My friend Louise is having a Cookbook Party this month, over at her wonderful blog, Months of Edible Celebrations - and to participate, you pick a cookbook and a recipe from it that celebrates say, National Apple Month, or National Caramel Month - she lists a whole menu of them. I have chosen National Dessert Month and the pie recipe I'm featuring is from a vintage 1930s cookbook that is one of my favorites.
I've been saving this cookbook for a special occasion for a long time - and this Cookbook Party is it! So may I introduce to you a once-famous, now little-known singer called Vaughn De Leath, "the Original Radio Girl," and one of her favorite desserts - Lemon Cheese Tart.
I found Vaughn and her dessert recipe in a 1932 gem called Good Things To Eat From Out of the Air. Don't you just love that title? I keep imagining that if I use this booklet, I will be able to snap my fingers and have a delicious meal float down Out of the Air and onto the table. But of course, alas, no. It features radio celebrities who were on the air in 1932, and their favorite Good Things to Eat. All of which, by the way, contain Crisco, because the book was published by Proctor & Gamble. Who made you-know-what.
Vaughn De Leath (1894-1943) - real name Leonore Vonderlieth (her stage name was derived from her surname) - was a radio singer of the 1920s and 1930s. She specialized in 'crooning' songs (this was Bing Crosby's specialty, too). Crooning was a style used by (usually) male singers backed by a big band; and the term was not meant to be a compliment. Crooners were known for their overly sentimental, dramatic singing. She also played several instruments: ukelele, piano, banjo and guitar.
In the 1920s, De Leath was known as "The Original Radio Girl" and "The First Lady of Radio." You probably know one of her hit songs, by the way. It's called "Are You Lonesome Tonight?" - and Elvis Presley's remake was a huge hit for him in 1960, 33 years after Vaughn De Leath released the original (you can listen to her version at the end of this post). Her Lemon Cheese Tart is a sort of light cheesecake pie - just the sort of dessert to savor while playing poignant ballads:
LEMON CHEESE TART
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup cottage cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Tb cream
1 tsp grated lemon peel
1/4 cup currants
More on Vaughn De Leath here at Dismuke's Hit of the Week and here at The Virtual Victrola.