt the semisweet chocolate in a double boiler. Mix with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add oil, a tablespoon at a time, and continue stirring until you have the right consistency. Be sure there are no lumps.
Pour over the evenly spread jam, and when cool and completely stiff, cut into squares or strips.
The same recipe may be used for cake. In that case, put the mixture into a cake form. After baking and cooling, cut the cake horizontally, and fill with whipping cream or any other filling. Linzer Cookies 1/2 cup butter 2/3 cup sugar 2 egg yolks 1 cup flour Cinnamon to taste 1 cup unblanched, toasted almonds, measured, then ground
Cream butter and sugar, then add egg yolks. Add flour and mix to make a pliable dough. Roll out and cut with a cookie cutter or bake in a flat sheet, then cut into squares after removing from oven. Bake at 350 degrees F. The cinnamon taste should be strong.