We get a lot of comments at Cavalcade of Food about appliances, especially about the variety of old stoves that we use when preparing our recipes. I’ve been collecting these stoves – usually referred to as “ranges,” for many years. I try to rotate them through the three kitchens that we use to make recipes for Cavalcade of Food. These vintage ranges not only feature marvelous engineering, but many of them are simply beautiful in their design. These were made in that post-war period when the United States was still a manufacturing powerhouse, and one only needs to spend a minute with these ranges to know how well they were built. As a matter of fact, they are very, very heavy! Moving them around provides more than a workout!
The steel used is of heavy gauge, and the porcelain enamel coating is thick and durable. At its factory in Mansfield, Ohio, Westinghouse turned out thousands of stoves like the one I just found to fill the new kitchens of homes in the suburban neighborhoods that were popping up across the country. Other major appliance companies like General Electric, Frigidaire, Hotpoint, Norge, Kelvinator, Crosley and Philco were also filling the market with spectacular new ranges, refrigerators, washers, dryers and other appliances. Today, the survivors of this era remind us of this incredible period of American history.
This latest addition to the CoF collection is a 1950 Westinghouse Model BA-74, also known at the “Commander” model. The Commander was Westinghouse’s top-of-the-line, although the BA-74 was the single-oven model. The very top and most expensive was the double-oven Commander. Instead of a smaller oven on the left side, the BA-74 has a warming drawer. This stove measures 40 inches across. It features “Color Glance” controls, which glow a different color depending on the burner’s heat setting. It also has one “Super Corax” heat unit, which according the above advertisement should reach full heat in 30 seconds. Speed burners were the answer to the criticism about electric ranges being slow to heat up, unlike the instant heat of a gas range.
So, it has been 63 years since this range was manufactured and it is still in good working order. This speaks to the care with which it was given all these years, and the quality of the product coming out of the factory. I can’t help but look at this range and think of my mom and grandma, both of whom were excellent cooks and bakers. They cooked on a range like this, and I feel connected to them when I have the opportunity to do the same.
There are a lot of waffle irons in this world. It seems like most people have one tucked away somewhere. Maybe it was a shower gift, or a hand-me-down from mom or grandma, or just something you picked up along the path of life. I own a few waffle irons, most of them I picked up at thrift stores or estate sales. A couple of them date back to the 20’s and 30’s. But the one thing all the waffle irons have in common is that they all show very little wear. I can extrapolate from this that the original owners of these appliances didn’t make waffles very often. What a shame.
Making homemade waffles certainly takes more effort than the kind you just put in the toaster, but the little extra work pay off big in flavor, texture and versatility. You can make waffles that sweet or savory, depending on the direction you want to go. While you could include chocolate chips, coconut or berries, waffle batter can also include things like crumbled cooked bacon, ham, cheese or corn.
You can enjoy waffles the traditional way, with butter and syrup, or make sandwiches using waffles in place of bread. Waffles also provide a wonderful “stage” for dishes like chicken ala king, chipped beef, and other dishes with lots of gravy or sauce.
So here is a basic waffle recipe to get you started. Enjoy the waffles as-is, or let your own creativity inspire you to experiment with additional flavor ingredients. This recipe makes a large amount of waffles – good for four or more people. If you have left overs, waffles can be frozen and brought back in a toaster. If you are cooking for one or two, you can cut this recipe in half.
2 2/3 cups sifted flour
4 ½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
3 eggs, separated
¾ cup vegetable oil
2 cups milk (don’t use skim)
Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large sifter (if you don’t have a sifter, you can use a fine-mesh sieve or just add the ingredients to a large bowl and whisk together). Sift dry ingredients into a large bowl.
In the bowl containing the three egg yolks, add the oil and the milk. Mix wet ingredients together and pour into the bowl containing the dry ingredients. Stir together until combined – there will be some lumps, and that’s okay. Do not overbeat! NOTE: If you want to add other ingredients (chocolate chips, berries, meat, cheese, etc.) add them at this point.
Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff. Best to use an electric hand mixer for this if you have one. Once egg whites are still, using a spatula add the egg whites to the batter mixture. Gently fold in the egg whites until combined being careful to be gentle and not over mix.
Heat up your waffle iron. Each one is different, so make sure to allow enough time for the iron to get hot. If you have a modern waffle iron, it may have a non-stick surface. If not, once the iron is hot, spray top and bottom plate with non-stick cooking spray. Using a ladle, spoon batter onto bottom plate being careful not to let the batter go all the way to the edge. When you close the iron, the pressure will push the batter out a little closer to the edge. Cook waffle until golden brown.
Every waffle iron cooks differently. So follow the manual (if you have one) for your iron, or check for doneness when you can no longer see steam escaping from the cooking waffle. If you lift the lid and it still looks pale, just lower it and let it cook a little longer. You will get a sense of how long it takes after you’ve done a couple. Serve warm with your favorite toppings! Enjoy!
When chiffon cakes first hit the American baking scene in the late 1940’s, they created a huge sensation. It’s hard to believe that a cake could cause such a ruckus, but then we finally returned to peace-time, there was plenty of work for everyone, and people were celebrating life. I’m sure the introduction of the chiffon cake went unnoticed by many, but this new method of cake baking was a big deal to those who baked. General Mills (who introduced the recipe to the world via Betty Crocker in Better Homes & Gardens magazine) claimed it was the first really new cake in 100 years. In some respects they were correct, but the cake wasn’t really new.
The chiffon cake was developed by a California caterer in the 1920’s, who kept the recipe top-secret for decades. He made the cake for Hollywood stars and other important clients, and everyone wanted the recipe. Finally, General Mills bought the recipe from him, shared it with the world, and in doing so sold millions of boxes of their Softasilk cake flour. Whatever the motives, the chiffon cake got people making a new kind of cake and it remained popular throughout the 1950’s.
As is always the case, all things come in and go out of fashion. You couldn’t get the time of day with a chiffon cake in the 80’s! But I have always loved these cakes. They are light, delicate and beautiful. The flavor variations are endless. You can rich-them-up with a decadent frosting, drizzle them with a simple icing, or serve them plain with fruit or ice cream. Let’s put the chiffon back in our cake repertoire!
Orange Chiffon Cake
2 ¼ cups cake flour
1 ½ cups sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
½ cup vegetable oil
5 egg yolks
¾ cup orange juice
Zest of one medium orange
6 egg whites
½ tsp cream of tartar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, sift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add into the well IN THE FOLLOWING ORDER: vegetable oil, egg yolks, orange juice and orange zest. Stir until all is well combined. Set bowl aside.
Place egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Beat with mixer until egg whites hold stiff peaks. Gradually pour cake batter over egg whites, gently folding them together. Do this slowly – you don’t want to deflate the egg whites.
Pour mixture into an UNGREASED 10-inch tube pan. Put into 325 degree oven and bake for 55 minutes. Then turn oven heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove cake from oven and INVERT IMMEDIATELY. I use a wind bottle for this (see video), but a large funnel or other bottle can work. Allow cake to cool completely – it may take a couple of hours.
Once cake is cooled completely, use a thin spatula or knife to go around the edge of the cake so as to loosen it from the side of the tube pan. Remove cake from pan and run spatula or knife under the bottom of the cake to loosen it from tube pan bottom insert piece. Invert onto plate.
You can frost or ice the cake. Dust it with powdered sugar or serve it as-is with fresh fruit or ice cream. Enjoy!
While it is said that necessity is often the mother of invention, it can also be said that abundance is often the inspiration of creation. So, when there was an entire case of beautiful orange peppers at the farm market at $3.99 for the taking, the question was now what to do with them all! Among the infinite possibilities, soup seemed to be a natural choice.
Cooking the peppers themselves could have been achieved by blanching or steaming, but roasting the peppers is always a favorite method. The roasting brings out the sweetness and really deepens the flavor. These pepper were small – sort of “banana” shaped, and they roasted nicely in a grill pan on top of the stove.
This soup could be made just as well with red or yellow peppers, too. Roasting the peppers took the most time, but I actually ended up doing that task the day before when I had other work to do in the kitchen and it was no bother to have another burner going. It also helps to have either a standard or immersion blender for this soup, as the softened vegetables need to be pureed. But once the peppers have been roasted, the soup comes together quickly and delivers a rich, creamy pepper flavor.
Roasted Pepper Soup
16-20 small orange, red, or yellow peppers (use half as many if using bell peppers)
3 TBSP butter
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable stock (can also use chicken stock if you prefer)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup half and half
The first thing you need to do is roast the peppers. There are a number of ways you can do this. I used a cast iron grill pan over low heat on the top of my electric stove. If you don’t have a grill pan you could use a regular cast iron or other heavy bottom skillet. You could also do this on your gas grill. Take care to do this over low heat and let the peppers char (blister) on each side. It is going to take a while so be patient – you want them roasted, not burnt! After the peppers have roasted, transfer them to a heat-proof bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When the peppers cool, you will be able to easily slide the outer skins off.
After removing the outer skin (some people leave this on, but I think it has a bit of a bitter taste so I remove), cut the stem off the top of the pepper and with a sharp knife slice down the side of the pepper so as to open it up completely. Once open, you can easily scrape the seeds out and then roughly chop the peppers. Set the cleaned and chopped peppers aside.
In a large pot, melt butter and sauté onion and garlic until soft – about 5/6 minutes. Add vegetable stock, peppers, salt and pepper to pot. Bring to a simmer and cover. Let simmer for 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat and uncover. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
Working in small batches, transfer some of the contents of the pot to a blender (a couple ladles worth). BE VERY CAREFUL when blending hot liquids – do not overfill the blender! As a precaution, I hold a towel over the top of the blender when I turn it on. Puree contents and transfer to bowl. Repeat as necessary until all the contents of the pot have been pureed.
Take about two cups of the puree and put in a separate bowl. Add half and half to this smaller amount and stir well. Return the rest of the puree mixture to the pot. Transfer the puree-half and half mixture to the pot and combine with the rest. CHECK FOR SEASONING – if you need to add more salt and pepper this is the time to do it. Over low heat, gradually bring soup back up to a hot temperature – do not boil! Serve immediately. Garnish with fresh basil or parsley leaves.
A while ago we received a few requests from CoF viewers for a chocolate pie recipe. I had run across a couple of possibilities in some old cookbooks, but before I could decide on which one to try I received an email from a viewer in Tennessee – Adam – with a “tried and true” recipe. To me, these are always the best ones – recipes that have been made countless times and always produce good results. Adam shared that the recipe came to him from his mom, who got it from an elderly neighbor in the 1960’s.
Chocolate pie is special because many people expect pies to be filled with fruit and associate chocolate more with cake. This pie brings together a rich, sweet chocolate filling along with the delicate pie crust. This particular version also features a meringue top as opposed to a whipped cream top, which if more often found here in Michigan and referred to as “chocolate cream pie.” The fluffy meringue is much lighter than a cream topping and goes beautifully with the rich chocolate filling.
So, I want to thank Adam for passing this recipe along. The pie turned out beautifully and it was fairly easy to put together. I had a lot going on the day we made this pie, so I as a step-saver I used a ready-made crust. Please feel free to make your own – and there is a recipe for pie crust in the Berry Cherry Rhubarb Pie episode. Note that you will only need to make a single crust recipe. Whether you make your own pie crust dough or not, this Southern recipe will put a smile on the face of any chocolate lover!
5 TBSP cocoa
4 eggs, separated
1 ½ cups sugar
2 cups milk
4 heaping TBSP cornstarch
4 TBSP butter
2 tsp vanilla
1 baked pie shell
¼ tsp cream of tartar
5 TBSP sugar
Start with baking your pie shell. If you are using a ready-made crust, follow instructions on box. Baking a bottom pie crust without filling is often called “blind baking.” Remember to prick holes in the dough before you put it in the oven, or use pie weights if that is your preference. Generally, the crust will need to bake for 12-15 minutes in a 400 degree oven. Once the crust is slightly golden brown, remove from oven and set aside to let cool.
When you make the filling, you can make it using a double boiler or in a sauce pan directly over the heat. If you have a hard time controlling the heat on your range or tend to burn things, you may want to cook it using a double boiler. I prefer to just use a sauce pan over directly over low and gradual heat. I find that it cooks a little faster this way and I don’t have to fuss around with the water, etc.
Beat the egg yolks until smooth. Mix in sugar, cornstarch and cocoa. Add milk and put pan over low heat, stirring constantly. As the mixture heats up and comes closer to the boiling point, it will start to thicken up. Keep stirring to make sure the mixture is smooth (I use a whisk for this job). Once thick, remove pan from heat and add vanilla and butter. Continue to stir until butter is completely melted and combined. Pour filling into baked pie shell and spread it so it is even around the pie. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the four egg whites in a large bowl. Add cream of tartar and begin to beat. Gradually add in five tablespoons of sugar and continue to beat until it forms a stiff peak. Gently spread meringue over the top of the chocolate filling, with the highest point being in the center of the pie. Make sure meringue completely covers top of the pie and goes all the way to the crust. If you want, you can give the meringue some swirls with the back of a teaspoon. Put pie in oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the meringue is lightly browned. Remove pie and let cool completely before cutting. Enjoy!
I’m always amazed at the incredible delights that can be created from very few ingredients. This recipe comes from a little cookbook printed over 60 years ago that features the many ways to use baking chocolate. There is no flour in this recipe – the body of the cookie is created by the egg whites. It is really like a meringue in that way – so delicately light and with flavors of chocolate and coconut.
These also have the potential of being visually beautiful treats, something that could be easily achieved by putting the batter through a pastry bag with a star tip. Otherwise, this recipe requires little effort. You do need to be careful about melting the chocolate. I used a double-boiler, but you could also melt the chocolate in the microwave, but do this at low power and in 15 second increments. The chocolate can burn easily, and once it’s burnt – forget it! So, once you get the chocolate melted and the egg whites beaten, the rest is a jiff to make!
1 ½ oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
2 egg whites
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 ½ cup shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a double boiler (or slowly and carefully in a microwave – see comment above), melt chocolate. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl, beat egg whites with electric mixer until frothy (about a minute). Add salt and vanilla to egg whites and continue beating another minute. Gradually add sugar into egg whites – one tablespoon at a time – and continue beating until egg whites are stiff and all sugar has been beaten in.
Add coconut and melted chocolate to egg white mixture and using a spatula, gently fold in until all is incorporated.
Drop by rounded teaspoon (or put batter in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip) on to a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper. It should yield 24-30 macaroons.
Bake for 20 minutes in 350 degree oven. Remove and allow to cool for a couple of minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
This is one of those recipes that have been around a long, long time. A spinach puff makes a great side dish, especially with beef or lamb, and it combines the vegetable and the starch together. Another plus is that it works great with frozen spinach and the recipe calls for a standard 10 ounce box of frozen chopped spinach.
This can also be used as a vegetarian main dish (just double the recipe) – perfect for a Lenten Friday dinner or for those who prefer meatless options. The recipe contains eggs, so it delivers protein in addition to the healthy spinach. It also allows you to be creative with the seasonings if you wanted to give the dish more of a Greek or Italian personality.
If you are a fan of spinach then you’re going to like this one!
10oz box frozen chopped spinach
2 eggs separated
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ tsp dry mustard
1 TBSP dried minced onion
1 cup cooked rice (white or brown)
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese (optional)
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan with a lid, bring ½ cup of water to a boil. Remove spinach from box and put in boiling water. Cook covered for 5 to 6 minutes, breaking up block of spinach with fork as it cooks. Remove from heat and drain into a colander. Press spinach to remove as much of the water as possible and set aside to cool.
Using two mixing bowls, separate eggs. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form (use your preferred tool here – hand mixer, rotary mixer or whisk). To the egg yolks, add the cooked rice, dried onion, salt, pepper and mustard powder. Combine. If you want, you could sauté ¼ cup of onions in butter until soft and slightly golden and add those instead of the dried onion. Finally, add the cooked spinach to the rice mixture and combine.
Gently fold the rice and spinach mixture into the beaten egg whites until everything is incorporated. Grease a 1 ½ quart casserole dish with non-stick spray. Add mixture and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. If desired, spread top with shredded Parmesan cheese as soon as it comes out of the oven. Serve immediately.
Here’s a dish that makes a great appetizer or a side, and can be made well in advance. Hummus has its roots in Middle Eastern cuisine, which is a staple here in the Detroit area because we have a large Middle Eastern population. And like many ethnic recipes there are countless variations. Many families have their own unique set of ingredients or process of making hummus.
As food goes, hummus actually delivers a good bit of nutrition, too. The main ingredient is chick peas, also known as garbanzo beans or chi chi beans. It also contains tahini, which is made of ground sesame seeds. It is a thin paste and available at most major markets (it also can be ordered online) and the tahini gives the hummus its unique flavor. Other ingredients include olive oil, garlic and lemon juice – all good stuff!
While most hummus recipes share the basic ingredients above, the spices that get included vary. Ralph makes a great hummus, and I think his stands out because of the seasonings. For this reason, we put Ralph in front of the camera this time to share his recipe! He also makes delicious homemade pita chips to go along with the hummus, but that’s another episode!
This makes a large batch – good for a big party or dinner crowd. Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you don’t need a huge amount.
2 – 15oz cans chick peas, drained with the liquid reserved
4 cloves garlic
3 TBSP tahini
4 TBSP olive oil
6 TBSP lemon juice (fresh is best, but you can used bottled)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp granulated chicken bouillon or chicken soup base (optional – leave out if you want to keep it completely vegetarian, but add a little more salt instead)
½ tsp onion powder
¼ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp white pepper
½ tsp ground cumin
½ cup+ reserved bean liquid (you can add a little more if you want hummus a little thinner)
You really need a strong blender or a food processor for this recipe. I think a food processor works best. In the bowl of your food processor, put in all the ingredients (in order) except the reserved bean liquid. Start the processor and run for about three minutes. While running, gradually pour in the bean liquid and let run for another three minutes. Taste. Adjust seasoning as necessary. If the hummus is thicker than you would like, add a little more of the bean liquid and run for another minute.
Serve with pita bread, pita chips, raw veggies, crackers – it’s great with almost anything!
It seems like the decision to make French toast usually stems from the realization that a loaf of homemade bread is on the verge of becoming a doorstop. That said, there are few better ways to use up an otherwise good loaf of bread before your options are limited to making croutons or breadcrumbs! A few weeks ago, we made a recipe of homemade white bread and we used the leftovers for this recipe.
I like to use unsliced bread for French toast. This gives us the option to cut the slices as thick as we like. Generally, the slices are at least one-half inch in thickness. This provides enough room for the bread to soak up the yummy custard mix before it hits the griddle. This insures a nice, moist piece of bread that not only deliver flavor, but stand up to the butter, syrup, preserves or whatever else might go on top.
Using buttermilk is optional, but it adds such a wonderful richness to the French toast that it’s worth picking some up. This recipe calls for two cups (16 ounces) and yielded eight hearty slices. You could also use whole milk, evaporated milk or coconut milk. For our last batch, I added some shredded coconut to the mix. This adds a great flavor and makes the dish extra special.
Buttermilk French Toast
Hearty bread (I like a white bread, but you could also use brioche, raisin bread or a wheat bread)
2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
Dash of nutmeg
½ cup shredded coconut (optional)
Cut eight slices of bread – at least one half inch thick. Set aside. If the bread is a little dry, it will absorb the egg/milk mixture better. Crack six eggs into a large bowl and beat well with whisk. Add buttermilk and spices (and coconut, if using) and beat well.
Heat a griddle or large skillet on stove to medium/medium-high heat. Using a pair of tongs, dunk each slice of bread into bowl. Let bread soak up mixture for ten seconds or so. Bread will become heavy and delicate, so carefully take bread from bowl and place directly onto hot griddle or skillet. Depending on the size of your griddle/skillet, you should be able to do three or four at a time.
Check bottom of bread after a couple of minutes. When it is medium to dark brown, flip bread over and cook the other side. When second size is done, transfer to plate (keep in a warm oven if you are doing additional batches). Serve with butter, your favorite syrup, dusted with powdered sugar or spread on some preserves. It goes great with salty breakfast meat like bacon, sausage or country ham. Enjoy!