Good Bye Gourmet: A Final Lesson with Brown Butter Pound Cake

To further my learning and garner inspiration I recently subscribed to both Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines. I had been on the fence about doing so and wondered if it really was worth the money. After all I have the food network and public television and the internet at my fingertips right? Magazines are dying by the dozens. Why would I want subscribe? Truth be told, TV and food blogs aren’t all there is out there nor are they always the best sources of information and/or inspiration. I ultimately subscribed and so far have really enjoyed the content I have read through. Both magazines provide a depth and perspective that really isn’t available on TV and most blogs and information sites. It’s nice to have clear and concise information to read through, along with tips, photos and recipes. Just reading through the magazines on a monthly basis is an efficient way to obtain a culinary education, follow trends and learn about food.

Recently and and unexpectedly to most, the news came out that Gourmet magazine would cease to exist. The major reason the magazine’s demise was the shrinking revenue the magazine received as a result of advertising. Professionally, being in the ad business in a growing and new form of advertising media where dollars are shifting to, mobile advertising, this was less of a shock to me perhaps than most, but unfortunate to say the least, and hey, by the way, I just subscribed! Perhaps what is surprising to me is that the magazine is not that the magazine is shutting down during a troubled economy as a result of declining revenue and tough operating conditions,  but that it is doing so when the American and global interest in food is at a high and continues to increase. People are cooking and learning how to cook now faster than ever as a means to save money and as a result in the popularity of rising chef stars that have a tremendous cultural impact on food and culture.

The effect of the news about the magazine’s closing was not all negative. The outspoken food community is showing their support and appreciation for this long-standing magazine through the use of social media and blogging. Examples include a newly formed twitter account, Save Gourmet and a blogging event “Let’s Celebrate Gourmet“, on the blog A Mingling of Tastes written by blogger Julie O’Hara. Social media and blogging can have a powerful effect on  raising awareness around issues, events gathering support for causes. If the positive support for the magazine is enough for the powers that be to reverse the decided course of action remains to be seen.

I decided to show my support by following Save Gourmet and by participating in the “Let’s Celebrate Gourmet event by following and blogging about a Gourmet recipe. Even though I don’t have a favorite recipe per se, I do appreciate the magazine for the learning that I have benefited from so far. I also appreciate the clear and concise recipes that are provided. I have only cooked from one recipe before with great success, while also benefiting from inspiration, but this would not deter me from participating. Knowing what is required, the prep and total cooking time and necessary equipment take any apprehension about making a recipe away. For this post, I chose to attempt a new recipe as a final lesson and tribute to the magazine and decided to make Brown Butter Pound Cake.

Up until this point, brown butter represented a mistake in cooking and not a height in culinary sophistication and wisdom. I had only observed it after putting a pat of butter on a pan that was too hot and watching it turn dark before my eyes, never getting a chance to flavor and aid with the cooking of the intended food object. My latest issue of Gourmet has an entire page (144) dedicated to making food using brown butter and that praises it for its distinctive nutty taste, stating that its use will result in a “culinary home run”. So it goes with food. Everything seems to have a time, a place and proper use. That’s life.

The recipe of course was easy to follow. Using the brown butter admittedly required an open mind while convincing myself that I would not be working with or ingesting some sort of poisoned or foul tasting food. The cooking times were pretty true to what was promised and the results surprisingly good given the use of what I once thought was a tainted culinary bi-product.

Brown Butter Pound Cake
Brown Butter Pound Cake

Taking “risks” and trying new methods open one door after the other as I learn each and every day. While Gourmet’s doors may be closing, it sure has left an indelible impression with its loyal readers and food culture as a whole. I only wish I had the chance to experience more of what it had to offer.

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