Pepe talks about his new taqueria Jennifer Biggs/The Commercial Appeal
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Jennifer Biggs recounts her top five favorite dishes or drinks she's tried over the last 10 years as The Commercial Appeal's food writer. Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal
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Alex's Tavern owner talks Greek gumbo Jennifer Biggs/The Commercial Appeal
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Never been to an IKEA. Jennifer Biggs clues you into five things to know when visiting the new IKEA Memphis. Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal
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Elwood's Shack owner Tim Bednarski talks about the damage to the popular restaurant following an early morning fire. Jennifer Biggs/The Commercial Appeal
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James Taras, Managing Partner at Jim's Place Grille, prepares one of the restaurant's favorite dishes, Grecian calf liver. Jim Weber/The Commercial Appeal
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Famed Memphis chef Kelly English and The Commercial Appeal's food writer Jennifer Biggs go head-to-head while giving you their secrets to a great milk punch for the holidays. Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal
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Peabody Hotel executive pastry chef Konrad Spitzbart demonstrates how hotel employees make their gingerbread ducks. Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal
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The cashew crunch from Dinstuhl's can sweeten up the holiday cheer. Take a look as they make the treat from scratch. Mike Brown/The Commercial Appeal
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Jennifer Biggs explores the food inside the Memphis IKEA. Jennifer Biggs/The Commercial Appeal
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Jerry's owner David Acklin makes a muffuletta Jennifer Biggs/The Commercial Appeal
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Jose Gutierrez and Jean-Georges Vongerichten talk about the festival Jennifer Biggs/The Commercial Appeal
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Pepe Magallanes at Las Tortugas
Jennifer Biggs' five favorite things in Memphis
Rocky makes Greek gumbo
What you need to know before visiting IKEA
Surveying the damage at Elwood's Shack
Calf Liver at Jim's Place Grille
Want to know the secret to Kelly English's milk punch?
Gingerbread ducks, a holiday tradition at the Peabody Hotel
Behind the scenes: Making Dinstuhl's cashew crunch
Checking out the food in IKEA
Muffalettas Return to Jerry's Sno Cones
Chefs talk about Memphis Food & Wine Festival
"Saints be praised! I don't even know where to begin."
That was the reaction of Marsha Chance when she emailed her thanks for the reincarnated Recipe Finder, starting right here right now and continuing weekly in our food section.
Oldies, but goodies
I'm sad to report that neither recipe Chance requested is in our files, but they're both from Paulette's and that's good news, as the longtime Memphis restaurant has generously shared recipes with our readers in the past. We'll wait for the cheese soup and chicken brochette recipes from the always helpful owner George Falls, and meanwhile, I've included one for Paulette's squash soup, one of my favorites.
For years we—my predecessors at The Commercial Appeal—sought recipes for readers when asked. (This was back in the day, hard as it is to imagine now, that recipes were laid out so they didn’t overlap and you could clip from both sides of the page.) But it was in 1994, according to our archives, that Recipe Finder was officially launched. It lasted almost 20 years, until Charlotte Durham, our former food editor who kept the column going long after she retired from here, was finally ready to fully retire.
But a week doesn’t go by when it’s not mentioned to me in some way, so here it is, back and ready to deliver old recipes and new. It’s been fun, looking in the files for these first requests, to see how many of them have been sought for years.
Sandy Murphy emailed me, looking for a recipe for Chicken Tortilla Soup like the one served at McAlister’s Deli; it was first requested in 1997 and the recipe was never printed. Murphy said she emailed the company, to no avail, and the copycat recipes I found by Googling all featured a good deal of half and half—and complaints about the soup being too “milky.”
But I found one that says it came from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 2007, courtesy of a corporate chef at McAlister’s in that area and modified for home use. Let us know if it fits the bill, Sandy.
Mark and Peggy Hopper have the misfortune of loving a discontinued product. Lucky for them, plenty of other folks around the country are also lamenting the loss of Old Dutch Sweet & Sour Dressing and it sounds like maybe, just maybe, someone will start production again.
“In the meantime we are without the dressing,” the Hoppers wrote. “In your vast storehouse of recipes please check and see if you have, or are able to, produce the measurements for the magic potion.”
I don’t know this product, Hoppers, but I have a copycat recipe from someone who says it’s as close as you’ll get.
Gunta Jurbergs requested a recipe for Banana Flax Seed Bread and I’m betting the one she’s thinking of is the Banana Date Flax Seed Bread from former nutrition columnist Megan Murphy.
Trisha Amrod Baggett is one of the reasons I figured we might as well start Recipe Finder again. She frequently attends our CA Lunch Bunch (held every other Friday; find the location in my column each week) and several times has asked me to find the recipe for Buntyn’s Coconut Cream Pie. I knew we had it, but kept forgetting to look it up. But give a reporter a deadline and watch things get done. Here, Trisha, is your recipe, and readers, your Recipe Finder is back. Email your requests to me at [email protected] and I’ll do my best to find them.
Other recipe requests:
Debbie Plunket wants the egg drop soup from Panda Garden, and she also requested the recipe for refried beans from Molly’s LaCasita and says she’ll settle for something close to it. I think she’ll have to, because owner Jamie Chapman says that to give the recipe, she’d have to give up her proprietary spice blend and no can do. Maybe we’ll get the egg drop soup, though.
Sandy Bane wants to find a Kroger deli that still makes Mexican lasagna, or the recipe for one like the lasagna made at the Kirby-Whitten store in Bartlett until recently.
Vicki Park wants a panna cotta that she thinks had a bit of lemon in it. Vicki, I have plenty of panna cotta recipes in our files (I think Alyce Mantia Price has one for every day of the month), but not one with lemon.
Linda Vilag wants the hot and sour soup from Royal Panda.
Who can help? Email your recipes to me at [email protected], along with your name so everyone will know where to direct their gratitude.
Old Dutch-like Sweet & Sour Dressing
1 cup water
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup white vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
In a small sauce pan heat water and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes or until cool enough to pour in food processor or blender. In food processor with blade or blender, add all other ingredients with sugar water. Blend for 30 seconds. Store in refrigerator until use. This recipe makes about 2 cups of dressing. It keeps several months stored in a jar in the refrigerator.
"McAlister's" Chicken Tortilla Soup
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
4 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 cups tortilla chips
1 bunch green onions, sliced
Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a skillet large enough to hold the chicken in a single layer. Add chicken, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until chicken is done, about 15 minutes. Drain chicken; cut into 1/2-inch cubes.
In a medium stockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; saute until soft.
Stir in chili powder, oregano, tomatoes and their liquid, chicken broth and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons water.
Stir together cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup water; stir into stockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until broth is slightly thickened.
Paulette’s Yellow Squash Soup
3 pounds yellow squash, diced
3 cups chopped onion
1 cup finely diced celery
¼ cup diced carrots
2 tablespoons dried basil
4 tablespoons butter
1 ¼ quarts chicken broth
1 pint half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
Cook vegetables in basil and butter about 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add chicken broth, then cover and bring to boil; simmer until vegetables are tender.
Purée mixture in a blender, then return to the pot and add half-and-half and heavy cream. Heat, but don’t boil. Add remaining seasoning and stir well. Garnish with a dash of nutmeg in the center of the soup. Serve hot or cold.
Note: Replace some or all of the half-and-half and cream with whole milk, if desired. It will change the texture of the soup, but will significantly reduce calories.
Source: Files of The Commercial Appeal
Banana Date Flax Seed Bread
¾ cup ground flaxseed or flaxseed meal
3 bananas, mashed
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup white or brown sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon. salt
½ cup chopped pitted dates
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat together banana, oil, sugar and eggs. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and flaxseed. Gradually stir flour mixture into banana mixture. Fold in dates. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 55-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Makes one loaf, about 12 servings.
Source: Files of The Commercial Appeal
Buntyn's Coconut Cream Pie
1 cup sugar
4 egg yolks
1 ½ cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup cornstarch, dissolved in 1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon vanilla flavoring
1 tablespoon coconut flavoring
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut, plus 1 tbsp. for topping
1 9-inch pie shell, baked
½ cup (4 large) pasteurized egg whites
¼ teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
Mix sugar, egg yolks, milk and butter in top of a double boiler over simmering water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and add flavorings and 1 cup coconut.
Pour filling into pie shell. Refrigerate until custard sets.
Beat egg whites until foamy. Add baking powder and beat to soft peaks. Gradually add sugar. Beat to shiny, stiff peaks.
Mound pie with meringue. Sprinkle with remaining coconut. Bake in a 400-degree oven until meringue is golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Serves 6.
Source: Files of The Commercial Appeal
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