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Bill Knapp's Recipes

From: C.
Subject: Bill Knapps
Date: Saturday, May 04, 2013 5:20 PM

I worked in the Kitchen at two different Bill Knapps restaurants in the  
80's and 90's. I was a manager there during the Listeria outbreak. The  
chicken marinade seems about right but I think there is something missing. I am  
going to contact a couple other old cooks and see what they say. The au 
gratin  potatoes recipe has the paprika in the mix but paprika was put on top 
just  before baking. The company used a fish sauce on all of their broiled fish 
 that is basically mayo and lawery's season salt. They also used something 
called  scampi butter. Its basically melted butter with oregano, basil, 
rosemary and  thyme. It was used for broiled scallops and shrimp scampi and it 
was also used  to make garlic toast. They had an Acapulco dressing made up of 
salsa and ranch.  The BBQ sauce was equal parts cattlemans and open pit. 
The sauce for the crab  cakes was grey poupon country dijon, mayo and just a 
little horse radish.

Hello C.,

Thanks for writing. I have gotten lots of requests over the years for Bill Knapp’s recipes. A lot of people really miss Bill Knapp’s. These are the recipes that folks have requested but that I have had no success finding either the recipe or a copycat. It would be great if you can help with them:

  • Broiled Scrod
  • California Mushroom Salad
  • Chicken Fricassee
  • chicken and Biscuits
  • Chicken Tortilla Soup
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
  • Clam Chowder
  • French Dressing
  • Ham Croquettes
  • Orange Chicken
  • Pumpkin Pie
  • Seared Sea Scallops
  • White Cake Recipe

I have had many requests for the French Dressing in particular. Do you know what was in it?



From: C.
Subject: Re: Bill Knapps
Date: Sunday, May 05, 2013 4:53 PM
When I started the  shrimp, scallops and fish were all breaded daily but 
they changed to a pre-made  frozen product in the early 90's. Shortly after 
that they started to farm out a  lot of their food to bigger companies to 
produce and quality really took a dive.  For a lot of those recipes you are 
looking for we didn't make them in house  they came from our commissary so you 
would have to track down an old commissary  employee to get the bulk recipe. 
Chances are no single employee would know  more than a few recipes. Chicken 
marinade, gravy, soups, any baked goods  (including their breads) and all 
dressings were made at the commissary and  shipped to the stores. 

As far as the broiled  fish goes, it is just a combination of mayo and 
seasoning salt (not sure on  proportions but it needs to set overnight) brushed 
on the fish (scrod,  whitefish, salmon, and trout all got the same sauce) 
and then put under a  broiler 5-7 minutes until done. The Cal Mush salad is 
actually simple. Combine  butter, minced garlic and whole mushrooms and simmer 
over low heat for about 2  hours. Pour ranch dressing over salad add 
shredded cheddar and hot mushrooms.  The mushroom mixture was used for the 
mushroom swiss burger and the chicken  milano. The gravy came from the commissary 
but was essentially what you can get  at a store in a jar. For the Fricassee 
(chicken and biscuits is the same thing)  all you do is add precooked diced 
chicken to the gravy and heat. The seared  scallops use a mixture of butter, 
garlic, rosemary, oregano, basil and thyme  heated until the butter melts, 
brush over scallops and place under a broiler for  about 5 minutes until 
done. Looking back on it a lot of these things were easy  to make. If you try 
to get to complicated you miss it. Most of the things we  made in the store 
were taught to us by other cooks and we never really used a  lot of recipes.   

Tandoori Chicken Coloring

From: Rob 
Sent: Wednesday, May 22, 2013 11:38 AM
Subject: Oleoresin paprika


Oleoresin paprika is a red food colouring extracted from red capsicum peppers and used in many foods.  
In particular, it is used to get that rich, red colour on tandoori chicken.

Of course, when one makes tandoori chicken at home (especially in a place where store-bought food colourings are difficult to find), 
the results look rather anaemic.

Thus my question is this: Is there a way to make oleoresin paprika (or a reasonable attempt thereof) at home?

From what I've researched, the peppers are dried and then processed with a solvent which is then removed.  
The most commonly used solvent for this seems to be hexane, but ethanol is considered one of the acceptable options, as well.  
Since ethanol is the alcohol in alcoholic beverages (though certainly not 100% pure), is there, perhaps, a home-brew process 
that could use dried peppers and, say, vodka to produce the oleoresin paprika?

Are there any other home-made methods for creating a red food colouring that would be a deep enough red for tandoori chicken?


Hello Rob,

I did quite a lot of reading about this. I don’t know the source of your information, but my reading indicates that the traditional coloring agent for tandoori chicken is not paprika oleoresin. Where would a native Indian cook have gotten paprika oleoresin? The traditional product, called “tandoori coloring” or “tandoori paste” contains ground annatto seed to give it color, not paprika oleoresin. Some cooks just use red paprika. The extraction of paprika oleoresin appears to me to be an industrial process that you could not duplicate at home. Besides, the initial extraction, no matter which solvent is used, also extracts the capsaicin, which would make it quite hot and would affect the flavor of your chicken. The main coloring compounds in chilies are capsanthin and capsorubin, which are separated from the capsaicin in a second extraction process to make the paprika oleoresin coloring agent.

You can buy paprika oleoresin online. You can get tandoori coloring, tandoori paste, and ground annatto seeds online or in Indian grocers and possibly some specialty shops.

The simplest answer is just to use a mixture of red and yellow food coloring, adjusted to your liking.

Here are some relevant quotes that I found on various websites:

The red-orange tint in genuine tandoori coloring comes from the ground annatto seed. If you can’t find tandoori coloring, you can substitute red food coloring (or a mix of red and yellow) for the same effect.

To color chicken, add 1 teaspoon red food coloring and 2 teaspoons yellow to the marinade. Tandoori chicken often has red food coloring added to it to give it a characteristic bright red color. I wanted to stay away from using food coloring so I added natural color with bright yellow turmeric and brick red paprika. They not only give the chicken a vibrant color but they also add an earthy flavor.

If you can not obtain tandoori colouring agent, you can substitute it with beetroot powder (this provides more of a red colour).

Tandoori Paste: Also known as tandoori coloring. A seasoning and coloring mixture of herbs, aromatics and spices that give tandoori chicken its distinctive reddish hue and spicy flavor. The paste is often mixed with yogurt to make a marinade for chicken prior to roasting in a tandoor.
If You Don’t Have It:
Substitute 1 cup (250 mL) tandoori paste with:
• 1 cup (250 mL) Homemade Tandoori Paste: Combine 8 to 10 finely minced garlic cloves, 1/4 cup (50 mL) finely minced fresh ginger, 1 tbsp (15 mL) garam masala (see page 200), 1 tbsp (15 mL) paprika, 2 tsp (10 mL) ground coriander, 1 tsp (5 mL) ground cumin, 1/2 to 1 tsp (2 to 5 mL) cayenne pepper, and 2 to 3 tbsp (25 to 45 mL) vegetable oil or enough to make a thick paste. If you like, stir in 1/2 tsp (2 mL) yellow food coloring and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) red food coloring for color.


Thank you so much for your quick reply.  Unfortunately, my information was quite a mishmash, including various recipes from Indian web sites, 
other cooking sites and the ingredient list from a package of some tandoori seasoning that someone had sent me.

It also produced some tunnel vision on my part, since I kept thinking about the Indian-site recipes that said "red food colouring" and had not 
seen any mention of the annatto.

Of course!  Annatto is just achiote and the stuff GROWS here, where I live (Honduras)!  I've even seen and touched the actual plants!

It does tend to "orange out" away from deep, deep red, but that may just be the combination of the other things with which I've used it or seen it used.

I'll have to try the recipe you sent.  Did you happen to notice any recipes that specifically called for annatto, and not just "red food colouring"?

Thanks again!

Hello Rob,

In recipes, it’s not called annatto. Rather, it’s called “tandoori coloring”. See this recipe: Indian Tandoori Chicken

It appears that “tandoori paste” is a mixture of annatto, garlic, spices and oil, but “tandoori coloring” may be just the annatto.


Morrison's Country Steak

From: Doris 
Sent: Wednesday, May 01, 2013 4:17 PM
To: 'Phaedrus' 
Subject: RE: Morrison's Steak and Yellow Rice

Thank you for your prompt reply.  I will attempt to adjust the rice recipe.  I would appreciate you sending the cube steak recipe.  
It seems as thought the steak was more like cube steak than chopped or Salisbury.  Thanks so much.  Doris

PS  Last summer I found the Morrison’s eggplant casserole in your listing and have made it numerous times.  It was my very favorite.  
I really miss Morrison’s.  I understand there is still a Morrison’s in Mobile.  I will surely check it out next time we are in that area.

Hello Doris,

As I said, there is no “cubed steak” recipe, as such, in the Morrison’s Manual that I have. The recipe other than “chopped steak” is “country steak”. It doesn’t say “cubed steak” anywhere. It just says “steaks”. My thinking is that, since “country fried steak” is usually made with cubed steak, then that is what they mean here, although this recipe is not for the “country fried steak” that I know. This “country steak” is baked after being browned in a skillet. The recipe is below. Be all that as it may, this is all there is.

Morrison’s was sold to Piccadilly twenty or so years ago, and all of the Morrison’s locations were either closed or converted to Piccadilly Cafeterias. It would be very surprising if there was one open in Mobile or anywhere else. If there was one open in Mobile, I feel sure that one of my readers would have told me.


Note James' remarks below the recipe.

Country Steak from the Morrison's Kitchen Manual

Steaks		100
Salt & Pepper

1)Season steaks with salt & pepper

Flour		2 lbs 8 ozs
Salt & Pepper

2)Season flour with salt & pepper. Flour each steak, pounding the flour well into the meat.


3)Brown the steaks on both sides in shortening in a skillet, but don't cook well done.

Beef Stock

4)Add the remaining flour to the used shortening in the skillet and make a roux. Add beef
stock to make a thin gravy. Strain.

Onions		2
Celery		2

5)Chop onions & celery fine.  Place steaks in a roasting pan in layers and sprinkle with the onion & celery.

Tomatoes        1 # 10 Can

Cover the steaks with the gravy, add the tomatoes, and bake in a 375° oven until the steaks are tender and the gravy is thick.
 Thank you for all of your help.  I look forward to using the rice and steak recipes very soon.  I have already adjusted the rice recipe.  


You were right on the country steak being "cube steak." Actually it is a 4 oz patty. My 1991 version of the kitchen manual says it was 
served with yellow rice. I missed that when I looked for uses of yellow rice with steak. My manual's  recipe is more detailed. 

Morrison's Country Steak

50 portions
Thaw 50 cube steaks (4 oz) under refrigeration.
Mix 2 lbs flour, 1 tbs salt and 1 tsp pepper and dredge cubed beef .  Place floured steak on towel on cutting board and carefully beat with meat mallet.
Pour 1 1/2 quarts oil into cast iron skillet and allow oil to get very  hot but not smoking. Brown seaks on both sides quickly and remove to roasting pan. 
Pour remaining oil from skillet into measuring cup. Add enough fresh oil to make 3/4 quart. Pour oil back into skillet and add 1 1/2 pounds of flour.  
Cook stirring constantly until flour turns dark brown (roux) DO NOT BURN. If It burns, toss it out.  Have 6 quarts au jus within reach to stop roux from cooking. 
Stir to remove any lumps. Add six quarts beef stock. This should make a very thin gravy.
Layer 25 cubed steaks in each roasting pan and add 2 lbs diced onions, 1 lb celery and 1/2 # 10 can diced tomatoes (52 liquid ounces). 
Bake in 375 degree oven until steaks are tender, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Serve with yellow rice. 


From: glenn
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2013 11:33 AM
Subject: Morrison's in Mobile

In Mobile, at I-65 and Airport Boulevard Service Road, there is a Morrison's Cafeteria.  Several years ago, I asked staff about name and 
they told me it was a Piccadilly Cafeteria and they only kept Morrison's name on it as they bought out the Morrison Cafeterias.  Piccadilly 
officals decided to keep the name on the cafeteria as that was what it was always known as and the name significant in Mobile.  There are 
differences and if you ever ate at Morrison's you will know.  This is a Piccadilly Cafeteria with a Morrison's name.

The yellow rice recipe is here: 06/14/13

Minnesota Pizza

From: "Saul" 
To: "phaedrus" 
Subject: Minnesota Pizza
Date: Tuesday, May 21, 2013 1:40 AM

Here is an idea of the "pizza" served at Marshall-University High
School in the years of 1970-72:
Mix a thick crust using flour mixed with bisquick;
sautee crumbled ground beef with as much fat as possible;
grate cheddar cheese
open one 8-oz can of tomato sauce

use government-surplus food supplies

fill one sheet pan with the dough, it must be at least a half-inch thick
top with a half-inch of hamburger, mixed with the 8 ounces of tomato sauce
top with five pounds of grated cheddar cheese
When baked, the cheese should be like a shingle that will slide off
the hamburger
the pastry crust should be orange with the fat it soaked up from the orange
cheddar cheese and the fatty meat.
Cut into squares and serve to starving kids, who will eat half and
throw the rest at each other or in the trash.

It is probably based on pizza rustica, which has a pastry crust, but
using what was available, it became bisquick, etc.

Another food memory, from Saga food service at Macalester College, 1976-78:
Macaroni salad with little squares of mild cheddar or colby or
American cheese in it. I still like to make it this way. It may have
had capers and chopped green olives in it.

They also had an unforgettable vegetarian dish served at least twice a week:
Hungarian Noodle Bake
Boil four pounds of flat, medium egg noodles
Mix with six pounds of cottage cheese and six chopped buds of garlic
(not cloves, the whole bud)
Bake until slightly browned on top. It was horrible.


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