With Mother’s Day approaching, memories return me to the wonderful years Mother understood me no matter what the situation or shenanigan I may have been up to at that moment. I was a curious child who loved every minute of every day from the sun rising in the morning to the last few minutes left at night when prayers were said at bedtime. I loved people, dogs, cats, squirrels, rabbits, birds, horses, insects, books, my doll house, Raggedy Ann, climbing trees, fishing, swimming, picnics in the woods, bonfires, taffy apples, Cracker Jacks, roasting marshmallows, playing jacks, hopscotch, hide and seek, kick the can and praying the rosary in times of need. Sandwiched in between were piano, ballet and tap lessons, and whatever each season offered a kid who loved life.
If I was being somewhat naughty, Mother might flash her eyes at me, but she never raised her voice or spanked me. If patience is a virtue, she was blessed with enough that kept me smiling. She also took good care of my dog, Suzy, when I was somewhere else. It was a wonderful life I thought everyone else had, too.
We even took trips out of town to buy doll house furniture at Marshall Field’s and always settled in for lunch in their fancy Tea Room before returning home. Fond memories with food have a way of nourishing us through the years and these are just a few of many that warm my heart, especially as Mother’s Day approaches, and remind me how much I miss her. And although no one plays with the doll house anymore, memories remain there, too, in every room.
In 1992, reflections from the past arrived with the cookbook, “Someone’s in the Kitchen with Marshall Field’s” with favorite recipes from long ago. To celebrate Mother’s Day with fond memories, I rely on the ingredients of how much fun it was to grow up on Talmadge Street with a mother who was also a good cook.
Here are some Marshall Field’s favorites your mother might enjoy, too.
We often ordered this sandwich, which quickly became my all-time favorite for many reasons.
Field’s Special Sandwich
4 large slices deli-style rye bread
1 head iceberg lettuce
8 1-ounce slices Swiss cheese
12 1-ounce slices cooked turkey breast meat
2 cups Russian dressing
4 tomato slices
4 slices hard-cooked egg
4 sprigs fresh parsley
8 pitted black olives
Cut off the bottom crust from each slice of bread. Place each piece on a serving plate. Reserve 8 large outer leaves of lettuce. Core the lettuce and cut the heart into 6 lengthwise slices. Place 1 slice on each piece of bread. (Discard other 2 slices).
Place 2 slices of cheese diagonally on each sandwich. Top with 2 reserved lettuce leaves. Arrange 3 slices of turkey over lettuce and pour dressing over the turkey. Finish each sandwich with a slice of tomato and a slice of egg. Tuck parsley between the tomato and the egg. Garnish each plate with 2 olives.
Makes 4 servings.
Soups and chowders are always popular menu items, especially for customers who are in a hurry and with a chill in the air. Mushroom soup was a favorite and Field’s topped it with a small amount of whipped cream.
Cream of fresh mushroom soup
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons chicken fat (or substitute butter)
4 cups (2/3 pound) finely chopped mushrooms
¼ cup chopped yellow onion
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk
1 cup chicken broth
2/3 cup half-and-half
Salt to taste
¼ cup whipping cream for serving, if desired
Melt butter and chicken fat in a medium saucepan. Add mushrooms and onion and cook 8 to 10 minutes until tender. Sprinkle flour in and mix well. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in milk and chicken broth. Heat just to a simmer and cook gently 6 to 8 minutes until soup thickens slightly. Add half-and-half and salt. Serve with a drizzle of whipping cream on top.
Makes 6 1-cup servings
Spring in Wisconsin brings thoughts of asparagus and how good it is for us. It would be a delight to prepare and serve this on Sunday during a Mother’s Day celebration.
Cream of asparagus soup
1 pound asparagus
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
½ cup whipping cream
Sal and pepper to taste
Trim woody ends from the asparagus and peel the stems with a vegetable peeler. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Combine in a medium saucepan with onion, chicken broth, and bay leaf. Cover and heat to a boil. Simmer gently 20-25 minutes until asparagus is completely soft. Discard bay leaf and puree mixture in a food processor or blender.
In the same pan, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring often, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cream and heat to a simmer. Add the asparagus puree, salt, and pepper. Cook just until heated through. Can be served hot or chilled.
Makes 6 1-cup servings.
I never had this “main-dish” salad while dining at Marshal Field’s, but would have ordered it without question because of the interesting ingredients. Have no idea what “lagoon” has to do with the title, but appreciate that it should be made ahead and chilled before serving.
1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon garlic salt
Pepper to taste
1 cup wild rice
½ cup sliced almonds
1 pound cooked chicken breast meat, torn into pieces
½ cup diced celery
½ cup sliced water chestnuts
1 small Granny Smith apple with peel, diced fine
1 cup seedless red grapes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, apple juice, cinnamon, garlic salt, and pepper. Set aside.
Cook rice according to directions on package. Set aside to cool. Spread almonds on a baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until they are light brown, stirring several times. Combine rice, almonds, chicken, celery, water chestnuts, apple, and grapes in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss lightly. Chill well before serving.
Makes 6 servings.
Lunch or supper at Marshall Field’s was never complete without dessert, a favorite using their very own Frango chocolates.
Frango mint chocolate brownies
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 ounces unsweetened chocolates, chopped fine
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped pecans
8 Frango mint dark chocolates, chopped fine
Place the rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
With an electric mixer at high speed, beat eggs for 2 minutes. Add sugar and continue beating 1 minute until light. Blend in the chocolate mixture and vanilla. With a rubber spatula, mix in the flour and salt. Fold in pecans and chopped Frango mints. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake about 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with some moist but not wet crumbs. Do not overbake. Place pan on a wire rack and cool completely. With a sharp knife, cut into 9 squares.