Sunday, March 17, 2013

Welcome Guest Author Hallie Ephron aka Her Foodiness

 LUCY BURDETTE: Hallie Ephron, one of my favorite authors, (also a fabulous foodie friend,) has a new book out in 3 weeks. Today she's visiting MLK to talk food--and she'll give away a copy of THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN to a lucky commenter. Welcome Hallie!

HALLIE EPHRON: Savoring my favorite foods is one of the guilty pleasures of writing. So in THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN, Evie Ferrante has my passion for Chinese soup dumplings. When we go to the aptly named Gourmet Chinese Dumpling House in Boston's Chinatown, I order rack of those succulent babies just for me. Anyone who encroaches on my share gets stabbed with a chopstick.

Evie's boyfriend (aka Mr. Wrong) is all about steak. Which, by the way, I also love, but given a choice between soup dumplings and steak? No contest.

Often I find myself writing about fondly remembered foods -- the ones I can no longer get. In THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN, it's jelly donuts. When Evie returns to the little the grocery store near the house in the Bronx where she grew up, she discovers that the kind she remembers are still there...along with a man who could easily learn to love soup dumplings.

Sadly, my favorite jelly donuts have gone the way of the dodo. They came from Van de Kamps -- back when Van de Kamps was just a bakery. In my memory, those jelly donuts were light, puffy, powdered sugar-coated cakes. Literally jam-packed, front to back, every bite risked spurting some of the filling out the other end. The filling was in a league of its own, thick and tangy and intensely raspberry -- not that pallid, sugary-sweet, gelatinous stuff that finds its way into jelly donuts these days. And there was none of that palate-coating greasy finish that today's donuts deliver.

Though I love to cook, I'd never attempt to make my own jelly donuts. I'm not good with yeast or deep fat. And forget soup dumplings.

Fortunately, I've discovered a great recipe for another gone-but-not-forgotten treat -- chewy, caramel-colored hazelnut biscotti that were once, but sadly no longer, available at my local Italian bakery. This recipe is a close approximation.


Hazelnut Biscotti

3 c. whole hazelnuts (or almonds) (skin on)
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 c. flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 T soft unsalted butter
2 beaten eggs
2 T vanilla
1 beaten egg mixed with 1T water for egg wash

Preheat oven 350

1. Roast nuts
-In a single layer on a cookie tray in the oven - check after about 8 minutes but keep roasting until lightly browned and (if you are using hazelnuts) the skins are coming loose.
- Dump them onto a dish towel and roll them around to rub off most of the skins (if using almonds, leave the skins on).

2. Prepare dough
- Cream the butter with the white sugar in large mixing bowl.
- Add brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and blend.
- Add beaten eggs and vanilla and BEAT with mixer on low speed until dough holds together.
- This makes a VERY STICKY DOUGH.
  Fold in the nuts.
3. Make 2 logs of the dough
- Put dough on floured surface. Cut in half. Roll each piece into a log.
- Place on parchment-lined cookie sheet and flatten slightly.
- Brush each log lightly with egg wash.

4. Bake 30 minutes OR until ***firm*** to the touch. (Go by touch, not time)

5. Remove from oven. Cut diagonally into biscotti. Turn each piece sideways (cut side up) and return to 300 degree oven to dry out and crisp--about five minutes.

My question: What are your "lost" food favorites, and have you been able to recreate them?

THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN is the story of a young woman, Evie Ferrante, who reluctantly returns the house where she grew up on the waterfront in the Bronx in order to deal with the chaos left behind by her gravely ill, alcoholic mother. She renews a friendship with Mina Yetner, the 91-year-old woman who lives next door. Mina helps Evie figure out the meaning of her mother's last message: Don't let him in until I'm gone. And Evie helps Mina figure out whether she's losing her mind.

Don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing! And follow Hallie on Facebook for all the latest news...


  1. Congratulations on three new books. Amazing!

    All of your food choices are great. What I miss most are ordinary fruit and vegetables that tastes like such. Evidently the neighborhood animals agreed as they ate my homegrowns.

  2. I feel your pain about the loss of your favorite donut shop and donut. Ours closed a few years ago and we've not had a good one since. So when I want a sweet treat with my coffee, I head to the local coffeeshop and enjoy something they bake. Your book interesting. I'll have to check it out when it is released. Congratulations!!!

  3. I so miss being able to pick quarts of wild blackberries for pies and cobblers. The ones you buy frozen or in the grocery store don't have any taste.

  4. Can't wait for your new book!

    When I lived in New Jersey as a child, my family maded weekly pilgrimages to Trost's Bakery in Summit. Everything they made was good, and some things I've never seen anywhere else (and believe me, I've looked!). They made a crisp, buttery chocolate chip cookie (with mini-chips, before they were everywhere) cut in squares, that still has me drooling. Alas, the bakery closed years ago.

  5. Lovely post. My beloved late aunt's Italian Easter Pie is a taste from childhood that I'll never forget. Aunt Mary never married. She lived with our family and was much like a grandmother to me and my sister (both our grandmothers had hard lives and died sooner than they should have--one before I was born and another soon after). Aunt Mary's pie was a rustic delight, simple but delicious and made with love. My version brings the flavors back in a way that's easier for home cooks to make: Italian Easter Pie Palmiers. I like to think my aunt would have laughed (and approved).

  6. I grew up in upstate New York with Freihofer's fruit cookies, and I've never been able to reproduce them. Crawling the web has convinced me that nobody else has either.

  7. My mother made an absolutely wonderful fresh banana and whipped cream cake. Sadly, I was never able to find her recipe or anything like it.

  8. Twinkies! LOL (Wasn't it our Cleo who gave us a recipe to replicate it?...I haven't tried it. But I hear they're coming back!) I miss regional food. I Thank God I'm back in WNY and can get real wings and beef of weck sandwiches..and Fresh Polish sausage. I do miss carne asada breakfast tacos though (I lived in Austin, TX for 10 years.) My grandparents made fantastic potato pancakes-my mom tried and tried, but couldn't replicate it. I use a mix!

  9. Those palmiers look beautiful Cleo--I'm going to do a sweet Italian Easter pie here in a couple of weeks.

    The banana and whipped cream cake sounds wonderful. Let us know if you find it, Sue!

  10. Hey, Sheila, I remember Trosts and those cookies, too! All our birthday cakes came from there. When I would go downtown shopping with my girls we always stopped in there to get them a cookie.

    I miss my grandmother's tomato sauce. I have her recipe, but it never turns out as good as hers did. It was our Sunday meal more often than not.

    And Hallie, I used to love jelly doughnuts! We would have them on Sunday. My first solo outing in the car after I got my driver's license was to the bakery for jelly doughnuts!

  11. No fair, Katreader - Twinkies are coming back and not my jelly donuts!

    Peg Cochran: I hear you. My husband's mother who was a perfectly dreadful cook made great meatballs which were basically Hunts tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar, and ground meat, and still I've never been able to duplicate them.

  12. Liz V. - I do find that sometimes it turns out the refrigerator is the culprit. I've stopped putting tomatoes and fruit in there and it all tastes much better.

    But never as good as the tomatoes (and beans and cukes and eggplant and zucchini) I've been lucky enough to cadge from Lucy's backyard.

  13. Thanks Sue --

    Karen -- we used to pick blackberries from bushes at the college where my husband works, and QUARTS of raspberries in a nearby field -- sadly they dug them all up and put in buildings and parking lots.

  14. Cleo - those palmiers look FABULOUS! I'm used to cookies that look kind of like that, sweet. But those are savory.

    Sheila - that sounds delicious. Though homemade chocolate chip cookies are pretty hard to beat.

    Sue - Fresh banana and whipped cream cake... sounds like a cousin to a pie (crust, bananas, custard, and whipped cream) I make... or used to make. Talk about rich and filled with calories. Also coconut cream pie made with toasted coconut? Mmmm. And I once attempted homemade eclairs with mixed results.

  15. There Was an Old Woman sounds fabulous. Very intriguing!

    Happily, my favorite childhood treat made a resurgence a few years ago. They've died down again, but really, it's hard to beat fresh from the oven Krispy Kreme doughnuts with that chocolate glaze that hardens ever so slightly. Well, thanks, Hallie! Now I'm craving doughnuts!

    I bet veggies that come from Lucy's back yard are great! How do I get on that list?

    We still grow raspberries and blackberries and always look forward to them. Shh, don't tell, but when I walk the dogs, I always manage to scoot by them to eat some.


  16. Sounds like the banana cream pie my aunt used to make. I'm not much of a sweet eater so I usually passed on it.

    But what I miss is something my mother used to make for the holidays. We called them nuccadellas, basically fried dough with honey and powdered sugar. My aunt used to make them too, but my mother's were so much lighter and tastier.

    My aunt passed away a couple of months ago and I thought they were gone for ever. Then a friend mentioned she'd like to make them and I looked through my mother's recipes and found it, one of the few family dishes she'd written down. Reading the recipe, I remembered helping her make them once- and having her pass on her secret for rolling them so thin, something she never shared with her sister. I plan to make them this year.

  17. There Was An Old Woman sounds like a really good spooky read. Love jelly donuts, but they don't lvoe me. My lost "treats" all seem to have something to do with pomegranates. Kemps used to have a delightful Pomegranate vanilla frozen yogurt. Not any more. Then I really enjoyed Arrowhead's Sparkling Pomegrante flavored water. No, now more. Maybe I better find something to like other than pomegranate.

  18. When I was in eighth grade—don't ask how long ago—there was a bakery around the corner from school that sold jelly donuts for a nickel apiece. If I hoarded my allowance I could buy one every day after school. One day I went in, rang the bell, dragged the baker lady away from her work, and asked her for a jelly donut. "One?" she said. "Yes, please." She served it forth with the worst grace in the world and went back to the kitchen muttering, "five cents." I saw then that my passion was uncool, and I sadly swore off the donuts.

  19. Hi. Well, I am in Puerto Rico and we used to have, frequently, on the table an exquisite dessert called "Dulce de Leche", not the kind it is sold in every corner or out of Puerto Rico. I am including a link of someone that had graciously posted the recipe and a picture. The picture only shows about a tablespoon serving. We used to have a 1/2 to a full cup. The thing is that is extremely easy to make and extremely rare to have it. But it is delicious. I guarantee you, you wil love it. Also, I would love to read Hallie Ephron book, "There was an Old Woman". Best, Margie.

  20. When I was in high school (we used stone tablets which made our back packs very heavy)there was a donut store which made every donut as though it were a work of art. And their jelly donuts were just as Hallie described. If you got there at the perfect time, everything was new and hot and wonderful. Right now, just thinking about it, I believe I am having a sugar overload. Thank you for the reminders of the good stuff.

  21. LOVE that dulce de leche recipe, Margie - I've never made something that starts out having you curdle the milk with lime juice...

    Reminds me of something we used to do back in the 70s that created a thick caramel custard: Place the UNOPENED (!) cans of sweetened condensed evaporated milk in a pot of boiling water. Cover the pot and simmer two and a half or three hours. Be sure to replenish the water and keep the cans submerged. Then cool and open the cans inside you will find a thick rich caramel custard. Magic.

    1. Oh! We used to have that too! Addictive! When we got in from school and we were alone before my mother got home from work, the three of us, (three sisters), sat on the table with a big can of crackers and finished the boiled can of sweet caramel custard. We ate it with everything, crackers, toasted bread, you name it. It was a lot of fun. That and sweet milk frozen icy. ("Limber de mantecado").


    That is such a sad story, Kate Gallison. She sounds like an unhappy soul. It's worthy of a short story though -- little girl tries to figure out why usually pleasant woman is suddenly so sour??

  23. Book Lady - I'm a huge pomegranate fan. I used to eat whole ones, but now all those seeds disagree with me. And even if pomegranate juice isn't the wonder food it's made out to be, it's so delicious. Haagen-Dazs Pomegranate Dark Chocolate ice cream -- MMMMMM.

  24. Nuccadellas - Catherine, I want that recipe!

    Krista - agreed, Krispy Kremes, fresh made, can't beat 'em. I see them as I'm racing for a train at Penn Station and they're never as fresh as they need to be.

  25. I miss being able to go out to my parents garden and pick any veggie fresh and eat it right there!!!!! Dee

  26. From one foodie to another, I'll fight you for that last soup dumpling Seriously. The food I miss most are the chicken curry puffs we justed to buy at the Cold Storage supermarket in Singapore. Hot, flaky, spicy with just the right amount of curry. I could eat 6 without shame. I'm managed to approximate the taste, but they'll never be exactly as good, though I keep trying.

  27. Real donuts, fresh from the fryer, plain with a crisp outside and cakey inside. Sigh

    Do you really mean two batches of 3 cups each hazelnuts (total 6 cups)? That's a lot of nuts. And when are they added?

  28. Hallie, fun post. I'm with Libby, do you really mean 6 total cups of nuts? Wow. Your latest book has a great hook. Looking forward to reading it.

    Daryl aka Avery

  29. Lubby, Avery--
    Yikes! Good catch.
    Just 3 cups of nuts. Heavens.

  30. Sorry Libby... Not Lubby and just 3 cups.

    Hey, Tiger(!) - those sound fabulous. I've always wanted to go to Singapore, one of the world's GREAT eating cities.

  31. There is a new donut shop here in Key West, truly delicious. I've had to force myself to walk by most days. Though I am going to try a Boston creme donut with English tea-scented cream before we leave.

    Hallie I'll go in and fix the nuts:)


  33. ACK! Fold in the nuts after you mix the sticky dough. Heavens, this is what you get when the recipe I start with is handwritten.

  34. I am glad someone else remembers when some foods tasted better.

  35. My grandmother used to make the most delectable strudel. Never had anything like it again. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  36. I miss the apple cake that my mother made. Moist, apples from the orchard with a taste like no other. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  37. Welcome, Hallie! What a lovely post and recipe. As for lost recipes, I am still trying to recreate my mother's chicken with white wine and thyme. Can't ever get it right.

  38. Can't wait to read THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN and to try out the hazelnut biscotti recipe!

  39. I wish for my grandmother's mince meat pie. There was never a written recipe and the ones I've found just are not the same.

  40. My Grandmother made the best fresh Chocolate Angel food cake. It was a dark chocolate that was light and fluffy. I have a similar recipe but the chocolate is light in color and taste. I wished I knew her secret.
    Thanks for sharing the recipe. I love visiting this site-I get a lot of cooking information.