published Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Meatloaf, potatoes stir up memories

We are hot on the trail of Alma Miller's meatloaf ... and ceviche with food safety instructions ... and Levain cookies from New York City.

Jim Yarbrough affirmed that he "would give anything to have Alma Miller's meatloaf recipe from the not-forgotten Northside Lunch. It was the best meatloaf I ever put in my mouth. Lots of flavor, very moist and never greasy."

E.W. wants a recipe for ceviche but is afraid of raw fish; she needs both recipe and assurance of food safety.

And Susan Paolo received "a gift from my sister, some Levain cookies from New York City. They were huge and left a big grease spot on the package, proof that they are very rich. I received a chocolate chip, a dark chocolate and an oatmeal cookie, I believe. I want to know how to duplicate these famous oversize cookies."

There's a fitting term in Mr. Yarbrough's letter: a "not-forgotten" restaurant, a "not-forgotten" dish. In other words, he's had an unforgettable food experience.

Evidently good tartar sauces are hard to find, and our correspondents have delivered some wonderful options. Sally Cook has made this basic sauce "for 40-plus years. I never measure anything so I made a batch this weekend in order to create a shareable recipe. I have been known to take it with me on more than one occasion when patronizing a local establishment where the shrimp is great but they don't serve tartar sauce."



Homemade Tartar Sauce With Dill Pickle

3/4 cup good mayonnaise (Kraft or Hellmann's)

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

11/2 tablespoons chopped pimiento

2 generous tablespoons drained dill relish or chopped dill pickle

1 generous tablespoon dried parsley (you can use fresh)

Mix well and chill. Will keep for weeks in the refrigerator.

Barbara (today I'll call her Barbara the Prolific) is one more reader who doesn't like jarred tartar sauce, and this is her simple solution. She eschews dill pickle for the sweet variety.



Homemade Tartar Sauce with Sweet Pickle

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/2 to 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes

1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish

Dash garlic powder

Dash paprika

Dash cayenne or to taste

Mix together 1 to 2 hours before needed, so flavors will blend. Stir before serving. This recipe is easily doubled.

Jane Guthrie's letters mix good humor with good food. And though this isn't a recipe, the following part of author Rick Bragg's confession of a mayonnaise addiction provides just enough of a hint to make a magnificent batch of mashed potatoes, at least according to Bragg. He connects mashed potatoes and love, and he is not the first to do so.

Rick Bragg's Mother's Mashed Potatoes:

"Her potatoes were creamy, perfect, with real butter pooling in small lakes. Lumps were for tourists. Skins were for philistines. These melted on your tongue with just a little extra, a lingering taste of ... what? I could duplicate everything but that.

"Then, lurking just outside her kitchen one Thanksgiving, I saw. ... After mashing, salting, peppering and adding whole milk and what seemed a half-pound of butter, she opened the refrigerator and reached for a quart jar of mayonnaise.

"She took one heaping spoonful, for about a gallon or so of mashed potatoes, and whipped it in, meticulously, so there would be no more than a hint, that touch, on any fork. I eased back into the shadows. ... I should have known. Only we would put mayo in our mashed potatoes and mistake it for love."

Jim Yarbrough also sent recipes, noting that one legendary Chattanooga recipe is unfindable. He reported that the base mix for the Read House's Bavarian Cheese Pie is no longer being manufactured, "so we're out of luck on that recipe. However, here is the recipe for Town and Country's delicious au jus."



Town and Country Au Jus

1 quart beef stock

1 tablespoon beef base

1/2 teaspoon chicken base

1 quart water

Mix well.

To Reach Us

Fare Exchange is a longtime meeting place for people who love to cook and love to eat. We welcome both your recipes and your requests. Be sure to include precise instructions for every recipe you send.

* Mailing address: Jane Henegar, 913 Mount Olive Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750.

* E-mail: janehenegar @gmail.com

* Fax: 423-668-5092



And finally, here's a recipe for a shrimp and pasta dish that our correspondent clipped from Southern Living.

Shrimp and Spinach Pasta

1 pound frozen, peeled and deveined medium shrimp

1 (16-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1/2 medium onion, diced

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 (141/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 (141/2-ounce) can chicken broth

1 teaspoon Greek seasoning

1 (8-ounce) ounce package angel-hair pasta, cooked

1/2 (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

Thaw shrimp according to package directions. Drain spinach well, pressing between paper towels, and set aside.

Sauté onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in tomatoes, broth and Greek seasoning; bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes.

Add shrimp; cook 2 minutes. Stir in spinach. Spoon over pasta, sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately. Prep 15 minutes. Cook 17 minutes.

I've been having a lot of wonderful spinach-laced dishes lately. The challenge: the possible strand of spinach, lingering between the teeth. But the taste and the nourishment, the color also, are worth the chance. Please come back, recipe in hand, next week.

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