The winners of this Tried and True Recipe Contest represent two eras in cooking.
Claudia Bidleman, of Florissant, Mo., traced her recipe for Gambos al Mediterrano (Mediterranean Shrimp) to 1970. "A dear friend gave it to me after I'd had it in her home," Bidleman said.
Gluten-free ingredients were far from the mainstream in 1970, but now they're featured prominently in supermarkets. "I had to give up so many of my favorite foods when I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2007," said Kimberly Darron of Imperial, Mo.
She has adapted many recipes to make them gluten-free. Her Gluten-Free Vanilla Bean Cheesecake is loosely based on an online interpretation of a Cheesecake Factory dessert.
Several weeks ago, readers were asked to send in their "go-to" recipes — the ones they can count on as guest-pleasers. Editors narrowed more than 150 submissions to 10 finalists — five main or side dishes and five desserts. Life Sherpa columnist Joe Holleman and I judged the finals, and we each chose Darron's recipe and Biddleman's recipe as our first choices.
"It was much harder to separate the entries in the dessert category," Holleman said, adding that Darron's nutty crust provided an added dimension to a very good cheesecake.
The shrimp dish was beautifully presented, and the parsley and garlic made perfect, simple complements.
Earning second place were two twists on comfort-food classics: Swedish Meatloaf from Anne Allen of Kirkwood, Mo., and Soda Pop Bundt Cake from Jean Shaw of Ballwin, Mo.
GAMBOS AL MEDITERRANO (MEDITERRANEAN SHRIMP) — CLAUDIA BIDLEMAN
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- 5 slices white bread
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons Sherry
- 2 1/2 pounds large shrimp, deveined and butterflied
- Melted butter, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Set the blender speed on "chop." Process each slice of bread separately, transferring crumbs to a mixing bowl. Add salt, pepper and parsley and mix to combine.
2. Melt butter in a medium pan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, Worcestershire and Sherry and bring to a simmer. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until onion is softened.
3. Pour butter mixture into bread crumbs and toss to mix. Arrange shrimp on greased cookie sheets and sprinkle bread crumbs evenly over shrimp.
4. Cook for 10 12 minutes or until done. Serve with melted butter if desired.
Per serving (based on 8): 310 calories; 19g fat; 11g saturated fat; 255mg cholesterol; 24g protein; 11g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 1g fiber; 590mg sodium; 80mg calcium.
SWEDISH MEATLOAF — ANNE ALLEN
Yield: 8 servings
- 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard, preferably spicy
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup corn flakes
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 1 onion, finely chopped
1. Combine sugar, ketchup, mustard, vinegar and nutmeg in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
2. Crumble beef into a large bowl. Add eggs, corn flakes, salt, pepper, parsley and onion. Add half of the sauce mixture. Mix gently but well.
3. Shape meat mixture into a loaf, place on a baking tray and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven, top with the remaining sauce, return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until done.
Per serving: 280 calories; 14g fat; 5g saturated fat; 120mg cholesterol; 22g protein; 17g carbohydrate; 13g sugar; 0.5g fiber; 860mg sodium; 40mg calcium.
SODA POP BUNDT CAKE — JEAN SHAW
Yield: 12 to 18 servings
- 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
- 3 cups granulated sugar
- 5 eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons lemon extract
- 12 ounces lemon-lime or other citrus soda, regular or sweetened with aspartame (see note)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar together with a mixer, then add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
2. Add flour and mix well. Stir in lemon extract and soda, mixing until smooth.
3. Pour into the pan and bake for 60 to 90 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Note: Because it acts as leavening, the soda must be fresh and fully carbonated.
Per serving (based on 18): 375 calories; 17g fat; 10g saturated fat; 100mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 52g carbohydrate; 36g sugar; 0.5g fiber; 25mg sodium; 15mg calcium.
GLUTEN-FREE VANILLA BEAN CHEESECAKE — KIMBERLY DARRON
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
- 3 cups crisp rice cereal
- 1 cup pecans
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For cheesecake filling:
- 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
For mousse topping:
- 1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
- 4 ounces white chocolate, chopped coarsely
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10-inch springform pan. Process rice cereal in a food processor until fine crumbs form. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Add pecans to the food processor and process until they start to stick to the sides. Add pecans to rice mixture.
2. Add salt and brown sugar to rice mixture; blend well. Add melted butter and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Mix until the mixture starts to stick together when lightly pressed. Press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the springform pan.
3. Make the filling. Combine 16 ounces cream cheese, sour cream and granulated sugar; mix until sugar is dissolved. Split 1 vanilla bean in half and gently scrape the seeds into the cream cheese mixture. Add softened butter, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and cornstarch. Beat with a mixer 2 minutes or until smooth. Do not overmix.
4. Pour over crust and smooth gently with a spatula. Bake until edges brown slightly, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 1 hour. While cheesecake is cooling, chill a mixing bowl.
5. Make the mousse. In the cold mixing bowl, beat cream until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 2 tablespoons powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a clean bowl, cover and refrigerate.
6. Melt white chocolate in the microwave in 30-second bursts, taking care not to overmelt. (The chocolate does not have to be completely liquid, but it should not have any visible chunks.) Place 4 ounces cream cheese in the unwashed mixing bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon powdered sugar and beat until fluffy.
7. Split the vanilla bean in half and gently scrape the seeds into the bowl with the cream cheese. Add melted chocolate and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract; beat until smooth. Fold in the whipped cream 1/3 at a time.
8. Spread the mousse over the cooled cheesecake with an offset spatula. Refrigerator for 4 hours or until cold. Run a warm knife around the edge before removing the sides of the springform pan.
Per serving (based on 10): 730 calories; 56g fat; 31g saturated fat; 135mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 48g carbohydrate; 36g sugar; 1g fiber; 510mg sodium; 120mg calcium.