1950s Archive

Food Flashes

News from the Grace Rush kitchen out Cincinnati way

Originally Published November 1950

The dark Martha Ann fruitcake, which built the business, has a new honey-gold sister, white fruitcake by name. This cake has a pale golden batter made with fresh butter, fresh eggs, honey for sweetening, and dark New England rum for that pungent flavor. A cake about 75 percent fruit: pineapple, citron, cherries, and raisins. Almonds and walnuts provide those crunchy little matters for the teeth to touch. Made in one size, 3 pounds, retailing for about $4.95, packed in a fancy gift tin in fuchsia and deep blue.

The dark fruitcake remains the first choice with us, perhaps because of the blackstrap molasses which goes in to give the bittersweet tang. It's a cake dark and moist but light in texture, lush with fine fruits, flavored with mellowed old brandy. There's a new, golden vacuum tin for this cake, complete with key opener. Sold by leading department stores and food shops throughout the country.

The Grace Rush firm is packing glazed fruits for Christmas in new gift trays woven of bamboo, these planned for later use as bread trays. Here's roll call on the fruity assortment: stuffed Santa Clara prunes, Hollowa dates stuffed with almonds, pears tinted green, white, and red, whole tangerines, maraschino-flavored cherries, apricot halves, and pineapple half-rings. With the pack goes a small, two-prong, Chinese-like fork, made of plastic made in Brooklyn.

“One of the best,” was the verdict of the tasters who happened into the kitchen when the McMillen's holiday loaf was out for sampling. This had traveled in by mail from Phoenix, Arizona, a cake among several cakes baked by the McMillens, all trade-named Unusual. This kitchen bakes wedding cakes, birthday cakes, and special-occasion cakes, but fruitcake came first—it started the business back in 1931 when the McMilletis lived in Los Angeles. Since then, this cake has been baked every season except during the war when quality ingredients were not available. Last year it was shipped into fifteen states, to Canada, Mexico, England, and France.

It's a cake about 85 per cent fruit, these the candied kind glacé pineapple, orange peel, lemon peel, dates, and pears. Three kinds of nuts in the medley: English walnuts, almonds, and fresh coconut. Fresh eggs for the batter, fresh butter, sugar, sweet wine, and spices. No citron, no raisins, and no substitutes of any kind. The ingredients for the cakes are prepared and assembled by Mr. and Mrs. McMillen; they oversee the baking and do the top decoration.

The cakes are rectangular in shape for economical and easy slicing. Sizes run from 1 1/2 to 6 pounds, larger ones made especially to order. The cakes are wrapped in clear pliofilm and packed in white gift boxes. This year the fruited loaf will sell through exclusive retail stores as well as by mail. The price, $2.50 postpaid, is the same in stores.

The McMillen's wedding cakes are shipped by air to any point in the United States, sent knocked-down with instructions for assembling the tiers. Groom's cake is air-shipped, and the firm will supply boxed individual servings.

Stilton is being packed without wine, just its own natural self scooped from the middle of a large cheese and spooned into jars to keep in the moisture. When the jars are opened, the cheese spreads soft like butter. Sturdy in its flavor, ripe and pungent, even stinging. A spread to remember for the coming cold months when appetites are robust and in want of warming up. The happy companion to a glass of Burgundy. This jar-packed Stilton is sold at the Vendome Table Delicacies, 415 Madison Avenue, New York City, 10 ounces $1.50, or a 1-pound crock for $2.50.

Little in price, little in size—but of big importance to the hors-d'oeuvre plate. The Nabisco bakeries have produced a tiny, thin, triangular wafer tender to the bite, crisp under the teeth but not the least crumbly, styled for use as a carrier for cheese spreads and meat pastes and for those spicy little fish that adorn the snack trays. The wafer has a surface glaze that makes it virtually impervious to moisture, so it doesn't go soggy the instant it meets with a topping.

The cracker has a nutty flavor quite its own and is slightly salted, so don't be using it with such delicacies as caviar and pâté de foie gras. But for quick fixes, for those not too elegant hors d'oeuvre and canapés, it's dandy. The price is a joy, 23 cents for about 150 thinnies. In stores throughout the country, with complete national distribution by the end of the year.

Those delicate cream cheeses of the Continent, dainty trifles to end a dinner along with fresh fruit or a toasted cracker, seldom come to the States. However, this winter one travels the ocean, the Hable Crème Chantilly, made from pasteurized cream with a slight mushroom flavor, made in Sweden, and a more delicate and delightful cheese we have yet to encounter. We feel about it as did Edward Bunyard, the English gourmet, who once, wrote regarding the fresh cream cheeses of France: “Such a cheese must end a meal done in pastel shades: an omelette, chicken in aspic, and wood strawberries, for instance. Any rough red meat, or loud-spoken wine, would be disastrous in the scheme of things; music if you have it—Debussy.”

That's how it is with Hable Crème Chantilly, a dreamy fresh cheese that, refrigerated at a temperature of 35 to 40 degrees, retains its flavor and consistency as long as a month. But serve at room temperature for stronger mushroom flavor and a more unctuous cheese which can be cut and spread like butter. Rich as butter, 78 per cent butter fat, so no extra butter is needed on cracker or bread. This is truly a cream cheese, the skin so thin most people eat it right along with the middle. Its color, pale gold, a most maidenly product, idyllic to taste.

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