By Kyra Effren, TSB Food Writer
If you check into the background of any fine cook – or chef – you will always find a grandmother or mother or family member or friend or mentor who first instilled the love of food and cooking. In the case of Molly Jones, she is blessed many times.
We can say thank you to Mrs. Amman in 4H where Molly learned the secrets of such gems as Anadama bread and ‘bunny salad’ – collecting many ribbons from county and state fairs!
And thank you to her mother who loved to cook (but hated making three meals a day).
And also thanks to her grandmother of French-Swiss extraction who rounded out Molly’s early culinary education.
Molly says her mother would make “jelly” from anything that wasn’t “nailed down” and no meal was complete without the obligatory sauce – or gravy. She could “make something out of nothing” and was queen of casseroles and homemade soups.
Molly did not really get into cooking until she married Mike who now has a great appreciation of her skills, despite a rocky start. It seems he developed a terrible allergic reaction the first time she cooked for him. He started sweating and his cheek swelled and Molly thought she had killed him. But love and antihistamine conquered all!
Molly and Mike relocated from the east coast to McKinney in 1999 and love it here. Molly appreciates the small town feel and being able to know so many people.
Mike describes Molly as “creative.” She studied fashion design and was in the retail industry and her creativity shines through her food. She loves to entertain and will add her own personal stamp to any recipe.
The Peach and Tomato Salad came as an inspiration when she discovered the wonderful fruit and vegetables at the McKinney Farmer’s Market.
Her advice to anyone terrified of entertaining guests at home:
1. Your guests have come to see you not the house.
2. Only you know what you expected.
Following are a few delicious recipes Molly has shared.
Tomato Peach Salad
Molly’s comment: “My husband uses this like a pico on quesadillas and burgers. Friends just attack it with tortilla chips.”
4 garden-fresh medium to large tomatoes
3 orchard-fresh RIPE peaches
1 heaping teaspoon coarse sea salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
This recipe tastes best if all the ingredients are at room temperature.
Chop the tomatoes into bite size pieces. Peel and chop the peaches.
The fresh parsley is best cut with scissors into flake size pieces.
Stir together all the ingredients.
Serve at once.
4 H Chocolate Cake
Molly’s comment: “A huge favorite in our house and well received at last year’s Farmer’s Market.”
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ cup cocoa
½ cup canola oil
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in 2 cups BOILING water
[Note: It is important that the water is boiling. It will fizz like a science experiment so be sure to use a large container rather than a 2 cup measure.]
Pre Heat oven to 350.
Grease and flour a 9×9 baking dish – [Molly uses Bakers Joy flour spray].
Sift together the dry ingredients.
Add the oil and vanilla and eggs and the soda which has been dissolved in the boiling water. The batter will look like chocolate soup.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool and remove from pan
[Note: To make a 9×13 cake, double the ingredients.]
Juli’s Frosting [if you want to spoil your family!]
½ cup butter at room temp
¼ cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
With electric beater, beat all the ingredients until smooth.
Spread over cooled cake.
[Note: This makes a LOT of frosting – enough for a 9×13 cake. If you wish less frosting halve for the 9×9 cake.]
Sour Cream Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
½ cup butter at room temp
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup mashed ripe bananas
½ cup sour cream
1 cup chocolate chips
½ cup nuts [Molly prefers walnuts]
Pre heat oven to 350.
Grease and flour one large or two small loaf pans.
Cream butter and sugar until light.
Add eggs and vanilla and stir until fully incorporated.
Stir together the dry ingredients and add to the batter.
Add the mashed banana, sour cream together with the nuts and chips.
Pile into the prepared pan[s].
Bake for about one hour or until a toothpick comes out clean and the bread has started to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool.
Makes one large or two small loaves.
About the AuthorMcKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for TownSquareBuzz.com’s “Food” section. She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the “Food” section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking. She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.
Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions. What would you like to have for dinner?