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 holiday dining 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.
The years Chef Rob Hurrie spent as executive chef at the American Club’s Blackwolf Run & Whistling Straits, and at his Margaux Bistro & Wine Bar, inform the comfort foods he serves at his new 2-unit concept, The Black Pig.
Yes, burgers, fries and mac ‘n’ cheese appeal to daily-dining Sheboyganites & regulars at his newest Elkhart Lake, WI, location, but Hurrie’s hold-the-bar-high sourcing standard and savvy for finding the best-ingredients used even in those dishes gives The Black Pig universal foodie appeal.
Organic produce, cheese and microbrews are locally sourced from multiple growers & producers. And The Black Pig is one of the only places up this way doing whole-hog cooking. Hurrie and staff process Berkshire pigs from Golden Bear Farms into signature menu features such as the cider-glazed pork belly on the jalapeno & aged cheddar cornbread egg sandwich, the Berkshire pork egg rolls (with braised red cabbage, bacon, apple and sweet & sour dipping sauce,) and the P.A.T. sandwich (house-cured pancetta with arugula, tomato jam, parmesan and garlic aioli on house-made bread.
But for anybody opting out on pork, both gourmet french fries and gussied-up mac ‘n’ cheese, are each served four different ways. Plus, there are seasonally-changing poultry & veg options like this Fall’s Butternut squash risotto with roasted Brussels sprouts, sautéed kale, Sartori parmesan cheese and sun-dried cranberry gastrique, and, the flat bread with duck confit & brie, a roasted garlic and caramelized onion sauce, spinach and sun-dried cherries. And Hurrie does lovely things with beef.
His deeply-flavorful short-rib bourguignon, for example, is a 2014 menu highlight you can try at the restaurant. But to tide you over between visits? Hurrie kindly gave us this home-cook-scaled spin on that dish, a shortrib stroganoff that honors his own favorite childhood dish. “My affinity for rich foods started early,” Hurrie laughs, describing his Mom’s “2-cans-of-condensed-soup with ground beef, bacon & sour cream” stroganoff. Hurrie’s update is a short rib slow-braise with soooo many good things: red wine & sherry, rosemary & thyme, mushrooms & bacon, crème fraiche and truffle oil.
When you’re ready to make this, you could go all-out and order Golden Bear Farm bacon through the Goodside Grocery Co-op in Sheboygan (call or e-mail them at the number on the site to let them know what you’re after.) Or just use good quality applewood-smoked bacon. Either way, this is one of the best “Chef Recipes with Vintage Flair” dishes we have featured at LRF.
Kirby Metoxen has the unenviable position of being tourism coordinator for the Oneida Nation in Oneida, WI. Unenviable, because–as with any closeknit community– there will forever be a push-pull between those who want to welcome the outside in for a deeper understanding of customs and traditions, and those who want to keep traditions quietly to themselves. The feeling is somewhat akin to a church community, with a few folks focused on outreach, and the rest of the flock focused on…all those other things flocks focus on. Kirby takes that in stride, cheerfully driving the journalist of the day (me) to meet with one tribal member after another, chatting up anyone and everyone willing to talk about Oneida foodway traditions. Chief among these? Oneida white corn. One of the three sisters, corn figures prominently in the Oneida creation story–a story that makes it very clear that Oneidas need to nurture their corn and keep it growing. Decades ago, Green Bay Oneida’s traveled back to their original homelands in Eastern New York to get the seed for the white corn that they cultivate today.
Jeff Metoxen, director of the Tsyunkehkwa (joon-hey-qwa) agricultural site where the corn is grown, harvested and dried on the Oneida reservation near Green Bay, WI, says the heirloom variety–sometimes called “110-Day Corn”– is planted each year, producing 8 to 10,000 pounds of corn for the community (and anybody like you or me who knows about the stuff) every season.
Everything about this corn is a labor of love: Each corn plant produces only one cob. Because the corn has such a high moisture content, it has traditionally been harvested by hand (!) and then braided into bundles for drying–problematic when you get to bigger production. While the corn can’t be harvested by combines, Oneida has been working with agronomists and Brown County extension offices to find other mechanized ways–such as one-row pickers–to keep up. “We’re still balancing out how to maintain traditions and customs, while bringing in today’s technology and advantages to make sure that white corn is always around for our future generations,” says Jeff Metoxen.
Processing the corn is equally labor intensive. Jamie Betters, who heads that up at the Oneida Cannery explains that some of the corn is roasted and ground into flour, but most is processed like hominy. First, the dried corn is boiled with hardwood ash, or, baking soda to remove the hulls, and then rinsed and dehydrated to make it shelf stable, or, boiled again until tender and sold refrigerated in fresh-packs. Betters says most of the community still uses the corn in traditional non-spicy recipes like corn-and-bean “bread”, corn mush and corn/bean/&side meat soup. But, like Betters, who uses the corn in her posole, to make tamales and in chili, “more people are broadening their perspective on what you can put Oneida corn in.”
Chili, for example! With a more pronounced roasty-corn flavor than any hominy I’ve tried, Oneida white corn is really nice mix-in to my favorite Midwestern-style chili made with a rich meaty-bone stock, ground beef, onion, chili peppers, cumin and chili powder. You can buy the corn fresh from the Oneida Market next time you’re in Green Bay, or, they will ship it to you dehydrated.
One more word on the corn: It’s a matter of pride with Oneida housewives to be sure every single hull and “eye” (the black speck on each kernel) is removed from the corn before it’s mixed in to a recipe. The black specks don’t affect the flavor, it’s just a visual thing, says Kirby. “But everybody wanted to be sure their soup was “clean.” That’s one of my earliest food memories–taking turns with my brothers standing on a kitchen chair by the sink picking out every single eye from every single kernel of corn.”
Ten years ago, New York baker Gina DePalma shared the recipe she thinks her mom gleaned from a ’50s women’s magazine for this gorgeous, not-too-sweet apple cake. When Gina was little, her mom made it Saturdays, for Sunday supper, which meant hours of tortured anticipation for Gina. These days, Gina makes it year round and affectionately calls it her Hubba Hubba Apple Cake.
For me, it brings back memories of a church-basement youth, when the coffee urns were perking, Ladies Aid members were dishing, and there were plenty of fresh-baked cakes like this one lined up on the buffet.
It’s basically a dump cake–just whisk and stir liquid ingredients with the dry ones, layer with cinnamon-sugared apples, bake it off and presto: you’ve got an impressively tall and gorgeous cake. Orange juice in the batter makes the crumb tender; sugared apples in the middle and on top add flavor and texture.
At Gina’s request, we have not adapted the recipe at all from the tattered recipe card she still has from her mom. Gina stresses that you must use a 10-inch tube-cake pan–not a bundt cake pan, to bake this. The batter rises nearly to the top of the pan.
My lovely friend Kathleen S. grew up 15 miles from Silver Creek, NY, where they still have the annual Festival of Grapes during the concord grape harvest in September, complete with grape stomping, pretty-baby contests, and Jr. Miss, Little Miss, and Miss Festival of Grapes pageants. She shared a grape pie recipe family-friend Audrey C. made every year during the festival. Here’s that recipe, along with my favorite vintage grape filling recipe that I like to use for grape tarts.
Corn dogs! Sausages dunked in thick, cornmeal batter, fried and served hot and crispy, with mustard. Like all other American fried food on a stick, corn dogs have their 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. According to a 1988 story in the Dallas Morning News, 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 batted dipped and fried corn dog in time for the 1942 Texas State Fair.
Easy, portable and quick, corn dogs soon became fast food restaurant darlings, too. Cozy Dog Drive-in in Springfield, IL claims first-to-market status (1946) but restaurateur Dave Barham started selling at Hot Dog on a Stick in Santa Monica, CA, that same year.
No one knows which of these had the “best” corn dog recipe, but one thing’s sure: fresh made, batter-dipped, fried corn dogs have a wonderful crunchy outside & hot and juicy insides that frozen reconstituted just can’t match. Our recipe is a slight adaptation of the 1981 California rendition the Los Angeles Times published in its first official LA Times cookbook. You can swap buttermilk in for the milk and add a little spice, but we like them fine plain. For the sausages? Use whatever you like! We chose short, fat German links. Some people stick with their favorite brand of hotdogs, or do a breakfast version with pork sausage. One note: Choosing a sausage with a tougher casing is fine—but you’ll have to chomp harder to bite through.
The basic idea for this recipe came from Bonnie Harvey, a grandma from Merkel, Texas, who shared how to make her favorite tailgating chicken in a collection of “grandma bests” close to 20 years ago. We’ve adapted it to make it honey dipped, and switched up the crumb coating to panko, rather than cracker crumbs–although you can use crushed saltines if you like. There are several steps to getting the chicken coated and crisped to perfection before dunking it in a sherried honey/soy glaze and baking low and slow to sticky, tender, doneness. But, wow! So worth it. You’ll definitely need to make some for your next tailgating party.
In Southeastern Michigan, “Coney Island” refers to both a 24-hour diner, and, the specific kind of dry-chili-topped, grilled hot-dogs those diners serve. Invented in 1914 at a Jackson, Michigan joint called Todoroff’s Original Coney Island, the dogs–with their beanless, meaty chili (or “sauce” as it’s called in Michigan), were so popular, many other operators soon spun their own versions. Dave Liske, the food historian behind the Flint Coney Resource site ( part of the Michigan Cuisine dot com), says Flint-style sauce–originally made with ground beef heart (!) was first developed by Macedonian restaurateur Simeon O. (Sam) Brayan in 1919 for his Flint’s Original Coney Island restaurant. Says Liske, “Brayan was the one who contracted with Koegel Meat Company to make the coney [hotdog] they still make today, also contracting with Abbott’s Meat company to make the sauce.” Abbott’s still makes Brayan’s 1919 sauce available to restaurants through Koegel. Gillie’s Coney Island, a 1985-opened restaurant in Mt. Morris, MI, is a keeper of the Flint-style Coney flame. The restaurant shared this large-volume recipe for Flint-style Coney Island chili in a Michigan Restaurant Association cookbook more than 20 years ago. I’ve also adapted it to a smaller quantity, also published below. Please note: While I love the history behind recipes, anything I publish here has to taste good, so, my small quantity recipe is a flavor-focused adaptation, made with grapeseed oil instead of melted vegetable shortening, smoked Spanish paprika, and granulated garlic for best flavor. According to Liske, Gillie’s chili–although it uses finely ground beef instead of beef heart–comes very close to Brayan’s original.
If you did the annual Fall orchard trek and came home with far more apples than could be eaten fresh, right about now you’re scrambling to figure out what to do with the bonanza before they go bad. That’s especially true if the day you showed up at the orchard, the only varieties on offer were softer apples like McIntosh (!) Baking recipes usually frown on softer apples, and you can only eat so much fresh-made apple sauce….am I right? Right! So we think you’ll be pleased to meet our Melting Apple Cake, as in, the soft apples partially “melt’ into the cake as it bakes.
Made with McIntosh, or whatever other soft-textured apples you have on hand, this is a very tall, rustic-looking, little-lopsided, fabulously-flavored and pleasingly-textured creation. We’ve paired it with maple-brown sugar frosting which has a caramel flavor that goes supremely well with the apples and spice in the cake. You can serve each layer on its own as three, one-layer, maple-frosted cakes, or, do as we’ve done and stack them into one, towering apple amazement. Either way, be forewarned: The cake doesn’t slice perfectly, due to all the apples, and there is one fussy bit: You’ll have to line the cake-pans with well-greased parchment—sides AND bottoms—as you would when making a fruitcake, to get the cakes to release from the pans properly.
Creamed spinach–Texas style! Rich with cream & cheese and spiked with pickled jalapeno, this is a Dallas classic from the ’70s. Searching out how people ate in different regions during different decades, there’s nothing more helpful than community cookbooks. Compilations of favorite recipes from cultural, philanthropic, civic & religious groups, schools & institutions, these spiral-bound booklets invariably carry at least one or two truly worthy dishes. This creamed spinach–which I first found in my 1976 Dallas Junior League Cookbook–is my adaptation of another adaptation done by Cheryl & Bill Jamison in their 1999-published, American Home Cooking. Sans canned-creamed-soup and minus the processed cheese, this is a gourmet side dish worthy of birthday dinners and holiday feasts. The pickled jalapeno adds a lot to the flavor. For another tasty creamed spinach? Try this vintage recipe from Chicago’s Whitehall Club.