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.)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Parsleyed Ham

Parsleyed Ham
Family Recipe Card ™ Series, via
In my never-ending search for disgusting dishes to taunt Dr. Husband with, I come across many excellent internet comrades who share the same fascination with our collective culinary past, including the delightful Vintage Recipe Cards. You should go there right away, as soon as you're done here, if you know what's good for you.

I know the above photo might most closely resemble something you'd step in while going for a midnight pee, after having fed your dog bacon grease, spinach, roquefort cheese, and baby food, but it is in fact a recipe with a decent pedigree. In fact, having initially forgotten where I stumbled upon it, my crack Googling skills led me to all manner of recipes with high-falutin' names like Jambon Persill√© and Ham Hock Terrine. Though a major feature of the dish is parsley, which is a taste and texture that disgusts even my refined palate, the other primary ingredients - booze and meat - persuaded me to give it a whirl.

The recipe, as it appears in the original Family Recipe Card ™ Series:
2 cups diced ham, trimmed of all fat
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup green onion, chopped, optional
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/4 tsp. dried tarragon leaves
1 Tbsp. unflavored gelatin
Lettuce leaves
Dijon-style mustard
Mustard Sauce: Mix 1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard with 1/4 cup chopped gerkin pickles
Tip: All chicken broth can be used in place of broth-wine mixture.

1. The ham can be cubed if larger pieces are desired. Add green onions, if used, to ham.
2. Heat the broth, wine, pepper, and tarragon.
3. Add ham mixture and simmer for a few minutes.
4. Reserve broth. Mix parsley and ham together. Dish the ham into 4 individual serving cups
5. Soften gelatin in small amount of water. Stir into broth, making sure it dissolves. Cool slightly until syrupy.
6. Pour equal amounts of broth over each ramekin. Cover and chill thoroughly.
7. Unmold onto lettuce. Serve with mustard sauce.
This seemed to take an awfully long time to go together, even with the cheat of using pre-cubed ham. And from my own taste, I'll tell you not to bother with the mustard sauce. It's too overpowering. I tried a little bit of this the next day, with a dab of mayonnaise, and it was much improved.  (Of course, I have been known to eat ham salad right out of the tub, so I may be biased. Still.)
Dr. Husband's tasting was not as traumatic as I'd feared:

Our Rating: Three 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 11, 2013

Avocado Salmon Mold

Avocado Salmon Mold
Better Homes and Gardens "Salad Book" ca. 1969,  p. 107
A thoughtful former student recently gifted me the delightful 1969 of Better Homes and Gardens' Salad Book, which you'll be hearing a lot more about in weeks to come, because it's filled to the brim with gelatinous horrors with which to torment Dr. Husband. 
 (Full disclosure: today's recipe is actually called Salmon Avocado Mold, but since I said it wrong on the video below and am too lazy to re-shoot, you'll have to live with calling it Avocado Salmon Mold.)  

Better Homes and Gardens proclaims, in the recipe description: 

“A spectacular salad for a foursome is the Salmon Avocado Mold. Frosted with an avocado dressing, cut wedges are pretty on the plates. It’s a do-ahead beauty to make the hostess’ job easier.”

I don't know about the easier part. I must re-state my assertion that dealing with canned salmon is the most distasteful act that a housewife will ever have to deal with (apart from - you know - wifely duties).  I bought a more well-known name brand of canned salmon for this recipe, in the hopes that I could avoid the omnipresent bits of scale and one found in the off-brand, but my hopes were dashed immediately.  

The rest of the recipe came together fairly quickly (with the exception of the grated onion - help me out here, ladies, was one once able to purchase onion already grated, or was it always an onerous task?) 

So here we go, the recipe as printed:

1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 teaspoons grated onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 16 ounce can salmon, drained, flaked, and small bones removed
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/3 cup sliced pitted ripe olives
1/4 cup chopped celery
For the dressing:
1 large avocado
1/2 cup dairy sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
Curly endive

In saucepan soften gelatin in the cold water. Stir over low heat until gelatin is completely dissolved. Add sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and horseradish. Chill till mixture is partially set. Fold salmon, mayonnaise, olives, and celery. Spoon into a 3 1/2 cup mold; chill till gelatin mixture is firm. To prepare dressing, peel and mash the avocado (about 2/3 cup). Blend together the avocado, sour cream, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Chill. Unmold salmon salad onto serving platter. Spread avocado dressing mixture evenly over the outside of salad. Garnish with curly endive and a lemon twist, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
I will admit to being in a bit of a rush, so I didn't quite let the concoction come to a partial  set before adding all the gunk in.  But it did set up beautifully nonetheless.  I was a little dismayed that  my mixture didn't turn out as pink as the demonstration photo promised:
and even considered adding a bit of red food coloring, but didn't have any.

I also couldn't taste any horseradish in the final product, so if you fancy a spicier version, be sure to up that amount.

As I said, the dish firmed up beautifully (I left it overnight), and spreading the avocado frosting on was a breeze, even though the avocado I used wasn't quite as ripe as I'd have liked.  I was worried that the addition of salt in the frosting would make the whole dish too salty, but it didn't seem to bother Dr. Husband or I in the least.

In fact, ladies, he loved it, I think he liked it more than I did:

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.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Corned Beef Hawaiian

Corned Beef Hawaiian
contributed by Mrs. Ann P Jeter, Crestview, Fla.
Favorite Recipes of America: Casseroles p. 6

I certainly didn't come here to malign the probably-dead; but I must question Mrs. Ann P. Jeter's love for her family.  This recipe is simultaneously the least-time intensive, and most disgusting, thing I have made in my life. Ever.

My own fondness for Hawaii knows no bounds. I mean, I've never been, but I DO like Magnum, PI, Na Leo Pilmehana, and that three-episode Brady Bunch epic.  I also grew up listening to my grandmother, Mrs. White, endlessly repeat that she had been to Hawaii seven times, "four times as an escort", in her role of (Pastsupremepresident of the Beauceant), and sorting through shoeboxes full of photos like this:
But anyway, here's the recipe. Husband was home all day working, so I wanted to bring him something really special for lunch:

1 can sweet potatoes
1/4 c. orange juice
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla flavoring
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 can corned beef

Drain sweet potatoes; reserve liquid. Mix liquid, orange juice, brown sugar, flavoring and cornstarch. Place corned beef in center of greased casserole. Arrange sweet potatoes around corned beef. Pour liquid over potatoes and corned beef. Bake at 350 degrees until done. Yield: 4 servings.

First of all, I must disagree with the "4 servings" notation. Mrs. Jeter may have had her family on starvation rations - more likely, they grew tired of her cooking and she adjusted her portions accordingly. Even just tasting this decidedly disgusting concoction, husband consumed nearly 3/4 of the entire yield.

Also, if you're not familiar with canned corned beef, it has the smell and consistency of dog food.  I would imagine the taste as well.  When exposed to heat, it loses what tenuous similarity to actual meat that it ever possessed, and becomes something akin to what you get when you soak a greasy baking dish overnight.  Some kind of hideous combination of Palmolive and rendered beef tallow.

Undoubtedly this recipe was meant to capture the carefree frivolity of the Polynesian food craze of the late 50's-early 60's, and indeed it might not be such a bad idea...with any other meat than canned corned beef.  Even the much-maligned Spam would be a better option, I would think.

(Note to self: start researching horrible Spam recipes right away.)

So, here's the thanks I get for slaving over a hot stove for, oh, about three minutes:

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.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Sardine Cheese Spread

Sardine Cheese Spread
contributed by Dr. Michelle Kunz, friend of Dr. Bobb (via Woman's Day circa 1978)
Another contribution from Dr. Kunz, this one cribbed, apparently, from Woman's Day magazine circa 1978.  A good year, '78. I seem to remember getting my first non-dorky haircut, as well as a short-lived crush on my ultra-Christian sixth-grade teacher Mr. Burkle. But I digress.

I'm not opposed to sardines as an ingredient:  I remember Dr. Mother making a delicious sardine salad, as an alternative to the pedestrian tuna variety, round about 1978 or so. And, of course, Dr. Father, his taste buds and decorum deadened during the big war, would just fish them out of the can and drop them down his gullet, regardless of what medium (oil, water, mustard sauce) they had been packed in.

Nor am I opposed to cottage cheese: I fondly remember a time - again, circa 1978 - when I joined Dr. Mother in her Weight Watchers diet, and enjoyed breakfast after breakfast of low-fat cottage cheese piled high onto wheat toast and sprinkled with Sweet-n-Low and cinnamon.

Other notable events of 1978:

January 28: The Doobie Brothers make a guest appearance on TV's What's Happening.
April 22: The Blues Brothers make their first appearance on Saturday Night Live. 
November 17: The Star Wars Holiday Special, the greatest television broadcast in the history of the medium, airs on CBS.

But I digress.

Here's the recipe, if you're still interested:
1 can (3 3/4 oz) skinless, boneless sardines 1 c. cottage cheese 2 med. green onions with tops, minced, divided 1 T. lemon juice 2 tsp Worcestershire 1/4 tsp salt Paprika
In food processor or blender puree all ingredients except 2 T. onions and the paprika until smooth and well blended. Pack in 2 small shallow bowls or au gratin dishes. Sprinkle with paprika and onions. Cover airtight and refrigerate. Will keep about 1 week. Serve on crackers. 1 1/2 cups.
I attempted to making this in the blender, thinking that it would make everything authentic. But I quickly discovered the reasoning behind Electric Blender Recipe's strong admonitions that ingredients be added exactly in the order listed...I glopped the cottage cheese in first, and the sardines last, and so the sardines floated, unmolested, on top of the mound of cottage cheese, no matter how long the blender ran. I finally had to transfer the whole kit and kaboodle to the food processor to finish it off.
Once blended, I found I had significantly less than the cup-and-a-half that the recipe said I would have. More like 3/4 cup. "Will keep about 1 week" the recipe cheerily advises. "Unless you dump it down the disposal." Which you will, because it's awful.
I was honestly surprised at Dr. Husband's initial positive reaction, for as he says he hates sardines. And even I, raised on a steady diet of horrible tasting things like creamed codfish, pickled herring, and scrambled eggs and brains, foujnd my first taste almost unpalatable. Here's what we thought:

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.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

Eggplant Clam Casserole

Eggplant Clam Casserole
contributed by Dr. Michelle Kunz, friend of Dr. Bobb
I don't know if I've made anything thus far with two prominent ingredients which are wholly unappealing to me. I mean, to say, I do like both clams and eggplant in very specific contexts - like, when they are deep fried and covered in marinara sauce and melted cheese, or perhaps combined with pasta and doused in a garlicky butter sauce - but, on their own, with no adornment, neither one appeals to me much.

Which, naturally, is why I was compelled to try it.

Today's Eggplant Clam Casserole is my very first reader submission, brought to us by my old friend and Doctor-in-arms Michelle Kunz, about whom I won't say much save that she is what one would have called "fierce" in the early two-thousand-aughts.

Fierce or not, if you'd like to submit a recipe of your very own for Husband to taste, email me!

From her original submission, she reports that:
Don't have any other details on this. It's handwritten in my mother's writing and dated 1973, from a family friend.

Family "friend"? I'LL BE THE JUDGE OF THAT.

So, here's the recipe:

1 eggplant
1 egg
1/4 lb butter or margarine
1 can minced clams, with liquid
1 1/2 c. cracker crumbs
Pare, dice, & boil eggplant until soft. Drain, add butter, cracker crumbs, egg, & clams (including liquid). Season to taste. Pour into buttered casserole & bake in moderate oven 30-45 mins.
Optional: top with buttered cracker crumbs before baking
Since I was using already-buttery-tasting Ritz crackers for my crumbs, I halved the amount of butter called for, because just in case you weren't aware, 1/4 lb. is a stick of butter. A girl has to be mindful of her figure, after all. 
I'm not exactly sure what is meant by "moderate oven" but I baked it at 350, uncovered, for 35 minutes, which seemed to be plenty of time.
The result was quite a bit soupier than what I was expecting, more like what Mother might've called "scalloped" something-or-other. And what did Husband think?

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.)