Dear SOS: I hope you can help me by obtaining a recipe for the absolutely delicious bran muffins served at the Rose Cafe in Venice, Calif. They're the best I've ever tasted, with an old-fashioned taste--the kind I remember as a kid.
Dear Leslie: We loved them too. They're the soft, cakey type that also would be great with raisins in them. Wouldn't they?
ROSE CAFE BRAN MUFFINS
1 1/4 cups bran
2/3 cups flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 dashes salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup molasses
Combine bran, flour, brown sugar, salt and baking soda in bowl and mix well.
Mix together egg, buttermilk, oil, honey and molasses. Stir into flour mixture until well incorporated.
Pour batter into 8 greased muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees about 25 minutes or until wood pick inserted in center comes out clean. Makes 8 muffins.
Note: Add 1/2 cup raisins to dry mixture for raisin-bran muffins.
Dear SOS: A hostess at a party I attended served a curried chicken salad that was out of this world. She refused to share the recipe. Would you have something along those lines?
Dear Janet: We sure do. How about the curried chicken salad shared with us by The Egg & The Eye near the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
THE EGG & THE EYE CURRIED CHICKEN SALAD
1 (3 1/2-pound) chicken
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup coarsely cut prunes
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup cooked or canned seedless white grapes
1/2 cup diced cantaloupe
Cook chicken in boiling salted water until tender, about 35 to 40 minutes, then drain, reserving broth for other use. Cool, then remove bones and skin and cut meat into chunks.
Combine chicken with green pepper, onion, celery, prunes, raisins, grapes, melon and Curry Dressing and toss to mix well. Chill.
Cut papayas into halves and remove seeds. Spoon chicken salad into papaya cavities and serve garnished with lettuce and tomato slices. Makes 8 servings.
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Whip cream, mayonnaise and curry to taste in blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Dear SOS: Please print a recipe for gnocchi made with instant instead of raw potatoes.
Dear Norma: To our enormous surprise, we actually have such a recipe. It was last published in 1972 and is ready for a revival now that gnocchi (a dumpling, pronounced nyo-ki) is better known to most Italian food lovers.
INSTANT POTATO GNOCCHI
1 cup water
1/2 cup butter or margarine
2 cups sifted flour
2 cups instant mashed potatoes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup grated Gruyere or Fontina cheese
Bring water and butter to boil in heavy saucepan. Add 1 cup flour all at once and stir until dough forms ball. Turn off heat. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time.
Prepare potatoes according to package directions using a little less water than is called for so potatoes are smooth but dry.
Combine potato and flour mixtures and knead in remaining 1 cup flour with salt and Parmesan cheese. Roll out on floured board about 1/2 inch thick.
Cut out gnocchi with 1/2- to 3/4-inch round cutter. Drop into simmering water for 15 minutes until gnocchi rise to surface. Remove with slotted spoon and drain. (Cook about a dozen at a time to prevent overcrowding pan.)
Arrange gnocchi in buttered baking dish. Cover with Tomato Sauce and Gruyere cheese and bake at 375 degrees until cheese melts. Makes about 10 to 12 servings.
4 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup strong bouillon
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 small onion, minced
1 bay leaf
1 sprig basil
1 sprig parsley
2 tablespoons sour cream
Combine tomatoes, bouillon, salt to taste, sugar, onion and bouquet garni of bay leaf, basil and parsley and simmer 1 hour. Remove bouquet garni. Stir in sour cream. Makes 5 cups.
Note: Anchovies, sauteed mushrooms or sliced or whole spicy sausage may be added to sauce, if desired.
Dear SOS: I would like to prepare Strufoli, the sticky pastry-confection shaped into a pyramid, which is sold at Italian bakeries. Do you have such a recipe?
Dear Mrs. R.G.: Strufoli, a Neapolitan pastry dessert made up of round pastry balls dipped in honey syrup and mounted to form a pyramid, is said to have probably originated from the Balkan/Greek honey dessert loukoumades brought to Southern Italy by settlers. Strufoli, according to one source, might derive from the Greek word stroggulos , meaning round shape. The dessert usually is served or sold at Christmastime, but makes an attractive centerpiece dessert anytime. To eat it you'll have to use a fork and spoon to pry the sticky pastry off the mounting, but that's part of the fun of Strufoli.
2 cups sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Oil for deep-frying
1 cup honey
1 tablespoon sugar