All in the Family


Hilary Phelps

Gran’s Harvest Cake

Hilary Phelps, founder and creative director, Genuine Joy (

Both my great-grandmother and grandmother were bakers. My aunt will tell stories about her grandmother never measuring anything. She had a specific bowl and knew to what spot she needed to fill it— flour up to here, sugar up to there. Every fall Gran would bake harvest cake and bring it to her children and grandchildren.

I don’t remember my grandmother in the kitchen baking, and I regret that I never spent time in the kitchen with her, but I do remember her showing up to every family gathering with one of her specialties.

I didn’t experiment with her recipes until a few years after she had passed, but even with the slight modifications in ingredients, they taste just like I remember.

Gran passed on her love of baking, but it skipped over my mom and landed on me. I’ll bake the desserts for Easter and Thanksgiving, including my grandmother’s harvest cake. I’ve made some adaptations: she used Crisco; I use a different brand, which is non-hydrogenated. She added maraschino cherries; I use raisins.

I’ll cook the turkey and the desserts this Thanksgiving, but it’s truly a family effort, with everyone pitching in to bring a side, appetizer, rolls or drinks. And the harvest cake is a mainstay on the menu. It feels as if Gran is enjoying the holiday celebration with the family.

4 cups apples, peeled (I use Jonathan or Golden Delicious)
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup Crisco or oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups walnuts and raisins (I use 1 cup of each, my grand-mother used maraschino cherries)

Mix apples and sugar together in a large bowl and macerate for one hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Combine flour mixture, eggs, Crisco and vanilla and mix well by hand. Stir in the apples/sugar and mix. Add the walnuts and raisins (or cherries) until combined. Grease 2 loaf pans and evenly distribute the cake mixture. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 1 hour. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before taking them out of the pans.

Great-Grandma Fanny’s Cabbage Borscht

Joe Sugarman, editor-in-chief, Style magazine

When my mother was growing up in Mount Vernon, N.Y., her grandmother, Fanny, was the family cook. A Romanian immigrant with arms as thick as her accent, Fanny spent hours in the kitchen cutting vegetables while listening to soap operas on the radio. She roasted plenty of chickens and made a mean lamb stew, but her most memorable creation was something called cabbage borscht, a thick tomato-based soup spiked with chunks of beef and flavored with rich marrow bones.

Like so many cooks of that era, Fanny never wrote down a single recipe. Instead, my mother watched and made mental notes as her grandmother added ingredients and stirred away in that big metal pot.

When I was growing up, my mother would make Fanny’s cabbage soup once a year in that same pot, usually on the coldest day of winter, and that magnificent old-world smell would overtake the house.

Years later, my sister received the pot, but I’m the one who makes the soup. I’ll invite my siblings over and send them home with Tupperwares full of borscht, and we’ll think of Great-Grandma Fanny, even though she passed away before any of us could meet her.

1 large can whole tomatoes
3 cups tomato juice
4 cups water
1 to 1¼  pounds boneless short rib, cut into 1-inch chunks
Marrow bones
1 ½ pounds cabbage, julienned
½ cup brown sugar added gradually as soup cooks
½ cup white sugar added gradually as soup cooks
Black pepper

Place all ingredients in large soup pot and simmer slowly with cover on and off for up to 4 hours. Season soup as it cooks with sugar, salt and pepper.

Mary Rose Madden


Mary Rose Madden, news producer and reporter, WYPR-FM

My mom didn’t make this dish regularly, but I remember her making it when we were at the beach in Rhode Island. As a kid, it was always an experience grocery shopping with my mom. At the beach, she would ask the man behind the fish counter if she could smell the fish to make sure it was fresh. I turned beet red and gasped when I saw my mom sticking her face in a filet of swordfish!

My mom died in 2002, and today I remember her most when I’m in the kitchen. When she met my father’s mother, she asked my mom what kind of name “Marguerite Carbone” (her maiden name) was. My dad’s parents were from Ireland. When she told them she was Italian, they said cheekily, “Well, there’s a little bit of good in everybody, I guess.” So, remembering my mom’s Italian roots, her darting around the kitchen, teaching me how to chop basil, and remembering how she encouraged me to enjoy the process of cooking— all this reminds me of her goodness.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion
1 green pepper, seeded and chopped.
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced (optional)
1⁄2 cup chopped celery
1 to 5 cloves garlic, minced, depending on taste
1 or 2 12-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup dry red or white wine
1 bay leaf
1 to 11⁄2   teaspoons dried basil
Salt and pepper
Shrimp, scallops, cod fish, swordfish in whatever proportions you prefer

Heat oil in a large pot, and add onion, pepper, carrot, celery and garlic. Watch carefully and cook onion until tender. Stir in tomatoes and liquid, tomato sauce, wine, basil, salt and pepper and bay leaf. Heat until slightly thickened, about 30 minutes and remove bay leaf. Add all the fish and simmer on low heat 8-10 minutes. Serve over linguine.

Yeast Rolls

Tom Waldron, nonprofit communications consultant, The Hatcher Group

Growing up in the South, cornbread was a staple for most meals, except on special occasions, when my mother, Ann Waldron, would make yeast rolls. A native of Birmingham, Ala., she passed along the recipe with many others, but this was her favorite: “I regard this recipe with a kind of holy reverence,” she wrote in her personal cookbook. “When I was first married and trying to cook for company, I failed constantly. The only thing that saved me was my homemade rolls.”

They were smaller than what many people consider roll size, and, good lord, don’t call them “biscuits.” It was a chore to make them— beating the dough, letting it rise and rolling it out— and a lot could go wrong. But usually they came out perfect. Hot out of the oven, drenched in butter, they are a to-die-for mash-up of sweet, salt and yeast. Thanksgiving is the one time we make them. We’ve had a big gathering at our house for years, and the grandkids take delight in it.

1⁄2 cup Crisco
1⁄4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 cup boiling water
1⁄2 cup warm water
1 package yeast
1 egg well-beaten
3 cups flour

Cream Crisco, sugar and salt. Add the 1⁄2 cup of boiling water and stir well. Add the well-beaten egg and the yeast mixture to the sugar and Crisco. Stir well. Add the 3 cups of flour and beat well. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

About 11⁄2 hours or maybe 2 before you plan to eat the rolls, take the dough out. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Kneed the dough a little on a floured board, Roll it out and cut out rolls with a biscuit cutter. (Ask for a cookie cutter in the store as biscuit cutters are now unknown.) Fold each roll in half and place on lightly greased baking pan and bake about 15 minutes until golden brown on top.

You can make cinnamon rolls when you roll out the dough by dotting the dough with butter, sprinkling with sugar and cinnamon and then rolling it up like a jelly roll. Slice and place slices on greased cookie sheet. This recipe produces about two dozen rolls.

Cranberry Pudding

Felicia Carter, jazz singer

Every Christmas, my mother’s family eats an (undeservedly) rare and unknown dessert called cranberry pudding. It came from my grandmother’s duplex neighbor (on Legation Street, in D.C.), who graciously shared it with our family during the ’70s. I guess some might irreverently call it a fruitcake, conjuring images of scary abstract mysteries in red plastic wrapping. This is nothing like that. It’s the perfect combination of hearty, dark (think molasses) cake bedecked with tart cranberries, drenched in a sweet, cream-caramel sauce (served straight from the double boiler where it has been cooking for at least 2 hours). I think about this dessert all year in anticipation, and it never disappoints me— unlike a lot of holiday hullabaloo that goes on. Who needs presents when there is a cranberry pudding on the table?

1 1⁄3 cups sifted flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1⁄4 cup dark Karo syrup
1⁄4 cup dark molasses
1⁄3 cup ice water
2 cups halved cranberries (freeze for easier splitting)

Preheat oven to 350. Combine first 5 ingredients and blend until smooth. Mix in cranberries and pour in greased and floured 5-by-9-inch baking pan. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. One cake serves approximately 6 to 8 people, depending on serving size.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup butter
1 cup cream
2 cups sugar

Combine and heat in double boiler (or a regular pan will do) on low for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally, letting sauce thicken. To serve: heat cake in microwave or oven and pour warmed sauce over 1-inch-thick slices of cranberry cake.

Bill Henry

Easter pie

Bill Henry, Baltimore City Councilman, 4th District

My grandfather’s parents were from Belmonte Calabro in Southern Italy, and when I was a kid, either Naunie (my mother’s father’s mother) or Granny (my mother’s mother) would make Easter Pie (or torta pasqualina, as it’s traditionally known). It’s the ultimate “special occasion” comfort food from my childhood. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the only kid in my class who looked forward to an Easter treat that had nothing to do with candy.

Naunie’s recipe used veal and pork shoulder, and she made her own crust, mozzarella and ricotta. Granny was a nurse and only Italian by marriage, so she did not make her own cheese and used turkey to make the pie a little healthier. I’m only a quarter Calabrese, and I’m no nurse, so don’t look for turkey in my recipe. My interpretation of the dish is almost as good as what I remember from my childhood, which is probably the best that I can ever hope for.

1 pound Italian sausage
3⁄4 pound salami, diced (feel free to substitute turkey for a less salty pie)
3⁄4 pound ham, diced (feel free to substitute veal for a more expensive pie)
(I find the salami and sausage sufficient, unless you use turkey)
5 eggs, well-beaten
1 pound ricotta
9 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
Seasonings: salt, pepper, onion, garlic, oregano, rosemary,  basil, and thyme, if desired
1 pound mozzarella, chunked
4 ready-to-bake pie crusts or if you make a good crust on your own, enough pie dough to cover and top a 13-by-9-inch lasagna dish

Cook the sausage in a 5-quart soup pot and add the other meats. Let simmer until evenly warm. Remove the pan from the heat and drain any excess fat. Mix the well-beaten eggs with the ricotta and stir the ricotta-and-egg mixture in with the meat. If you do substitute turkey for the salami, add seasonings here to taste. Fold the mozzarella and the hard-boiled eggs into the ricotta-and-egg-and-meat mixture.

Cover the bottom and sides of your lasagna dish with pie dough. Pour the mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Cover with remaining pie dough and pinch edges together to form a pie crust. Poke holes in the top with a fork for ventilation.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook the pie for 45 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let it cool for at least 15 minutes before serving. Refrigerate any extra pie because it’s even better cold!

Hungarian Stuffed Peppers

Staci Summer, global village team leader, Habitat for Humanity

My beloved grandma Theresa never considered herself a great cook. Many of her recipes weren’t written down. Like so many cooks before us, I watched and learned by doing. This recipe is one I make from memory with an occasional improvisation. It’s a great one-pot main dish that begs to be cooked in cooler weather. My grandma was Hungarian and she made a mean stuffed pepper. The Hungarian version is made on the stovetop cooked in tomato sauce and served with mashed potatoes. My version is enhanced by the intentional omission of my grandma’s preferred tomato soup— Campbell’s.

5 or 6 large green peppers (they should fit upright in a large round heavy pot or Dutch oven)

For stuffing
1 1⁄2 pounds ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked white rice
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano

For sauce
1 28-ounce can organic crushed tomatoes
1 15-ounce can organic tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

Prep the peppers by cutting off their tops, about 1⁄2 inch down. Pull out the seeds and membranes and reserve the tops. Mix all the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. Mix all the ingredients for the stuffing in a bowl. Loosely stuff the peppers, and as you do, place them sitting up in the pot and top them with their respective lids. If there is extra stuffing, form meatballs with it, and place in the pot between the peppers. Pour the sauce over the peppers. Add enough water to the pot so that the peppers are nearly covered. Bring to a boil on the stovetop, uncovered, then turn down the heat and simmer with the lid on for about 1 hour, or until the peppers are cooked through. When you are ready to serve, bring the entire pot to the table and serve with mashed potatoes.

Kaliope Parthemos


Kaliope Parthemos, deputy chief, economic development, office of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake

My mother is the youngest of seven children, who all immigrated to the United States from Greece and settled in Greektown. Ninety percent of my family remains in the Baltimore metro region. I have 17 first cousins on my mother’s side and three sisters. Almost all of my cousins are married with kids.

Everyday dinners, family holiday dinners, birthday parties, graduation parties— whatever— are surrounded by family and fun- filled. I have yet to graduate to the “adult table” at family dinners. I remember going to an American friend’s house in middle school for an American Easter dinner and thinking where is everyone? There were five people at dinner! That was crazy to me. Our holiday dinners have on average 50 people, coming and going at all times.

There is no “ordering out” in our homes, everything is homemade. I always thought my friends with their Tastycakes and lunchmeat sandwiches at school were so cool. I had baklava and pastichio, souvlaki and lamb chops.

Pastichio is best described as a Greek lasagna. To me, pastichio means home, a warm, loving, supportive household filled with “my big fat Greek family.”

At every Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter dinner, the very large table is set up buffet style. It is filled with feta, Greek salad, tyropites (cheese pies), spanakopites (spinach pies), dolmades (grape leaves), lamb and souvlaki on a stick. Something for everyone. And always pastichio. Always! Whatever the occasion.

For ground beef
3 pounds ground beef
2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
Seasonings: salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste

For pasta
2 pounds Misko pasta for pastichio (cut ziti can be used instead)
1stick butter
Grated Romano cheese
For béchamel sauce
8 cups whole milk (warmed)
8 tablespoons flour
8 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated Romano cheese
4 eggs (may be omitted if sauce is thick enough)

On medium-high heat, brown ground beef, breaking up in small pieces, in a pot until no longer pink. Drain excess fat. Add chopped onion and continue stirring until onion begins to soften. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Add crushed tomatoes and continue stirring. Add 1 cup of water, stir and reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid is absorbed and sauce thickens.

 Meanwhile, put a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta with a little salt, stirring to prevent pasta from sticking and cook pasta until al dente. Drain pasta. In same pot, but not on hot burner, while it’s still warm, add 1 stick of butter, and when melted, return pasta to pot and toss to coat.

 To make béchamel, warm 8 cups milk either in microwave or on stovetop in a pot on medium heat. In another pot, on medium heat, melt the butter, add the flour and stir continuously with a wooden spoon to get a smooth consistency. Add warm milk to flour mixture stirring vigorously with a wire whisk to avoid clumps forming. Add grated cheese and stir continuously until mixture thickens to consistency of pudding. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. If necessary, beat eggs and slowly add to sauce, stirring continuously.

First layer: In large restaurant-sized lasagna pan, put approximately 3/4 of the cooked pasta and sprinkle generously with grated cheese. Dot here and there with some béchamel.
Second layer: Pour meat sauce over pasta.

Third layer: Add remaining pasta over meat sauce.

Fourth layer: Pour remaining béchamel over pasta in a thick layer, making sure it touches all edges of the pan so as to seal the entire dish. Sprinkle with grated cheese and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until a nice golden brown.

Favorite Chocolate Cake

Emily Skala, principal flute, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and faculty member, Peabody Institute of Music at Johns Hopkins University

This recipe comes from a cookbook that has been out of print for some time now, Sour Cream Cookery. The cake is the only cake we will ever choose for the celebration of a family member’s birthday. Nothing else will do. And if we do not have time to make it for the celebration proper, invariably the birthday girl or boy feels a deep sense of deprivation and of having been, somehow, not important enough to follow through on this pivotal family tradition. It is simply that good!

13⁄4 cups sugar (if you prefer a less sweet cake, you can use half the sugar)
1⁄2 pound butter, room temperature
3 eggs, beaten, room temperature
3 cups cake flour (If substituting all-purpose flour, make certain to sift before measuring, and do not pack the measuring cup, but rather fill lightly. Otherwise you risk a dense, heavy cake.)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1⁄2 cups buttermilk
4 to 5 squares Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla

Using wax paper, grease the inside of two 9-inch removable bottom cake pans with butter. Sprinkle cake flour and, turning the pans on their sides, tap and rotate them on the countertop to distribute a thin coating of flour on all interior surfaces. (Do not use cooking spray!)

Cream the butter and the sugar. Add the well-beaten eggs and mix thoroughly. Sift the dry ingredients into a bowl (if this includes all-purpose flour, sift the flour separately from the other dry ingredients, and then follow up by sifting all of them together) and add alternately with the buttermilk. Melt the chocolate and add with vanilla to the batter. Bake in the prepared cake pans at 350 degrees for 30 to 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out cleanly. Cool and frost. 

Favorite Chocolate Cake Frosting
1⁄2 pound butter, room temperature
6 squares Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, melted
2 eggs, room temperature
3 3⁄4 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Cream the butter and the sugar, add the eggs and continue beating while the melted chocolate and vanilla are added. Continue beating with an electric beater. The more the frosting is beaten, the creamier it is.
Tip: The lower layer of cake is best set upon the cake plate upside down so that, when frosted, the two halves of the cake will not slip apart and create a crooked dessert!


Rick Brummer, information systems architect, Hewlett-Packard

Here’s the provenance of this dish as best I know: For several generations, this recipe has gone from daughter-in-law to daughter-in-law to daughter-in-law on behalf of the Brummer men. It goes back (at least 100 years) to the Brummers of southern Illinois, who had very Germanic names, such as Amiel, Olin and Kristina. My grandmother gave it to my mom at my dad’s request, and at some point it was slipped to my wife, Tanya, who now makes it for my birthday.

2 cups water
1 1⁄2 cups cider vinegar
1 white or yellow onion, thinly sliced
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt

Bouquet Garni
10 whole black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
2 bay leaves

1 4-pound rump roast
Flour for dredging
1 lemon cut into 1⁄4-inch slices
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Place the marinade ingredients in a saucepan. Tie the bouquet garni ingredients in cheesecloth (a tea ball can be used as well) and add to the saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Place the roast in a non-reactive pan or casserole. Add the lemon slices and pour the marinade over the top. Cover and refrigerate for 4 days, turning at least daily to distribute marinade.

Remove the roast and drain, reserving all juices along with the original marinade. Pat dry, dredge in flour and brown in a large non-reactive pot. Slowly add 2 cups of the marinade. Bring to a simmer and cover tightly. Cook for 3 hours, or until very tender, adding additional marinade as needed.

Remove the meat to a plate. Remove the bouquet garni and the lemon slices. Add any remaining marinade to the pot and reduce to make a gravy. Use a fork to break up the roast and return the meat to the gravy. Serve over noodles. Or Scottish baps (a yeasty roll). Or any good bread. Or dumplings…

Steve Bolton


Steve Bolton, nurse practitioner in HIV research, Johns Hopkins

My father made pickle in a big blue enameled cast-iron pot. The smell of it cooking was strong, vinegary and pungent. I associate it with roast beef, Yorkshire Pudding and Sunday dinner. The taste is vinegary, spicy, strong and almost sweet. It can make you break a sweat. People love it or are appalled by it. The pickle juice stains a rich dark green. We eat much less roast beef these days, but everytime I do have it, I always think, “This needs some pickle.”

2 pecks firm green tomatoes (must not have even a hint of red in them)
1 peck white onions
1 peck green peppers
21⁄2 pounds brown sugar
1 ounce turmeric
1 ounce mustard seed
1 ounce celery seed
6 ounces dry mustard
1⁄2 gallon apple cider vinegar

Slice tomatoes, onions and peppers and layer in a huge pot. Generously salt each layer. Let sit for a day and pour off the brine. Rinse the vegetables thoroughly, handful by handful, in a sink. Wash pot and return the vegetables. Add remaining ingredients and cook on stovetop over medium heat until it begins to boil, about an hour. Lower heat to barely boiling and cook 21⁄2 hours, stirring occasionally until all is a uniform green. Can in Mason jars and put on a shelf to rest. After a month, serve with beef (ideal with roast beef and Yorkshire Pudding). Refrigerate jars after opening.


Rosalia Scalia, writer

My maternal great-grandmother, who lived just south of Naples in a coastal town called Santa Maria del Castelabate, had a reputation for being a very good cook. She gave this recipe for Italian crepes or crespelles (which we always mispronounce “scapelles”) to my aunt who gave it to my mother. Every Thanksgiving, my daughter, Antoinette, and my mom, Philomena, are a team, making the crespelles and rolling them into cylinders then lining cookie sheets with rows of rolls. For a first course (after the antipasto, of course!), each person is asked how many crespelles they want. They’re placed into a bowl and chicken soup is ladled on top.  

6 eggs
1 cup flour
1 cup water or milk
pinch of salt
2 cups grated Romano cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
lemon zest

Beat eggs and gradually add flour. Beat well, then add the water or milk and salt.

Grease a skillet lightly. Add a tablespoon or so of batter and spread it around the skillet, letting it cook for a few seconds before flipping it over for a few seconds more.

Mix grated Romano cheese with black pepper and a tiny bit of lemon zest. Spread a tablespoon of the cheese mixture around on top of the crespelle and roll tightly.

To serve, place crespelle into a bowl and then cover with very hot chicken soup.

Aaron Henkin

Swedish Pancakes

Aaron Henkin, producer of “The Signal” on WYPR-FM

My Grandpa Carl was 13 years old when he immigrated with his parents from Sweden in 1923. They got to Ellis Island, and the officials changed their name from Johansson to Johnson. Grandpa Carl’s mother, Lydia, always made Swedish pancakes for him. When he got married, Lydia taught the recipe to Carl’s wife (my Grandma Lillian). Grandma Lillian taught the recipe to my mom. Then my dad (Jewish, not Swedish) really got into making them. I learned from him when I was about 13.

To me, Swedish pancakes are synonymous with Christmas mornings when the extended family is gathered together around the kitchen table in our pajamas, sleepily joking with each other, drinking coffee and watching the kids play with their new toys. It’s probably good that Swedish pancakes are reserved for special occasions because they have enough butter in them to stop a rhino.

6 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups milk
21⁄4 cups flour
1 stick melted butter

Put the eggs, sugar and salt in a bowl and beat well. Add milk and beat well again. Add flour, beat well. Finally, add the stick of melted (not too hot) butter and beat well once more. Preheat a 10-inch-round cast-iron griddle on medium-high heat (get it hot enough to sizzle a drop of water). Ladle batter into the griddle. Hold the griddle with an oven mitt and swivel the pan to get the batter spread as thin as possible, just enough to cover the surface of the pan to its edges. Flip the pancake with a long, thin spatula. When pancake is lightly browned on both sides, roll it around the spatula then carefully slide out the spatula from the middle of the rolled pancake. Serve with lingonberry jam or maple syrup.

Frango Mint Cake

Peggy Bittner, director of alumnae and public relations, Garrison Forest

This is a family favorite and was our way of paying homage to a Chicago institution, Marshall Field’s. Marshall Field’s was an iconic department store in the city that had branches all across the Chicagoland area. Generations of families, including my own, would make our way to Marshall Field’s to see the theme for the windows on State Street, which were always decorated for the holidays and to have lunch in the Walnut Room. Marshall Field’s also sold a signature candy, Frango Mint chocolates, in all of their stores, and we often would find a box in our stockings on Christmas Day. Marshall Field’s is synonymous with Chicago, but also the neighboring town where both of my parents grew up— Lake Forest, home to the first branch of the once-great department store.

1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 pound can of Hershey’s syrup (not the squeeze bottle, this actually comes in a can that can be found in the same aisle as the ice cream toppings)
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sifted all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla

Cream the butter and sugar together. Add in the eggs 1 at a time. Stir in the Hershey’s syrup, flour and vanilla. Mix together and pour into a 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes and let cool completely. While the cake cools, work on the mint filling. 

Mint Filling
2 cups powdered sugar
1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 to 2 drops of green food coloring

Cream sugar and butter together, then mix in the remaining ingredients.

Chocolate Glaze
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons unsalted butter

In a small saucepan, melt chocolate chips and butter. Cool to room temperature. It’s importantthat this topping is cool as it will be poured on top of the mint layer and could melt it.

Assemble by spreading an even layer of mint filling on top of the chocolate cake. Next, spread the chocolate glaze on top of the mint filling. Cover pan with foil and refrigerate until ready to serve. Bring to room temperature before serving. Also freezes well.

Sue McGlamery’s Peach Ice Cream

Gayla McGlamery, professor of English, Loyola University

My mother grew up in Arkansas with peach ice cream, a taste that never left her even when she moved to Oklahoma, where I grew up. Mother was a real peach person. When we were kids, she always wanted to stop at roadside stands when the peaches were out. She’d sniff them to see if they had that peach perfume that told you they were perfect.

My dad would set up the electric ice cream maker (the kind that needed rock salt) on top of newspapers in the laundry room. I can remember when I was very small, he had an ice cream maker with a hand crank. We would experiment with strawberry and vanilla, but peach is the way to go.

5 eggs, separated
1 cup light Karo syrup (you can use ½ cup to cut back on sweetness)
1 cup sugar
1 5-ounce can Carnation evaporated milk
½ pint half and half
1 5-ounce can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk
1 pinch salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
5 peaches, skinned and diced fine

In a medium bowl, beat egg yolks well. In a medium saucepan, heat Karo syrup to boiling. In a steady stream, carefully pour boiling syrup into egg yolks stirring constantly. Stir sugar into egg mixture.
In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Add remaining ingredients. Pour into gallon measure and add whole milk until mixture reaches a gallon. Freeze in an ice cream maker according manufacturer’s instructions. Add chopped fruit once the ice cream starts to thicken up a little bit. Yield: 1 gallon

Quinoa Tabbouleh

Farid Salloum, chef/proprietor, Baba’s Mediterranean Kitchen

This dish, as much as any made in our household, was a family effort. The kids picked the parsley (a tedious process of separating the leaves from the bitter stems); my dad, Bishara Salloum, washed and dried the parsley before chopping it with a mezzaluna; and my mother mixed it together with the rest of the ingredients. We ate tabbouleh every Sunday often with meat or with djaj mashshie, a dish of chicken, allspice and rice.

Tabbouleh is traditionally made with bulgur, but when my father took ill with cancer, he went on a gluten-free diet, and we converted to quinoa. I still pick the parsley when I make quinoa tabbouleh at the restaurant, and I think of my dad whenever I make it.

4 cups chopped parsley
3 cups cooked quinoa
¼ cup onion, finely chopped
½ cup finely chopped mint
½ cup olive oil
¾ cup lemon juice
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
3 cups tomatoes, chopped

Prepare the parsley separating the leaves from the stems, washing it 3 times, laying it on a towel overnight and chopping it up fine the next day. Mix all ingredients together well. Cover with chopped tomatoes before serving.

Sylvia Rosenstein’s Potato Kugel

Josh Rosenstein, farm manager, Kayam Farm at the Pearlstone Center

There are about as many ways to make a kugel as there are Jewish grandmothers. My grandmother, Sylvia Rosenstein, always made her potato kugel with this extra step of boiling and mashing some of the potatoes to give it a richer, creamier texture. In today’s busy world you can skip this step and still come out with a perfectly good kugel, but it wouldn’t taste like Grandma’s.

The major change in my own potato kugel is that having the opportunity to work at the Pearlstone Center farm, I am able to use ingredients I can feel great about. Here at Pearlstone, the potatoes we dig out of the ground are beautiful, and, mixed with our farm eggs and onions, make for a kugel that is not only delicious but great for our bodies and our planet as well!

8 medium red or gold potatoes (not baking potatoes)
2 onions
4 to 6 eggs
½ cup vegetable oil
4 tablespoons to ½ cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 heaping tablespoon salt
½ to 1 teaspoon pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Boil 2 of the potatoes until very soft and mash. Coarsely grate the remaining 6 raw potatoes and onion by hand or food processor. Let stand 3-5 minutes. Squeeze out excess liquid and discard.

In a large bowl, mix eggs, flour, baking powder, mashed potato and salt and pepper. Set aside. Add grated potatoes and onions (and garlic) to the egg-flour mixture. Mix by hand.

Oil a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with half the oil. Pat the potato mixture into the dish. Sprinkle the remaining oil on top. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until golden on top and the center is fully cooked.

Jennie McKenzie Barker and Joan Barker Krummeck’s One Cup Fruitcake

Judith Krummeck, evening drive host, WBJC-FM

This cake is moist and luscious and absolutely delectable— it has so much fruit it barely holds itself together. It comes from my mother and my grandmother, this little, dour Scottish woman who would not let us lick the bowl until she had put the batter into the ring-shaped cake tin lined with grease-proof paper. The batter was so delicious and gooey, it would make a ring around your lips.

It’s been a challenge to replicate the cake in this country. In South Africa, I could buy a packet of mixed fruit; now I buy all the fruit separately. But I have my mother’s old-fashioned mixing bowl that I carted back in my suitcase years ago. It has a chip on the rim, but we ignore that. I love that I have her bowl to carry on the tradition.

1 cup currants
1 cup sultanas (golden raisins)
1 cup raisins
1 cup brown sugar
1 stick butter
1 teaspoon mixed spice (aka pumpkin pie spice)
2 cups flour
2 cups water
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon brandy

Bring the fruit, sugar, butter, water and brandy to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. Cool. Beat the eggs and add to the fruit mixture alternately with the sifted flour, spice and baking powder. Pour into a greased and papered ring baking tin. Bake at 300 degrees for 11⁄2 to 2 hours or until cake tests done.

Kreplach, the Deborah Schuster Way (mostly)

Josh Hershkovitz, chef and co-owner, Hersh’s Pizza and Drinks

Kreplach are Jewish ravioli, and my grandmother would begin making them weeks before Rosh Hashanah because our family would be very upset if the two days of meals were “under-kreplachized.” Although I only ever saw her make kreplach with fresh beef, she insisted that kreplach be made from leftover beef. I have no doubts that this is a tradition that comes from the old country (Poland, in her case) when meat, and ingredients in general, were pretty scarce. Since my grandparents kept kosher, their choice of cuts was limited, and later in life when she became health conscious, she always used the leanest (and least flavorful) cuts.

My grandmother died two years ago and so did many of her recipes (she was from the old school, and never wrote anything down). As many family members have moved to various corners of the country, kreplach making has largely been abandoned— except by me, and I use (fresh) brisket.

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
5 tablespoons kosher salt
6 large eggs
2 pounds beef brisket, cut into 2-inch strips (center cut,  but point is OK also)
1 large white onion, diced
­­Canola oil, for frying

Combine flour and 3 tablespoons salt in a standing mixer with the dough hook. Beat 4½ eggs and add to flour and mix on low until a coarse dough forms. Add up to 1⁄4 cup water to make the dough smoother, but not wet. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 15 minutes. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and allow to rest while you prepare the meat.

Set pan over high heat and add a thin film of oil. When oil is just barely smoking, add brisket, and brown on all sides and remove. Turn the heat down to low and add the onions to the pan. As the onions begin to release their liquid, scrape the meat bits from the bottom of the pan. Let the onions cook on low until they are deeply caramelized.

Fit your meat grinder with the smallest die and grind the brisket. Add the ground brisket back into the pan along with the onions and 2 tablespoons of salt and cook through. Remove from pan and let cool.

Unwrap the dough and place on a liberally floured surface. Divide the dough into 4 and roll it out with a rolling pin. If the dough is thicker than 1⁄8 inch, your kreplach will be gummy and tough. As the piece you are rolling gets harder to roll, set it aside and move onto the next piece, letting the first piece relax until all the pieces are rolled out. Cut sheets of dough into 2 1⁄2-by-2 1⁄2-inch squares. You will be folding these into triangles, so place 1½ tablespoons of meat mixture in the upper left corner of each square, leaving a small border to seal. Beat remaining 11⁄2 eggs with 2 tablespoons water and paint around edge of each square. Fold each square over into a triangle, pressing the air out as you go. Press down on the edges to seal (you may use a fork if so inclined). Dust each kreplach with flour and place on a plate or sheet tray and place in fridge to dry a bit. (They can now be frozen, if you’d like.) 

At this point, either boil the kreplach in salted water or just pan fry in canola oil over medium to medium-high heat. I prefer the straight frying method, but every way is tasty.
Fry in batches so as not to crowd, flip over so each side is browned. Oh, and no sauce. This is how my family enjoys them. 

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