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Cooks' Exchange: Thoughts on new ingredients, longer recipes and reader requests

Cooks' Exchange: Thoughts on new ingredients, longer recipes and reader requests

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When this column began in April 1993, it became a gift in disguise. Preparing old and new recipes to share with others brought unexpected joy and continues today to ignite pleasure while establishing new friendships along the way.

Recently readers have asked two questions: Why do so many new recipes seem much longer than before, and why do so many recipes include ingredients I’ve never heard of before. A simple response to both questions might have something to do with a new cooking generation and the great pleasure of discovering and enjoying foods from other countries.

Today’s request is from Carolyn Cain, of Verona, for the Girl Scout cookie recipe made in Milwaukee for scouts to sell there just as we do in Madison with our own famous recipe. Hope to hear soon from someone who has Milwaukee’s Girl Scout cookie recipe to share with readers.

Cranberry-Apple Turkey Stuffing

After sharing recent Easter recipes, another holiday recipe request is waiting to be filled for Linda DuBois, of Madison, who misplaced her favorite Thanksgiving stuffing recipe using cranberries. Hope this one helps in the meantime before November arrives. It comes from Food Network Magazine, November 2010.

1 stick of butter

2 cups diced onions

2 cups celery

2 cups chopped apples

1 cup dried cranberries

1 tablespoon minced sage

1 tablespoon minced thyme

Salt and pepper

3 cups turkey or chicken broth

2 eggs

¼ cup chopped parsley

16 cups stale white bread

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onions, celery, apples, cranberries, sage and thyme; add salt and pepper and cook 5 minutes. Add turkey or chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Beat eggs with ¼ cup chopped parsley in a large bowl; add cubed stale bread, then pour in the vegetable broth mixture and toss. Transfer to a buttered baking dish and dot with butter. Cover and bake 30 minutes at 375 degrees; uncover and bake until golden, 30 more minutes. Or stuff in your turkey and bake.

Cider Glazed Ham Steak with Yams

Florida resident Robby Whitney asked if there is a quick ham dinner recipe for two and here is my response from Cooking For Two Today cookbook by Jean Hewitt and Marjorie Page Blanchard.

12 to 16 ounces fully cooked, smoked ham steak

¹⁄³ cup apple cider or apple juice

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons dark rum

9-ounce can of yams or sweet potatoes in syrup

1 tart apple, quartered, cored and peeled

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375 degrees. Place ham in a shallow baking dish. In a small saucepan, combine cider, honey and rum and heat, stirring until well blended; pour mixture over ham. Arrange drained yams and apple pieces around ham. Bake 25 minutes, basting several times.


Robby also asked for a simple dessert for two using cookies that can be made ahead. This is another recipe from the same Cooking For Two Today cookbook.

¼ cup golden raisins

2 tablespoons cognac or brandy

1 cup unsweetened, unspiced apple sauce

In a small saucepan combine raisins and cognac or brandy. Heat to boiling; turn into a bowl and let stand overnight. Fold raisins and juice into the apple sauce and spoon into dessert glasses. Serve with crisp cookies.

Curried Avocado Soup

Longtime reader Isabel Hubbard craves avocadoes and requested another one to add to her collection. I discovered this one in Palette to Palate containing favorite recipes from the Cincinnati Art Museum in 1985.

1 medium avocado, peeled and seeded

2 cups chicken broth

1 cup half-and-half cream

¼ cup light rum

1 teaspoon curry powder

Salt and pepper

1 lemon, cut in quarters

Sprigs of fresh basil

Put all ingredients, except lemon and basil, in a blender. Puree. Chill in refrigerator. Serve in bowls with a lemon quarter on the side and garnish with fresh basil, if available.

Yield: 4 servings

Vinegar-Egg Pastry

One never knows when entering a century-old house way up north from home what treasures await to be celebrated. Jolene Sullivan from Sandstone, Minnesota, was vacationing and overheard me asking Marilyn Meyer, owner of Emily’s in Burnett County, who was busy making breakfast for a customer, if she had a recipe for making pie crust using a small amount of vinegar. While trying to keep her customers all happy and well-fed, she admitted that she wasn’t sure, but after leaving the home built in 1897 in Webster, admitted that she had one belonging to a customer and a short time later, received the recipe in the mail. Emily’s has since closed and will be forever missed.

3 cups flour

1 cup of shortening

1 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

½ cup cold water

1 teaspoon vinegar

Sift salt with flour and cut in shortening. Beat egg, adding water and vinegar. Add liquid to flour mixture and mix until blended. Place pastry on lightly floured board (using as little flour on board as possible as this is where most pie-makers have trouble and what makes “boards” of otherwise delicious pastry), and knead 20 strokes. Now proceed with your pie in usual manner. This amount is sufficient for two 11-inch pies (four large crusts). Keeps well for two weeks or more in the refrigerator.

Long Pan A+ MeatLoaf

Here is a recipe using some interesting ingredients including some of my Sicilian friend Vito Cerniglia’s bottled garlic sauce which I happened to crave, especially when making a meatloaf that can be sliced for sandwiches in the days that follow.

1½ pounds ground beef

½ large onion, chopped

Small apple, peeled and chopped

2 eggs

¹⁄³ cup milk

2 slices of bread, soaked, squeezed and chopped

½ jar of Vito’s Garlic Sauce

Kosher salt

Shallot pepper

Beef bouillon granules

Handful of fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

Dried garlic basil

Beef bouillon granules

1 piece of bacon for top of loaf

Mix together meatloaf ingredients and place in a long loaf pan. Sprinkle top with beef bouillon granules, then cover with the bacon. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

Orecchiette with Buttermilk, Peas and Pistachios

Patti Parisi recently shared a few favorite family recipe memories of her grandparents, Vito Parisi, Sr. and Endimera Parisi who lived in the old Greenbush neighborhood. Also mentioned were sardines and anchovies her father, Vito Parisi, enjoyed with a passion, and recipes her mother, Phyllis Bakken, learned to make from Endimera including her special lasagna made for every Christmas gathering. Here is Patti’s favorite for a new generation to enjoy from a June/July 2018 Bon Appetit magazine.

¼ cup pistachios

12 ounces orecchiette

Kosher salt

12 ounces peas (such as shelled fresh or frozen English and/or halved sugar snap)

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut in half lengthwise, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 small bunch of mint, divided

¾ cup buttermilk

3 ounces Parmesan, finely grated, plus more for serving

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 5-8 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely crush with a measuring cup or glass.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water 6 minutes, then add peas and cook until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes more. Meanwhile, heat butter and 2 tablespoons oil in a medium heavy pot over medium. Cook leeks, garlic, red pepper flakes and 3 mint sprigs, stirring occasionally until leeks are soft, but not browned, 6-8 minutes; season with salt. Add buttermilk; bring to a simmer. Pluck out mint; discard. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pasta and peas to leek mixture. Add 3 ounces of Parmesan; cook stirring vigorously and adding a little pasta water if needed until sauce is creamy and coats pasta, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat; add lemon juice. Pull leaves from remaining mint sprigs, tear into pasta and toss. Divide pasta among bowls. Top with pistachios, Parmesan, then drizzle with oil.

Serves: 4

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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