Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

Beignet Bowties

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by Joseph Erdos

bowtiebiegnetAs a kid, I always wondered why we never celebrated Halloween. Only as an adult did I come to realize that it's really just an American holiday. So, I thought to myself, when do Hungarian kids get a chance to dress up and be whomever they wish to be for one day? The answer is Carnival. I never got dressed up for the holiday, but in Hungary my little nephews always did for school. But never mind all those Mardi Gras celebrations, for me, the best part about Carnival are the doughnuts. Crispy, fluffy, and airy doughnuts!

A few years ago I had a quest to find the best beignets in New York City. I tried the dessert at countless restaurants only to discover leaden balls and soggy balls. I thought I'd never find the airy beignets I had been desperately seeking. That was until a lunch at The Modern. Run by Alsatian chef Gabriel Kreuther in the Museum of Modern Art, the restaurant has some of the best food in the city. The beignets I had for dessert were the crispiest and fluffiest doughnuts on earth. Ever since then I've been wanting to make beignets at home. So for Mardi Gras this year I took the opportunity to do just that.

Creamy Chicken Stew with Biscuits

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by James Farmer III

chickenstewChilies, soups, stews have been on my plate and on all those, too, who have supped with me this season. I love making a big pot or pan of something that will feed me for days as well as my staff, family and friends – when you make this dish, all three will surely be in tow!

This dish is also a memory bank of flavors for me. First off, the creamy chicken stew bit is a reminder of a Middle Georgia institution – The New Perry Hotel. They served a cream of turkey soup with hard tack biscuits that was a staple of Middle Georgia cuisine. It never fails, when folks find out where I’m from, they always have a memory or story about The New Perry Hotel. It was always the stop of all stops for those en route to Florida or Georgia’s Golden Isles and many a family has dined at the white linen clad tables, eaten this very soup, adored the camellia prints on the walls and the live specimens in the garden, and smiled at the bud vases filled with the latter blossoms or whatever may be in season.

Mrs. Mary makes THE BEST biscuits. I cannot duplicate, recreate or copy hers. They are small but not tack-like. Butter browned tops with gauzy innards, these divinities are my favorite thing she makes. She will even make them and freeze them for me. But since I cannot have Mrs. Mary’s biscuits, Mary B’s brand of frozen biscuits is a close second. I love the tea biscuit size and the larger size too. This line has won this Farmer over to store-bought biscuits. I use them for this dish and conserve my Mrs. Mary’s for selfish indulgence and very, VERY special occasions. I did learn to share in kindergarten but since Mrs. Mary cannot come cook that often, her biscuits are a treasure I hoard!

Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola

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by Susan Russo

granolaIf I say, "She's so granola," you know exactly what I mean -- she's a tree-hugging, free-spirited, hemp-wearing woman with long graying hair who wears her well-worn Birkenstocks to walk to the local co-op where she buys only fair-trade goods.

Does that mean that a short-haired, Anthrolpologie-wearing, Cosmo-drinking girl with a 401K like me can't be "granola"? Cause I eat a lot of it.

I don't buy it at the local co-op; I make my own, while wearing high heels. Making homemade granola is easy and allows you to control the fat, sugar, and calorie content. It's also less expensive. Don't pay $5.00/pound for pre-made granola when you can buy oats for 79 cents a pound.

My current favorite is Easy Homemade Crunchy Maple Walnut Granola, a hearty maple-coated granola loaded with clusters of sticky walnuts and coconut, crisp banana chips, and tart cherries. I know it's expensive, but you have to use pure maple syrup.  

Recently someone said to me, "You're so Mad Men in that dress." Hah. Little do they know I'm so granola.

San Francisco Cioppino

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by Lisa McRee

cioppinoWhether or not you’re trying to lose weight, here’s a hearty but superhealthy one pot dish that’s perfect on a cold night: Skinny San Francisco Cioppino.

An iconic seafood stew that evolved in the late 19th century when Italian and Portuguese fisherman ruled the bays of San Francisco and Monterrey, some say its name originated from “Ciuppin,” the Genoese word for fish stew.  Other folklore holds that it came from the heavily accented fishermen who called out to one another to “chip in” to the communal stew pot any leftover scraps from the day’s catch.

But wherever the name came from, the basic recipe is always the same: any combination of fresh fish and shellfish–like calamari, cod, halibut, sardines, crabs, clams, mussels and/or shrimp–cooked in a flavorful broth made of fish heads, herbs, onions, tomatoes, fennel and wine, sherry or vermouth.

In this version, all the flavorful veggies, herbs, spices and vermouth are there…but since no one (sadly) boils their own fish heads anymore, I’ve called for good quality seafood broth or chicken broth mixed with anchovy paste, instead. And by bumping up the ratio of vegetables to seafood, the result is lower in calories  but just as satisfying as the original…which means you can afford to have a slender slice of toasted sourdough bread with it as well.

So if you’re looking for a taste of the bay area without making a trip, pour a glass of red wine, put on a little Tony Bennett and try this!

Peach Galette

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by Joseph Erdos

peachgalletteI can never tire of a rustic dessert, especially one made with fresh, perfectly ripe peaches. Fruits like these when at their peak always make the difference, turning a ho-hum dessert into a spectacular one. I'd like to think that peach desserts are an American specialty, particularly a Southern one. There is the traditional peach cobbler, peach crisp, and peach crumble. There are also the peach pie and tart. But when simply baked on a pan with the edges of the dough turned over, you have what the French call a galette and the Italians a crostata. An extra crispy crust sets the galette or crostata apart from pies and tarts.

This crispiness is achieved by baking at high temperature and can not only be attained by professional bakers, but by home bakers too. Preheat the oven with a pizza stone and after adequately heating for a half hour, bake the galette in a pan placed over the stone. This is the foolproof method for the crispiest crust, but what if it's sill soggy? The French secret to keeping the crust from getting soggy is a thin layer of ground nuts between the dough and fruit. The Italians use amaretti crumbs. The nuts or crumbs absorb the excess liquid from the fruit and create a thickened consistency. They almost go unnoticed in the finished dessert.

Crispy Polenta Bolognese

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by Susan Salzman

polenta plateSometimes, Thursday’s roll around and all I really want to do is grab a friend and sneak out to a 10 a.m. movie. Eat popcorn for lunch and then come home and take a nap before the kids get home. This is merely a fantasy (aside from an occasional nap) and dinner on this particular day of the week can be easily coined, “use it up, Thursday”.

I have made a vow to stick to the weekly meal plan and no matter what, I swear off an unplanned visit to the grocery store, just because I saw something on the Internet that made my mouth water. I save that inspiration for the following week’s meal plan. Not only is this a huge time saver, but it also saves money.

It’s on this day that I clean out the vegetable bin, take inventory of what can be used for the following week, make the meal plan and lastly, type up  the grocery list. Over the past year, I have made a conscious effort to create meals with the inventory on hand.

A Waist Watching, Delicious One-Egg Omelet

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by David Latt

oneeggomeletAs with many good things, a cherished recipe resulted from an accident.

My wife wanted an omelet for breakfast and we had only one egg in the refrigerator. That egg was an especially good, farmers' market egg, but it did not have a companion and my wife was used to having a two-egg omelet.

Many solutions came to mind.

Go to the market to buy more. That seemed like too much trouble with a cup of coffee already brewed and waiting on the dining room table next to the Sunday New York Times. Use a lot of milk as "filler." But the resulting omelet would have been more like a custard than what my wife likes, a very firm cooked egg.

So, I did the only thing any guy would do in the circumstances. I punted.

If I was short an egg, well, I'd compensate with a lot more filling, hoping my wife would be distracted by all the goodies so she wouldn't notice the paucity of "egg."

Banana Nut Oat Muffins

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by Amy Sherman

bananamuffinThese Banana Nut Oat muffins are some of the best muffins I've ever made.I got out of the habit of baking when my stove was replaced. I use my bread machine and my Breville Smart Oven but it's too small for many things. Fortunately I have a muffin pan that makes 6 muffins that fits in it perfectly. And you know what? Making 6 muffins is much better than making a dozen! 

Muffins, like cupcakes are really good when they're fresh, but they get dry and stale quickly. So making smaller batches more frequently makes good sense. These muffins use lots of healthy ingredients like oatmeal, oat bran, bananas, walnuts and a little bit of olive oil so you can feel good about eating them. I used extra virgin olive oil because it's what I have on hand but you could use any olive oil you like.

Olive oil is great for baking, especially in muffins and quick breads. The muffins are moist, with a little crunch from the nuts, a little chew from the oats, and have that buttery texture that comes from using bran, perfect to take when you're running out the door.

Quick & Easy Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken Breasts

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by James Moore

lemonchickenSome nights I just can’t decide what to make for dinner - especially when time is short, and I’m not in the mood for recipes that require lots of prep (and therefore lots of cleanup).

This lemon chicken recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s cookbook – How Easy is That? – is perfect when you’re looking for “fast and delicious”.

Lemon, garlic and thyme is a classic combination for chicken – I usually buy chicken breasts with rib bones and skin, I think it adds a lot more flavor to the dish.

Best Classic All American Potato Salad

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by James Moore

classicpotatosaladSummer barbecues just aren’t complete without this classic side dish. Everyone has a favorite version, and when I’m looking for an authentic home cooked version, this is my recipe of choice.

As a kid, I was pretty fussy about what was in it, and my mother was forced to prepare a pretty bland version.

Feel free to alter the ingredients to your own taste – some people might not like the addition of chopped pickles, but I think it really perks up the salad. If you don’t have sweet pickles, you can use and equal amount of sweet pickle relish.


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