My favorite kinds of cookbooks are the ones that churches and women’s groups and elementary schools put together. They’re full of each cook’s best recipes, which have to be good because that cook is putting his or her name on it. My favorite cookbook of all time is one that I don’t actually own. I scour yard sales for this book, but I haven’t found it yet.
Back in October of 1984, my Memere B was a member of the Business and Professional Women’s Association and they came out with this amazing cookbook. It has so many favorite recipes from my childhood: gingerbread, raspberry squares, coconut date balls, congo bars, meatball stroganoff, barbecue-style meatloaf, which we use for meatball sandwiches and even a pickle recipe from my mom.
When Publisher Tessie Dubois gave me Mike Corbin’s “Café de la Place” cookbook to review for the paper, I was very excited. I bought it for my mom when it first came out, and I (may have) snooped through it first.
It has all of these amazing Acadian recipes in the first chapter, like baked beans, beignets, chicken stew, herbs salees, ployes and molasses cookies.
My friend Holly and I almost died laughing over Mike’s “Pet de Souer” or “Nun Farts.”
We had those at my house growing up, since my mom made them with leftover pie dough which she buttered and put cinnamon and sugar on before rolling up and baking them, but we sure never called them that!
Then he has chapters of breads, pastries and pies, salads, soups and chili, sandwiches, wraps and fillings, sauces and dressings. These recipes are all the great things we remember from Café de la Place, which many people still talk about as having a great bakery as well as a restaurant. You can be sure that previous publisher Don Levesque has this cookbook, since he used to go there every single day for soup, sandwich and gossip.
There is also a chapter on “Crazy bowls,” which, it seems, means that Mike got a bowl and went crazy throwing stuff in to make all kinds of delicious combinations, usually with pasta but also with bread, rice or potatoes. Some examples would be a cheeseburger crazy bowl with French bread and other burger fixings or a Hawaiian meatball crazy bowl that featured rice, meatballs and coconut.
One of the recipes I tried while I was “borrowing” it from Mom was the Bismarck recipe on page 28. It calls for raspberry jam, but I made mine with lemon. I have to admit, they were a lot of work, since you basically make bread dough, which needs to rise and to be kneaded, etc. Then you make the filling, Mike’s whoopie pie frosting, and stuff the Bismarks with a pastry bag.
Even though I cheated and cut the Bismarks in half and frosted them after the first few pastry bag attempts, I feel that I am knowledgeable enough to say that they were delicious and worth the work.
The Café de la Place cookbook has two of my favorite qualities in a cookbook: old family recipes that have names attached and Acadian recipes. I totally recommend you buy yourself one, or at least buy one for your mom and read it. The books are available at Paradis Shop ’n Save or people can send a letter to Mike to order one for $12 plus $4 shipping and handling at Michael Corbin, 139 Pleasant Ave., Madawaska, ME 07456.