Welcome to ImPECKable Eats, formerly Megan Peck Cooks. Previously, this blog was devoted to revisiting and modernizing my grandmother, Paula Peck’s recipes. I established this site as a look into the process of testing and updating recipes from cookbooks written 50 years ago by Paula Peck, friend and apprentice of James Beard and The New York Times critic, Craig Claiborne. I recently decided to expand to re-creating other classic recipes with a twist. I hope to reach those that may not have heard of my grandmother but still appreciate classic recipes. For her fans, Paula Peck recipes both published and unpublished will continue to be an important focus of this blog.
Hi, I’m Megan. I was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN. Because of my family’s history, I was exposed to many different types of food at a young age (sushi purée was often my baby food). After working in supply chain management, I decided to follow my passion for food and return to New York City, my father’s roots. I attended the French Culinary Institute in 2009 and received a diploma in culinary arts. I have an uncontrollable sweet tooth that I try to balance with running, yoga, and the occasionally healthy recipe you’ll find here. I don’t consider myself a writer but a food lover on a mission to update and share my grandmother’s accomplished work as well as other classic recipes with a twist. Enjoy the journey…
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ABOUT PAULA PECK
My grandmother, Paula Peck, was born in New York, where she lived with my grandfather, Jim Peck (civil rights activist and pacifist: James Peck in Wikipedia ), and sons Sam and Charles (my father). She contributed recipes to, and had her pastries photographed for, The New York Times and Life, and she taught at the James Beard Cooking School, where she first shared with others her revolutionary ideas for home baking. James Beard writes: “Her enthusiasm for the work table and range is refreshing. Her way to combat fatigue and worry is to get into the kitchen and turn out a hundred or so croissants or two or three batches of puff paste with all embellishments. She is an outstanding juggler with rolling pin and mixing bowl, and magic results fill her larder and freezer to overflowing. Her home is an oasis for hungry travelers and guests, for there is always enough delectable food in her kitchen to serve a good-sized party.”
Her book, “The Art of Fine Baking,” written in 1961, gained more notariety for it’s revolutionary baking techniques and dessert recipes, but the lesser known “The Art of Good Cooking” with its international recipes and classic French cookery, was ahead of its time and equally inspiring.
Mark Bittman, who has mentioned Paula Peck in a number of his articles for The New York Times over the years once wrote, “the first cookbook I bought was ”Joy of Cooking.” But the first one I fell in love with was Paula Peck’s ”Art of Good Cooking.” Ms. Peck, who wrote in the 60’s — I bought her book in 1970 — was a self-described modernist: ”tradition should not hamper us if we find a better way of doing things.”
Thank u soo much for commenting. U are one lucky girl to have such an amazing grandmother! I adore “The Art of Fine Baking,” Written in 1961, the recipes r still so modern , and techniques current. I would have killed to go to the French Culinary Institute, i got my toque in ATLANTA. Also u have my dream job! I want my own little shop 🙂 Take Care, and i will be following u 🙂
What a great basis for a blog Megan! I will have to invest in a copy of the Art of Baking now. My grandmother recently gave me her great aunt’s recipe note book and I’m looking forward to recreating some recipes from the 1870’s!
Thanks Sam! Wow, recipes from the 1870’s! I’m sure it will be interesting to recreate those. Hope to see them on Comfortably Hungry!
Just found your grandmother’s 1961 hard cover book at a local book sale here in California! WOW is all I can say! I will be following her recipes and baking away this summer. What a treat for me and those that enjoy the goodies from my kitchen! Deborah
Thank you Deborah and sorry for my delayed response. So glad you found her book and I hope you enjoy baking away this summer! You may also find the unpublished recipe section of my site interesting. If you have any questions or comments about anything in the book, feel free to ask!
I’m glad to have found your site. Your grandmother’s cookbooks have been among my favorites since the 1970’s, and have stayed with me through many moves. I particularly like the chicken in lemon sauce with lettuce. It was my introduction to cooked lettuce, and surprised everyone who asked about the “green stuff”.
Thanks Paula. I keep finding more and more of her recipes with hidden techniques or ingredients that are such pleasant surprises. I hope you find this site helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any info on any recipes.
I’m baking your grandmother’s Poppy Seed Cookies right now. Her cookbooks were my mother’s favorites (and I have them now!). We used to have Beef Paprikash every Christmas Eve and my mother made the Poppy Seed Cookies, Polish Chrust, Madeleines, and Mazurkas every Christmas. I love your site and what you’re doing.
Robin – I haven’t tried any of those yet! I will have to make them a priority. Thanks so much for commenting. I’m glad you’re enjoying the site.
I first starting baking professionally in 1976. In 1977 six of us opened a bakery in Eugene Oregon called The Fine Baking Co. Your grandmother was obviously our inspiration and we supplied local restaurants with cakes and pastries made from her book. In 1979 I came home to Chicago and continued to bake professionally for the next 10 years. In 1991 I opened a family style restaurant here in Evanston, IL., The Lucky Platter and we’re open breakfast, lunch and dinner. We do all our own baking from scratch. Tonight I’m going make Chocolate Eclairs and I’m going to us your grandmother’s pate choux and pastry cream recipes. If you and your family ever come through town please drop by. It would be a honor to meet you.
The Lucky Platter
Eric – wow! what an amazing story. Thanks so much for sharing. If I’m ever in the area, I would definitely love to stop by.
(It’s your cousin.)
What a lovely blog! The recipes look delicious. I’m going to try the shrimp and cucumber recipe if I can find any cukes at the farmer’s market.
Carrboro is a great foodie town. You should come visit!
Thanks Sara! I hope all is well and you enjoyed making this recipe.
Wow, I am so happy to see that you are keeping your grandmothers spirit alive! I was so inspired by her books and have tested many of the recipes , especially as a young self taught private chef. I was inspired to study Indian cuisine by preparing her Curried Shrimp . I never knew that you strted with toasting the mustard seeds, to start. She was a gem!
I am thrilled to have found you. I have your grandmothers book passed to me from my mother. My favorite recipe is the Polish Butter Cookies. I remember making them all the time. In fact, so often that the page is now missing from the book. I would love to have the recipe again. Could you publish it?
Thanks Carol! I will post Polish Butter Cookies shortly. Stay tuned!
Hi Megan – we emailed earlier when you had the other blog. I am so happy to find you here. We have three generations who have enjoyed your grandmother’s recipes. We eat her stollen twice a year, at Christmas and Easter. It is through this recipe that we met! http://www.dadsblueberrymuffins.com/2011/09/16/paula-pecks-stollen/
Her recipe for Scandinavian christmas cookies became a favorite too – my Dad called them “plain cookies” which my daughter confused with “plane” as in airplane, and we always had them in airplane shapes.
So many of her recipes are now “classic” – so glad you are keeping up her fine tradition. Have you thought about putting in a page that has her cookbook indexes listed in your blog? It would be nice to have all the recipes in one list…
All the best to you!
Thanks Elyn! I do remember you. Everything from my previous blog was transferred over to ImPECKable Eats (both recipes and comments) so if you are looking for specific recipe or need help finding Scandinavian Christmas Cookies (or “Plane Cookies”), let me know. I am in the process of redeveloping my recipe page to make it easier to navigate. I didn’t think of including my grandmother’s cookbook indexes but this is a great idea and it would help those looking for a specific Paula Peck recipe. I will definitely look into it, thank you! Enjoy the Stollen this season and thanks again for your kind comments.
Hello Megan, I found your wonderful website on IG and am thinking what great recipes! Like you sweets are my downfall (I think they are winning the battle at the moment) as I’m wondering which recipe to choose first. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life with this amateur cook. Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and an exceptional New Years!
Thanks so much and Happy Holidays! Sweets always seem to have the edge this time of year:)
I’m delighted to find your blog, Megan (I was searching for a portable-on-my-iPad version of your grandmother’s tart pastry to take to my daughter’s this Christmas). Your grandmother’s books have been active in my kitchen for 50 years—and have the stains to prove it. My daughter asked for the fried chicken for the big party the night before her wedding 25 years ago, and even the French visitor/guest praised it. Parsley forever!