The End of Gourmet

Gourmet Magazine, June 1968
The month and year that I was born
The Magazine of Good Living

There is nothing better than the taste of food
grilled over a real fire
October, 1993

I was obsessed with making this sugared fruit.
I still make it and learned how from this cover.
December 1988

The famous Pumpkin Bourbon Cheesecake.
It became my signature dish at Thanksgiving.

Recipe Testers,

I had been meaning to write about how I learned to cook from the pages of Gourmet magazine for some time now. I NEVER in a million years would guess that I would be writing this on the day after they announced the closure of the magazine. Stunned is the word I feel. Actually, I'm not stunned I'm in complete denial. I think that somehow someone made a huge mistake and that they will wake-up tomorrow and say "we've changed our minds." So the truth is that it hasn't sunk in and I really think I'm not believing it. Then on the other hand, I'm having similar feelings to the way I felt when Western Union closed. When I was in college, my parents still sent money to me via Western Union and I even received a telegram from Western Union when I got married. But as the computer age and credit card age came, Western Union was no longer needed. So it closed after years of prosperous and necessary service.

Is that same true about Gourmet magazine? Is it no longer needed? From what I understand they still retained their million readership base, but had lost 50 percent of their advertising, which made the magazine no longer profitable. And while I looked forward to my issue each month and its beautiful pictures, I realized that I often did my search for recipes on-line. Even some of the treasured Gourmet recipes that are safely secure in my white notebooks. Often I would just type their title in Epicurious's site and reprint the favorite recipe. Recently I had been watching the free full episodes of Diary of a Foodie on's web site. Will the web site close as well as the magazine? I understand will still be up because Bon Appetit is still standing. (Epicurious has all the recipes from both Gourmet and Bon Appetit and you can easily search for them. As you can see to the right of my blog, it is one of the recipe links I frequently use when researching a recipe.)

My grandmother had always subscribed to Gourmet and so did my mother and my aunts. It was as if all the Gourmet subscribers belonged to a private little club. I remember someone telling me how much he loved to cook. Whenever anyone tells me that I usually ask them what kinds of things they like to make. He answered "You know, Plum Glazed Turkey, things like that." I immediately answered "Cover of Gourmet 2002?" I suppose I remember Gourmet covers like a sports fanatic remembers a winning shot.

I began cooking from it's pages when I was 13. I remember having my mom drop me off at the store and asking the produce manager what a clove of garlic was. One of the first things I made when I was 13 was a leg of lamb studded with garlic. (Mind you, at this point, I'd still never made a hamburger. But a leg of lamb, no problem.) When I was old enough to drive a car, I'd go to El Rancho Market with my Gourmet in hand and ask for help in ordering and finding certain ingredients. El Rancho also had a real live butcher who could wait on you, so I could get any cut of meat or fish that I needed.

I have every issue of The Best of Gourmet books on my shelf. 2007 was the last year they published those compilations of the years best recipes. You'd think with the books I wouldn't need the magazines too, but I still bought both since the cookbooks only had the recipes and not the articles nor the travel pictures and journals. I know the Noone's have all the old magazines bound in their basement. The Noone's just moved from their home in Alexandria and I'm hoping so much they they saved all the old issues or gave them to Katie. Marianne Heilferty inherited her uncle's collection of Gourmet magazines when he passed away. She so generously gave me the one from the year and month of my birth. It meant a lot to me to have it. Much to Jason's chagrin, I have an enormous magazine collection. I try to go through them and cull out the best recipes and put them in my white notebooks. But there are some issues I just can't bare to part with and now I'm so happy I've saved them. I just got the real treasures out of a box in the attic and am so grateful they are intact. The magazines then were so big and thick. Easily twice or three times as thick as the last issue of Gourmet I just received. They were truly educational tomes on great cooking.

I'll close with two of my favorite recipes: The Pumpkin Bourbon Cheesecake became my signature Thanksgiving Dessert. The Wild Rice Salad with Dried Apricots and Cranberries also became an entertaining staple and everyone asked for that recipe as well. I usually used Lundberg's Wild Rice Blend when I made that salad.

As for my denial, I have this glimmer of hope that someone somewhere will decide to buy the rights to the magazine and the whole lot and continue publishing. And while I'm waiting for that to happen I will continue to surround myself with the stacks of Gourmet magazines I have amassed over the past 30 years. (Speaking of denial, 3 people e-mailed to tell me the news of the closure and I still had to go and read 5 different news feeds before I would even begin to believe it. I was SURE they had the wrong name and the wrong magazine!)

PS Here is a link to the first edition of Gourmet for those of you who are interested

Then here are two of my favorites from these past 30 years:

For the crust
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the filling
1 1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
three 8-ounce packages cream cheese, cut into bits and softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon if desired

For the topping
2 cups sour cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon liqueur or bourbon, or to taste

16 pecan halves for garnish

Make the crust:
In a bowl combine the cracker crumbs, the pecans, and the sugars, stir in the butter, and press the mixture into the bottom and 1/2 inch up the side of a buttered 9-inch springform pan. Chill the crust for 1 hour.

Make the filling:
In a bowl whisk together the pumpkin, the egg, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the ginger, the salt, and the brown sugar. In a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and the granulated sugar, beat in the cream, the cornstarch, the vanilla, the bourbon liqueur, and the pumpkin mixture, and beat the filling until it is smooth.
Pour the filling into the crust, bake the cheesecake in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the center is just set, and let it cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes.

Make the topping:
In a bowl whisk together the sour cream, the sugar, and the bourbon liqueur.
Spread the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake and bake the cheesecake for 5 minutes more. Let the cheesecake cool in the pan on a rack and chill it, covered, overnight. Remove the side of the pan and garnish the top of the cheesecake with the pecans.

Wild Rice SaladGourmet | February 2000
We couldn't have an American potluck dinner that didn't include at least one thoroughly native dish. The wild rice, hickory nuts, and dried cranberries in this salad are a nod to the potluck's origins.
Yield: Serves 12
Active Time: 25 min
Total Time: 1 1/4 hr

1 pound wild rice

For vinaigrette:
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
3 tablespoons chopped shallot
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup long-grain white rice
1 1/2 cups water
2 cups hickory nuts or chopped pecans, toasted
1 1/4 cups chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
3/4 cup dried apricots, thinly sliced
3/4 cup dried cranberries

Rinse wild rice in a sieve under cold water, then combine with cold water to cover by 2 inches in a 5-quart pot. Simmer, covered, until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Make vinaigrette while wild rice is simmering:
Whisk together juice, shallot, vinegar, mustard, and garlic. Gradually whisk in oil until emulsified and season with salt and pepper.

Cook white rice:
After wild rice has been simmering 20 minutes, boil white rice and 1 1/2 cups water in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan, uncovered and undisturbed, until steam holes appear on surface, about 8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and cook, covered and undisturbed, 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 5 minutes.

Assemble salad:
Rinse cooked wild rice in a sieve under cold water and drain. Stir together rices, vinaigrette, nuts, parsley, dried fruit, and salt and pepper to taste.
Serve at room temperature.

Cooks' note:
Salad keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days.


Carrie said…
The Bourbon Pumpkin cheese cake is to die for! It will now be my signature dessert for Thanksgiving, maybe Christmas too!

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