Tuesday, September 18, 2018

**UPDATE** 1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 12: Pickled Eggs

Update to the other day's post.

Well, they look beautiful. Beet juice does lovely things to the pickled egg.

Look at that! Absolutely beautiful.

However, as far as taste goes I hate the recipe. The sugar plus beet influence makes for a very cloying pickled egg. I am a convert to the visual appeal that the beet juice lends to the eggs, but I would amend this recipe. I've never been a fan of 'pickling spices.' I would lose those, add salt, add heat, and omit the sugar. Then we are on to something.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 12: Pickled Eggs

Recipe Count: 11 of 156 Complete.

It has been a while since my last "Favorite Recipes" post. I know, I know... My lack of inertia has set in. But I warned you that this might be a decade long journey... Tortoise beats the hair.

Pickled eggs and pickled sausage (and pickled hot dogs) are among my favorite snacks. I usually do a malt vinegar recipe when I make pickled eggs at home (or beer vinegar), but I've always been philosophically interested in the bright-pink-beet-juice-colored egg genre. What were the pickled eggs behind the bar at the Palais back when? Were they pink? I cant remember... Maybe they were the big white vinegar Glazier's jar. Remind me if you can...

So here we have Betty Kerrigan's 'Pickled Eggs' recipe. I think it would be more aptly titled 'Pickled Eggs and Pickled Beets' as it keeps the beets in the party. A lot of recipes I've seen just use the juice.

Here is the ingredient lineup.

Reading the recipe I wondered, "where is the salt?" Canned beets have some sodium (875 grams per can) but I would still expect some salt. No matter. I have faith. Maybe you need to eat these with a salt shaker at hand.

Beets are weird. They look weird. They smell weird. I'm going to put this out there. I don't like them. I try to grow them for their tops because I'm always on the lookout for good sources of potassium. I've never had much luck.

Here are the beets.

What a great natural food dye beet juice is. Such a vivid red even after canning. Go full pinterest and dye your easter eggs with the juice next year.

As I've been meaning to do it and hadn't gotten around to doing it yet - I did a sous vide hard boiled egg. Wouldn't do it again. No discernible advantage over my standard boiled egg recipe. I think they were more difficult than usual to peel.

I've been a fan of Jas. Townsend for quite a while. He is always pickling things in crocks and stoneware. Thought I would follow the lead. I don't feel the intent of this recipe is to be canned/processed, so I'm keeping these in the fridge. Also, I'm tapped out for jars because of my garden.

I used a bean pot!

Notes on Taste:

Don't know yet. Will have to report back in a few days. I think they will be good.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 11: Macaroni-Cheese Tomato Casserole

Recipe Count: 10 of 156 Complete.

1. Spanish Fillet of Flounder
2. Golden Glazed Chicken
3. Mrs. Stoffels Yellow Angel Cake
4. Cheese Shorties
5. Rice Meatballs
6. Eggplant or Zucchini Parmesan 
7. Company Chicken Casserole
8. Serendipity
9. Sour Cream Cookies

Look at that! I'm prolific. One month since I started my "Favorite Recipes" exercise and I've burned through 10 recipes. Thought it might be nice to provide a recap via links.

Tonight we have Madelyn Futia's "Macaroni-Cheese Tomato Casserole."

If you include the words 'Macaroni' and 'Cheese' in a recipe there are certain expectations I think. This recipe does not meet them. But I still have some things to say.

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that Futia is an Italian-American name. Point being, my wife grew up in a home with her immigrant Italian grandparents. The wife hates cooking but has a few recipes that she claims to have inherited. One that always struck me as strange was a simple elbow noodle recipe that involved stewed tomatoes and butter. It was pretty much just elbow noodles, a can of hand squished stewed tomatoes, and butter... "Macaroni-Cheese Tomato Casserole" caught my eye as it appears to be a variation on that same theme.

I don't think I was too out of bounds by going with the 'healthy' pasta that I use to sneak nutritional value onto my children.

For workaday dairy products I always choose Cabot. For a mass market producer Cabot does good product.

I happened to be at P-Chops looking for a can of stewed tomatoes. I can't remember the last time I have been looking for stewed tomatoes... I found the selection very limited. I feel like in years past there was a veritable stewed tomato section in the tomato goods aisle. The world has moved on.

I used a particularly small green pepper and diced very fine. I've been trying to slide these dishes under my family's radar and a large pepper, diced big, would have set off alarms. An acceptable liberty to take I think.

"Dot with butter" always throws me. What does that mean? I cut the butter in quarter inch hunks and just shoved them all over. Someone else give me their concept of "dot with butter." Thank you.

Here she is baked.

Here she is in the bowl.

OK. Back to the thing about what 'mac' and 'cheese' implies when used in a recipe title. It implies creaminess. Melty-ness. Mac-n-cheese-ness. This recipe lacks that quality. Two tablespoons of milk? Sorry, that does not cut it.

Notes on taste:

Dry. This is a dry recipe. You can't go wrong with the combo of tomato and sharp cheddar (in fact, I have an old "Horn & Hardart" mac-cheese recipe which includes tomato. I need to make it soon). The flavor of this casserole is sound. But it aches for wetness. My daughter tried a bowl straight out of the oven and "sorta" liked it. I added some additional tomato sauce for her which improved the situation. I am thinking about doing a quick bechamel to mix in to improve the leftovers.

The unbaked butter/stewed mater/elbow recipe that I mentioned my wife would make had a certain slippery charm. Maybe a can of Campbell's Cream of Chicken would carry the day here? Or just a quick white sauce? I don't know... This was another miss.

Friday, August 24, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 10: Sour Cream Cookies.

Recipe Count: 9 of 156 Complete.

We return from the savory side of "Favorite Recipes," to the sweeter sections.

I had some sour cream on hand so yesterday I made Helen Abele's "Sour Cream Cookies."

This one involves chemistry. After the initial steps, I proceeded to "Mix sour cream and baking soda in a small bowl until foamy."

It never really got too foamy. Only a bit foamy.

Folding in the flour et al. we have a pretty shaggy cookie dough.

As I have stated along the way with this recipe journey, I am slavishly following the instructions. I had halved this recipe. When I plopped out the dough in teaspoons-fuls I was left with 48 cookies. 4 dozen is what is the suggested yield for the full-shot recipe. So I had to slop half of the unbaked cookies onto the other half... A bit of a messy process.

Here is one baked.

The "Sour Cream Cookies" ended up very cake-like. Soft and a bit doughy.

The end note of the recipe states, "this is a good, basic recipe" and suggests various additions of nuts, jam, and chocolate. I think this is sage advice. "Sour Cream Cookies" can't quite hack it unadulterated.

I went with a simple vanilla/confectioners sugar glaze.

The glaze brought them into line as a fully formed cookie. My daughter even requested a couple for her camp lunchbox. So overall, a successful cookie.

Notes on Taste:

A bit odd. A slightly undercooked flour taste, but the lemon is nice. The "Sour Cream Cookies" remind me of a less crumbly version of those Italian glazed X-Mas cookies my wife's Aunts are fond of making.

My daughter really liked them. This may actually warrant a repeat performance.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 9: Serendipity. Big pot o' brown.

Recipe Count: 8 of 156 Complete

I haven't been feeling being too ambitious with my "Favorite Recipes." This week I decided upon a softball recipe.

"Serendipity" appeared to be an inoffensive soup based beef stew. Might even be able to get the kids to eat some of this one.

This stew follows the pattern of many other recipes in "Favorite Recipes." In general, 1970s era church cookbooks are full of similar recipes. We have canned goods + protein + aromatic vegetables, braised in one dish either in the oven or on the stovetop. Leftovers will keep well and the meal is built to be stretched with a starch. Simple convenience food of the past.

I've had plenty of Campbell's "Cream of X" soup based recipes. This is the first time I have ever used "Golden Mushroom" in anything. It is a little weird that the only liquid added is the sherry. Two fairly undiluted cans of Campbell's soup is a lot of salty for one pot of stew...

For the wine I went with an exquisite vintage.

Very simple "chuck it all in a pot and cook" recipe so I won't bore you with the details. The end result is big ol' pot o' brown.

This stuff begs for egg noodles. Have some on hand. I wasn't that hungry so I had a mini bowl.

Notes on Taste:

As expected, the "Serendipity" is very salty. Lots of sodium in two cans of thick brown Golden Mushroom. I don't think you could struggle through much without rice or noodles. On top of egg noodles it is fine. My daughter even found it palatable. The soup is surprisingly mushroomy in a pleasant way. The 2 hour cook time leaves the beef in a state of fall apart. 

File this one under: comforting and not bad. Will probably never make again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 8: Company Chicken Casserole.

Recipe Count: 7 of 156 Complete.

I figured Missy Kellam's "Company Chicken Casserole" was going to be a win. These soupy rice casseroles are often nice in a soupy comforting way. Boy was I wrong. This was a horror show.

As I mentioned in "Rice Meatballs" I am making it a point to point out the church cookbook tropes that I've come across in my extensive study of the form. The word "Company" in a recipe almost always just means -- "has wine in it." The departure from this convention in "Company Chicken Casserole" should have raised my eyebrow...

As I halved the recipe I got to use one of my favorite cooking vessels -- A tiny cornflower Corningware casserole.

Church cookbooks are heavy on the use of "American bechamel" (Campbell's "cream of ..." soups). The soupy casserole family of recipes is a favorite of mine  I'm a fan of "Hot Damn" and I think tater-tot hotdish is a true blue American classic.

I used celery and an eggplant from the garden. Including my lovingly grown veg in a pukey beige mess was sad.

The "let stand over night in refrigerator" instruction was ponderous to me. In a dish already a festival of brown letting the eggplant and mushroom oxidize overnight is not an appealing thought.

Below we have the dish rested overnight and baked as per the instructions.

The stuffing-like appearance of the casserole was encouraging.

Digging out a scoop is where things went south...

Notes on taste:

I did not begin my "Favorite Recipes" journey in order to participate in the typical (and boring) "let's prepare obviously disgusting old recipes and make fun of them drolly" business. I want to experience the family recipes of my community's past. Take food long forgotten and through my hands make it new again.

I feel no joy in my disappointment with "Company Chicken Casserole." I don't understand this recipe at all. I don't get the overnight soak. Is that to pre-soak the rice? What does that bring to the party?

What is with all the liquid? The proportions are way off. With the stock, soup, and exuded mushroom/eggplant water you are left with an overly wet dish. Not wet in a creamy comforting way. Wet in a sad separated way.

The texture. This is what really turned my stomach. The oddest assortment of textures I've had in my mouth at once. Even after the 1.5 hour cook time the celery (or onion) remained crisp. So you have crisp celery, disgusting slimy eggplant cubes, spongy mushroom, toothsome chicken, and all swimming on top of damp overcooked maggot-esque rice.

I spit out the one mouthful I managed.

This is a bad recipe. No way around it. I was thinking about how one might fix it. Cheese and breadcrumb and a hotter oven? Might turn the tide...

Thursday, August 9, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 7: Eggplant or Zucchini Parmesan.

Recipe Count: 6 of 156 Complete.

Can you name those vegetables? Corn, cabbage, freakishly large pea pod, 3 eyed screaming alien heads?...

Today we visit the (short) vegetable chapter of "Favorite Recipes." How do the ladies of St. Thomas Church treat the produce of this green earth?

Dorothy Barnao gives us "Eggplant or Zucchini Parmesan." I have "eggplant or zucchini" coming out of my ears from the garden so this was a good fit.

This type of "recipe" is common in church cookbooks. In substance it is more akin to instructions. I suppose one could find the idea of making zucchini parmesan novel...

The choice between eggplant and zucchini was stressful so I used both. A small "applegreen" eggplant and a small "Alexandria" squash/zuch from my garden. Both varieties are excellent and very productive if gardening is your thing. It is probable that Dorothy Barnao intended a single large vegetable. The use of two small vegetables does not seem to be out of bounds.

For the "spaghetti sauce" that is called for I chose Hunts "Traditional" canned sauce.

As I have already mentioned in past posts, I am trying to stay true to the subject matter. I think this is a good interpretation of what was intended by the prescribed "spaghetti sauce."

I spooned exactly 1.5 cups on top of the browned veg. I topped with exactly 8 slices of parmesan cheese. Isn't that funny? "8 slices parmesan cheese." When do you ever see slices of parmesan cheese called for in a recipe? You would expect grated.

The wife had small parmesan snack chunks in the fridge which were perfect for this purpose.

Notes on Taste:

What is there to say about "Eggplant or Zucchini Parmesan?" It is breaded eggplant (or zucchini). With sauce. And cheese... It will be as good as the ingredients that you put into it. I could have dialed this way in with a homemade sauce from garden tomatoes and high end parmesan, etc...

When the recipe spoke to me it spoke in the language of canned tomato sauce and cheap seasoned breadcrumbs. Perhaps it speaks a different language to you.

I believe tomorrow we will have our first **LEFTOVERS REVIEW** mashup. "Eggplant or Zucchini Parmesan" with a heaping side of "Rice Meatballs."

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 6: Rice Meatballs.

Recipe Count: 5 of 156 Complete.

In Part 3: Golden Glazed Chicken I mentioned that there are "church cookbook tropes."

Specific to each era are ingredients, techniques, recipe names, artwork, "jokes,"  etc... that you will see repeated over and over. As a subtext during my "Favorite Recipes" journey I will attempt to highlight these tropes.

"Golden Glazed Chicken" piqued my interest because the Jello glaze is something I can't remember seeing in any other recipe. Tonight's selection, "Rice Meatballs," is a variation on a theme firmly attested across decades of church cookbook cookery.

Rice as a filler in meatballs is an effective method to stretch your protein. Here, one pound of ground beef serves 6.

Pat Gallachi's "Rice Meatballs" is a spare interpretation of the method. In other books you will see these recipes named "porcupine meatballs" in more complicated (often "sweet and sour") variations.

I halved the proportions as I have no need to feed 6. Obtained the beef from McCarroll's at the 4 Corners (throbbing heart of Delmar).

**BONUS** A historical McCarroll's advert I have. **BONUS**

Grating onion is a forgotten process.  With the box grater you have a pulverized mush and juice. This adds nostalgic onion flavor to the meat that is missed when you chop or dice.

The accidental artistry of making meatballs. Ingredients in a bowl.

Here we have very loose/wet meatball.

Have to be careful when browning lest they disintegrate.

The minute rice absorbs the liquid during the cooking process and you are left with a dry and sauceless meatball.

When the grains of rice begin to protrude from the balls like tiny larva you know you are almost there.

Pat Gallachi provided us with scant instructions in her "Rice Meatballs" recipe. I try to intuit things and imagine preparing this as part of a fleshed out dinner time. Leaving the meatballs covered near the heat for 15 or 20 minutes post suggested cook time makes sense. Of course you have to set the table and prepare your side dishes. Give the rice in those balls a minute to relax in a steamy environment and get tender.

Don't depend on a sauce with "Rice Meatballs." The rice soaks up the liquid and the balls are left kissed with a congealed tomato juice coating. The way odd bits of rice detach from the balls and become part of the coating is a feature rather than a bug.

Notes on Taste:

Remember the meatballs from Chef Boyardee's spaghetti and meatballs? "Rice Meatballs" is almost there. The balls are loose textured and have a similar umami punch from the reduced tomato juice (and that trademark tinned tomato twang). All in all a bit dryer/crumblier, but you get the idea.

I'm not going to sugarcoat it. The rice is off putting. I won't say that as you chew your mind conjures images of meatballs infected by wriggling larva, but I also won't not say it...

There will be a **LEFTOVERS REVIEW** to follow. I'm going to try to get this over on my children tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 5: Cheese Shorties.

Recipe Count: 4 of 156 Complete.

It is nary a week into this journey and already my will is flagging. There is much tuna and mayo to be found amongst the "Favorite Recipes" collection and I don't know if I can abide the horror. I suppose I will have to amend the bylaws further if I am to continue. I am a weak man. Pray for me.

Last night I chose "Cheese Shorties" in order to cleanse my mental palate. What a simple recipe -- cheese, fat, flour, garlic.

4 dozen Cheese Shorties sounded ambitious so I halved the recipe in this case.

I began with my spirit-cheese. The "Bulk White NY Cheddar" they put on sale at Shoprites all of the time. Grated up 1/2 pound with my trusty box grater.

Mixed everything and formed 2 Cheese Shorties snakes.

Chilled the snakes down, cut, and cooked as per the recipe.

They came out pale on top with a nicely browned bottom. Smelled real good.

Notes on Taste:

Cheese Shorties are wonderful. They are what Cheeze-its wish they could be. Salty, sharp, not quite as crispy as you would think... A perfect beer snack. Give me some tallboys and a plate of still-warm Cheese Shorties and I am all set.

Nobody makes these simple homemade finger-foods anymore. It's all bags of chips, guac, veg, or assorted other BS you picked up at Trader Joe's on your way home from work. We've lost something here. Salty/fatty three to four ingredient snacks. That is the way to entertain.

Monday, August 6, 2018

1970s Hometown Cookbook: Dave Cooks All the Recipes. Part 4: Mrs. Stoffels' Yellow Angel Cake

Recipe Count: 3 of 156 Complete

I had been chicken-sitting for some folks here in Delmar and had some eggs left over.

I flipped through "Favorite Recipes" with an eye out for a good egg recipe. I happened upon "Mrs. Stoffels' Yellow Angel Cake."

Didn't you know? Mrs. Stoffel's cake was in great demand at St. Thomas Bake Sales in the 1930's...

I figured 4 fresh Delmar eggs out of the 6 was enough to drive home the local ingredient/local recipe theme.

For the other ingredients I have been paying careful attention to using "norm-core" type ingredients for authenticity's sake. No buying all those precious bougie extracts and flours that weren't around in the 70s (or the 30s for that matter).

Let the word "softasilk" role off of your tongue. It's a one word poem.

Mr. Stoffels' cake is your standard "angel food" cake. You know, I will admit that I never knew that almond/vanilla/lemon comprised that particular "angel food" flavor profile. With this journey comes knowledge.

Though I buttered the pan heavily it was fresh hell getting Mrs. Stoffels' cake out of the bundt...

I succeeded and the cake was pretty as a picture with its powdered sugar on.

A slice.

Notes on taste:

It was pretty good angel cake. Mrs. Stoffels knew her stuff. A bit plain and not something I would expect to get motors running at a bake sale... I guess the 30s were simpler times.

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