Friday, March 1, 2013

Pickle-Cheese Pineapple

Pickle-Cheese Pineapple
Favorite Recipes of America Vol. III: Salads, pg. 335

I was on my way to my already-earmarked recipe for today (Party Pork Crown, coming soon!) when I stumbled upon this treasure.  Aside from the delightfully ambiguous name (which can also double as a creative alternative to Rock-Paper-Scissors on a long car trip: Pickle sours Cheese, Cheese covers Pineapple, Pineapple smashes Pickle) but also because of the list of ingredients, because HOLY CRAP PEANUT BUTTER AND PICKLE RELISH TOGETHER.

I had always assumed that the scene in Auntie Mame when Doris Upson discloses that the secret ingredient in her tuna balls is peanut butter was meant as a parody of mid-century cooking, not a literal transcription. So I had to try it right away.

l to r: Lee Patrick (Doris Upson); Rosalind Russell (Mame Dennis); Willard Waterman (Claude Upson). If you haven't seen the wonderful 'Auntie Mame' (1958) then you have no business here.

The recipe (unattributed to a single individual, perhaps wisely) is as follows:

2 8-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/2 c. grated process Swiss cheese
1/2 c. grated process Cheddar cheese
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. sweet pickle relish
Sweet gherkins

Combine cheeses, peanut butter and pickle relish; blend. Chill thoroughly. Shape into oval. Garnish with sweet gherkin slices and strips to resemble a pineapple. Serve as a spread for rye bread.

Things bought for this recipe:  Peanut Butter, Cream Cheese, Swiss Cheese.
Things already on hand:  Cheddar cheese, pickle relish, gherkins

Since it's just Husband and I, I halved the recipe, which may have affected the final shape I was able to achieve.  But, oh!  The empowerment of being felt artistic enough to craft my own pineapple shape!  What a boon it must have been to mid-century housewives, finally able to make use of their art history degrees from Swarthmore!

Thankfully, for the un-artistic, a guide photo was included:

I was confused by the instruction to blend; should I hand-mix, or use a processor? Since it wasn't explicit, I went ahead and hand-mixed with a spatula, and it wasn't too difficult.

The sculpting medium of cheese-peanut butter is difficult to work with. It was awfully hard to avoid using my hands. I ended up using the plate it was sitting on as a potter's wheel, spinning it with one hand while I used the spatula to shape with the other hand.

I also, apparently, didn't see the instruction to chill before applying the gherkin pieces - I found that the "pineapple" tended to lose its shape, so once complete I stuck it in the freezer for about 15 minutes to let it set.

What we thought: Licking the spatula after mixing, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was slightly reminiscent of pimento cheese, there was hardly a hint of peanut butter OR pickle relish, the overwhelming taste was the cream cheese.

After pulling it out of the fridge for husband, I'm ashamed to admit that my sculpting skills let me down. On first sight, he exclaimed "Oh, it's so cute!"  But when asked to identify what he was looking at, he first guessed "octopus," then "bathing cap".  Only when prompted with the clue "Hawaiian fruit" did he correctly identify it.

His reactions on first taste, in order:

"What are you trying to do to me?"

"Is this what I think it is?"  (He, also being a devotee of Auntie Mame, thought it might be the peanut butter-tuna combination)

"Hmmm, it's not bad."

My own second taste determined that chilling had really brought out the peanut butter flavor, so much so that it couldn't be hidden.  Not that it was entirely bad.  My own mother has long extolled the virtues of peanut butter and dill pickles together, so maybe there's something to it after all.  In the course of "tasting" the concoction (spread on pumpernickel rounds) we managed to eliminate nearly half of it. 

If you're game to try it,  you might spice it up a bit...add some red pepper flakes and basil, maybe, try to pass it off as a Thai recipe.  All in all, not nearly as horrible as it looked on paper.

Our Rating: Two Screaming Husbands!

(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)

1 comment:

  1. Eh so I'm a couple of years late to this party - but my name is Patrick and I, too, wear long pants.

    One memorable episode of The Dick Van Dyke show ("All About Eavesdropping") has Millie making Laura's famous Avocado and Peanut Butter Dip for a dinner party (but Laura left the mustard out of the recipe she gave Millie).

    Peanut Butter = Mid Century miracle ingredient.