Friday, August 1, 2014

Just for Fun Fridays

I thought I might start a semi-regular feature here on Friday and post some of the more unusual or fun recipes that I've run across. I have quite an extensive cookbook collections, and I have more than a few old ones that include recipes for things most Americans aren't eating on a regular basis these days.

This week's recipe is from a cookbook published in 1959 called Farm Journal's Country Cookbook. The 50's were an interesting time in culinary history. There was the advent of the TV dinner, something the busy housewife could heat easily in the oven so the family could sit in the living room and watch television together, something that's hung on in many households to this day.

Also mainstream fast food began with both Burger King and McDonald's staring business within a year of each other in the mid 50's. Now you could send junior down to the local fast food restaurant to grab a bag of burgers for dinner, again something that many households still do today.

But at the same time all the convenience was changing American dining habits, gourmet cooking was coming into vogue as Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck opened a cooking school in Paris called L'Ecole des Trois Gourmandes.. They began teaching American women how to cook fine Parisian food. Child translated French recipes into English in an engaging manner, and would eventually become a world-wide sensation in the 60's.

In 1955, James Beard, an American pioneer foodie, established the James Beard Cooking School in New York City. Beard had appeared in his own segment on America's first cooking show in 1946, wrote many articles for food magazines and did consulting. And, of course, he ran his own restaurant during that time. His love of American food, quality ingredients, and brilliance in the kitchen helped lay the groundwork for today's modern American culinary heritage.

But for all the wonderful things that happened food-wise in the 50's, there were some not-so-wonderful recipes as well. Today's fun recipe is called Garden Salad Loaf (also known as Molded Garden Salad in the photo caption - I don't know which sounds worse).

Don't let that puppy slip off that tray!

Garden Salad Loaf (Makes 10 to 12 servings.)
Cool and beautiful--shimmering gelatin holds fresh garden vegetables

2 green peppers, cut in small strips
4 chopped green onions (include tops)
20 radishes, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
4 small tomatoes, cut in thin wedges
3/4 cup French dressing
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2-2/3 cups very hot water
1/2 cup vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 cups shredded chicory or lettuce
1 cup coarsely torn spinach or shredded cabbage
1/4 cup minced parsley

  • Combine first 5 vegetables and marinate in French dressing (15 minutes or more).
  • Combine gelatin, sugar and salt; add hot water and stir to dissolve ingredients. Add vinegar and lemon juice. Chill until gelatin thickens.
  • Drain vegetables well. Fold marinated vegetables and crisp greens into gelatin mixture. (Chicory, spinach and parsley do no wilt easily, but you may use lettuce or shredded cabbage, to.) Pour into oiled loaf pan, about 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 x 3"; chill until firm.
  • Unmold on platter.
Fancy Touches: For a design of vegetables on top of mold when you turn it out, pour about 1/2 cup dissolved gelatin mixture into laf pan and let set. On this arrange an interesting pattern with radish slices, green pepper and tomato strips. Spoon a little of gelatin mixture over vegetables to "anchor" them; let set before adding vegetable-gelatin mixture. A border of tomato wedges may be arranged around outer edge of mold for color.

Variations: Omit unflavored gelatin and sugar; substitute 2 (3 oz.) packages lemon flavor gelatin and 3-1/2 cups very hot water. Follow same procedure.

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