We all have memories of food, say, those of childhood triggered by the aroma of baking bread or roasting lamb spiced with Syrian pepper. Many are connected to holidays, but not always. I have had several readers write to me regarding a food memory, such as the gentleman returning to Lawrence to attend his high school reunion; while there wanted to locate the store to which he and his mother would walk to buy homemade tomato sausages for Saturday night supper. There was the veteran who wrote of his vivid memory of a pasta dish eaten while stationed in Germany; he wanted to try to re-create that dish. A woman wrote looking for a recipe for coconut cream pie, which she remembered her mother cooking from scratch, not using a pudding.
This past week I received a very interesting note from a gentleman in Michigan who wanted to find a recipe for a salad made famous by Mama Leone’s restaurant in New York. Following is Dennis’s note which will explain his request, and how I became involved. I might add that I love to read of these memories, and love the challenge and pleasure I get from the search and solving the “mystery.”
Hello Ms. Altomare,
When searching on the Internet, I found your name/address from an article you wrote last year, for a newspaper, about the famous Mama Leone’s restaurant. Unfortunately I never did dine there, but I believe my parents must have. I wonder if you would, by chance, have the recipe for their famous salad. My mother used to make it back in the late ’50s. I have raved about it to my wife, as did my mother, as a wonderful salad that she has missed out on. My best recollection of the ingredients is radishes, anchovy, endive, lettuce and tomato, but it is a faint memory. I’ll cross my fingers that this might be enough to solve this mystery. I grew up in Washington, D.C, in the ’50s/’60s. Neither my mother nor I can remember how to make it.
Might you have the recipe? If not, where I could find it? I have looked all over the internet.
Dennis K. – Michigan
I replied to Dennis’s note explaining that I have a copy of the cookbook that her son, Gene Leone, wrote in 1967 containing most of his mother’s recipes from her personal kitchen and her famous restaurant. In the salad section was written this paragraph:
“Created by her in her modest small kitchen in her own home, while dreaming of one day when she would open her own little restaurant, Mother’s antipasto with shrimps and her special sauce became the toast of connoisseurs, world-famed celebrities and literally millions of friends and diners who graces Leone’s Restaurant during the past half century.”
So it appears to me that this antipasto with shrimp and sauce may be the famous salad that Dennis’s mother used to make back in the 1950s. If not, we all can treat ourselves and make this anytime for our families and friends, and enjoy an obviously great Italian shrimp antipasto.
Mama Leone’s Antipasto Supreme with Shrimp
6 slices Italian salami, 1/4 inch thick
1 large green, red or yellow pepper
16 to 18 jumbo shrimps, cooked
2 celery stalks with leaves, diced
6 whole fresh green scallions, diced
3 hard-cooked eggs, quartered
3 medium-sized hard tomatoes, quartered
Pinch of salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
6 heaping tablespoons of Shrimp Sauce (recipe follows)
Cut the salami into strips 11/4 inches long, and slice the peppers into long thin strips. Place in a large bowl with shrimps, diced celery and scallions; refrigerate. Refrigerate eggs and tomatoes separately. When ready to serve, add salt and pepper to shrimp mixture and toss. Serve on a bed of endive and greens that have been dotted with a few anchovies. Arrange eggs and tomatoes over top. Spoon Shrimp Sauce over all.
A simple but delicious sauce, always homemade using olive oil, by Mrs. Leone or her staff.
Makes about 2 cups
2 whole green scallions or 1 tablespoon grated sweet onion
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh green or red pepper
2 tablespoons Spanish capers, chopped fine
2 tablespoons prepared horse-radish
1 cup mayonnaise, regular or light
1/2 cup chili sauce
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, mashed
Slice scallions lengthwise and chop fine, or grate the sweet onion. Place scallions or onion, green or red pepper, capers and horseradish in a strainer and drain for 15 minutes. Combine mayonnaise and chili sauce in a bowl. Add red and black pepper, salt and garlic. Whip together with a whisk. Add drained ingredients and beat or mix well. Taste for salt. Refrigerate.
Use over shrimps, crabmeat, or cold lobster.
Good to hear from you
You had a couple of really good tips with the asparagus. My sister-in-law always cooked hers in the oven, but I had never tried it. After I saw your recipe for roasting asparagus I tried it and it was delicious. My husband and son loved it. On my way home from work I stopped and bought fontina cheese, which I had never tasted, and the next day we had the leftover asparagus on toasted Italian bread with the cheese melted on top; it was delicious! My husband said a winner. Just thought I would take a minute and let you know when something is good.
Rosalyn M., Bradford
Thanks Rosalyn for taking the time to let me know; asparagus is a favorite of mine cooked many ways. I’m glad you had a chance to try fontina cheese.
I have read your column for several years now. I was in the store yesterday and saw lots of rhubarb. I know you have had some good rhubarb recipes the past couple of years. I am looking for a rhubarb cookie recipe if you have one.
I do have one that I will get out to you right away. And because so many readers are always looking for different rhubarb recipes at this time of year, send me any that you think others may like.
My nephew and his family live in Nome, Alaska. My husband and I loved your story about how they got pizza delivered. I have sent it to my nephew. It was interesting.
Ron and Marilyn
Patricia Altomare invites your letters. Write to her at email@example.com.