February 27,2019

Dear friends:
I longed for something comforting to eat. The world had gotten bitey. My dog was in a vet hospital far from home, my stomach was aching and the plumbing was clogged. That’s when I read about surrollos in Barbara Kingsolver’s new a book, “Unsheltered: A Novel.”

In the book, Willa’s historic old house is splitting apart at the seams. The upstairs bedrooms, wet and cold, are abandoned for a bed of quilts on the living room floor. The gas had been turned off and any cooking that is done takes place on a camp stove.The cupboards were practically bare when Jorge, her daughter Tig’s boyfriend, decided to make something from nothing for dinner. He scrounged up cornmeal, sugar and a nubbin of cheese that he asked Willa to grate.

“He was stirring cornmeal into the boiling water in a meditative way, thickening it into a yellow batter. Tig lit the other camp stove burner and heated oil in a skillet. Jorge took Willa’s plate of cheese and stirred it into his batter….

“Jorge rubbed oil into his hands and began rolling the steaming batter between his palms into fat little cigars. …Jorge used (the oil in the skillet) to fry his cornmeal cigars. …

“He held out a plate of golden corn fritters….Willa took a bite and held it between her front teeth until it cooled enough to taste: crisp on the outside, sweet and melty in the middle. She made an appreciative noise with her mouth full.

“ ‘Yummy, right?’ Tig said. ‘You’re supposed to eat them with garlicky mayonnaise.’
Willa obediently got out the mayonnaise, found some garlic to peel and dice, and wondered what other miracles these kids would pull out of an empty larder.”

Recipe sites call them variously surollos, sorullitos and surullitos, but the technique is the same: Stir salt, sugar and corn meal into water, add grated cheese, shape into stubby cigars and fry in oil. Few ingredients and no hassle, which is what I’m in the mood for right now.


2 cups water
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 cups fine yellow corn meal
1 cup shredded cheese (any melty cheese such as gouda, Cheddar or Queso de bollo)
Canola oil for frying

Bring water to boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add salt and sugar. Slowly whisk in cornmeal. Reduce heat to low. Cook, whisking constantly, until water is absorbed and dough pulls away from pot, 3 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and continue stirring until completely melted and incorporated. When cool enough to handle, scoop up chunks and roll into finger-length cigars tapered at each end.

Heat 1½ inches of oil in a deep skillet over medium-high heat.The temperature should be 350 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer if you’re measuring. I just dropped in a dab of the cornmeal stuff and made sure the oil bubbled frantically around it. Fry in batches until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve hot with garlic mayonnaise or ketchup mayonnaise for dipping.

1 cup mayonnaise
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced, or to taste

Combine ingredients, cover and chill until the garlic flavors the mayonnaise. Or eat immediately if you can’t wait.

What I cooked last week:
Blue cheese burgers on buns, corn kernels and diced avocado in vinaigrette, a bloody Mary.

What I ate in/from restaurants:
A few bites of spaghetti with meat sauce and a piece of chocolate cake at the Shriner’s hall in Okeechobee; a piece of cornbread at Pogey’s in Okeechobee; a ham, egg and cheese sandwich on an everything bagel at Dunkin’ Donuts; raw oysters, conch ceviche, grilled tilefish, slaw and a hush puppy at Lightsey’s Fish Co. in Okeechobee; a Quarter Pounder and a few fries at McDonald’s; a chicken empanada, ham croquetta and a roast pork sandwich from Lazz’s Cuban Cafe food truck in Okeechobee; an egg roll and a few bites of “Hunan chicken” from Bucio, a Chinese food truck run by a Mexican family (and it tasted like it) in Okeechobee.

From Dennis A.:
What I miss most at Lou & Hy’s is the Macadamia Nut Cream Pie. By any chance did Tage (the chef) give you this recipe? Do any of your readers have the recipe?

Dear Dennis:
That pie was one of the most popular items at the old Akron delicatessen. I never got the recipe, but Beacon Journal readers asked so often that we found versions that were close, such as this one from Evie Dobrin, owner with her husband, George, of Dobie’s Corners restaurant in Bath. It ran in the newspaper in 2002.

1 (9-inch) baked pie shell or graham cracker crust
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
Pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 tbsp. butter
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbsp. coffee-flavored liqueur
1/2 cup chopped macadamia nuts
Whole macadamia nuts for garnish Prepare and cool pie shell.

Beat sugar, cornstarch, salt and egg yolks in a small bowl until well mixed. Heat milk in a medium saucepan just to a simmer. Stir sugar mixture into hot milk, whisking rapidly. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about three minutes. Do not boil.

Remove from heat and stir in butter. Cover with waxed paper and chill.

Beat one-half cup of the heavy cream until stiff; fold into cooled custard with coffee liqueur and all but one tablespoon of chopped nuts. Spoon into pastry shell. Chill several hours or overnight.

Whip remaining cream. Spread over pie. Sprinkle with reserved nuts.

February 20,2019

Dear friends,
Although the thermometer says “summer” here in Florida (the temps are in the 80s this week), the produce says “winter.” Root vegetables are plentiful. Everything else, not so much.

I did get a watermelon that turned out to be from Guatemala and cost $7.50, I discovered at the cash register. Strawberries from Plant City and citrus fruit from nearby groves are in season, but most tender vegetables are not. The tomatoes I find at vegetable markets are as hard and tasteless as those in Ohio supermarkets at this time of year. Maybe that’s due to the type of tomato planted here — thick-walled for bruise-free transport.

Which is why I served carrots last week with my very summery meal of steamed stone crab claws with melted butter. The crab claws, plucked from the water, quick frozen and bought not a half-mile from the source in Everglades City, tasted like the ocean.

The carrots managed to taste summery, too, thanks to a high-voltage lemon dressing. I used equal parts olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

I cut the carrots into batons and cooked them briefly in a lidded skillet with a bit of butter and salt. Most carrot salads feature raw carrots, but I think the vegetable tastes best when heat transforms the starches to sugars. Why butter and not olive oil? Because everything tastes better with butter. I tossed the carrots with the dressing, sliced green onions and grated Parmesan and chilled. The salad was simple but so good I’ll be making it often, no matter what the weather.


4 or 5 medium carrots cut in batons (1/4- by 2 1/2 inches)
1 tbsp. butter
2 green onions, sliced
2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

Place carrots and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. When butter melts, swirl to coat the carrots and skillet and sprinkle with salt. Cover and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until almost soft. Transfer to a bowl and toss with green onions, olive oil, lemon juice and Parmesan cheese. Chill. Makes 4 servings.

What I cooked last week:
Savory chorizo and corn bread pudding in the slow cooker (I burnt it); carrot salad with lemon dressing, steamed stone crab claws with melted butter.

What I ate in/from restaurants, etc.:
Seasoned hamburger patty, cottage cheese, lots of fruit at Pogey’s in Okeechobee; strips of grilled sirloin steak, grilled onions and bell peppers and a bite of refried beans at Pueblo Viejo in Okeechobee; half a ham and provolone sub from Subway; spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, Italian bread and homemade white cake with delicious dripping icing at the Okeechobee Shriners Hall ($8 including karaoke!); a heart-shaped Bavarian doughnut dusted with powdered sugar at Dunkin’ Donuts (my Valentine’s treat); a Cuban sandwich and plantain chips from Mervis’ in Ft. Pierce; a spinach, banana, mango and ginger smoothie at the Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Port St. Lucie; an Indian taco (chili, lettuce, tomato and shredded cheese on fry bread) and a frozen chocolate banana at the Seminole Indian Field Day and Rodeo in Brighton; pulled pork, roast beef, corn bread, lima beans, a brussels sprout, a dab of mashed potatoes and a sugar-free chocolate cookie at Golden Corral in Okeechobee.

From Pat K.:
I am a native Clevelander living in Las Vegas. We moved here a little over a year ago, but before that we lived in Jupiter, Fla., for 14 years. You are so right about there not being any local fresh fish markets. The best way to get fresh fish is to make friends with someone who has a boat! If you ever take a ride to Jupiter, one of my favorite restaurants was the Galley Grill Also a great Cuban restaurant is Copacabana.

In Palm Gardens, there a Mediterranean restaurant called Aladdin where you can get a gyro lunch special for $9.99. I wish I could find something that compares here in Vegas!

Dear Pat:
I have had some awesome food in Vegas, including tins of fresh caviar served on a tavern-sized bar made of ice. Ah, the good old days of expense accounts. Sorry I can’t return the favor with great, reasonably priced Vegas suggestions. I am so glad you wrote, though. I will try some of your Florida favorites. We have already been to Jupiter once and now we will go back.

What’s up with the lack of fish markets? Two other people who live here wrote, agreeing with us on that score.

From Char K.:
Regarding peeling garlic, tell your readers to put a clove or two in the microwave for 5 to 10 seconds, depending on the size. The peel will come right off. I think I learned this trick in a microwave class years and years ago. Occasionally the clove will pop and get hot, but put a knife through the end of the clove and the skin comes right off.

Dear Char:
Never heard of this. I tried it and it works! My usual method is to just smash the cloves with the flat side of a knife. That works, too.

From Carol C.:
I just read your recent newsletter and I highly recommend the garlic peeler from Pampered Chef. To me it was worth the dollars. It’s a rubber tube, open on both ends. Drop the cloves in the tube, roll it on a flat surface or between your hands, and skins come right off. The other part of the peeler is a gadget that slices the garlic once peeled. I hated what I paid for it, but for me, who has horrible arthritis in my fingers, it was worth it.

Dear Carol:
Donna G.also recommended this gadget, which costs $22 to $26, according to various websites. That IS steep for a little rubber tube, but I just may buy one. Can anyone think of a hardware-store alternative?

From Argery G.:
I have had a taste for cheesecake lately. I now live in new Jersey not far from New York City. While I have eaten many different types of cheesecake here, nothing is as good as Lou & Hy’s…in particular, the chocolate cheesecake.

My mom gave me a printout that appeared in a blog by the Summit County Historical Society dated 2-16-13 with a recipe referencing you as the source from an Akron Beacon Journal article on 10-15-03 with a recipe for the plain cheesecake. I tried making it and I also added some Baker’s chocolate another time for a chocolate version. It was good, but the cake wasn’t as dense as I remember. I think the whipping cream was too loose as the cake is a little too loose even after refrigeration. The recipe didn’t specify it but I added the confectioners’ sugar to the whipping cream. I baked it in a water bath but the top still cracked. I was using a 10-inch springform pan and I baked it at 325 degrees for about an hour.

Do you recall this article? I’m wondering if you have any updates on the recipe that was originally posted.

Dear Argery:
The former chef of Lou & Hy’s gave me the recipe after he retired and that’s the one I printed in 2003. It makes way more than one cheesecake. I cut down the recipe for my cookbook, “Jane Snow Cooks,” but unfortunately I did not bring a copy with me to Florida and the digital copy is on a computer at home.

I do know that the cheesecake is baked for more than two hours, not one hour, so I’m not sure that the recipe you referenced is correct. Here is the original recipe, straight from Tage Hojefeldt, the late chef. Be careful to not over beat the batter, which will produce an airy rather than a dense cake.

When I tested the recipe, I baked it in three graduated springform pans, the kind sold in a set. I baked the cakes directly on the oven rack, not in a boiling water bath. The key to producing a cheesecake that doesn’t crack is to bake it until it is mostly but not quite set. The center should still jiggle. It will firm up as it cools.

4 cups graham cracker crumbs
10 tbsp. melted butter

8 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp. flour
2 3/4cups plus 2 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 pint (2 cups) sour cream
9 eggs
2 half-pint containers whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. lemon juice
Cherry, blueberry or pineapple pie filling
Whipped cream if desired

For the crust: Stir and toss crumbs with melted butter. Press equal amounts into the bottoms of four 8- or 8 1/2-inch-round springform pans, or a 9 1/2-, 8 1/2- and 7 1/2-inch pans. Set aside.

For the cake: In a 5-quart mixer bowl, beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until fluffy. Slowly beat in flour, then sugar. Add salt and sour cream and beat until smooth, scraping down sides occasionally with a rubber spatula.

Add eggs one at a time, beating on low speed after each addition just until egg is incorporated. Bowl will be very full. Turn off mixer. Scrape bowl and stir with a rubber spatula until batter is uniformly mixed.

In a very large bowl, beat whipping cream until slightly thickened. While beating, slowly add sugar, vanilla and lemon juice until soft peaks form.

Pour one-fourth of the cream cheese mixture into the bowl with the whipped cream and fold until incorporated. Add half of remaining batter and fold again, then fold in remaining batter.

Pour over crusts in springform pans. Place in a boiling water bath and bake in a preheated, 325-degree oven for about 2 1/2 hours; or place pans directly on oven shelves and bake in a preheated, 350-degree oven until cheesecakes are almost set. To test for doneness, gently shake pans. The cheesecakes should still wiggle slightly in the centers. Without the water bath, baking time will be about 40 minutes for a 7 1/2-inch cake, 50 minutes for an 8- to 8 1/2-inch cake, and 60 minutes for a 9 1/2-inch cake.

Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. Before serving, run a sharp knife between the cake and sides of the pan. Release the clamp, spread the sides and lift the sides off the cake. Top with pie filling and decorate with whipped cream, if desired.

February 13, 2019

Dear friends,
I am starting to lose track of time. A month nights, a year of days. October drifting into May. Tony was surprised recently when I mentioned it was Sunday. I’m not that bad, although I do have to look at a calendar to figure out the date. Mid-February already? The breezy, sunny days flow together like summer vacation as a kid.

We are waiting out the snow and ice in ranch country, 30 miles from the beach. Steers outnumber people here in south-central Florida. A bit further south is sugar-cane country, where harvested fields are set afire to prepare them for the next crop. In a state without hills, let alone mountains, the plumes of black smoke are visible for miles.

We are trying to eat local, but it’s difficult. I inhale as many honeybells and grapefruit as I can, but a watermelon I bought at a farm stand turned out to be from Guatemala, and local seafood and beef are elusive. A butcher explained why I can’t find local beef. Florida has plenty of pastures but few if any feed lots where cattle are fattened up before slaughter. Florida herds are shipped north on the hoof rather than butchered here.

The dearth of local seafood is inexplicable. I have had a hard time finding a seafood store even on the coast. Ideally, I’d like to buy some fish directly from a boat. We’re still looking. Meanwhile, we drove a couple of hours Sunday to a seafood festival in Port Everglades for a few nuggets of fried alligator and some chewy fried clams. I bet they were frozen. The festival had more to offer, but the crowd was dense.

On our way out of town we stopped at the Marathon gas station to load up on stone crab claws, the specialty of the region. We scored a 3-pound bag, frozen, for $30. Yes, at a gas station. I’ll cook the crab claws this week.

The only cooking I did last week was a chicken salad and some sausages. Yeah, not exactly Florida food. The salad was delicious, though.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the combination of rice, chicken, dates, almonds and pineapple after Kris F. described it in an email I shared last week. What if I used basmati rice, I mused? And added some warm spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg? The resulting salad was so addictive I finished off the leftovers for breakfast. Thanks, Kris.


2 cups cooked chicken in 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup cooked basmati rice
1 cup pineapple tidbits
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cinnamon
2 pinches nutmeg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp. pineapple juice
1 tsp. lemon juice

Combine, chicken, rice, pineapple, almonds and dates and mix well. Sprinkle with salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and mix again to distribute spices. In a small bowl, beat together mayonnaise and juices. Pour over chicken mixture and stir well. Makes 4 servings.

I found a substitute for Miracle Whip. Look no further than the Japanese section of your nearest Asian grocery store where you will find Kewpie mayonnaise. It is a virtual clone of Miracle Whip, which was basically ruined when the fat content was reduced a few years ago, resulting in dressing that turns watery on salads overnight.

What I cooked last week:
Not much. A chicken-rice salad with dates and pineapple; pan-grilled Italian sausage.

What I ate in/from restaurants last week:
Ground beef patty, cottage cheese and fruit at Pogey’s in Okeechobee; cream cheese wonton, Mongolian beef (sort of) and hot tea at Chen’s in Okeechobee; a Cuban sandwich, plantain chips, yuca fries, beef and chicken empanadas and a coconut pastry from Mervis’ in Ft. Pierce (spread over three meals); two biscuits and jam from Pogey’s; chicken and beef empanadas from Mervis’ in Ft. Pierce; fried alligator, fried clams and hush puppies at the Everglades City Seafood Festival.

From Geoff H.:
In reply to Sherrie W. asking about beans, perhaps she can benefit by going to this website: https://www.ranchogordo.com/.

It’s called “Rancho Gordo” and they sell a large variety of heritage beans. I’ve tried several and they have all been exceptional. The website describes each variety they sell and what dishes they could best be used in. They also have many recipes using beans and I’m sure she could find a variety that would please her here. It’s the only place I buy beans now.

Dear Geoff:
When Sherrie mentioned she used to buy beans online, this is the site I figured she used because it is considered the best. If not, I urge her to try Rancho Gordo. At the very least, she should find a good substitute for the beans that no longer seem crisp. Geoff, your email gave me the idea of buying dried fava beans online. With their dopamine content, my mood swings soon may be a thing of the past. Tony thanks you.

From Carol B.:
I am so tired of dealing with garlic cloves. They’re sticky and it’s hard to get rid of the skins. What do you think of the substitutes for fresh garlic, like marinated minced garlic and dehydrated minced garlic? Both of these come in jars and are so much easier to use.

Dear Carol:
I hear you, but unfortunately nothing packs the punch of fresh garlic. I think packaged, minced garlic pales in comparison. Tony found peeled whole cloves once that were great, but they came in such a gargantuan package that I couldn’t use them all before they shriveled.

I have tried various short-cut methods of peeling garlic with no success. The skin is supposed to fall off if you shake the whole cloves in a lidded jar, but it didn’t work for me. Maybe if I had continued shaking for 15 minutes, but otherwise, no. One tip: If you wet your hands and knife before mincing, the garlic won’t be as sticky.

February 6, 2019

Dear friends,
Besides groceries, my purchases in Florida so far have been one soup bowl and a packet of elastic bands for my unruly hair. On Sunday alone, I talked Tony out of acquiring a 6-foot cardboard Tony Tiger and a curb-alert brown leather sofa. He wanted the sofa badly.

Me: What would you do with it?
Tony: Load it in the truck and take it back to Ohio.
Me: And then what?
Tony: ??

I don’t want to spoil Tony’s fun, but we are living for two months in a 1-room (plus bath), 22-foot travel trailer with a Murphy bed. Last week at the flea market Tony bought an abacus-like back massager, two large loofah sponges, a small lidded pan and a high-backed rattan counter stool. We don’t have a counter. He wanted to fit the stool into the five square feet of floor space that already is junked up with a leather-like ottoman (“for the dog”) and footstool he bought at a second-hand store.

Our entire marriage has been a push-pull between Tony’s wanton urge to buy things and my desire for responsible consumerism, between his tendency to hoard and mine to pare back. And then last week I watched “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. Oh, boy.

Marie is author of the best-seller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Her theory is that people should prune their possessions down to the few things that “spark joy”. Hold that chipped paring knife in your hands, one of six in the drawer, and close your eyes. Do you feel joy? If not, ditch it.

Which brings me to the 50-cent yellow bowl I bought Sunday at a flea market. It does not spark joy, but I can’t keep using the same cheap blue and white Corelle dinner ware for my newsletter photos. So I hope you enjoy the photo of this week’s recipe, a coconut chickpea soup with notes of ginger and orange.

The recipe, with minor changes, is from the Florida Citrus Commission. The coconut-ginger broth is so good I plan to use it in other recipes, such as quick bowl dinners (add a grain, protein and wilted greens) and steamed mussels.

While slurping, it’s hard to remember the soup is vegetarian. If you don’t normally cook with vegetable broth, feel free to use chicken broth instead. If the chickpeas aren’t hearty enough for you, toss in a handful of cubed tofu or some shrimp.

The yellow bowl in the photo goes to Goodwill as soon as we return to Akron. I wish I could say the same for the rattan stool.


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1 1/2 cups diced carrots
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
3 cloves minced garlic
1 can (14 oz.) light coconut milk
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 can (about 15 oz.) chickpeas
1/2 cup orange juice
Chopped cilantro for garnish

Heat oil in a soup kettle. Add onions, carrots, bell pepper and salt. Sauté over medium-high heat until onion is translucent. Add ginger and garlic and sauté 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Stir in coconut milk, broth and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes to blend flavors. Remove from heat and stir in orange juice. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro if desired. Make 6 to 8 servings.

What I cooked last week:
Grilled blue cheese burgers on buttered, toasted buns; shrimp cocktails, bloody Marys and grilled corn; coconut chickpea soup with orange and ginger.

What I ate in/from restaurants last week:
Hamburger patty, cottage cheese and a ton of diced fresh fruit at Pogey’s in Okeechobee, Fla.; ground beef empanada and a media noche (Cuban sandwich on sweet bread) at Tropical Latin Food in Port St. Lucie, Fla.; McDonald’s hamburger Happy Meal (for the wi-fi connection, I swear); a chocolate glazed doughnut at Dunkin’ Donuts; a piece of black olive, pepperoni and onion pizza and a garlic knot (a fresh dinner roll drenched in chopped garlic and butter) at Joey’s Pizza in Okeechobee; a chicken salad sandwich on a toasted onion bagel from Max’s Bagels in Stuart, Fla.

From Noreen:
I made cioppino, too, just before your newsletter with the recipe came out. Aldi sells (seasonally) a bag of mixed seafood which includes scallops, mussels, shrimp and calamari. With all the seafood ready to go, it made it a quick after-work meal. It was almost as good as the version with the hand-selected seafood.

Dear Noreen:
Good to know. When I’m not near an ocean, I will check it out. I have found a lot of cool products at Aldi, from the Seedtastic bread to the inexpensive six-packs of bone-in chicken thighs to my current crush, snappy-crisp dill gherkins.

From Kris F.:
As a University of Akron college student in the mid-90s, my first “real” employer would make a special-occasion chicken salad to share in our small office. Her chicken salad made me a fan. I asked for the recipe more than once but she always got a little smile and said, “Maybe one day.”

Well, she passed away very suddenly over 20 years ago and I never got the recipe. I have scoured the internet and Googled the ingredients, all to no avail. Her magic recipe: chicken, pineapple tidbits, dates, slivered almonds and rice. My palate was not sophisticated enough to tell if it was Miracle Whip or real mayo, but the combination was heavenly. There were also tiny flecks of brown in the salad — cinnamon? bits of dates?

I’m writing to see if you have ever come across this recipe.

Dear Kris:
The ingredients sounded pretty normal until I got to the rice. I’ve never seen that in chicken salad, although now I want to taste it. Maybe the brown flecks were grated nutmeg? Maybe it was a rice salad recipe to which she added chicken? The recipe is unusual enough to stick in the mind of anyone who has come across it. Can anyone help?