Archives

Pie Revival

Mile-High Strawberry Pie

August 9, 2019

Max Hess, Jr. was the P.T. Barnum of the department store world, a master at selling with flamboyance and showmanship. Following in the footsteps of his father Max and his Uncle Charles, who founded the Hess Bros. department store chain in 1897, Max Jr. made shopping there an entertaining experience, with flower & fashion shows and “every week a different celebrity,” says Jill Youngken, assistant director and chief curator at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum, keeper of Hess-history esoterica. Under Max’s watch (1932 to 1968) Zsa Zsa Gabor, Gina Lollobrigida, Rock Hudson and Johnny Carson all made appearances. 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…

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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Salad Days

Brown Derby Cobb Salad

April 2, 2018

From Hollywood’s Brown Derby restaurant and named for its owner, Robert Howard Cobb, the Cobb Salad is the original chopped salad.  If you had it at the restaurant, you know it was a mix of very finely chopped watercress, curly endive, Romaine and iceberg lettuces topped with crisp bacon, hard boiled egg, tomato, chive, chicken breast, Roquefort cheese and avocado,  served with a house-made “French” dressing that was more akin to red wine vinaigrette than the sweet orange goo labeled “French” on a salad bar. Our home-cook version is chopped less fine, but features all of the original ingredients. Continue Reading…

On The Side

Boston Baked Beans & Brown Bread

December 30, 2016

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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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.  Reader Rita Jessel wrote in telling us she knew she’d once seen a recipe from the ’40s that called for soft apples. Much testing later, I think I’ve created a version Rita will like:  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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Cake Walk

Very Airy No-Bake Cheesecake

September 8, 2016

Cheesecakes come in dozens of flavors and textures. Contrasting with the dense, baked cheesecakes many know, this vintage 1959 no-bake version is so light and airy, it about levitates above the plate. If you have cheesecake lovers in your crowd, definitely try this one. You can make it two days in advance–keep it well-covered in a domed cake-keeper in the fridge until service.

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Baked Treats

The Original Chocolate Fudge Brownie (Palmer House)

September 8, 2016

The Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 was a chocolate-lovers dream: Boston-based chocolatier Walter M. Lowney brought the first American chocolate bars. America’s oldest chocolate maker, Walter Baker & Company, handed out samples and showed visitors how chocolate was made. And the Palmer House introduced the first chocolate brownie, because Bertha Palmer wanted a portable dessert that ladies could have in boxed lunches at the fair.

Unlike other brownie recipes which started appearing in 1904 and specified that butter and sugar were first creamed before being combined with a small amount of melted chocolate, the Palmer House brownie is made with more than a pound of melted chocolate and a pound of melted butter. The finished brownie is also glazed with apricot jelly.  A combination of chocolate fudge and brownie, crispy-chewy on the edges, ultra dense and chocolatey, we think it’s best served frozen, or very cold…otherwise, gooey things happen. (Not sure how this worked in a boxed lunch…) Chef Stephen Henry says for cleanest slices, freeze the brownies for three hours after glazing. Then cut, and serve while very firm and cold.

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Soda Fountain

Summer Girl Soda

August 26, 2016

Still hot? Me too! How about this vintage soda fountain creation? Raspberry, orange and vanilla in frothy foam…with all those pastels, it’s no wonder the Pacific Northwest, Meier & Frank department-store chain called this the Summer Girl Soda. According to fourth-generation Frank family-member Gerry Frank, Continue Reading…