I’d like to thank all of you who are checking in again to view this post as it was meant to be seen last Sunday. Next week, I’ll be back with more tales from Down Under.
I have had a love affair with Charleston, South Carolina all of my adult life . I was swept off my feet in an instant while walking beside the elegant, architectural matrons on the Battery, peering like a voyeur into the walled, moss covered gardens filled with languid camellias and trickling fountains. Oh, and let’s not forget the food! I was a novice to sweet oysters and rich she crab soup till then, which became the prelude to many culinary adventures. I fell hard for Charleston, and the romance continues to this day. Many years later I share my love with someone who just might love Charleston even more than I do, my daughter Dana.
She was a little girl on her first visit and we thought that she would enjoy a carriage ride. Now, not every carriage gets to go to the “must see” areas. At that time, your tour locale was picked by chance. That morning, the driver turned to the cute, dark haired girl at the front of the carriage and asked her to pick a name out of his hat and as luck would have it, Dana picked the desirable Battery and College of Charleston tour. We drove through Charleston’s lush beauty and listened to its history. Little did we know at the time, our personal history would be entwined with this special city forever.
A few years passed and our next visit was when Dana was looking at colleges. Within the first 10 minutes, Dana announced that the College of Charleston was where she wanted to go. We went on to visit the “backups”, but we all knew that she had fallen under the spell of Charleston and her best Christmas gift that year was her acceptance letter.
If you’re not familiar with the College of Charleston, then you wouldn’t know that graduation is on Mother’s Day weekend. The year of Dana’s graduation there was a new President at the College and he announced that something that had never happened in the 200 plus year history of the school was about to take place. We were wondering what that might be, when staid, classical music began the procession of new graduates from the stage… all of a sudden it was replaced with the Beatles “Roll over Beethoven”…and then, very appropriately they were playing “Charleston.” The whole mood lighten and it was befitting when some students began dancing off the stage. The “Charleston” (song and dance) will always be associated with this lively city and of course, the Jazz Age.
So, in honor of the many special Mother’s Days I’ve spent in Charleston, for this week’s Sunday Supper I’d like to raise a glass to mothers everywhere, a glass filled with a cocktail that might have been served during the Gatsby Era…the Pink Lady. There has been a resurgence in classic cocktails lately, this one looks so demure, but don’t be fooled, back in the Roaring Twenties the main ingredient was bathtub gin!
Charleston Pink Lady Cocktail Recipe
- 3 Jiggers Gin (I recommend using Hendrick's Gin)
- 1 1/2 Jiggers Heavy Cream
- 1 Jigger Applejack
- 1 Teaspoon Grenadine (I recommend using Jack Rudy Cocktail's Grenadine)
- Handful of ice
- Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker or jar with lid. Shake vigorously. Strain into cocktail glasses. Serve.
Return to Sunday Supper
My family and I have been dreaming about traveling to Australia for a long, long time. We’ve wanted to travel there ever since our Australian exchange student, Hayley, arrived years ago telling us stories about koalas in her backyard and penguins on her beach. In Australia, many backyards flow right into the bush making sightings of kangaroos and koalas as common as squirrels and robins in Chicago.
Our journey did not start in the bush though. We landed in cosmopolitan Sydney and were lucky enough to stay right smack in front of her most recognizable icons: the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.
Day 1, we were led through the historic area known as “The Rocks” by our extremely knowledgeable guide, Margaret. She introduced the tour by saying that she would like to “thank America!” For what, we wanted to know? It seems that the American Revolution put a damper on British plans to make the U.S. a penal colony. When we were no longer available for that task, Britain decided to send its criminals to Australia instead.
After an extremely long and horrible sea voyage, the convicts (or should I say offenders because some did nothing more than steal a loaf of bread) were unloaded upon the unforgiving “rocks.” What followed was a life of incredible hardship and hard work by the men AND the women. Eventually, some of the prisoners became gentry…some were kind, some were not, but Australia was born.
Looking at the city today, what you see is a bright multinational conglomerate of sights, sounds and culture. Our first stop was at an Italian café for cappuccino and pizza…not what I thought would be our first meal in Australia!
Like any big city, the food scene varies. We are not much for high end “sit on your hands” meals that are highly touted and very expensive…we’d rather search out the hidden gems where locals eat. Since we were in the middle of the tourist mecca, this wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be, but thanks to local recommendations, including our guide Margaret, we found our way to Fish at the Rocks. There we found bright flavors and a casual atmosphere.
Of course, seafood was the focus, but presented with a bit of Asia flair. Dana had a dish similar to this for her entrée (which in Australia is your appetizer); your main course is fittingly called your “main.” Even though it is Autumn in Australia I think that this dish would be perfect for a warm Spring Sunday supper with your family and friends.
Curried Crab Salad with Apple and Fennel Recipe
Yield: 4 dinner servings, 8 appetizer servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
A light fresh salad with a touch of curry, apple and fennel.
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (use remaining juice from lemon to squeeze over apples slices)
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/8 teaspoon curry powder
1 pound can of fresh crab meat (pick over to make sure there are no remaining bits of shell)
1 Granny Smith apple, sliced
1 large bulb of fennel, sliced
1 stock of celery, minced
fennel tops for garnish
After slicing the apples, squeeze the remaining lemon juice over them to prevent browning, stir to coat them evenly.
Whisk the mayonnaise, lemon juice, lemon zest and curry together till well blended. Fold in crab meat, apple, fennel and celery.
Chill, garnish with fennel tops and serve. I prefer to chill overnight to let the flavors really blend, but it can be served immediately if you need to.
I found this little “recipe” written on a creased, well worn 3 x 5 note card tucked into my mother’s recipe file under “miscellaneous”. I thought that it would be perfect to share with you on this Easter Sunday. I hope you agree that this recipe is the perfect treat to serve your family and friends today and every day.
A heaping cup of Kindness
Two cups of Love and Caring
One cup of Understanding
One cup of Joyful Sharing
A level cup of Patience
One cup of Thoughtful Insight
One cup of Gracious Listening
Mix ingredients together
Toss in Smiles and Laughter
Serve to Everyone you know
With Love forever after
Wishing you all a very special Sunday supper with your family and friends today.
Sometimes great food memories don’t happen in your own kitchen, they happen a block away at your best friend’s house. One of my best friends is Kathy. In our grade school years after class sometimes we’d go to each other’s house to goof around when we were supposed to be doing our homework…perhaps you can relate.
Now Kathy and I shared a great love of music and when we grew up there was no shortage of new bands with great hits. Kathy would always buy the albums before anyone and she would have the lyrics memorized before the rest of us even knew the titles of the songs. So in our “tweens” we would race to her house after school to listen to the latest release, especially when it was from the Beatles.
Another reason to race to Kathy’s house was if her grandmother was there. Not that her grandmother was a fan of pop music, but because her Grandma K was one of the best cooks/bakers EVER! My fondest memory is of her donuts. She would have them ready to go right before we scrambled in the door…then plop, plop, in they went and instantly came bobbing up in the bubbling pot like life preservers in a choppy sea. Then deftly she’d whisk them out, douse them with sugar, and we’d enjoy the world’s best after-school snack…fresh, warm, homemade donuts and a tall glass of cold milk. We’d sit at her kitchen table and wallow in the yeasty, doughy, sugary goodness. Then in our lovely sugar coma we’d listen to hmm…maybe Paul McCartney singing Yesterday.
And that brings us to this post…I know, it took long enough. I was reading in a magazine recently that Paul’s oldest daughter, Mary has just come out with a cookbook called Food. In the article she tells how the family converted to vegetarianism and that her mother, Linda Eastman, always made sure that they had simple, tasty meals that were long on flavor and short on fuss. Mary seems to be following in her mother’s footsteps, not only because she’s a great cook, but because she is also a much admired professional photographer. So reading that article made me think of her dad, which made me think of listening to the Beatles music at Kathy’s house, which of course made me think of donuts…have I lost you yet?
It’s obvious that Mary has many great food memories and recipes to share and I can’t wait to take a peek at her cookbook. Her lemon cake recipe in the magazine reminded me of a loaf my mother used to make many years ago, so I pulled out my mother’s recipe and decided that this is what I’m going to be serving at Sunday’s supper for my family and friends. It seems like the perfect ending to a Spring meal.
Lemon Loaf Cake with Lemon Glaze
Yield: 12 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 - 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
A light lemon loaf perfect alone or with fresh fruit and a dollop of whipped cream.
1/2 cup unsalted room temperature butter (1 stick)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon lemon zest (approximately zest from 1 lemon)
2 tablespoons lemon juice (approximate juice from 1 lemon)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup half and half or milk
1 cup powdered sugar (sifted)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a standard loaf pan.
In a large bowl, cream the room temperature butter and sugar together.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla till frothy. Whisk in lemon juice and lemon zest.
Slowly beat the egg mixture into the butter mixture.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
Then gradually fold the dry ingredients into the butter/egg mixture alternating with the half and half or milk till combined.
Bake for 40 - 45 minutes till golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
While loaf is baking prepare glaze.
In a small bowl, whisk powdered sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and salt. Add optional lemon zest if you'd prefer more lemon flavor.
Place loaf on cooling rack and let cool for 5 minutes then remove loaf from pan and spoon on glaze.
My mother went back to work when I was four which sadly put an end to our leisurely afternoons together cooking in our little, sunlit kitchen. Now at day’s end, she’d get off the Crosstown bus, walk to our front door, open it and sigh…it was so good to be home. She’d kick of her high heels (she was 5’2″ and never seen in public without heels) and put on her soft, fuzzy, pink slippers. Off she’d scoot down the hall to the kitchen to make dinner where she was usually attacked by our kitty who must have thought that she was a big, pink bunny. She hated that, especially when kitty would sink his little teeth into her ankle…ouch!
Weekdays didn’t bring much to the table in terms of homemade treats. Mostly things from the freezer thawed in the morning, left on the counter all day (oh my, how did we survive?) Or, something in tin cans from the pantry. But on the weekends it was different. She really didn’t make anything radical or new. She made her tried and true recipes from scratch and that was just fine by dad and me.
We lived for the “real” dinners and desserts. This recipe is one of them…it isn’t one of the prettiest desserts that you’ll ever serve, it’s rather homely on the outside, but has a lot of character on the inside. It’s moist, rich and perfect with a strong cup of tea tempered with sugar and a bit of cream (which is just how we had it in Ireland). I hope that it’ll be one of your favorites after you serve it to your family and friends for this St. Paddy’s Day Sunday supper.
Hubs says “you’d be a fool not to make this.” You know…I think he’s right!
Old Fashioned Irish Oatmeal Cake Recipe
Yield: 12 -15 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Lots of flavor packed into this moist treat.
1 cup old fashioned oatmeal (my mother always used Quaker)
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1 stick unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
14 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (softened to room temperature)
2/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup flaked coconut (my mother always used Baker)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease and flour a 9 x 13 baking pan.
In a small, bowl, combine the oatmeal with the boiling water and let it sit for 20 minutes.
In a medium bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar and white sugar.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla together.
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt together till well blended.
Add the egg mixture to the oatmeal mixture and stir till combined.
Add the egg/oatmeal mixture to the flour mixture and stir till combined.
Pour into baking pan and bake about 30 - 35 minutes till golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
While cake is baking make the icing.
In a medium bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar. Add the walnuts, coconut and vanilla. If you need to thin icing a bit, add the cream 1 tablespoon at a time. I like the icing to be think and rich and did not add the cream.
Immediately after you remove the cake from the oven, adjust your oven to "broil". Spread the icing on the hot cake and pop it under the broiler till it's a bit brown and the coconut is toasted.
If possible, serve warm.