Appetizers & Snacks

Cheddar Crackers

May 13, 2019

These nippy, buttery little crackers are soooooo easy to make! And they have a wonderful, crumbly texture. You can make them with store-bought pub cheese, or, make them using the recipe Chef Jonathan Lundy gave me for a creamy, smoky pub cheese that includes barrel-aged ale and a splash of bourbon in the mix. Either way, this recipe is a snap: just blend the pub cheese, with unsalted butter and some flour, knead into a smooth dough, chill, roll out, cut and bake. I like to cut the crackers into rounds, but you can also score the dough to make squares. Be sure to prick each cracker with the tines of a fork to keep them from puffing up when you bake them. To serve, I like to blend a little mascarpone cheese with orange marmalade and spread between two crackers to make savory sandwich “cookies.”  Enjoy! Continue Reading…

Appetizers & Snacks

Pub Cheese

May 13, 2019

You could buy pub cheese from the refrigerated section near the deli, or you could make this creamy, smoky, beer-and-bourbon-spiked version yourself! I got this recipe from Chef Jonathan Lundy in Kentucky, and it’s a keeper. Lundy comes from family long-known for good recipes–starting with his great-great-grandfather William Monroe Wright, founder of the Calumet Baking Powder company, and a cousin of flight-tastic Wilbur and Orville Wright. William sold his baking powder company to General Foods for $40 million back in 1929 and used the profits to create the Calumet Farm racing stables in Kentucky. (The most successful in American history, with six Kentucky Derby winners.) Lundy likes to make this spread using a bottle of Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale from Alltech Lexington Brewing and Distilling Co., but you can substitute another barrel-aged ale.  I love this pub cheese with carrot and celery sticks. But I also make my own cheddar crackers with it–sooooo easy: just butter, this cheese and flour. Do try both recipes! Continue Reading…

Mother's Day

Vintage Tea Sandwiches

May 7, 2019

 One of the more entertaining things about recipe books from the ‘30s and ‘40s, is what they reveal about changing tastes. The jellied chicken, minced tongue and sardine and egg mixtures that were considered delectable snacks then have been replaced by sunchoke bundles grilled in ash, or spoons of gruyere-slaked pumpkin on tasting menus today. But despite changing tastes, vintage tea sandwiches with yummy spreads endure. This is a post full of those.

My copy of the 1943 Household Searchlight Recipe Book from Topeka, Kansas’ Household magazine is especially dog-eared in the “Gelatins,” “Icing and Fillings,”  and “Cakes” sections, clues that the books original owner, Mrs. Elbert Jackson, had a sweet tooth. But more apparent? She entertained. The end sheets and margins of the book are filled with hand-scrawled recipes for petit fours, bon-bons, canapes and cocktail nibbles. And the section tab for “Sandwiches” is completely worn through : )

Far from the meat-and-cheese-stacked clubs, panini, and submarines of today, most sandwiches in the ‘30s and ‘40s relied on spreads. Both thrifty and easy, sandwich spreads translated very well into bite-sized morsels for receptions, teas or ladies’ luncheons.

Some vintage sandwich ingredient combinations seem wildly weird now–the Grapenut cereal and cheese with Tabasco, catsup and mustard, for example, or the peanut butter and chopped pickle with cream and onion (!) But the best spreads endured, making their way into the Ladies Guild and Auxiliary Club menus that would come to define an accessible sort of ‘50s “fancy”: pretty, tasty, but still a little homey.

There are the “salads”: Ham, egg, chicken, and shrimp. There are the cheese blends: pimiento cheese, cream cheese with salmon, or for a lighter flavor– mascarpone cheese sweetened with honey or marmalade. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Dreamsicle Birthday Cake

March 21, 2019

In the hazy realm of childhood memory live two related events: The first time I plopped a scoop of my dad’s orange sherbet into a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and the first time I had an Orange Julius—that icy, OJ + dairy, beverage-stand joy. What a sensation! Bright shock of citrus swathed in cream: cold and shimmery, sharp and smooth, all at once.   To me, orange and cream is the stuff of dreams. In fact, the Dominican Republic’s classic orange&dairy drink is called morir sonando “To die dreaming.”  March being my birthday month, I decided to put those favorite tart, sweet, and dreamy flavors into a cake. And I am very happy with the result. Continue Reading…

Candy Box

Chocolate Covered Amarena Cherries

February 11, 2019

I’ve never been a chocoholic. When I’m not eating sushi, I’m more of a bitter greens, pickled anything, charcuterie, good whiskey, savory pie and puff pastry girl. But it’s almost impossible not to think about chocolate on Valentine’s Day. For me? The choco-heart tradition is dipped in memories of my Aunt Ruth. Ruth had the loudest laugh, the thickest auburn hair, and the worst record of timeliness for any family gathering. She was always late to the party…always. But then again, she WAS the party. When Ruth came in, her laugh came too, along with armloads of presents for all us kids, and the scent of her perfume, faintly interlaced with the smoke of her cigarettes. Ruth adored a good joke. She’d beg us to tell them, repeat them, tell some more. And then she’d tell her own, invariably forgetting punch lines after a glass or two of gewurtztraminer. Continue Reading…

Must Have Noodles

Short Rib Stroganoff

January 20, 2019

There was a time when company to Rob Hurrie’s childhood home meant mom whipping 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 that dish.  “My affinity for rich foods started early,” Hurrie laughs. His update  which we have adapted for the home cook here, 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. And since you like stroganoff? Here’s another, classic versionto try, with the story of the original stroganoff.

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Must Have Noodles

Veal Stroganoff

January 20, 2019

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 stroganoff the world came to love was served in Stroganov’s family kitchens for a good number of years before it was published in a Russian cookbook in 1871. Continue Reading…

Soup Kitchen

Leek & Potato Soup

January 7, 2019

There is a delicious vegetable soup in this post. But first? Some stories. I don’t know why but I awoke full of them—mostly about my grandfather. Grandpa was a big believer in a vegetable diet, eating large quantities of carrots and beets, celery and onions, turnips and potatoes, green beans and cabbage, most of which he peeled and chopped while sitting on a little handmade wooden perch called his “stropping stool.” 

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Meaty Mainstays

Ancho-Braised Lamb Shanks

January 5, 2019

It’s 12th night tonight! I’m not in baking mode–running about in the sunshine with my boys–so no kings cake,  but tomorrow, will make this wonderful dish in keeping with the Spanish tradition on Epiphany (Reyes) of eating one last feast of the holiday season, including slow-roast lamb. This  “low & slow” fabulosity is a dish you can start in the morning and feast on at dinner.  You’ll put it in the oven with a full gallon of chili-spiked braising liquid which, simmered down for four hours, still leaves plenty to reheat and glaze the shanks for several reprises. Served with little pearls of Israeli couscous, rich gravy & a sauce of preserved lemon, mint, garlic and Greek yogurt, these ancho-spiced shanks make a meal full of bright flavors.

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Holiday Baked Treats

Mincemeat Tarts

December 30, 2018

Among the traditional Holiday foods once beloved, but now maligned, mincemeat sadly ranks up there behind fruitcake. Dating back to the 11th century, mincemeat pie was a holiday food packed (along with the meat, fruit, sugar and spice) with a lot of religious symbolism, . The trio of spices for example–cinnamon, clove and nutmeg, represented the gifts of the Magi. The crust (or casing) was shaped like a cradle (i.e. manger), and topped with an itty-bitty baby Jesus : ) Continue Reading…