Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

Grandma Moore's Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

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by James Moore

ImageFor some reason, I recently had a hankering for Chocolate Mayonnaise cake, a staple in our house when I was growing up. If you're not familiar with it, it's a wonderfully moist chocolate cake that was created, according to food legend, by the wife of a Hellman's mayonnaise salesman to help increase his sales. Although it may seem like an odd ingredient, the mayonnaise is used in place of eggs and oil, making it handy to throw together with just a few pantry ingredients.

It was probably one of the first cake recipes that I could make on my own (by age 11 or so), carefully following the directions on the back of the Hellman's Mayonnaise jar. I thought that I'd be able to find the recipe online, but it proved to be a bit of a challenge. None of the current recipes matched the one I followed years ago (most used a cake mix). I knew that original recipe called for boiling water, because it was the one step that always made me nervous as I poured the hot water in a measuring cup.

Homemade Shepherd's Pie

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by Susan Salzman

shepherdspie_indiv.jpgI do love this time of year and cooking in a somewhat cooler climate makes me happy.

Two years ago I started making Shepherd’s Pie and much to my surprise, everyone at my dinner table fell in love with it. It’s a simple dish, made with everyday, fridge and pantry ingredients.  One more feather in this recipes cap – it’s a one pot dish.

Using the white part of the leeks (saving the green part for my homemade stock), and left over mashed potatoes, I am proud to say that I can feed my family of five (with leftovers for lunch the next day) for about ten bucks.

I am working on accomplishing that task most nights. Making wholesome meals, using fresh ingredients for a few dollars makes me happy and giddy. I cannot wait to share more of my “happy meals” with you.

Pommes Frites

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by Joseph Erdos

pommesfrites.jpgI think I can speak for everyone when I say French fries are probably Americans' favorite guilty pleasure. So much so that Americans dared to rename them Freedom fries when France objected to the war. Interestingly there is nothing French about them. As history goes, potatoes were first brought to Spain via the New World expeditions. Fried potatoes became popular during the 17th century in the Spanish Netherlands, present day Belgium.

When there were no fish to fry, the poorer citizens fried potatoes. Sometime during World War I, an American or British soldier eating fried potatoes erroneously named them French fries since French was the official language of Belgium. Another theory suggests that the culinary term for slicing into thin strips, "to French," was applied to fried potatoes and thus the name.

However the story goes, fried potatoes or pommes frites have achieved worldwide acclaim. American fast food chains accepted them as their own and their popularity soared. Once you bite into a golden crisp fry with a pure white fluffy interior, you just can't stop at one.

Remembered

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by Cathy Pollak

lemonpie.jpgWell I'm back.  I guess I took a vacation of sorts.  Since my Mom was visiting I took some time to hang out and just relax.  Except we didn't relax at all.  If we weren't out and about, we were cooking and cooking and cooking.

I swear it was like America's Test Kitchen.  As soon as we would take a pie out of the oven we would put another back in.  Sometimes it was the same type of pie, just a different crust.

Ultimately in our pie-baking ventures, we concluded, crusts made with shortening are easiest to work with and taste the best.  The butter crusts just didn't compare.  I really didn't believe that would be the case but was so true.  The shortening crusts were flakier and much easier to roll out.  My Mom has always made her crusts with shortening and it was nice to finally do side-by-side comparisons.  Shortening is definitely the way to go.

When I was a kid, we always had Mom's Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie.  I was always impressed by the sheer beauty of this dessert.  I could never understand how the fluffy topping could go in the oven and survive.

Mimi's Apple Butter

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by James Farmer III

applebutter.jpgPilgrimages to the mountains this fall by my grandparents have yielded this Farmer with apples aplenty. Pies, cakes, and tarts have abounded this season and finally, after much persistence i.e. nagging and begging on my part, Mimi has made her Apple Butter.

This delicacy has a longstanding place in my memory of warmth and delight, for Mema, Mimi’s mother, would make this and the smell and taste bring back memories of her. She would fill dough with this apple concoction and bake apple turnovers or fry apple fritters. Mimi has perfected the recipe and we use it on breads, biscuits, poundcake, or simply as dessert itself. I take only a spoonful at a time, yet, still, the jar keeps diminishing in volume. I suppose it is the spoonfuls throughout the day that cause the diminishment.

This sauce is that good – you’ll find yourself sampling right off the stove and right out of the fridge… hot or cold, warm or cool, Mimi’s Apple Butter will surely become a favorite. With the holidays fast approaching, jar some apple butter to give to your neighbors, friends, and loved ones, that is, if you can bear to share!

Best Ever Banana Layer Cake

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by James Moore

bananacake.jpgMy friend Chris was recently visiting LA and I decided to surprise him with one of his favorites - Banana Cake. He lives in NYC and loves to stop by Billy’s Bakery and pick up a whole Banana cake to take home. They have great homemade baked goods and it’s definitely worth stopping by when you’re in the city. Their version of Banana Cake is quite dense with a sugary sweet frosting but I prefer a lighter more tender cake with smooth silky cream cheese frosting.

The trick is to not overbeat the cake batter, especially when adding the mashed bananas which can make the cake gummy and dense. The frosting has lots of cream cheese but the mixing method maintains a billowy fluffy finish.

Not Just Any Old Scones

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by Sue Doeden

ImageThere is something indulgent about starting the day with a cup of rich dark coffee, (no cream or sugar, thank you), and a big, warm, moist scone that is loaded with dried apricots and a generous amount of big chunks of nuts and maybe, sometimes, still-soft morsels of dark chocolate that melt on the tongue with each bite.

But, the coffee must be aromatic and wonderful. These days, my morning coffee is French press. And the scone, well, it can’t be just any old scone.

The scones I eat must be my own homemade variety. Yes, they are full of fat. That’s why they are pure indulgence. And, that’s why I make them only as a special treat once in a while. But, it is the fat that makes them so moist and flavorful.

Veal Chops, How I Love Thee

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by Brenda Athanus

veal_chop1.jpgThere is food that sustains us and then there are foods that make us happy, content and "primally" nourished. I don't eat food that has any labels or tags to read. I just eat the raw ingredient that has a little story to tell me quietly about how I should best cook it.

Whether it be vegetable or fish or meat or grain looking at it inspires me to figure out how best to prepare it in this moment. Recipes are only a guideline. It is the cook's choice to have a little fun or a burst of creativity and I guess that depends on the ingredients in front of you and how deeply you react to them.

I have to admit I am a veal chop junkie and I am verbalizing it to the world! I LOVE VEAL CHOPS, HOPELESSLY!!!  Whenever I say that, which is rarely I look around like I was talking about George W. Bush because everyone has a reaction to veal and I am sure that it isn't fifty fifty.

Braised Endive

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by Matt Armendariz

braisedendive.jpgWell it certainly seems that Molly Stevens All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking cookbook hasn’t been the best for me. It’s honed in on my compulsive nature and practically forced me to braise anything and everything this past week.

Why was this never added to our collection until now? Where have I been all this time? Jeez.

And I know I know, braising as a primary cooking method can get a bit tiring if overdone; it is possible to become bored with a method that leaves everything soft, tender, and moist. Ok, that was a joke folks! I don’t think I’d ever get tired of braising if it’s limited to this time of year when I don’t mind neglecting the crunch of a baby spring vegetable or the snap of a green pea.

It's Not a Holiday Unless There's Dip

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by Cathy Pollak

caperdip.jpgThis weekend in the United States we celebrate Labor Day.  A holiday that originated in the 1880's to give the working citizens of America a day of rest. 

I think for Americans it is a more significant celebration of the end of summer. 

It's not Labor Day (or any holiday) unless I have some type of "dip".  It doesn't matter what kind, just as long as it exists in some shape or form in my kitchen.

Yesterday I was having a terrible salt craving so I opted for something with capers to satisfy the urge.  I make this Lemon-Caper Dip in two versions, low-fat and full-of-fat.  Of course my husband prefers the full-of-fat version but it's easy to make either way and is only a matter of switching out one of the ingredients. 

I made the lower-fat version this time using yogurt but for the full-of-fat version just substitute mayonnaise for the yogurt, it's really good that way too.

 

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