Food & Drink: July 2023

By Abby & Kevin Tankersley

Vintage Taste

I‘m sitting in our living room on a Sunday night writing this, and as I look around, I can find exactly one piece of furniture that we bought new: a white leather sofa. Everything else in this room — three chairs, coffee table, piano, two cabinets — all had previous owners. If I take five steps and go out on the front porch, I’ll see five chairs and a table. Yep, we bought those used as well. Two of the chairs and the table — and lots of other things in our house — came from Laverty’s Antiques & Furnishings on North 18th Street. Two of the other chairs on the porch we bought at ARtieR Waco, Harold Alexander’s thrift and consignment store on Washington Avenue.

The only matching pieces of furniture we have in our house are two bookcases that we bought when we lived in Little Rock, Arkansas. They’re solid wood, have five shelves each, and live on either side of the bed in our room. The one on Abby’s side of the bed currently holds 106 books, and on the top is a vase and a picture from our wedding. The bookcase on my side contains 102 books, and on the top is a toy motorcycle that resembles the one I rode several years back; a Styrofoam cup with a birthday message from our daughter Sophie; a vase in the shape of a face; a wind turbine that is normally seen on a house rooftop; and a bowling pin. (It is, much like the rest of our house, an eclectic collection.)

And our love of second-hand things doesn’t stop at furniture. In the kitchen, we have a cabinet full of Fiestaware dishes, most of them vintage. We have spoons inherited from Abby’s grandmother; a beautiful old whisk we bought at The Cheshire Cat Antiques in Alpine; a four-drawer metal cabinet that serves as an island with an ill-fitting wooden top; and a funky textured vase that we use as a utensil holder. (The cabinet and vase are also from Laverty’s.)

Most everyone in our family loves shopping at thrift and junk stores and garage and estate sales. I’m always on the lookout for interesting books and cool art. Sophie checks out the vintage clothing, while Abby gravitates towards kitchen items. Our son Brazos is not the biggest fan of shopping, vintage or otherwise.

Abby has been a fan of Nordic Ware cake pans for years.

“They are beautiful pans that make your cakes look magical,” she said. New versions of the pans are available at stores like Williams-Sonoma, but most of them are priced around $50, and some are even costlier. So she was ecstatic when she came across two Nordic Ware pans at an estate sale held by Pat Laverty. We used those two pans to make the cakes in this month’s photo.

One thing that she’s learned while using those pans is to avoid baking a cake that contains jam or other sticky ingredients, such as the fig jam cake we made this month. Even though the pan was greased and sugared, the cake still stuck as we were trying to turn it out. If a cake is difficult to get out of the pan, simply piece it back together with a little frosting and no one will be the wiser.

Since we’re on the subject of vintage kitchen stuff, we’ve included a couple of recipes that originated at the Stork Club, a bar in New York City that was in business from 1929 to 1965. It was started by Sherman Billingsley, a bootlegger from Enid, Oklahoma. The Stork Club was frequented by politicians, movie stars and business moguls. The cocktail recipes come from “The Stork Club Bar Book,” which was published in 1946. And we’ve provided a recipe for a cool, refreshing raspberry lemonade that we’ll have while sitting on our vintage front porch chairs enjoying some cake.

The Recipes

Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake

  • 3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 15 ounces whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • Powdered sugar for dusting top of cake (optional)

Heat oven to 350. Use butter to grease a loaf pan or a 9-inch springform pan, then dust with powdered sugar. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until combined. Add the ricotta and blend until light and fluffy, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Mix in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice and mix to combine. In the same bowl, stir in the baking soda and salt. Add the flour and mix until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate all the ingredients.

Pour the batter into the prepared springform pan. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until the cake is set and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes before removing the collar and base of the pan. Cool completely on a wire rack. Dust with powdered sugar before serving and serve with a dollop of Devonshire cream. Makes about 12 servings.


Devonshire Cream

  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup powdered sugar, depending on taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Place all ingredients into a stand mixer or a bowl. Using whisk attachment or a hand mixer, whip until fluffy. Makes about 2 cups.


Fig Jam Cake with Buttermilk Glaze

For the cake:

  • Unsalted butter, softened, for greasing pan
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk, shaken well
  • 1 tablespoon hot tap water
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup fig jam
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup whole buttermilk, shaken well
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

To make the cake, heat oven to 350. Use butter to grease a 10-inch, 12-cup light-colored metal tube (angel food) pan. Dust with flour.

Sift together the flour, nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon and salt into a large bowl.

Beat the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Gradually add the sugar, beating on medium speed until mixture is thick and pale, 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add oil, beating until well combined. With mixer running on low speed, add the flour mixture alternatively with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating until just combined after each addition.

Stir together water and baking soda in a small bowl until dissolved. Add to batter with jam and vanilla. Beat on low speed until just combined. Gently fold in walnuts or pecans. Pour batter into the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert and remove cake from pan to a wire rack, and let cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

To make the glaze, stir together the sugar, cornstarch, buttermilk, butter, corn syrup, cornstarch and baking soda in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and let cool 30 minutes. Drizzle slightly warm glaze over cooled cake. Makes about 12 servings.


Alexander the Great

  • 1/2 ounce creme de cacao
  • 1/2 ounce coffee liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce fresh cream
  • 1 1/2 ounce vodka

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and shake “until cold as Siberia.” Strain into a chilled glass. Drinking more than three of these “gives the consumer a wolfish appetite.” Makes 1 drink.


Stork Club Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 3/4 ounce Triple Sec
  • 1/2 ounce tangerine juice
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 lime slice

Add gin, triple sec, tangerine juice, lime juice, orange bitters and ice cubes to a shaker. Shake for 10 to 20 seconds, or until cold. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime slice. Makes 1 drink.


Raspberry Lemonade

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3/4 cup raspberries, plus more berries for garnish if desired
  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice, from about 8 lemons
  • 4-6 cups cold water

Make a simple syrup by combining the sugar with 1 cup of water in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved, swirling the pan occasionally. Let cool completely.

Measure 3/4 cup of fresh raspberries and puree them in a blender or food processor. Push the raspberry puree through a fine mesh sieve to separate the seeds from the pulp.

Once the simple syrup has cooled, combine the raspberry puree, simple syrup and lemon juice in a large pitcher. Add cold water and stir well. The amount of water you use will depend on your taste, so add as little or as much as you want to achieve the sweet and tart balance that you prefer. Makes about 6 servings.