Sunday, June 3, 2018

The Lost Family; A Book Review and the Recipe it Inspired

I was provided an advanced release copy of The Lost Family by Jenna Blum.  This book will be available to the public on June 5th of this year.  This book was sent to me by my friends at the Book Club Cookbook free of charge in return for my honest review on this blog and a recipe created that was inspired while reading this book.  I received no monetary compensation.  All opinions are strictly my own.



I invite you to go to the Lost Family Supper Club website where you can learn all about the party and the guests who were invited, along with me, to attend.  I can't wait to see what the other bloggers thought of this novel and what they were inspired to create.

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This story takes place over three decades.  Starting in the 1960's when we meet Peter, the chef/owner of a high class New York Restaurant called Masha's.  During this section we learn of Peter's past life in Germany where he was imprisoned with his twin, three year old, daughters.  His wife, who is not of Jewish descent, comes to rescue her family and is in turn arrested and all members of the family are separated.  The wife and children are exterminated.  Peter's life is saved when it is learned that he is a cook and he is put to work in the kitchens.  Upon his release from the internment camp he is brought to the USA by his father's cousins, the only family he has left.

Peter has never dealt with the grief and guilt of losing his family.  He refuses to speak of it and has buried himself in his work, creating the restaurant that he and his wife, Masha, had dreamed of opening one day.  Food is Peter's lifeline, it is what gives him direction and keeps him going each day.

During this section, Peter meets June.  They have a whirlwind romance and June finds herself pregnant.  

The second section of this story takes place in the 1970's.  During this chapter we learn more about June, her relationship with Peter and their daughter, Elsbeth, and how this family has now become "lost" in the shadow of Peter's first family.

June, who was a fashion model, sees food as a necessary evil, eating only enough to sustain her without any enjoyment.  She cannot understand Peter's love and obsession with food and is jealous of his and Elsbeth's relationship that revolves around cooking and the enjoyment of food.

The final section of this novel takes place in the 1980's and is told from the perspective of teenage Elsbeth.  Elsbeth is a confused young lady who is doted on by her mostly absent father and disparaged by her wispy, ultra thin and beautiful mother, for not being the beautiful, thin daughter she had pictured for herself.  At least this is the way that Elsbeth perceives the relationships.

Elsbeth, like every teenager, needs very much too feel included, loved and accepted.  She will do whatever it takes to get these needs met.  She turns to the first person who acknowledges her and her uniqueness. 

Elsbeth has a love/hate relationship with food.  Food gets all tangled up in her mind, on one hand offering love and security and on the other disgust and lack of control.

There was so much food inspiration in this novel.  There are 4 pages filled with the menu from Masha's which include traditional German/Jewish selections that sound amazing.  I did not choose something from those menus.  

There were family dinners with Peter's cousins.  There were dinners eaten at wonderful restaurants.  There was food consumed at diners and favorites made when June takes Elsbeth to visit her mother in Minnesota.

But there were two dishes that spoke to me more than any others.  The first was from June's section where she is thinking about the occasional Saturday morning when Peter would spend time with Elsbeth.  Peter would make his 'Special Scrambled Eggs".   "First he would caramelize onions in a pan, cooking them very slowly in butter until they were translucent; then he added eggs whipped to a froth, heavy cream, ham, fresh dill and the secret ingredient: a dollop of Neufchatel cheese."



The second was found in the section dealing with Elsbeth.  She returns home and finds her father happy to see her.  He is in the kitchen, working on a mushroom soup recipe that he doesn't have quite right.  He asks Elsbeth, who has the best palate he knows, to taste it and give her opinion.  

Elsbeth takes a bite of soup...."rich and complex, with crème fraiche and Courvoisier, thyme and chives, slivers of Chanterelles and Portobello."



Ultimately, I went with the scrambled eggs.  Mostly because it spoke of some normalcy in this dysfunctional family.  It portrayed, to me, that this family, like all families, do the best they can with the hand dealt to them.  


Like Peter, I first caramelized the onions in some butter.  Then I added the ham and some more butter to the pan.


Then I added the eggs, dill and heavy cream to the pan.  Cooking and stirring over low heat for half a minute and then stirring off heat for half a minute, continuing in this pattern until the eggs are set, light and fluffy.  Cooking scrambled eggs this way is a tip I learned watching Master Chef.

When the eggs are nearly set, add in the dollops of Neufchatel Cheese.  A couple more rotations and that cheese will be melted and distributed and the eggs will be perfectly cooked.


This novel was well written and kept my attention.  The characters were realistic and as in real life, each had their good and bad qualities.  I began this book while en route to Grenada for a dive vacation and finished it the following day while relaxing at the pool.  

I hope you enjoy Peter's Special Scrambled Eggs as much as we.  The Lost Family Supper Club will be sharing links to all the recipes and reviews inspired by this novel.  I am also linking up with Foodies Read where many of us post about the books we are reading each month.


#bookreview, #eggs, #scrambledeggs, #light, #fluffy, #tender, #foodiesread, #bookclubcookbook
eggs, breakfast, brunch,
American
Yield: 2-3Pin it

Peter's Special Scrambled Eggs

prep time: 10 minscook time: 20 minstotal time: 30 mins
Light, fluffy, creamy scrambled eggs studded with caramelized onions and ham and flavored with fresh dill.

ingredients:

2 t. butter, divided
1/2 small sweet onion, diced
2 oz. ham. diced
1 T. heavy cream
1 t. chopped fresh dill 
1 oz. Neufchatel cheese, cut into 4 pieces
pepper to taste

instructions:

Place 1 teaspoon of the butter into a skillet with the onions over med low heat.  Cook and stir for about 10 minutes until onions are lightly caramelized.

Add the remaining teaspoon of butter along with the ham.  Cook and stir to melt the butter and heat the ham.

Whisk the eggs until frothy.  Add them to the pan with the cream and dill weed.  Cook and stir over medium low heat for 30 seconds.  Remove from heat and stir for 30 seconds.  Repeat this procedure until the eggs are just about set.  Add the dollops of cheese and continue cooking and stirring on and off heat until cheese is melted and distributed and eggs are set and fluffy.  Season with pepper and serve.

NOTES:

I did not add any additional salt due to the saltiness of the ham.

This technique of cooking eggs on and off heat was taken from a Master Chef episode.

This recipe was inspired by The Lost Family, a novel, by Jenna Blum
Created using The Recipes Generator




16 comments:

  1. Nice!
    I'm horrible with scrambled eggs. Color me impressed!

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    Replies
    1. Try the Master Chef method, I think you will be pleased with the results.

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  2. I remember thinking how good those scrambled eggs sounded!! Glad to virtual party with you!

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  3. Those were both standout recipes in the book! Great job with the eggs & the review!

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  4. Great pick! Now I'm thinking we should have eggs for dinner tonight. :)

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  5. This dish was on my radar as well, but I had to do the Hamburger Walter. I like how you equate scrambled eggs to normalcy. Definitely comfort food and this dish is at its finest.

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    Replies
    1. Well normalcy for the lost family, at least.

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  6. I remember the scrambled eggs, Wendy: great choice of recipe and nicely done :)

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  7. The eggs sound delicious. The book sounds interesting. There were so many books written about this time!

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    Replies
    1. There are Paula but this book doesn't really dwell on that time except to help you understand why Peter is who he is and how untreated PTSD can affect everyone who is involved with the person afflicted.

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  8. The scrambled eggs were a perfect pick for the book and your eggs look really delicious! Such a fun event!

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