Cuneo's Famous

Rum Cake

October 8, 2017

When reader T.J. Campbell wrote in search of the recipe for a famous rum cake that used to be the signature at Cuneo’s Bakery in Austin, Texas, I didn’t have much hope of finding it. Cuneo’s closed more than 50 years ago, and attempts to find the former owners didn’t get me anywhere. But, a string of phone calls to food-history buffs in Austin, led to Addie Broyles, a food writer at the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, who unearthed a link to an article in the paper mentioning Ray Kennedy, former production manager at Cuneo’s.

With that, I tracked down Kennedy’s son James and daughter Rita who were more than happy to talk about Ray, Cuneo’s and the famous rum cake. Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Apple Almond Cheese Tarts

September 2, 2017

Whatever craziness is going on, in my head or otherwise, baking grounds me. Last night, for example. Couldn’t sleep. Walked my bare feet over cold floorboards to the dark kitchen.  Fumbling, I gathered sifter, bowls and pans, trying not to clatter. And, sigh: I measure. Sigh again: Sift flour & sugar. Sigh: (the last! I’m breathing better now) cut in the butter, tousle the two with fingertips ‘til wet-sand-like, add the almond meal, stir the cream, whisk the filling. And last? Peel the apples that smell just the color of their green skins.

The light comes golden now, pushing west through house and garden, matching the scent of baked tart, coming from the oven. Waiting, I remember this tart from little, a thing I made for mom. Different kitchen, different goals, same spiral of apples and almond. Make some. Eat some. And it’s all okay. Note: This recipe makes TWO tarts. Also, if you like this tart, you may also want to try my Gooseberry Tart–a simple way to showcase gooseberries, or whatever other berries you have on hand. Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Gooseberry Tart

September 1, 2017

Wow, the things you learn when digging into etymology! Word geeks tell us that the “goose” in “gooseberry”, for example, likely came from France, where they call the little green globes, groseille à maquereau or, “mackerel berries”, because French chefs used to make a sauce of the berries to go with mackerel. A bit more ribald, Molly Oldfield, writing for the London Telegraph says “gooseberry bush” was 19th century slang for pubic hair, which led to the saying “born under a gooseberry bush.” Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Chunky Monkey Muffins (Banana Double-Chocolate Chunk)

June 27, 2017

I love bananas, their shape, color, scent & taste…that they come wrapped in their own packaging & with a handle to boot. I always look for the shapeliest bunch, wait patiently for them to ripen and buy the exotic ones when I can find them. I even did an entire geek-research story on banana varieties once. But banana-love doesn’t mean those beautiful yellow bundles all get eaten when perfectly ripe. There are always, always, one or two left behind, their skins gone past freckled to bruisy black, poor bodies gone slack with waiting. But ugly as they are, I NEVER throw those holdovers away, and you shouldn’t either. Why? Because they are the secret to really good banana muffins. Continue Reading…

Chilled Desserts

Vintage No-Bake Icebox Cakes: Berries & Cream and Chocolate Mousse

June 11, 2017

Chilled desserts full of cream, marshmallow, or mousse were very popular with housewives of the forties and fifties when the potential of the home refrigerator was still being explored. From bombes and baked Alaskas, to mousses, meringues, marlows and mallobets–cookbooks of that era celebrated them all. Steering around the mallow, and more-dubious creations like the Fig Banana Brick (yes, that was a thing) we’ve revisited two icebox cakes: a Chocolate Mousse Icebox Cake from the ’40s, and, a Strawberries and Cream cake, with sherried berries (yum!) Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

New York “Dry” Crustless Cheesecake

June 7, 2017

The checkout lady at the grocery store thought I was on a real fat bender. “What are you going to do with all of that?” she asked, eyeing my quarts of sour cream, cream cheese and whipping cream. “Recipe testing,” I say. She nods, with this little lift to her eyebrow, like, “Sure you are.” But it’s true. I’m testing with vats of cream because Lost Recipe Found readers lo-o-o-ve cheesecake. I’ve had requests for no-bake cheesecakes, cheesecakes made with farmers cheese, cottage cheese, or ricotta cheese, cheesecake with meringue crusts, rusk crusts, zwieback crust and no crust….the list is a long one. From that list, this cake is a winner. Reader Linda M. wrote us in search of a cake that would match her memories of going to New York for the 1965 World’s Fair where she fell in love with the “very thick, very dry, crustless cheesecake” baked in that region. We found this one of that ilk and era, credited to Mrs. Charles B. Goldman, of Auburn N.Y. Continue Reading…

Salad Days

Waldorf Salad

May 30, 2017

Recipe provenance is a wily thing. Who combined (insert your list) ingredients to make (insert your dish) first? Definitive answers to almost any version of that question elude, but it is possible to track down the first time a recipe was published. And that, friends, is where the credits come in. Waldorf Salad is a fun example. The recipe for Waldorf Salad was first published in 1896 by The Saalfield Publishing Co. of Chicago, Akron and New York in a 907-page tome written by Oscar Tschirky, famed maître d’hotel at The Waldorf Hotel from 1893 to 1943.  Tschirky wasn’t a chef, but he had very good taste and a shrewd understanding of what guests liked. He’s also credited with being the first to menu eggs Benedict and veal Oscar among other classic hotel dishes. Continue Reading…

Brunch Bunch

Classic Fresh Blueberry or Apricot Coffeecake Ring with Icing & Almonds on Top

April 13, 2017

Last time I chatted with longtime Minnesota State Fair “Supreme Ruler of the Kitchen,” Elaine Janas, the topic at hand was coffeecake. During that summer conversation, Elaine shared the recipe for her old-fashioned, yeast-raised coffee cake with apricot filling. Fast-forward to a week ago. With brunch guests coming, I decided to bake Elaine’s cake.  All was perking along nicely, dough rising on the counter, etc., until I discovered we were out of apricots (!) Phooey. But I did have three cups of fresh blueberries hanging around…so…I used Elaine’s recipe for the yeast cake and created my own blueberry filling to go with it. I think Elaine would approve: at 84, she’s still an innovator. Here then is the blueberry version, and, Elaine’s original apricot version. Continue Reading…

Seafood Stylings

Sizzling Salmon with Lemongrass & Tamarind

April 5, 2017

Pan-steaming fish over aromatics and then sizzling it with hot garlic oil is an old Cantonese cooking method…..the tamarind, ginger, lemongrass and lime adds Southeast-Asian zing– a lovely thing.  I have had this recipe on a tattered card for more than 25 years with tweaks and notations all marked. I crave this dish. You will too–make extra, you will want it. Continue Reading…

Southern Stylings

Jambalaya

February 28, 2017

I’ve had many requests for a good home-cook version of jambalaya, and this is that. Like the dish itself,  a mix of Spanish and French ingredients with African thrown in by way of the Louisiana bayou, the word jambalaya derives from Provencal for “mish-mash”.  But I love that the Atakapa–a native American people who lived in the river valleys of Louisiana along the Gulf of Mexico–had a phrase: “Sham, pal ha! Ya!” which meant “Be full, not skinny! Eat Up!” that etymologysts say Spaniards changed to “jambalaia.”  The dish includes a Cajun or Creole version of the Spanish sofrito (tomatoes, garlic, oil and onions) at its base, along with spices, seafood, sausage, sometimes poultry and always rice. What’s atypical about it is we’ve cooked the rice separately to preserve the fluffiness of the grains, and, to allow diners to choose how much of the beautiful stew to top it with. Continue Reading…