Dear SOS: I want you to do something for me. Write to caterer Nicole Cottrell and get that terrific recipe for poppy seed-lime torte topped with Swiss meringue she served at a reception. And if anyone wants to know who's asking, tell 'em it's for the boss.
Dear Boss: On the double. NICOLE COTTRELL'S POPPY SEED-LIME TORTE WITH SWISS MERINGUE
6 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, separated
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sifted flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Lime Curd Filling
3 small limes, peeled and sectioned
Mix poppy seeds, buttermilk and sour cream. Mix and let stand 1 hour.
Cream butter and sugar. Add yolks until well blended. Add vanilla. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Alternating creamed mixture and flour mixture, fold into poppy seed melange until well mixed.
Whip egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold whites into batter. Pour into 8x5-inch loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees about 1 hour or until cake springs back when lightly touched.
To assemble, slice loaf horizontally into 3 equal layers. Remove membrane and outer skins from lime sections. Thinly slice lime sections. Spread Lime Curd Filling generously on bottom layer and scatter sectioned limes over curd. Top with second cake layer and repeat filling. Top with third cake layer.
Cake may be refrigerated at this point up to 2 days. Spread Meringue evenly over top and sides of cake, adding swirling pattern with spatula, if desired. Brown under broiler. Makes 1 loaf cake. Lime Curd Filling
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of 2 limes
Peel of 1 lime
Melt butter in saucepan. Beat in egg, egg yolk, sugar, lime juice and lime peel. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until thickened to curd consistency. Meringue
4 egg whites
10 tablespoons sugar
Place egg whites, sugar and salt in top of double boiler. Place over hot, not boiling, water and whisk until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and beat until egg whites are stiff and glossy, 4 to 6 minutes.
Dear SOS: I need a recipe for sugared nuts like the ones you buy--at great expense--in stores. Can you help?
Dear Charlotte: Say sugar, please. SUGARED AND SPICED NUTS
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 pound pecan or walnut halves, or half a pound of each
2/3 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
Arrange 1 shelf in lower third and 1 in upper third of oven. Whisk egg white and water until foamy. Stir in nuts and mix well. Pour into sieve and drain 3 minutes.
Combine sugar, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and coriander in paper bag. Gather at neck and shake bag to mix spices. Add drained nuts and shake bag vigorously to coat with sugar and spices.
Spread nuts on 2 baking sheets, making sure nuts do not touch. Bake at 250 degrees 15 minutes, then stir. Spread out again. Lower oven temperature to 225 degrees and continue to bake, stirring occasionally, until well dried and crisp, about 1 1/4 hours longer.( At midpoint, switch shelf positions of 2 pans.) Turn off oven and let nuts cool with oven door open. Store completely cooled nuts in airtight containers. Makes about 1 1/2 pounds.
Dear SOS: I would love the recipe for the Bullock's Popovers served in the Bullock's tearoom. I understand it has been printed before, but I missed it.
Dear Margaret: Ah, you've hit on a favorite of favorites. And one that has been in our file since 1982. BULLOCK'S POPOVERS
2 cups milk
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
Beat eggs in bowl. Beat in milk until blended. Combine flour and salt. Work butter into flour mixture. Gradually add flour mixture to egg mixture and blend well. Fill 8 well-greased custard cups. Place on baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees about 1 hour or until golden. Makes 8 popovers.
Note: If using new custard cups, season to prevent sticking. Cups should be greased and placed in hot oven 30 minutes. Remove grease and re-grease cups before using.
Dear SOS: Could you please reprint the recipe for Chicken Champagne. It's a family favorite and I've lost my copies.
Dear Mary: Here is one of many versions, which can be prepared ahead and reheated in a chafing dish for a holiday party. CHICKEN CHAMPAGNE
12 chicken breast halves
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cups dry Champagne or chicken broth
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 pint sour cream
4 egg yolks, beaten
Coat chicken with flour. Heat butter and oil in large skillet. Add chicken, skin side down, and onion. Cook until chicken and onion are golden brown, turning chicken once. Add Champagne, salt and white pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes or until chicken is tender.
Remove chicken to heat-proof serving dish. Stir sour cream into Champagne mixture. Remove some sour cream mixture and stir into beaten egg yolks. Stir into remaining sour cream mixture in skillet and cook and stir over low heat until thickened slightly. Do not let mixture boil. Makes 6 servings.
Dear SOS: I've misplaced and have searched high and low for my recipe for a Galliano-style liqueur.
Dear Sally: Merry Christmas. Many years ago, a reader sent us her version of the recipe for the liqueur, made with Strega. SUSAN'S GALLIANO-TYPE LIQUEUR
4 cups sugar
2 cups water
2 cups 100-proof vodka
1 (1/2-ounce) bottle Strega extract
Dash yellow food color
Combine sugar and water; cook until syrupy. Cool. Add vodka, Strega and food color and mix well. Place in glass jar or bottle and let stand 30 days before using. Makes 2 (fifth) bottles.
Note: Strega extract is generally available at Italian import grocery stores.