Monday, December 23, 2013

The Eleventh Day of Kitschmas: Cookies!

Santy Claus Cookies, etc
contributed by Mrs. Andrew J. White, Columbus, OH
We got a little neighborly help today in baking cookies, chiefly Mrs. White's Santy Claus cookies. Which kind of look like aliens now that I closely examine the photo above. Though a treasured part of my childhood, I never actually saw the assembly process, so I had to piece it together with a lot of guesswork and second-hand information.

The recipe, though, is genuine, and written in Mrs. White's own hand.  You will also need a Santa-face cookie cutter, available in a thrift shop near you (or on ebay

Now, then:
Sift together 4 1/2 cups flour which has been sifted and measured, with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Separately, cream 1 cup shortening, 1 1/2 cups sugar, 3 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla & 1/2 teaspoon lemon or almond extract (I used almond).

Combine mixtures. Shape into roll 3 inches in diameter. Wrap in wax paper and chill. Cut cookies and bake at 350 till done (About 10-12 minutes).

Decoration instructions will follow in the video.

We also made gingerbread men, I'll let you look up your own recipe for that.

I'll warn you that the Santa cookie dough is very dry, almost like a shortbread, so you can't dawdle. Let it chill about 2 hours, then get right to work.  The longer it sits in the fridge, the drier it gets, so your last batch is likely to look like terra cotta.

Also, try and enlist helpers!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Tenth Day of Kitschmas

Hors d'oerves
 Schmerke contributed by Mrs. Shawn Steadman, Florence, SC
Oyster Bobs and Kielbasa bites contributed by Dr. Husband 
No time to chat, Dr. Husband and I are running ourselves ragged, between our filming Kitschmas songs and our busy holiday social calendar!  We always like to have something simple around the house to either take with us to parties, or to entertain last-minute guests that may drop by.  So today we have a couple of kitschy snacky items from Dr. Husband's family, as well as one reader submission.

Dr. Husband's finger foods are easy as can be:
Polska Kielbasa
1 package Polska Kielbasa (beef or turkey)
Slice kielbasa into rounds, about 1 inch thick. Brown in skillet. Serve with toothpicks.

Oyster Bobs
1 can fancy smoked oysters
1/4 pound swiss cheese, cubed
1 can pineapple chunks (optional)
On toothpicks, spear 1 oyster and one cube cheese. Add 1 chunk pineapple if desired.

And, the reader submission, Schmerke:
2 blocks of cream cheese, softened
4 hard boiled eggs, chopped
Finely chopped pimento-stuffed green olives, to taste (about half a jar)
Grated or finely chopped onion to taste (a tablespoon?)
1 Tbsp mayonaise
milk or olive brine to help make it spreadable
Combine all ingredients, serve with crackers. (Usually Ritz)

You'll have to decide for yourself if the ingredients appeal to you, but here's what we thought. Plus a guest performer!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Ninth Day of Kitschmas: Yuletide Mold

Yuletide Mold
Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cookbook
Not a lot to say about this, it's pretty dismal, as you'll see in the video. For a more festive and pleasing avocado-based mold, you'd be better off with the Avocado Strawberry Ring, or variation thereof.

1 1/2 enveloped unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
3/4 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon grated onion
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
2 1/2 cups mashed ripe avocado
1 cup dairy sour cream
1 cup salad dressing or mayonnaise

Soften gelatin in cold water; dissolve in boiling water. Add lemon juice, salt, onion, and Tabasco. Cool to room temperature; stir in avocado, sour cream, and salad dressing. Turn into six-cup mold; chill till firm.  Unmold on greens; trim platter with orange sections.

Tastes like salty mayonnaise. In gelatin. Best to avoid.

Friday, December 20, 2013

The Eighth Day of Kitschmas: 'Christmas Story' Red Cabbage

'Christmas Story' Red Cabbage
Woman's Home Companion Cook Book (1944)
Who doesn't love A Christmas Story (I mean, besides Communists, and people offended by shocking Asian stereotypes)?  If, like me, you spend Christmas Day having back-to-back showings of the film running in the background while you go about your business, then you'll remember the dinner scene where red cabbage is featured prominently.

For authenticity's sake, I used a wartime recipe for "savory red cabbage", found in the 1944 edition of the Woman's Home Companion Cook Book. The first ingredient is bacon fat, how could it go wrong?

Bacon fat, 3 tablespoons
Onions, medium-sized, sliced, 2
Lemon juice or vinegar, 1/2 cup (I used cider vinegar)
Water or grape juice, 1/2 cup (I used red wine)
Salt, 2 teaspoons
Sugar, 2 tablespoons
Paprika, dash
Red Cabbage, shredded, 4 to 6 cups

Heat fat in a saucepan; add onions and cook about 10 minutes or until soft and lightly browned. Add remaining ingredients. Cover and cook 20 to 25 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Tempting as it was to go whole hog and make meatloaf meatloaf double beetloaf as well, we served this with pork chops and sweet potato fries. A perfect accompaniment for a mid-winter meal, and Dr. Husband agrees!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Seventh Day of Kitschmas; Christmas Island Coconut Shrimp

Christmas Island Coconut Shrimp
contributed by Dr. Bobb
Remind me next year that pledging to post 12 recipes and 12 songs in 12 days can be somewhat all-consuming, especially when one spends half the week living six hours away from Dr. Husband, and has only been in residence in the Historic test kitchen for three days now.

Which is to say, I may or may not have just co-opted something we were going to have for dinner anyway into a Kitschmas blog post. 

I have no idea if coconuts grow on Christmas Island; I indeed have no idea where Christmas Island even is, or in fact if it even exists in reality, or is just an Ella Fitzgerald song. I think I'll go Google it right now.
Okay, I'm back. Christmas Island does, indeed, have coconuts, as well as the largest living arthropod in the world, the Coconut Crab. So next year you can look forward to Christmas Island Crab Cakes on the sixth day.

I bake my coconut shrimp (it helps me maintain the illusion that I'm eating healthier) and serve it with a sweet-ish accompaniment, like orange marmalade, cranberry sauce, or maybe even Jezebel sauce if you want a little kick. 

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups flaked sweetened coconut3 egg whites, beaten until foamy
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Rinse and dry shrimp with paper towels. Mix cornstarch, salt, and cayenne pepper in a shallow bow; pour coconut flakes in a separate shallow bowl. Working with one shrimp at a time, dredge it in the cornstarch mixture, then dip it in the egg white, and roll it in the coconut, making sure to coat the shrimp well. Place on the prepared baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining shrimp. Bake the shrimp until they are bright pink on the outside and the meat is no longer transparent in the center and the coconut is browned, 15 to 20 minutes, flipping the shrimp halfway through.

One thing's for sure, it's a man-pleaser:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Sixth Day of Kitschmas: Cheese Stuff

Red Christmas Cheese Ball/
Green Christmas Cheese "Ball"
from Southern Living Party Snacks Cookbook (1974)
I suppose the first thing you'll notice in the above photo is that there is only one thing that can accurately be described as a cheese ball - though I followed to the letter the directions in the 1974 Southern Living Party Snacks Cookbook, the "Green Christmas Cheese Ball" essentially turned to sludge. Think it's o easy to spoil my party, Southern Living?  WELL THINK AGAIN.

Here are the recipes, as they appear on pages 62 and 63, respectively:

Red Christmas Ball
1/2 pound natural Cheddar cheese, finely shredded
1 (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons sherry (I used Lillet Blanc, since it's what I had on hand.)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted ripe olives
Dash onion salt (didn't have any, so feel free to omit)
Dash celery salt
Dash garlic salt (used garlic powder)
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried beef
Combine cheeses, sherry, olives, salts, and Worcestershire sauce; mix on medium speed of electric mixer. Shape mixture into a ball; wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil; refrigerate overnight or until needed. About 30 minutes before serving time, remove foil; reshape into a ball; roll ball in dried beef, coating well.

Green Christmas Ball
1 (1/4 pound) wedge natural blue cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon minced celery
2 or 3 scallions, including tops, finely chopped
2 tablespoons commercial sour cream
3 (5-ounce) jars blue cheese spread
1 cup coarsely chopped parsley
Combine blue cheese, celery, scallions, sour cream, and blue cheese spread until fluffy; mix on medium speed of electric mixer. Shape into a ball, wrap in heavy-duty aluminum foil, and refrigerate overnight. At serving time, remove foil and reshape into a ball; roll in parsley until completely coated.

As noted above, the green variety never was a ball, and could not be coaxed into being one. Still delicious, though, so I served it as a dip, topping it with a wreath made of parsley and pimientos. Here's what Dr. Husband thinks!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Fifth Day of Kitschmas: Grammy Tudor's Cranberry Bread

Grammy Tudor's Cranberry Bread
contributed by Grammy Tudor (via Better Homes & Gardens)
Dr. Husband takes over the cooking today,  sharing fond memories of his Grammy and her cranberry bread (so, I mean, it's pretty sappy sweet today. Come back tomorrow for the comedy.)

Here's the recipe, straight from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
1 beaten egg
 1 2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup cooking oil
3/4 cup chopped nuts
1 cup coarsely chopped cranberries 

In a mixing bowl stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, and orange peel. In another bowl combine beaten egg, milk, and cooking oil. Add to flour mixture, stirring til just combined. Stir nuts and cranberries into batter. Pour batter into greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 for 1 to 1 1/4 hours til a toothpick inserted near the loaf center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes; cool thoroughly on wire racks. Wrap and store overnight before slicing. Makes 1 large loaf, 2 small loaves, or 6 mini loaves.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Fourth Day of Kitschmas: Frozen Fruitcake Salad

Frozen Fruitcake Salad
from Vintage Recipe Cards
There's a fantastic blog out there called Vintage Recipe Cards, and honestly, if I were lazier I could just pretty much lift all my recipes from there.  (I mean, I AM pretty lazy, but.)  I saw a picture of this one and just couldn't resist trying it out.

1 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 of a 4 1/2-ounce container frozen whipped dessert topping, thawed
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 15 1/2-ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
2 medium bananas, chopped
1/2 cup red candied cherries, sliced
1/2 cup green candied cherries, sliced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

In mixing bowl blend together sour cream, dessert topping, sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla. Fold in fruit and nuts. Turn into 4 1/2-cup ring mold. Cover; freeze several hours or overnight. Unmold onto lettuce-lined plate. Garnish with additional candied cherries, if desired. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Makes 8 servings.

You should be forewarned that there's really very little salad-y about this. It's very sweet, and of course, frozen, so it's better conceived of as dessert, I think.  And a little goes a long way - so, much like fruitcake, the leftovers will likely be in my freezer until I move.

Here, Dr. Husband and I try it out while talking about nothing:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Third Day of Kitschmas: Eggnog Jell-O Shots

Eggnog Jell-O Shots
from Jelly Shot Test Kitchen
When you're hosting your holiday parties, you'll want to keep everything classy. And nothing speaks class and elegance like cubes of gelatin with booze in them.

Today's recipe comes from the delightful Jelly Shot Test Kitchen, well worth a click for all the recipes.  I should also alert you to be on the lookout in the gelatin aisle of your local grocery.  Our friends at the Jell-O corporations have finally responded to the demand for alcoholic flavors, and have three new selections intended for the sophisticated set - Margarita, Strawberry Daquiri, and PiƱa Colada. If you buy a box of each, you get a free mold which makes the cute little pyramids in the photo above.  But the fun doesn't end there - right now, if you buy six small or three large boxes of Jell-O, and flavor, you get a mold to make Christmas-y shapes. And if I haven't convinced you by now, trust me that you DO need six boxes of Jell-O in the house at all times.

So, to make the shots:

1/2 cup water
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin powder
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
3/4 cup eggnog
1/2 cup brandy, rum, or bourbon (I used bourbon)

If using molds, prepare them by spraying lightly with cooking oil spray, or wiping each mold cavity with a little vegetable oil.  Next, wipe each mold cavity clean with a paper towels.  This will leave the slightest reside which will aid in un-molding the gelatin without affecting the taste or appearance of your jelly shots.  (If you are using a loaf pan, no prep is needed.)

Place the mold on a stable, movable flat surface, such as a cookie sheet or cooling rack before filling with the jelly shot mixture.
Pour water in saucepan and sprinkle with gelatin.  Allow to soak for a minute or two.  Heat over low heat, stirring constantly, until gelatin is fully dissolved (about 5 minutes).  Stir in the sweetened condensed milk.  Remove from heat, and add the eggnog and liquor, stirring to fully incorporate. 

Pour into pan and refrigerate until fully set, several hours or overnight.

To serve, unmold or cut into squares. 

Garnish with nutmeg, if desired.

We had a few technical difficulties with the song for today. There IS a song, just not a Christmas song. Unless you consider Christmas to encompass everything in the world that is delightful, then you're in luck!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Second Day of Kitschmas: Poinsettia Salad

Poinsettia Salad
from 500 Delicious Salad Recipes (1954)
Isn't this adorable?  It's from the wonderful 500 Delicious Salad Recipes, published in 1954, a pamphlet-sized cornucopia of wonderful ideas (longtime readers will remember the zero-scream rated Banana-Salmon Salad, from the same book.).

It's a little labor-intensive, mostly because of the paper-thin slicing of the pears, but worth it. Here's the recipe:

1 (1 lb 13 oz) can pear halves in syrup
1/2 cup red cinnamon drops (red hot candies)
3 tablespoon vinegar
1 bunch watercress
4 teaspoons grated sharp cheese
French dressing

Combine syrup from pears with cinnamon candies and vinegar and heat to boiling. Cut each pear half into 4 lengthwise slices to represent petals and simmer in syrup 20 minutes or until colored. Chill. 

Arrange watercress on 4 salad plates. On each arrange 8 petals, clockwise, each curving toward the center to represent a flower. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon grated cheese in center of each flower and serve with dressing. Serves 4

I'm not so down with the idea of the French dressing, and didn't feel like I was missing anything by leaving it out.  So add it or not as you wish.

And now, what you all came here for. Stay for the song at the end!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Li'l Cups Boys

By popular demand:

The First Day of Kitschmas: Spaghetti-O-Ho-Hos!

contributed by Dr. Bobb, Sharpsburg, MD
If you've spent any time on Pinterest (and you know you have, ladies...I myself have not, as it's a lady thing) you've undoubtedly come across the following picture
which has been sent to me about a billion times, usually with the subject line "Please Dr. Bobb won't you make this".

Well, try as I might've, I could find plenty of examples of the picture, but no recipe attached.  My best lead suggested that the recipe could be found in 'White Trash Cooking' by Ernest Matthew Mickler, but tracking down a copy of said book proved futile. So I had to make up the recipe on my own.

I basically just made a standard aspic recipe, using a can of Spaghetti-O's instead of tomato juice. Now, cold Spaghetti-O's right out of the can were a beloved staple of my teenage years, so I assumed the mold would turn out to be something like that, only Jell-O-ier. 

Sadly, it was not the case. I thought that the Spaghetti-O's themselves would provide enough flavor to counterbalance the blandness of the plain gelatin. But maybe I should have erred on the side of extravagance and used lemon Jell-O, or put some salt and sugar and vinegar in the mix, or something.

Here's what I did, in a nutshell:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold watert
1 can Spaghetti-Os
1 can Vienna sausages
spray cheese (American flavor)

In saucepan, sprinkle unflavored gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water; let stand 1 minute. Over low heat,  stir until gelatin is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in Spaghetti-Os.
Pour into 5 1/2cup ring mold or bowl; chill until firm, about 4 hours. To serve, unmold and if desired, fill with your favorite salad greens, or cut-up fresh vegetables. Arrange Vienna sausages around outside of ring to simulate candles; add spray cheese for "flames".

Dr. Husband, it turns out, is not a fan of Spaghetti-Os in any form. So there's that. Not that I blame him, as it really wasn't very good (the mold, that is. But I can highly recommend Vienna sausages doused with spray cheese.) Here's the assembly process. And stay tuned for the song at the end!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thanksgiving De-Brief

Forgive the delay in getting this up, but I've been so distraught over the events of Thanksgiving - namely, making a recipe of my own creation, which I've made before, and when made before was universally beloved and admired. But this time...well, something went wrong, I don't know exactly what.

First, though, a taste (no pun intended) of something that never goes wrong, Mother's Microwave Liver Pate (no accent on the e, as in my family, pate is pronounced to rhyme with eight.) Here's Dr. Husband and Mother with the instructions:
In case you missed anything, here's the recipe:
2 lbs. chicken livers
a lot of green onions
a lot of garlic
2 tblsp. half and half
2 tblsp. dry sherry
 Combine chicken livers, green onions, and garlic. Cook on defrost setting in microwave until livers are done. In blender, add liver mixture, half and half, and sherry. Blend until smooth.
 A Jewish Thanksgiving guest declared that it was nothing like traditional chopped liver, but who cares? Once tasted, no one can stop eating it. Plus Mother says it's delicious and DON'T QUESTION HER.

Now then, for my Pumpkin Mold fail. As I said, I've made this before, and it was the highlight of the dessert table.  Here are the ingredients and instructions:

1 3-ounce package lemon gelatin
1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons sugar 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 

1 cup canned pumpkin 
1 small tub Cool Whip
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Dissolve Jello in boiling water; add sugar and spice. Add pumpkin, mixing well. Chill until slightly thickened. Fold in Cool Whip and nuts. Pour into mold or clean bowl and refrigerate until firm.

And here's a triumphant picture of the last time I made it:
And here's the reaction of an unsuspecting Thanksgiving dinner guest, tasting what I made using the exact same recipe. He gives it a 3 rating, but I think he was trying to be nice. I mean, if the first bite is awful, it's pretty much a failure, right?
That's all for this time, remember that the 12 days of Kitschmas start on December 13!

Oh but hey! If you're in the Carolina Research Triangle area, come out and hear me sing next weekend with Voices of Chapel Hill!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chinese Casserole

Chinese Casserole
contributed by Mrs. Mary West, Salt Lake, Utah
Favorite Recipes of America: Casseroles
Because nothing screams Chinese food like condensed mushroom soup and potato chips, I guess?

Have no illusions, this dish, while delicious, is only "Chinese" in the sense that you can throw any salty, gooey slop into a pot, call it Chinese, and Americans will lap it up.  Culinary mythology holds that that's how Americanized Chinese food got its start - Chinese immigrants, prevented from most jobs due to prejudice, opened up restaurants to cater to hungry miners and laborers and such, and developed sweeter, meatier dishes unknown in China but nonetheless exotic enough to seem exciting to the emerging middle class.

My own mother used to make something akin to egg foo young, which consisted of whatever happened to be lying in the bottom of the crisper drawer, scrambled with eggs, and served with a gelatinous sauce made from soy sauce and corn starch. Yum!

My crack Googling skills have also revealed several casserole recipes in the same vein as this one, which seemed to be popular at Church potlucks during the 60's and 70's.  As you'll see in the video, this one's a winner, so feel free to use or adapt to your heart's content!

1 lb. ground beef
1 pkg. frozen peas, thawed
2 c. finely sliced celery
1 can cream of mushroom or chicken soup
1 med. onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp. evaporated milk (opt.)
1/8 tsp. each pepper and salt
2 c. crumbed potato chips (opt.)

Fry ground beef until brown; place in 2-quart casserole. Place a layer of peas and a layer of celery on top. Mix soup, onion, evaporated milk, pepper and salt. Pour mixture on top of previous layers; top with potato chips. Bake in 375-degree oven for 55 minutes. Serve with soy sauce if desired. Serves 8.

I followed the directions to the letter. It seemed to be done well before 55 minutes was up, so you probably won't need to cook it so long. It does get awfully dried out, I'm wondering in hindsight if the  condensed soup should have been thinned with milk before pouring on top?  Also, there's not nearly enough salt, even with the potato chip topping. So add liberally, or follow the suggestion to serve with soy sauce.

Dr. Husband loved it, as you'll see:

Our Rating: One Screaming Husband!
(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.)
Oh and Hey!
Coming soon: The Twelve Days of Kitschmas! Twelve Recipes in Twelve Days, plus twelve songs from me and Dr. Husband!  You can send recipe ideas AND song requests by commenting below, or send it right to me at the Historic Test Kitchen by December 5, and earn yourself a big fat mention here on the blog! And really, what could be better than that?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Krab Mold

Krab Mold
contributed by Bryce Westervelt, Selden, NY
So it's four days til payday, and Dr. Husband hasn't given me my grocery budget, and I had a hankering for a bagel with lox, but couldn't afford lox, so I got imitation crab meat (henceforth known as "krab") thinking that any old fishy thing plopped on top of cream cheese would suffice.

I was wrong, in case you were wondering.

No sooner had I bemoaned my fate on Facebook (oh, hey, did you know the Kitschen has a Facebook page? Like us!) than loyal reader Bryce sent me a recipe to use up the rest of my krab meat.

Oh, hey, and you still have time to contribute to Bryce's kickstarter!

This isn't technically a retro recipe, as krab meat was first introduced in Japan in 1973. As you probably already know, Alaskan pollock is commonly the main ingredient of krab, often mixed with egg white or other binding ingredient, such as the enzyme transglutaminase. Crab flavoring is added (either artificial or crab-derived), and a layer of red food coloring is applied to the outside.

So, here's the recipe:
8 ozs imitation crabmeat (finely chopped)
3/4 cup green onion (finely chopped)
1 cup mayonnaise
11/2 tbsps worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsps cold water
11/2 tbsp unflavored gelatin (1 envelope)
10 3/4 ozs cream of mushroom soup (1 can)
8 ozs cream cheese

Mix first five ingredients together. Heat soup and cream cheese together until cheese is melted. Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes. Stir into crab mixture. Dissolve gelatin in water*; stir into mixture.  Pour into mold.  Chill at least 4 or 5 hours.

*It doesn't say so here, but you'll have to heat the gelatin mixture to dissolve the granules before adding it to the mixture. It's science, you know!

Not that this was terribly hard to put together, but for the same amount of trouble you could dump everything (minus the mayonnaise - in fact, I'm not even sure why the mayonnaise is here in the first place) into a crock pot, turn it on low, and be done with it. Serve it with crackers as a hot dip. Not that the resulting cold mold isn't delicious, as you'll see below, but - I mean, hot cream cheese with meat. What could be more wholesome or natural?

Let's see what Dr. Husband thought:

Our Rating: One Screaming Husband!
(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.)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Special Edition: Sky-like Chili

Sky-like Chili
contributed by Dr. Bobb, Sharpsburg, MD
Much as I enjoy digging up disgusting mid-century recipes with which to torment Dr. Husband, the realities of today's economy dictate that I occasionally make something that won't immediately be sent down the garbage disposal. As it's a lovely, crisp fall day outside the historic test kitchen, I've decided to share with you my man-pleasing chili recipe.


If you grew up in the kitsch triangle of Ohio-Indiana-Northern Kentucky (or, oddly, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida) you may have enjoyed the regional delights of Skyline Chili, also known variously as Empress Chili, Gold Star Chili, or the all-encompassing Cincinnati-style. I myself, although an Ohio native with ties to Cincinnati (well, my great-great grandfather owned a whorehouse there in the 1800's, does that count as "ties"?) never heard of it until well into my college years, but then I was hooked.  If you find yourself geographically isolated you can find the real article, occasionally, in the freezer section of your local grocery, but my version is better, and I've found enough ways to cut corners that you can have it assembled and warming on the stove with enough time to swig down a couple of cocktails before husband gets home from the office.

The dish originated in the 1920's in Cincinnati's Greek immigrant community, and retains a decidedly Mediterranean spice combination. The soupy concoction is traditionally served either over spaghetti or on hot dogs, topped with mounds of cheddar cheese, and if you happen into an authentic Cincinnati Chili restaurant, you'll find suggestive menu options like the basic Three Way (noodles, chili and cheese); Four Way (all of the above plus either chopped onions or beans); and for the adventurous, the Five Way (the whole kit and caboodle.)  A word of caution: Steak 'n Shake restaurants have menu items called Three Way, etc., but their chili is definitely NOT exotically-spiced in the Cincinnati way, and if you've ever had that version thinking that's all there is, then think again.

So, here's the recipe, perfected with trial and error by me:

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped and divided*
2 garlic cloves, minced**
2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce plus 1 can water
1/2 ounce unsweetened chocolate, grated***
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. each cumin, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cardamom
9 ounces spaghetti
1 15-ounce can kidney beans (optional)
1 pound cheddar cheese, finely shredded ****
Oyster crackers for garnish
Tabasco sauce (optional)

In a large skillet, brown the meat with the garlic and 3/4 of the chopped onion, storing and breaking up the meat as it cooks. Drain fat from pan. Add the tomato sauce and water and bring the mixture to a boil. Add the chocolate, salt, and spices. If time allows, add the spices one at a time, while talking to yourself and looking at the splash guard behind the stove as if you're doing a cooking demonstration on the Food Network. Cover and reduce heat to low, stirring occasionally, while you read a magazine or watch a story on tv, cocktail in hand.

When husband gets home, cook the spaghetti and heat the kidney beans, if desired.

To make each serving, start with a layer of spaghetti; top with hot chili, warm beans and/or chopped onions. Pat on shredded cheese so that it starts to melt. Garnish with oyster crackers and hot sauce.

*Use yellow onions if you must, but I use Vidalias in every instance where onions are called for. Maybe I've been spoiled by living in the south for a while, but they seem to be available year-round.

**I feel no shame in admitting that I use pre-minced garlic out of a jar. Also, 2 cloves is a general guess. I've never met a dish that suffered by having "too much" garlic added.

***You can grate your own chocolate if you're especially ambitious, but I gave up the effort long ago. I usually use a tablespoon of cocoa powder, but this evening I didn't happen to have any in the house, so I used a couple of mini Hershey bars leftover from Halloween. In past pinches I've used chocolate morsels, Swiss Miss cocoa mix, and chocolate pudding. Do what you need to do, ladies, but the chocolate is essential.

****I suppose, at this point, I need not advise you to buy pre-shredded cheese.

No rating this week, as I know that dishes like this are how I keep my marriage stable, but I WILL show you the proper assembly method:

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Party Pork Crown

Party Pork Crown
contributed by Mrs. Allie C. Woodcock, New Orleans, La.
Favorite Recipes of America: Salads, page 169
My most ambitious project to date - not only because of the challenge of getting one particular ingredient past Dr. Husband's discriminating palate, but also because another key ingredient hasn't existed for fifty years.

I've been sitting on his recipe for a while, precisely because it calls for celery flavored Jell-O. As mentioned before, Jell-O did briefly flirt with the idea of savory flavors (celery, Italian salad, seasoned tomato, and mixd vegetable) but apparently, the idea didn't catch on so well. Or did it?  Because here, in Favorite Recipes of America, we find a recipe, apparently a FAVORITE,  calling for celery flavor!

The recipe, as it was printed in 1968:

1 3-oz. package celery flavored gelatin
1 c. hot water
1/2 c. cold water
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/2 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 tsp. prepared mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1 12-oz. can pork luncheon meat, diced
1 89-oz. can peas, drained
Romaine leaves

Dissolve gelatin in hot water; stir in cold water and vinegar. Beat in mayonnaise, mustard and salt; pour into shallow pan. Freeze for 20 minutes. Spoon into medium bowl; beat until light. Fold in meat and peas; spoon into 4-cup ring mold. Chill until firm. Unmold onto serving plate; garnish with romaine leaves. Yield: 4-6 servings.

Also, let's address the elephant in the room: "pork luncheon meat" can mean nothing but Spam™, 'miright?

Spam™, as anyone reading this blog will certainly already know, is "ground pork shoulder and ground ham combined with salt, sugar, water, and sodium nitrate, stuffed into a can, sealed, cooked, dried, dated, and shipped...It needs no refrigeration. It will keep in its can until the end of time." (My facts and figures come from Jane and Michael Stern's Encyclopedia of Bad Taste, long out of print but well worth the ONE CENT that a used paperback copy on Amazon will cost you.) It was a staple for the Allies in wartime, and in fact Nikita Kruschev credited it with saving the Russian army from starvation.

As you'll see in the tasting video, I made up my own claim that Spam™was the most popular food in Korea; further research reveals that I may not have been so far off the mark. If anyone has any further clarification on that matter, be sure and let me know!

The bigger issue was how to replicate the celery Jell-O™... so here goes. I boiled some celery for a few minutes, then strained that water and used it for the 1 cup hot water in the recipe. Then in place of the called-for salt, I used celery salt. If you're tempted to duplicate the recipe at home, I will warn you that the celery salt will not dissolve AT ALL. It ends up as a kind of grit that settles in the bottom of the mold (what will be the top when you unmold it.)

Everything else came together easily, leaving me only with the dread of feeding Dr. Husband Spam™, which he's promised would be a five-scream offense. But, to my surprise...

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.)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Lime Turkey Mold

Lime Turkey Mold
Better Homes and Gardens "Salad Book" ca. 1969,  p. 111
As pretty as this looks, always remember that when gelatin is involved, looks can be deceiving.

I may as well own to the fact that, immediately after the tasting was filmed, Dr. Husband went straight to our tastefully-appointed guest bath and upchucked. IN MY DEFENSE, he had just finished a 12-mile run which he neglected to properly hydrate for. But it is perhaps telling that I'm not prepared to blame the upchucking entirely on that.

Better Homes and Gardens Salad Book helpfully recommends how Lime Turkey Mold might fit into a mealtime menu:

Menu: Apple Cider, Lime Turkey Mold, Popovers with Whipped Butter, Hot Fudge Sundaes with Nut Topping, and Beverage.

I neglected all of the above, with the exception of "beverage", which you'll see in the video.

I also used pre-packaged roasted turkey chunks, which might be part of the problem in this dish. I suggest leftover turkey that you've cooked yourself if you're tempted to make this at home - or just ditch the turkey altogether, and end up with a delightful dessert.

Here's the recipe:
2 3-ounce packages lime-flavored gelatin
1 7-ounce bottle (about 1 cup) ginger ale, chilled
2 cups diced cooked turkey
1 cup dairy sour cream
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 16-ounce can pears, drained and diced

Dissolve gelatin and 1/4 teaspoon salt in 2 cups boiling water; cool. To half the gelatin mixture, slowly add ginger ale and 1/2 cup cold water. Chill till partially set. Fold in turkey. Pour gelatin mixture into 6 1/2 cup mold; chill till almost firm. Meanwhile, beat sour cream and ginger into remaining gelatin till smooth. Chill till partially set. Fold in pears. Pour over almost firm layer. Chill till firm. Serves 4.

I didn't have high hopes for this, and my suspicions bore fruit:

Our Rating: Four and a half 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.)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Frankfurter Salad Loaf

Frankfurter Salad Loaf
Better Homes and Gardens "Salad Book" ca. 1969,  p. 123
The "in" snack for teen get-togethers! proclaims Better Homes and Gardens Salad Book, above the recipe for this concoction.  And indeed, if my experience is any gauge, this is only an "in" snack in the sense that teens will eat anything you set before them, and eat all of it, and not complain.

But perhaps Frankfurter Salad Loaf has something of a timeless appeal, judging by Dr. Husband's warm reception.

I must admit that I didn't have very high hopes when reading the ingredients on paper, but once I started assembling the dish and realized I was dealing with the two greatest foods in the history of mankind - hot dogs and French onion dip - my hopes raised considerably.

Here you go, the recipe in all its glory:
1 unsliced loaf French bread, 18 to 20 inches long
4 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 cup dairy sour cream
2 tablespoons dry onion soup mix
2 tablespoons mustard-style hot dog relish
4 or 5 frankfurters, thinly sliced
3/4 cup chopped celery 

Cut lengthwise slice from top of bread; set top aside. Scoop out loaf to within 3/4 inch of bottom and sides. Spread inside of loaf and cut side of top with butter. Wrap loaf in foil, leaving cavity uncovered. Combine sour cream, onion soup mix, and relish; stir in frankfurter slices and celery. Spoon frankfurter mixture into hollow of loaf. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes. During last 5 minutes of baking, place reserved top of loaf in oven to toast. To serve, place top on loaf; cut loaf into 1 1/2-inch slices. Serves 12.

I will admit to not using the called-for half-pound of butter; instead I brushed the bread cavity with olive oil. (I'm certain it made a huge difference in my health after topping it with the hot dog-sour cream glop.)  I sliced the hot dogs into rounds, and as you'll see in the video, I maybe should have sliced lengthwise for ease of eating.  Cooking is so hard when there aren't accompanying pictures!

After a brief commercial message, you'll see that Dr. Husband was pleasantly surprised with the results:

Our Rating: One Screaming Husband!
(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.)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Deviled Egg Mold

Deviled Egg Mold
Knox On-Camera Recipes, pg. 25
Like all mid-century housewives, I have a degree in English Literature that I never use.  Which leads to my first question - why isn't "deviled edges" spelled with two L's?

But I digress. Today's dish comes from 1960's Knox On-Camera Recipes, billed as "a completely new guide to Gel-Cookery".  Knox™, as you know, is unflavored, leading to all manner of exciting culinary adventures!

From the description of the recipe: "Eggs take on airs and the result teams up wonderfully well with sliced cold meats or poultry."

That's a little vague for me. I would have put, "Men love deviled eggs, and will eat them no matter what medium they're suspended in."

My only beef with this recipe is that it lacks mustard, which doesn't exactly scream deviled egg to me. More egg salad-y.  But feel free to experiment, ladies, the very nature of Knox™ gelatin means that your imaginations can run wild!

So, here's the recipe:
1 envelope Knox™Unflavored Gelatin
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons grated onion
1/2 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup finely diced green pepper
1/4 cup chopped pimiento
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

In a saucepan, sprinkle gelatin on water to soften. Place over low heat and stir until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat and add salt, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper. Cool.

Stir in mayonnaise. Fold in remaining ingredients. Turn into a 3 cup mold or individual molds and chill until firm. Unmold and garnish with salad greens and serve with salad dressing.

You can see from the photos that I didn't bother with garnish or salad dressing. No need, ladies, because your man will dig into this with gusto. Witness the following:

Don't forget, if you have a beloved/disgusting recipe you'd like to see Dr. Husband try, send it in!

Our Rating: One 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.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Molded Asparagus Salad

Molded Asparagus Salad
Better Homes and Gardens Salad Book, pg. 62
After my last disastrous adventure with canned asparagus, I probably shouldn't have wasted my time with this, but...well, the whole point is to make Dr. Husband retch, is it not?  Plus, I've recently received a lovely gift from a former student of the Better Homes and Gardens Salad Book, c.1969, which will feature prominently in the next few installments.

You might find it surprising that, having been raised in a home where fresh asparagus would be on the table even if it cost ten dollars a pound, that I would fail to turn up my nose at the canned variety. But I don't and there it is. I really don't mind it at all. Sometimes I'll just eat it right out of the can - in fact, that's how I prefer it.  Dr. Husband, however, is driven into a Hulk-smash rage, even at the notion that a can of asparagus may have found its way into the house.

Dr. Bobb Science Fun Fact: Does your pee smell funny after eating asparagus? If so, you're in good company - French novelist Marcel Proust famously wrote in 1913 that asparagus "transforms my chamber-pot into a flask of perfume." And one British men's club is said to have put up a sign reading, "During the asparagus season, members are requested not to relieve themselves in the hat stand."

About 22% of the population report a funny urine smell after dining on asparagus, a result of the vegetable's sulfurous amino compounds breaking down.  But wait, there's more!  Turns out,  scientists believe that EVERYONE'S pee is affected - but only 22% of us have the gene that allows us to smell it!  

Now, on with the show. Here's the recipe as it appears in print:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 10-1/2 ounce can condensed cream of asparagus soup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 8-ounce carton cream-style cottage cheese
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
1 10-1/2 ounce can asparagus spears, drained and cut
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped pimiento

In saucepan, soften gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water.Stir over low heat til gelatin dissolves. Blend soup, lemon juice, and salt into gelatin; beat in cottage cheese and sour cream. Chill gelatin mixture until partially set, then fold in remaining ingredients. Pour into 4-1/2 cup mold. Chill til firm. Serves 5 or 6.

Some substitutions here: living as I do in the idyllic countryside, it was impossible to find cream of asparagus soup (if they even still make it anymore), so I used cream of celery.  Also, I couldn't find, and in fact have never seen "cream-style" cottage cheese, so I used small curd.  I'm also not a big fan of the "chill til firm and then add the rest of the ingredients" method.  I've tried it and don't notice much difference in the final product over the "mix everything all at once then go have yourself a cocktail" method, the key being to make sure your gelatin is dissolved correctly at the very beginning of the process.  I'm convinced the two-step process was invented by men to keep women from having time to think for themselves.

Anyway, the tasting went something like this:

Our Rating: Four 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.)