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134 posts categorized "26) What would Don Draper do? Retro recipes from my past to your present!"


~ Oh My Goddess of the Hunt: Divine Steak Diane ~

One upon a time, Joe and I used to go up to the top of Mt. Washington in Pittsburgh (the point overlooking the city and the location where the three rivers meet (the Monongahela, the Allegheny and the Ohio), to eat in an upscale French restaurant named Christopher's (currently The Monterey Bay Fish Grotto). During that period of time, Joe did enough of business in Pittsburgh that we got to eat there a few times a year. He in a suit and tie, I in a dress and heels, through the doors we walked. Their food was divine, the view...... View full recipe for "~ Oh My Goddess of the Hunt: Divine Steak Diane ~"


~ Shrimp Creole: The King of Creole Shrimp Dishes ~

Shrimp a la Creole or Creole-style shrimp is the first Creole recipe I ever cooked, and, I made it because I wanted to try my 19-year-old hand at making something "new to me". I was a new bride and the recipe was on page 311 of the 1974 Edition of Betty Crocker's Cookbook. While their recipe was "quick and easy", it was fundamentally sound and it tasted pretty good too. It served its purpose well, in that, its success prompted me to try more sophisticated versions, the best one being made with fresh Gulf shrimp in the New Orleans French...... View full recipe for "~ Shrimp Creole: The King of Creole Shrimp Dishes ~"


~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~

Remember the first time you watched your mom make a pineapple upside down cake? I was mesmerized. I stood stoic, across the counter, watching as she carefully arranged and layered the ingredients in the pan. I stood vigil, peering through the glass, at the oven while it baked. I stood breathless, fingers crossed behind my back, when she inverted it out of the pan. In the end, I didn't know whether to joyfully jump up and down or hug her with pride -- I think I did both. I was five or six at the time, and, that Norman Rockwell...... View full recipe for "~ Coconut and Rum Pineapple Upside Down Cake ~"


~ City Chicken: Literally, "The Other White Meat." ~

City chicken. It could be said, "it's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key" -- A wartime Winston Churchill quote. In The Joy of Cooking, if you go the index intentionally looking for "city chicken", and look under "chicken", you'll not find it. That said, if you're looking for a pork or veal recipe in the same cookbook, and look under "pork or veal", you will stumble upon "mock chicken drumsticks or city chicken" on page 469. That's because: Even though it looks like a chicken leg & tastes like chicken... ......... View full recipe for "~ City Chicken: Literally, "The Other White Meat." ~"


~ Tropical Fruit, Nut & Chocolate-Chip Congo Bars ~

In most circles, Congo squares or Congo bar-cookies are made by spreading a batch of Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie batter into a square or rectangular pan, then cutting the big cookie into smaller, cookie-sized squares or bars after baking. They shouldn't be confused with layered or 'magic' cookie bars -- the kind with a graham cracker crust and held together with condensed milk. The Congo square is a WWII era pan-cookie marketed like this back in 1942: The Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip "Congo Square" Pan-Cookie is like a brownie with all the rich flavors of a...... View full recipe for "~ Tropical Fruit, Nut & Chocolate-Chip Congo Bars ~"


~ Deli-, Bakery-, & Coffee-Shop- Style Crumb Cake ~

If you're under the impression that "coffeecake" and "crumb cake" are words that can be used interchangeably, you haven't spent much time in the delicatessens, bakeries and coffee shops of the Northeast, namely: New York, New Jersey, and here in Pennsylvania too. We take our crumb cake seriously. Simply stated: it is a medium-textured buttercake with a coarse-grained, flour-based cohesive-crumb layer on top. Confusing it with other types of crumby cakes (which sometimes contain fruit or nuts and get topped with a sort-of similar-looking but looser streusel topping), is easily avoided -- once you taste a crumb cake, the difference...... View full recipe for "~ Deli-, Bakery-, & Coffee-Shop- Style Crumb Cake ~"


~ Come on Over for Coffee & a Classic Coffeecake ~

Thanks to post WWII advertising campaigns by the American Coffee Bureau, by 1950, America was a country of coffee drinkers. In the workplace, the 15-minute coffee break was born, and, if you were a housewife, once you got your husband off to work and the kids off to school, you likely participated in a daily, weekly or occasional mid-morning "coffee klatch" with neighborhood friends. The term "coffee klatch" comes from the German word "kaffeeklatsch", meaning "coffee chat" -- a casual gathering for sharing coffee and conversation with close confidants. Literally translated: kaffee = coffee, and, klatsch = gossip. I like...... View full recipe for "~ Come on Over for Coffee & a Classic Coffeecake ~"


~ Tender Steak Scallops w/Herbed Mustard Sauce ~

"This is Steak Diane". That's what I said to our "twenty-something" waiter in a steakhouse not long ago. I was generically expressing my pleasure at seeing a blast-from-my-past, famous-and-favorite steak dish on a millennial restaurant menu. My comment didn't require a response. That said, it did prompt a polite, ever-so-slight nod-of-agreement, accompanied by a "if you say so lady, but I have no idea what you are talking about" look. This lead me to conclude: Steak Diane has skipped a generation or two of Americans. A bit about Steak Diane: Prepared using common French techniques, the dish isn't French --...... View full recipe for "~ Tender Steak Scallops w/Herbed Mustard Sauce ~"


~A Sophisticated Indulgence: Mousse au Chocolate~

Not being a chocolate lover (yes, that's what I said, I am not a lover of chocolate), when pressed to name my favorite chocolate confection, the French dessert, mousse au chocolate, is at the top of my very short list, which includes truffles and chocolate cheesecake made with a chocolate cookie crust. For me, mousse au chocolate is chocolate confection perfection. Calorie for calorie, every light, airy, creamy, thick spoonful is full of deep, rich, intense chocolate flavor. As easy as chocolate mousse is to make in theory, if you've never made one, it can be a bit confounding. Demystifying...... View full recipe for "~A Sophisticated Indulgence: Mousse au Chocolate~"


~It's Not Easy Being Green: Me & Creamed Spinach~

"Why can't you be more like your friend Melanie?", said the mothers of many of my childhood friends. A long, long time ago, middle-class mothers all cooked, and, when you were invited to a friend's house after school, it was common practice to be asked to stay for the evening meal. Those were hospitable times, and, that was my life during the 1960's (age 5 thru 14). If you are old enough to remember June Cleaver, Margaret Anderson and Donna Stone (Leave it to Beaver, Father Knows Best and Donna Reed), the image of each of those TV moms serving...... View full recipe for "~It's Not Easy Being Green: Me & Creamed Spinach~ "


~ Upscale TV-Dinner-Style Salisbury Steak & Gravy~

Salisbury steak. I was first introduced to it as a child, in our home, via the Swanson TV Dinner -- my generation's fast food. Once a week, when mom or dad went grocery shopping, my brother and I were allowed to pick one TV Dinner, which we would eat on Thursday. To this day, I associate Thursdays with TV Dinners. TV Dinner Thursday: sitting on the carpeted floor, in front of our TV, legs crossed, in my PJ's, in front of a short-legged folding table, watching The Flintstones and Bewitched with my brother -- me eating Salisbury Steak, he Fried...... View full recipe for "~ Upscale TV-Dinner-Style Salisbury Steak & Gravy~"


~ Pie-O-My: The Famous Mar-a-Lago Key Lime Pie ~

Don't shoot me I'm only the messenger. Finding common political ground with anyone this election cycle is harder than it has ever been. The climate is downright trash-talkin' nasty "out there". That said, when a friend suggested I post a recipe for key lime pie yesterday, I couldn't wait to get up this morning and make this particular one -- I could hardly sleep. For the first time ever here on Kitchen Encounters, I am mixing food with politics (and my wickedly-sarcastic sense of card-carrying DNC Super-Tuesday humor). I'm making what is touted to be "the most requested dessert on...... View full recipe for "~ Pie-O-My: The Famous Mar-a-Lago Key Lime Pie ~"


~ A Peachy All-White-Meat 'Melanie' Chicken Salad ~

Chicken salad -- I'm persnickity about it. If the chicken is the least bit dry, or kinda gray looking because it's made with leg and thigh meat, I won't touch it. It's gotta be moist, fork tender, nicely seasoned and snowy white. Poaching chicken breasts or tenders in a mild court bouillon accomplishes all of that (and feel free to do it), but, for me, there is nothing tastier than the juicy white meat pulled away from the breast bone of a perfectly-roasted whole chicken. "You can always judge the quality of a cook or a restaurant by roast chicken."...... View full recipe for "~ A Peachy All-White-Meat 'Melanie' Chicken Salad ~"


~ Maurice Salad Dressing and Mel's Maurice Salad ~

Who was Maurice? Most people will tell you he was the chef or a chef at J.L. Hudson's (a famous Detroit department store that later became Marshall Field's), because it is, more-likely-than-not: true. Sadly however, there's no written record of a chef named Maurice or which in-store restaurant his salad debuted in. As a culinary history buff, I hate it when details like that fade into obscurity -- I'm still lamenting taking a pair of scissors to their classy-looking credit card when Macy's took over and issued me a new card with their logo. Great memorabilia lost. Sigh. That said,...... View full recipe for "~ Maurice Salad Dressing and Mel's Maurice Salad ~"


~ Mel's Pan-Seared Crimini-Crusted Sirloin Steaks ~

Fact: I will not stand outside and grill if the temperature is below 40 degrees. Fact: It is below forty degrees. Fact: I am cooking steaks indoors today and the line forms to the left of the stove. Great steak dinners & our original hunters and gatherers: I'm guessing mushrooms have been paired with steak, since, um, fire was invented? I imagine a big hairy guy, standing in a cave, yanking a hunk of red meat off a sharp spear and throwing it on an open fire to cook. Meanwhile, an equally-hairy but less imposing woman picks a few mushrooms...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Pan-Seared Crimini-Crusted Sirloin Steaks ~"


~ The Hasselback Potato: A Majestic Baked Potato ~

The next time baked potatoes are on your mind or menu, and you have a bit of extra time, make a batch of sexy, stylish Swedish Hasselback potatoes. Want to feel like a rock star? Go the extra mile and make them using using small, fingerling potatoes -- people adore fancy-schmancy, darling-to-look-at, petite food. Place two or three on a plate next to a perfectly-cooked steak or pass a tray of them around at a cocktail party -- majestic -- to say the least. The Hasselbecken Tavern was established in the 1700's as a small red hut located in a...... View full recipe for "~ The Hasselback Potato: A Majestic Baked Potato ~"


~ The Original Nestle's Toll House Cookie Recipe ~

When my mom asked me to bake the Toll House cookies for Christmas, I did it with more joy than all the fancy-schmancy stuff I have baked in a long while. When I was a kid, Toll House cookies reigned supreme. Besides store-bought Fig Newtons and Pecan Sandies, homemade gingersnaps and Toll House were one of the few cookies my dad would eat. The apple didn't fall far from the tree -- we both dislike Oreos too. So, every year, amongst an array of fancy confections, the basic Toll House cookie proudly takes its place on our holiday cookie tray....... View full recipe for "~ The Original Nestle's Toll House Cookie Recipe ~"


~It's Not Easy Being 60: The Green Bean Casserole~

Newsflash: The iconic green bean casserole turns 60 years old this year. Depending upon who you talk turkey to, the subject of "green bean casserole" will garner one of two responses: a loving look of childlike glee or a loathsome adult eye roll. In the event you are talking turkey to me, you'll get a unknowing shoulder shrug because the only thing I have in common with the green bean casserole is we were both born in 1955 -- I in a hospital in Palmerton, PA, and, the casserole in a Campbell's Test Kitchen in New Jersey. I've never made...... View full recipe for "~It's Not Easy Being 60: The Green Bean Casserole~"


~ For the Times When Ya Just Gotta Have Piccata ~

Lemon and Pepper Seasoning has been on my spice rack for as long as I've had my spice rack. The brand I use is a tasty blend of black pepper, sea salt, sugar, dehydrated lemon peel, garlic, onion and citric acid (which gives it its signature tang and "pop"). I'm certain I could mix up my own blend, but, I like the stuff I use too much to bother. It's a great seasoning for cooked or steamed vegetables -- I particularly like it tossed into broccoli, cauliflower or Summer squash. It's excellent judiciously incorporated into mild-flavored protein dishes too --...... View full recipe for "~ For the Times When Ya Just Gotta Have Piccata ~"


~ GrandMa's Incredible Edible Classic Deviled Egg ~

We grandmothers of today are much different than the grandmothers of past generations. I know. I've been GrandMel for eight years, and, when I look around my kitchen, I see a sea of countertop appliances that make my work a whole lot easier: grind my coffee beans, blend my smoothies, chop my vegetables, mix my cake batters, steam my rice, make my pasta, bake my bread, press my sandwiches, fry my fritters and freeze my ice cream. The list goes on. By the time I was born in 1955, my grandmother had acquired a toaster, and, a fancy-schmancy Sunbeam stand...... View full recipe for "~ GrandMa's Incredible Edible Classic Deviled Egg ~ "


~ Jamaican Curried Deviled Eggs w/Mango Chutney~

The incredible edible egg. That four-word sentence is Don Draper-esque advertising genius. Joe and I have been starting our days with eggs several times a week for almost thirty-five years -- even during 'the dark period' when the food police were patrolling the streets proclaiming the cholesterol in eggs was going to lead to the early demise of us American egg eaters. When it comes to food I love, I believe in living dangerously, and, eggs are the perfect eggs-ample. If you scout around Kitchen Encounters, you'll find all sorts of really good egg recipes from all over the world,...... View full recipe for "~ Jamaican Curried Deviled Eggs w/Mango Chutney~"


~ My Devilishly Hot-Russian-Mustard Deviled Eggs ~

When you get invited to a backyard barbecue or a neighborhood picnic, what do you get asked to bring -- a dessert, a side-dish, an appetizer? Nine times out of ten, I get asked to make these deviled eggs. Amongst friends they're simply called "Mel's Eggs", and, they have a reputation for being egg-strordinary, which makes me chuckle because when I was growing up, they were quite ordinary. It's how my grandmother made them and taught me to make them. Horseradish is one of our most beloved Eastern European 'secret weapons'. Like any other deviled egg recipe, you can make...... View full recipe for "~ My Devilishly Hot-Russian-Mustard Deviled Eggs ~"


~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~

I hate camping. Camping caused me to quit the Girl Scouts in 1965. I was nine. Hiking into the woods, pitching a tent, building a campfire, singing songs, telling ghost stories, sleeping on the ground in a bag with a zipper, gazing at the stars, listening to the crickets, smelling the night air -- I hated it all. All it took was one night in the woods and I quit -- the very next day. I gave my green uniform to my girlfriend Brenda and went AWOL. I did, however, enjoy the s'mores. You don't have to love the lifestyle...... View full recipe for "~ GrandMel is Not a Campfire Girl: S'mores Indoors ~"


~My Mad Men Last Supper Menu: Chicken a la King~

In the 1950's, '60's and '70's, New York City's Madison Avenue was ground zero for the advertising industry -- for almost all of those years, it was an elitist club of all-male executives. These Madison ad men, cavalierly referred to themselves as Mad Men. Unless you've just beamed to earth from another corner of the universe, you know, that for the past six years, Mad Men has been a period drama television series about this business and the bizarre lifestyle of the people working in it. For those lucky enough to remember the realities of this time period, it's a...... View full recipe for "~My Mad Men Last Supper Menu: Chicken a la King~"


~ It's the Little Things: Homemade Graham Crackers~

A graham cracker dunked into a glass of milk. Said with certainty, once I was removed from my high-chair and placed at the table, this is the first store-bought snack I was allowed to sink my baby teeth into. Then, when I got to kindergarten (back in 1960 there was no such thing as daycare or preschool and kindergarten was limited to a five-hour half-day), one big graham cracker, which each one of us kids carefully cracked into four parts, was the snack the teacher handed out every morning at 10:30AM with our half-pint of milk. After snacks, we got...... View full recipe for "~ It's the Little Things: Homemade Graham Crackers~"


~ Succulent Seafood Newburg Crepes for a Crowd ~

There was an eight-year timespan in my life when I spent every day cooking for a crowd. In mom-speak, it is referred to as "the teenage boy years" and I raised three. During those years, one casserole of anything was not enough -- two was mandatory, and, if I wanted leftovers I made four. On pizza nights, I made six -- big ones. I doubled or tripled every recipe that could be doubled or tripled to accommodate their appetites. I put a second refrigerator in my garage, bought a 24-quart stockpot for my stovetop and a 20-cup food processor for...... View full recipe for "~ Succulent Seafood Newburg Crepes for a Crowd ~"


~ Seafood Newburg: Shrimp, Scallops & Crabmeat ~

This sinfully-rich dish of sweet, tender seafood swimming in a silky-smooth cream sauce is one of those quintessential dishes of the latter 1950's, '60's and '70's that sadly, many cooks have forgotten about. Not me. It's one of the first fancy-schmancy restaurant dishes American housewives started making at home because it didn't take a ton of time or a lot skill to prepare from scratch. Then, as with almost anything made with a cream sauce at the time, the cream-of-soup people stuck their two cents in and began to sell cream of shrimp soup -- dumbed down versions began appearing...... View full recipe for "~ Seafood Newburg: Shrimp, Scallops & Crabmeat ~"


~ Mel's Over-the-Top but Very Easy Eggs Benedict: A Rich Dish w/a Great Story -- HISstory vs HERstory! ~

Eggs Benedict. For us runny-egg lovers, this is the la-tee-da, ooh-la-la, creme-de-la-creme of fancy-schmancy, American AM indulgences. American? Really? I, an all-American girl, did not grow up eating this. Heck, I never even heard of it until I found myself eating breakfast and brunch in some high-end restaurants in Philadelphia during the mid-1970's, and, I always assumed it was French -- until I started to do a bit of research. It seems this rich, artery-clogging delight has a fascinating story (HISstory vs. HERstory). This is a tale just begging to be told: Culinary Fisticuffs? The Battle Between the Benedicts!!! HISstory...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Over-the-Top but Very Easy Eggs Benedict: A Rich Dish w/a Great Story -- HISstory vs HERstory! ~"


~ All that Jazz Chicken Oscar w/Blender Bearnaise ~

The first time I ate "Oscar" was in 1983 and I was in "The Big Easy". Four of us were sitting in a fancy New Orleans French-Quarter restaurant, Arnoud's, listening to a jazz band and groovin' to the tunes. My meal arrived and it was all sorts of wonderful: a lightly-pounded, gently-sauteed, succulent, fork-tender veal paillard, piled high with tender Louisiana crayfish, drizzled with buttery bearnaise sauce and garnished with steamed asparagus. I was also drinking French 75 cocktails that night (gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar) -- it was a most memorable dinner. After the first bite or two,...... View full recipe for "~ All that Jazz Chicken Oscar w/Blender Bearnaise ~"


~ I've Got Ganache! Gotta make Chocolate Truffles ~

Chocolate truffles. Sigh. I know people who pay big bucks for them. Sigh. I am not of that mindset -- I make my own, and the end 100% justifies the means. Chocolate truffles are the easiest confection you will ever make resulting in the most gratitude and accolades. You got kids? Conduct an experiment. Give them a choice between a chocolate cupcake, a brownie, or, a truffle as an after-school snack. Truffle moms are the best moms -- call it "truffle love"! A sweet treat as an after school snack? Simmer down & read: Save your "don't give your kid...... View full recipe for "~ I've Got Ganache! Gotta make Chocolate Truffles ~"


~ Silky Smooth Creme Caramel (Crema Caramella) ~

Meet my husband Joe's favorite dessert. I don't mean sort-of his favorite. It's his all-time favorite. It became incredibly popular in the United States the early 1960's when Mrs. John F. Kennedy hired a French Chef to oversee the White House kitchen. Everybody who wanted wanted to "entertain like Jackie" was off buying French ramekins and learning words like "bain-marie". A bit about creme caramel: Creme caramel is a sophisticated dessert that is eaten around the world, but, was made famous in the later part of the 20th century in French restaurants. It is a silky-smooth custard that is gently...... View full recipe for "~ Silky Smooth Creme Caramel (Crema Caramella) ~"


~ Oh Baby it's Never too Cold for Boston Cream Pie ~

Minus ten degrees. It could be worse. I could live in Boston. I don't want to think about that. I'd rather think about this: Boston Cream Pie, a feel-good dessert that won the hearts of Americans over a century ago. What got me thinking about this retro blast-from-my-past dessert? It was another one of those "thirty-one days to Oscar" flicks I watched on my kitchen TV yesterday: Some Like it Hot (Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis & Marilyn Monroe)! In this hilarious 1959 Billy Wilder movie Daphne (Jack Lemmon in drag) says, "When I was a kid, I used to have...... View full recipe for "~ Oh Baby it's Never too Cold for Boston Cream Pie ~"


~ Aurora's 'Famous' Chicken Pepperoni Seems Like Old Times (Dinner and a Funny Movie Review too!) ~

I've got a movie on my menu tonight. Neil Simon's 'Seems Like Old Times' (starring Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn and Charles Grodin) is a feel-good blast from my retro 1980's past. I'm not usually a fan of romantic comedies, but, this one keeps me laughing out loud from start to finish every time I see it. It's no secret that in order to write this blog and do my TV segments I work almost nonstop in my kitchen. Having always been a movie buff, movies on my kitchen TV keep me company throughout the entire day. Seems Like Old Times...... View full recipe for "~ Aurora's 'Famous' Chicken Pepperoni Seems Like Old Times (Dinner and a Funny Movie Review too!) ~"


~ GrandMel's Creamy Potato and Egg Salad Recipe~

I have a confession to make. I am a potato salad snob. I want the old-fashioned, down-home, classic, creamy and chunky "grandma's-type" with no hype -- nothing trendy or flashy with a grandiose name or gourmet ingredients. My favorite potatoes for potato salad are: creamy Yukon golds or small "new" reds. I always peel the golds and cut them into bite-sized chunks. I never peel the reds, leaving their soft skins intact, and, cut them into bite-sized halves or quarters. I always boil my potatoes until fork tender on the outside, yet still firm and slightly undercooked in their centers....... View full recipe for "~ GrandMel's Creamy Potato and Egg Salad Recipe~"


~ Untangling an American Retro Classic: Tetrazzini (Stranded Pasta baked in Parmesan Cream Sauce) ~

If you write a cooking blog long enough, you learn that sharing old, classic recipes is as important as sharing new, innovative ones. Another way to say it is: "what's old is always new to someone", and they appreciate learning about it -- and that includes a bit of history too. I know this to be true because by the time I was in my thirties, tetrazzini had been around for a very long time but I had never tasted it. I grew up a tetrazzini deprived child. My mom didn't make it because my dad doesn't care for anything...... View full recipe for "~ Untangling an American Retro Classic: Tetrazzini (Stranded Pasta baked in Parmesan Cream Sauce) ~"


~For the Love of Meatballs from Sweden (Kottbullar)~

Svenska kottbullar. Swedish meatballs. The only two Swedish words you'll ever need to know. The National Dish of Sweden, and famous throughout the world, I've never met a person who doesn't adore them -- soft, one-inch meatballs bathed in beefy, creamy sauce love. Traditionally served during the holidays as an appetizer or main-course at smorgasbord (an elaborate, festive buffet), typically accompanied by buttery egg noodles or creamy mashed potatoes, and, always with lingonberry preserves as a condiment, they're elegant, extraordinary and exquisite. Sweden's culinary gift to meat, gravy & potato lovers: (God bless us every one.) Swedish-style meatballs were first...... View full recipe for "~For the Love of Meatballs from Sweden (Kottbullar)~"


~ "Yes Virginia, there is a thing called a Taco Ring!" (One of my "I can't believe I'm posting this posts".) ~

"Count me in, I'll give it a try." That's what I said on Facebook last week. It's what I agreed to do, and I'm doing it. I'm making a taco ring today. Here's how it came down: One of my hungry guy foodie friends, Jaqmes, posted a photo with a link to a recipe for a taco ring. Cocktail-connoisseur friend, Jill, said she'd made it and it was quite good, especially when washed down with a six-pack of Corona. For a moment, I thought Jill's cheese slid off her cracker and landed in the deep-end of her pilsner. The thread...... View full recipe for "~ "Yes Virginia, there is a thing called a Taco Ring!" (One of my "I can't believe I'm posting this posts".) ~"


~ The Classic Blue Cheese & Bacon Wedge Salad + Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing ~

I can't let "wedge week" on Kitchen Encounters end without posting a recipe for the mother-of-all wedge salads: the classic blue cheese & bacon wedge salad. If it's on a steakhouse menu, my husband Joe always orders it, I know Don Draper and all the other Mad Men of Madison Avenue loved it, and, even James Beard, the father of American gastronomy, was a fan of it. In 1963, McCall's Cook Book said, "this firm, crisp, compact most familiar of light-green lettuces is a favorite of men, particularly those who like to pour creamy blue-cheese dressing over it". Next to...... View full recipe for "~ The Classic Blue Cheese & Bacon Wedge Salad + Buttermilk, Blue Cheese 'n Chive Salad Dressing ~"


~ The Times They are a Changing: The Patty Melt!!! ~

Two Sunday nights ago, in a scene from this years episode two of Mad Men, Don Draper was having a one-on-one, heart-to-heart, father-to-daughter, break-through-the-ice conversation with his now teenage daughter Sally. Don was driving Sally back to Miss Porter's School and they stopped at a diner along the road to get a bite to eat. Sally excused herself, to use the ladies room. When she returned to her place at their table, she looked down and asked "what's this?" Daddy Draper replied, "I got you a patty melt." That's just one of the things I love about this show --...... View full recipe for "~ The Times They are a Changing: The Patty Melt!!! ~"


~ Mad Men. Final Season Premier Tonight on AMC. What will Don Draper do and where will he land??? ~

My parents had All in the Family, my children had Seinfeld. I've claimed Mad Men as my own. For me, aside from the adultery, alcoholism, divorce, debauchery and paranoia, watching this show is like being on the Starship Enterprise and saying, "Scotty, beam me back and pick me up in an hour". I grew up in suburbia in the 1960's, was an executive secretary in the '70's in a place where three-martini lunches were common and every office had an ice bucket, and then, in the 1980's I was happily married, with children, and, traveling the world too! I have...... View full recipe for "~ Mad Men. Final Season Premier Tonight on AMC. What will Don Draper do and where will he land??? ~"


~ Chocolate, Vanilla and Butterscotch 'Icebox' Cake~

My three favorite flavors of pudding are chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch. Banana pudding comes in a close fourth. About the only thing I like better than any one of them is all of them layered on top of each other with graham crackers separating each flavor. This dessert was one of my mother's specialties and was my favorite. Whenever she would make it, after I got done "counting, cracking and crushing" the graham crackers for her, I would sit motionless on the counterstool, eyes transfixed on the glorious process, patiently waiting for my lick of the spoon as each pudding...... View full recipe for "~ Chocolate, Vanilla and Butterscotch 'Icebox' Cake~"


~ Hello Dolly! The 5-6-7- Layer 'Magic' Cookie Bar! ~

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I've decided to share a few retro sweet treat recipes of my youth this week. If you are in your 50's or 60's, you know the ones: those quick and easy to make "back-of--the-box" recipes our moms made for us. It's always fun to take a trip back to kinder, gentler times and you can find my recipes for ~ 'Impossible' Coconut Custard Pie ~ and ~ Pucker Up for: Triple-Lemon Lemon Squares ~ by clicking on the Related Article links below. I was about 9, circa 1964, when my mom started making...... View full recipe for "~ Hello Dolly! The 5-6-7- Layer 'Magic' Cookie Bar! ~"


~ Pucker Up for: Triple-Lemon Lemon Bars/Squares ~

Call me an eternal sourpuss. Lemonade, lemon sorbet, lemon meringue pie, lemon tart, lemon cheesecake, lemon pound cake, lemon shortbread, etc. Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter, these are a few of my favorite things. I am a lover of all things tart and citrusy, and, I consider the lemon the diva of all citrus. I am never without lemons in my refrigerator and pure lemon oil in my pantry, because, like salt, their zest, juice and textureless, bold-flavored oil just makes everything taste better. I'm not a lemon snob either. I prefer the ordinary, tart, supermarket lemon to the "sweet"...... View full recipe for "~ Pucker Up for: Triple-Lemon Lemon Bars/Squares ~ "


~ Snowstorm Fun: 'Impossible' Coconut Custard Pie~

A photo of "impossible pie" appeared on my Facebook newsfeed last night. If you are on Facebook, you know the type of post I'm talking about: Quick and easy recipes using just a few ingredients and often a boxed mix of some sort. Obviously not my style, but, in reality, lots of people "eat this stuff up". "Oh no", was my reaction to this one -- to the photo, not the recipe. The photo was nasty looking. Not at all like I remembered this 1970's "blast from the past" pie. Of course, I was hardly in a position to criticize...... View full recipe for "~ Snowstorm Fun: 'Impossible' Coconut Custard Pie~ "


~ Mel's Crispy, Deep-Fried Chinese Lemon Chicken ~

I am chuckling at my decision to make Chinese lemon chicken today. Why? If you check my January archives for the past three years, you are going to find more than a few Asian-style recipes. It seems I have developed a pattern of wanting Asian food at the beginning of each new year and today it is Chinese. I'm pretty certain it has little to do with celebrating Chinese New Year (the date of which is January 31st this year), and has everything to do with my wanting to "wake up my tastebuds" with something bold and bright in the...... View full recipe for "~ Mel's Crispy, Deep-Fried Chinese Lemon Chicken ~ "


~Steak au Poivre (Peppercorn-Crusted Filet Mignon)~

Joe and I celebrate New Years Eve quietly. Why? We do enough entertaining and partying throughout the year. By the time this holiday rolls around, we qualify for "professional party pooper status". That, however, does not mean we don't celebrate it elegantly. We do! We always put forethought and planning into a dinner worthy of a bottle of bubbly. Sometimes it takes us all day to prepare (meaning it is a complicated recipe), sometimes it takes just a few minutes (meaning it is an easy recipe). Last year it was a bit complicated, and, it was lobster. Two days ago,...... View full recipe for "~Steak au Poivre (Peppercorn-Crusted Filet Mignon)~"


~ French Onion Soup (Soupe a l'Oignon) a la Mel ~

When it comes to serving soup as a second course to Christmas dinner, I have two favorites: wild mushroom and French onion. I usually serve a prime rib roast, and, either one of these soups go "oh so swell" with with it. Both of them date back to Ancient times, and, both, at the time, were seen as "poor peoples food": mushrooms were free-of-charge and gathered by hand in wooded areas by peasants, and, onions were easy to grow, even in harsh climates. Both held up quite well in the family "root cellar" too. As for me, I consider both...... View full recipe for "~ French Onion Soup (Soupe a l'Oignon) a la Mel ~"


~ "My" No-Fail, Easy-to-Make Sugar Cookie Recipe ~

Just in time for the premiere cookie baking holiday of the year, yesterday, I got an e-mail from a reader living in "sugar cookie purgatory": I'd like to say I was surprised, but, I wasn't. I'm quite adept at baking, and, I'm ok with stating: sugar cookies can be positively persnickity. Taking it one step further: The easiest cookie to screw up is the sugar cookie. While these cookies only contain a few simple ingredients, "things" can and will go wrong quickly, especially if details regarding mixing, refrigerating and rolling this delicate dough are left out of the recipe instructions....... View full recipe for "~ "My" No-Fail, Easy-to-Make Sugar Cookie Recipe ~"


~ How to: Make 'French' Crepes (Sweet or Savory) ~

I'm pretty certain everyone knows what a crepe is, but, I'm not so sure everyone knows how simple they are to make. I say this because almost every time I serve them, someone inevitably remarks how intimidated they are at the thought of "tackling" them. While I can't say crepes are a staple in my kitchen, I don't hesitate to get out my crepe pan and make a few for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. That is how easy they are. Crepes are to a chef what an empty canvas is to a creative artist: they are the perfect foil...... View full recipe for "~ How to: Make 'French' Crepes (Sweet or Savory) ~"


~ The Baker's German's ('German') Chocolate Pie ~

It seems to me that no self-respecting foodie should be without one reasonably easy-to-make chocolate pie recipe in his or her repertoire. Why? Because everybody loves chocolate pie, and, in a pinch, you can never go wrong serving a chocolate pie. Some people love it more than others, but, I've never seen anyone turn down a slice of chocolate pie. When it comes to pies in general, I'm a puritan in every sense of the word. Don't add chocolate to my chess pie, coconut-custard pie, pecan pie or shoo-fly pie -- I like them just the way they are. Make...... View full recipe for "~ The Baker's German's ('German') Chocolate Pie ~"