June Cutchins shares recipes collected from restaurants, friends

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Photo by Ann Cipperly

By Ann Cipperly

In the afternoon, sunlight dapples across the well-decorated room from a large window overlooking rolling hills of the golf course and a lake at the home of June and Malcolm “Mac” Cutchins. June has brought in a tray of freshly made lemonade. Over sips, she reminisces of growing up on Davis Island in Tampa, FL., spending a summer in France at a champagne vineyard and working on a cookbook for the Montgomery Junior League.

Living by the lake reminds June of Davis Island, one of the loveliest areas in Tampa. Her mother was a schoolteacher and was busy raising June and her brother after their father died at a young age.

While her mother didn’t have much time to cook, June received her love of cooking from her grandmother. Her grandmother lived in Southampton, NY and spent the winter months in Palm Beach, FL. Along with cooking, her grandmother was an excellent gardener, flower arranger and seamstress. “She was an inspiration to me,” says June.

June attended Huntingdon College in Montgomery. After her first year in college, she spent the summer in France. She lived with a French family in Epernay, about a hundred miles east of Paris in the champagne region. The family has manufactured champagne and wines for generations.

When June arrived, the daughter in the family, who was her age, said she would have to speak French because the mother and brothers did not speak English. Although she had four years of French in school, June recalls that she sat in her bedroom and cried; afraid she was not going to be able to communicate well with the family. However, she did and had a once in a lifetime experience.

While living there, she traveled with the Trouillard family to visit their distributors throughout Europe.

June is sharing her favorite recipe from France, Poulet A La Moutarde, which was prepared by the family’s cook.

After graduating from Huntingdon, she taught school briefly. She then went to work at Eastwood Presbyterian Church in Montgomery.  While working there, she took classes from Dr. Peter Doyle of Opelika. Once Dr. Doyle became minister at Trinity Presbyterian in Opelika, June drove to Opelika with other class members to sit under his instruction. During that time, she became good friends with Peter and his wife Sally Ann.

While living in Montgomery, June was on the cookbook committee for the Junior League’s first cookbook, “Southern Keepsakes,” published in 1979.  The committee started working on the cookbook for two years. After members submitted their recipes, they were divided among volunteers and tested five times. June still uses many recipes from the cookbook.

June’s “go to” meal for entertaining features Grilled Salmon on a Plank. She uses a rub from Williams-Sonoma called Potlatch, which has spices used by Native Americans in the northwest. If you can’t find this rub, you can use Zatarain’s Creole Seasonings, which is available locally.

With the salmon, she serves Carrots Vichy, a recipe from the former Blue Moon Cafe in Montgomery, fresh asparagus and long grain and wild rice. The combination creates an attractive plate.

For a salad, June combines spring greens with strawberries, blueberries, walnuts and feta or bleu cheese. She serves the salad with Brianna’s home-style blush wine vinaigrette, which is available locally.

June collects recipes from restaurants. Some of her favorites are from the former Chelsea’s and the Village Tea Room that was located in Biltmore Village, Asheville, NC. One of those is the Crustless Quiche that goes together quickly and has a choice of filling combinations, including ham and Swiss, tomato and basil, among others.

Another favorite, Squash Casserole, is from Sophie Xiders, whose family owned the former Elite Cafe in Montgomery, which was very popular for many years.

June finds joy being in the kitchen cooking and enjoys cooking to share. Coach Herb Hand, offensive line coach of the Auburn University football team, lives down the street. When the coach’s wife, Debbie, was telling June about cooking for the players on Thursdays during the football season, June offered to bake Mississippi Mud Cake for dessert.

June baked the cakes six times during the last football season.  For serving, Mac chose a Bible verse, which he printed and placed on each plate next to the cake. At the last meal before going home for Christmas, the Hands invited June and Mac to meet the players, who presented them with a signed football.

Mac, who taught aerospace engineering at Auburn University for over 30 years, and June married in 2012. June has one daughter and one grandson living in Mobile, while Mac has three children and seven grandchildren living in various places across the country, including Washington state, New York, Georgia, South Carolina and Kentucky.

“We are so thankful to the Lord for giving us our home,” says June, “to share with family, friends, Mac’s former students, our church family for various events and to provide a getaway for those involved in ministries. It is a sweet blessing, and we  (and they) call it our ‘B&B!’

“I love living here and meeting new people,” adds June. “I was living in Montgomery trusting the Lord. God had a plan. It really takes my breath away.”

Ann Cipperly can be contacted at recipes@cipperly.com.

Recipes:

Mint Tea Punch
5 cups boiling water
5 regular-size tea bags
8 mint sprigs, crushed
1 cup sugar
1 (12 oz.) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed, undiluted
1 (12 oz.) can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed, undiluted
6 3/4 cups water
Garnishes: fresh mint sprigs, lemon slices
Pour 5 cups boiling water over tea bags; add mint sprigs. Cover and steep 5 minutes. Stir in sugar; steep 5 more minutes.
Remove tea bags. Pour tea through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a large pitcher, discarding mint sprigs. Stir in concentrates and 6 3/4 cups water.
Chill. Serve over ice. Garnish, if desired. Makes 3 ½ quarts.

Chelsea’s Crustless Quiche
From former Chelsea’s and the Village Tea Room, Biltmore Village, Asheville, NC
6 eggs
1 can cream of celery soup
2 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 cup provolone cheese, grated
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups cooked quiche filling (choice of ham and Swiss; tomato and basil; feta and spinach; or onion and bacon
Preheat oven to 350. Beat eggs in a mixing bowl with a wire whisk until well combined. Add other ingredients along with filling of choice and combine well.
Spray a high-rimmed pie dish/quiche pan with cooking spray. Pour in quiche mixture. Bake for 1 hour or until the quiche is set on top.
Remove from the oven. Cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Serve hot.

Mocha Cakes
From former Blue Moon Cafe, Montgomery
1 angel food cake
Toasted, chopped or ground peanuts, husks removed
Mocha Icing, recipe follows
Cut angel food cake into squares, removing the soft brown crust. With a metal spatula, generously ice cakes on 4 sides with Mocha Icing. Roll in toasted, chopped or coarsely ground peanuts (better if you toast large shelled peanuts). These are also good rolled in ground toasted almonds.
Mocha Icing:
1 Tbsp. instant coffee
1 Tbsp. cool water
2 sticks butter, softened
1-lb. box 10X confectioner’s sugar
Dissolve coffee in cool water. Cream butter until light and fluffy.  Add sugar in small amounts, beating well after each addition. When half the sugar has been added, mix in small amounts of the coffee alternately with the remaining sugar. Continue beating until very fluffy. Makes 24 cakes.

Sophie Xides’ Squash Casserole
From former Elite Café, Montgomery
1 stick margarine
1 pkg. Pepperidge Farm stuffing (blue label
2 medium carrots, coarsely grated
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1 small jar pimento
6 large yellow squash, cooked and chopped
Melt margarine and stir in stuffing. Line 3-quart casserole dish with mixture, saving some for topping.
Combine all other ingredients. Put in casserole and top with remaining crumbs. Bake uncovered, 350 degrees, for 30 minutes. Makes 8 servings.

Cheese Spread with Pecans
From former Blue Moon Café, Montgomery
2 cups grated sharp New York State cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped stuffed olives
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup chili sauce
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
Combine ingredients, mixing well. Chill until ready to serve. Use for making sandwiches or put in a mold and served with cocktail crackers.

Grilled Salmon on a Plank
This is good served with long grain and wild rice or on angel hair pasta nests (tossed with olive oil and minced garlic).
Cedar planks, soaked in water
Whole salmon, filleted
Olive oil and lemon juice
William-Sonoma Potlatch Salmon/Seafood Spice Rub or
Zatarain’s Creole Seasoning
Ground black pepper
Dill weed
Lemon slices
Soak cedar plank or planks in water for up to 3 hours. Then place salmon fillets on planks in shallow baking pan and sprinkle with olive oil, lemon juice, seasonings of choice, dill weed and top with thin slices of lemon.
Have the grill hot (400-450 degrees). Place planks with salmon on grill, cover, and cook for about 20 minutes (be checking to monitor degree of doneness). You do not have to turn salmon during cooking process.
*Can also put the salmon/planks in the oven and cover with aluminum foil and bake.

Carrots Vichy
From former Blue Moon Café, Montgomery
1 cup chicken stock
3 cups sliced/julienne carrots
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. chopped chives or parsley
In heavy saucepan, bring stock to boil. Add other ingredients, except parsley or chives. Cover and cook slowly until stock evaporates and carrots are done.
Stir carrots in butter to brown lightly. Sprinkle with chives or parsley before serving. Makes 6 servings.

Poulet A La Moutarde
From the Trouillards of Epernay, France
1 large whole Chicken
Minced clove of garlic
1 (8-oz.) pkg. cream cheese
Green pepper
2 jars Dijon mustard, divided
Olive oil
Salt, pepper, cayenne
Butter, softened
Heavy cream
1 pkg. fresh tarragon sprigs
1 cup rice
Process 1 jar Dijon mustard and 2 sprigs fresh tarragon until smooth. Mix cream cheese with 3 Tbsp. of the processed tarragon/mustard mixture. Add salt, pepper and several sprigs fresh tarragon. Stuff chicken with this mixture.
To prepare the rub: Mix 4 Tbsp. of the processed tarragon/mustard with 1/2 cup softened butter (must be perfectly smooth). Add salt, pepper and cayenne. Smear the chicken with this mixture (wrap in bacon – optional).
Bake at 350, uncovered, 11/4-1 1/2 hours, basting often. When finished cooking, remove from baking dish and set aside (should be golden brown). Sauté minced garlic and green pepper in olive oil and set aside.
Cook rice in salted boiling water (can adjust amount to number to be served).
To prepare the sauce: Mix 3 Tbsp. tarragon/mustard mixture with 4-5 Tbsp. heavy cream in the same baking dish used to cook chicken (chicken removed).
Combine juices from roasted chicken and mustard/cream mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve roasted chicken on bed of rice trimmed with peppers/garlic and cream sauce.

Mississippi Mud Cake
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup water
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 bag miniature marshmallows
Frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter. softened
3 Tbsp. cocoa
6 Tbsp. milk
1 lb. box confectioner’s sugar
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350. Grease and flour a
13 by 9-inch baking pan.
Combine sugar, salt and flour in a large mixing bowl. Bring butter, oil, cocoa, and 1/4 cup water to a boil in a saucepan. Add to the flour mixture.
Beat together eggs, baking soda, buttermilk and vanilla. Add to chocolate mixture, mix well, and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 25 minutes.
While cake is baking, make frosting by melting butter in cocoa and milk over low heat.
Bring mixture to a boil, then remove from heat. Stir in confectioner’s sugar. Slowly mix in nuts and vanilla.
Take cake from oven. When it cools a little, cover with miniature marshmallows. Pour warm icing over cake and marshmallows. Cool cake before serving.

Williamsburg Lodge Crabmeat Salad
1 lb. backfin crabmeat
1 cup celery, diced
Few drops of Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. French Dressing, recipe follows
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. salt/dash white pepper
Avocados, halved (seed removed)
Pick over crabmeat and discard any bits of shell or cartilage. Combine crabmeat and celery.
Mix remaining ingredients together (except avocado) and pour over crabmeat. Mix gently to avoid breaking lumps of crabmeat.
Place a scoop of crabmeat mixture on each avocado half.
French Dressing:
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp. wine vinegar
6 Tbsp. virgin olive oil
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Mix dry ingredients in a jar. Add vinegar; cover and allow to steep a few minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Makes 4 serving.

Favorite Blueberry Pie
Line 9-inch pie plate with pastry. Combine 4 cups blueberries with 3/4-1 cup sugar (Florida Crystals), 3 Tbsp. flour (almond flour), 1/2 tsp. grated lemon peel and a dash of salt. Add 1/2 tsp. each cinnamon and nutmeg.
Fill pie shell with mixture. Sprinkle with 1-2 tsp. lemon juice; dot with 1 Tbsp. butter.
It is pretty to make a lattice crust on top and place small cut out leaves around the edges.
Bake in hot pre-heated oven (400 degrees) for 35-40 minutes. Serve warm. Top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream, if desired.

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