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Cooks' Exchange: A look back at some State Journal grand prize recipes

Cooks' Exchange: A look back at some State Journal grand prize recipes

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Today’s column is for reader Mary Jugensen Halpern who recently requested favorite recipes from the Wisconsin State Journal Cookbooks featuring a collection of award-winning recipes from their recipe contests held annually for over 20 years.

Having both copies in my own collection, it was a thrill to weave my way through each volume offering hundreds of exceptional recipes from the delicious past to enjoy again and again. Let’s start with a 1968 grand prize recipe for spinach and herb dip appetizer created by Mrs. Raymond Schoen, of Madison.

Spinach and Herb Dip for Raw Vegetables

3 cups sour cream

2 teaspoons salt

1 cup chopped spinach

½ cup chopped parsley

½ cup chopped chives

¼ cup chopped dill

1 garlic clove, pressed

Combine all ingredients. Chill for at least three hours. Serve with raw vegetables.

Yield: 10 servings

Nona’s Italian Bread

A favorite of Mrs. Cosmo DiSalvo, of Madison, 1970.

2 cups lukewarm water

1 small cake yeast

2½ teaspoons salt

2 eggs slightly beaten

2 tablespoons melted fat

About 7 cups flour

Pour water into large bowl. Stir in yeast with a wooden spoon until dissolved. Add salt, eggs, and fat. Begin adding flour; use about 5½ cups, then put on floured board and knead until smooth, using the rest of the flour as needed. Place in greased bowl; cover with a damp cloth; let rise until double. Punch down, let rise again until double. Shape and put in greased loaf pans. Let rise again until double. Place loaf pans in large shallow pan and fill pan with hot water. Bake in lowest part of oven at moderately hot temperature (375 F) for 45 minutes.

Yield: 2 loaves

Cauliflower Salad

A favorite grand prize winner of Mrs. Ron Krohn, of Madison, 1974.

1 head cauliflower, thinly sliced

1 6-ounce can pitted ripe olives, drained and quartered

1 large green pepper, diced

¼ cup chopped green onions

1 2-ounce jar diced pimiento

½ teaspoon salt

1 8-ounce jar Italian salad dressing

Mix all ingredients well and marinate a few ours before serving.

Yield: About 8 servings

Quick Seafood Dish for Two

A favorite of Mrs. Reed Coleman, of Madison, 1959.

2 frozen rock lobster tails (or other seafood), thawed and cut into bite-size cubes

1 can of frozen cream of shrimp soup

½ can milk

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon minced onion

1 tablespoon snipped parsley

2 tablespoons sherry

Cooked rice

Cut up fish. Thaw soup and milk with half can of milk. Melt butter in electric skillet set at 300 F to 325 F, and sauté minced onion and parsley. Add lobster or seafood and cook about three minutes. Add soup and milk and bring to a boil. Turn heat to simmer and cook five minutes. Add sherry and serve over rice.

Roast Wild Duck

A favorite of Mrs. Frederick A. Krueger, of Baraboo, 1966.

2 wild ducks

2 cups quartered apples

1 cup each raisins, bread crumbs, and apple juice.

1 slice onion

2 teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Clean and wash ducks well. Mix apples, raisins, and bread crumbs. Pour in one-half to three-fourths cup apple juice and mix until moist. Fill ducks with apple-raisin mixture. Rub ducks with slice of onion, salt and pepper. Roast in slow oven (325 F) breast side down, for about 2½ to 3 hours. Baste with remaining apple juice.

Serves: 6

Orange Pork Chop Skillet

A favorite grand prize winner of Mrs. Wayne Halverson, of Windsor, 1970.

6 pork chops

2 tablespoons butter

1 acorn squash

1 can (6 ounces) frozen orange juice, thawed

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ teaspoon allspice

¼ teaspoon hot pepper sauce

2 oranges

Brown chops in butter. Pour off fat. Cut squash in ¾-inch rings; cut rings in half. Arrange chops and squash in skillet. Combine orange juice, brown sugar, ginger, allspice, and hot pepper sauce. Pour over pork chops. Simmer, covered, 45 minutes. Baste occasionally during cooking. Cut oranges in ¼ inch slices, remove seeds; cut slices in halves; place on chops for last five minutes of cooking.

Yield: 6 servings

Charcoal Barbecued Ham

A favorite of Mrs. John T. Harker, of Mineral Point, 1960.

2 slices of ham, each 1-inch thick

1 tablespoon salt

½ teaspoon red pepper

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ teaspoon onion salt

2 tablespoons vinegar

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder

¾ cup ketchup

¾ cup water

Combine all ingredients for sauce. Place ham on grill over charcoal. Brush with the sauce. Turn ham occasionally, brushing with sauce each time until ham is tender.

Serves: 4

Poached Fish

A favorite of C. Joseph Antonie, of Madison, 1976.

2 pounds cod fillets or trout, walleye, etc.

6 green onions with some tops, sliced

½ pound fresh mushrooms, sliced

1 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

Sprinkle of paprika

White sauce

3 tablespoons butter

¼ cup flour

2 cups milk

½ teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

2 hard-cooked eggs, diced

Put fillets in flat pan. Add remaining ingredients and cover. Bake in a moderate oven (350 F) about 30 minutes until fish flakes. Meanwhile, prepare white sauce: In a pan on top of stove melt butter, stir in flour and add rest of ingredients. Serve over fish.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Rice Pilue (Greece)

A favorite of J. A. Johnson, of Madison, 1962.

1 bay leaf

¼ pound shortening

½ chopped medium-size onion

¾ teaspoon paprika

¾ teaspoon oregano

1 cup fresh mushrooms (or small can)

¾ cup uncooked rice

1 can beef consommé

¾ cup water

½ cup cooking sherry

Simmer first seven ingredients in covered fry pan for 20 minutes. Add consommé, water, and sherry. Bake in a casserole in a hot oven (400 F) 1 hour. Cover for first 45 minutes so rice will cook.

Serves: 6-10

Chi Ting (Chicken with Peas)

A favorite grand prize winner of Mrs. George C. Tiao, of Madison, 1960.

1½ pounds chicken breasts, boned

¼ cup chicken broth

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 stalk green onion, chopped

1 package frozen peas, defrost 1 hour

6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Dice chicken into ½-inch cubes. Add 1 tablespoon of the chicken broth, 1½ teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch, and the onion. Mix well. Add remaining 1 tablespoon cornstarch to remaining broth. Heat oil to very hot temperature. Quickly add chicken mixture. Turn with small spatula, about 15 strokes or one minute cooking time. Remove chicken from pan. Add peas to oil in pan. Add remaining ½ teaspoon salt and half-cooked chicken cubes. Pour chicken broth and cornstarch mixture into pan. Stir and bring to boil, about 2 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings

Note: A glove should be worn to prevent burns from the very hot oil.

Chicken Party Casserole

A favorite grand prize winner of Mrs. George E. Jahn, of Madison, 1963.

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2½ cups water

1 package chicken noodle dry soup mx

1 can or package frozen fresh style green beans, cooked

2 cups cooked chicken, sliced

1 can bean sprouts

1 5½ ounce can water chestnuts, sliced

1 small can mushrooms

1 tablespoon soy sauce

¼ cup slivered almonds

Blend cornstarch and water in saucepan until smooth. Cook seven minutes, stirring occasionally. Add remaining ingredients except almonds, and transfer to 1½ quart casserole dish. Top with almonds. Bake in a moderate oven (350 F) 45 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings.

Curt’s Meatball Soup

A favorite grand prize winner of Mrs. John E. Ross, of Madison, 1974.

½ cup raw rice

1¼ pounds lean ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

Dash of pepper

1 large can (about 46 ounces) tomato juice

4 cups water

2 teaspoons salt

3 to 4 cups diced celery

1 cup diced onion

1 large can (about 1 pound, 14 ounces) tomatoes

3 beef bouillon cubes

Mix rice and ground beef. Add one teaspoon salt and pepper. Form into about 20 small balls. In large kettle or Dutch oven, bring tomato juice and water to a boil. Add two teaspoons salt, celery, onion, and prepared raw meatballs. Boil slowly for 45 minutes to one hour. Add tomatoes (cut up) and bouillon cubes and simmer just until hot.

Yield: 6 generous servings.

Eggplant Italian

A favorite of Barbara C. Duncan, of Madison, 1970.

1 medium eggplant

2 small onions

2 tablespoons butter

Dash of oregano, thyme and garlic powder, or to taste

Tomatoes, either one pint cherry tomatoes, halved or three regular tomatoes, diced

1 can (16 ounces) ripe, pitted olives, halved

¼ pound grated Parmesan cheese

Dice unpeeled eggplant into approximately 1-inch cubes. Soak 30 minutes in salted water. Slice onions and sauté in butter. Add drained eggplant and spices to onions, and sauté until eggplant is tender, 20-30 minutes. Add tomatoes and olives and heat five minutes longer. Smother dish with cheese and serve hot.

Yield: 6 servings

Contact the Cooks’ Exchange in care of the Wisconsin State Journal, P.O. Box 8058, Madison, WI, 53708 or by email at


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