Never underestimate the dedication of volunteers supporting a worthy cause. They are invincible. And when a group of volunteers is made up of talented cooks and art lovers, it isn't surprising that their endeavors revolve around a cookbook that looks luscious enough to eat. One such book is "California Cooking, Parties, Picnics & Celebrations" (Clarkson N. Potter Inc., $24.95), produced by the Art Museum Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Searching for a way to fund new acquisitions for the museum, the members of the council couldn't have made a better choice. They elected to design a cookbook about--what else?--California and its eclectic way with food. Concept in mind, an editorial team of four women--Betty Nowling, editor; Rue Byars, creative editor; Karen Berk, food editor, and Joan Burns, associate food editor--traveled the state cajoling well-known cooks into sharing their culinary expertise. The editors matched recipes with regions of the state and, with the help of professional food stylists Jeanne Skott and Andrea Deane, prepared spectacular foods for Michael Skott's equally spectacular photographs.
Although the project took more than three years to complete, even a cursory flip through the book's pages is enough to whet one's appetite. Lois Dwan's text points up the diversity of life in this state, and the recipes reflect California's basic love affair with fresh foods--from home-grown vegetables and herbs to a variety of seafood.
Of the three samples that follow, Veal Medallions With Onion Marmalade was contributed by Wolfgang Puck from his book "Modern French Cooking for the American Kitchen." PACIFIC SALMON WITH TWO SAUCES
2 pounds salmon fillets with skin
Tomato Butter Sauce
Mustard Cream Sauce
Place salmon on cutting board, skin side down. With long, thin, flexible knife, cut at 30-degree angle into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Discard skin. Place salmon on well-greased, heavy baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Bake at 500 degrees 4 minutes.
Spoon Tomato Butter Sauce onto 6 warm dinner plates. Place salmon slices on sauce, then spoon Mustard Cream Sauce over top. Makes 6 servings. Tomato Butter Sauce
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 pounds tomatoes, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon minced thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
3 tablespoons dry white wine
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
cup creme fraiche
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Heat olive oil in medium skillet and saute tomatoes over moderately high heat, stirring, about 15 minutes, until thick and well reduced. Add thyme and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place wine, wine vinegar and shallots in non-aluminum saucepan. Boil over medium-high heat until almost all of liquid is evaporated. Whisk in creme fraiche and quickly reduce by half.
Cut butter into small pieces and add one piece at a time, whisking constantly. When mixture is thick foamy sauce, combine with reserved tomatoes. Taste to adjust seasonings. Keep warm. Mustard Cream Sauce
1 cup creme fraiche
1 tablespoon coarsely ground French mustard
Combine cream fraiche with mustard and set aside. SKEWERED TURKEY IN MOLE POBLANO SAUCE
6 or 7 ancho chiles
2 cups chicken stock, about
3/4 cup blanched almonds, finely ground
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
2 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 corn tortilla, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
6 tablespoons lard
3 ounces Mexican chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 pound turkey breast
Place chiles in bowl. Bring chicken stock to boil, then pour over chiles. Allow to stand 30 minutes. Drain chiles, reserving stock. Add additional chicken stock, if necessary, to measure 2 cups. Remove seeds, stems and ribs from chiles and set aside.
Place almonds, onion, tomatoes, raisins, 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, tortilla, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, anise seed and 4 tablespoons lard in food processor fitted with steel blade. Add chiles and 1 cup reserved chicken stock. Blend to smooth puree.
Melt remaining 2 tablespoons lard in heavy saucepan. Pour in mole sauce and simmer, stirring constantly, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup chicken broth and chocolate. Cook, uncovered, over low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate is melted. Season to taste with salt. Cover and set aside.
Cut turkey breast along grain into strips 4 inches long, 1 inch wide and 1/8 inch thick. Place lengthwise onto water-soaked bamboo skewers, being careful to skewer rather than thread so wood is not exposed. Grill or broil 5 minutes per side. Place on heated platter, cover with mole sauce and sprinkle with remaining 1 tablespoon sesame seeds and chopped cilantro. Makes about 16 appetizer servings. VEAL MEDALLIONS WITH ONION MARMALADE