Cynthia asked for help finding a recipe for the ice box pudding served at La Casita Tea Room in Coconut Grove in the 1950s and ’60s. She called it one of the highlights of her childhood and remembered “it had some kind of wafer or cake, whipped cream, chocolate pudding and maybe some nuts.”
“I remember going to La Casita in the very early 1950s,” recalled Charlene Heritage Geers. “Charming place. Even prior to that my mother made an ice box cake that is probably the same thing. Our family still enjoys it.”
Most readers leaned toward a pudding-based dessert like the recipe here from Ruby Thomas, who also remembers La Casita and thinks her recipe is “just like” the one at the restaurant.
Janet Sternbach of Oak Island, N.C. still makes her mother’s icebox cake with her daughter. That recipe uses half chocolate and half vanilla pudding, with layers of graham crackers rather than lady fingers or chocolate wafers.
LuAnne Schmidt says she makes a quick version by adding ground sweet chocolate to frozen whipped topping, then refreezing it with chopped cookies. “My son likes Oreos but I like to use oatmeal or peanut butter cookies. They soften a little but not too much.”
Aïda V. Shafer of Coral Gables makes her icebox cake with butter so it is closer to a mousse. “I think I have the recipe for the dessert Cynthia remembers eating at La Casita Tea Room,” she says. “My mom’s friend, Sosie Manoogian, used to make this when I was a teenager, and she shared her recipe with my mom and me. This is very rich!”
Since I never had the privilege of trying the icebox dessert at La Casita, I decided to pass both recipes along. The pudding-style version is wonderful as an anytime dessert, while the rich mousse style is a special-occasion splurge.
Q. Can you help me find a recipe you had in the newspaper about 20 years ago for eggplant dip? I remember you had to take all the seeds out to make this dip.
I believe the recipe you remember is for a combination of eggplant and chickpeas in a wonderfully piquant appetizer from Paolo’s in Washington, D.C., that appeared in my column in 1993. It is still served with all meals at the restaurant. I like it spread on crisp Italian bread rounds but it is also wonderful with raw vegetables.
Old-fashioned canning and preserving are back in vogue. Ball jar sales are up 31 percent over a year ago.
The company is celebrating its 100th anniversary by bringing back the iconic blue mason jar. It is also producing a live webcast demonstration of canning techniques with chefs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 17, at freshpreserving.com and Facebook.com/ballcanning.
The Food Network’s Ted Allen ( Chopped) will be making the preserved fresh tomato recipe here. freshpreserving.com is also a good resource for recipes and canning supplies.
Send questions and responses to LindaCiceroCooks@aol.com. Replies cannot be guaranteed.