VINTAGE INSPIRED FROM FOOD FOR THOUGHT WITH CLAIRE THOMAS

I always assumed my love of collecting kitchen tchotchkes and vintage cookbooks came from my dad, whose military insignia collection and bibliophilia borders on obsessive. However, I think my love of collecting vintage recipes may have a sweeter origin.

Tina and her cakes, Tina and her pies, Tina and her cookies: it’s hard for me to imagine my aunt Tina without picturing a baked good.  It’s because they belong to another time.  Her pies are fit to cool on an open windowsill, and her cakes are sometimes inspired by a vintage recipe.  I remember thumbing through some of her old cookbooks, (my favorite is “Cooking for Compliments”), admiring yellowed newspaper cutouts of favorite dishes, and talking, usually with my mouth full, about her delicious food.  I’m pretty sure this is where my fascination with vintage cookbooks started, and I’m so excited that I get to share some updates of my favorite recipes on the the show today.

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TINA’S CRACKLE CAKE

This is another classic “Tina Cake” that pops up at some family gathering at least once a year.  Inspired by a cake she enjoyed as a special treat on outings to Blum’s with her mother, this dessert is an absolute showstopper.  It looks insane, and tastes even better.  Light and airy but with a surprising crunch, you’ll be embarrassed by how much you can eat.

You can make the delicious lemon scented sponge cake that Tina uses for the base of her crackle cake, or you can make a box sponge or angel food cake with a bit of lemon zest mixed in, either works.

The cake is a little tricky because it burns sometimes. You have to be careful and not cook it too long, it can go dry really quick.   But it what really makes a difference with this cake is the lemon rind in the cake. It gives an acid punch that works well with the sweet coffee crunch and whipped cream. that’s what makes it addicting and it’s light, it has no butter or oil.

INGREDIENTS (CAKE)

Serves 10-12

Make in 3 10-inch cake pans lined with wax paper

1 3/4 cups cake flour, sifted then measured

2 1/4 cups sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

9 egg yolks

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 cup segg whites (about 9 large eggs)

1 1/2 teaspoon scream of tartar

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest, packed

INGREDIENTS (COFFEE CRUNCH TOPPING)

there will be a little left over

unflavored vegetable oil

2 tablespoon baking soda, sifted

1/2 cup strong brewed coffee

3cups sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

INGREDIENTS (FROSTING)

5 cups heavy cream

5 tablespoons sugar

5 teaspoons vanilla

DIRECTIONS

For the cake:  Preheat oven to 350F. Adjust rack in the lower third of oven.

Grease or spray 3 10 inch nonstick cake pans and line the bottom with wax paper.  Grease the paper as well.  Sift flour, half of the sugar (1 cup and 2 tablespoons), and salt into a bowl; set aside.

Whisk egg whites in bowl of a heavy-duty mixer just until frothy. Add cream of tartar; whisk until soft peaks form. Add 3/4 cups sugar in a steady  stream, whisking until thicker, stiffer, glossy peaks form – about 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in vanilla, lemon juice, and lemon zest.  Scoop white into a VERY large bowl (trust me, you’ll need it) and set aside.

In the same bowl you used for the whites, beat the egg yolks with remaining sugar until thick and pale yellow, about 2-3 minutes. Add water and beat until thickened, about 4 minutes.  It should be very thick and pale. Pour yolk mixture over whites and gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Sprinkle a third of the flour mixture over the egg mixture; fold to combine. Repeat two more times just until ingredients are incorporated. Gently pour batter into the pans and level tops with a spatula.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until top springs back slightly when lightly touched and a toothpick comes out clean. Invert pan onto a cooling rack, and cool for about 45 minutes.

To  remove cake from pan, slip a butter knife down one side of pan and slowly trace perimeter to release the cake. When sides are free, cover cake with a rack and invert.  Remove cake pan and the wax paper. Let the cakes cool completely.

For the coffee crunch topping:  Generously oil a large baking sheet or line with a silicon mat or parchment paper; sift baking soda onto a sheet of wax paper; set nearby.

Combine coffee, sugar and corn syrup in a heavy, 4-quart saucepan. Place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. When mixture is clear and begins to boil, increase heat to medium-high; cook until mixture reaches 290°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up intensely). While still foaming, pour out onto prepared baking sheet. Do not spread (this will compress it) and let it harden and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

Crush into very small pieces using your hands or a knife. Store in an airtight container if using later.

For the frosting:  Combine cream, sugar and vanilla. Whisk until cream holds stiff peaks.

To assemble:  Place cake on a cake plate. Spread whipped cream between each layer about 1 inch thick and sprinkle with the smallest pieces and dust from the coffee crunch.  Carefully stack the layers, repeating the whipped cream and sprinkling the coffee crunch. Spread remaining whipped cream over the top and sides of cake and decorate with as much coffee crunch as possible. Refrigerate until serving.

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CHICKEN PAPRIKA WITH EGG NOODLES

INGREDIENTS

1 3.5 pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

4 large onions, sliced

2 ounces butter

1 garlic clove, minced

3 tablespoons hungarian paprika (sweet paprika)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup broth, hot

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sour cream

DIRECTIONS

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and lightly season with salt and pepper. In a dutch oven over medium high heat, brown the chicken (about 5 minutes a side).  If you’re cooking with chicken with skin on, they shouldn’t stick, but if they do, add a bit of oil or butter to the pan.  It won’t be cooked through, you just want a deep sear.  Remove the chicken and set aside.  Add the onions and butter over medium heat until pale yellow, about 10-15 minutes.  Add garlic, paprika, tomato paste, and the chicken.  Add 1 cup of broth and the salt. Cover and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and tender.  Allow it to cool a bit and stir in the sour cream.  Serve with egg noodles.

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BAKED CANNELLINI BEANS WITH SPINACH, CHIPOTLE + COTIJA CHEESE

INGREDIENTS

4 or 5 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or cooked yourself)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of salt

pinch of red pepper flakes (if you like it extra spicy)

2 large cloves of garlic, minced

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped

1-2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers

2/3 cup spinach

1/2 cup cotija cheese (or crumbled feta if you can’t find cotija)

1 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs

DIRECTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees. Bring the olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt, and minced garlic up to heat over a medium flame for about a minute. Stir in the tomatoes and the fresh oregano and bring to a gentle simmer.  Off the heat, add the adobo sauce and taste.  I added a little too much the first time I made this, so beware, adobo is powerful stuff. Salt and pepper to taste, but go easy on the salt, because I find that canned beans can be a touch salty.  Add the beans and spinach, and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into a 9×13 baking pan and sprinkle with the cheese and breadcrumbs and bake in the top-third of the oven for roughly twenty-five minutes, or until it is browned and bubbly on top.  Enjoy!