Southern Stylings

New Orleans Okra Giardiniera

July 29, 2016
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When Liz Williams, director of New Orleans’ Southern Food & Beverage Museum was little, her mama couldn’t stand okra. “So, I didn’t eat it either,” says Liz. But Liz’ Louisiana-born-and bred daddy loved the stuff.  He bought a jar of pickled okra on a picnic outing and won  Liz over with the crunchy spears. “When I figured out what it was, I couldn’t wait to get home to tell my mom that she was wrong about okra,” Liz laughs. “Eventually, she grew to like it.” For anybody else out there who is skittish about okra, pickling it is the way to go.  This vibrant, crunchy and lightly spicy giardiniera–a Williams family favorite–is a showcase for pickled okra. Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Banoffee (Banana Toffee Coffee) Tarts

July 19, 2016
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This recipe story moves from Chicago to England to California and back again : ) It started back when I was doing Lost Recipes Found as a Chicago Tribune column. A woman wrote in to say she’d heard you could boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk to make some kind of dessert, and could I find it? Imagining exploding tins of hot milk, I tossed that request into the “not likely” bin and moved on. Until this… Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Sweetcorn & Bacon Pie

July 17, 2016
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The waitress at Ernie Risser’s family restaurant in Womelsdorf, PA, watches me looking dubiously at the gravy she just plunked down with the corn pie I ordered.  Assuming we’re in cahoots, she leans in, whispers, “I like to eat corn pie with hot milk, too!” and smiles conspiratorily. Whisking away the gravy boat she soon returns with a little pitcher of milk. Strange upon strange, think I…but, it turns out, not awful. Still, I left plotting something better & more akin to my Midwest upbringing: homemade creamed corn with bacon and onion in a flaky pie crust. The result? This recipe. Continue Reading…

Appetizers & Snacks

Green Goddess Dip

July 16, 2016
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Anchovies, chives, parsley, wine vinegar, sour cream…the original Green Goddess dressing was created by Chef Phillip Roemer of San Francisco’s Palace Hotel in 1923 for a banquet in honor of actor George Arliss who was starring in William Archer’s play, “The Green Goddess.” Add some minced garlic and zowie-wowie! It becomes a potent dip like this one we found in a 1940s “Let’s Eat Red Dot Potato Chips” company flyer. Continue Reading…

Salad Days

Brown Derby Cobb Salad

July 12, 2016
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From Hollywood’s Brown Derby restaurant and named for its owner, Robert Howard Cobb, the Cobb Salad is the original chopped salad. A mix of finely chopped watercress, curly endive, Romaine and iceberg lettuces topped with crisp bacon, hard boiled egg, tomato, chive, chicken breast, Roquefort cheese and avocado, the original was served with a house-made “French” dressing that was more akin to red wine vinaigrette than the sweet orange stuff  labeled “French” on a salad bar.  Continue Reading…

Appetizers & Snacks

Pimiento Cheese Cherry Bombs

July 11, 2016
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My mom loved pimiento cheese. She had an old box grater and used to make me shred mounds of cheddar to prepare the spread from scratch, keeping it in the fridge next to jars of pickled peppers so hot even the brine made my eyes water. Hers was the simple cheese-mayo-pimiento blend.  But remembering those jars of jalapenos, I thought, why not add a little more kick? Continue Reading…

State Fair Fun

Corn Dogs

July 5, 2016
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Here’s a little-known fact: Early corn-dog purveyor Ed Waldmire, Jr., wanted to call his corn-dog stand “The Crusty Cur”….his wife convinced him to change the name to “Cozy Pup.”  Like most other American fried-food-on-a-stick, batter-fried weiner wands have state fair connections. Vaudeville actors Carl and Neil Fletcher abandoned their Dallas song-and-dance act tent show in 1938 when the Texas State Fair offered them the chance to operate a food booth. The two had read about a man in the Oaklawn neighborhood of Dallas who was baking corn-battered hotdogs in molds, and the idea intrigued them, so the brothers set out to improve on the product. They perfected their batter-dipped and fried corn dog in time for the 1942 Texas State Fair. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Dressel’s Chocolate Fudge Whipped Cream Cake

June 26, 2016
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This beautiful cake is our family-birthday must. After I researched this story about it and developed the recipe, with input from the Dressel family, the Chicago Tribune ran a little feature on my work, and–I’m pleased to say, liked it as much as we do : ) 

Here’s the original story…

There’s no clue that the breezy, grass-covered, empty lot at 66th and Ashland was once the master plant of Chicago’s most famous bakery, or, that the red brick storefront at 33rd and Wallace was its first location.  Although gone without a trace, Dressel’s Bakery was for 60-plus years the maker of Chicago’s beloved Chocolate Fudge Whipped Cream Cake. Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Serviceberry Pie (Yes, you can eat them!)

June 25, 2016
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The berry world has its less-than-romantic nomenclature. I mean, “straw” or “rasp” don’t scream, “Eat me!” But those berries eclipsed their names to become berry rockstars. Not so the serviceberry. Reddish-purple and shaped & textured like a small blueberry (but with more “red-berry” flavor to the juice) serviceberries are the fruit of one of America’s favorite ornamental trees. But most Americans don’t know the berries are edible.  I’d love to change that. Continue Reading…