Browsing Tag

vintage recipe

Pie Revival

Summerberry Pie

June 26, 2022

Juneberry, Sugarplum, Shadblow, Saskatoon…there are many names around the U.S. and Canada for what we know in Illinois as the Serviceberry tree. We planted ours to beautify the landscape 24 years ago and were delighted to learn that the pretty red berries are edible, with a flavor profile similar to blueberries (but more redberry-ish) and even higher in protein, dietary fiber, calcium, magnesium & manganese. No wonder Native Americans used them to make pemmican!

This year, I used the berries in combination with raspberries, blackberries and blueberries to make this fabulous summer berry pie. You can alter the berry-to-berry ratio, just be sure to use fewer blueberries than the other types of berry, and you will still need about 7 cups of fruit which should mound up nicely in your 9-inch, deep-dish pie plate. While American farms don’t grow serviceberries for sale, my foodie friends let me know that they are available frozen here, from Canada: Saskatoon or Juneberries Continue Reading…


Classic Bolognese Ragu

February 22, 2022

Known in Italy as “ragù alla Bolognese” this rich meat sauce actually has very little tomato in the sauce–a surprise to many American home cooks. The deeply satisfying flavors come from long, slow cooking of the vegetables and meats. First referenced in a cookbook by Pellegrino Artusi in 1891, the original recipe called for lean veal, pancetta, onion and carrot cooked in butter, plus mushrooms, broth and a ½ glass of cream which was added at the end. Evolved over the decades to include a few other ingredients—most notably tomato paste, the sauce has become a favorite world-wide.

We hewed pretty closely to the original with our Bolognese. To make it, you’ll begin with soffritto (from the Italian soffrigere, “to sauté”) a trio of very finely chopped carrot, onion and celery. Once the vegetables are cooked tender, you’ll add ground beef, finely minced (or ground) veal and pancetta, plus stock, red wine, soaked-mushroom liquid and tomato paste and let the whole mixture simmer over very low heat for a good two hours. Once the sauce has reduced down, you’ll scald the milk and stir in with the cream and simmer again for another hour.

Although traditionally served over tagliatelle, we like Bolognese spooned over our fresh-made gnocchi, with finely grated Parmesan cheese over all.


Melton Mowbray Style

British Pork Pie

February 18, 2022

Americans love their apple pie, but in Britain, pork pies rule the pastry roost. Brits spend more than £165 million on pork pies every year, according to statistics from the Kantar Worldpanel–more than they shell out for any other pie variety there. And among pork pies, the Melton Mowbray variety is king.

Melton Mowbray, a town in rural Leicestershire, England calls itself Britain’s “Rural Capital of Food” for the pork pies, and, Stilton cheese, both having been granted protected designation of origin (PDO) status by the European Commission. That distinction means anyone outside the 10-mile radius surrounding the town, and anyone using cured meat in the recipe, can’t officially call their pork pie a Melton Mowbray.

With that in mind, our Melton Mowbray-style pie uses hand-minced, uncured pork like the original, mixed with salt, pepper, sage, and a squirt of anchovy paste. Tucked into a traditional hot water crust with rich stock poured in through the vent hole to seal the meat, it’s a filling, portable feast. That portability made the pie a favorite bring-along on foxhunts as far back as the late 1700s. But the flavor of the pie took it nationwide. Continue Reading…

Pie Revival

Peaches + Cream Pie

August 2, 2021

If you’ve had the pleasure of plucking a sun-warmed, fully ripe peach from a tree and eating it right there and then, you know why peaches show up in my dreams. Velvety soft, juicy and with the most fragrant nectar, peaches are one of my favorite fruits. This old-fashioned pie is full of them. To make it, you’ll spiral peach slices over a butter crust and bake them in cream with just a hint of sugar and spice. A good dream in the making. Continue Reading…

Fourth of July

Red+White+Blue Berry Trifle

July 1, 2021

Fresh picked and washed under the water spigot at edge of the orchard is undeniably the best way to enjoy handfuls of summer berries. Short of that? A cool rinse and colander-jostle under the tap at home works fine. But if you want to fancy things up for Fourth of July festivities, layer the fruit with easy-to-make vanilla custard, fresh whipped cream and tender cubes of homemade pound cake in this in this red-white-and-blue berry trifle. You can stack everything in a tall, glass bowl, or, divide it up into single-serve parfait glasses. Continue Reading…

Celebrity Recipes

Frank Sinatra’s Favorite Spaghetti

February 17, 2021

In a 1973 interview with long-defunct Mainliner magazine, Frank Sinatra said, “Everything I know about cooking, I learned from my mother.” Mrs. “Dolly” Martin Anthony Sinatra lived in a home Frank built for her on the grounds of his Palm Springs estate. Her simple tomato, garlic and herb spaghetti sauce recipe was Frank’s favorite. We’ve tested it and see why he loved it—meatless, but full of flavor, it’s become our family favorite, too. Continue Reading…

Soup Kitchen

Cream of Celery Soup

June 20, 2019

According to the Farmer’s Almanac, celery needs three things to thrive: a long growing season, mostly cool weather, and a constant, unfailing water supply. So we’re like, “ding, ding, ding!” here in the Midwest–especially this year. Good thing I like celery as much as it likes the cool and damp : )

My suggestion? Buy plenty of that bumper celery crop and when you’ve had your fill of crudités and dip, and it’s raining yet again, make some of this comforting soup to take the chill off. Continue Reading…

Gone But Not Forgotten

Fritzel’s Griddle Cakes with Cherry Berry Sauce

February 18, 2016

There are a lot of vintage cheesecake recipes out there that ask you to “sieve” cottage cheese. Basically, that means rubbing/pressing the cheese curds through a sieve, until you end up with a smooth cream cheese you can’t get by whipping. This unusual griddle-cake recipe, uses the technique to smooth the cheese before adding it to the batter. It’s from Mike Fritzel, owner of long-gone Chicago blockbuster Fritzel’s restaurant, a celebrity spot which operated from 1947 to 1972 at 201 N. State.  Continue Reading…