Cook’s Corner

Pennsylvania Dutch treat is best with cold milk


Side dish

Aunt Elsie’s Trucker’s Beans

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup water

1 envelope dry onion soup mix

2 (16-ounce) cans pork and beans (do not drain)

1 (16-ounce) can butter or lima beans, drained

1 (16-ounce) can kidney beans (do not drain)

1 tablespoon brown sugar, or to taste

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 pound kielbasa, chorizo or other sausage, cut in bite-size pieces

Cook ground beef in 1/2 cup water in a skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink, breaking up any large lumps. Do not drain. Pour into a large casserole dish or Dutch oven.

Stir in the soup mix, pork and beans, butter beans, kidney beans, brown sugar, mustard, tomato sauce and kielbasa. Bake 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, or until much of the liquid has evaporated and top is nicely browned. Makes about 15 1/2-cup servings.

Per serving: 278 calories (39 percent from fat), 12.2 g fat (4.2 g saturated, 5 g monounsaturated), 49 mg cholesterol, 18.6 g protein, 24.5 g carbohydrate, 4.4 g fiber, 877 mg sodium.

Source: Linda Cicero’s Cook’s Corner archives 1994.

Main dish

Anacapri’s Chicken in Francese Sauce

2 pounds boneless chicken breast, cut into pieces

All-purpose flour for dusting

2 eggs, beaten

4 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

4 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup white wine

Juice of 1 large lemon

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

Pound the chicken briefly between two sheets of waxed paper to make them close to even in thickness. Dust the chicken with the flour, then dip liberally in beaten egg. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Slip in the chicken pieces and sauté for 1 minute on each side. Remove the chicken from the pan and keep warm. Drain the oil.

Add the butter to the pan, then the 1 tablespoon flour, and briefly stir as the butter melts. Add the parsley, salt and pepper and wine. Cook for a minute, then add the lemon juice and chicken broth. Return chicken pieces to pan, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 5 to 6 minutes, until sauce is thickened and chicken is cooked through, stirring frequently. Serve at once. Serves 4.

Per serving: 450 calories (42 percent from fat), 21 g fat (6.6 g saturated, 9 g monounsaturated), 276 mg cholesterol, 55 g protein, 4.6 g carbohydrate, .2 g fiber, 510 mg sodium.

Source: Linda Cicero’s Cook’s Corner archives 1991.


Pennsylvania Dutch Smearcase (Soft Cheesecake)

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup sugar

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1 (8-ounce) container cottage cheese

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

3 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk the flour with the baking powder. Stir in the eggs, oil and sugar until well blended into a dough. Press mixture over the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Set aside.

Cut the cream cheese into cubes. Add cottage cheese and beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining ingredients except the cinnamon and pour mixture into the pan. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake 60 to 75 minutes, until custard no longer juggles and appears soft set. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate before serving. Makes 24 servings.

Per serving: 215 calories (43 percent from fat), 10.8 g fat (3.6 g saturated, 2.9 g monounsaturated), 55 mg cholesterol, 5 g protein, 25.4 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 120 mg sodium.

Source: Reader recipe adapted by Linda Cicero for Cook’s Corner.

Frank G. of Davie asked if anyone had the recipe for smearcase, a dessert he had growing up in Maryland that he thought was possibly German.

Marilyn Jones of Medina, Ohio, came through with the recipe, which she says is Pennsylvania Dutch and “very good!”

Tim Schuler of Homestead, also originally from Maryland, did not have a recipe but tells us he, too, remembers getting a square of smearcase from corner stores, served on a piece of waxed paper. “It was the most delicious treat, which my mom would make even better by serving it with a cold glass of milk and a spoonful of crushed fruit on top.

“All those corner stores, where you could get groceries and the newspaper and pickles out of a barrel, are gone now,” Schuler said. “Last time I was home to Baltimore I searched all over for smearcase and didn’t find it.”

Top 10: Reader Responses

“Here’s a recipe you should have put in the top 10: Trucker’s Beans,” said Leo C. of Miami. “It goes back at least 20 years, and I have taken it to every potluck, family reunion, picnic, barbecue or wake since then. It is delicious, feeds a crowd for very little, and takes no fancy kitchen work.”

Leo is right — this is a perfect recipe for picnics, and with Memorial Day coming up I plan on making a batch. The recipe dates to the early 1990s, when I published it in Cook’s Corner after tasting it at a family reunion. You can swap out various varieties of beans to suit your taste.

Reader question: Chicken Francese

Q: Quite a few years ago (and I’m talking probably at least 20) the recipe for Chicken Francese from the Anacapri Italian Restaurant in Pinecrest ran in the Miami Herald. I cut out the recipe and made it several times. Everyone loved it. But in my moves I have misplaced the recipe. Could you please provide?

Michelle Delvecchio, Hollywood

A: Always happy to repeat a great recipe that’s also easy.

Sleuth’s Corner

Q: When I was a student at Stetson University in the ’60s, Morrison’s ran the cafeteria and possibly the coffee shop, the Hat Rack, which made fabulous cinnamon rolls. The center was pulled up a bit and was crusty. There were raisins and lots of cinnamon; the whole thing was coated liberally with sugary icing. When I visited the campus about 25 years ago, the roll was not on the menu in the coffee shop and no one knew anything about it. Does anyone have an idea of how these rolls were made?

Blanche Gordon

Tried and New

This is not your abuela’s coffeemaker! Moka, familiar to anyone who makes Cuban coffee the old-fashioned way on the stovetop, has looked the same for the past 80 years, since it was first introduced by Alfonso Bialetti. My gran’s battered aluminum one still holds a place of honor in my kitchen. The iconic design (more than 200 million have been sold) is newly out in bright red, orange, blue and purple. A sure hit for wedding presents and grads. Available in the 6-cup size, the new color Mokas have a suggested price of $39.99 and are currently available at Bed Bath & Beyond or online at

New for a quick breakfast or snack: Garden Lite’s Veggie Muffins not only are packed with vegetables (the first ingredient listed in each variety is zucchini, carrot or whatever) but also are gluten-free, high in fiber, low in fat, kosher and vegetarian. Flavors include Blueberry Oat, Zucchini Banana Chocolate Chip, Chocolate, Zucchini Carrot Berry and Corn. Find them in the freezer section at Target, Publix, Whole Foods, Costco, Fresh Market and other shops;

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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