Southern Stylings

Crawfish Monica, with Linguine

February 10, 2016

Alfredo Nogueira can’t remember the first time he ate crawfish. “But I’m sure I was really little,” says the chef, who grew up just outside of Orleans Parish, in Louisiana. Relocated to Chicago where he serves Cajun & Creole food (and what is probably the city’s best cup of chicory coffee) at Analogue restaurant, Nogueira is telling crawfish tales: The story of how he got his start cooking the creatures, for example. As a young teen busing tables at huge-volume seafood restaurant, being cool was of interest; being brawny, even more so. “And there was no one brawnier or cooler than the guy who was in charge of the crawfish boils,” Alfredo laughs. “I said to myself, that’s what I want to do.” Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Shaker Lemon Pie

February 3, 2016

Except for the no-sex and separation-from-the-world rules (pretty hard to overlook), I admire most everything I’ve read about Shakers. Progressive thinkers who supported full equality of the sexes and races, Shakers embraced technological advancements, were amazing architects and craftspeople and made a not for the faint-of-heart lemon pie. Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Key Lime Pie

January 25, 2016

The story of Key lime pie is delightfully odd, including Cuban sponge “hookers”, mystery aunts, canned milk and curing. The classic filling: sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks & lime juice, has been around since the mid 1800s.

Key limes, those leathery little yellow-green golf balls otherwise known as Citrus aurantifolia, once thrived in the Keys as a commercial crop. That was before the local lime growers figured out they could make more money running tourist fishing boats, and sold off their groves. Key lime trees still grow in Key West backyards, but the big groves are in Mexico Continue Reading…

Vintage Sandwich Board

’50s Frosted Sandwich Loaf

January 23, 2016

Earning of pride-of-place on many a ’40s and ’50s shower table, the frosted sandwich loaf was a tower of cream-cheese slathered creativity.  Vegetable, meat, fish, cheese, fruit-and-nut fillings, and flavored butters were spread over breads, stacked and sliced in patterns (gangplank, ribbon, checkerboard) and then covered in whipped cream cheese that could be “delicately tinted with a few drops of vegetable coloring.” Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Concord Grape Tart & Pie

December 14, 2015

My lovely friend Kathleen S. grew up 15 miles from Silver Creek, NY, where they still host a Festival of Grapes during the concord grape harvest every year, complete with grape stomping, pretty-baby contests, and Jr. Miss, Little Miss, and Miss Festival of Grapes pageants. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Melting Apple Cake

December 14, 2015

Baking recipes usually frown on softer apples, specifying instead that you use granny smith. That means you end up making loads of homemade applesauce out of the Jonathan and  McIntosh hanging around that didn’t get eaten…and too much applesauce is….too much applesauce.  But my Melting Apple Cake makes mushier apples a thing of beauty: The soft apples partially “melt’ into the cake as it bakes. 

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Must Have Noodles

Veal Stroganoff

December 11, 2015

When Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov wasn’t busy commanding the Russian infantry in Napoleonic Wars, he feasted. Historians suggest that an early version of the popular American dish Beef Stroganoff was served in Stroganov’s family kitchens for a good number of years before it was published in a Russian cookbook in 1871–hence, the name. Continue Reading…

Must Have Noodles

Short Rib Stroganoff

December 10, 2015

There was a time when company coming meant mom whipped up the 2-cans-of-condensed-soup-ground-beef-bacon-&sour-cream stroganoff.  Chef Rob Hurrie’s deeply-flavorful short-rib rendition builds on his memories of just that dish.  “My affinity for rich foods started early,” Hurrie laughs. His update is a slow-braise with red wine & sherry, rosemary & thyme, mushrooms & bacon, crème fraiche & truffle oil. For best results, make the short ribs the day (or night) before you plan to serve the dish. 

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On The Side

Boston Baked Beans & Brown Bread

December 10, 2015

Despite the unfortunate  Phaseolus vulgaris moniker—the American Common Bean category includes bunches of beloved, native-to-the-Americas beans: navy, red kidney, pinto, great northern, marrow, & yellow eye, plus garden variety edible-pod beans (string, stringless and snap.) It’s not clear which of these the New England colonists first stewed in a pot, but we do know baked navy beans started with Native Americans. The Narragansett, Penobscot, and Iroiquois wrapped navy beans in deerskins—or put them in earthenware pots, along with venison, bear fat and maple syrup and then baked the lot in hot-stone-lined pits. Puritans eschewed the deerskins, but took to bean-pot cookery because the long, slow cook times meant housewives could prepare the beans a day ahead, and in so doing, stick to Puritanical no-cooking-on-Sabbath rules.

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Brunch Bunch

Tonga Toast (Banana-Stuffed French Toast with Strawberries)

December 9, 2015

Since debuting in 1971 at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, Tonga Toast–a cinnamon-sugared chunk of deep-fried, banana-stuffed breakfast bliss–has always been a top seller. Michael Thompson, a Polynesian Resort chef for seven years, can’t give out exact sales numbers,  but sums: “Let’s just say we receive our bananas by the pallet load!”

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