About Monica Kass Rogers

The "Lost Recipes Found" lady

Bacon & Caramelized Onion Rolls

Founded in 1868 in Cincinnati, Ohio by Austro-Hungarian brothers Charles and Maximillian Fleischmann, Fleischmann’s Yeast has a long history of recipe outreach to home cooks. In 1877, it was one of the first companies to put out a free recipe book, followed by the many more you can still find in antiquarian book-nooks and crannies. In the ‘90s, aware that local fairs were among the richest mines to plumb for American regional recipes coming out of home kitchens, Fleischmann’s started sponsoring recipe contests at State and County fairs. The tradition stuck and Fleischmann fair contests now attract tens of thousands of contestants annually. Categories switch out from year to year, ranging from “best special occasion breads” to “mother-daughter themes,” to “sensational sandwich breads” all celebrating home baking.

Among those rising to the top in recent years? This Cuyahoga County Fair Fleischmann’s grand-prize-winning recipe from Bryan Welch of Parma, Ohio, tucks caramelized onion, port wine, bacon and smoked cheddar cheese into pinwheel rolls easy-baked in a muffin tin. Brushed with butter, the rolls have a crisp crunchy exterior, staying tender & moist on the inside, where you find the sweet onions, bacon and cheese.

Welch says he learned baking from his wife who is also a county fair winning cook. The idea for stuffing the rolls with this ingredient combo came from Welch’s love for caramelized onion and bacon on pizzas—the smoked cheddar adds extra depth. For best success with this recipe? Welch suggests “a very fine dice for the onion, stir often, use fresh-as-possible yeast for the dough. And be sure to grease the tins,” for easy release.

Ancho-braised Lamb Shanks

This recipe that Chef Ryan Clark of Lodge on the Desert in Tucson, AZ, shared with me is one of those “low & slow” cooked dishes that’s perfect to start in the morning on a chilly day.  You’ll put it in the oven with a full gallon of chili-spiked braising liquid which, simmered down for four hours, still leaves plenty to reheat and glaze the shanks for several reprises. Served with little pearls of Israeli couscous, rich gravy & a sauce of preserved lemon, mint, garlic and Greek yogurt, these ancho-spiced shanks make a meal full of bright flavors.

Duck & Andouille Gumbo with Potluck Garlic Bread

Atlanta press calls Chef Ford Fry an “empire builder.” And it’s true. Fry has more than a half dozen restaurants now open, several of which regularly show up on national foodie Best-Of lists.  The first time I talked to Fry we discussed greens (which Ford’s really good at) for a food story I was writing. The second time, we chatted about Southern seafood. And the third?  Recipes that taste just as good as leftovers as they did the first time around.  That’s when Ford gave me this gumbo recipe. It is gutsy, smoky-rich and loaded with flavor–but interestingly enough, doesn’t have any okra in it. Serve it over white rice with snipped scallions and Ford’s Potluck Garlic Bread.

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Concord Grape Tart (& Pie)

My lovely friend Kathleen S. grew up 15 miles from Silver Creek, NY, where they still have the annual Festival of Grapes during the concord grape harvest in September, complete with grape stomping, pretty-baby contests, and Jr. Miss, Little Miss, and Miss Festival of Grapes pageants. She shared a grape pie recipe family-friend Audrey C. made every year during the festival. Here’s that recipe, along with my favorite vintage grape filling recipe that I like to use for grape tarts.

Short Rib Stroganoff

Chef Rob Hurrie’s deeply-flavorful short-rib bourguignon is an upmarket spin on his favorite childhood dish. “My affinity for rich foods started early,” Hurrie laughs, describing his Mom’s “2-cans-of-condensed-soup with ground beef, bacon & sour cream” stroganoff. Hurrie’s update at his  Black Pig restaurant in Sheboygan, WI, is a short rib slow-braise with so many good things: red wine & sherry, rosemary & thyme, mushrooms & bacon, crème fraiche and truffle oil.


When you’re ready to make this, you could go all-out and order Golden Bear Farm bacon through the Goodside Grocery Co-op in Sheboygan (call or e-mail them at the number on the site to let them know what you’re after.) Or just use good quality applewood-smoked bacon.

Brussels Sprout Petals with Bacon, Onion & Maple

People keep telling me they have been won over to Brussels sprouts, despite childhood loathing, having had bitter sprout experiences as children. How did those happen? Mothers from decades past overcooked the little green globes, thinking that would make them milder and more palatable to kids. But overcooking Brussels sprouts leaches out their sulfurous-smelling, cancer-preventative compounds, making soggy, less nutritious bad-smelling ick. A trauma not to be repeated. INSTEAD– try this delicious recipe, featuring the sprout petals quick sauteed with onion, sprinkled with oven-crisped bacon & just a little drizzle of maple syrup.

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Borscht (Beet & Beef Soup)

Borscht originated in the Ukraine, but the popularity of this hearty, beet soup bloomed all across central and eastern Europe before making its way here, resulting in dozens of delicious variants, some vegetarian, others not. During this transitional-weather season, it’s nice to know that this soup works well hot or cold: Borscht is very good chilled with yogurt & chopped radishes mixed in.  And hot, (with lots of cooked vegetables and cubes of beef or smoked sausage) it’s even better.  In Poland people traditionally let vegetarian versions of the soup ferment naturally to develop the traditional sour flavor, but I haven’t yet been patient enough to try that.  Our hearty version is made with oven-prepared, wine-enriched beef stock, plus beets, carrot, onion, dill and a little wine vinegar.  We like it with crusty bread and a little smoked sausage. Add a dollop of creme fraiche, sour cream or yogurt if you like, but it’s just as good without.

Sunchoke Soup (Jerusalem Artichoke)

Earthy, sexy, silky, sunchokes beguile. Peeled, simmered and pureed, these unlovely-looking little lumps transform into a beautifully aromatic soup. To me, they’re not unlike truffles in their scent and ability to make you crave just a little bit more.

Sunchokes or “sunflower artichokes” are not artichokes at all, but tubers related to the sunflower. I first came across them at a local market in winter. Thinking at first that they were ginger–all knobs, and kinks and whimsical protuberances with that same papery skin–I about passed them by. But then I made this soup and they completely won me over. It was a good first step: According to Judith and Evan Jones of “The L.L. Bean Book of New New-England Cookery” sunchoke soup–long served as a first course on old Yankee tables–was called “Palestine” soup back in the day.

Now, always on the watch, I snatch sunchokes up when they appear in cool weaher. This batch came from Nichols Farm, in Marengo, IL, which sells two varieties–teeny red, and larger white–of the chokes at the Greencity Market. I’ve only tried the white (larger means easier to peel) but the Nichols say the red ones taste about the same.


Boston Baked Beans & Brown Bread Baked in a Can

Despite the unfortunate  Phaseolus vulgaris moniker—the American Common Bean category includes bunches of beloved, native-to-the-Americas beans: navy, red kidney, pinto, great northern, marrow, & yellow eye, plus garden variety edible-pod beans (string, stringless and snap.) It’s not clear which of these the New England colonists first stewed in a pot, but we do know baked navy beans started with Native Americans. The Narragansett, Penobscot, and Iroiquois wrapped navy beans in deerskins—or put them in earthenware pots, along with venison, bear fat and maple syrup and then baked the lot in hot-stone-lined pits. Puritans eschewed the deerskins, but took to bean-pot cookery because the long, slow cook times meant housewives could prepare the beans a day ahead, and in so doing, stick to Puritanical no-cooking-on-Sabbath rules.

Eventually molasses–the sticky-sweet sugar-refining byproduct used to make rum in colonial Boston, found its way into the beanpot, sealing the beans-and-Boston partnership that lasted long after no-cooking-on-Sabbath waned.

Molasses was also used to make brown bread, itself an adaptive-use product Colonists created due to the shortage of wheat flour. Wheat didn’t grow well in the Colonies, but rye and corn did. So to stretch what wheat they had, the Colonists created “thirded” breads–made with equal parts corn, rye and wheat flour. Earliest examples of the resulting loaves were yeast-raised and less sweet, but sometime later in the 19th century, the pudding-like practice of sweetening the bread with raisins and more molasses and steaming it in a mold, became common.

This recipe for Boston Brown Bread, a slight update on Cheryl & Bill Jamison’s version in their 1999 classic, American Home Cooking, is very similar to the Boston Brown Bread published in the 1896 Boston Cooking School Cook Book.  It has all of the same ingredients, save two. What makes it different/better is the addition of an egg, and, substitution of cooking oil for 1 cup of the sour milk (buttermilk here.) It’s astonishing that such a hearty grain trio–rye, coarsely-ground corn, and whole wheat–yields such a moist, tender and flavorful loaf! But putting those dry ingredients with molasses, baking soda and buttermilk works food-chemistry magic: The finished bread most closely resembles the best bran muffin you ever had.

Our recipe for Boston Baked Beans is a standard we’ve used for years–source indeterminable, although it matches most of the recipes we have here in multiple vintage cookbooks. We do include some ginger in it, which enhances the dry-mustard spice in the mix. (You already know I love ginger...)

The biggest challenge you’ll have with either of these recipes is that they take time. For best results with the beans, you’ll need to soak them overnight and then slow-bake them in the oven for 7 or 8 hours (cut that to 5 to 6 if you have a convection oven.) And it will take you a good hour-and-one-half or more to steam the bread. The results are worth it!


Embers One-Pound Pork Chop

The recession took a heavy toll on Michigan restaurants. The Embers, a long-time stalwart in Mt. Pleasant, MI, didn’t survive. One of our readers asked us to find and feature their signature dish: meaty, saucy pork chops that weighed a full pound each.  Since publishing this recipe, we’ve been pleased to hear from several longtime Embers fans. One of them, John Strahl, shared the following tip from former restaurant owner, Clarence Tuma: “Mr. Tuma recommended putting the cooked chops on a charcoal grill, with the grill as high as possible over the coals, and let them cook slowly for not more than 15 minutes to pick up the smoky charcoal flavor.” Duly noted–very tasty.