Cake Walk

Strawberries in a Cloud (Blitz Torte)

June 22, 2016

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…

Fishy Dishy

Buttermilk Fried Shrimp with Chipotle-Lime

May 31, 2016

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

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…

Pie Revival

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Pecan Pie

April 30, 2016

Was Derby pie named for the hat or the horse race?

The horse race. But a hat does figure in the original name of this rich, chocolate & nut pie. Created in 1950 at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky, by Walter and Leaudra Kern with some input from their son George, the pie–first made with chocolate and walnuts–sparked debate in the family, each person wanting to call it something else. To resolve the conflict, everyone tossed their favorite name into a hat: The slip that got plucked was inscribed, “Derby Pie.” Continue Reading…

Sausage & Such

Coney Island Chili Dogs

April 20, 2016

In Southeastern Michigan, “Coney Island” refers to 24-hour diners, and, the specific kind of 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. Continue Reading…

Breakfast Buns

Caramel Pecan Sticky Buns

April 2, 2016

In a typical day, Shelby McCreedy might deal with, oh, money laundering, public indecency, intoxication, and some kind of theft. A special agent for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation,  McCreedy “deals with bad guys all day.” But at home? “I’m like Betty Crocker—with a gun,” she jokes. Continue Reading…

Vintage Veg

Sunchokes Two Ways: Soup & Smashed Potato

March 24, 2016

Earthy, sexy, silky, sunchokes beguile. To me, they’re like truffles in their scent and ability to make you crave just a little bit more. Peeled, simmered and pureed, these unlovely-looking little lumps transform into a beautifully aromatic soup. Or simmered and smashed with spinach, potato and garlic they make a delicious, original side. Continue Reading…

Soup Kitchen

Borscht (Beet & Beef Soup)

March 22, 2016

I have a friend who calls beets “essence of dirt clod” : ) But I have always loved their earthy flavor and deep color. I like them roasted, simply boiled, grated into salads, pickled and perhaps most of all: made into borscht. Continue Reading…

One-Pot Cookery

Texas Chili Con Carne

March 3, 2016

Pennie F. wrote in search of an old recipe for “beanless” chili that was her family’s Sunday staple 20 years ago. Being a Texas girl originally, beanless chili is a-okay with me, so I complied with this really-and-truly chili, made with beef suet, beef chunks and loads of handmade chili paste. It’s not a recipe to rush: the meat’s most tender and soup’s most flavorful if you allow this chili pot to simmer for more than two hours.  The potent mix of ancho and red chili paste, cumin and herbs are added AFTER you’ve simmered the beef to tenderness. In the last half hour, the flavor and color really bloom. I like to serve it over rice with chopped onion. Continue Reading…