Reader Diane Merrick of Munster was very happy on Monday to get some recipe help.
"For years, we've enjoyed your Aunt Wanda's sauerkraut recipe, especially during the holidays," Merrick said when she called my desk.
"And now, I've lost the recipe I clipped out of the newspaper from one of your columns from about 10 years ago."
I read her the recipe from my first cookbook in 2004 and now sauerkraut is back on the Merrick family menu.
A column I wrote last month to help a reader locate recipes from region restaurant claim-to-fame Phil Smidt & Son also prompted a letter from reader Barbara Mclaughlin of Hobart, which I'm also happy to answer.
"Dear Phil: I am really disappointed in the way you handled the Taste of Home Contest. I sent in my recipe for Picnic Pork Chops for the recipe cook-off. I did receive an email that my recipe was received and it also stated I would receive another email telling me who the winners were. I never received that email or any notification after that. I was going to let that go and forget about until I read your Nov. 7 food column in the Food Section of The Times. I can't believe that you would not print your recipe for the recreation of Phil Smidt's Green Tartar Sauce for your readers, instead only trying to sell cookbooks! That really put the frosting on the cake and I just wanted to let you know how I felt about this situation. Yours truly, Barbara Mclaughlin."
Thank you for reading The Times Barbara and taking the time to write me. Your letter and question will benefit other readers as well. The Taste of Home recipe contest is an independent venture run by Taste of Home magazine, so any questions should be directed to them. I'm guessing you might have connected me to this contest only because for three years (until October 2011), The Times hosted a cooking show event with Taste of Home that included me as an emcee.
As for your recipe question, just as I helped reader Diane, mentioned earlier, and the other readers who call me weekly in recipe need, I'm always happy to help. And for anyone who calls, rather than mention cookbooks, know that my first option (and I noted you have an email and online access) is always to remind that our Times online edition at nwi.com has the complete archive of all my columns and recipes. A second option I always provide is that all of our local libraries have all three of my cookbooks as part of the their permanent collection.
Please know the only reason I don't reprint recipes in my column is that if I did this for the requests received on a weekly basis, there would never be any new or fresh recipes. Also, my food editors have stood by a solid policy of assuring that each of my columns are new rather than "recycled." This began with my very first editor, Sharon Rocchio, who I recall would be particularly perturbed when she found syndicated advice columnist Ann Landers at times reprinting a week's worth of what she called "my favorite columns from the past" because "she was on vacation for the week." To quote my former editor Sharon: "But we are paying for new columns to run!" (I've only ever reprinted two recipes in my column during its 10 years, and those were in tribute to the passing of my Auntie Judy, who gave me the first recipe I ever published in this weekly feature, and the passing of my good friend Irene Jakubowski.)
Barbara, know that I've mailed you a copy of the requested tartar sauce recipe, which you're sure to want to go with this week's featured recipe, which is both "new" and "old."
After reading the same November column Barbara refers to, reader Bill Willett of Crown Point was kind enough to send me the original recipe for Phil Smidt & Sons Famous Frog Legs, which was a Hammond restaurant landmark from 1910 until it closed in 2007.
"I read your From The Farm column in which you asked if anyone had the recipe for the Phil Smidt's frog legs. I have attached the recipe which I got a number of years ago. I have never tried the recipe. It is hard to find the small frog legs that Phil Smidt's served. I have also attached a picture that was included with the recipes. Like you and your readers, I miss Phil Smidt's restaurant. Thank you, Bill Willett"
Thank you Bill, and also readers Diane and Barbara, and a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you, and all Times Readers!
Phil Smidt & Son Famous Frog Legs
Butter-flavored cooking oil
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons potato flour (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons seasoned salt
2 pounds frog legs, the smaller the better
DIRECTIONS: Pour 1 inch of oil into a cast iron skillet and heat to 375 degrees over high heat. Mix flours and seasoned salt in a shallow dish. Place (rinsed) frog legs in flour mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off any excess. Fry in hot oil, turning once, until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Season with salt to taste. Serve with green tartar sauce. Makes 8 servings.