Stir Crazy: Most recipes belong to the world

News-DemocratMay 5, 2014 

Several times a year I get calls from readers who are putting together cookbooks, perhaps for a church or a club. The questions are always the same: How do I give credit to the author of a recipe that is unknown to me? Do I have to give credit? Should I not use a recipe if I can't figure out who created it?

They are good questions, with pretty simple answers: If the recipe has been passed down through a variety of hands or the ingredients have been altered along the way, you really don't need to worry about tracking somebody down! It now belongs to the food world. Think about it: How could you track down the original creator of mac & cheese? Impossible.

On the other hand, we all know to give credit to Famous-Barr for its cheesecake. Same goes for Neiman-Marcus cookies. And, unless someone has specifically said you can't use a recipe, or mentions a copyright infringement, you can use a recipe with proper credit. In most cases, restaurants and chefs and food manufacturers are very happy to share recipes because they want to see their names out there!

I started thinking of this while I was chuckling over Leah Eskin's food story in the Chicago Tribune recently.

She'd discovered the recipe for an amazing chocolate sauce after much disappoint trying to make it at home herself: The recipe, she said, was "Not thin, like the canned drizzle. Not thick, like bottled fudge. Just luscious."

Where did she get it? She said it was "adapted from a recipe passed along by my friend Carbery, who got it from her sister, who picked it up on a baby-sitting job in the neighborhood."

Perfect! How many of us have said something similar! Here's the recipe.

Carbery's chocolate sauce

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup light cream

1 cup sugar

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut up

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Slide yolks into a small bowl. Whisk briefly. Keep handy.

Pour cream into a medium saucepan. Stir in sugar. Heat to a boil. Slide in both types of chocolate.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring, until smooth, about 3 minutes.

Whisk 2 tablespoons of the chocolate into the yolks. Whisk these tempered yolks back into the pan of chocolate. Cook, whisking, 1 minute. Pull pan off heat. Stir in butter.

Use a soft spatula, press sauce through a fine-mesh sieve into a clean bowl. Stir in vanilla. Lavish over ice cream. Makes about 2 cups.

Breakfast treat

Miami Herald food writer Linda Cicero says the zest and extract give the right flavor to these muffins while brushing on orange juice adds shine and holds the crunchy sugar.

The pineapple makes these muffins very moist and quick to spoil, so be sure to store them in the refrigerator or freezer.


1/2 cup pecans

1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple

2 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 egg

3/4 cup milk, plain yogurt or sour cream

1 teaspoon orange extract

1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest


1/4 cup fresh orange juice

Coarse decorator's or demerara sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees and place rack in center of oven. Spread pecans in a single layer on a cookie sheet and toast 8 minutes. Allow to cool, then chop into small pieces.

Coat a muffin tin with vegetable oil spray, or fill cups with paper liners. Drain pineapple. Increase oven heat to 375 degrees.

Whisk flour with salt and baking soda. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes).

Add the egg and beat until thoroughly blended.

Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the milk, orange extract and zest.

Stir in the flour mixture just until incorporated.

Fold in the toasted pecans and drained pineapple.

Fill prepared muffin cups 3/4 full with batter. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Remove to wire rack.

While muffins are still hot, brush tops with orange juice and sprinkle with the sugar.

Makes 16 muffins, each with 156 calories, 9 grams fat, 28 mg cholesterol, 3 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 177 mg sodium.

Here's how to reach me: Phone, 239-2664; e-mail,; or write, Suzanne Boyle, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427.

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