Monday, March 31, 2014

National Clams on the Half Shell Day - Mar. 31st; Chef Ruth Reichl

Chef Ruth Reichl
Ruth Reichl is an author, editor and food critic. Her food writing started with Mmmmm: A Feastiary (1972), and went on to be food writer, restaurant editor and restaurant critic at New West magazine, the LA Times and the New York Times before being the editor-in-chief at Gourmet. She has been outspoken on the sexism in restaurants and the pretentiousness of fancy New York restaurants. She’s received wards for her books by the James Beard Foundation, as well as by the Association of American Food Journalists.

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March 31st is Clams of the Half Shell Day. Not a fan. Not raw, not cooked. The closest thing to a recipe I have containing them is actually for oyster dressing that my dad and husband eat at Thanksgiving. I did find an informative article about them, though, for those of you who do like them.

After three months of writing daily posts, I am switching to weeklies that have seven foodie holidays per post instead of single holidays. Frankly, even writing several scheduled posts at a time is melting my brain. 

Available at Amazon.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

National Turkey Neck Soup Day - Mar. 30th; Chef Stephanie Izard

Chef Stephanie Izard
Stephanie Izard won season four’s Top Chef, the first woman to win. She is co-owner and executive chef at Girl & the Goat, and Little Goat in Chicago. She has also written the cookbook Girl in the Kitchen. She has numerous awards including the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Great Lakes in 2013, and Bon Appétit magazine named her one of the top 10 chefs to follow on Twitter.

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March 30th is Turkey Neck Soup Day, which may sound odd, but it comes from a mindset of not wasting anything. The neck, when simmered for a few hours, makes a delicious broth for soup. Of course, because of the many tiny bones it's not edible (not even for pets!), but the broth can be used for many things. You can also freeze the broth in an ice cube tray and have small portions of broth for cooking!

Available at Amazon.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day - Mar. 29th; Chef Cristeta Comerford

Chef Cristeta Comerford
Cristeta Comerford is the White House executive chef, the first woman, and first Asian person, to hold that position. She studied food technology in the Philippines, but didn’t complete her degree, immigrating to the United States. She worked in Chicago, Washington, DC, and in Vienna before she was recruited to work in the White House kitchen. She was appointed executive chef by Laura Bush, and was retained by Michelle Obama. Since she is the chef to a head of state, she is a member of Le Club des Chefs des Chefs.

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March 29th is Lemon Chiffon Cake Day. Chiffon cake is different because the eggs are separated before beaten (whites beaten separately from yolks), and it uses vegetable oil instead of butter. The man who developed the recipe, Harry Baker, kept the secret close until he sold his recipe to General Mills, who then published it with variations under the new name of "chiffon cake" in a Betty Crocker booklet in 1948. I may have a recipe for it somewhere, but neither grandmother has one. A recipe that old, seems like I should have a version of it in one of these cookbooks...

Available at Amazon.

Friday, March 28, 2014

National Black Forest Cake Day - Mar. 28th; Chef Nancy Silverton

Chef Nancy Silverton
Nancy Silverton trained at Le Cordon Bleu in London, and Ecole Le Notre in Plaiser, France. She’s the co-founder and head baker at La Brea Bakery. She’s written 4 cookbooks, and won several awards, including Best Pastry Chef by the James Beard Foundation (1990).

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March 28th is my dad’s birthday, and his favorite cake is not Black Forest, but German Chocolate, so I'm sharing that instead.

German Chocolate Cake

1 pkg (4 oz.) German Sweet Chocolate
1/2 C. boiling water
1 C. butter
2 C. sugar
4 egg yolks, unbeaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 C. sifted flour
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 C. buttermilk
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Directions: Melt chocolate in water until melted; cool. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time to sugar mixture, beating after each. Add vanilla and cooled chocolate; mix until blended. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk, beat after each addition until batter is smooth. Fold in egg whites. Place a circle of waxed paper into the bottom of 3 8" or 9" layer pans (so just the bottom is covered). Pour batter into pans and bake at 350ºF for 35-40 min. Cool before turning out of pans. Finish cake with coconut-pecan filling.

Coconut-Pecan FillingIngredients:
1 stick butter
1 C. evaporated milk
1 C. sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/3 C. coconut
1 C. chopped pecans

Directions: Combine first 5 ingredients, and cook over medium heat until thickened (about 12 minutes). Remove from heat and add the coconut and pecans. Cool, and beat. Use to fill the layers of German chocolate cake.

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Available at Amazon.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

National Spanish Paella Day - Mar. 27th; Chef Giada De Laurentiis

Chef Giada De Laurentiis
Giada De Laurentiis became a professional chef after studying at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, working in several LA restaurants, including Spago, but she got her start in her family’s Italian kitchen and grandfather’s restaurant. Her Everyday Italian cooking show has won an Emmy, and she has authored a number of cookbooks, and has recently written “Recipe for Adventure” stories for children.

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March 27th is Spanish Paella Day. Paella is a one-pot dish, as many cultures have. It seems to have originated in the Valencia region of Spain, but different regions have their variations. Jambalaya is almost certainly a descendant of paella, from the Spanish settlers in the Caribbean, and then into New Orleans with a Creole influence.

My husband's uncle offered this recipe for his version of Jambalaya: 

1/4 C. olive oil
1 lb medium shrimp
Creole seasoning (follows)
1 chicken
1 1/2 lbs andouille sausage
2 C. chopped onion
1 C. chopped celery
1 C. chopped bell pepper
3 Tbsp. minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped thyme leaves
1 C. chopped tomatoes
6 C. water
2 C. rice
salt and pepper
1 C. chopped green onions
1/2 C. chopped parsley

Directions: Peel and de-vein shrimp. Cut the sausage into 1/2” cubes, and the chicken into 8 pieces. In a large Dutch oven, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat. Season shrimp with Creole seasoning and sauté until almost cooked through, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove shrimp and set aside. Season chicken pieces with Creole seasoning. Add remaining oil to Dutch oven and when hot, add chicken pieces and sauté until browned on both sides, about 8 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add sausage and cook until browned. Add onion, celery, green pepper, garlic, bay leaves, cayenne and thyme and cook until vegetables are wilted, about 6 minutes. Add tomatoes and water and return chicken to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add rice to pot, stir well and return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot and cook for 15 minutes. Add shrimp, green onions and parsley to Dutch oven, mixing carefully, and continue to cook, covered, for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes before serving. Serves 8.

Creole Seasoning
2 1/2 Tbsp. paprika
2 Tbsp. salt
2 Tbsp. garlic powder
1 Tbsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. onion powder
1 Tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried thyme

Directions: Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Yields 2/3 C.

Available at Amazon.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

National Spinach Day - Mar. 26th; Chef Elizabeth Faulkner

Chef Elizabeth Faulkner
Elizabeth Faulkner started her cooking career in 1990. In 1997, she opened Citizen Cake in San Francisco (closed in 2011, when she moved to New York). She’s worked around the world, and in 2012, won the World Pizza Championship in Naples, Italy. She has won several awards and been inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame in 2012. She’s also written 2 cookbooks, Elizabeth Faulkner’s Demolition Desserts and Cooking Off the Clock.

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March 26th is Spinach Day. My favorite way to eat spinach is in spanakopita, Greek spinach pie with feta cheese and phyllo (which reminds me -- a friend has a recipe for that I need to get...), but my sister-in-law shared this with me when I was compiling our cookbook:

Enchilada Casserole

2 lb. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1-2 pkg. taco seasoning
1 C. water
1/2 C. bottled taco sauce
8-10 corn tortillas
2 pkg. frozen chopped spinach
3+ C. shredded Monterey Jack or mozzarella cheese
1 C. sour cream (can use low-fat)
1 small can sliced black olives

Directions: Brown beef and onion in a frying pan. Drain. Add taco seasoning and water. Cover and simmer 10 minutes or until water has evaporated off. Coat 1/2 of the tortillas with taco sauce on both sides and line the bottom of a 9x13” pan with them, overlapping the edges. Thaw spinach and drain well. Add one package to the meat mixture (which should not be watery) and pour over the tortillas. Spread 1/2 of the cheese over the meat mixture. Cover the remaining tortillas with taco sauce and layer over the cheese. Spread on the sour cream, then the last package of spinach, and olives. Top with remaining cheese. Bake at 375ºF for 50-60 minutes. Cook covered for the first 25 minutes and uncovered until the top begins to brown. Serves 8-10.
Comments: You can use spicy taco seasoning and sauce, if you like.

Available at Amazon.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

International Waffle Day - Mar. 25th; Chef Alex Guarnaschelli

Chef Alex Guarnaschelli
Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef on Iron Chef America and cookbook author (Old-School Comfort Food). She got her start with food watching her mother, a cookbook editor, testing recipes. She’s worked in New York, LA, and in France, and is the executive chef at Butter in NYC.

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March 25th is International Waffle Day. This is a Swedish tradition, though it has spread out into the rest of the world. My daughter has come up with a waffle breakfast sandwich that would probably appeal to lots of kids.

Waffle Pancake Sandwiches
1 Eggo mini waffle "slice" (4 mini waffles)
4 Eggo mini pancakes (or 4 homemade silver dollar pancakes)
4 tsp. peanut butter with mini chocolate chips*

Lightly toast the waffles and pull apart. Thaw mini pancakes in the microwave (about 25 seconds). Put a dollop of the peanut butter mixture on the waffles and top with a mini pancake.

* We keep a container of peanut butter and mini chocolate chips mixed together; she eats this on several things, so it just makes sense to have some on hand. Mini chips work best, but regular chips can be used, too.

Available at Amazon.

Monday, March 24, 2014

National Chocolate Covered Raisins Day - Mar. 24th; Chef Cat Cora

Chef Cat Cora
Cat Cora is an Iron Chef on Iron Chef America, has written several cookbooks, and had a business plan to open her own restaurant when she was only 15. Her southern roots are influenced by Greek heritage, and that’s reflected in her cookbook, Cat Cora’s Kitchen. She is the president and founder of Chefs for Humanity, a not-for-profit that raises funds and resources for hunger-related causes, and UNICEF named her a nutritional spokesperson to help raise awareness for global humanitarian crises.

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March 24th is Chocolate Covered Raisins Day. I like to experiment with recipes, trying different things with old favorites. Have you ever considered using chocolate covered raisins in your oatmeal cookies, instead of plain raisins? Try it! (So good!)

Available at Amazon.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

National Chip & Dip Day - Mar. 23rd; Chef Suzanne Goin

Chef Suzanne Goin
Suzanne Goin is a chef and restaurateur in Los Angeles: The AOC, Lucques, Tavern, The Hungry Cat and The Larder. She’s an award-winning chef and cookbook author (Sunday Suppers at Lucques, The AOC Cookbook), and helped popularize the small-plate wine bar restaurant model. She can trace her cooking heritage to Chez Panisse where she worked with Waters, and also worked in restaurants in France before returning to LA to begin her empire.

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March 23rd is Chip & Dip Day. There's the ubiquitous onion dip (made with sour cream and an envelope of onion soup mix), there's the omnipresent salsa, and then there's Roof Rot... This is the family nickname for a simple salsa my husband's aunt makes. Her sons also have been known to call it "Dog Drool."

“Roof Rot” Dip
1 can chopped green chiles
1 small can chopped black olives
1 bunch green onion, chopped (tops, too)
2 small tomatoes, diced
3 Tbsp. oil
1 Tbsp. vinegar
pinch oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Mix the ingredients and chill overnight. Let warm to room temperature to serve.

If you encounter odd names for recipes (as this one has), consider asking what the origin of the name is, and including that in your cookbook. 

Available at Amazon.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

National Celery Month; Chef Gabrielle Hamilton

Chef Gabrielle Hamilton
Gabrielle Hamilton is the chef-owner of Prune in NYC, and wrote the memoir, Blood, Bones, and Butter (which Anthony Bourdain said was “simply the best memoir by a chef ever”). In 2011, she received the James Beard Foundation’s award for Best Chef in New York City. Her French mother taught her to cook and love food.

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March is National Celery Month. "Ants on a Log" is perhaps one of the first ways we try to sneak vegetables into our children: smear them with peanut butter and put raisins on top, and they'll eat it, right? (Wrong. My daughter is completely unfooled by the addition of raisins and peanut butter and will not touch celery.) Personally, my favorite part of the celery is the leaves. I would rather use those than parsley in most dishes. And one of the best Thanksgiving smells is the celery and onion, cooking in a little butter, for the stuffing...

Available at Amazon.

Friday, March 21, 2014

National French Bread Day - Mar. 21st; Chef Clare Smyth

Chef Clare Smyth

Clare Smyth got her start waitressing, was soon inspired to become a chef. She has worked around the world, and Gordon Ramsay offered her a job in 2002, where she worked her way up to senior sous chef. She left to get still more experience, but came back in 2008, where she was promoted to Head Chef. She is the first female British chef to hold a 3-star Michelin rating. She was honored in 2013 by Queen Elizabeth II with being made a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services in the hospitality industry.

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March 21st is French Bread Day. The baguette can be so versatile, from simply eating it with a bit of brie to little crostini appetizers to skinny pizzas, French bread is wonderful to have around. One of my favorite ways to doctor a loaf is to make garlic cheese bread.

Garlic Cheese Bread
1 loaf French bread
butter or margarine
garlic powder
1 lb mozzarella cheese
parsley, if desired

Directions: Preheat broiler to 450ºF. Split the loaf in half and cut into 3-4” squares. Spread butter on the halves of the French bread. Sprinkle garlic powder over that. (Alternatively, you can mix finely minced fresh garlic with softened butter, and spread that on the bread.) Cover with cheese. Sprinkle a little parsley on the cheese if desired. Broil until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 7 minutes. Remove from broiler and let cool a little before serving.

NOTE: Cover the pan with foil before putting the bread on it. The cheese tends to melt and make a mess; doing this will speed up clean up.

Available at Amazon.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Great American Meatout Day - Mar. 20th; Chef Anne-Sophie Pic

Chef Anne-Sophie Pic
Anne-Sophie Pic took over the family’s restaurant, Maison Pic, in 1997 with no formal training. The restaurant had lost its 3-star rating after her father’s death in 1995, and she gained it back in 2007, making her one of only 4 female chefs to have a 3-star rating. In 2011, she won Restaurant’s Veuve Clicquot award for World’s Best Female Chef. She opened Restaurant Anne-Sophie Pic, a 2-star restaurant, in 2009, and La Dame de Pic in 2012.

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March 20th is Great American Meatout Day, which encourages Americans to eat vegan for a day. That means no meat, but also no eggs or dairy products, and even honey is avoided. If you or any family members practice a vegetarian or vegan diet, you may decide to include those recipes as a separate chapter in your cookbook, with tips for following that healthy lifestyle.

Available at Amazon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

National Poultry Day - Mar. 19th; Chef Elena Arzak

Chef Elena Arzak
Elena Arzak is an award-winning chef, originally working in her family’s restaurant Arzak (which has a Michelin 3-star rating) when she was just 11. She received more training across Europe attending school before returning to Spain to work next to her father as joint head chef. In 2012, she won Restaurant’s Veuve Clicquot award for World’s Best Female Chef. They opened Ametsa with Arzak Instruction in London in 2013.

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March 19th is National Poultry Day -- a day for appreciating those domesticated birds who give us meat and eggs. From Cornish hens to geese to turkeys and the eggs they all come from, these have been part of our diet for a very long time. One of my favorite things for dinner when it's cold and gloomy is chicken and dumplings.

I use an old recipe for the dumplings I found in a 1956 cookbook, The American Woman's Cook Book, edited by Ruth Berolzheimer:

2 C. sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/4 C. shortening
3/4 C. milk

Sift dry ingredients together, and cut in shortening (using knives or a pastry blender). Add milk to make a soft dough and place on floured surface, patting out to 1/2" thick and cut into 1-inch pieces. Drop in boiling chicken stock, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

These are a firmer dumpling than the Bisquick dumplings I used to make, and are so good. They hold up better in leftovers, too.

Available at Amazon.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day - Mar. 18th; Chef Judy Rodgers

Chef Judy Rodgers (1956-2013)
Judy Rodgers was a James Beard award-winning chef and author of the Zuni Café Cookbook, based on her San Francisco restaurant. Like many others, she began her love affair with food in France, where she was an exchange student in high school, living with the Troisgros family, who were 3-star Michelin restaurateurs. She met Alice Waters in 1978, and began cooking lunches at Chez Panisse. She joined the staff at Zuni Café in 1987 as chef and co-owner. Her death in 2013 was a tragic loss for the culinary world.

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March 18th is Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day, or more simply, "Lace Cookies." I have only made these once myself, when I was in high school. Because they require some finesse, and at that time I had none, I pretty much wrote them off as a pain in the butt to make. These cookies spread a lot, and they're sticky. They don't want to come off the cookie sheet, especially if you're not using parchment paper (how did I ever bake without parchment paper? that stuff is amazing!) and they will become misshapen messes if you try to remove them from the cookie sheet too soon. This is one of those recipes you will want to add cautionary notes to: Use a greased cookie sheet (or parchment paper) and allow to cool for a few minutes before removing.

Available at Amazon.

Monday, March 17, 2014

National Green Beer Day - Mar. 17th; Chef Lidia Bastianich

Chef Lidia Bastianich
Lidia Bastianich is a chef, author, tv host and restaurateur. She was a guest on Julia Child: Cooking with Master Chefs in 1993, and has hosted her own series since 1998, the latest of which is Lidia’s Italy in America. Numerous cookbooks have been written to accompany the tv shows. In 2013, she received an Emmy for Outstanding Culinary Host. In an interview, she said “Food for me was a connecting link to my grandmother, to my childhood, to my past. And what I found out is that for everybody, food is a connector to their roots, to their past in different ways. It gives you security; it gives you a profile of who you are, where you come from.”

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March 17th is Green Beer Day -- St. Patrick's Day! Erin go bragh! I confess that I have never learned to appreciate beer, so I haven't had the green variety one finds for St. Paddy's Day. Mom used to make green pancakes for us as kids, and one meal was served with green mashed potatoes (Dad wasn't amused). I have carried that on for my daughter.

She's not awake yet. The bus comes really early.
Please be sure to include your family's heritage in your cookbook. Food becomes influenced by the culture around it, and traditions become muddled and lost within a couple of generations, if those things are not carefully preserved. Although my family does have some Irish heritage, for instance, it was a few generations ago. None of the customs or traditions remain, possibly because the people in question were trying to assimilate into American society. Same with the German heritage -- all gone. If you can avoid that fate by writing down some of those family customs, I highly recommend that you do!

Available at Amazon.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

National Artichoke Heart Day - Mar. 16th; Chef Alice Waters

Chef Alice Waters
Alice Waters pioneered the farm-to-table movement. She’s won numerous and varied awards, including The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ Lifetime Achievement Award and a National Audubon Society Rachel Carson Award. She’s mentored and influenced a number of chefs who have also gone on to achieve acclaim. She founded the Edible Schoolyard Project, which teaches children about food, history and cooking. She’s the owner of Chez Panisse restaurant, and has written several cookbooks.

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March 16th is Artichoke Heart Day. I was married before I ever tasted artichokes, and neither of my grandmothers have recipes containing them. They are thought to be native to the Mediterranean, and are related to thistles. The edible part is actually the flower bud, before the plant blooms. Artichokes contain antioxidants (more than many other cooked vegetables) and are low in calories, though eating them does take some effort. Honestly, this is one of those foods I have to wonder who looked at it and thought Hey, I wonder if that tastes good?

Available at Amazon.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

National Corn Dog Day - Mar. 15th; Chef Karen Nicolas

Chef Karen Nicolas
Karen Nicolas was one of Food & Wine’s Best New Chefs of 2012, at Equinox. She threw dinner parties for her friends in high school, getting an early start in food, and was encouraged by a home ec/cooking teacher. She has been strongly influenced by her mother and their Filipino heritage and the television show Great Chefs.

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March 15th is Corn Dog Day. This street food has been around since about 1925 or so, though the complete truth of their history is likely lost to time. Lots of people have laid claim to its introduction, or who came up with the stick method of serving.

Available at Amazon.

Friday, March 14, 2014

National Potato Chip Day - Mar. 14th; Chef Jenn Louis

Chef Jenn Louis

Jenn Louis was one of Food & Wine’s 2012 Best New Chefs. She started a full service catering company that’s committed to sustainable business practice. She’s co-owner of Lincoln Restaurant in Portland, with bar manager (and husband) David Welch, that they opened in 2008, and Sunshine Tavern, opened in 2011. She competed on Top Chef Masters, and has a forthcoming cookbook.

March 14th is Potato Chip Day. I bet you have a recipe that uses potato chips as an ingredient. Here's one of my family's (I confess it's one I have not personally tried, but only because I loathe peas):

Tuna Casserole

1-1 1/2 C. uncooked egg noodles

2 cans cream of mushroom soup
2 cans tuna
1 can peas
1-1 1/2 C. crushed potato chips

Directions: Cook noodles by package directions and drain. Mix together the soup, tuna and peas, adding a little water if needed. Spread in a casserole dish and sprinkle with the crushed potato chips. Bake at 350ºF for 30-40 minutes, until the top starts to brown.

Available at Amazon.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

National Coconut Torte Day - Mar. 13th; Chef Mindy Segal

Chef Mindy Segal

Mindy Segal won the 2012 James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef, as well as numerous other awards. After honeymooning in Paris and visiting bakeries there, she came back home to Chicago a changed woman, with plans to create a new bakery, and has a cookbook in the works. Mindy’s HotChocolate is already one of Chicago’s acclaimed eateries.

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March 13th is Coconut Torte Day. "Torte" is German for cake, but they are often made with little or no flour, using ground nuts or breadcrumbs. I don't have any true torte recipes, but I do have a multi-layered coconut cake recipe. This was my papaw's favorite:

Italian Cream Cake
1 stick margarine

1/2 C. shortening
2 C. sugar
5 egg yolks
2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 C. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla
1 small can coconut
1 C. chopped nuts
5 egg whites, stiffly beaten

Directions: Cream together margarine, shortening and sugar; beat until smooth. Add egg yolks; beat well. Combine flour and soda, stir into sugar mixture alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla; add coconut and nuts. Gently fold in egg whites. Pour into 3 greased and floured 8" round pans. Bake at 350ºF for 25 minutes. Frost with cream cheese frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting
3 oz. cream cheese, softened

3/4 stick butter, softened
1 – 2 tsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C. powdered sugar.

Directions: Cream the cheese and the butter together. Add the powdered sugar gradually. Add the milk and vanilla, using more milk if needed for spreading consistency.

Available at Amazon.