Yesterday's Island Today's Nantucket
Volume 41 Issue 20 • Sept. 22-28, 2011
now in our 41th season

Double Secret Recipes

by Jenn Farmer - chef and food fanatic

I am not sure why, but for some reason there are certain recipes I have always hesitated to give away.  Normally I love to share information, since we all have limited time on this planet.  I mean really, who knows when I could be struck down by a runaway tour bus, or bitten by a stray three-legged dog with rabies (Don’t laugh It COULD happen!).  Why not share life through our recipes, has always been my philosophy.  Some people have money and can have foundations in their name, or are intelligent and invent or discover and have their name emblazoned in history.  Me, I just want to give people happy bellies before I die. With that in mind, it is strange for me to withhold favorite recipes.  I am baffled by my own behavior. 

Ok, so enough procrastinating, I guess it is about time to give away one of those well kept secrets. It is so well kept, that I have not even made the recipe for years.  I will admit I lost the recipe for a while, but it has always been a family favorite. I will finally part with it.  Here goes—don’t ask twice, I don’t know if I will have the courage to give it away again! 

Favorite Poundcake

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 and one quarter cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 T brandy (rum, or whisky are great substitutions too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • One quarter teaspoon ground mace (nutmeg can be substituted, but mace is really good!)
    2 cups cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • One quarter teaspoon salt
  • One third cup milk, room temperature

Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Remove the top rack so center rack is clear.  Butter and flour one (4-6x3 loaf pans, or 2- 8x4). 

Cream the butter well in the large bowl of an electric mixer, beating it on a medium-high or high speed until it is fluffy. Gradually add the sugar, and beat the mixture for 2 min longer.  Add eggs one at a time beating after each addition, until it is fully incorporated. Add the brandy, vanilla, mace, and beat on high for 5 min.  Meanwhile sift together the dry ingredients, and add to the creamed mix alternately with milk.  Mix on low after each addition, divide into pans and bake for 40-60 min depending on cake size- until cake tester comes out clean.  Remove the pans to wire rack in pans until they have cooled for a few minutes.  Then remove from the pans. 

I have heard they are best if wrapped and allowed to mellow for 24 hours before eating, but they have never lasted that long in my home.  I guess it means if you make enough for gifts, it is Ok to let them sit for a day or two.
The following is a recipe I developed for a restaurant here on-island.  It’s a great place, and I was blessed to be the chef there for a few years.   I held on to this one, since I was always hoping to run it on a menu again someday. I was worried that another restaurant would steal it, and it was a signature dish I was very proud of, since we would sell out of them every day.   It is very time consuming, but so good, in fact, I am getting a little peckish just thinking about it.  

Cuban Egg Rolls

  • One half pound sliced spicy capicola
  • One half pound cooked pulled pork
  • One half pound Swiss cheese, shredded
  • Dill pickle slices (sandwich style cut lengthwise work the best)
  • One package of egg roll  skins
  • One half cup mustard
  • One half cup honey
  • One eighth cup mayonnaise
  • Vegetable oil for frying eggrolls

First prepare your egg rolling area by washing and drying it carefully.  Also have two very clean, damp dish towels and a small cup of water ready.  The towels are to cover the open wonton wrappers and the egg rolls.  If you can get a friend to help out, it works even better, since these are time consuming to make, and they do dry out quickly.   Also cut the pickles into halves or thirds to make them more manageable when rolling them up.

Lay out the wrappers and cut a corner off the whole pack of wrappers (this former corner, should face you, and the top point should face away.  These corners can be fried or baked up for a snack with a drizzle of honey or salt. Or just discard them.  Taking off the extra corner, helps keep the eggroll from being doughy inside when fried, and makes it a bit easier to roll.  Taking one wrapper at a time out of the pack, and place one slice of capicola, a little pork, a sprinkle of cheese, and a piece of pickle into the bottom/center of the wrapper. Dampen all the sides of the wonton with finger dipped in water.  Roll the ingredients into the bottom of wrapper then and bring in the edges. Then continue to roll till the top point is adhered to the sealed roll.  Nothing should stick out, and the wrapper should be well sealed, otherwise it may come apart during the frying process.  Don’t get too discouraged, with practice it gets easier to roll them, and it is ok if they don’t look perfect at first as long as they are sealed shut. If you are using them immediately, fry in preheated oil (350 degrees) until golden brown on all sides.  The center should be hot and the cheese melted. 

To keep until later, they should be par fried lightly, and well drained and well cooled before putting away (it is the only way the wrapper does not crumble or break).  They can be kept par fried for about a day or two in advance,  but make sure the container is well sealed and that the rolls are completely cooled before storing them. If you cannot understand my directions for rolling egg rolls, there are some great tutorials online, or Asian cookbooks with lots of pictures.  Do not get discouraged, just like riding a bike, it takes a little time to learn, but then it is easy.  The best part is you can make savory or dessert egg rolls anytime you want. 

To make the dipping sauce

Combine the mustard, mayonnaise, and honey, and stir well.    Enjoy the experience with a nice cold brew or two.

This recipe is from my 4-H friend’s grandma, her name was Olivia Yoder, but her recipe was named after someone named Lucile.  She won one hundred dollars for this recipe during a state fair.

Lucile’s One Hundred Dollar Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • One half cup butter
  • 3 ounces unsweetened German chocolate, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 Tablespoons baking powder
  • Pinch kosher or Nantucket sea salt
  • One and one half cups milk

Cream sugar and butter. Add chocolate and eggs.  Sift dry ingredients.  Combine with the creamed mixture.  Add milk, Into an 8 inch greased and floured pan.  Bake 25 minutes, At 350 degrees.  Serves 12.

Thanks for sharing my death bed recipe swap with you.  I feel oddly cleansed by the experience, maybe it will make way for some new “secret recipes” in my life, or maybe the end for me is near...“woe is me.”  Regardless, please enjoy and perhaps one of them will become one of your favorite or “secret recipes” too.

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