Cookie Kitchen

Lutz’s Raspberry Nut Bars

December 7, 2016

One of Chicago’s most famous pastry chefs until his death in 2011, Lutz Olkiewicz  was sweets master at the Drake hotel for 25 years, followed by corporate pastry-chefdom at Sara Lee. Although known for complicated treats, Lutz worked wonders with simple desserts, too. These Raspberry Nut bar cookies are a good example. Continue Reading…

Cookie Kitchen

Grandma Bertha’s Apricot Delights

December 7, 2016

Although there’s not much razzle dazzle on the outside, beauty–delicate, buttery, apricot-tender, cinnamon-sugared perfection–lies within.  Susan Levin of Long Grove, IL, tells us that as an only child, she loved going to her Grandma Bertha’s for a Saturday-night sleepover full of baking. Years later, Susan acquired a boyfriend with a, “serious sweet tooth.”  He, too, loved Grandma’s Apricot Delights. So much so, that he made a special plea that Susan learn how to make them. Continue Reading…

Cookie Kitchen

Old-fashioned Butter Cookies

December 7, 2016

When I was growing up, our sometime babysitter Shirley loved baking. I can still see her, arms crossed behind her back, sensible shoe tapping, peering through her black-rimmed glasses through the window of our 1970s wall oven.  Shirley shooed us away from the raw dough, convinced we’d die of raw-egg poisoning. But she did let us decorate the cookies–garish overloads of sugar sprinkles, for sure. No matter how many batches of creative cookies I bake, this classic is always included. Continue Reading…

Soup Kitchen

Chicken Consomme with Marrow Dumplings

December 6, 2016

While the chicken soup I grew up with was a hearty rustic version, friends of mine have sung the praises of more delicate matzo ball and other dumpling soups, where the flavor of the vegetables and chicken is concentrated in a rich broth.  I found this lovely example in a handwritten cookbook from the 1890s that a friend loaned me. Continue Reading…

Cookie Kitchen

Orange Dips

December 6, 2016

In 1961, these light, fresh-orange-and-sugar-glazed, tea cookies won Scott the first-ever bake-off at Fairbanks, Alaska’s Tanana Valley State Fair, making her Grand Champion. Scott brought the family recipe–for which she credits Pauline Angerhofer—to Alaska with her from South Dakota in 1953. I visited her there in Fairbanks to learn about the cookies and her other Tanana Valley fair exploits. Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Coffee & Molasses Dream Bars

November 29, 2016

Richly flavored with molasses, strong coffee and a generous portion of ground cloves, these bars are one of my favorite holiday baking treats. They’re adapted from a recipe originally published 33 years ago in a community cookbook from Ladies Aid at Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in South Milwaukee, WI. Slather the coffee icing on while the bars are still warm. Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Spiced Butternut Squash Pie & Southern Sweet Potato Pie

November 22, 2016

Ever since a food blogger published an article early this fall talking about her shock and horror at discovering that Libby’s canned pumpkin was in fact, squash, Libby’s has been inundated with questions from panicked pumpkin pie bakers. Turns out the whole kafuffle was one of preferred parlance: The word ‘pumpkin” has no biological or scientific meaning. Part of the cucurbita genus, “pumpkins” can legitimately be called squash, pumpkin or gourd depending on where you happen to live. To help abate the canned pumpkin panic: Libby’s “pumpkin” is packed from their pale-skinned, proprietary Dickinson cucurbita cultivar. So no worries, people. On the home-made front? Lost Recipes Found did its own experiments years ago and found little difference Continue Reading…

On The Side

Sausage & Sage Stuffing

November 21, 2016

The scent of toasting bread cubes, sausage in the skillet and fresh snipped sage just make Thanksgiving morning what it should be in my house. This stuffing is IT: nubbins of onion and celery, crumbled sausage and plenty of sage… forever the stuff of my poultry-pairing dreams. My mom used to include plumped raisins and giblets in the mix, but honestly, ick (!)– I like it without. And  prepackaged stuffing mix is icky too. Toast the bread cubes yourself! It’s cheap and easy and the aroma is heavenly. Continue Reading…

Cake Walk

Persimmon Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting

November 10, 2016

For anybody unfamiliar, persimmons are native to America, highly-nutritious and once prized by American Indians and early settlers. They also make a fabulous cake. Last year, to really experience these, I went on an October jaunt to persimmon-expert Jerry Lehman’s 85-acre orchard near Terre Haute in southwestern Vigo County, Indiana. Right out of the car, I learned that what looks really pretty still on the tree, may not be ready to eat: Pluck an unripe persimmon as I did and it will turn your mouth inside out with pucker As the writers of persimmonpudding.com put it: “Tannins in [unripe] persimmons make your tongue, cheeks, and gums feel as though you’re chewing on a cross between aspirin, alum, and chalk.” With a little tutelage from an amused Jerry, I learned that the fruits are best when they ripen on the tree and drop to the ground, to be carefully plucked up by harvesters making their way along the tree rows. (Labor-intensive, yes, but the fruit is truly luscious that way.)  Continue Reading…

Must Have Noodles

Veal Stroganoff

November 3, 2016

When Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov wasn’t busy commanding the Russian infantry in Napoleonic Wars, he feasted. Historians suggest that an early version of the multi-splendored stroganoff was served in Stroganov’s family kitchens for a good number of years before it was published in a Russian cookbook in 1871. Hence, the name. Continue Reading…