Who's the best 'In the Kitchen?'

A look back at a reporter's favorite foodies

A look back at a reporter's favorite foodies

December 26, 2009|By TIFFANY ARNOLD

As this decade nears a close, and as readers continue to request best-ofs, The Herald-Mail has compiled its list of its favorite recipes from the biweekly column, In The Kitchen, from the past few years.

In The Kitchen is a Sunday feature that profiles local, nonprofessional chefs who are "nominated" by friends, family and colleagues. The Herald-Mail interviews these local Top Chefs and runs articles with recipes in the paper.

Know someone you'd like to see featured? Call 301-791-7372 or e-mail

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy some of our favorite INK features from times past - listed in no particular order.

Hands down the best pizza I ever ate was made by Hagerstown resident John Cangemi, who was inspired to build his own wood-fired pizza grill in his backyard after visiting Italy. I trekked out to Cangemi's home in May 2009. I'm not sure I'll eat a better pizza unless I eat the same Neapolitan pizza in Italy that served as his muse.


For Herald-Mail readers, Cangemi adapted the recipe for folks using a regular kitchen oven.

Speaking of pizza, the Mason family in Hagerstown had a family tradition of grilling pizzas, instead of hotdogs and burgers for backyard gatherings.

Mike Mason was the lead dough-slinger, and is the kind of guy who grinds up his own hamburger meat. It's a simple recipe and calls for your standard backyard grill - no special equipment needed or exotic cooking instructions. Though, he doesn't use pepperoni or tomato sauce.

One of my favorite cookie recipes came from Waynesboro, Pa., resident Bonnie Baine, who submitted Salty Dawg cookies to The Herald-Mail's cookie contest in 2006, though she didn't win.

I happened to judge the contest that year and thought the cookies were awesome. Baine's cookies are cashew-filled treats dipped in milk chocolate. It's worth noting that Baine won back-to-back Herald-Mail cookie contests in 2000 and 2001.

Washington County resident Vicki Bodnar's recipe for whole-wheat pancakes stand out, partly because of their backstory and partly because they were really good pancakes.

More recently, West End resident Cheryle McCarter's blue pear tea sandwiches have made my list of favorites. I served them recently at a get-together and my guests thought the sandwiches involved much more work than they do. I should admit that I renamed them "partridge in a pear tea sandwiches" to keep with a Christmas theme. The sandwiches call for spreading blue cheese, cream cheese, sour cream and crumbled walnuts on raisin bread, then placing slices of pear on top - simple, but good.

Salty Dawgs


1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon French vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups quick-cooking oats (do not use instant oatmeal)
1 cup coarsely chopped cashews
1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt

For chocolate:

1 tablespoon of shortening
1 (12-ounce) bag of milk chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Using an electric mixer and a large bowl, cream butter and shortening, gradually adding the sugar, egg and French vanilla extract. With the mixer on low speed, stir in flour, baking powder and baking soda. By hand, mix in oats and nuts, kneading until evenly blended.

Remove half the batter from the bowl. Using a rolling pin, flatten dough to about an 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch squares and place onto a greased cookie sheet. Sprinkle half the salt lightly onto the tops of the cookies, more or less to taste. Repeat steps with the remaining batter.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.

While cookies are baking, prepare chocolate. Combine shortening and chocolate chips in a bowl. To melt, place bowl in a pot of water and heat until melted or use a double-boiler. An alternate method: Put bowl of chips and shortening in the microwave on the highest power for 1 minute. Remove and stir. Continue to heat in microwave at 15-second intervals until the chocolate has melted.

Take baked cookies and dip one end into the chocolate, covering about half of the cookie. Place dipped cookies on a cookie sheet covered in parchment paper. Chill cookies in freezer until chocolate is firm.

Makes about three dozen.

- Recipe courtesy of Bonnie Baine

True Neapolitan pizza

For the dough:

2 cups bottled water
5 cups Caputo type 00 flour
2 packages active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons fine sea salt
Cornmeal, enough to sprinkle over a pizza peel

For the toppings:

14-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, blended until smooth
2 to 3 ounces soft mozzarella cheese, sliced to about a 1/4 inch
3 tablespoons fresh extra virgin olive oil
4 to 5 leaves of fresh basil


Round pizza stone, at least 13 inches in diameter
Wooden pizza peel

To prepare the dough, heat the water in the microwave for about 40 seconds. The water should be at about 85 or 95 degrees, warm to the touch. Sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then stir to dissolve.

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