Tuna Puff comes together with everyday pantry ingredients and a few eggs. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Once again, I’m riffling and shuffling through my cupboards. I don’t know about you, but cooking these days is like an episode of “Chopped” without the time constraints or the ultra-weird ingredients. I’m finding comestibles I had forgotten I had, like the last dregs of pickle relish, a lone box of Jell-O, a scant cup of sour cream and a bag of slightly stale coconut. At least I still have a stockpile of tuna, butter, flour and frozen summer strawberries. My find of the week was eggs!

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected] Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

The recipe for Tuna Puff may seem strange, but it’s really tasty. An old-school casserole from the early ’60s, this satisfying soufflé-like dish was once a mainstay on our Friday night supper table. The original recipe called for chopped olives of the green pimento-stuffed variety, but I’ve always preferred the addition of pickle relish (preferably my friend Patty’s homemade). A quarter cup of finely diced green or colored pepper is good and so are thawed peas. If you’ve used up all your canned creamed soups for other evenings of fine dining over the past few weeks, make one cup of thick white sauce and substitute that.

If you want to make this fancy, bake the mixture in individual ramekins. The “puff,” which can also be made with salmon, can also be served as a party food with crackers or toast points.

Thinking about other old-school recipes that mom used to make made me remember Strawberry Ribbon Salad. For those of you of a certain vintage, do you remember the Jell-O salads that were all the rage? We always had several boxes of Jell-O of all flavors in the cupboard. Mom had her specialties, but our absolute favorite was this one, layered in a fluted crystal bowl and brought to the table with a flourish.

And for dessert, Coconut Cake is especially good eaten warm right out of the pan with a big spoon … but let’s not allow ourselves to become too uncivilized. For now, dust off your good china dessert plates, make a good cup of coffee and celebrate life. We’ll save going completely feral for next month if the situation doesn’t get better.

Tuna Puff

2 (5-ounce) cans tuna
1 (10.5-ounce) can cream of mushroom, celery or chicken soup, divided
1 cup torn white bread
1/2 cup celery, diced
1 tablespoon onion, minced
2 heaping tablespoons sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon fresh or bottled lemon juice
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce or red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded (optional)
4 eggs, separated
1/3 cup milk (for sauce)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Drain and flake tuna. Blend half the soup with tuna then mix with all other ingredients except egg whites.

Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Fold into tuna mixture. Turn all into buttered 1.5-quart baking dish or four individual ramekins (adjust baking time). Bake for 35-45 minutes, until golden and puffed.

Mix remaining soup with milk and heat to serve as a sauce with the casserole. Yield: 4 servings

Fruity Ribbon Salad

1 (3-ounce) package strawberry Jell-O
1 cup boiling water
1 (8-ounce) package frozen strawberries
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup sour cream

Stir Jell-O into water to dissolve. Add strawberries and stir until thawed. Add pineapple, including juice. Stir in bananas. Pour half this mixture into a serving bowl and chill until set. Spoon sour cream onto Jell-O mixture and spread evenly. Pour the remaining Jell-O mixture over the sour cream and chill until completely set. Yield: 4 servings

Coconut Snack Cake

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk (1 cup milk plus 1 tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice; set for 10 minutes)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees and butter a 9-by-13-inch glass cake pan. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time then beat in vanilla. Add flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Spoon batter into pan and spread evenly.


1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup sugar
1 cup cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup cream

Combine all ingredients. Sprinkle on cake batter and bake for 35 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool on rack. Yield: 16 servings

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