About Monica Kass Rogers

The "Lost Recipes Found" lady

Simple Apple Cake (Gina DePalma’s Mom’s Hubba Hubba Apple Cake)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Concord Grape Tart (& Pie)

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

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.

 

Honey-Dipped Chicken

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.

Gillie’s Coney Island Chili Dogs

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.

Melting-Apple Cake with Maple Frosting

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.

Jalapeno Creamed Spinach

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.

Apple Pie Baked in a Bag (Streusel Top)

Sunday afternoons at my grandma’s house were full of simple entertainments. Rummaging through her button box to find the fanciest, winking pink or gold buttons was a favorite pastime. So was raiding the gumdrop dish, and, creating masks out of the brown paper bags she kept next to the refrigerator. The thought that just such a paper bag could be used for baking apple pie never occurred to me. But it did occur to Grandma–and to Nicholas Soyer, chef at the Brook’s Club in London, who worked out the basics in his 1911-published “Soyer’s Paper Bag Cookery.” Turns out baking pie in a paper bag helps steam the apples to tenderness–without burning the house down. Since launching Lost Recipes Found, I’ve had requests for such a pie many times. Here, then, is a tasty version, adapted from Adrienne Kane’s United States of Pie. And if you’re looking for more apple-y recipes? Try our recipe for Richard Thomas’ Apple Spice Cake & Whiskey Frosting or, this simple Boo Leet’s Apple Crisp, or our Apple Pie Slices, or for a main dish, this recipe for Porkchops with Sauerkraut & Apple Stuffing.  More apple recipes coming, too!

Jam Tart or Best Bar-Cookie

The bar cookie is a thing of beauty. It brings with it the promise of plenty, the memory of picnics and luncheons and family gatherings where people talked long and laughingly and  dessert was a reward worth saving room for. With all the press about farm-to-table and eating in season, it’s nice to remember that the humble bar cookie was showcase for that long before it was en vogue, featuring whatever came from the garden or farmstand–fresh first, and then “put by.”

Every two weeks, I get to test all sorts of bar cookie recipes, serving them to my guests at the Pig & Weasel, our living-room house-concert series and arts incubator. Last night, this recipe was the winner. The buttery crust works well pressed in to tart pans for a fancy scalloped edge, or, just pressed into typical 9 x 13 casserole dishes, or–doubled for a crowd–into half-sheet pans. For the filling, I have used jams I made myself from fresh apricots, figs and berries, but in a pinch you can use store-bought fruit spreads. (I like Trader Joe’s organic fruit spreads made with fruit & grape-juice concentrate.)

I found this fantastic crust recipe in a 50th anniversary community cookbook put out by the Womens Advisory Committee of the Sears Roebuck YMCA of Chicago in 1952. I like it with my homemade fig filling, or this apricot filling. And for more bar cookie bliss? Try one of my other favorites, such as these coffee-and-molasses dream bars.

Watermelon Gazpacho

When you’ve had your fill of fresh sliced watermelon–if that’s even possible, try this very-refreshing gazpacho concoction as a first course soup, or, as a party “shooter.” I trimmed this recipe down from a version Chef Travis Bensink does for crowds at Heirloom restaurant in Chautauqua, NY. It’s really easy to make: Just chop the vegetables, scoop the flesh from half of the melon and blend all together in a large, non-reactive bowl with an immersion blender, adding the olive oil in a slow stream and adjusting the salt/pepper/vinegar seasonings to taste at the end. Pour it all into a fine-mesh strainer to remove all of the pulp for a very-refined, beautifully colored and nicely bodied silky soup.

I brought home one of those beautiful, round, so-dark-green-they’re-almost-black seedless watermelons from the farmers market and made the gazpacho to serve at a party as shooters, and also served it at home as soup.  For the shooters, cut a small slice from the left-over half of the melon and trim it into mini wedges to slip over the rims of your shooter glasses.  Adorable.