This Fourth of July also coincides with our regularly scheduled “political” recipe Mondays. We decided to do a bonus double recipe, starting off with a quick kid-friendly sandwich:
Meet Frankie Doodle Dandy. Sitting on a blanket of American cheese, he rides in on a toasted English.
Make Frankie Doodle Dandy by splitting Swift Premium Franks. Dip into boiling water until “arm & legs” spread. Build sandwich and top with frank. Wrap in foil and grill for 10 minutes. Decorate as pictured.
Hilarious, right? Toasted English, ha ha ha! Really, this recipe appealed to me only because of the simplicity and kid-oriented design.
In any case, Frankie Doodle Dandy is being followed up with Barbara Bush’s Red White and Blue Cobbler.
Place blueberry pie filling in bottom of 8 x 8-inch glass baking pan. Spread evenly and then place the cherry pie filling on top, smoothing to edges of pan. Place in 400°F oven to heat while preparing topping.
1 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
2 cups fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries
Mix sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and add all other ingredients. Cook until thickened. Put into 8 x 8-inch Pyrex pan and keep hot in a 250°F oven while making cherry filling.
1 can sour pie cherries
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
In a saucepan, mix dry ingredients. Gradually stir in juice from canned cherries and cook until thickened, adding cherries and flavorings at the end. Smooth cherry filling over blueberry mixture. Keep hot while making topping.
The elder President Bush tends to attract a lot of nostalgia these days. He is looked back on a respectable sort of Republican leader. He was conservative, bellicose, and eventually wildly unpopular, but to nowhere near the extent his son was. His wife, Barbara, was also the most popular First Lady of the later twentieth century. Barbara Bush was a very traditional president’s wife. She had essentially no public policy role at all—nothing to do with drugs, or cancer research, or obesity. (Apparently, her official pet cause was battling illiteracy.) She was perceived as a “stay in the kitchen” type. Nobody thought she was stupid, but she was never a prominent presence in the political arena (although she was known inside the Beltway to be significantly more liberal on most social issues than her husband). She welcomed foreign leaders but did not debate with them. The Weekly World News once took an official White House publicity photo from a rose garden event and painted her solid white, claiming the pale figure was actually an alien meeting with the president.
There was a bit of debate as we were making this as to whether Barbara Bush would every really have made it. Certainly, Mrs. Bush could cook and did much of the time when her children were young, before her husband was a national political figure. However, she also famously admitted that she had not cooked at all during his twelve year as vice president and president. So there is a pretty good chance that she never actually made this dish, although she probably had it cooked up for her family.
There are two versions of the recipe, and you can make the whole thing with canned ingredients. However, since it’s peak fresh fruit season right now, we really wanted to make all of this from scratch. The farmer’s markets have been overflowing with blueberries and cherries are on sale all over the place—the perfect time for a berry-cherry cobbler. So we used fresh sweet cherries, rather than canned pitted fruit.
The two homemade filling recipes are similar, and once you’ve made it a couple times, cornstarch fruit fillings from scratch are pretty easy. Heat, stir, done!
The two layers of the fruit filling are not particularly thick, but they are gelled enough to stay (mostly) separate. (Buzz, being red-green colorblind, could not tell them apart in the final product. I barely could either.)
For the topping, I used butter instead of shortening. BECAUSE BUTTER IS DELICIOUS.
After the topping was ready, I plopped it on in little bits. It sort of had to be flicked off the fork to get it in place.
The top was nicely browned after baking for twenty-five minutes. We took it out and gave it some time to cool—just enough time to make the hot dog entree.
The little hot dog men were fun to slice up, although Buzz cut one a little two close at the waist and left the poor fellow barely holding together.
It only took a couple minutes in the boiling water for their limbs to separate.
We plopped them all in a heap, which the four-year-old thought looked absolutely hilarious.
Honestly, we weren’t quite sure how we were supposed to wrap the sandwiches in foil and “grill” them for ten minutes. So we just laid out the American cheese on the split English muffins, mounted the Frankie Doodles, and slid it under the broiler for a couple of minutes — just long enough to melt the cheese.
We added a bit of extra decoration to our little dandies: a tri-corner hat cut from a black olive, facial features of mustard, and a American flag made of pimento and parsley on the other side of the sandwich. Isn’t he adorable!
(The four-year-old, who had been anxiously awaiting his hot dog dinner, was extremely displeased with the pimento. Earlier, he had kept asking where the buns were, and it was a relief that he accepted that the “buns” were actually English muffins. He even liked the cheese. But pimento was horrifying. He cried and refused to listen when we told him that his hot dog culd have ketchup on it instead. Ultimately, he would not even come to the table and eat until the rest of us were all almost finished. He did love his dinner in the end, though. JUST LIKE I HAD SAID HE WOULD.)
While he was being obstinate, the rest of us were discovering that the Frankie Doodle Dandies were pretty tasty. There was a little tension between the hot dog and American cheese flavors, but it worked reasonably well; a little extra mustard and the pimento added some nice variety when eaten all together.
Frankie Doodle Dandy can also be decorated to represent a slightly more authentic version of Revolutionary War soldiers, if you’re a silly 9-year-old boy. And then you can amputate various injured limbs. And then your (vegetarian) sister can complain about your battlefield surgery. And then the toddler can start demanding more ketchup so his Frankie Doodle Dandy can look like that.
The point being, it’s a fun family dish.
Once we were done with the main course, it was time to get back to the cobbler, which had been sitting in the middle of the table throughout the meal. It remained pretty cohesive when we spooned it out (about as good as you are ever going to get with a cobbler), and it was really tasty. Everyone liked it, and the two different fruit flavors blended very nicely together. Several people had second helpings; it was all gone by the next morning. We had actually not bought any vanilla ice cream to provide the “white” for the recipe, but Buzz pointed out that we had a few Klondike bars in the freezer. So we cut one open, scooped out the vanilla, and laid it atop the cobbler — which only further improved the flavor. Obviously, Barbara Bush hired good people to cook for her.