Comfort Food

Comfort Food

Mamie Eisenhower's Million Dollar Fudge

I’m just old enough to barely remember President and Mrs. Eisenhower.  Actually, what I think I remember is my mother and my aunts talking about the First Lady … probably after the time Eisenhower was in office.  One of my aunts loved magazines and I can remember articles that she kept with stories and recipes related to Mamie Eisenhower.  I remember the first time Mother made fudge using Mamie’s recipe.  It had marshmallow cream in it and never failed.  Until that time, Mother would cook her fudge and sometimes go outside in the cold to ‘beat’ it hoping it would thicken. Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge never failed to thicken, so the outdoor adventures during fudge making episodes … stopped at our house!


Mamie Doud was just 19 when she married Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1916.  By all appearances, they had  a perfect marriage!  She was born in Boone, Iowa but she grew up in lots of places including Colorado Springs and Denver, Colorado.  She spent lots of time at her family’s winter home in San Antonio, Texas.  It was in San Antonio where she met Eisenhower.  A year later they married and began their lives together in the lieutenant’s living quarters at Fort Sam Houston.  Her life as a military wife took her to the Panama Canal Zone, to France and to the Philippine Islands.  She had moved 28 times before they retired after their service as President and First Lady.


The First Lady's Inaugural Gown

Mamie loved pretty clothes and jewelry.  She was named one of the best dressed women in the United States by the New York Dress Institute each year that she was our First Lady.  Her favorite style, dubbed the “Mamie Look” had a full skirt.  The look included charm bracelets, pearls and bobbed hair with bangs.  One of the most popular inaugural gowns in the Smithsonian’s collection is Mamie’s pink gown that is embroidered with more than 2,000 rhinestones.



Pink was her favorite color and following that pink trend wasn’t just about having pink clothing.  Pink kitchens and pink bathrooms became hugely popular.  We had a pink bathroom in my childhood home!  We also had a pink dial telephone, which I have kept!  Think of all those pink casserole dishes, canisters and small kitchen appliances that were popular in the 1950s and 60s!   Mamie’s favorite flower was the pink sweetheart rose!

I’m happy to share Mamie’s Million Dollar Fudge!  It was first published in magazines in 1953 and prior to that did not carry Mamie’s name!   I’m sure this recipe kept plenty of American moms from have the big fudge ‘fail’ at Christmastime!


Mamie Eisenhower's Million Dollar Fudge

12 ounces chocolate chips
12 ounces German’s sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
2 cups marshmallow cream
4 1/2 cups of sugar
Pinch of salt
2 Tablespoons of butter
12 ounces of canned evaporated milk
2 cups chopped nuts

Stir together the chocolates and marshmallow cream in a big bowl. Bring the sugar, salt, butter and evaporated milk to a boil over medium high heat.  Boil it or 1 minute, then reduce the heat and simmer for 7 minutes, stirring it continuously.  Pour this hot syrup over the chocolate and marshmallow cream and stir it until it is smooth.  Add the nuts.  Pour into a 9 x 13 inch buttered baking dish.  Let it cool to room temperature.  It should be firm.

This recipe is considerably different than the marshmallow cream fudge recipe that is on the package of marshmallow cream or the package of chocolate chips!  It tastes just about the same, but Mamie’s recipe isn’t quite as creamy!  You’ll enjoy either one!

 

This is a part of my 2021 project Foods Named after Famous People.  I’ll be sharing it with a  couple blog parties, so check out my short list on my sidebar.  

 

Prince Demidoff's Chicken

The Russian House of Demidov was a noble family in the 18th and 19th centuries. Their wealth came from the production of metal products including gold and silver, as well as iron. Their iron products were used all through Europe and the Palace of Westminster (London) is an example of the scale of the architecture.

Peter the Great brought them into European nobility and the family became one of the most influential merchants and earliest industrialists in the Russian Empire. They were the richest family in Russia, second only to the Russian Imperial Family. The Demidov family lost their fortunes after the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Nikita Demidov started the wealthy family. His wife, Elizaveta Aleksandrova, was a Stroganov (as in Beef Stroganoff), which was another incredibly wealthy noble family in Russia. They had two sons. Their oldest son carried on the business of making money in industry. The second son, for whom today’s recipe is named, was what we would today call a rich playboy!


Prince Anatoly and Princess Mathilde


Playboy, Anatoly Nikolaievich Demidov (1813 -1870) was a traveler and patron of the arts. He found a way into Italian nobility and was titled the Prince of San Donato. San Donato was a villa north of Florence, Italy. The whole process of making Demidov a Prince was to allow Mathilde Bonaparte (Napoléon’s niece) to marry him without losing her title of “Princess”! Anatoly grew up in Paris. His mother preferred living in Paris and eventually separated from her Russian husband and remained in Paris until the end of her life.

Living in Paris probably encouraged the many loves of Anatoly. He loved the arts and collected great works including paintings and sculptures. He loved traveling and gathered a group of explorers who were writers, scholars and artists and they visited Crimea and Russia. Their works, documenting the exploration, were magnificent and were published.

Because Demidov was rich, famous and a gourmand, it was common
for chefs to name foods after him. August Escoffier (1846-1935), a famous chef and writer penned many recipes bearing the Demidoff name. The lives of the two men didn’t cross in time, so it is likely that the recipes originated from Marie Antoine (Antonin)[2] Carême (1784 – 1833). Careme was a very famous French chef who created the ‘grand art’ of high French cuisine. He was called “The King of Chefs … and the Chef of Kings”.

As Anatoly Demidov was gadding about, often misbehaving, his wife was doing the same! Mathilde Bonaparte was a French princess and salonnière. What is that? A salonniere is one who is often a participant in salons! Salons of the time were described of groups of people brought together by a host for inspiring conversation or education … and “salon” was also the name of the place where they met. Anatoly and Mathilde were married in 1840, but he insisted on keeping his mistress, so within a couple of years, she found her muse! They divorced not long after and didn’t have children. 


When they married, Mathilde’s dowry consisted of an enormous amount of valuable jewelry. When she decided to leave Anatoly, she took her jewelry back … and stole some of his family’s jewels, too!

Oh, the webs we weave. That might have sounded like a bad thing to have done, but … Princess Mathilde’s mother was Catharine of Wurttemburg, the daughter of King Frederick of Wurttemberg. Catharine was a first cousin to Russia’s Emperor Nicholas I. Nicholas I supported Mathilde in everything she had done … including swiping the jewelry … so An atoly lived the rest of his life outside of Russia … and without his jewelry! Tsar Nicholas I awarded the couple a divorce, so Princess Mathilde could go on with her life … a lively life!

Princess Mathilde's Pink Diamond Ring
sold for $ 15.9 Million at Sotheby's in 2015


I’m sharing my recipe for this delicious chicken, which I adapted from Escoffier’s recipe, which is quite elaborate. We are going to do it an easier way and I’m using my instant pot. If you don’t have one, you can roast the chicken in the oven. The most important part is using the broth to simmer the vegetables … root vegetables! This recipe would be equally delicious using a small game hen, and you can leave the chicken whole (as I have done) or you can cut it in half or in pieces. The original recipes for this dish include slicing truffles over the vegetables! I added mushrooms to my combination and used black truffle oil. No truffles in my kitchen! However, I always have plenty of carrots and turnips! I consider those peasant food, but in the days of Prince Anatoly and Princess Mathilde, they must have been considered high cuisine!




Debbie’s Chicken Demidoff 

Use a trivet in the bottom of your instant pot to prevent the whole chicken from swimming in broth. Add 1 cup of water to the pan. Rub your whole chicken with soft butter and put some under the skin, too. Sprinkle with celery seed, chopped basil, onion powder, salt and pepper. Stuff the chicken with a couple sprigs of rosemary and small onions. All those seasonings will make the chicken savory but will also leave behind deliciously flavored broth.

Cook the chicken under pressure for 6 minutes per pound and allow the instant pot to naturally release its pressure. Carefully remove the chicken from the pot and leave the broth behind. The skin of the chicken will not be crisp and most people love that! Put the chicken on an oven-proof sheet and place it under the broiler for about 10 minutes, but watch it to make sure you don’t burn it. Then you’ll have crisp skin!

While you are browning the skin of the chicken, prepare the vegetables. Escoffier’s recipe says to cut turnips and carrots in half moon shaped slices, so I did that! I also cooked mushrooms and pearl onions. Add 3 cups of chicken stock and the vegetables to the remaining broth and simmer them in the instant pot. Don’t cook them with pressure because they will become too soft. If you don’t have tiny pearl onions, cut pieces of an onion so it will be done when the turnips and carrots are done. I used 3 carrots, 2 turnips, a dozen button mushrooms and a handful of pearl onions.

Serve the whole chicken surrounded with the vegetables and drizzle everything with black truffle oil. Finish it with a sprinkling of fresh or dried chopped parsley. It is so good. You’ll want some crusty bread to absorb the broth!




This article is part of my 2021 food project, Foods Named after Famous People! If you’d like to see similar articles, just click the menu button then click the picture that interests you. I’ll also share with a couple blog parties, so look at my short list on my sidebar. Have fun!


Lady Curzon's Turtle Soup

Mary Victoria Leiter was born in Chicago in 1870. Her father, Levi Leiter was a wealthy co-founder of Field and Leiter dry goods. Later, he was a partner in the Marshall Fields retail empire. Her family moved from Chicago to Washington D.C. in 1881. They lived in the former home of James G. Blaine on Dupont Circle. (Today, that is the only mansion remaining from the originals built in what is now a National Historic District.

Mary was taught by renowned tutors. Her governess was French, so Mary learned the language. She learned history, arithmetic and chemistry from a Columbia University professor. She was well traveled and had lived abroad. She was beautiful, brilliant, poised and charming according to writings of the time. She ‘came out’ in 1888 and after her debut, she was described as being superior to young women from more established families! Her best friend was older than she was … Frances Folsom Cleveland, the wife of President Grover Cleveland.




In 1890, Mary was introduced to London society. She met George Curzon, a member of Parliament. They married in 1895 and had three daughters.





In 1898, George Curzon accepted the position of Viceroy of India and Mary was given the title ‘Vicereine’, the highest title in the Indian Empire that a woman could hold. Some historians believe the the title of Viceroy of India was second only to the King of England.

It might take a thousand words to accurately describe Lady Curzon. She was loved by all. She was a gracious hostess and entertained in the highest fashion. She had great influence in improving health conditions in India and in creating hospitals and clinics. She learned the language. She was an avid spokesperson for trades from India including embroidered silk fabrics and encouraged artists to begin embroidering in a long forgotten way of the past. She is shown here in a custom designed gown for her attendance at the ceremony commemorating the succession of King Edward VII as the Emperor of India. The gown was designed to glimmer in the new electric lighting!




Lady Curzon died at the age of 36. In popular culture, it is believed that she and her three daughters are part of the inspiration for the fictional characters of Lady Grantham and her three daughters … and the inability to produce a male heir … in Downton Abbey, the television series written by Julian Fellowes!

She has had several things named for her ranging from a rose to a national park. It is a simple bowl of soup that we focus upon today!

The story of Lady Curzon’s Turtle Soup is humorous! Her husband had planned a banquet meal in honor of a visiting dignitary. The dignitary did not drink alcohol, but Lady Curzon knew the rest of her guests did! The servings of turtle soup had a final garnish of shredded greens and sherry! We don’t know how much sherry!

Because the recipes available for turtle soup bearing the Lady’s name call for canned turtle soup, with the addition of egg yolks and cream … and sherry … I’ve researched turtle soup variations from the 1800s and the early 1900s. I’ve prepared the turtle soup recipe that was used on the Titanic, with turtle meat provided by a friend who was tired of fighting with a snapping turtle that lived in his private lake! When I was a youngster, Mother fried turtle meat, so I am familiar with the work it takes to prepare one! In Escoffier’s (1846 – 1935) cookbook, the describes preparing a 180-pound turtle! He also details the fact that a few excellent companies were selling top quality turtle soup in cans.

When preparing turtle soup, slow cooking the meat until it is tender is a good first step. Many recipes suggest mincing the cooked meat but making a broth from the bones and the shell … then adding beef broth to the base. The vegetables added always include lots of onions, shallots, leeks … all of which will cut the wild gamey flavor of the meat. I have created my recipe by combining the best of all the recipes I’ve researched. It is good … and it doesn’t include turtle! We’ll call it ‘Mock Turtle Soup’!




Mock Turtle Soup for Lady Curzon

Three 6.5 ounce cans of chopped or minced clams
2 quarts of beef broth
2 Tablespoons of fish sauce
1 pint Half and Half (optional)
1 teaspoon roasted garlic paste.
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
1 Tablespoon Curry paste
3 carrots
2 ribs of celery
1 sweet onion
A handful of fresh greens (spinach, collard, etc.)
Chopped hard boiled eggs
Additional greens cut in this strips
At least a Tablespoon of sherry for each bowl!

This may seem like a strange combination of ingredients but remember that Lady Curzon was in India where garlic, peppers and the spices included in Curry are extremely popular. The Asian fish sauce adds a salty, briny bite to the flavor.

Chop the carrots, onion and celery. In a heavy pot, sauté the vegetables in a little bit of canola oil. When the onions are translucent, add the greens and the quarts of beef broth and simmer until the vegetables are tender. This might take ten minutes. Remove the pot from the heat for about ten minutes to let the simmering stop, then use an immersion blender to nearly puree the soup. I say ‘nearly’ because you don’t want it to look like baby food … but with a little texture remaining. I like to be able to see the orange of the carrots and the green color of the greens!

Put the soup pot back on the burner and add the clams and their juice. Add the fish sauce, garlic paste, curry paste and the spices. Simmer for ten more minutes. Add the Half and Half just before serving.  Creaming the soup with Half and Half is optional.  I prefer it without the cream (as pictured here)  Garnish the soup with the strips of greens and chopped cooked eggs … and sherry. I like to taste the sherry, so I add it at the end. If you are serving children or adults who don’t want an alcoholic beverage, add a little sherry to each bowl before serving.




A little bit of foodie trivia! The Marshall Fields department store in Chicago is one of the very few reasons I used to enjoy trips to Chicago. City life is not for me … not even for a few days! The beautiful store was comprised of 73 acres of space! Did you know that Marshall Fields was the first department store to have a restaurant for their clients? My daughter and I loved to have lunch in the popular Walnut Room. We always loved to go at Christmastime … for the beautiful window displays and in-store decorations which included an enormous tree. In 2006 Macy’s bought Marshall Fields and it isn’t quite the same now … but we love our memories!




This article is part of my 2021 Foods Named after Famous People project! I’ll also share with a couple blog parties, so look at my short list on my sidebar. Enjoy!






Princess Victoria's Battenberg Cake

In the 18th and 19th centuries it was a common practice to name foods after members of royal families, especially upon important life’s events. Princess Victoria of Hesse was the granddaughter of Great Britain’s Queen Victoria. She was born on Easter Sunday in 1863. Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Alice was her mother.

Princess Alice, her mother, died when Princess Victoria was young. As a result, she left her childhood behind and helped raise her younger siblings. She was well-educated, an avid reader, researcher and map maker in later life.


She often met Prince Louis of Battenberg at family gatherings. He was her first cousin. He was German, but he had adopted British nationality. He served as an officer in the Royal Navy. Much to the chagrin of her father, they married in 1882. Her father believed that Prince Louis would take her away from his easy reach. That is exactly what happened. She lived in many places as she followed him to his various stations. They had children, the oldest of which was Alice. Alice was the mother of Great Britain’s Prince Phillip (Queen Elizabeth’s husband). In clearer terms … our Princess Victoria who married a Battenberg was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria … and she was the grandmother of our current Prince Phillip. She played a significant role in raising Prince Phillip because his mother was diagnosed schizophrenic when he was a child and was quietly institutionalized.



All that said, Princess Louis (Victoria) of Battenberg died in 1950 at the age of 87. She had lived during a time with British Royals abandoned their German roots and changed their names! She had visited her cousins in Russia and departed on the last train before the Russian Revolution resulted in the murders of her female cousins, the wife of Grand Duke Alexandrovich and Alex, the Tsarina. She had begged Alex to end her relationship with Rasputin, but to no avail.

She had flown in a zeppelin and a bi-plane, sitting on a stool hanging on to the back of the pilot. Her legacy, in her own writing, is “"What will live in history is the good work done by the individual and that has nothing to do with rank or title ...”


The Battenberg Cake was created in honor of the marriage of Princess Victoria and Prince Louis of Battenberg. Some food historians have different ideas, but I love this version! The original was made with flavored and colored sponge cakes. Vanilla for one cake and raspberry (pink) for the other cake. Layers of the cake were put together and placed in reverse, so they form a checkerboard pattern. The layers were stuck together with raspberry jam and the entire cake was covered with almond paste.

As usual, I’ve taken liberty with the recipe. A little food coloring for the pink batter and a creamy frosting … and we have a beautiful Battenberg style cake! It isn’t a perfect checkerboard, and I don’t care! Miss Phoebe enjoyed it with ice cream and that is all I really ever care about!


You can Google recipes for Battenberg Cake. You can use your favorite sponge cake recipe or a plain white cake recipe. You can make marzipan for the outside layer or you can buy it. You can replace it with fondant icing, which you can also buy already made!

I used a pound cake mix! 
Yes, I used a mix. I added
almond flavoring to it and tinted half the batter pink. I added raspberry flavoring to the pink batch. I baked my cakes in my thin square layer pans and had 4 layers. I love these little pans, because I don’t ever need a whole cake, so I froze two layers for later and used two layers for my take on the Battenberg Cake! You can trim the depth of your layers, so you have perfect squares showing in the slice … but unless you are a perfectionist … you don’t have do it! You already have to trim the crisp edges as you place the layers together … glued with jam. I used raspberry seedless jam.


I love jam cakes, and this is so very close. Jelly Rolls, a sponge cake spread with jam and rolled up to make spiral slices, is one of my favorites. My husband loved his grandmother’s jam cake, which was a simple yellow cake layer, sliced in half and spread with jam. Both these cakes just get a sprinkle of powdered sugar … no frosting. When I had a house filled with teenagers or college students, I used to bake white cupcakes and squirt jam in the center with a cake decorating bag. Then a quick drop of frosting was all they needed.


The Battenberg Cake is easy to assemble. Trim the crisp edges from each layer. Spread one layer with jam and place the other layer on top. I let this rest for about 30 minutes, so it was ‘stuck’! Now you begin to create! Slice the cake in slices that are about the same width as a layer is thick. Assemble the slices in reverse, but first you need to spread more jam on the cut edge so glue those sections together. Build the second layer the same way and spread more jam to glue all the sections together. I wrapped this little cake in cellophane and let it rest for a couple hours. I frosted mine with a simple powdered sugar icing made with 2 cups of powdered sugar, a Tablespoon of soft butter and a few drops of milk. I didn’t flavor the icing, but you can if you want.

The end result is really pretty … almost cute!



This post is a part of my 2021 special project … Foods Named After Famous People!




I’ll share it with a couple blog parties, so check the short list on my sidebar.



Duke Alexi's Lobster and Crawfish Soup

As I begin this new food project, “Foods Named after Famous
People”, I’m hoping 2021 brings us the close of the COVID-19  Pandemic so we can return to a normal way of living. As we look back on the past year and evaluate the changes we have had to make, it is safe to say that very few good things have come from life during Covid times. 

However, families returning to cooking at home and eating around the dinner table at home certainly tops the short list. Virtual medical visits and the appreciation of shopping local are also on the list I’m keeping.

Naming foods after famous people is less popular today than it was in the 18th and 19th centuries. It remained a popular thing to do in the 20th century, but what you will read in my upcoming columns will take us back at least a hundred years and often times longer. I love history. I love food. I love recipe development. I love tablescaping. What you will find each weekend in my post might be a little bit of all these loves!

My first featured recipe is a soup, good for my cold Southern Illinois temperatures this weekend! I’ll discuss the original recipe, but I’ll tell you how I made it!

In 1871, Russia’s Tsar Alexander II decided to send his fourth son, Alexi, on a grand tour of America. To give us a little perspective, Alexi III grew to be the Emperor of Russia and the father of Tsar Nicolas II who was killed with his family in 1917.

Alexi was sent on this grand tour because he was having an inappropriate relationship with a not too respectful woman! The Tsar wasn’t having that, so the best way to separate the two was to send the Grand Duke on a long trip!

Our delicious soup was prepared for the Grand Duke Alexi III when he visited New York City. A banquet recognizing his visit was held at Delmonico’s, and history tells us that he favored the restaurant and ate there frequently.

Delmonico’s was one of the nation’s finest restaurants. It was the first restaurant in the United States to offer a menu (a la carte) so patrons could order what they wanted and not just have the specialty of the day! The restaurant was the first to offer a wine list. 

In 1862, Charles Ranhofer became the chef at Delmonico’s. Ranhofer enjoyed the practice of honoring dignitaries by naming foods after them! Numerous dignitaries, ranging from Charles Dickens to Queen Victoria, visited the restaurant and their favorite dishes still carry their names! I take great pleasure in recreating these foods and designing menus similar to those of the days long gone! Hope you enjoy this 2021 food project, too!



Duke Alexi’s Lobster and Crawfish Soup 

Many recipes from this era include the ingredient of crawfish. Crawfish have been eaten by humans since the earliest times. They are the freshwater equivalent of the saltwater lobster, but much smaller. However, as I read some of the recipes from the 1800s, I’ve come to believe that crawfish were much larger in those days. In the United States, we’ve come to associate crawfish with Louisiana cooking, and most of the product comes from the inland waters of Louisiana. They are popular in other places, too. In the northeast, they are called crayfish. In the Midwest and middle coastal region … and in parts of the southwest, they are called crawdads. In the south, they are called crawfish!



In Ranhofer’s recipe for this soup, he instructs us to cook the crawfish and pulverize the bodies … and stuff that back into the tails … then add it to the soup at the end. I cannot imagine trying to do that with the crawfish we use today! As always, I’ve adjusted the original recipe to something manageable. It is important to note, though, that this soup isn’t full of vegetables! It is all about the lobster and crawfish.

When we tested this recipe at our final Sunday Dinner of 2020, my family gave it all the gold stars available! As they used a slotted spoon to make sure they had gotten all the lobster and crawfish from the soup tureen, I knew it was truly delicious!


How to Make It! 

  Ingredients:

12 to 16 ounces of precooked crawfish tails
2 lobster tails
1 quart of fish stock
Lobster or crabmeat bullion
Half a stick of butter
4 Tablespoons flour
4 scallions
2 cups of Half and Half
A sprig of rosemary
  Black pepper to taste

In a big pot, cook the lobster tails, shells and all. Bring 5 cups of water and the tails to a boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and when the lobster tails float, they are done. Remove the tails, but add 2 Tablespoons of the lobster bullion to the broth and continue to let it simmer. You’ll end up with 4 cups of fish stock, so you won’t need to purchase it prepackaged. After the tails cool, remove the meat and chop it in big bite-size chunks!

In a heavy skillet, gently melt the butter; chop the scallions (tops, too) and sauté them in the butter until they are soft. Stir in the flour and make a roux. Pour a little broth into the roux to loosen it, then ...  Transfer the roux to the soup pot and whisk it into the broth. Now it is time to add the rosemary to the broth. Add the crawfish tails and the chopped lobster and let the soup continue to simmer for 20 minutes. Add a generous amount of black pepper and pour in the Half and Half. When the soup comes back to a serving temperature, you are all finished. If it isn’t as thick as you’d like, the quickest remedy is to add powdered mashed potato flakes (instant). That will save any creamed soup and you’ll never taste the potatoes! Don’t over do it, though … add a spoonful at a time!



This post is part of my new 2021 food project … Foods Named after Famous People! I’ll share it with a couple blog parties, so check out the list on my sidebar. 

Hope you make it! You’ll enjoy it! Happy 2021!












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