Cake Walk

Apple Cake (Gina’s Hubba Hubba Apple Cake)

October 19, 2016

Gina DePalma thinks her mom got the recipe for this gorgeous, not-too-sweet apple cake from a ’50s women’s magazine. When Gina was little, her mom made it Saturdays, for Sunday supper. These days, Gina makes it year round and affectionately calls it her Hubba Hubba Apple Cake. It’s basically a dump cake–just whisk and stir liquid ingredients into the dry ones, layer the batter with cinnamon-sugared apples, bake it off and there! You’ve got an impressively tall and tasty cake.  Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Melting Apple Cake

October 18, 2016

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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Appetizers & Snacks

Chicken Liver & Bacon Pate

October 11, 2016

After my brother got mononucleosis as a kindergartner (how does that happen to a five-year-old?) Mom launched a relentless iron-rich dinner campaign: pots of lentils, schooners of spinach, endless platters of liver and onions. Every. Single. Week. I can still see the big black cast-iron skillet and enormous lobes of calves liver, cooked to boot-bottom toughness.  Thank god there were days when she made chicken livers and bacon instead–delicious and so much more forgiving to her pan fry. This easy, potted pate puts the best of those flavors together, and has gone a long way in eradicating the less-lovely liver memories. It’s a nice snack with crusty bread or crackers–add onion slivers, and a little chopped egg, capers or parsley. Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Shaker Lemon Pie

October 10, 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 for men, women and all races, Shakers embraced technological advancements, were amazing architects and craftspeople and made a not for the faint-of-heart lemon pie. Continue Reading…

Gone But Not Forgotten

Madison Guerrilla Cookie (….or comes close!)

October 6, 2016

I just had a great conversation with Monica Eng of WBEZ about how people’s recollections of recipes they loved, but lost, can sometimes eclipse their experience of the actual recipe : ) I once spent weeks tracking down a long-closed-restaurant recipe for a mushroom barley soup that ran in the Tribune more than 30 years ago and didn’t exist in searchable archives. I was thrilled when I finally found the thing, complete with the actual dated clipping. I typed it up, e-mailed the recipe to the guy who requested it and in short order, got a reply stating that the recipe was the wrong one. “The soup I remember,” said barley-soup lover, “had much more bacon in it.” Ha hah! And so it goes. Recipes are fluid things, as are our memories of them. Where were we when we ate that beloved dish? With whom? And could it be that the cook that night was just extra generous with the bacon?

Well, the recipe for the Madison guerrilla cookie is of that ilk. First created by Mary MacDowell (UW MA ’67) riffing on ingredients from 1960s Tigers Milk protein bars, MacDowell shared the recipe with ’64 UW graduate Ted Odell, who tweaked the ingredients and baked them for the Quercus Alba Bakery. Hearty and filling, the cookies were sold in six- and twelve-pack sleeves through the Mifflin Street Co-op and other University of Wisconsin shops and became a student staple.  Continue Reading…

Meaty Mainstays

Kirk Douglas’ Favorite Meatloaf

October 5, 2016

Before there was Michael Douglas (Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct and a zillion more movies,) there was Kirk Douglas, a 1940s matinee idol with the deep cleft in his chin some of my boys have, but dislike. (They call it a “butt chin”…) If it weren’t for Ant Man, in which Michael had a nice role, and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, which Noah considers “epic” for it’s crude special effects (first sci-fi shot in Cinemascope), my kids would be unfamiliar with either of these actors. But back in the seventies, Kirk was still, very much, a familiar film legend. Which is where this meatloaf comes in… Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Persimmon Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting

October 4, 2016

I’d been drawn to these orange-y red beauties in fruit markets for years. Pretty, plump with a beguiling scent, I’d start seeing them in the fall, which made them even more tempting. Three years ago, rambling through Joseph Dabney’s Southern Appalachian cooking tome “Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread & Scuppernong Wine,” the section on persimmon puddings convinced me to bring some persimmons home. I’m so happy I did. They’re fabulous simply scooped up with a spoon, and also make a lovely pudding, or beautiful cake. Continue Reading…

Appetizers & Snacks

Scotch Eggs

September 30, 2016

So a little history…Go to the website for British gourmet food retailer Fortnum & Mason and you’ll find the claim that the classic Scotch egg was invented by Fortnum’s in 1738.  Others say origins go back to farther to a Moghul, egg-stuffed, kofta-ball  snack, but the basic gist is the same: Take a boiled egg, wrap it in seasoned sausage and breadcrumbs, fry it ’til crisped, and you’ve got a hearty, portable lunch. There are plenty of variations on the theme, from a black pudding version, to scrumpy (with apples, onion and sage) to Fortnum’s hammy, pinkish version. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Cheesecake Like Little Jack’s

September 30, 2016

From the time it opened in 1905, until it closed in 1962, Little Jack’s restaurant was a force in the Chicago restaurant dining scene. At its peak in the ’50s, the sprawling three-dining room restaurant reportedly served between 600,000 and 1 million meals annually. Named for John H. “Little Jack” Levin (1887-1971), Continue Reading…

Noodle Noshing

Chicago Chili Mac

September 26, 2016

Ask about the origins of this belly-filling, budget-stretching American favorite and you’ll get different answers. Some point to Cincinnati’s habit of eating chili with spaghetti…but those are spaghetti noodles, and the chili is spiced with chocolate & cinnamon. So….not really what we think of as the “classic.” In other parts of the Midwest, chili mac lovers expect to find elbow macaroni in the dish—plus chili made with plenty of cumin, chili powder and green peppers. This version from Chicago’s Jake Melnick’s Corner Tap (the comfortable Levy restaurant & bar that replaced the Blackhawk Lodge) has all of that, plus some nice tweaks. It’s really two recipes—one for a mildly spiced chili that uses tangy green tomatillos instead of tomatoes, and one for a classic creamy macaroni & cheese. The two recipes taste good on their own, but together? Even better. Note: Earlier versions of the chili mac at Jake Melnick’s included crushed Chili-Fritos. For that version, just mix in 1 1/2 cups of crushed Chili-Fritos when you combine the macaroni and chili, before baking. Or, include crushed Fritos as one of your toppers, along with sour cream, green onions, sliced radishes, avocado, and fresh cilantro leaves.

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