Here are a dozen places to visit in Downtown/Strip District, East End, South Side and South Hills for the best tacos in Pittsburgh.
Re: "Chipped ham BBQ evokes memories, more recipes" in FoodFeedback, Food & Flavor, Nov. 29 :
My barbecue recipe was passed on to me in 1947 by a girl (Adamae) with whom I worked at the Farmers Deposit National Bank at Fifth and Wood streets in Pittsburgh, and we have been enjoying those barbecues ever since.
Our Isaly's was in the Northway Mall from the 1950s on, and their chipped ham became a barbecue staple at our table. They used Sugardale pressed ham for chipping, and there was no substituting for quality and taste.
There was an element of fun in buying the ham there, as well. The deli counter was manned by two young fellows. I would approach the meat case and ask (as did others), "May I see the ham today?" Invariably, the fellow would turn to the other and politely say, "Would you like the honor of showing the ham today?" One would then take the block of pressed ham from the meat case and hold it out for me to see. Of course, it was perfect.
We relocated from Pittsburgh to Atlanta for a few years during the 1960s and discovered that chipped ham was not local fare. My folks always brought some for us from Isaly's when they visited. (They also brought a Victory Brand braunschweiger from the North Side Packing Company.) Ahhhhh! Home sweet home!
CHIPPED HAM BBQ
1/2 bottle Heinz catsup (14-ounce glass bottle)
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon clear jelly [grape or apple]
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
Dash of salt and pepper
Mix ingredients in a saucepan and heat until smooth and hot. Add 1 pound of chipped ham.
How sweet it is.
When we travel home to Pittsburgh during the holidays, we always bring a cooler of chipped ham home to Connecticut (they never heard of it here). I sprinkle the chipped ham with a little sugar, fry it lightly, add Heinz chili sauce and a little water and simmer a few minutes. Then mix in Heinz relish to taste. Serve on the round Italian rolls from Giant Eagle. (There are no Giant Eagles here. either). You can take the girl out of Pittsburgh, but you can't take Pittsburgh out of the girl.
P.S.: Since we are going down memory lane, would you happen to know of a recipe from an old bakery that used to be in Bloomfield (maybe in the '50s/'60s/'70s?). The bakery was called "Light's" and they made a pastry called "Sombreros." It was flaky, with cinnamon, and shaped like the hat, and also had a drizzle of icing on the top.
It's amazing how a particular food will last in your memory if there are happy memories associated with it.
Old Saybrook, Conn.
The smell of wintergreen
Your article today ["Here's an old-school green taste of winter" by Bob Batz Jr., Food & Flavor, Dec. 6] reminded me of a recipe my mother used for similar fondant candies. It would be from the '50s.
3 cups granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
1 cup water
Flavorings and colorings
Combine ingredients and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Cover pan and cook until the soft-ball stage. Pour on platter rinsed with cold water. Let stand until lukewarm and beat with wooden spoon until creamy. Knead with hands until smooth. Refrigerate.
Melt the fondant in top part of double boiler, add flavor and coloring. Drop on wax paper from teaspoon.
Spearmint -- green, peppermint -- white, and wintergreen -- pink.
As I remember, these were hard to make. The difficulty was in beating the syrupy stuff. I made them a couple of times after I was married, trying to carry on traditions. That went by the wayside quickly.
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