Saturday, January 26, 2019


Just the two of us
My mother had a repertoire of mid-day haunts.
As a boy there was nothing better than joining
her for lunch. Dressed in our newest ensembles
she made certain we were seated at a suitable
"see and be seen" table. Post ordering we both
reveled in hushed banter, background music,
and clinking glassware with all of those ladies
who lunched. After dessert, the best part of the
day occurred. Near the reservations stand stood
a treasure chest from which I was able to select
a "secret" prize. Sadly, all of Ethel's preferred
venues are long gone. But my memories of our
mid day delights live on! CHEERS MOM!

This society stalwart had locations
in Paris, London, Baden Baden, the
Riviera, and the St. Moritz Hotel,
Central Park South. Often we dined
on hot chocolate and egg salad and
anchovy sandwiches. Both proof
that there may be nothing better
than salty and sweet. Well except
for occasional stuffed animal that
I got Mom to buy on the way out!

B Altman & Co.
Charleston Gardens sat on
the flag ship's eighth floor.
There we nibbled on pastel
tea sandwiches and their
famous honey loaf. On a
faux southern terrace under
a fabulous painted blue sky,

Not Mom's milieu, this was a
working gal hot spot. She did
love their cheddar cheese loaf
"to go" - smeared with butter.
So much so that she snagged
their "secret"recipe. And as
promised, never shared it...

Chock Full o' Nuts
Before McDonald's, this was
where one grabbed a fast bite.
Mother rarely sat at a counter.
But when rushed, nothing was
as good as their date nut and
cream cheese special. It was
sweet, savory, and cheap!

Rumpelmayer's Hot Chocolate

4 cups milk
6 TBS sugar
7 ounces semisweet chocolate chopped
1 cup heavy cream
Ground cinnamon

Combine milk, sugar, and chocolate in a large
saucepan. Heat, stirring often until chocolate
is melted and mixture comes to a light simmer.
Meanwhile whip cream to soft peaks. Ladle
hot chocolate into 4 mugs, top with whipped
cream, and garnish with ground cinnamon.
B. Altman's Charleston Garden Honey Loaf

Sadly, nobody can find the recipe for this treasure.
Hence it's the holy grail of department store cuisine.
So instead of whipping one up,
just sit and think about the most delicious "goodie" ever...

    Schrafft's Cheese Bread
    From the original recipe (above)

    1 package dry active yeast
    1 ¾ cups warm water
    2 tsp salt
    1 ½ tsp sugar
    1 tsp – 1/4 cup powdered cheese, depending on desired cheesiness.
    (Stolen from any Mac & Cheese box or cheesy popcorn topping)
    3.5 cups flour
    1 cup grated sharp cheddar.

    In a large bowl, combine yeast and ½ cup warm water.
    Stir to dissolve yeast.
    Mix remaining water with salt; stir to dissolve.
    Pour over yeast and set aside.

    In another bowl, sift flour, sugar, and cheese powder.

    Add flour mixture to yeast and water, one cup at a time.
    When the dough becomes hard to stir,
    turn out onto a floured work surface.
    Let dough rest while you clean out the bowls.

    Knead dough for ten minutes, add flour if necessary,
    until dough is smooth and elastic.
    Up to another 1 1/2 cups can be incorporated here.

    Butter a bowl and place dough inside.
    Let rise until it has tripled in size, 2-3 hours.
    Punch down risen dough and turn out onto work surface.
    Sprinkle grated cheese all over.
    Roll dough and knead long enough to incorporate cheese.
    Swirls of cheese in the baked loaf are not a bad thing!

    Grease two loaf pans; plop dough inside.
    Cover each with a kitchen towel and let rise 45 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Put loaves in oven.
    After 15 minutes, turn down heat to 350 degrees.
    Let bake for 10 more minutes.  Cool on racks.

    Chock Full o' Nuts
    Date-Nut Sandwich

    2 slices date-nut bread
    4 TBS cream cheese
    1/4 cup crushed walnuts

    Lightly toast bread then spread
    each slice with equal portions
    of cream cheese. Over the top
    sprinkle crushed walnuts.