Meaty Mainstays

Kirk Douglas’ Favorite Meatloaf

March 17, 2018

Before there was Michael Douglas (Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct and 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 its crude special effects (first sci-fi shot in Cinemascope), my kids would be unfamiliar with either of these actors. But back in the ’70s, Kirk was still, very much, a familiar film legend. Which is where this meatloaf comes in… Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Red Velvet Cake (Monica’s All-Natural)

February 15, 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Beeville, TX. Not far from Normanna, Orangedale and Skidmore, it’s the Bee County seat, built around a typical Texas town square with an enormous Renaissance Revival courthouse at the center. It’s not like there’s a plaque or anything, but ask around, and you may find old timers who know the town’s connection to America’s long-lingering flavor obsession: Red Velvet. Yep. When chemist John A. Adams pulled up stakes in Michigan to move his family in 1905, this was where he landed, launching the eponymous food-coloring and additives firm in Austin that truly put the “Red” in Red Velvet. Continue Reading…

Salad Days

Quinoa Roast Potato & Caramelized Onion Bowl with Arugula & Tahini Lemon Dressing

January 25, 2018

January being a time of new beginnings, it’s not surprising I’ve heard from readers and friends searching for the healthy recipes they once saved but now lost : ) I told them what I’m telling you: Keep it simple and feel free to experiment! Some of my favorite daily put-togethers are salads that combine the varied textures and tastes of hot & cold ingredients, and, that don’t weigh you down with too much meat or fat. Which brings me to this bowl. A mix of peppery baby arugula, with the mellow smoothness of oven roast potato, onion and garlic, and crisp-oven “fried” brussels sprout petals on top, this dish also stars red quinoa which is gluten-free, and the only plant-based protein to have all nine essential amino acids. Pulling it all together? A drizzle of paprika-spiked tahini-lemon dressing. This bowl works very well at lunch. To make that easy-doable, prepare the quinoa & roasted veg the night before and then microwave quick-heat those ingredients when you toss the salad together next day. Continue Reading…

Sauces & Gravies

Roasted-bone Poultry Gravy

January 7, 2018

I have only just recycled the poultry bones from our holiday feasting. I may have missed that curve in your household, but anytime you serve a few roast chickens or a turkey, save the bones and give this a go! Actually? Frigid cold weather is a good time to do this, because you’ll welcome having that oven heating for a few hours: You roast the bones once with onions and garlic for an hour, and then slow roast them for another three hours, covered in water.  Deglazing the pan with white wine and adding mushrooms and thyme adds extra flavor. Chicago chef Mike Sheerin shared his technique with me a few years back and I use it frequently.  The resulting rich gravy is liquid gold. Bonus: View our marvelous mashed potatoes recipe using best-of methods from Mike and another famed Chicago chef, Matthias Merges. Continue Reading…

On The Side

Marvelous Mashed Potatoes

January 7, 2018

Chicago chef Mike Sheerin has been making the mashed potatoes at family gatherings since he was six years old.  On one childhood holiday, “I had the unfortunate timing of catching my mother on the phone with one of her sisters in California,” Sheerin laughs, recounting that first mashed moment. “She was trying to mash the potatoes and talk on the phone at the same time—and this was before cordless phones.” Giving up on the effort, Mike’s mom handed him a towel, poured milk and butter in the hot potatoes, “And I went to town mashing them,” says Sheerin. “I kept pushing down the masher and lifting just enough to catch a little air to lighten them. I wasn’t even thinking about what I was doing at the time, but somehow, they were pretty amazing.”

In the decades since, Sheerin has perfected his methods. We asked him, and another famed chef, Matthias Merges, to please share, because who hasn’t messed up the mashed on at least one occasion? Too wet, too dry, gluey or pasty, mashed potato fails, well,  FAIL. Both chefs obliged with top tips, and a great recipe. Continue Reading…

Beans

Blackeyed Peas with Rice, Greens & Sidemeat (Hoppin’ John)

January 1, 2018

The lucky-food lore casserole is a deep dish, indeed.  World over, New Year’s eating, whether that’s a Theravidin Buddhist New Year celebration in April, a Jewish Rosh Hashanah in the Fall, or Western-culture parties January first, festivities are rife with symbolism. Traditions vary, but, definition-wise, “good luck” long ago entwined itself with “prosperity.” So if it looks like money–silvery fish, greenback greens, coin-shaped legumes, sweets or breads, you can be sure some culture’s eating it at the start of the new year.  Potfuls thought to be propitious at this juncture include foods that you have to eat a lot of to make into a meal, or, that swell as you cook them, such as rice, lentils and pasta. Of these in America, black-eyed peas are the Southern favorite. Continue Reading…

Bread Box

Cornbread (Very Best! With Dried Sweet Corn)

January 1, 2018

I like a many-textured cornbread: crunchy on the outside, tender inside, with plenty of chewy corn niblets for added flavor. To get there, I’ve tried mixing fresh corn, frozen corn and canned corn into the batter.  But better by far? Cornbread made with dried sweet corn!

This native American staple made it’s way into pre-Civil war kitchens, adding fresh summer sweetness to the winter table. Parboiled on the cob, the kernels were then removed, dried for days in the sun, packed in clean sacks and stored, just needing a soak to reconstitute. Continue Reading…

Vintage Veg

Whitehall Club Creamed Spinach

November 21, 2017

Established as a private-dining club in Chicago’s boutique Whitehall Hotel in 1956, The Whitehall Club was a fine-dining fixture for 40 years before it closed. That left LRF reader Dave Lauer with an insatiable craving for Whitehall Club creamed spinach. LRF reached out to now-Colorado-based Jason Rogers–one of the last sous chefs at the Club–who was happy to share the recipe. Built with an Escoffier-styled bechamel (white sauce steeped with onion, veal, nutmeg, clove and thyme,) this home-cook-sized version of the dish yields both creamy spinach, plus a serving of milk-braised veal–delicious mixed with orzo, or Israeli couscous. For another delicious creamed spinach, try our Texas-style Jalapeno Creamed Spinach Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Chocolate French Silk Pie & Butterscotch Pecan Meringue Pie

November 12, 2017

Making pie crusts is such a soothing thing. A quieting, settling-in ritual that centers you in one place and time as you sift the flour, sugar and salt, cut in the butter, gently pinch the butter bits into even tinier bits with your fingertips and stir in just a bit of cold cream. I thoroughly enjoy the process—and you may too. So try handmaking your crusts this time, instead of buying pre-made! The results are worthy of these dreamy, vintage fillings. Continue Reading…