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Sunday, June 12, 2005 

Paula Peck....The Martha Stewart of days gone by

Posted by Hello I found my copy at a local library book sale. The cover is well loved, but from what I understand, the recipes found in the book are also well loved. I haven't made anything from it yet, but I plan to.....soon.

I tried to find out more about Ms. Peck, but alas, not too much comes up in searching. The book apparently is a little too hard to find in it's original hardback form, but Amazon has listed a paperback version. (You can always click on the title of each blog entry to find where you can purchase a copy of the book...or the closest I can find.)

With recipes for puff paste and strudel, petits fours glaces and pound cakes - every sophisticated dessert and pastry the heart desires - Paula Peck introduces readers to the art of fine baking. For far too long The Art of Fine Baking has been out of print and unavailable. The Cook's Classic Library edition of this timeless classic belongs in the kitchen of every serious cook.

The book flap tells a little bit about her, but, in all honesty it just brings more questions of who she was.

"Paula Peck was born in New York, where she lives today (1961) with her husband, James, and young sons Sam and Charles. She has contributed recipes to, and had her pastries photographed for, The New York Times and Life, and has taught at the James Beard Cooking School, where she first shared with others her revolutionary ideas for home baking. Mr. Beard writes: "Her enthusiam for the work table and range is refreshing. Her way to combat fatigue and worry is to get into the kitchen and turn out a hundred or so croissants or two or three batches of puff paste with all embellisments. She is an outstanding juggler with rolling pin and mixing bowl, and the magic results fill her larder and freezer to overflowing. Her home is an oasis for hungry traveleers and guests, for there is always enough delectable food in her kitchen to serve a good-sized party."
Whipped Cream

Servings: 6

1 Cup Heavy cream
2 Tablespoon Fine granulated sugar
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Cream for whipping should be at least 1 day old. It can be kept in the refrigerator in a sealed container for more than a week. Before being whipped it should be very cold. In hot weather the bowl and beater should also be chilled.

Using a well chilled bowl, or setting the bowl over ice, beat cream with an electric mixer or rotary egg beater. As cream begins to thicken, beat in sugar and vanilla. Continue beating until stiff.

If not to be served at once, place in refrigerator, where it may be kept 2-3 hours.

The Yield From A Cup of Cream Can Be Increased (with a very slight difference in texture) by adding 1 egg white to each cup of whipped and flavored cream. Beat the egg white until it holds soft peaks. Sprinkle in 1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar. Continue beating til very stiff. Fold into whipped cream.

To Prepare Whipped Cream A Day or Two Ahead of Time: Soften 1/2 teaspoon granulated gelatin (for each cup of cream to be whipped) in a small metal cup containing a tablespoon of cold water. Set cup in a pan of boiling water or over low heat, until gelatin dissolves and looks clear. Stirring is unneccessary.

Beat dissolved gelatin into the cream just as cream begins to thicken. Gelatin will also give whipped cream extra firmness so it can be used for decorating with a pastry bag.

Flavoring Whipped Cream: To each cup of whipped cream, 1 of the following flavorings can be added: 2 tb sifted dark, unsweetened cocoa, 2-4 tb rum, cognac, or any liquer, 1/2 c nougat powder, 1 ts instant coffee powder. Fold flavorings into cream AFTER it has been whipped.

Hi Jill,
We also have quite a few of those older, actually inherited cookbooks on our shelves. Although, I'd have to admit that the shiny new competition (Donna Hay type competition) is starting to occupy more space and gradually replaces the one or other older fellow...despite their charme & warm aura. :)

Mrs. Peck had two much adored sons, one of which, Charles, is a vet in Minnesota.

WOW Paula Peck was my mother-in-law. any inf.needed contact meLuisa,peck4251@aol.com

Yes, Paula Peck is a rare treasure, and her Art of Fine Baking is inimitable. Unfortunately, I believe she came to a tragic end, having been shot and killed by her husband as far back as the 1970s.

I must have met Mrs. Peck, but I do not remember when. Her husband was Jim Peck who was a pacifist deeply engaged in the struggle for racial equality. He was on both the original Freedom Ride of 1947 & the groundbreaking Freedom Ride of 1961. He was beaten by segregationists who burned the bus. I believe he suffered a concussion, among many other injuries. He wrote a book about the Freedom Ride & for many years he was editor of the "CORE-lator", the newsletter of the Congress of Racial Equality. Mrs. Peck was his ballast, & he suffered terribly when she died.

Nikki, I really doubt that Jim Peck would have owned a gun or would have attacked his wife.

Thanks for the post. Paula Peck was my grandmother. I am updating some of her recipes and posting unpublished ones on my website where I also post a link to this post http://meganpeckcooks.com/paula-peck-in-the-media/
And FYI - she died of natural causes, nothing as tragic as having been shot.

Yikes I have that book. I also have her cookbook which I still use today.
I made Genioses by the score and puff pastry. I introduced people to Imam Byeldi, persian rice ( crusty buttery potatoes on the bottom)baked striped bass Plaki, tabbouli to name but a few. My friends had never ( nor had I even though my mother was a adventurous cook) food so exotic and flavorful before. I did everything from the hors d'ouevres, bead, main course to her pineapple cake. I usually passed out in exhaustion in the middle of one of these epic efforts. All the recipes were from those two books. There was NOTHING like it on the market.

She opened my mind and kitchen

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