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Meaty Mainstays

Kirk Douglas’ Favorite Meatloaf

September 26, 2016
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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…

Featuring Fruit

Fig Preserves & Fig Cake

August 14, 2016
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It probably wasn’t an apple. Apricot, pear or pomegranate…maybe. But mythologists suggest that the eye-opening, original-sin-ushering fruit Eve plucked from the Tree of Knowledge was likely a fig. “Ancient Hebrews wouldn’t have known an apple from a hole in the ground,” sums Alan Ridenour, writing in his Offbeat Food: Adventures in an Omnivorous World, “They knew figs however and specifically mentioned fig trees growing in Eden,” leading scholars to suggest that the fig was the fruit intended. And honestly? With its lush fecundity, tender fruit and beguiling fragrance, it’s hard not to give a fiddle for a fig. Continue Reading…

Cookie Kitchen

Homemade Fig Bars

August 14, 2016
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There are lots of new takes on “newtons” out there. Our vintage version riffs on Ann Pillsbury’s classic ’50s recipe for Fig-Filled Bars, featured in her beloved Butter Cookie Cookbook pamphlet, but uses the recipe we’ve featured from Belinda Hulin (of fig cake awesomeness.) Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Banoffee (Banana Toffee Coffee) Tarts

July 19, 2016
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This recipe story moves from Chicago to England to California and back again : ) It started back when I was doing Lost Recipes Found as a Chicago Tribune column. A woman wrote in to say she’d heard you could boil an unopened can of sweetened condensed milk to make some kind of dessert, and could I find it? Imagining exploding tins of hot milk, I tossed that request into the “not likely” bin and moved on. Until this… Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Sweetcorn & Bacon Pie

July 17, 2016
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The waitress at Ernie Risser’s family restaurant in Womelsdorf, PA, watches me looking dubiously at the gravy she just plunked down with the corn pie I ordered.  Assuming we’re in cahoots, she leans in, whispers, “I like to eat corn pie with hot milk, too!” and smiles conspiratorily. Whisking away the gravy boat she soon returns with a little pitcher of milk. Strange upon strange, think I…but, it turns out, not awful. Still, I left plotting something better & more akin to my Midwest upbringing: homemade creamed corn with bacon and onion in a flaky pie crust. The result? This recipe. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Dressel’s Chocolate Fudge Whipped Cream Cake

June 26, 2016
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This beautiful cake is our family-birthday must. After I researched this story about it and developed the recipe, with input from the Dressel family, the Chicago Tribune ran a little feature on my work, and–I’m pleased to say, liked it as much as we do : ) 

Here’s the original story…

There’s no clue that the breezy, grass-covered, empty lot at 66th and Ashland was once the master plant of Chicago’s most famous bakery, or, that the red brick storefront at 33rd and Wallace was its first location.  Although gone without a trace, Dressel’s Bakery was for 60-plus years the maker of Chicago’s beloved Chocolate Fudge Whipped Cream Cake. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Strawberries in a Cloud (Blitz Torte)

June 22, 2016
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I am a strawberry girl. I eat strawberries out of hand, make pies & jams with them, macerate them, even grill and pepper them. So imagine my delight at finding myself  kneedeep in Pete Ambrose’s organic strawberry patch on Wadmalaw Island, South Carolina. Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

June 1, 2016
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I first ran this recipe story four years ago, when the Chicago Tribune gave me permission to take the Lost Recipes Found column I had launched for them & relaunch it as my own blog. In the years since, this muffin has become a family favorite. According to Michael Lisicky, department-story history expert, Jordan Marsh Continue Reading…

Fishy Dishy

Buttermilk Fried Shrimp with Chipotle-Lime

May 31, 2016
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A bunch of Chicagoans wrote to tell us they missed this spicy-good signature shrimp appetizer from long closed Joe’s Be-Bop Cafe & Jazz Emporium (Navy Pier’s erstwhile, family-friendly jazz club.) Marinated in chili-spiked buttermilk overnight before being dipped in Cajun-seasoned flour and deep fried, these crunchy shrimp get extra kick from chipotle/cilantro/lime dipping sauce. Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Ann Sather’s Carrot Bread

May 30, 2016
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In 1945, Ann Sather plunked down savings earned at a meat-packing plant to buy an already-existing Swedish diner.  Although of Norwegian heritage, Ann kept the Swedish menu to please loyal guests in the then-heavily-Swedish neighborhood. Continue Reading…