Sunday, October 31, 2010

Stephen C. O'Connell's Favorite Dish: clipping from my mother's files

I found the following recipe in my mother's files. It is attributed to Rita O'Connell, the then University of Florida President's first wife who pre-deceased him. President O'Connell later re-married and lived a very happy life in Tallahassee where he had served on the Florida Supreme Court. I am not sure where the yellowed clipping came from, but the type face indicates to me that the Gainesville Sun was the likely source.

My mother and Rita were very good friends and spent a lot of time in our living room discussing the intricacies of academic entertaining which Mrs. O'Connell had to master in short order when Steve became president of the university.

I have known a number of First Ladies of universities and Rita was my favorite. She was always very warm and gracious (as was Steve) and patient with my budding beard, long hair, and (of course) Roman sandals.

First Ladies of universities in those days were an extremely important part of the political life of a university and supervised innumerable social events at the President's House on campus. They were unpaid for their hard work, under-recognized, but integral to the workings of their spouse's administration.

To underscore that, when looking to post this recipe, I could find a picture of President O'Connell on-line, but did not find one of Mrs. O'Connell. These women deserve a vote of thanks by all members of the Gator Nation. Greater recognition of their contributions to campus life need to be given to these women.

The world is a better place for having Steve and Rita O'Connell be among us. I smile whenever I think of them.



Veal cutlets, 1 per serving
Fresh mushrooms
Spring onions
Frozen artichoke hearts
Salt and pepper
Sauterne cooking wine

Cut the veal into bite-sized pieces. Shake on salt, pepper, paprika, and flour. Brown the meat in a frying pan, using corn oil. Cook until tender.

Place in a casserole with chopped stems of fresh mushrooms and chopped spring onions, saving the chopped onion stems for the top. Add one-half cup water and one-half cup of sauterne wine, just enough to cover.

Cook the dish uncovered for about 45 minutes in a 350-375 degree oven.

Cut the thawed artichoke hearts and mushroom caps into quarters.

Add both to the top of the casserole along with the chopped onion stems. Spoon gravy over the top frequently for another 15-30 minutes. Serve warm.

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