Thursday, December 29, 2005

Famous restaurateur signs cookbook at Jennie’s Flowers & Gifts

Maybe you were lucky enough this past week to be a recipient of a signed copy of “The Main Course,” a cookbook by Frank Grisanti and Sons, personally signed by Larkin Grisanti at Jennie’s Flowers and Gifts.

Larkin Grisanti, son of Frank Grisanti, was at Jennie’s Flowers Tuesday signing copies of the cookbook for a steady stream of happy cooks.

The cookbook, published by Wimmer Cookbooks, is also history of the Grisanti family restaurants in Memphis, Tenn., which so many northern Mississippians have enjoyed through the years.

Filled with favorite recipes from the restaurant, there are also stories -- the origins of the recipes and photographs of the restaurants and family members, with famous folk, including former President and Mrs. George Bush Sr.

“The Grisanti Family: Serving Up Dreams for 96 Years” heads up the beginning of the beautifully written and photographed cookbook that traces the history of the restaurants and the family since their arrival in America and New Orleans in 1909.

Elfo’s Special

Kosher salt
1/2 lb. spaghetti pasta
4 tbsps. unsalted butter
2 tsps. chopped garlic
5 medium mushrooms, sliced
12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails
removed (cooked)
Pinch of salt and white pepper
1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add
pasta and cook for about 8-9 minutes, until pasta
is tender. In a saute skillet, melt butter over medium
heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, shrimp and
seasonings and saute for about a minute and a
half. Transfer pasta to the skillet and toss the dish
a few times to combine ingredients. Divide pasta
into two serving bowls and garnish with fresh
chopped parsley.

This recipe has an interesting story about its

Many years ago, when Catholics didn’t eat meat on Friday, a customer came in craving a pasta dish without meat. At that time, the Grisanti restaurant’s pasta dishes all contained meat. The customer asked Elfo, Frank Sr.’s father, if he would prepare a pasta dish without meat. Elfo Grisanti went into the kitchen and prepared a dish with pasta, butter, garlic, mushrooms and shrimp and topped with fresh Parmesan.

The customer absolutely loved the dish and came back the next Friday, asking for the dish again. The waitress said they didn’t have a dish like that and the customer said it was a dish Elfo had prepared “special” for him. “Voila -- the birth of the Elfo Special!”

That recipe, along with Grisanti’s Italian Spinach, are probably two of the most published dishes appearing in Mid-South cookbooks.

Italian Spinach

1 box frozen chopped spinach
3 tbps. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish

Thaw spinach and squeeze out excess water; set aside. In a saute skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and garlic. Cook until garlic is golden brown. Add spinach and seasonings, saute for 3-4 minutes. Break in eggs and continue to saute and stir until eggs are cooked and thoroughly mixed into the spinach. Drain any excess oil and transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the top.

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