Cook’s Corner

Theater legend Alfred Lunt was quite a cook


Sleuth’s corner

Q: I would love to find the recipe for smearcase, a dessert I had growing up in Maryland, usually with a topping of apple butter. I think it is German in origin, since smear or maybe smier means cottage cheese and we lived in a neighborhood of mostly German immigrants. You would get this at a restaurant. It wasn’t a cheese and it wasn’t a pudding but was something in between.

Frank G. , Davie


Alfred Lunt’s Sunday Cake

There is not a lot of leavening in this cake, so have the eggs and butter at room temperature before starting to beat so you can incorporate more air. The cake is done when you start to get a good aroma in the air; it should spring back when pressed lightly in the center.

While the cake is still warm, you may slowly pour 1/2 cup fresh orange juice over the top, waiting for it to absorb. When cooled, sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

2/3 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cake flour, measured after sifting

Butter and bread crumbs or flour for pan

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Beat the butter until creamy and light, about 5 minutes. Set aside. Beat sugar and eggs together until light, 5 to 8 minutes with an electric mixer. Do not under-beat: The batter should slowly fall in a ribbon from the beater. Beat sugar mixture into the creamed butter, then the vanilla.

Whisk the baking powder and salt into the flour. Gradually fold dry ingredients into the batter by hand. Don’t try this with an electric mixer.

Butter an 8-inch cast iron frying pan or round cake pan. Sprinkle with very fine bread or cracker crumbs or flour. Turn pan around to coat evenly, and dump out excess crumbs. Pour in batter and bake 1 hour. Turn out at once to cool on a wire rack. Makes eight servings.

Per serving: 267 calories, (26 percent from fat), 17 g fat (10 g saturated), 94 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 0.2 g fiber, 223 mg sodium.


Kale and Grapefruit Salad with Warm Bacon and Wild Mushroom Dressing

1 to 2 bunches black kale (about 1 pound), washed, stalks removed, sliced into 1/4-inch ribbons

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for massaging

3 slices thick-cut bacon, roughly chopped

8 ounces wild mushrooms, thinly sliced (such as crimini and chanterelle)

1 medium shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1/4 cup grapefruit juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/3 cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

1 large ruby red grapefruit, cut into segments

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Place kale in a very large bowl. Sprinkle with a couple of pinches of salt and a light drizzle of olive oil. Begin massaging, squeezing fistfuls of the kale and rubbing between your fingers. Once uniformly wilted, set aside and prepare the dressing.

Place a medium saute pan or skillet over medium-low heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring every now and then, until most of the fat has rendered and bacon bits are brown and just crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to paper-towel lined plate. Pour bacon fat into a measuring cup. If necessary, add enough olive oil to make 1/4 cup. Pour back into pan.

Add the mushrooms, stir to coat in the fat and spread in an even layer. Don’t touch them for 3 to 5 minutes. They will start to soften and sizzle. Now stir and cook, stirring often until they are golden brown around the edges. Stir in the shallots and cook until mixture is browned and aromatic.

Add vinegar, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat off. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the grapefruit juice and 1 tablespoon honey. Mix, taste for seasoning and adjust according to your palate. Makes 4 servings.

Source: Adapted from the Florida Department of Citrus.

Per serving: 346 calories, (36 percent from fat), 24 g fat (3 g saturated), 7 mg cholesterol, 10 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber, 261 mg sodium.


Browned Roux Cream of Broccoli Soup

1 quart chicken stock

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 pound broccoli, coarsely chopped

2 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 bay leaf

1 stick butter or margarine

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Bring stock, onion and broccoli to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until broccoli is tender. Strain, saving the stock.

Puree broccoli mixture in a blender or food processor and return to pan. Stir in milk, cream and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Stir in reserved stock. Let simmer for about 3 minutes. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and whisk until smooth and a light brown. Gradually add this roux to the soup, stirring and keeping at a simmer, until thickened as desired. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 422 calories, (57 percent from fat), 37 g fat (23 g saturated), 122 mg cholesterol, 8 g protein, 16 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 312 mg sodium.

Q: For many years, I used a recipe for Lynn Fontanne’s Sunday Cake. I’ve lost it, and all I remember is that after baking in a cast-iron skillet, I would pour orange juice on top and then some powdered sugar. I clipped this from a newspaper or magazine long ago.

Thelma Rae Woods

A: I did not find a recipe for a Lynn Fontanne Sunday Cake, but I did find one from her husband and performing partner, Alfred Lunt. They were the premiere couple on the English-speaking stage from the 1920s to their retirement in the 1960s. Lunt was also known for his gourmet cooking.

I found the recipe by contacting the Ten Chimneys Foundation, which preserved and maintains the Lunts’ Ten Chimneys estate in southeastern Wisconsin. Courtney Kihslinger provided the recipe. Lunt’s manuscript for a cookbook was found in a closet when the estate was being set up for tours and acting workshops. The 192 recipes are compiled in The Testers Edition of Alfred Lunt's Cookbook: The Never-Before-Published, Much-Sought-After Recipe Collection of Broadway's Greatest Actor, Alfred Lunt ($34.99), available at and Amazon.

As to the cake, in his handwritten notes, Lunt writes: “It may be imagination, but the texture of this cake always seems best when made on a hot day or in an overheated kitchen, and hand-beaten with a rotary beater and wooden spoon. It’s much like an old-fashioned English Madeira cake and quite as delicious. It is good without frosting; dust with powdered sugar.”

The recipe here is one I interpreted from the recipe in the book, which is incomplete. I also added the orange juice variation the reader requested. This makes a wonderful plain cake, with an airy texture and crispy top that is lovely topped with fresh fruit and whipped cream or ice cream. I would increase the vanilla to a full teaspoon and, to make it more like a Madeira, add grated lemon zest. No salt was called for in Lunt’s recipe, but I think it is necessary.

Citrus season

The Florida Department of Citrus teamed up with Food Network host Aarti Sequeira to come up with new ways to use grapefruit. Sequeira created the kale salad here, and is unveiling a new recipe a week through March 18 at

Q: Spaghetti Works & Deli of Longview, Wash., was known for its home-style cooking. The restaurant founder, Dolores Rasmussen, could always be found in the kitchen overseeing things. I miss their cream of broccoli soup, freshly made rolls and breadsticks. Could you obtain the recipes?

Becky Holborn , Castle Rock, Wash.

A: Perhaps someone can help us find the original recipes. In the meantime, let me share a favorite cream of broccoli soup recipe that appeared in my column about 25 years ago and came from the Holiday Inn in Ozark, Ala. Browning the roux adds a nice nuttiness. I like to add a few chopped broccoli florets as garnish.

Send questions and responses to or Food, The Miami Herald, 3511 NW 91st Ave., Doral, FL 33172. Replies cannot be guaranteed.

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