The last paragraph was repeated and cooking instructions were dropped from last week's Gooey Butter Cake. Here is the correct recipe. GOOEY BUTTER CAKE (Makes 2 cakes) For the sweet dough: 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup hydrogenated vegatable shortening 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 cake yeast 1/2 cup warm milk 2 1/2 cups flour 1 tablespoon vanilla For gooey butter: 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1 cup butter, softened Dash salt 1 egg 1/4 cup white corn syrup 2 1/4 cups flour 1/4 cup water 1 tablespoon vanilla Confectioners' sugar Prepare sweet dough by mixing sugar with shortening and salt. Add egg and beat with electric mixer 1 minute until well blended. Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add flour, then milk-yeast mixture and vanilla to sweet dough batter. Mix 3 minutes with dough hook. Turn dough out on floured board and knead for 1 minute. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel and set in warm place to rise for 1 hour. Prepare gooey butter by combining sugar, butter and salt. Add egg and corn syrup. Mix enough to incorporte. Add flour, water and vanilla. Divide dough into 2 pieces. Place in 2 well-greased 9-by-9-by-2-inch pans. Crimp edges half way up side of pans so gooey butter will not run out underneath. After dough is spread out, punch holes in dough with fork (to keep dough from bubbling when baking). Divide gooey butter into 2 equal parts. Spread over dough in each pan. Let cake stand for 20 minutes. Then bake in a 375-degree oven for 30 minutes. Don not overbake; the batter will not be gooey if cakes are overbaked. After cakes are cool, sprinkle tops with confectioners' sugar.
The 1904 World's Fair -- properly known as the Louisiana Purchase Exposition -- is alive and well in St. Louis. Its tales are retold, its myths have grown until nearly anything that is good to eat is said to have originated at one of its pavilions. Were Mark Twain still writing, he'd no doubt be grounded on the St. Louis banks of the Mississippi, drinking iced tea and spinning yarns about how it was invented at the St. Louis Fair. i
One suspects the list grows each year, but as of right now the fair is credited with (in addition to iced tea) the ice cream cone, the hot dog, the hamburger on a bun and puffed rice. No matter that others have proven earlier origins of half of these foods, St. Louis still claims them . . .so they said at the annual Food News Forum of the Newspaper Food Editors and Writers Association held there early this month. St. Louis spread its tablecloths and opened its kitchens to over 50 food journalists from Oregon to Florida (including one from New Zealand), introducing them to toasted ravioli (actually fried), gooey butter cake (more gummy than gooey) and other local specialties that have -- some for good reason -- rarely made their way beyond the city limits.
In a futile attempt to separate fact from myth, one is left with a few culinary certainties: St. Louis is home to the world's largest brewery, Anheuser-Busch. It produces the best commercial prosciutto in the United States, from John Volpi & Co. It claims the first pasteurized milk and the first peanut butter, and presumes to be the third-best restaurant city in the U.S. after San Francisco and New York.
There it goes too far.
It is, however, the site of the only floating McDonald's -- a replica of a Mississippi riverboat, its staff dressed in period costumes. Anything would taste good from the folding wooden chairs of that upper deck. And it is the location of the architecturally revered Spanish Pavilion, now the base of a Marriott hotel.
So St. Louis remains full of culinary surprises. The worst of the week for the food editors was an ice cream sandwich made of tofu "ice cream"; the best was fried catfish, the moistest fish and crispest, lightest coating a deep fryer could hope to produce.
Despite a restaurant boom, from the plushness of Anthony's to the simplicity of an all-dessert cafe called Cookies, Cookies & More, St. Louis is a home of home cooking.
Wherever you go, you hear about mom's food -- everybody's mom. A 300-pound cabbie attests to his mother's superiority in the kitchen. Tofu manufacturer Bob Davis states unequivocally, "My mother is the best cook in the country." Nevertheless restaurants, many of which don't take reservations, are crowded even on weekday nights.
At Cunetto House of Pasta, the line stretches two hours long. The restaurant started with two pharmacists cooking lunch in their back room and serving it to neighbors who stopped by; it now serves 27 different pastas, from the enormously popular Spaghettini Con Broccoli to the uniquely Sicilian and very pungent pasta with capers, fennel and smelts (along with St. Louis' other questionable claims, it calls this "salsa milanese"). Cunetto regulars know to ask for spiedini, which is interpreted there as chunks of veal marinated in lemon, olive oil and wine, skewered and rolled in breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley and parmesan, then charcoal grilled. Worth exporting.
The restaurants that are pure St. Louis are largely Italian, and center around Italian Hill, which is not a hill but is a neighborhood of 6,000 to 8,000 people, food factories, shops and restaurants, over 90 percent Italian. There are waiting lists to buy the houses that are largely made of 2-by-4's from -- you guessed it -- the World's Fair. Their kitchens typically have marble tables for pasta making. So ingrown is Italian Hill that inter-marriage is when a 3rd generation Lombardy Italian marries a Sicilian.
Such is Josie Collida, 75 years old and born on the street where she still lives. She cooks lunches for the pastors of St. Ambrose Church, and can turn out gnocchi with "gravy" (northern Italians call it gravy; southern Italians call it sauce) as fast as a food editor can take notes -- which 50 or so food editors did as she demonstrated in the church basement. Collida's gnocchi are made with -- the look of shock would have withered a tomato -- instant potatoes, but purists were humbled in the tasting.
Food editors combed the hill, learning the difference between the bread of Sicily (with shortening) and Lombardy (without shortening), and caught the rivalries in the distinctions: Pete Vitale of Vitale Bakery -- Sicilian -- says of Amaghetti's Lombardy bread, "If you buy it today you got to grind it up for breadcrumbs tomorrow." People are advised not to carry a bag from Oldani's sausage factory into Volpi's or Rumbolo's. And at R-F pasta factory, which also makes Red Cross brand, marketing director Victor Sciarrino said that although the two brands are identical, "Where Red Cross sells . . .we couldn't give R-F away," and vice versa.
This ethnic neighborhood holds tight to tradition, but tradition is not always what one expects it to be. Ernest Ravarino, president of R-F, insists that homemade pasta is not traditional, but "a new gourmet trend. You'll find somebody who says, 'My mother's been making it for 40 years,' but I don't believe it." And when Joanne Arpiani of Missouri Baking Company says, "We still do things the way they were done" in the good old days. She elaborates, "A pound cake is still a pound of margarine to a pound of flour."
But one thing never changes in the food system of St. Louis: its interdependence. The pasta factory feeds the pigs with its broken and discarded pasta. The prosciutto and salami served with the pasta come from the pigs. And Anheuser-Busch makes the beer to cool the sweat of the workers in the pasta and sausage factories. JOSIE COLLIDA'S QUICK GNOCCHI (Collida says it serves 4 Italians or 6 or more non-Italians) 1 1/2 cups instant potato flakes 1 1/2 cups boiling water 2 egg yolks, beaten 2 cups flour
Mix instant potatoes with boiling water. Add egg yolks. Gradually work in flour with your hands, starting in a bowl but switching to a floured board as the dough becomes stiff. Knead until smooth. Break off pieces of dough and roll with your hands to form long ropes of dough about 1/2-inch thick. Dip knife into flour and cut ropes into 1/2-inch lengths. When all are cut, shape them into ridged shells, using the following method: Hold a four-tined fork in your left hand. Place 1 of the 1/2-inch pieces of dough on the fork, where the tines are joined, and with the side of your right thumb over the dough and across the tines, firmly push the dough down the tines to the end of the fork. The dough will curve around your thumb in a shell shape, as the tines make ridges on the outside of the shell. Collida says it takes a magic thumb and firm pressure. The gnocchi could be cooked as they are cut, without shaping them on a fork, but the final shaping lightens them.
Gnocchi can be used immediately, frozen on a cookie sheets and then packed in a plastic bag, or dried and stored. In any case, boil them like any pasta in a large pot of salted water for about 8 minutes, until they rise to the surface. Serve with butter and grated parmesan or with tomato sauce. JOSIE COLLIDA'S TOMATO SAUCE 1 stick butter 1 small onion, chopped 8-ounce can tomato sauce 1/2 cup water 4-ounce can sliced mushrooms with their liquid
Saute onion in butter until golden. Add tomato sauce, water and mushrooms and simmer 15 minutes. Serve over gnocchi. DONNA DAVIS' TOFU BLUE CHEESE DRESSING 1 cup tofu 2 to 4 tablespoons safflower oil 1 teaspoon sea salt 4 tablespoons vinegar 1 to 2 tablespoons honey 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder Pinch black pepper 1 ounce blue cheese, crumbled (or to taste)
Blend first 7 ingredients until smooth. Use rubber scraper to aid in blending the tofu. Pour into small dish and stir in blue cheese. CUNETTO'S SPAGHETTINI CON BROCCOLI (8 servings) 2 pounds spaghettini 10 quarts water 1 quart half-and-half 1/4 pound butter 1 teaspoon mashed garlic 5 ounces fresh mushrooms 1 pound broccoli, cooked and chopped Salt and pepper to taste 1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, freshly grated
Bring water to a boil and add spaghettini. While pasta is cooking, place half-and-half, butter, garlic and mushrooms in a saucepan and simmer for 10 minutes. Add broccoli and bring to a boil. Add salt and pepper. Drain pasta and add to the sauce; bring to a boil again and cool until sauce thickens. Remove from heat and gradually add cheese to obtain a creamy consistency. Serve immediately. TOASTED RAVIOLI Frozen ravioli Milk Dry breadcrumbs Vegetable oil for deep-frying
Remove ravioli from freezer. (Do not brush away the flour that was sprinkled over it before freezing.) Pour milk into a small dish. Place breadcrumbs in another dish. Heat oil in deep-fat fryer or pot. Dip frozen ravioli in milk. (Milk will combine with flour that remains on ravioli.) Dip ravioli in breadcrumbs.Deep fry the pasta in hot oil. The squares will sink at first and rise to top of oil when done. Turn squares as they cook to promote even browning. Can be served as an hors d'oeuvres as is or with a bowl of thick tomato sauce for dipping. DOMINIC'S PAGLIA E FIENO ALLA CARLO (Straw and Grass) (6 servings) 1/2 cup butter 1/2 cup diced prosciutto ham 1 pint half-and-half 1/2 cup peas Pinch basil 1/2 pound green noodles 1/2 pound egg noodles Salt Pepper 1 cup grated parmesan cheese
In large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add prosciutto, and saute 3 to 4 minutes, until ham is slightly golden. Add half-and-half, peas and basil. Simmer 5 minutes. Set sauce aside. Cook noodles in boiling water about 6 minutes. Drain noodles and put in skillet with sauce. Blend thoroughly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and serve immediately. GOOEY BUTTER CAKE (Makes 2 cakes) For sweet dough: 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/4 cup hydrogenated vegetable shortening 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 egg 1 cake yeast 1/2 cup warm milk 2 1/2 cups flour 1 tablespoon vanilla For gooey butter: 2 1/2 cups granulated sugar 1 cup butter, softened Dash salt 1 egg 1/4 cup white corn syrup 2 1/4 cups flour 1/4 cup water 1 tablespoon vanilla Confectioners' sugar
Prepare sweet dough by mixing sugar with shortening and salt. Add egg and beat with electric mixer 1 minute until well blended. Dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add flour, then milk-yeast mixture and vanilla to sweet dough batter. Mix 3 minutes with dough hook. Turn dough out on floured board and knead for 1 minute. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
Prepare gooey butter by combining sugar, butter and salt. Add egg and corn syrup. Mix enough to incorporate. Add flour, water and vanilla.
Divide dough into 2 equal pieces. Place in 2 well-greased 9-by-9-by-2-inch pans. Crimp edges halfway up side of pans so gooey butter will not run out underneath. After dough is spread out, punch holes in dough with a fork (to keep dough from bubbling when baking.) ITALIAN CHILI (8 servings) 5 slices bacon 8 ounces Italian-style sausage links, sliced (salsicca) 1 1/2 pounds beef chuck, ground very coarse 2 medium onions, chopped (about 1 cup) 1 small green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup) 1 clove garlic, crushed 2 dried red chili peppers, crumbled 2 Mexican hot peppers (jalapenos), seeded and chopped 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 2 1/2 cups water 12-ounce can tomato paste 16-ounce can pinto beans, drained
In large saucepan or dutch oven, cook bacon until crisp; drain and crumble. Set aside. Brown sausage in same saucepan. Drain sausage, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings. Set sausage aside. In reserved drippings, brown beef, onion, green pepper and garlic. Add bacon, sausage, chili peppers, hot peppers, chili powder, salt and oregano. Stir in water and tomato paste. Bring to boiling; simmer covered 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans; simmer covered 30 minutes more.