Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

whoopie_pie.jpgIt wasn't until I moved to the West Coast, that I realized how many people had been deprived of one of my favorite childhood treats - Whoopie Pies.  A New England favorite,  Whoopie Pies were always part of bake sales, school lunches, and family gatherings.  And, they were quite often the confection upon which many mother's were judged. The variations in the pie (which is actually cake) and the sweetness and texture of the filling can differ greatly with each recipe.  My Aunt Mary would often lament about the pies turning out too flat, or the filling too runny.  Our next door neighbor, Mrs. Ekberg, made a memorable Whoopie Pie, with a completely unique cooked cream filling, a recipe that she never shared, but I later discovered the method while researching frostings for Red Velvet Cake.  At home, my sister has become the family champion of Whoopie Pies, and has a blue ribbon from the county fair to prove it.


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From the NY Times

ImageThe 1940s were a good time for drinking; eating, however, could be a dicey affair. Grapefruit fluff, published in The Times in 1941, was like a shining beacon in the sea of dull food. When looking for recipe inspiration in the paper’s archives, I moved right on by the date icebox pudding made with evaporated milk and the fruit turnovers that called for canned fruit. (A footnote, which only further proves my point: the original recipe had the uninspiring name “Grapefruit Dessert.” I changed this to fluff, for reasons you’ll understand when you make it.)

This fluff, the love child of broiled grapefruit and baked Alaska, is as joyful as it is unexpected. After assembly, you set the grapefruits in a pan filled with a bed of ice, then send them under the broiler for a quick singeing before the ice and everything else melts. To eat it, you pierce through a crisp, sugary snowcap to discover first a layer of warm, floppy meringue, then a pocket of vanilla ice cream and finally a well of tart and boozy slivers of grapefruit macerating in the grapefruit shell. It’s the perfect impromptu treat: you may already have all the ingredients in your pantry and fridge.

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raspberrytrifleThe bounty from the berry bushes in my backyard has been great this year. I was able to make another quart of red currant jelly just like last year. The raspberry bushes yielded so much fruit that the options for consumption were unlimited. I wanted to make something more special than jam and it was impossible to eat all the berries fresh. I decided upon making a trifle, one of the most elegant and almost bake-free deserts. Instead of one big trifle, I made six individual trifles for a light dessert to end a recent summer gathering. These personal-size trifles are perfect for those who don't like to share dessert and since there are no seconds, they're guilt-free too.

I had never eaten nor ever heard of a trifle until I traveled to England. Once I had a taste of it there, I immediately became a fan. A week wouldn't go by without a need for me to satisfy my craving for the beautifully layered treat. So I ended up becoming a die-hard devotee of store-bought trifles from Marks & Spencer. Sold in little sealed cups, they were the ideal dessert for me who was always on the go. Every time I passed by a store I would be sure to stop in for either a raspberry or strawberry trifle. I was quite the trifle addict.

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chickenmarengoChicken Marengo is an amazing Italian savory dish named for being themeal Napoleon Bonaparte feasted on after the Battle of Marengo (a battle between the French and the Austrians in the 1800s).

Apparently Napoleon demanded a quick meal once the battle ended. His chef was forced to come up with something great with only meager supplies on hand; chicken (and some eggs), tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs, olive oil and crayfish. The chicken was allegedly cut up with a sabre and fried in olive oil.

A sauce was made from tomatoes, garlic and onions (even some Cognac from Napoleon's flask) while the crayfish was cooked up on the side and all was served over eggs with some of the soldier's bread ration on the side. Napoleonraved overthe food and since he had won the battle, considered this dish lucky. On future occasions Napoleon refused to have the ingredients altered, even when his chef wanted to omit the crayfish.

Modern versions of this dish, such as this one, leave out the crayfish and add olives for flavor. Serving this over polenta also makes this comfort food to the max. The flavors are over the top and you will love how moist the chicken becomes.

You have to try this, you will love, love, love it!!

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pasties_001.jpgBe careful when you do a Google search for pasties. I was searching for the edible kind, the Cornish kind-- pastry stuffed with meat and vegetables. But, ummmm, you know, the other kind came up. Google misunderstood. It did try, though. Google asked: Did you mean to search for: all about pastry?

I had just returned to my office after a visit with Mark and Peggy Schultz, owners of a pasty (PASS-tee) shop in Turtle River, Minnesota, not far from where I live. After spending time in the Turtle River Pasties kitchen, watching Mark create very chubby pasties, all-butter pastry turnovers stuffed with beef and root vegetables, I was anxious to use the tips he shared with me to make my own batch.

I first learned of pasties over 20 years ago when I was in Ely for a state Legion baseball tournament. They were part of the line-up at the concession stand. A pasty is a little bit like a filled dumpling, but it's baked, not boiled. It's a little bit like a pie with a flaky crust, but it's eaten out of hand, not with a fork. It's a little bit like a sandwich filled with meat and vegetables, but there's no bread involved.

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