Food Columnist Judi Leaming visits Fallingwater and finds inspiration in the landmark's chefs, offering their recipes for Ham Loaf, Pecan Shortbread, Ham and Cheese Luncheon Casserole and Funny Muffins.


We’ve been on the road this past week, judging BBQ in Pennsylvania and Ohio and visiting two of our granddaughters at Cedarville University. We’ve tasted a lot of good food but I haven’t tried to make any yet! However we did stop at Fallingwater, a “vacation home” in southwestern Pennsylvania that Frank Lloyd Wright designed for the Edgar J. Kaufmann family in 1935. This very lovely and unusual home, designed by Wright to blend into the woods and waterfall surrounding the home, was donated to the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy by the Kaufmann family. Today, it is a National Historic Landmark open for all of us to experience and share.

The recipes that follow are from the collections of Elsie Henderson – who served as the Kaufmann’s “weekend cook” – and Mary Ann Moreau, a former chef at the Café at Fallingwater (where excellent food is available each day to visitors). Recipes are from “The Fallingwater Cookbook.” When you visit Fallingwater, allow time to enjoy lunch at the café.

Ham Loaf (a favorite of Edgar Kaufmann Sr.)
2 pounds ground ham
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
4 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
Coarsely ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups whole-wheat bread crumbs

Topping:
1/2 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a large bowl mix the meats with the eggs, milk and pepper. Stir in the bread crumbs. (Mixing works best when done with the hands.) Lightly pack the meat mixture evenly into two 9-x-5-inch loaf pans. In a small bowl mix the mustard and brown sugar together. Divide equally spreading half over the top of each loaf. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours. Drain the fat off and let the loaves sit for several minutes before slicing to serve. (The second loaf can be frozen before baking: line one of the loaf pans with aluminum foil. Add half the meat mixture and place it in the freezer. When the meat is frozen, remove from the pan and double-wrap securely in foil. If cooking without thawing first, add 15 to 20 minutes to the baking time.

Pecan Shortbread
2 cups unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans

To toast pecans: either heat the unchopped nuts in a non-stick skillet, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes, or place the nuts on a cookie sheet and toast in a 350-degree oven for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir at least once because the nuts will burn easily.
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and confectioners’ sugar together. Sift flour with the baking powder and salt. Stir into butter-sugar mixture. Work the chopped pecans into the dough with your hands. On a lightly floured board, roll out the dough into a rectangle 1/3-inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut dough into 2 ½-inch squares. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven to 20 to 25 minutes. The shortbread will be mostly white with lightly browned edges.

Ham and Cheese Luncheon Casserole
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1 cup light cream
5 cups peeled, sliced potatoes, partially cooked
3 cups cooked ham
4 tablespoons chopped pimiento
1/2 cup seasoned fine bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. In a large saucepan heat the shredded cheese with light cream, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is creamy. Remove from the heat. Layer the sliced potatoes with the cooked ham in a greased 9x13-inch pan. Pour the sauce over the layers and sprinkle with pimiento and seasoned bread crumbs. Cover. Bake 40 to 45 minutes. The top will be medium brown.

Funny Muffins (they rise around the edges and sink slightly in the middle)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 350-degrees. Grease 24 muffin cups. Mix the sugars, flour, salt, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger and butter in a large mixer bowl until well blended. Remove 1/2 cup and add the 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon and pecans. Set aside to use this as the crumb topping for the muffins. To the remaining batter (still in the bowl), add the baking soda, baking powder, egg and buttermilk. Mix just until the ingredients are combined. Pour spoonfuls of the batter into the greased muffin cups (about 1/2 to 3/4 full). Sprinkle the topping mixture over the tops of the muffins. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Test with a toothpick which should come out clean when muffins are fully baked.