Appetizers & Snacks

Wine-Poached Pears

December 9, 2016

As far back as the 15th century, English cooks discovered that wine-poaching hard pears made them both tender and palatable. One Syon Abbey recipe had cooks: “pare wardens (hard cooking pears) clean, seethe them in red wine till they be tender, then take them up and put them in a pot; put thereto wine of Crete or Vernage (Verona)…powder of sugar and powder of ginger and let them boil awhile and then serve forth.” Continue Reading…

Baked Treats

Jam Tart (or, Best Basic Bar Cookies)

December 9, 2016

The bar cookie brings with it the promise of plenty, the memory of family gatherings where people talked long and laughingly and dessert was a reward for kids who cleaned their plates. With all the press about eating in season, it’s nice to remember that the humble bar cookie showcased that long before it was en vogue, featuring whatever came from the garden or farmstand. Fresh, first, and then from preserves that had been “put by.” Continue Reading…

Cookie Kitchen

Marshall Field’s Chinese Chews

December 9, 2016

I would never have thought to put dates with chocolate. But wow! So good! The result, as exemplified in this 1947 cookie recipe from the much-missed Marshall Field’s department store kitchens, is way better than any of you date-doubters out there might expect. Continue Reading…

Love From the Lunchroom

Franklin Park BBQ Day Sloppy Joes

December 7, 2016

PTA School Barbecue Day has been a beloved tradition at Franklin Park, IL, District 84 schools since the 1950s. Featuring PTA-mom-made Sloppy Joes that fill the halls with the delicious aroma of seasoned beef, this monthly tradition was–back then–the only day kids didn’t have to go home for lunch. “For grade school boys, ordering food for Barbecue Day was a prelude to an eating contest,” remembers one LRF reader who wrote in for the recipe. “I remember washing our desks with liquid soap from the bathrooms while we waited for the food to come, propping the desktops level so the food wouldn’t slide off. And then the sandwiches, wrapped in paper, would be delivered to our desks along with chips, chocolate snack cake and a carton of milk.” Continue Reading…

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…