Retro Recipes and Traditional Fare

Summer Corn Vichyssoise

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by Joseph Erdos

cornsoup.jpgWhenever I fire up the grill, I always grill corn. I think it makes the perfect summer side dish eaten right from the cob with nothing, not even salt. But often enough after a family dinner, especially the one this past Labor Day weekend, I find myself with a few leftover ears. I'm always trying to come up with new ways to use the corn. I slice it from the cob and use it in rice dishes, in salsas, or make a succotash. But one of my favorite ways to use leftover corn is in a chilled soup.

Here I reimagine the classic French chilled soup, vichyssoise, with the addition of corn. The base of leek and potato is still the same. It's very mellow, but once the corn is added, it brightens and sweetens the soup. My secret ingredient is a sprig of lemon thyme, which adds a citrusy woodsy note. The soup could also be eaten hot, but why not have a bowl of cold soup during the dog days of summer? It's thoroughly refreshing, savory, sweet and most of all cooling.

Summer's Bounty Skillet Jam

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by Brenda Athanus

skilletjam2.jpgOkay, It is true, I admit it!  I make skillet jam, no really, I DO...No fanfare, no canning jars or water bath cauldrons just a non-stick skillet, some ripe, fragrant fruit, sugar and a lemon. That's it! This may not sound like a shortcut, but once you put this on the table some Sunday morning you'll forget that it took you half an hour or so to make. Well maybe 45 minutes until you get less nervous about making jam...

I prepare the fruit by peeling and cutting it into inch-size pieces or in the case of berries mash lightly with a potato masher.  My formula is 3 cups of fruit, 1/2  to 3/4 cup of sugar to taste and all the juice of half a lemon. Start on medium heat, stirring to combine the sugar into the cut fruit with your best wooden spoon. If it seems like there isn't enough liquid add water or wine or fruit juice-be creative, there are NO rules and this is suppose to be fun and it is all YOUR creation, no one else's!  I let the fruit cook down (simmer happily) but if the there are some fruit pieces that are too large for your liking use your wooden spoon to "gently" breakdown the fruit into the size you prefer. Taste it, does it need more lemon juice? Perhaps more sugar, a touch of vanilla extract?


Chopped Tuna Salad

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by Susan Salzman

salad.tuna_.chips_.jpgIt took me a long time to appreciate tuna salad.  I have mentioned before my disdain for mayo so eating tuna salad was not something I craved or ate much. For me, it was always a lot of lemon, some chopped red onion, a bit of olive oil, and fresh, ground pepper.  I was perfectly happy with it.

One of my college friends was from Laguna Beach.  One weekend, I went down to spend the weekend at her parents beach front property.  For lunch, she suggested tuna.  I got a little nervous.  Tuna equates to mayo.  I wanted to be a gracious guest, but come on – tuna?  Then she started chopping cornichons, kalamata olives, and red onion.  She added some olive oil and a whole lemon.  I was relieved.

I loved the idea of adding all of my favorites; olives, pickles, onion, and added a few of my own; celery, capers, and my favorite classic Dijon vinaigrette. Not only is this salad dressing great on a simple salad with boston lettuce and some chopped egg whites, but it’s perfect with tuna and great on a grain salad. 

Cold Cucumber Soup

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by Joseph Erdos

cucumbersoup.jpgWhen it's incredibly hot outside, like it has been this month, standing by a hot stove is not something anyone wants to do. Grilling outside is another option, but when it's too hot to even do that, what do you do? Why not make a no-cook recipe, like a chilled soup? The cooling qualities of a cold soup are perfect on days where you need a refreshing respite from the sweltering heat. And there's no better way to achieve that than with a cold soup.

The tradition of cold, raw soups comes by way of Spain and their famous gazpachos. Originally, the recipe was made with just bread, garlic, and oil (bread and oil were the thickeners and garlic helped cool the body by way of sweating.) After the New World explorations, tomatoes were added to the recipe, creating what we know of today as the classic gazpacho. Many other nations have cold soups too, just think of borscht. In Hungary cucumber soup is very popular during summer. The pairing of cucumbers and yogurt is one that can be found in Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Indian cuisines. This recipe takes inspiration from all of these.

Squash Spoonbread

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by James Farmer III

squashspoonbread.jpgIn the Deep South, spoonbreads are our version of bread puddings and Yorkshire pudding and other European pudding-esque breads. Referred to as “spoonbreads” for their gooey texture, consistency, and easy enjoyment with a spoon, these quick and easy delights have arisen from surplus and derelict circumstances alike – too many squash to eat at once or not enough of this and that to make a complete recipe!

This Squash Spoonbread came out of a surplus of baby crookneck squash, thankfully! Shredding these delicious little gourds on my standing mixer’s shredder attachment (what a fun toy, p.s.), one quickly realizes why vegetables are so healthy – they are all water with a bit of fiber and some nutrients for color! Now, the butter may demise that perfect combo of natural, healthy complements, but it sure does make it good! A shredded onion, Vidalia preferably, adds great texture, moisture, and flavor too.

Chex Mix Cha Cha

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by Sue Doeden

chex-mix-cha-cha.jpgChex Mix. It’s one of the simple things of life.

It seems to me Chex Mix has been around forever. I remember my mom mixing up a batch or two each year at Christmas time, following the directions on the box. I also clearly remember all the Wheat Chex remaining at the bottom of the bowl. No one seemed to care for those dark pieces, yet the Wheat Chex always went into the mix.

About 10 years ago, I got gutsy and broke my mother’s Chex Mix mold. I left out the Wheat Chex. I stirred in some Cheerios instead. I changed the seasoning ingredients. Nothing left in the bottom of the bowl any more. After making it at Christmas time and for Super Bowl games for a few years, I forgot all about that mix my family gobbled up each time I made it.

A couple of weeks before Christmas I was staying with my son and daughter-in-law in Fargo for a weekend. I noticed my daughter-in-law had a recipe on the counter for Chex Mix Cha Cha. She had gotten the recipe from me. I’m not sure how I could have totally forgotten about it. I copied it, feeling very uncertain about where I would look for it in my own recipe collection.

Drake's Thick Crumb Coffee Cake Muffins

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by James Moore

drakecoffeecake.jpgNY Style Coffee Cake typically comes with a thick rich crumb topping and one of the most famous brands is Drake’s Coffee Cakes. Newman E. Drake baked his first pound cake in Brooklyn in 1888 and sold them by the slice. Drake’s popularity grew and the Drake’s brand with it, supplying such favorites as Devil Dogs, Yankee Doodles and Ring Dings.

In New York City and New England, Drake's products came to rival national brand Hostess. Largely unknown outside of these areas until the 1990s, the Drake's product line received national exposure on the sitcom Seinfeld, most notably in the episode "The Suicide" in 1992. Later in 1990s television talk show host Rosie O'Donnell professed a fondness for them, sharing the cakes with her audience members on The Rosie O'Donnell Show.

Homemade Pigs in a Blanket

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by James Moore

These are always a big hit at parties, so I when I saw this recipe on Cook’s Country I knew I had to try them. The most common method is to use store bought crescent dough or puff pastry, but the crust used here is based on a cream biscuit recipe. You can make them ahead and keep them in the freezer until ready to bake.

pigsblanket.jpg 2 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1½ cups heavy cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup flour (for hot dog rolling)
6 hot dogs

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse 2 cups flour, shortening, baking powder, salt, and cayenne in food processor until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in cream until combined. Turn onto lightly floured surface and knead dough until smooth, 8 to 10 times.

Roll dough into 15- by 10-inch rectangle. Brush dough with egg wash and cut into six 5-inch squares. Place remaining flour in shallow dish. Pat hot dogs dry with paper towels and coat with flour, shaking off excess.

Arrange 1 hot dog in center of each dough square. Roll dough around hot dog and pinch seam closed. Cut each hot dog into 4 rounds and place on prepared baking sheet. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. Transfer to zipper-lock bag and freeze for up to 1 month.

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange rounds, seam side down, on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve warm.

– Recipe courtesy of Cook Like James

Sour Cherry Cake

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by Joseph Erdos

cherrycake.jpgSour cherries are revered for their tart taste, aroma, and flavor. They're a special fruit with lots of versatility in both sweet and savory recipes. In Hungary, sour cherries are king in early summer. They're too tart to enjoy fresh, though some people do eat them that way. Sour cherries are much better in recipes: tarts, pies, cakes, compotes, brandied cherries—these are some popular recipes. Here in the States sour cherries are pretty rare and hard to find, and their season is short, but they are in season now. If you look hard enough you'll find these red jewels in farmers' markets, especially on the East coast.

I love sour cherries in every which way, especially in sweet recipes, like pie and even soup. When I was a kid my mom would make sour cherry cakes and tarts, but she almost always used canned or jarred cherries, because it was difficult to find fresh ones. Luckily for me, I picked up two quarts of sour cherries at Cheerful Cherry Farm at the Union Square Greenmarket this past week. Immediately all the possibilities of what to make swirled in my mind. But I knew that making a sour cherry cake like my mom's would be the perfect choice.

Moist 7-Up Pound Cake

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by James Moore

7upcake.jpgYears ago, when I was living on Beacon Street in Boston’s Back Bay, I was invited to a rooftop barbecue by my neighbor. Everyone was bringing something, so I thought a pound cake with fresh strawberries would be nice. It was a great party, and the host, who was raised in North Carolina, prepared an elaborate feast of primarily Southern Cuisine – ribs, chicken, baked beans, succotash, corn bread, etc.

When it came time for dessert, everyone seemed to enjoy the pound cake and berries and I asked our host if he liked the cake. He said it was good and asked if I made it with 7UP. When I said that I had NOT, he replied, “then this is pound cake’s cousin – a real pound cake has 7UP in it!” When I saw this recipe in the Summer Entertaining issue of Cook’s Illustrated, I decided to try it. It’s a great buttery cake with a delicious lemon-lime flavor. I guess my neighbor knew what he was talking about!


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