Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

Vichyssoise

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by Joseph Erdos

vichysoisseAs the weather warms toward summer days, I look forward to enjoying cool and refreshing soups. One of my favorite cold soups is Vichyssoise with its combination of potatoes and leeks that is simply delicious. The great thing about this soup is that you can enjoy it either hot or cold or even just warm.

The soup's French name makes it sound much more fussy than it really is. But the soup is not really French in origin. It was invented in the 1920s by a Frenchman at the Ritz in New York City.

The preparation is as simple as sautéing leeks and boiling potatoes. Once it's cooked, simply purée. I love to serve a soup like this in small cups as an appetizer. It's the perfect start to a summertime dinner party.

It’s Greek To Me — Orzo Salad with Chicken

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by Sue Doeden

greek orzo salad 020When I lived in Fargo, I used to love going to Santa Lucia restaurant for a big Greek salad. It was a plate filled generously with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, feta and kalamata olives. The colorful mix was dressed with a nicely seasoned vinaigrette. I could easily make that salad a meal. It’s been several years since I’ve had an opportunity to dine at Sanat Lucia, but I’ve often thought of that delicious salad.

The other day I had cooked chicken in the refrigerator. It was meat remaining from my experiment grill-roasting chicken, one propped on a can of beer, another placed right on the grill rack over a shallow pan of water and lemon juice. I was interested to know how the flavor and juiciness would differ.

My pick is the chicken placed over a pan of liquid and cooked over indirect heat. It really is the juiciest and most flavorful chicken I’ve ever eaten. The rub of spices and olive oil on the skin and under the skin of the chicken certainly helps it along. My husband says it’s just as good as the Greek-style chicken he would sometimes have on our visits to Omega restaurant in Niles, IL — moist and juicy with a hint of lemon.

Santa Maria-Style Barbecue

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by Susan Russo

santamariabbqBarbecue. You know what it means, right? Are you sure? Having grown up in Rhode Island I always thought a "barbecue" referred to an outdoor cookout featuring grilled hot dogs and hamburgers. It wasn't until we moved to North Carolina that we discovered "barbecue" had nothing to do with hot dogs and hamburgers and everything to do with slowly cooking a whole hog over some flames.

Now that we live in Southern California, I've fallen for Santa Maria-style barbecue made from tri-tip, a flavorful, triangular cut of beef from the bottom sirloin.

Santa Maria-style barbecue originated in the Santa Maria Valley in Central California in the 19th century. After cattle round-ups, American cowboys, known as vaqueros, would host huge gatherings that featured beef skewered and cooked over a red oak fire. The beef was simply seasoned with salt and pepper and served with Pinquito beans, salsa, bread, and simple desserts. It hasn't changed much in almost two centuries.

Bananas Foster

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by Joseph Erdos

bananasfosterI've always had a love and hate relationship with bananas. They were forced upon by my parents when I was a kid to make sure I was getting my potassium. I wish they knew then that oranges and even greens have more potassium—I would have rather eaten spinach. As an adult I eat bananas only occasionally, because I don't care for the texture or waxiness. That was until recently. I've almost become a banana addict, eating them every chance I get.

But there's one thing I still absolutely hate about bananas and that's when they're yellow. For me the more brown spots the better. Bananas are infinitely more flavorful when fully ripened. Otherwise they taste like eating a candle. But I do have one great idea for unripe bananas, and it's this dessert.

Bananas foster is the ideal dessert for banana lovers. Invented in New Orleans, it has all the flamboyance of the city with its flambeing finish, usually done tableside. My version does away with all the hoopla, but for interest I leave the banana skins on, which add some visual appeal but also helps keep the bananas from overcooking and becoming mushy. Enjoy this dessert with vanilla ice cream.

It’s Coffee Cake

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by Sue Doeden

coffee cake 001A couple of weeks ago I stopped into a cozy coffee shop tucked into a rural community in West Central Minnesota. On the exterior, it was just an old brick building, but one step through the door and my nostrils were greeted with the aroma of rich brewed coffee. Cookies, sweet rolls and scones tempted me from the case of sweets. I decided this was a place I could nestle into for a while.

As I ordered my first cup of coffee of the day — large dark roast, no cream — I spied a cake in a 9-x13-inch pan situated on the counter. A couple of pieces had already been served from the cake, so I could see its insides.

I thought for sure it looked like a rhubarb cake. If I could be that lucky, I would definitely splurge on a big chunk to eat with my coffee. It was a very brief back and forth conversation with the server in the shop that dashed away any dreams of satisfying my taste buds that had begun to salivate for rhubarb cake.

Fresh Cherry and Peach Upside-Down Cake

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by Susan Russo

cherrypeachcakeOne of my favorites cakes to make is my mom's Upside-Down Pineapple Cake, which was her mother's original recipe that is close to 70 years old! However, today I wanted something that celebrated the beginning of summer.

With a gorgeous bowl of tart cherries and some sweet fresh peaches smiling at me, I found my inspiration. I added some freshly squeezed orange juice and zest which compliments the fruit and adds another dimension of flavor.

This is an amazingly light, moist cake that is only made more irresistible by a thick, sugary crust that holds the plump cherries and peaches firmly in place. After one mouthful, you'll wish you could eat it every day.

The Best Coconut Macaroons

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by Susan Salzman

cookie.macaroon.coconutI have always been a fan of macaroons; almond, hazelnut, pistachio, and especially coconut.  Through the years, I have made lots of versions of this classic Passover cookie, but none as good as the one’s I found on The Michaels Restaurant Blog.

Last year, I made over 400 macaroons for the Passover Seder at our Temple.  Although I enjoyed making them, I didn’t want to look at another macaroon for some time.  

This past week our temple hosted a journey through Egypt, ending with a Seder (for the kids only). Obviously, I was asked to bring the macaroons.

This recipe for macaroons is simply one of the best.  And each and every time I bring these to someones house, I am reminded of how good they are by how well they are received.

Simple Almond Lemon Honey Cake

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by Susan Salzman

cake almond.honey Slowly, we are all starting to lead a gluten free life. Finding snacks and savories, without gluten is a conscious effort. And, it’s really not that hard. Gluten free pretzels dipped in homemade nutella is one of Levi’s favorites and cut up fruit is now always on the table. I am fortunate to live in sunny California where my local farmer’s markets are filled with ripe melons, crispy apples, and everything else that is in season.

With unexpected guests joining us for dinner, I needed a quick dessert. And using stuff in my pantry and fridge was my only option. A while back, I had bookmarked Anja’s recipe for her Apple Lemon Honey Cake. I had apples, I had lemons, and I had a brand new jar of raw honey. Perfect. Best of all, I didn’t have to drag out my Kitchen Aid Mixer to make it. Even more perfect!

This cake feels dense but it isn’t. Is light, not too sweet, and delicious all on it’s own or with a scoop of ice cream on the side.

Split Pea Soup

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by Joseph Erdos

splitpeasoupThe day after Easter I always find myself with a huge pot of leftover ham stock. In my family we traditionally eat boiled ham and eggs for the holiday. It's a very simple meal that I look forward to every year. I love hard-boiled eggs, so Easter has always been a favorite time of year, because I get to eat all the foods I love, including chocolate. But what to do with all the leftover ham stock? My mom typically makes ham and bean soup, but in the past few years I've started my own tradition of making ham and split pea soup.

Since we're already enjoying spring with the suddenly warm weather, it might seem out of place to be making soup. But actually this in-between brisk weather has me craving a soup like this. Fresh peas will be in season soon, but until then split peas are a wonderful substitute. The ham stock is immensely flavorful and works well in this soup. You could also use chicken or vegetable stock. If you have leftover ham, cube it and add it to the soup near the end of cooking time.

Enjoy this Easter leftover soup!

25 Ways to Make Oatmeal Cookies Even Better

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by Marilyn Naron

oatmealThere are as many oatmeal secrets in America as there are splattered recipe cards – everyone seems to have a grandmother’s trick or a magazine shortcut to oatmeal bliss. Me? Forget fancy training and hand-kissed organics, because I’d never abandon this pleasure: pulling back the Quaker Oats tab with a satisfying “whh-ch,” getting a nice wholesome whiff, and then turning over the recipe to make Vanishing Oatmeal Cookies.

Oh, there are more glamorous recipes, more wholesome recipes, certainly more interesting recipes. But when it comes to oatmeal cookies, I don’t mess with the oven gods. Simple is best, and tradition rules.

Still – one gets creative, and on this particular day I sorely tempted Quaker man’s patience by mixing a handful of white chocolate chips into the dough. He looked at me sternly as they went into the bowl.

I say keep the base traditional – it can hardly be improved – and when white-haired guy’s not looking, throw something delicious in for fun. Here are 25 ways to trick out your oatmeal cookies – not necessarily ground-breaking, but all tasty and all in one place. I guarantee they’ll vanish.

 

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