From Hemingway to Pynchon: The Favorite Recipes of Your Favorite Authors

Not full from Thanksgiving? Tis the season for indulging and sharing feasts with friends and family ones, so why not take some tips from your beloved literary giants and cook up some of their favorite treats? Whether its Carson McCullers cocktails or Ernest Hemingway’s savory trout, the wonderful site Paper and Salt has curated an enormous list of recipes that try and “recreate and reinterpret the dishes that iconic authors discuss in their letters, diaries, essays, and fiction.”

So take a look below, peruse more HERE, get out a pen, and get ready to jot down your your cravings.

Carson McCuller’s Cocktail

1/3 cup dry sherry
2/3 cup citrus tea
Lemon wedges

Brew tea to desired strength and add sherry. Stir and serve with lemon wedge, or pour into a thermos for a drink on the go.

Thomas Pynchon’s Beer-Braised Chicken Tacos 

3 tablespoons canola or olive oil, divided
1 pound boned, skinned chicken thighs
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup Mexican beer
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 chipotle chile
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise

Soft taco shells
Pickled shallots
Cotija cheese
Lime wedges

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Add to pan and cook until chicken is lightly golden but not cooked through, about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and add to the bowl of a slow cooker.

2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute until slightly translucent, about 2 minutes. Add cumin, chile powder and garlic, and let cook another 2 minutes.

3. Add chicken broth to the skillet, scraping the browned onion off the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat and pour mixture into slow cooker. Add beer, tomato paste, chipotle chile, cinnamon stick and star anise.

4. Cook on high for 3 hours. Uncover, break chicken apart with a fork, then cover and cook 1 hour more.

5. Remove chicken from braising liquid. Add to taco shells and garnish with shallots, cilantro and cheese. Squeeze lime wedge over and enjoy with several beers.

Marcel Prousts’s Croissants With Coffee Glaze

1 package (14 ounces) frozen puff pastry, thawed in the fridge 2 to 3 hours
1 egg, beaten
2 tablespoons espresso or strong coffee
3/4 cup powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Unwrap thawed puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out pastry to 1/8-inch thickness.

2. Orient the pastry sheet horizontally, then make 3 vertical cuts, resulting in 4 strips of dough. Cut each strip in half horizontally, making 8 rectangles. Cut each rectangle in half diagonally, making 16 triangles. Roll the wide end of each triangle toward the point. Curl the ends of the cylinder toward each other slightly.

3. Place croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush with egg. Bake 15 to 20 minutes until golden.

4. Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk espresso and powdered sugar together until smooth. Brush over warm croissants and serve immediately, preferably in pajamas.

Marquis de Sade’s Molten Chocolate Espresso Cake with Pomegranate 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (2.6-ounce) bar dark (71% cocoa) chocolate (such as Valrhona Le Noir Amer), finely chopped
Pomegranate seeds, for garnish (optional)

1.  Grease 10 (4-ounce) ramekins. In a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt.

2. Place butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars, beating until well blended, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla, beating until well blended.

3. Fold flour mixture into sugar mixture; fold in chocolate. Divide batter evenly among ramekins; arrange ramekins on a jelly-roll pan. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days.

3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove ramekins from fridge and let stand at room temperature 10 minutes. Uncover and bake for 12 minutes or until cakes are puffy and slightly crusty on top (do not overbake – trust me, they’re done). Let sit for 1 minute, then unmold. Top with pomegranate seeds if using; serve immediately. If you can’t wait to unmold them, just eat them out of the ramekin. It’s not a sin.

Jane Austen’s Brown Butter Bread Pudding Tarts

1 sheet (about 1/2 lb.) thawed frozen puff pastry
4 tablespoons butter
1 rennet tablet (**See note)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup cake crumbs (angel food or pound cake work well)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 375°F and grease 6 ramekins (6-ounce size). Roll out 1 sheet thawed frozen puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 12” x 15” rectangle. Make 6 circles, about 5” in diameter, on pastry. Cut out circles, press into ramekins, and prick all over with a fork. Refrigerate.

2. In a small pan, stirring constantly, melt butter over medium heat until it is golden brown. Set aside to cool.

3. Dissolve rennet tablet in 2 tablespoons warm water in a small saucepan. Over low heat, add milk and sugar and stir 5 seconds, just long enough to get the sugar off the bottom of the pan. Using a kitchen thermometer, cook without stirring until mixture reaches 98°F. Remove from heat and cool 5 minutes.

4. Remove ramekins from fridge. Stir egg, cake crumbs, nutmeg and cinnamon into milk mixture. Stir in brown butter. Spoon filling into ramekins and bake until pastry is golden, about 25 minutes.

** Rennet is used for cheesemaking and gives this pudding its custardy consistency. You can find it in specialty groceries or most Whole Foods Markets. Check with the cheese counter if you can’t spot it.

Sylvia Plath’s Lemon Pudding Cakes 

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus more for ramekins
1/4 cup flour
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup reduced-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 egg yolks
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar and fresh berries, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 6 6-ounce ramekins, lightly dust with granulated sugar, and set them in a small roasting pan.

2. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2/3 cup granulated sugar, the flour and lemon zest. In a larger bowl, whisk together buttermilk, lemon juice, and egg yolks. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and whisk until combined.

3. In a small bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat egg whites with salt until soft peaks form. Gently fold into lemon mixture. Divide batter evenly among ramekins and fill roasting pan with hot water until it reaches halfway up ramekins. Tent with foil.

4. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil, then bake another 20 minutes or until cakes are golden and firm to the touch. Transfer ramekins to a rack and let cool 15 minutes. Run a sharp knife around the edges and invert onto plates. Garnish with powdered sugar and berries. 

Nora Ephron’s Frozen Key Lime Pie 

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 15 crackers)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
6 large egg yolks (Note: Save egg whites for tart version.)
1 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice
2 cans (14-ounce each) sweetened condensed milk (Note: Use 1 1/2 cans for tart version.)
1 tablespoon finely grated Key lime zest
1 cup heavy cream (Note: Not needed for tart version.)
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter in a medium bowl, and mix until moist. Evenly press mixture into a 9-inch pie plate, and bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.

3. In a medium heatproof bowl, whisk yolks and lime juice together until combined. Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is foamy and registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 6 minutes. Remove bowl from heat, and whisk in condensed milk and zest until well combined. Pour into cooled pie shell and smooth top with a rubber spatula. Freeze until firm, at least 3 hours.

4. Remove pie from freezer 10 minutes before serving. Combine cream and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Spread evenly over pie or dollop on each slice along with a slice of lime, and serve immediately. (Note: For tart version, make meringue: Beat egg whites and sugar 3 to 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form. Spread over pie and brown lightly with a brulée torch, or by broiling 30 seconds.) Serves 8 or 1 cheating husband.

Cocktails with E.B. White 

Equal parts lime juice, apricot brandy, honey, and dry vermouth. Stir this all together (you only need a tiny amount of the whole business), then add 4 times the amount of gin. Plenty of ice, stir, and serve.”

White also made a handy note on portions: “For 2 people, you need only 1/2 ounce of each of the four funny ingredients. Then you need 8 ounces of gin, or what a baby would drink from a bottle.” For those of us who aren’t alcoholic infants, that’s 1 tablespoon of each of the first 4 ingredients to 1 cup gin.

**Note: Apricot brandy, being a liqueur, is already quite sweet, so I prefer to cut the honey to 1/2 tablespoon and add an additional squeeze of lime.

John Cheever’s Turkey Monte Cristo Sandwich 

4 slices rustic white bread (3/4 inch thick)
4 ounces smoked turkey breast
4 ounces gruyère cheese
1/2 apple, thinly sliced
1 egg
1/4 cup milk (2% or whole is good here)
2 tablespoons butter, divided
Powdered sugar

1. Assemble the sandwiches: On 2 slices of bread, layer turkey, cheese, and apple to cover bread completely. Top with remaining bread. Secure each sandwich with toothpicks. Trim crusts, if you’d like.

2. In a shallow baking dish, lightly beat egg with a whisk. Add milk, and whisk to combine.

3. In a nonstick skillet over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon butter; swirl butter around pan until foaming. Coat both sides of the first sandwich in the egg mixture, then lay it in the pan, pressing down gently with a spatula to compact. After 3 minutes, flip sandwich and fry opposite side until golden brown. Remove from pan, and dry on a paper towel.

4. Repeat step 3 with remaining 1 tablespoon butter and second sandwich. Serve both sandwiches with sprinkles of powdered sugar on top.


For ease of frying, I suggest you start with 2 layers of bread for your first attempt and work your way up to 3 (or 4!). And – to appease my mother and get something fresh in here – I substituted apple for the more traditional jam.

Ernest Hemingway’s Bacon-Wrapped Trout with Corn Cakes

2 (10-ounce) whole trout, cleaned and gutted
1/2 cup cornmeal
Salt and ground pepper, to taste
8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon, sliced
6 slices bacon
Fresh parsley, for garnish

1. Preheat broiler and set oven rack 4 to 6 inches from heat. With a paper towel, pat trout dry inside and out. Dredge outside of each fish in cornmeal, then season cavity with salt and pepper. Place 4 sprigs of thyme and 2 lemon slices inside each fish.

2. Wrap 3 bacon slices around the middle of each fish, so that the edges overlap slightly. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil, and place fish on pan. Broil until bacon is crisp, about 5 minutes. With a spatula, carefully flip fish over and cook another 5 minutes, until flesh is firm.

Jean-Paul Sartre’s Halva with Almonds

2 cups honey
1 1/2 cups tahini, well stirred
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 egg whites
3/4 cup toasted, coarsely chopped almonds (plus extra for sprinkling)

1. Line a loaf pan (9×5 or 8×4) with cooking parchment, allowing extra to hang over the sides.

2. Put honey in a small saucepan. On a low setting, heat honey, stirring occasionally, until a candy thermometer reads 240°F. Remove from heat.

3. While honey is heating, mix tahini, vanilla, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Put egg whites in a medium bowl; with a handheld electric mixer, beat until soft peaks form. (If you have a standing mixer, you can beat the egg whites in the mixing bowl with the whisk attachment.)

4. Add tahini mixture to egg whites and fold gently to combine. In a small stream, gradually add honey and stir 6 to 8 minutes, until the mixture stiffens slightly. Stir in chopped almonds.

5. Scrape mixture into prepared pan. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight until firm, 24 to 36 hours. Remove halva from pan and cut into pieces (if it’s still too soft, you can pop it in the freezer for an hour or so to set). Sprinkle bars with chopped almonds and snack away.

Want to Write in Ernest Hemingway’s Old House?

Ernest Hemingway can be a rather polarizing literary figure. Many aspiring writers revere his every word; our own Miles Klee suggests the idealized Hemingway birthed a generation of bad writers, mostly twentysomething straight white dudes who take the cues that drinking a lot and being an unpleasant person automatically makes you a better writer.

Anyway, the Papa Bear Hemingway devotees working on their Great American Novels/memoirs/TV pilots/what-have-you may have the opportunity to work in the space of their hero. The Ernest Hemingway Foundation, located in his hometown of Oak Park, Ill., just outside Chicago, is offering the chance for one would-be wordsmith to serve as its writer-in-residence and practice the craft in the attic of Hemingway’s Victorian childhood home. (Copious amounts of rum and hunting trophies not included.)

The attic, which was previously being used for storage space, will now be turned into a “safari writing retreat” where “a great novel, epic poem, evocative short story or groundbreaking journalism project will be created.” Which is cool, because nobody really does epic poems anymore, and maybe in 2013 the world is finally ready for another Beowulf.

Of course, Oak Park, while a lovely place, isn’t exactly the streets of Pamplona, the beaches of Cuba or the deep jungles of which Hemingway was fond. So in terms of living out your Hemingway-related fantasies, no, you will not be able to fight bears or shoot lions or goad bulls in this relatively peaceful ‘burg. But, there’s probably at least one watering hole where you can get a decent mojito, so if you want to drink like Hemingway, you can probably at least do that. Applications will be accepted through June 1st at the foundation website, and the winner will be announced during the Hemingway Birthday Celebration this July.

Dead Authors, Now Available in a Fragrance

Aspiring writers and bookworms will do just about anything to get closer to their favorite works, including blindly following the very bad advice of writers before them and feeding into the delusion that being a wanderlusty, irritable twentysomething white guy, drinking a lot and reading a lot of Ernest Hemingway will make you Ernest Hemingway.

For those who want to express their undying love of the printed word through essential oils, Seattle-based fragrance artists Sweet Tea Apothecary have released "Dead Writers,"  a unisex fragrance inspired by the literary luminaries of old. This "bookish" blend sports "black tea, vetiver, clove, musk, vanilla, heliotrope, and tobacco," which sounds like a pretty writerly mix, especially since you can’t bottle delusions of grandeur or immense self-loathing. 

As the team writes on their Etsy page:

"Due to popular request, the Dead Writers blend is now available in a perfume/cologne oil. This blend evokes the feeling of sitting in an old library chair paging through yellowed copies of Hemingway, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, Poe, and more. The Dead Writers blend makes you want to put on a kettle of black tea and curl up with your favorite book."

The most recent batch has sold out, but maybe soon you will be able to buy it again, and wear it to comfort yourself when that next pile of rejection letters comes in and you realize you’re not exactly Ernest Hemingway after all. 

Shut Up, Hemingway

Being a white male straight twentysomething writer makes me automatically awful. I’ve accepted that. But not every white male straight twentysomething writer has. I know this because I still see articles like Open Culture’s “Seven Tips From Ernest Hemingway on How to Write Fiction,” and nobody but a deluded white male straight twentysomething writer is clicking on that. In short: shut up, Hemingway.

Hemingway, your advice is shit and you don’t even follow it yourself: under tip #7, “Be brief,” we see that you wrote “It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.” How about just “those of flight,” you hypocritical fuck? Tip #3: “Never think about the story when you’re not working”? Yeah that makes a lot of sense.  

I know it’s not just you I should be angry at, Hemingway, rather the horrid archivists who cull blog material from letters that the world never needed to see. I’m still half-convinced that the actual Hemingway could now scoff at his own epistles and tell us: “Write however you goddamn want, what do I care, I’m dead.” But on the off-chance he’s every bit as irritating as he seemed—I hope that in hell you get trampled by bulls every day.

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter.

Hemingway’s Cat Utopia Under Siege

Ernest Hemingway, as anyone who has spent several minutes on the Internet will know, left behind a dynasty of cats—the offspring of offspring of etc. of the many cats he kept around his house in Key West in the 1930s. That house, since turned into a museum, has some forty-odd felines roaming over the grounds at any moment. But that unchecked freedom may not last.

You see, some concerned museum visitor took it upon his or herself to alert the US Department of Agriculture that the cats might not be receiving proper care. Federal inspectors arrived and slapped the museum operators with all sorts of regulations: cages, tagging, a zoo permit, plus maybe an electric fence and night watchman. Essentially, the new rules (which the museum has protested to no avail) turn Hemingway’s house from cat heaven to cat prison.

I think the last chance the house has to keep its cats under the current conditions might be to point out that most of the animals are of the rare six-toed variety, long considered lucky by sailors—and the U.S. government wouldn’t want to discriminate against such a minority, would it? It’s not like there aren’t more important changes to be made down there. Hell, the body of water just north of Key West is still called “Jewfish Basin.”

Follow Miles Klee on Twitter

A Few More Great Literary ‘Simpsons’ Moments

Last night, in honor of The Simpsons airing an episode this week paying homage to David Foster Wallace’s beloved essay, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, we highlighted some other great literary moments from the show, from a Hamlet retelling to cameos from J.K. Rowling and former poet laureate Robert Pinsky. Of course, after posting the thing, we realized that in our brevity, we forgot a few true gems. Here are a few more moments worth mentioning from those times when Homer met, well, Homer:   

“Bart Vs. Thanksgiving”

In “Bart Vs. Thanksgiving,” Bart learns the true meaning of the holiday after terrorizing Lisa and destroying her centerpiece. Lisa strikes back the only way she knows how, with an angsty homage to Allen Ginsberg’s beat opus “Howl” titled “Howl of the Unappreciated.” “I saw the best meals of my generation destroyed by my brother,” Lisa laments. “My soul carved into slices by spiky-haired demons.”

“Das Bus”

The show did an entire Lord of the Flies episode, in which the children of Springfield Elementary are marooned on a desert island after a bus trip gone wrong. “Most of the references to the book are pretty direct, just stopping short of shoving Milhouse off a cliff: “the monster” is a wild boar the kids eventually eat, and the chant used to go after Bart and Milhouse — “Kill the dorks! Bash their butts! Kick their shins!” — echoes the “Kill the pig!” chant from Golding’s novel.

“Moe ‘N’a Lisa”

Lisa Simpson, the cartoon role model for budding feminists, bookworms and frustrated nerds all over the world, is perhaps one of television’s best-read characters of all time, a point driven home with the wonderful blog, Lisa Simpson Book Club, which highlight’s Lisa’s reads from The Brothers Karamazov to Ethan Frome to the Atlantic For Kids, Junior Skeptic and Non-Threatening Boys magazines. Lisa rubs elbows with contemporary literary giants, including Michael Chabon, Jonathan Franzen and Gore Vidal, when she helps Moe become an accomplished poet in a 2006 episode. (It’s a catty exchange between Chabon and Franzen that steals the show: “That’s it, Franzen! I think your nose needs some ‘corrections’!”)

“The War of the Simpsons”

One of the earliest episodes of the show centers on Homer trying to catch a legendary catfish named General Sherman, with his relationship to the fish and the thrill of the chase echoing Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea.” Except, I don’t think Hemingway ever had Santiago sing “We Are The Champions.”

Hemingway’s Last Love: Abercrombie & Fitch

imageAbercrombie & Fitch store earnings may be down a 4% splinter, but company execs are reportedly upbeat since overall net is up 5% to $845.8 million (ch-ching!). And they have a full slate of flagship store openings for 2009: Milan, New York, Copenhagen, and Tokyo. I don’t remember the last time A&F was cool outside of a college campus, but I just finished A.E. Hotchner’s outstanding memoir on Ernest Hemingway, and I was reminded how awesomely outdoorsy the brand once was before they got into softcore beefcake porn.

Sure, Papa Hemingway was published more than 40 years ago, and the ending’s the still the same — he shoots himself. But there were some things I didn’t know. For instance, in his last paranoid days shuttling between shock therapy at the Mayo Clinic and his home in Ketchum, Idaho, the physically failing writer tried to throw himself into a whirling plane prop, then tried jumping out of a plane high above the Rockies. Not the best of times. He couldn’t write, travel, or hunt. The thrill was gone. But there was one thing he did get excited about: his seasonal purchases from Abercrombie & Fitch (white tennis visors, hunting vests, socks, chinos, and a few shirts which he always paired with a leather belt and oversized buckle lifted from a dead Nazi that read “Gott Mit Uns” (God With Us). Because nothing says suicide prevention like wool socks and tennis visors. That is until you hear the final click.