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.