Really ardent bridge players who settle down for a session of cards never like to see any large interruptions in the game until the last rubber has been played. That's why Mrs. Cummins Catherwood of Haverford, Pa., who plays with some of the top tournament competitors in the Philadelphia area, plans a simple supper when she entertains at a late-afternoon-into-early-evening bridge party. She knows that her guests won't want to be kept too long away from the card table.
Planning menus is a cinch for the accomplished Mrs. Catherwood, who serves at other times as executive vice-president of the Catherwood Foundation, established by members of the family in 1947 for educational, artistic and scientific purposes. Her keen, bridge player's mind is an asset, too, in many of her husband's business ventures, from VisiÓn, the South American magazine, to oil wells and theatrical productions.
At home dark-eyed, petite Ellengowen Catherwood (the unusual first name reflects a Scottish strain in her ancestry) is a true femme d'intérieur in the European sense—a woman who really cares about her house and table. She can invariably draw out the best in any tenant of the kitchen. Perhaps this is because she cooks herself, producing in her Walpole, N.H. farm kitchen the most extraordinarily appetizing meals, which arrive on the table despite the confusion engendered by numerous guests, a swarm of dogs and the problems related to coping with a cavernous, old-fashioned coal stove.
A typical bridge supper planned by Mrs. Catherwood, and produced recently by her splendid Scottish cook, consisted of hot steak and kidney pie, a big salad of cooked green vegetables, and English trifle for dessert. For the principal dish, shown in the photograph on the opposite page, this is the Catherwood recipe.
February 16, 1959
STEAK AND KIDNEY PIE (for four)
2 pounds best top round steak, cut like scaloppine of veal in thin, even sheets, not more than¼ inch thick
4 lamb kidneys (2 pairs)
3 medium-sized yellow onions, peeled and sliced
3 tablespoons bacon fat [I prefer half butter, half lard—M.F.M.]
½ teaspoon salt,¼ teaspoon pepper
approximately 2 cans consommé diluted with 1½ cans water 2 to 3 tablespoons flour
Soak kidneys in salted water for one hour. Cut sheets of top round into short strips 1½ inches wide with knife or scissors, and roll each one up into a tight little roll. Clean the soaked kidneys by removing hard, inedible parts, then cut with scissors into two or four pieces, depending on size.
Cook onions slowly in covered, heavy frying pan with 2 tablespoons fat until they turn slightly golden. Remove onions from pan and-adding more fat when necessary—brown the rolls of meat, uncovered, on a higher fire. Then remove them and brown the kidneys quickly in the same pan. Now place onions, meat rolls and kidneys in a Dutch oven or heavy pot. Take diluted consommé and boil it up for a moment in the frying pan to collect the good browning from that pan; then pour it into the pot, just covering meats. Add seasoning. Cook slowly, covered, for an hour or until tender.
Transfer all solids to deep baking dish in which the pie will be served. Thicken the juices remaining in the pot: to do this, mix flour to a paste with a few drops of cold water in a cup; add some of the hot juices; then stir into the pot over the fire. When slightly thickened by boiling, pour this gravy over the meats in pie dish. Chill the whole in refrigerator if planning to cover with a thick puff pastry as does the Catherwood cook. Otherwise pie can be covered either immediately or later with a simpler pastry, such as the kind made by following the directions on a package mix. Remember to place in middle of pie dish one of those gadgets sold especially to hold up pastry and let steam escape. Failing this, if dish is not filled to the top with meat mixture place custard cup in center to support pastry for the final step, which is to bake the finished pie in accordance with pastry recipe chosen.