Wednesday, July 01, 2020

The Summer Place 62nd Street Lemon Loaf

I'm still cooking my way through the Summer Place Cookbook from a restaurant that was popular in Houghton in the 1980s when I was a student.   This recipe for lemon cake caught my eye to be the base for strawberry shortcake.   Like many recipes in this cookbook, it was not an original recipe but a famous one elsewhere.   This one was featured by Craig Claiborne in the 1970s.  It was a Maida Heatter recipeMaida Heatter was a famous pastry chef that got started late in life; she died last year at 102.   She is an inspiration to me as I want to publish a cookbook after I retire.  Her daughter illustrated her cookbooks like my daughter will.   This recipe was her daughter's originally, the name comes from where she lived at the time.   Here's how it was shared in the Summer Place Cookbook:

Here at the lakehouse, I don't have a tube pan or a Bundt pan, so I knew I'd have to do some tinkering to make this work for a bread pan.    I love my Bundt pans in my collection, but they really are huge cakes anyway.   Here is how I made the recipe:

62nd Street Lemon Loaf

1 1/2 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
dash salt
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 c. sugar, divided
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk
1 lemon and it's zest

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter a loaf pan (I used a 7.75"x3.75" size pan) and line with parchment paper.    In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt with a fork until well blended.    I don't have a stand mixer at the lake house, but if I did I would use it to cream the stick of butter and 1 cup sugar.    I used my $2 garage sale handheld mixer instead.    Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until well blended.   Mixing slowly, add half of the flour mixture, then add milk, then the other half of the flour mixture.    Add the zest from the lemon.

Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.   Cool on a rack for a couple minutes while making the glaze from the lemon juice from the naked lemon, plus the remaining 1/2 cup sugar.    Using the parchment paper, remove the loaf and glaze it while still warm with a pastry brush.

This cake is fantastic with some Chassell strawberries, sliced with some sugar, and a dollop of whipped cream.    There is nothing better than Keweenaw berries!

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

The Summer Place Steak Marinade

When I was a student at Michigan Tech in the 1980s, there were a few restaurants you could go to for a nice dinner out that were seasonal spots.    The Onigaming Supper Club, which I wrote about a few years ago,  Fitzgeralds (now the Fitz) in Eagle River,  The Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor.    And the Summer Place, that was just south of Houghton.   It was a restaurant run out of the former house of Eve and Ken Nelson and if my memory serves me correctly, it was decorated in a heavy "Laura Ashley" floral and lace style.    The food there was great!

I once found a copy of their cookbook at the Gay Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary Bazaar but neglected to buy it, much to my regret.     I was talking to a friend of mine that knew the owners and she was telling me about how she always used their steak marinade recipe and so I have been on a quest to get the cookbook again.    Of course, it is long ago out of print, and I couldn't even find a used version of it for sale online anywhere.   I posted a request for it on the "You Know You are From the Copper Country If...." facebook group and a couple people came through with it so I could make a copy.    The cookbook has a lot of recipes from other sources....for example, Maida Heatter's daughter's East 62nd Street Lemon Cake, which was printed by Craig Claiborne in NYT in the 1970s (so good that even "Bill Blass and Nancy Reagan asked for the recipe")  and recipes for things that I am sure were considered very exotic for the time in Houghton (Ecuadorian shrimp, anyone?).   Also there is a whole section on those impossible cakes made with Bisquick, which seems out of place with the rest of the recipes in the book, which were far more glamorous.    It is a perfect time capsule of recipes that were popular in that era (1975 - 1994)   I couldn't wait to give some of them a try.

First on my list was the steak marinade recipe. 

Reading the note on the recipe, I wondered if I could find the history of it.    I googled "Elbow Room Steak Marinade"  and sure enough, I found several versions of it out there.   Evidently, it was published in Family Circle Magazine in 1971.The Elbow Room is still going strong on Long Island.   It looks like Eve and Ken took some liberties with the recipe by substituting seasoning salt for Beau Monde, which is hard for me to find even in Ann Arbor.   I'm currently at the lakehouse and struggled to find Kitchen Bouquet as well, but I substituted Maggi seasoning. which was available in the international food section of Econofoods in Houghton.    Can you use either?   Probably. although the Maggi has a lot more salt content.  I'd use low sodium soy sauce with it next time.   In this recipe, I think the key job of the the Kitchen Bouquet is the brown color.   I found this comparison in Serious Eats.     I used Lawry's Seasoned salt in my version.     My friend uses the marinade whenever she makes beef tenderloin, but I tried it with top sirloin and it made the steak really tender.   We grilled it and had steak salads for lunch yesterday.

Here's how I made it:

Summer Place Steak Marinade

1 c. low sodium soy sauce
2 onions, peeled and cut into eight wedges
3 gloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 c. Maggi seasoning (or Kitchen Bouquet)
1 t. Lawry seasoned salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.   Marinate steaks in a zip lock bag with enough marinade to cover.  Save whatever you have left in a jar in the refrigerator.   It is supposed to be good brushed on hamburgers too.   Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Dry off steaks with a paper towel and grill. 

Next up for lake house cooking?   I have to try the lemon cake.    If it is good enough for Bill Blass and Nancy Reagan, it's sounds like it will be perfect for my Keweenaw strawberries!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

Ever since a parishioner submitted a recipe for this "salad" (it's really a dessert) for my church cookbook I edited, I have been very curious to try it.  Her recipe was made with a bunch of convenience foods like Cool Whip and Jello.  Recently, it was featured in Cook's Country magazine a while ago using frozen strawberries, but their recipe used half of the cooking appliances in my kitchen, and made enough to feed an army, so I decided to simplify it and make it suitable for a small family.    I wanted to ditch the strawberry Jello and make my own fresh strawberry layer like their recipe featured.   I didn't see the need to press the strawberry puree through a fine mesh strainer.   Just using the puree as it is with the gelatin is fine.  It came out great!  Wonderful alternative to shortcake in strawberry season.     I've already made it twice so far and will probably make it again when I hit peak strawberry season in the UP next week.    

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

2 heaping measuring cups of pretzel sticks (not rods)
1 1/8 cups  sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
4 ounces cream cheese
1/2  cup heavy cream
2 quarts strawberries, washed and hulled
¼ teaspoon salt
1 1 oz package unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 8x8 baking pan with vegetable oil spray. In a blender, process pretzels and 1/8 c sugar until coarsely ground.  Add melted butter and pulse until combined.  Transfer pretzel mixture to prepared pan. Using bottom of measuring cup, press crumbs into bottom of pan. Bake until crust is fragrant and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Set aside crust, letting it cool slightly, about 20 minutes.

Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream cheese and 1/4 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Increase speed to medium-high and, with mixer still running, slowly add cream in steady stream. Continue to whip until soft peaks form, scraping down bowl as needed, about 1 minute longer. Spread whipped cream cheese mixture evenly over cooled crust. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, puree 1 1/2 quarts of  strawberries in in the blender.   Pour into a saucepan. Add remaining 3/4 c sugar and salt and cook over medium high heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbles begin to appear around sides of pan and sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes; remove from heat.

Sprinkle gelatin over water in large bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Whisk strawberry puree into gelatin. Slice remaining strawberries and stir into strawberry-gelatin mixture. Refrigerate until gelatin thickens slightly and starts to cling to sides of bowl, about 30 minutes. Carefully pour gelatin mixture evenly over whipped cream cheese layer. Refrigerate salad until gelatin is fully set, at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.