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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Happy Lemon Chiffon Pie Day!

In 1947, a 64-year-old California man named Harry Baker approached General Mills with a secret recipe. The secret ingredient was - salad oil. The discovery - "the first new cake in 100 years," Chiffon Cake.
While I was gathering up tidbits to share about Chiffon Cake in a previous post, I happened upon many delectable recipes for Chiffon Pie. What? I thought. They aren't one in the same? Hey, what do I know, I'm not much of a baker, as we are all quite aware of by now. So, who gets the credit for "inventing" the chiffon pie? Well, according to the resources I found at the foodtimeline, it was self proclaimed "pie engineer," Monroe Boston Strause who invented chiffon pie. As a matter of fact, the California "Pie King" wrote a recipe book in 1939 titled Pie Marches On where he also lays claims to the invention of black-bottom pie!

Monroe Boston Strause
"This is without doubt the most sensational pie that has ever been introduced and is one of the outstanding originals of the writer. Aside from being a sensation, I believe it brought the highest price that any pie ever sold at commercially; $1.90 for a nine-inch pie, retail."(source)
I don't have a copy of his illustrious book. Actually, it's a new one to me:) However, in her book BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking... Shirley O. Corriher confirms Mr. Strause's reputation when she refers to him as "the old master." She also credits him with the invention of crumb crust. Look see...

In all fairness, we mustn't skim off the cream without digging in just a bit deeper. In her book, The American Century Cookbook, Jean Anderson devotes an entire page to the history of these billowing gems.
Chiffon Pies
"My research tells me that these fluffy unbaked pies debuted in the early 1920s as "souffle" or gelatin pies. A headnote to the Eggnog Chiffon Pie recipe in Woman's Day Old-Fashioned Desserts (1978) say that "Chiffon pies were invented in 1921 by a professional baker who lived in Iowa. By beating egg whites with a fruit-flavored syrup until the mixture was light and fluffy, he achieved a filling that his mother said 'looked like a pile of chiffon."
It's a story I've been unable to substantiate. Besides, Knox Gelatine's 1915 booklet, Dainty Desserts for Dainty People features gelatin "sponges," "marshmallow puddings," and "marshmallow creams" - the airy mixes that would one day emerge as chiffon fillings. It only took a few more years for someone to pile them into pie shells.
Searches of several dozen early-twentieth-century cookbooks turned up a few souffle and "sponge" pies, but these contained no gelatin and/or whipped cream. They were baked pies with stiffly beaten egg whites folded in just before they went into the oven.

Chiffon pies remained popular right through the '70s. Then in the 1980s when salmonella began compromising the wholesomeness of our eggs, they fell from favor. But only briefly. Savvy food manufacturers discovered that powdered egg whites, cream cheese, whipped toppings and marshmallow cream could double nicely for raw egg whites.

Chiffon pie is a very light, airy pie made with gelatin and beaten egg whites. It usually has a ginger-based crust and is sometimes covered in a layer of whipped cream, to add to its light-as-chiffon reputation. Lemon chiffon pie is a famous example, but you can make a chiffon pie with strawberries, coffee, pumpkin, mango or other flavors.
The word "chiffon" is from the French meaning "rag". Chiffon pie is first mentioned in American print in 1929. Early chiffon pies were apparently called Sissy Pies (as well as Fairy Tarts, Fluff, Sponge and Souffle pies) in the early 20th century, when they were made by mixing pudding with egg whites and baking in the oven. Now, 21st century chiffon pies use gelatin to set the filling... (source)
I know I should be focusing on Lemon Chiffon Pie. After all, it is Lemon Chiffon Pie Day. I just need a few minutes to shout about how much I absolutely adore Chiffon Pies, even more so then Chiffon Cakes! The reason is simple. I don't do pastry crust. Pie crust and I (and yeast when it comes to bread baking) just don't jive. I've accepted it for the time being. However, crumb crusts I can do. As a matter of fact, to me, crumbling up a bunch of cookies and turning them into a tasty "plate" for a light and airy chiffon filling captivates my imagination. The heck with those pre-made crumb crusts they sell at the supermarket. You know the ones. I'd be happier pulverizing a bunch of graham crackers with melted butter for my chiffon pie than use one of those. Just think of the "chiffonade" of possibilities! (I couldn't resist:)

Off the top of my head, I can think of just a few of the "crumbs" I've used as a crust for chiffon pie. I know I've used all sorts of cookies crumbs, granola, macaroons, brownies, oatmeal, gingersnaps, and even corn flakes. I get a thrill flavoring the melted butter with assorted spices that blend well with the kind of crumbs I'm using. Liqueur is a lively flavoring in place of vanilla or almond extract. Oh, I forgot to tell you the best part about using crumb crusts vs dough crusts. Dough crusts don't hold the moisture as well and it tends to get a bit soggy, where crumb crust holds up better. Hmmm...it seems Pieman Strause did know a little something about chiffon pies:) Just take a peek at Anna's recipe for Brownie-Bottom White Chocolate Raspberry Chiffon Pie. Seriously, how cool is that? Did you read her recipe made the Honor Roll at the Better Homes and Gardens Test Kitchens? The possibilities are endless, I tell ya? Or, did I say that already

Foodsayers chant "the pie is the next cupcake." If that's the case, I can't think of a better time to revive the Chiffon Pie. It's quick, it's versatile, and you probably have any number of intriguing ingredients hanging around the pantry. In Fannie Merritt Farmer's The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book, (1943) there are recipes for Lemon Chiffon Pie, Coffee Chiffon Pie, Eggnog Chiffon Pie, Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, and Strawberry Chiffon Pie. Gelatin was used in all her pie recipes. If you don't have any unflavored gelatin hanging around, and you're squeamish about beating uncooked egg whites, try use flavored Jell-O granules. As a matter of fact, did you know, at one time the folks at Jell-O sold a Jell-O Chiffon Pie Filling? Look at this ad.

"Chiffon pies are absolutely wonderful,
rather like elegant Victorian ladies, quivery or trembly, always delicate, but with a sound, well-bread constitution."

Marion Cunningham, The Fannie Farmer Baking Book 1984.


I can't think of a better time of the year to re-introduce Chiffon Pies in all their refreshing elegance. Why not try a No-Bake Chiffon Pie for a light and airy Springtime dessert? They're so easy to make. How cool would it be to "bake" each guest their very own mini chiffon pie? You could make the crumb crust the night before, fill it early in the morning and just let it chill!

If you would prefer not to risk any possible of contamination from Salmonella, you could use a Bavarian Cream filling. Technically, it won't whip up a "true" Chiffon Pie because it doesn't contain beaten egg whites but the texture is quite similar. I read that you can prepare a "Swiss Meringue" over simmering water until the whites hit 140 degrees. You need to increase the sugar to 3 tablespoons to stabilize the whites. It seems to have worked out beautifully for this Butternut Squash Chiffon Pie. Here's a recipe from Martha Stewart for "Swiss Meringue." Of course, you can use powdered egg whites with true success. (I use both powdered and organic eggs depending on the whether I'm serving for company or for just Marion and myself)
Swiss Meringue
Ingredients
4 large egg whites at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 pinch cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Directions
1. Fill medium saucepan one quarter full with water. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring water to a simmer.
2. Combine egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer, and place over saucepan. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. Test by rubbing between your fingers.
3. Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined. Use meringue immediately.
If all else fails, there's always Grasshopper Pie! According to the folks at Cook's Country, where I harvested this Grasshopper Pie image, Grasshopper Pie was born during the 1950s, when chiffon pies were all the rage!
In closing, I'd like to leave you with a few of my favorite crumb crusts. Remember, store bought graham cracker crust is always an option and perhaps a better way of introducing chiffon pie to your family and friends. First up is sugar cookie-crust. I know the picture of my Lemon Chiffon Pie is a bit "fuzzy," but I took it in a snap and that is that. If you notice, it's even on a paper plate:) I used the sugar cookie crust for this and let me tell you, Marion loved it!!! I didn't get a chance to actually eat the crust this time because I had spent the days prior at the dentist:) By the time I was feeling better, it was demolished!!! I don't use a food processor for this recipe but it is so much easier!!!
Sugar Cookie Crust
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cut into slices
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
Directions:
In food processor, process first three ingredients for one minute or until crumbly. Add egg and vanilla with processor running until mixture forms a smooth dough.
Now this is what I call "easy as pie."
Corn Flake Pastry
4 cups corn flakes cereal
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 cup melted butter
Directions:
Roll the corn flakes to make 1 cup of fine crumbs. (if you have a food processor use it!) Add sugar, cinnamon and melted butter to crumbs; stir well. Press mixture firmly into an 8-inch pie plate. Fill with your favorite chiffon filling and chill.
I prepare this recipe for Coconut Crust whenever I'm seeking a breeze of piña colada. It works GREAT with the following recipe for Coffee Rum Chiffon Pie from the one and only Louis P. De Gouy.
Coffee Rum Chiffon Pie
Mix together in the top of a double boiler, 1 tablespoon of unflavored gelatin and 3 tablespoons of good rum. Let stand 5 mintues, then stir in 1/3 cup of fine granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 3 well-beaten egg yolks. Gradually, and a little at a time, add 1 cup of very strong coffee, beating briskly after each addition. When thoroughly blended, place over hot water and cook, stirring constantly until mixture coats the spoon heavily. Remove from hot water and cool. When thoroughly cold, fold in 3 stiffly beaten egg whites, seasoned with a few grains of salt and flavored with 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla. Sweeten with 1/3 cup of sugar. Beat until foamy. Pour as evenly as possible into a 9-inch pre-baked shell (or make my favorite crumb crust for this pie below) and chill until firm. Serve cold topped with unflavored and unsweetened whipped cream forced through a pastry bag, using a fancy tube.
Coconut Crust:
1. In a mixing bowl combine 2 cups flaked coconut and 3 tablespoons butter melted.
2. Turn coconut mixture into a 9-inch pie plate.
3. Press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides to form a firm even crust.
4. Bake in 325° oven for about 20 minutes or until golden.
5. Cool thoroughly.
The greenhouse is opening tomorrow and we've been working our butts off getting prepared. I miss visiting all of my favorite blogs but it looks like I'm done at the greenhouse for the time being and I should be back to visiting tomorrow. Have fun dreaming up all kinds of chiffon pies!!! Just let your imagination go wild. And, be sure and let us know when we can get a visual:)
Resources
1. BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking... (preview available @ google books)
Recipes
1.. Tangerine Chiffon Pie
2. Watermelon Chiffon Pie
3. "Mile High" Lemon Chiffon Pie
4. Butterscotch Chiffon Pie with Pecan Topping
5. Pumpkin Chiffon Pie
6. Eggnog Chiffon Pie (Dave Lieberman)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pecans, Waffles, and the Classics

Well, wouldn't you know it, it just so happens that proclaimed foodie and Sex and the City actress, Sarah Jessica Parker, shares her birthday today with Pecans, Waffles, and the elegant Delmonico classic, Lobster Newburg. How cool is that!

Born in Nelsonville, Ohio, on March 25, 1965, as the fourth of eight siblings, Sarah Jessica Parker grew up in relative poverty following the divorce of her mother, an elementary school teacher, and her father, an aspiring writer. Raised by her mother and often out-of-work stepfather, she trained as a dancer and singer, bringing home paychecks from a young age. As a fledgling actor, Parker landed her first TV show at the age of eight; in 1976, after winning her first Broadway role in The Innocents, her family moved to New Jersey to encourage her career. Parker worked on the stage for the next few years, touring -- with four of her siblings -- in the national company of The Sound of Music and getting her first major break when she was chosen to take over the title role of Annie on Broadway, from 1979 to 1980. (source)
"Food and people are life's greatest pleasures!"

According to published reports, Sarah Jessica Parker's favorite hobby is eating! In one interview she said, "I will eat anything, from any country, with or without utensils!"

Sarah Jessica a foodie? I find that hard to swallow. I mean really, SJP, as she is more commonly referred to in interviews, is just so thin. I did read she likes pork chops, linguine with pesto, macaroni 'n cheese and when she was pregnant with her son, James Wilkie Broderick, she craved "The Golden Arches" and other fast food favorites. I suppose she falls into that category of people who can just eat and eat and never gain a pound. Perhaps...


photo credit New York Grub Street

In an interview with Allure Magazine in 2008 she is quoted as saying, "Anything having to do with food is pleasurable for me. Any conversation about food, review of food, story of food, picture of food, thought of food..." Hmmm...And this from People Magazine.

“I eat everything,” the actress told People Monday night at a special screening of her new film, Smart People, co-hosted by Allure magazine’s Linda Wells and The Cinema Society. “I’m just an eater. If it’s free, I honestly eat everything.”

As if to prove a point, the Sex and the City star rattled off a list of all the food she’d consumed in the past 48 hours: “Last night I had steak and some lamb shank. And I had some roasted chicken and some cassoulet and some profiteroles and some ice cream and some cheesecake.” And that’s not all. "On Monday I had two different tarts from Once Upon a Tart [in SoHo] and toast and a banana and a cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese,” she said. Oh, yeah: “And a glass of fresh orange juice.”

Here's a scoop for you, albeit a sketchy one, but none the less worth mentioning. It seems, SJP may be working on a new movie in Boston which may have something to do with food truck vendors. Are you reading this T.W? The movie, which wrapped up filming in New York City, co-stars Mad Men actress Christina Hendricks. The movie may be entitled I Don't Know How She Does It. And how's this for the syrup on the cone? When Bravo’s Top Chef Masters returns for its season three premiere, April 6, 2011 (at 11 p.m. before moving to its regular time slot the following week at 10 p.m.) Christina Hendricks will serve as one of the guest judges! Lovely:)


photo credit Bauer Griffin

Pecanolicious!

Yes, March 25th is also National Pecan Day. Let's see, remember this sliver of Nectarine Pecan Cake from a previous Pecan Day post? (click the image for the scanned recipe)

Let me refresh your memory. The recipe, contributed by Pastry Chef Jim Dodge, was gleaned from a back issue of Chocolatier Magazine.

This dessert--comprised of buttery crisp wafers, moist genoise, fresh nectarines and rum buttercream--is a striking example of Jim's deep understanding of harmony among ingredients. The cake is presented with nectarine rum sauce; despite its subtlety, it clerverly accentuates the cake's star ingredients. Jim exhuberantly launches into the logic behind the dessert. He chose nectarines because few people know how to incorporate them into baked desserts. "I devised the wafers to add buttery crispness. They balance the drier crunch of the pecans. The rum contributes warmth. It awakens all the flavors of the dessert...

International Waffle Day

Waffle Day is a Swedish tradition which has been adopted world wide. I know for a fact, waffle days can get rather confusing sometimes. Why there's just plain ol' Waffle Day, celebrated on August 24th, the day the first patent for a waffle maker was issued to Cornelius Swartwout and, International Chicken and Waffles Day which is celebrated in October. All waffling aside, I'm not exactly what you would call a waffle loving person. Don't get me wrong, I like waffles just about as much as I like pancakes. If either of them are darned with lucsious whipped butters or home made syrup or fresh fruit or jam, I would have to say I really like waffles and pancakes. And, if either is smothered in whipped cream, I would have to say I'm really teetering on love!

I don't have a waffle iron any more. I gave it away. The only time I ever have waffles, and no they are not my first choice on the breakfast menu, is when Marion and I go down to the local Waffle House for breakfast. Marion says she enjoys the blueberry waffle there. I'm inclined to think it's a combination of the drive to town and the friendly service. (They love her there:) It seems to me, a restaurant that endows itself with the name of the food they are serving should be the Best! Perhaps, it's just me...

There is a way I will eat waffles, with delightful approval. That's when they are the sandwich part of my Hot Waffle and Ice Cream Sandwich. Then, and only then, am I in Waffle Heaven!


photo credit Saveur Magazine

Lobster Newburg Day

To say Lobster Newburg is a seafood dish made from lobster, butter, cream, cognac, sherry, eggs and cayenne pepper, is simply not doing it justice. Lobster a la Newburg is a but a nugget cloaked in the age of gluttony; The Gilded Age.

Its questionable history is doused with opulent elegance...

The dish was invented by Ben Wenberg, a sea captain in the fruit trade. He demonstrated the dish at Delmonico's Restaurant in New York City to the manager, Charles Delmonico, in 1876. After refinements by the chef, Charles Ranhofer, the creation was added to the restaurant's menu as Lobster á la Wenberg and it soon became very popular.

An argument between Wenberg and Charles Delmonico caused the dish to be removed from the menu. To satisfy patrons' continued requests for it, the name was rendered in anagram Lobster á la Newberg or Lobster Newberg. It is still quite popular and is found in French cookbooks, where it is sometimes referred to as "Homard sauté à la crème." When Ranhofer's printed recipe first appeared in 1894, the lobsters were boiled fully twenty-five minutes, then fried in clarified butter, then simmered in cream while it reduced by half, then brought again to the boil after the addition of the Madeira. (source)

Here is a rendition of the recipe published by Charles Ranhofer in his book The Epicurean ©1894.

"Cook six lobsters each weighing about two pounds in boiling salted water for twenty-five minutes.  Twelve pounds of live lobster when cooked yields from two to two and a half pounds of meat with three to four ounces of coral.  When cold detach the bodies from the tails and cut the latter into slices, put them into a sautoir, each piece lying flat, and add hot clarified butter;  season with salt and fry lightly on both sides without coloring; moisten to their height with good raw cream; reduce quickly to half; and then add two or three spoonfuls of Madeira wine; boil the liquid once more only, then remove and thicken with a thickening of egg yolks and raw cream. Cook without boiling, incorporating a little cayenne and butter; then arrange the pieces in a vegetable dish and pour the sauce over."

Since today is Sarah Jessica's birthday, I thought it would be almost as satisfying to include a recipe I unearthed in Newman's Own Cookbook for Sarah Jessica Parker's Grilled Shrimp with Vodka Lime Sauce. Not quite Lobster Newburg but almost as decadent.

Sarah Jessica Parker's Grilled Shrimp with Vodka Lime Sauce
36 extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined but with tails on
2 tbs. olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Vodka-Lime Sauce
1 cup vodka
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1-1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
3/4 cup sliced scallion, green and white parts, for garnish
In a shallow flat-bottomed dish, combine the shrimp with oil, salt, and pepper. Let stand at room temperature while preheating the grill. Preheat the grill.
Directions
To make the vodka-lime sauce: In an enamel or glass saucepan, combine the vodka, wine, and lime juice. Reduce the mixture over medium heat to 1/3 the original amount. Add the butter, 1 piece at a time, quickly whisking in until completely incorporated. You wan to blend each piece of butter in fully, not just melt it, before adding the next. Work quickly but do not increase the heat in the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Keep the sauce warm in a warm bath until ready to use. Do not reheat the sauce over direct heat.

Arrange the shrimp in 1 layer in a hinged grill pan. Grill over a hot fire for 4 minutes per side, or until just cooked through. You can also saute them in batches, using 1 tablespoon of olive oil per batch, in a hot cast-iron skillet for 4 minutes per side.

To serve, put 5 shrimp on each plate, spoon 2 to 3 tablespoons of sauce over them, and sprinkle scallion rings on top. Serve at once. Serves 6

Resources
1. Sarah Jessica Parker Biography
2. Sarah Jessica's Secrets (@ Good Housekeeping Magazine)
3. Sarah Jessica Parker Will Be Watching the Vendies
4. Banana-Honey-Lemon Syrup (@ Queen of the Castle)
5. Smother in Chicken and Waffles (previous post)
6. National Lobster Newburg Day

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Oh Manure! It's Spring!

Sign of Spring
I know spring is here to stay:
The ducks were tails-up all the day,
Kicking their feet like paddlewheels
To take their underwater meals.


They waved their yellow feet in the sun
And let their handsomeness all run
Down in their bills for all they were worth
And turned to a mouthful of sweet earth.


When they came up to take new air
And bow to one another there,
They did not stand long on decorum
But plunged in the merriment before them.


The willows were too green at the top;
Robins found earthworms every hop;
You could not expect a duck to be
A model of serenity!
Robert P. Tristram Coffin

I found this poem tucked inside a recipe book many years ago. I was tempted to share it with you the other day, for Maine's "Birthday," because the author is none other than Maine poet Robert P. Tristram Coffin.
Robert P.T. Coffin was a writer, professor and Pulitzer Prize winning poet, born and educated in Brunswick, Maine. Coffin is best known as a writer of more than three dozen works of prose, poetry and history. In 1924, he published his first volume of poems, followed by 39 others. In 1936, when he was 44 years old, he won the the Pulitzer Prize for his book Strange Holiness.
On this first day of spring, I would like to direct you to The New England Wild Flower Society. Not only do they offer native plants for your garden, they also manage ten sanctuaries in four New England states. Nine are open to the public. One of those sanctuaries is in Woolwich Maine, established in the name of Robert P. Tristram Coffin.
...Robert P. Tristram Coffin Wild Flower Reservation , Woolwich, Maine: Hilly woods, a brook, and 1,256 feet of sandy shore and tidal marsh make up this 177-acre sanctuary, which borders lovely Merrymeeting Bay. Over 100 species of flowers, grasses, trees and shrubs--including pink lady’s slipper, yellow violet and white baneberry--grow on the site, which is located along a migratory flyway for water fowl. Other features of interest include a lovely cobbled cove, hemlock stands, and a swamp...

"Agriculture is the most Healthful, the most Useful, the most Noble Employment of Man."
George Washington; Pioneer Farmer

Fishing Creek Green House

At what precise moment in time do you determine that a person you meet will become more than an acquaintance. Perhaps a friend? How do you decide? A glimmer of the eye, a reassuring smile or a few chosen words? What makes the difference; acquaintance, friend? For me it was a few chosen syllables. No sooner had Katie finished her words, Do I have luscious manurer for you," that I knew, in that instance, that Katie and I were to be friends.
I'm a firm believer in manurer. Oh, I know, it's not something one speaks about in "mixed" company but, hey, sometimes someone must just grab the bull by the horns. This evening, that someone is me. Yes, we are going to speak about the unspeakable, manure; amongst other things:)
Manure is an excellent fertilizer. It nourishes the soil by adding organic matter brimming with all kinds of nutrients. It improves the soil's structure, helps with aeration and water retention. And, let's face it, manure is a necessary by-product of the dairy industry.

A few of Katie's Cows:)

Katie and her family are dairy farmers. Each and every member of her family contributes to the workings of the farm. The kids, there are five, three girls and two boys, tend to their chores with as much gusto as I attack a bag of Reese's. I suppose this is not so out of the ordinary for "country folk" but for a "city girl" like me, it's simply fascinating. Like a well tuned machine, you can feel the rhythm of the earth the moment you spy the 100 acre farm in the distance.


I've been spending the past couple of weeks "playing" at the greenhouse with Katie and her family. I was a bit apprehensive at first because, although I have a few home gardening projects under my belt, I by no means consider myself a "pro." Katie, on the other hand is a natural. Follow me as we explore

Fishing Creek Green House.


That building in the background is the Amish Schoolhouse. Katie's oldest daughter, Anna, sometimes helps as a teacher's assistant. Nai, is just a few years younger than Anna and when it comes to arts and crafts or playing on the playground, the kids cheer when Nai arrives. Cat, the youngest daughter attends this school also. Cat loves to bake cookies and is quite talented when it comes to fixing any and all kinds of machinery. A few weeks ago, she had no choice but to deliver a new born calf when the rest of her family was at a funeral in Lancaster County. I asked her about the experience when I heard and she just smiled. She's still a bit shy...Arl is the oldest of the boys, he too is a bit shy but is slowly warming up to the "English" lady who teases him about being the next great Pennsylvania artist. What he doesn't say in words, he transcends in his "doodles." I'm going to ask him one day if he would mind if I show them to you.
Sam, the youngest boy is the picture of vigor. I can't wait for him to meet my grandson, Noah. Last week while we were potting begonia's, he was quite the little helper pulling out the young plugs and gingerly handing them to me as we transplanted. He confided in me that Begonia's were not his favorite flowers. I asked him what flowers he like the best and he shrugged his shoulders and simply said, I haven't seen it yet." The next day when I returned, I thanked him with a Venus Fly Trap Plant. We didn't have time to "play" with it yet but last I spoke to Katie, she said the boys were quite fascinated with their new carnivore.



That's Katie all the way at the other end of the greenhouse. The lovely girl walking toward us is Cat. Katie said I could share this picture if I just gave Cat's face a little smudge:) The rest of the family hid behind me while I snapped this photo:)


I met Katie last growing season when I was in search of organic fertilizer for my new flower bed. As we chatted, she explained to me that she had considered various ways of supplementing the family's income before finally deciding on nurturing seedlings as a way of staying true to her farming roots.


After a successful first year, Katie and her family have outdone themselves this year. Their selection of plants includes everything from culinary herbs to aquatic plants with "Wave Petunias" and Ornamental Grasses squeezing in for my attention too! It gives me great pleasure knowing the conversation pro and con for organic vs. synthetic fertilizers will never occur. It is one I grow tired of defending.



These hanging baskets are waiting to be transferred over to one of the other green houses. Yes, there are three.

Fishing Creek Green House will be opening for business on March 30th. I can't wait! Katie has had many inquiries from local residents who are anxiously awaiting the Grand Opening. The other day Katie had a visit from Penn State Master Gardener, Tina Clinefelter, who also writes a column for the local newspaper, The Lock Haven Express. She featured Katie's endeavors in an article she posted on her Keystone Gardening Blog. I've run into Tina more than once or twice as she also volunteers at our local Cooperative Extension. I had planned on attending a few of Tina's classes this year but it looks like I'll be getting some hands on experience right in my own backyard!
One day while Katie and are were rearranging one of the green houses, we assumed the girls were tending to the cows. Little did we know they were off baking sugar cookies to surprise us with. It was one of those iffy days, rain, sun, whisks of snowflakes. Imagine our delight when they arrived with a plate full of freshly baked sugar cookies topped with an ever so slight sprinkling of cinnamon. It was a tough decision but I chose not to weather the run down to the car to get my camera to take a picture of those yummy cookies. I did however ask Cat if she would part with the recipe. "Sure" she said. "I'll go get the book." Lo and behold, this is the book she returned with. It also just happens to be just like the one sitting on my cookbook shelf:)

Sugar Cookies for a Crowd

The Amish expect unannounced company. They are seldom caught unprepared with their bountifully stocked canning shelves and flourishing gardens.
One efficient and experienced cook has found a way to both entertain and feed her guest. "I mix a big batch of sugar cookies and only bake half of them at a time. The other half I keep in the refrigerator for up to two or three weeks. What i like is if someone comes then you have something to do. And the cookies are much better, too, when they're fresh!"

4-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 cups lard, melted
2 cups sour cream
8 eggs
3 teaspoons baking soda
3 teaspoons cream of tartar
9 cups flour
1 tablespoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Directions:
Cream the sugar and lard. Add the sour cream and eggs and beat well. Stir in the reamining ingredients and mix well. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
FYI: According to The National Confectioners Association, March 20th kicks off American Chocolate Week!

P.S. Drop by the trashmaster blog for a chance to win composting books. They look GREAT!!!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Happy State Day: Maine

On March 15, 1820, Maine became the 23rd state in the United States of America. Let's Celebrate!

Are you a "Down Easter?" I hear that some citizens of Maine like to refer to themselves as such. Having somewhat of an inquisitive mind, I came to wonder why. I can certainly understand a person from Maine calling themselves a Mainer. Hey, I'm always going to be a New Yorker even if I did grow up a Long Islander:) And the only Downeaster I've happened upon is in a song by Billy Joel, another native Long Islander. So, what's going down? Does the nickname have a geographical connection perhaps?

State of Mainers may have sea captains to thank for their nickname.

Originally, sea captains had referred to Maine natives as "Down Easters", which was taken from the days of the sailing ships coming out of Boston going "down Maine", or mostly, "downwind."(source)

Keep in mind, for about 170 years before statehood, Maine was a part of Massachusetts, which gives some insight to the name of the state and its inhabitants.

The name Maine probably means mainland. Early English fishermen used the term The Main to distinguish the mainland from the offshore islands, where they settled. New Englanders often refer to Maine as Down East. They call people who live in Maine Down Easters or Down Easterners. These terms probably come from the location of Maine east of, or downwind from, Boston. Ships from that port sailed down to Maine, and ships from Maine traveled up to Boston. (source)

A Downeast Supper for Company

A Maine down east supper might include an array of dishes. Today, I have assembled a collection of recipes from an assortment of Maine recipe books for your enjoyment. This menu was harvested from The Early American Life Family Celebrations Cookbook published by The Early American Society in 1981.

A Downeast Supper for Company
Fish Soup
1/3 cup diced salt pork
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 potatoes
2 pounds haddock or cod fillets
1 quart water
1/2 cup chopped celery
salt & pepper
1/8 tsp. mace
3 cups milk

Directions
Fry salt pork until crisp. Remove and set aside. Saute onion in pork fat until soft and golden. Add all other ingredients, except milk, and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer gently until potatoes are tender. Stir in milk and pork pieces and heat. Makes 6 servings
Clam Pie
4 cups ground clams and liquor
1 lightly beaten egg
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/4 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. thyme
salt & pepper
1/2 cup milk
2 tbs. butter
Pastry for 10-inch 2-crust pie

Directions
Combine clams, egg, crumbs, seasonings, and milk and pour into pastry-lined pie plate. Dot with butter. Place top crust on pie and prick. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Makes 6 servings

Have you ever wondered how a native "Down Easter" would serve Lobster to company? Chances are, for entertaining at home, the lobster would be either broiled or the subject of a good ol' fashioned Lobster Bake. The broiled lobster pictured below was harvested from The State of Maine's Best Seafood Recipes published in cooperation with the Maine Dept. of Sea & Shore Fisheries copyright 1945.

Broiled State of Maine Lobster
For 4 people split four 2 pound live lobsters. (directions here)
Lobster Dressing
Prepare a dressing of 1-1/2 cups cracker crumbs or cracker meal, and 1/2 teaspoon salt, moistened with two tablespoons of Worcestershire suace and four tablespoons melted butter. Spread dressing generously in cavity. Cut off four of the small claws from each lobster and press into the dressing. Place on buttered broiler and broil 8-10 minutes on Flesh side, turn and broil 6 to 8 minutes on shell side. Serve with melted butter. One lobster for each person.

Did you know, almost 90 percent of all American lobster are trapped in Maine? As a matter of fact, Lobstermen have a language all their own:

What do you call a female lobster? .......A hen.

When is a lobster a chicken? .....When it weighs about one pound.
When is a lobster a pistol? .......When it has no claws.

Why shouldn't a lobster walk into the kitchen? ......It's the first chamber of a lobster trap. (The inner chamber is called the bedroom or parlor.)

Maine has the largest wild blueberry crop in the nation, raising 99 percent of all wild blueberries in the US. It is also the single largest producer of any blueberries (wild or cultivated) in America! That makes the Wild Blueberry the State Berry! of Maine.


Blueberry Buckle
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1-3/4 cups sifted flour
2-1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2/3 cup milk

Topping
2-1/4 cups blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Directions
Cream butter with 2/3 cup sugar. Beat in egg. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt. Add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Spread in greased 12 x 8 inch pan. Sprinkle berries on top. Mix 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 cup flour and cinnamon. Cut butter into this and spread mixture over berries. Bake 55 minutes at 350 degrees.
Wild blueberries are harvested from late July (Blueberry Month!) to early September in Maine. Harvesting is still mainly by hand rake a close-tined special Blueberry Rake invented by a Downeaster from Sugar Hill; Abijah Tabbutt in 1822 and modified in minor variations since then.  The secret is in the wielding of the rake-a special pushing and twisting motion of the wrists designed to tease the ripe berries from their grasp of the vine without crushing.  Hand-raking is increasingly being replaced by mechanized harvesting. Although the technology is getting very good, hand-raking will always have its place - due in large part to the hilly and rocky terrain that a lot of wild blueberry patches are found on. (source)

Next on our menu we have a few recipes for Brown Bread from the All Maine Cooking cookbook A Collection of Treasured Recipes from the Pine Tree State ©1967

Maine celebrated sesquicentennial in 1970 with Maine's Jubilee Cookbook. From the intro:

The history of food and the development of dishes peculiar to the State of Maine is a long and interesting one. It has all developed from the plain, down to earth "Mainer's" interest in filling his belly with whatever was at hand.

From the beginning the native was able to take the bounty of nature, add a little seasoning and common sense and come up with food fit for the Gods. The earliest settlements of this country were started on our coasts and it stands to reason that our ancestors use of the wild foods were the first to be eaten on these shores. Add to this the teaching of our Maine Indians and you find that the origins of some of our dishes and cooking methods go back for centuries. Our cooks have shown a great deal of ingenuity in developing a whole heritage of good eating.

Bertha's Baked Beans
Bertha's Baked Beans
2 pounds of dry beans
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
Dash pepper
1 pound salt pork

Directions
Place beans in a pan of warm water and set aside for 4 or 5 hours. Drain. Mix together sugar, molasses, salt, mustard and pepper. Stir into the drained beans. Put into bean pot with pork on top. Add enough water to cover and bake at 300 degrees to 325 degrees for several hours until done. Add more water when necessary. When cooking overnight, I add a lot of water the first time. submitted by Mrs. Bertha Lovejoy, Thomaston, Maine

Doughnut Trivia

Soaked in Maine history, there is a man by the name of Captain Hanson Gregory, the "Doughnut Innovator"? Legend has it, not only was he from Maine, he is the alleged inventor of the doughnut's hole! Who put the whole in the doughnut you ask? Go see:)

Here's a recipe in rhyme for Donuts from yet another Maine cookbook; Maine Cookery Then and Now published by the Courier-Gazette in 1972.

Doughnuts in Rhyme
Doughnuts in Rhyme
One cup of sugar, one cup of milk,
Two eggs beaten fine as silk.
Salt and nutmeg (lemon will do),
Of baking powder, teaspoons two.
Lightly stir the flour in,
Roll on pie board, not to thin;
Cut in diamonds, twists or rings,
Drop with care the doughy things
Into fat that swiftly swells
Evenly the tiny cells;
Watch with care the time for turning,
Fry them brown, just short of burning;
Roll in sugar, serve when cool.
This is a never failing rule.

revised March, 2013

Resources
1. The History of Lobstering
2. Maine Lobster Buying Guide
3. How do you eat a Maine Lobster?
4. Wild Blueberry Recipes
5. Downeast Blueberry Cake
6. Egg Coffee
7. Maine Trivia & Tidbits

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies & A Winner

Happy Day-light Savings Day!
If only I could be as sure about the fact that March 13th kicks off National Chocolate Chip Cookie Week this year as I am about Mrs. Wakefield and the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. The way I figure it, what difference does it make. As far as I'm concerned, there's always room for one more chocolate chip cookie post, right?


...In 1930, dietician Ruth Graves Wakefield and her husband, Kenneth, purchased a Cape-Cod style house halfway between Boston and New Bedford, Massachusetts, just outside the town of Whitman. The house, built in 1709, had once been a "truck stop" of sorts, where travelers could rest, change horses, have a nice meal, and pay any necessary tolls for using the road. Ruth and Kenneth soon turned their new home into a lodge, "The Toll House Inn..."(History of Chocolate Chip Cookies)
So you think inventing the chocolate chip cookie was child's play do ya? Well, take a look at this Nestlé Chocolate Wrapper from the 1940s and then let me know what you think. (you can click it to make it larger)

Did you notice that the recipe calls for 2 economy size bars (7 oz) of Nestlé's Semi-Sweet Chocolate which has been "cut in pieces the size of a pea." Look, the wrapper even gives directions for cutting the bar up. It's Easy it says!
You see, when Ruth Wakefield was "playing" around in her restaurant with her favorite Butter Drop-Do Cookie recipe, those tiny bits of morsels that we have all grown so accustomed to, hadn't seen the light of day yet. Nestlé didn't start producing them until around 1939. Their first solution was to include a "special chopper" to make it easier to turn the pre-scored bars into bits.
    A Quick Timeline
  • 1866-Company founded by Henri Nestlé in Vevey, Switzerland
  • 1867-Pharmacist Henri Nestle develops the world's first infant food in Vevey, Switzerland. It's called Farine Lactee Nestle.
  • 1900-Nestlé opens their first U.S. plant In Fulton New York
  • 1929-Peter, Cailler, Kohler, the chocolate company founded in 1875 by Daniel Peter, who by the way, produced the world's first milk chocolate by mixing Nestlé's condensed milk with cocoa powder, merges with Nestlé.
    which I suppose explains the name on the reverse side of the wrapper.
  • 1938-Nestlé introduced the Crunch Bar. A candy bar made of milk chocolate with crisped rice mixed in. During World War II Nestlé Crunch Bars became a regular part of the American servicemen's provisions.
  • 1939-Nestlé begins selling tiny pieces of chocolate called "morsels" in a ready-to-use package complete with Ruth Wakefield's Original Toll House Cookie Recipe.
As the old proverb goes, "Necessity is the mother of invention" and in Ruth Graves Wakefield's day, that meant using a bar, or two, of semi-sweet chocolate that she just happened to have on hand. As stories go, and when it comes to Toll House Cookie Stories, they are numerous, whatever happened on that sweet day, the infamous chocolate chip cookie was "born."

Unless there's DNA available on the first chocolate chip cookie, I suppose we will never know the true origin of the first chocolate chip cookie recipe. Some say it was a "hyped" up version of a Butter Drop-do recipe included in Amelia Simmons' "American Cookery," first published in 1796, while others say it is a simple sugar cookie recipe with semi-sweet chocolate and nuts. All I know for sure is, there are many, many variations.

If I remember correctly, the recipe for Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies in Ruth Wakefield’s Toll House Tried and True Recipes, published in 1949, is almost the same as the recipe you see on the wrapper above. The only difference is in the physical shape of the chocolate; bars or morsels. I'm pretty sure about this because I seem to remember comparing them side by side when I still had my treasured copy of her book. (don't ask, tears may flow)

For certain we can compare these two recipes and see how they match up. One is from the Ford Treasury of Favorite Recipes from Famous Eating Places Vol. 2 first published in 1950 (1954 ed.) and the other from our wrapper.

Here's another recipe to have some fun with! It comes from Kids Cooking; A Very Slightly Messy Manuel published by the editors of Klutz Press and charmingly illustrated by Jim M'Guinness. Have FUN!!!

On July 9, 1997, Massachusetts designated the chocolate chip cookie the Official State Cookie after it was suggested by a third grade class from Somerset, Massachusetts.

FYI: Tomorrow is National Potato Chip Day!

Congratulations to Pam! Send me your info Pam and I'll get your "new" book off in the mail, ASAP. acalenda [at] gmail.com. For those of you who didn't win this time, don't fret. I'll be having another cookbook give-away real soon, "good Lord willing and the creek don't freeze," literally:)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Thank You and A Give-Away

Chaya the incredible hostess of the My Sweet & Savory Blog bestowed upon me The Stylish Blogger Award. Now wasn't that sweet? I tell ya, it sure couldn't have come on a better day. I had a huge case of the mubblefubbles before it arrived. It sure did perk me up. Thank you, Chaya!

Since I already shared a few of my favorite things way back in 2009, I'll keep this short.

Share 7 things about yourself. 

1. I detest raking leaves:( I enjoy shoveling snow:) Good thing 'cause, I have no shedding trees in my yard. However, I have two huge driveways!

2. I just can't get into the healthy food way of life no matter how I try. I thrive on butter, bacon and lots of cream sauces not to mention Reese's!

3. I miss my ham, egg and cheese sandwich on a buttered roll from my favorite deli in Westhampton. Big Time!!! I'm sure I miss it more than I should because, whenever I walked in the door, I felt like I was at my favorite bar; where everyone knew my name:)

4. I still believe in angels:)

5. I have a feeling my father was an excellent cook. If I wasn't so busy complaining about "having to eat my vegetables," I may have learned a trick or two. In retrospect, I know for sure he could do anything with fish, any kind!

6. I do not like doctors and am scared to death of any kind of dentist. (which by the way, is the reason I have had a throbbing toothache for more than two weeks)

7. If time allowed, my second choice for a blog would be all about herbs. Which reminds me, "Every year since 1995, the International Herb Association has chosen an Herb of the Year to highlight." Horseradish is the Herb of the Year for 2011. While I'm at it, May is National Herb Month and yes, indeed, that spicy root has a month all its own too, July. July is National Horseradish Month!

Image Herb Companion; Feb-Mar 1997
Prepared Horseradish:
When harvested in the spring, the skin on the horseradish may have a greenish tinge. This is a signal that the root must be peeled down to remove the greenish layer otherwise your prepared horseradish may have a bitter taste. (heat is good, bitter, not so much)

1 fresh horseradish root with no green tinge
1/4 cup vinegar (your choice of distilled white, rice, or white wine, more as desired
Salt as needed
Sugar as needed

1. Pare the Horseradish root, or a section of it, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
2. A handful at a time, process the horseradish cubes with 1/4 cup of vinegar in the container of a blender or food processor, process it just until "grated" not reduced to a pulp.
3. When the first batch has been "grated," pour it into a strainer over a bowl. Return the liquid to the container and process the second and any addition batches of cubes, using the same vinegar each time.
4. Combine all the pulp with enough vinegar to moisten it well, adding more if you've made a big batch. Stir in a little salt and a small quanity of sugar-a pinch each to about 1/2 cup of horseradish and juice. (The sugar is a flavor-smoother, not a sweetener.) Add more vinegar to taste.
5. To Store: Store horseradish in a glass jar, closely covered, in the refrigerator. It will keep for weeks, but it's best when fresh.
The Pleasures of Cooking A Cuisinart Cooking Club Publication; March-April 1979 Editor Barbara Kafka

I believe the rule is to pass this award along to 15 other bloggers. I can tell you right now, that's not going to happen. (forgive me Chaya:) However, I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Nadine, the hostess of You Little Tart "officially" to the blogosphere with what I believe is her first "sylish" award. Nadine has been blogging since October of 2010 and is still searching for her "sea legs." Somehow, she manages to whet my appetite with her homemade dishes every time I visit. Drop by and say HI! p.s I told Nadine about the Picnic Game in June and guess what, she's in!!!

Not An Award but Almost as Good...

A Give-Away!

Remember when I took that hiatus from blogging last year? Well, I spent most of it cataloguing my cookbooks. It winds up, not only do I have cookbooks that would probably be appreciated in another home, I also have quite a few duplicates. Take this book of Sauces by James Peterson, for instance. Would you believe I have two? Would you like one?

Sauces Classical and Contemporary Sauce Making

It' easy. First, may I suggest you follow Mr. Peterson's link above so you can become acquainted with him and his cookbooks. All that's left is to leave a comment on this post between now and 11:00 p.m. EST on March 12. To make it a bit more interesting, why not share something about yourself while you're at it.

the fine print: Unfortunately, I can only make this offer to those readers in the USA. Unlike the McCormick give-away over @ The Steamy Kitchen, which by the way is worthy of a peek, Moi is the "sponsor." I have also recently been alerted to the prohibitive costs of sending over seas and it's a darn shame! For those of you who have access to an address in the US, go for it!!! The winner will be chosen by Marion. I'll just ask her to pick a number from 1 to whatever, once I have the number of entries. I'll announce the winner on Sunday, March 13th, just in time for Chocolate Chip Cookie Week!!! (always the second full week in March.)

On a personal note, I have been contacted numerous times to do give-aways on this blog. As you probably know, I don't usually accept. This give-away is just little 'ol me "sharing the bounty" with YOU!!! Remember, this book is from my personal collection so, it is not new but it is in GREAT condition and is a second edition. Thanks and, HAVE FUN!!! Louise

Resources
How to Grow Horseradish

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Oil Is The Key

Do you have a bottle of Wesson Oil in your pantry? I do. Yep, right there next to my assortment of olive oils and vinegars. I have one bottle of Wesson Canola Oil. That one lone bottle of oil is the result of a complex and carefully developed process pioneered by a man by the name of David Wesson. Yes, there was a real man behind the name.
The story of the Wesson Oil and Snowdrift Companies begins at the Southern Cotton Oil Company founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 5, 1887. In case you're checking the math right now, that's 124 years ago to the day. The purpose of this formation was to "carry on business of cottonseed crushing works and refineries located in the southern United States."

On March 5, 1887, the Southern Oil Company was organized in Philadelphia with Henry C. Butcher as president. A few days later, the officials of the Southern Cotton Oil Company were in Houston to locate a site for one of eight new oil mills for the company. The company planned to build mills for producing cottonseed "crude" across the South, and the Houston facility was one of the first.(source)
Before David Wesson's invention, cotton seed, a waste product produced during the ginning process used to separate cotton fibers, was virtually worthless.


courtesy of wiki

The tireless research, into producing edible cottonseed oil, took David Wesson 16 years to perfect.
In 1899, food chemist David Wesson, often regarded as "dean of oil chemists," developed a new process for deodorizing cottonseed oil through a high-temperature vacuum process. This new product originally was marketed as Snowdrift by the Southern Oil Company, but later was named the Wesson Process Company. In the 1920s, the vegetable oil division was spun off as the Wesson Oil & Snowdrift Company.
The first new shortening produced by the Wesson Process Company was Snowdrift. It was also the first commercial all-vegetable-oil shortening. These two circa 1920s die-cut Wesson Oil pamphlets are among the earliest recipe booklets in my collection of Wesson memorabilia.

It wasn't long before the company sent out recipe booklets touting the advantages and uses of "Wesson Cooking and Salad Oils" in place of lard or butter.
This booklet, dated 1926, holds the key to today's post. It has the usual salad information, its importance in the daily menu, the need for basically two salad dressings, Mayonnaise and "French Dressing" both made with Wesson Oil, and a few suggestions for sandwiches and salads. The Candle Salad is a unique rendition. Of course frying with Wesson Oil is also discussed as is baking with Wesson Oil.


"The Most Convenient Shortening You Have Ever Used"
Think of the convenience of a liquid fat. Think how much easier it is to mix Wesson Oil into flour than it is to work a hard fat into flour. Think of the number of recipes which ordinarily call for a melted shortening-cornbread, gingerbread, muffins, crullers, puddings, waffles, griddle cakes, white sauces and gravies.
Isn't it a waste of time and effort to melt a hard fat, when Wesson Oil is a liquid, all ready for use-especially since Wesson Oil is a good-to-eat fat and a choice salad oil? (remember it's 1926:)

Oil is the Key



Lillian Gish

Who doesn't love the romantic feel of shimmering chiffon floating across their fingertips. What if you could transform that whimsical elegance into a rich yet delicate cake fit for a princess?



The notion of combining beaten egg whites into a batter prepared with egg yolks and oil belongs to creator and professional baker, Harry Baker. Baker owned a Hollywood pastry shop at 341 Larchmont Boulevard in Los Angeles, California.
Baker converted a spare room into his top-secret bakery, with 12 tin hot-plate ovens. There, using his "mystery key ingredient" he baked more than 40 cakes a day which he sold for $2 each to the Brown Derby Restaurant. The eatery later placed Baker’s cake on the menu. (Larchmont Chronicle)
Unfortunately, I've yet to set my mind on acquiring a copy of the Brown Derby Cookbook (1949) however, I can tell you that in its heyday, during the Golden Age of Hollywood, the Brown Derby was "thee" place to be seen. Not only was The Brown Derby the first restaurant to serve Chiffon Cake, it is also the birthplace of that infamous salad known as Cobb Salad.
As for Mr. Baker, well I think Betty Wason tells it best:
For years he had made cakes for Hollywood celebrities, who raved so about the excellence of his cakes that Harry concluded his recipe should be worth money. Many cooks have had similar dreams, only to be shocked by the discovery their recipes might bring them $10, seldom more. Harry Baker was luckier; he sold his recipe for thousands of dollars to General Mills. It's valuable secret: the shortening used was salad oil.(Cooks, Gluttons & Gourmets p. 321)
A few sites I happened across tell the story with a bit more depth. It seems, Harry was a fan of General Mills spokeswoman Betty Crocker. (yes, I know:) Supposedly, he wanted Betty to spread the word to all American housewives about his delicious new creation. After keeping the "key" ingredient secret for more than 20 years, Harry revealed his the recipe to the folks at General Mills. Company home economists honed it a bit and finally in 1948, introduced it as "the best cake in a century." It was described as "light as angel food, rich as butter cake." I just happen to have one of the Betty Crocker inserts announcing the new revolutionary cake.



And here's the enclosed recipe for Sunburst Chiffon Cake. (slightly enjoyed:)

General Mills (which is now part of corporate giant Congra Foods) published the recipe and many variations through the years. Rochelle has the original Betty Crocker Chiffon Cake Recipes and Secrets booklet on her blog which includes "Betty's recipe for Orange Chiffon. In 1990, they included a simple Chiffon Cake recipe in their most requested recipes from the 1950 edition of the Betty Crocker Picture Cookbook Creative Recipes booklet #50.



During its "heyday" Chiffon Cake was "thee" cake of the 50s. Its glamourous appeal and sheer simplicity, (as opposed to Angel Food Cake) was garnered by housewives throughout America as their "go to cake" when company was expected. It was advertised as being "fool proof." In fact, rumor has it that once General Mills began its media blitz of Chiffon Cake (cakeaganda) grocery stores couldn't keep up with the demand for oil.

Chiffon Cake Take a Bow

In May 1948, Better Homes and Gardens Magazine proclaimed Chiffon Cake the "first really new cake in 100 years."
As you have seen, as cakes go, Classic Chiffon Cake is a newcomer on the cake scene. It's best described as an Angel Food Cake, spongy and light, with a rich buttery type flavor. It also has more stability than an Angel Food Cake, which makes it simply perfect as a birthday cake. It's versatile too! It can be baked in an Angel Food Cake pan or in layers filled with luscious butter cream. (I really miss butter cream fillings) How else is a Chiffon Cake different from an Angel Food Cake?
Chiffon Cakes and Angle Food Cakes are both very tall, and have a light airy texture. Both Chiffon Cakes and Angel Food Cakes obtain their large volume and light airy texture from whipped egg white. However, Angel Food Cakes contain no fat, egg yolk or leavening agent. Since Chiffon contain oil and egg yolks they tend to be more tender, rich and moister. They also usually contain baking powder for increased leavening. The oil is beaten with the egg yolk and the flour, which allows the fat to coat the flour particles reducing the flours ability to form gluten and thereby creating a moist, tender cake.
They say its all in the technique. I decided to "test" my performance for you today rather than wait for National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day on March 29th. This is what I conjured up; Yellow Jacket Chiffon Cake!

Let's just say, I tried, but, truth be known, I am not a baker. Perhaps, if I didn't have such an aversion to baking a cake from scratch before I've even begun, things would go a heck of a lot smoother. We haven't tried it yet and since Marion is now fast asleep, I decided not to cut it until morning. I can already tell it didn't come out as good as the wide assortment of billowy clouds of chiffon I sailed past during my research. Despite my possible failure, I would suggest everyone bake at least one Chiffon Cake, one day:)



Will I be baking another Chiffon Cake any time soon? Probably not. If by chance craving, I do desire a breath of soft wind, I may just try a cake mix chiffon cake recipe I found in The Cake Doctor by Ann Bryn. (p.384) It's also available here.
Resources
1. Congra Foods
2. History of Chiffon Cake
3. Chiffon Cakes Made Their Mark
4. The Secret Ingredient for Tender Cakes @ Fine Cooking
5. When Harry Met Betty (Excellent article. If you only read one, read this one:)
6. Larchmont Chronicle (Baker info)
7. How-To: Making Chiffon Cake
8. Rose Levy Beranbaum Chiffon Cake Video (I watched this many time:)
9. Chiffon Cakes-Including Lovelight Cakes and Icings featuring Wesson Oil Cakes (@ Food Company Cookbooks)
Recipes
1. Chiffon Cake With Lemon Icing
2. Sunshine Chiffon Cake (Marjie)
3. Lavender Chiffon Cake with Lime Curd, Cream and Lime Icing (@ Technicolor Kitchen)
4. Coffee Chiffon Cake
5. Orange Chiffon Cake (with a bit of cake styles:)
6. Florentine Schiacciata - Carnival Cake (Mary One Perfect Bite)
7. Just like Cotton Chiffon Cake (unique method)
8. Peaches and Cream Chiffon Cake
9. The Unbearable Lightness of Chiffon Pies