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Childhood Food Memories that are Still Part of My Life

By Michele


Lately, I’ve become nostalgic and many of my memories revolve around food. Some of my earliest memories are of my dad making "goldenrod eggs" for our family of five on Friday nights. Many of my friends, even to this day, have not heard of goldenrod eggs. That’s too bad as they are delicious! We loved the process. First the toast was buttered, then dad poured a cream sauce over it, then we added chopped hard-boiled egg whites and finally, dad grated the egg yolk over the entire dish. Yum!  It’s basically a deconstructed creamy egg salad sandwich.

 

My mom was always creative in stretching a dollar to feed our family, as my dad was the only bread winner until we were all in school. One of her best recipes was "chuck steak pizzaiola." Using a less expensive cut of beef, chuck steak, she added crushed tomatoes, lots of garlic and oregano. She made it in her pressure cooker, and it came out fork tender. We thought we were being served the best meat in town! I gave up my pressure cooker years ago, so now I make her recipe in my Dutch oven. The meat comes out just as tender, while the sauce is rich with tomatoes and lots of garlic - just like mom made!

 

Then there was the "tuna noodle casserole." This one is a special memory of my Aunt Rena. In my early youth, my aunt would have me, my siblings and my cousins over for lunch (not all at once, though) and this casserole was one of her specialties. Tuna fish didn’t excite us, but she knew she had us when she topped the casserole with crushed potato chips. Peas were also added to the casserole, and I won’t say who, but one of my cousins picked out the peas! If you’re reading this, dear cousin, you know who you are! Note, when she served the casserole, she showered it with even more crushed potato chips. The casserole has a nice textural contrast between creamy and crunchy.

 

These days there is a plethora of recipes using potato chips as a topping for tuna casserole, but when my aunt served us this recipe back in the 60’s she didn’t have a search engine to present her with many ideas. I like to think that she came up with it all on her own. Either way, as homage to my aunt, I make her recipe for my family and it’s always a big hit - canned cream of mushroom soup and all!


Here are the recipes:

 

Goldenrod Eggs

(Serves 4)


This recipe was created in the late 1800's and was featured in the 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook called "The Boston Cooking School Cookbook." Hard-boiled egg whites are chopped and placed on toast, topped with a peppered-cream sauce and sprinkled with finely grated yolks that resemble the tiny, flowered clusters on a goldenrod plant.

I did not stray from my dad’s recipe which was very simple. It was perfection when I was a youngster and still is decades later!


Ingredients

4 hard-boiled eggs

2 tablespoons butter plus some to spread on toasts

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup milk

4 slices bread

 

Preparation

  1. Peel eggs and separate whites from yolks. Try to keep yolks whole for grating at end of the recipe. Chop whites into bite-sized pieces. Set yolks aside.

  2. In a 1-quart heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. With whisk, beat in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring until mixture is smooth. Remove sauce from heat. Stir in milk.

  3. Return sauce to heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute or until sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

  4. To serve, make toast, butter it, and tear one slice into bite-sized pieces on each individual serving plate. Pour cream sauce over toast, followed by chopped egg white. Finally, top with grated egg yolk.

 


Chuck Steak Pizzaiola

(Serves 4)



The word pizzaiola in Italian means “pizza maker.” So this sauce, in which the chuck steak is braised, should taste and have the aroma of pizza. Like a pizza sauce, it is rich with tomatoes, garlic and oregano.


As I no longer have a pressure cooker, I make this dish in my Dutch oven these days. Is there a difference in the texture of the meat? No, cooking it slowly over low heat makes it just right.


Ingredients

2 pounds of boneless chuck steak

2 tablespoons EVOO

14 cloves garlic, chopped

1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes

½ cup beef stock

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Parsley for garnish (optional)

 

Preparation

  1. Dry the meat, then pound it slightly to approximately ½-inch thickness. Season with salt and pepper.

  2. In a Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and add the meat. 

  3. Brown on each side for two minutes until golden brown. Remove and set aside.

  4. Lower the heat and add the garlic to the Dutch oven. Sauté for a couple of minutes scraping bits off the bottom of the skillet. Add tomatoes, stock and oregano. Bring to a simmer and return beef and accumulated juices to the pot.

  5. Cover the Dutch oven and reduce the heat to low. Braise for about 2½ hours, flipping the meat halfway through. Check for tenderness and, if necessary, continue cooking for another half hour.

  6. Serve over rice, and garnish with parsley, if using.



Tuna Noodle Casserole

(Serves 4)



Every creamy and crunchy bite delivers a lovely memory!


Ingredients

Butter for the pan

1 10.5-ounce can cream of mushroom soup

1 cup milk

1 5-ounce can tuna in water

¼ cup frozen peas

1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, in two portions

3 cups of noodles, parboiled

Potato chips

 

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

  2. Butter a 1.3-quart baking pan.

  3. Place soup and milk in a large bowl and whisk together.

  4. Add tuna, peas and half of the cheese and mix well.

  5. Fold in noodles and pour into buttered baking pan.

  6. Sprinkle the remainder of the cheese on top and add crushed potatoes chips to your liking.

  7. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.

  8. When serving, add additional crushed potato chips. That’s the fun part!

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