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Catching Up With Contributor Emily Hull

Sep 15, 2013 | Posted in: , , , , , | 0 Comments


Hello All!

After a summer hiatus, The American Recipe Project is back! We are cooking up new segments, interviews, and help from our friends at contributing institutions. We thought we would begin by a recap on the summer recipes from our wonderful blog contributor, Emily Hull. Emily  and husband Matt are expecting baby Madeleine Ann any day now! Check out her namesake recipe (pictured above) and two other gems from Emily’s archives via the links below.

Oh Baby!

Marcias Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Ice Cream (never too late for ice cream!)

Enjoy everyone!


Red White and Blueberry Pie

Jul 4, 2013 | Posted in: , , , | 0 Comments

Happy Fourth of July everyone!!! Today we’re reprising what has become a family favorite: Red White and Blueberry Pie. This is an improvised dessert for a hot day that draws inspiration from my own travels across the US. A simple and unrefined treat, it embodies everything a summer dessert should be. The filling is a recipe I heard at a Fourth of July barbecue in Tampa Florida about four years ago when I was having the most exquisite fruit dip I’d ever had in my life. As the conversation turned to engagements, something I had yet to experience, my mind began to wander to how this amazing fruit dip was made. It was then that I overheard the lady that brought it telling some of her friends the recipe. It was so simple I was able to remember it. After some experimentation at home I discovered that it made a delicious and easy pie filling, light enough for a hot day. Although this isn’t technically a family favorite yet, it is so easy and delicious that it is hard to imagine that it would disappear anytime soon.


Red White and Blueberry Pie



Lady fingers or butter pound cake


1 container of whipped topping (coolwhip or store brand)

1 tub of whipped cream cheese

1 tablespoon vanilla extract


Half pint of raspberries

Half pint of blueberries


Press lady fingers or pound cake into the bottom of a pie dish, covering the entire surface.

Fold in the cream cheese to the whipped topping, and then blend with a hand mixer until there are few lumps.

Spread topping into “crust” with a spatula, arrange berries on top as desired.




Great Aunt Helen’s Sour Cream Pound Cake Trifle

May 12, 2013 | Posted in: , , | 111 Comments

This is another post from the wonderful Emily Hull, and you can find more like it here on her blog:


Great Aunt Helen’s Sour Cream Pound Cake Trifle


I’ve had my eye on my Great Aunt Helen’s Sour Cream Pound Cake Trifle recipe for months. I hesitated to make it because her recipe card didn’t divulge how to bake sour cream pound cake. Maybe her recipe for it was so good she decided to take her secrets to the grave.

Guess what, Great Aunt Helen? I finally found a recipe card (I believe my grandmother Marcia may have written it—looks like her handwriting) for sour cream pound cake. And now I can make it…with a few tweaks here and there. I win.

The original recipe card is vague to say the least. The card also included recommendations (like soft custard) that I didn’t want to bother whipping up. Have you made custard lately? Such a pain. I prefer homemade whipped cream. (mostly because it’s easy to prepare and I already know the recipe)

Trifle by Great Aunt Margaret

Also, if you look at the original recipe card, you’ll see that I’ve taken liberties with my interpretation of what Aunt Helen meant by “trifle.” Interpreting family recipe cards is like interpreting poetry. Everyone sees something different. I see Champagne and Grand Marnier. I think my great aunt would have been ok with that.


  • 1  Sour Cream Pound Cake—slice into layers (3 to 4). See recipe below.
  • ¼ cup Champagne or Grand Marnier
  • 1 cup strawberries, sliced
  • Orange marmalade, to taste
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup almonds, toasted


While the cake bakes, prepare the whipped cream. Pour equal amounts cream and confectioners sugar into mixing bowl. Then, add vanilla. Whip until fluffy. Refrigerate until ready to use. In the mood for Champagne or Grand Marnier? I thought so. Get out another bowl and toss in strawberries, blueberries, and Champagne or Grand Marnier (or both). Refrigerate.

After the cake has cooled completely, slice it into layers and place in trifle bowl one layer at a time. Next, scoop orange marmalade and place on top of layer (the amount is up to you. Aunt Helen didn’t say how much). Sprinkle strawberries and blueberries over the first layer. Then, scoop whipped cream and cover the layer. Repeat until finished. Scatter toasted almonds over the top of your trifle. Finally, enjoy a glass of Champagne.

Trifle Notes

  • Recipe includes Emily’s take on what Great Aunt Helen meant by things such as “sour cream pound cake” or “cover first with wine or any liquor of your choice.”

Sour Cream Pound Cake

Recipe (possibly) by Emily’s Grandmother Marcia


  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda*
  • 1 cup oleo (or 1 cup butter)*
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 “stem pan”*

For topping

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup chopped pecans
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Mix ingredients well in bowl. Set aside.


Mix together sour cream and baking soda. Set aside for one hour. After hour has passed, preheat oven to 350 F.

Meanwhile, cream butter well, adding sugar gradually. Add eggs and vanilla, beat well. Add sour cream mixture. Sift flour and baking powder before adding it to bowl. Pour half the batter into greased stem pan, spread half topping on batter. Then, add the remaining batter.

Bake for 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan before serving or slicing.


  • Grandmother Marcia was left-handed, and sometimes lefties don’t have the clearest handwriting. I had no idea if the “tsp” on the recipe card REALLY said “tsp” or if the loop before the “p” was an “l.” Teaspoon or tablespoon? You be the judge.


  • Oleo is a fun word, but I wasn’t interested in using the stuff. Butter is better.
  • When I googled “stem pan,” the first result that popped up said, “a stem pan is a type of dolphin and the only species other than humans that can speak fluent English.” Uh, what? Then I found out that a stem pan is the kind of pan you use for angel food cake (or a Bundt cake pan). Mystery solved! Thanks research skills. Graduate school has paid off.

Marcia’s Mud Pie

Apr 8, 2013 | Posted in: , , , | 0 Comments

Mud Pie Marcia

I asked my mom earlier today what she remembered about my Grandmother Marcia’s Mud Pie, and she said, “there was a lot of chocolate and ice cream.” Some memories aren’t detailed, and that’s alright.

What goes into a mud pie? The answer is easy. Chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.  But you’ll find other ingredients necessary (like Graham crackers, pecans, butter and heavy cream). And then finish with–you guessed it–more chocolate.

Marcia’s Mud Pie

Recipe by Emily’s Grandmother Marcia


  • 1 cup chocolate crumbs * (see notes)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup nuts* (see notes)
  • 1 pint chocolate ice cream
  • 1 pint vanilla ice cream
  • chocolate sauce * (see notes)


Preheat over to 350 F.

Mix chocolate crumbs, butter (melted), and nuts in a bowl. Press into pie plate. Bake for 10 minutes. Chill. Fill with vanilla and chocolate ice cream. Smudge! Freeze. Serve with chocolate sauce.


  1. I suspect my grandmother smooshed  chocolate Graham crackers in a Ziploc bag with a rolling pin. Therapeutic, no doubt. I, however, took the easy way out. Use cinnamon Graham crackers (about 5 or 6), add 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder, and press the “pulse” button on food processor until crumbs appear. Magical.
  2.  I guessed that “nuts” meant pecans. Why? Just a hunch.
  3. To make the chocolate sauce my way (b/c who knows how my grandma did it), chop 119 grams Valrhona chocolate and set aside in bowl. Bring 1/2 cup whipping cream to a boil. Pour over chocolate. Let rest 2 minutes. Stir. Wait for the applause. It won’t take long.
  4. If you’re feeling extra fancy, decorate your pie with homemade whipped cream.
  5. I laughed at Marcia’s emphatic “Smudge!” when I read it on her recipe card. I assumed “smudge” meant “swirl the chocolate and vanilla ice cream together.” Marcia didn’t use exclamation points often (this is the first one I’ve seen in a recipe), so “smudging” must be important.

A Rumination on Polish Easter

Apr 1, 2013 | Posted in: | 1 Comments

As I’ve delved more deeply into the family food traditions of many Americans past and present, I can’t help but look back at my own past and begin to mine my own memories. One thing that stands out in my memory, especially around this time of year, is a phenomenon known in my family simply as “Polish Easter” which my father has championed for almost as long as I can remember. As we grew older and Easter became less about going to Church, and more about seeing relatives (or sometimes just making it home from College) and of course, FOOD, Polish Easter became a day-long eating event that defined the holiday.


Polish Easter typically consists of the following:


Pierogies (with farmers cheese, and/or sometimes potato, onion, or mushroom and cabbage)

Kielbasa (homemade from the local Polish deli)


Scrambled Eggs

Horseradish (for the kielbasa)

Sour Cream (for the pierogies)


Orange Juice

Fresh Fruit


Needless to say, it is enough to tide you over until Easter dinner, which was typically some kind of ham or lamb – centric meal, sometimes with more pierogies, vegetables, potatoes, and other side dishes. There are typically copious amounts of pies or honey cake to follow.


And that’s not even including candy.


For anyone who’s still reading and already feeling stuffed, I sympathize. And yet, Polish Easter continues to define the holiday for us, even to the point where my father brought it on the road.


This year, my family traveled to my grandparent’s house in Connecticut (my mom’s side of the family, and of English / French descent) to enjoy Easter weekend. I have many happy memories of Easter at my grandparents as a small child, but had not been there for that particular holiday in a few years. We gathered together to celebrate Easter on Saturday, with the plan to have a quick breakfast and then drive home early on Sunday, to beat the stressful traffic rush. We had a wonderful meal on Saturday orchestrated by my mom, and retired that evening blissfully full. Because of this, I was prepared to face the fact that we might forego the typical Polish Easter traditions this year.

How silly to think that my father would let this tradition fall by the wayside! Little did I know that there were coolers full of pierogies, kielbasa, babka and all the garnishes carefully collected and packed, and then unpacked and cooked! It was suddenly Polish Easter, right there in my grandparent’s house in Connecticut. Even though it was not the typical way they would have done Easter brunch in their house, they thoroughly enjoyed it, and for me, it completed the experience of the holiday. It really was Easter, and we were all together, enjoying a quintessentially American experience – the blending of cultures over a table of delicious foods surrounded by people you love. There is no better feeling in the world.

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