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You Asked For It: Slow-cooked chowder; prune cakes for dessert

By ANNE LONG
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 20, 2002


Robert Tune's clam chowder recipe is thick with onion, celery and potatoes. Finely diced pancetta or lean bacon adds extra flavor. The bonus is that it is cooked in a slow cooker. Put it together early in the day and when you are ready to eat, the soup is waiting.

We have an abundance of prune cakes for Edward Holland. Gladys Grissom's Golden Beauty Prune Cake is baked in two layers and iced with mocha frosting. Gladys writes that the recipe is 50 years old.

Betty Querry bakes her 36 Lady Prune Cake in a bundt cake pan and pours a warm glaze over the warm cake. The legend of the name is that 36 ladies entered the same recipe for this exceptionally delicious and moist cake in a favorite cake contest.

Eadie Nieman shares her recipe for prune pecan cake. Use either cooked and chopped prunes or, if time and energy are running a bit short, use two jars of strained baby food prunes. Top the cake with your favorite vanilla glaze.

* * *

For: Laurette Marcoux of St. Petersburg.

From: Robert Tune of Seminole.

Recipe: New England Clam Chowder.

New England Clam Chowder

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 2 ounces pancetta or lean bacon, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 cups cold water, divided
  • 1-1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into small cubes (about 4 medium)
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • 2 61/2-ounce cans chopped or minced clams
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine the onion, celery and pancetta or bacon.

Whisk the flour into 1/2 cup cold water. Stir into the vegetables in the slow cooker. Stir in the remaining 1 cup water and add potatoes and thyme.

Drain liquid from clams into slow cooker; reserve the clams in refrigerator. Cover and cook the soup on the low heat setting for about 6 hours; stirring once or twice, if possible, until potatoes are tender, but not mushy and falling apart. Increase the heat setting to high. Stir in the reserved clams, half and half, seasoned salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, on high for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve hot with parsley garnish. Serves 4 or 5.

* * *

For: Edward Holland of Tampa.

From: Gladys Grissom of Homosassa.

Recipe: Golden Beauty Prune Cake, a recipe Gladys has had for 50 years.

Golden Beauty Prune Cake

  • 1 cup snipped, cooked prunes
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • Mocha frosting (recipe follows)

Cook prunes by package directions, drain and snip.

Cream butter with sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs. (Mixture may appear curdled.)

Resift flour with baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. Blend into the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Fold in prunes. Turn into 2 well-greased 8-inch layer cake pans. Bake in center of oven at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes until cake tests done. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes, then turn onto wire racks to cool. When cold, spread mocha frosting between layers and on top and sides of cake. Makes one 8-inch cake.

Mocha Frosting

  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee crystals
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup soft butter or margarine
  • 1 1-pound box confectioners' sugar, sifted

Dissolve coffee in milk. Combine with sugar and butter or margarine. Beat until smooth, adding a few drops more milk if needed for easier spreading.

* * *

From: Betty Querry of St. Petersburg.

Recipe: 36 Lady Prune Cake.

36 Lady Prune Cake

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: ground cinnamon, salt, baking soda, ground nutmeg, ground allspice
  • 1 cup mashed cooked prunes
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • Glaze (recipe follows)

Mix all ingredients together well and pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes or until done. Let stand for 10 minutes, then turn out. Pour warm glaze over warm cake.

Glaze

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick butter or margarine
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Combine ingredients in fairly large saucepan. Let come to a boil and change to a brown color (very soft ball stage). Prick warm cake and pour glaze over cake while both are warm.

* * *

From: Eadie Nieman of Gulfport.

Recipe: Prune-Pecan Cake.

Prune-Pecan Cake

  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup prunes, cooked, drained and mashed OR
  • 2 43/4-ounce jars of strained baby food prunes
  • 1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • Vanilla glaze (use your favorite recipe)

In a large bowl, combine sugar and cooking oil; add eggs and beat well. Add soda to buttermilk and fold into sugar-egg mixture; add cooked prunes and nuts. Sift together flour, salt, spices and baking powder. Add to creamed mixture. Turn into greased and floured 12-cup bundt pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool in pan 10 to 15 minutes; turn out on wire rack to complete cooling. Top with vanilla glaze.

Recipe requests

Gladys Grissom of Homosassa would like to have the recipe for a seven-layer casserole that appeared in a Hunt's cookbook in the 1960s. The casserole recipe includes converted rice, corn, green peppers, ground beef and tomato sauce among the ingredients. Gladys hopes you have the recipe in your files.

The recipe Richard Roy of Clearwater is looking for is baked rice pudding like the dessert he remembers from his youth.

Steak and kidney stew was a wonderful family dish prepared during cold winter months when Ed McDougall of New Port Richey was growing up. Ed remembers that his mother soaked the kidneys before adding them to the beef and vegetables, but needs your help for the rest of the recipe.

- If you have a cooking question or the answer to someone else's question, write to: You Asked for It, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Be sure to include your full name, city and phone number with your letter. Requests cannot be answered by phone or mail.

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