Dear Baking: Why Do You Hate Me?

I am a God-awful baker.  No, really – I am.  I try and try, but my baking usually turns out sub-par at best.  I envy you out there that can bake.  (And, no – making cookies doesn’t count. Any idiot can do that.  I’m talking pie crusts, breads, biscuits, rolls, etc.)

I had a dinner party over the weekend and I had to make my rolls twice, my tart crust twice, and a record six times trying  to make caramel sauce.  For real. Oh, and three out of four of my ovens went out, as well as the refrigerator.  For real.

My tart crust was too thin, so the filling leaked out and scorched the sides and under the tart itself, so it didn’t want to come out of the pan.  Yes, it still tasted good, but it looked like shit.  My rolls didn’t rise properly, so they were like little itty-bitty tiny rolls, although they did taste good inside.  And, I don’t know what was up with the caramel sauce.  I just kept burning it over and over.  Why do I do this to myself?

Because I love it!  (Also, strangely, my pretzel bites turned out fine. Go figure.)

Here was my Dinner Party Menu – an ode to Gourmet magazine as a kind of good-bye to the old gal.  Almost everything was from the October 2009 issue:

DINNER PARTY MENU

Country Ham & Cheddar Pretzel Bites with Jalapeño Mustard Sauce
Roasted Red & Golden Beet Salad with Goat Cheese  & Orange Vinaigrette
Roasted Black BBQ Pork Chops with Korean Black BBQ Dipping Sauce
Braised Bacon Carolina Rice
Vermouth & Butter Braised Thumbelina Carrots
Scotch Pie with Caramel Sauce & Blackened Pineapple Salsa

The End of Gourmet Magazine

gourmet

This is a sad say in the culinary world.  Gourmet Magazine, the oldest cooking publication in they United States is folding.  Condé Nast chopped the mag in a cost-cutting move along with three other titles.  They only have two cooking titles, Gourmet and Bon Appétit, and they chose to keep BA over Gourmet.  Of course, I get them both, along with Food & Wine and Saveur, but Gourmet has always been my favorite.

The magazine was published since December, 1940. The move comes as somewhat a surprise to foodies, as the Gourmet title has prestige. Or it did, anyway.  Another example of mediocrity over substance in my opinion.

World’s Best Meatloaf, 1955

mwml

Who knew that Miracle Whip makes the “World’s Best Meatloaf?”  Frankly, I think the only miracle about Miracle Whip is that people actually think it tastes better than  mayonnaise.  I think it has something to do with what you had as a child – most people I know that love the Whip are those whose Mom made tuna salad (or some equally mayonnaise-y thing) with it.  (Or, someone who had more than six siblings…)  To me, it tastes like mixing sour cream and sugar together and I really hate it.  But, to each his own – I like to eat dry Lipton’s Noodle Soup Mix right out of the envelope, so what do I know?

Anyway, if you like the MW, then have at this 1955 meatloaf recipe which proclaims to be the “World’s Best!”  I have to say, I am loving the crinkle-cut beets – I might have to try that sometime.  And, who doesn’t love a ring of meat filled with mashed potatoes?  That just seems un-American.

Recipe: Green Goddess Chicken Salad

ggcs

I realized that it’s been awhile since I posted a real recipe!  I made this last week for dinner, and I have to say it was absolutely delicious.  It was the cover shot on this month’s Food & Wine magazine.  It’s not an every day meal, as I wouldn’t call it exactly “diet friendly” but sometimes you just gotta enjoy things that are good, regardless. (It’s especially good if you use fresh herbs from the garden, like I did.)    Don’t skip the anchovies – even if you don’t like them – it is intergral to the taste of the dressing.  Also, I couldn’t find piquillo peppers to save my life, so I used pickled cherry peppers instead.

Enjoy!

GREEN GODDESS CHICKEN SALAD

SERVES 6

Ingredients:

2 oil-packed anchovies, drained
1 garlic clove
1/2 c. packed fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
1/4 c. packed fresh basil leaves
1 TBS. fresh oregano leaves
3/4 c. mayonnaise
2 1/2 TBS  fresh lemon juice
2 TBS fresh snipped chives
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb. loaf of ciabatta, bottom crust removed, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 2 lb. rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded, meat pulled into bite size pieces
3 inner celery ribs, with leaves, thinly sliced
8 piquillo peppers from jar, drained and quartered
1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives, halved

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, pulse the anchovies, garlic, parsley, basil, and oregano until coarsely chopped. Add the mayonnaise and lemon juice and process until smooth. Fold in the chives; season with salt and pepper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss the ciabatta with the chicken, piquillo peppers, celery and olives. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Make Ahead:

The dressing can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated.

The Mystery of Disgusting Gelatin Recipes Solved!

ss

I noticed I got a lot of traffic yesterday from jezebel.com, so being curious I went to the site to find out why.  Turns out they had a blog post about one of my favorite subjects: revolting recipes!  And, someone was nice enough to link to my mother of all revolting recipes: The Liver Sausage Pineapple.

The best part about the post, besides the recipes involved (Corned Beef Jello Salad! Tic-Tac Pie! Tuna Twinkie Soufflé!) was one of the commenters explained why molded salads were so popular in the 50s and 60s, something I have pondered for a long, long time.

Before the postwar era, jelled molded foods were rare and special, as they required a long process involving grinding and boiling for hours of hartshorn(antlers) or isinglass(from the swim bladders of sturgeon and cod. Mass production and and a newly prosperous middle class led to the invention of prepared gelatin powder and home refrigeration, which is why molded salads and icebox cakes exploded in popularity in the 50s. Clearly, tastes have changed since then.

Hooray!  The mystery is solved!  (Except for the fact that they are still completely disgusting.)

jezebel.com:  The Most Revolting Dish Ever Devised

Mac & Cheese Stuffed Peppers

mac_pep

There’s something strangely alluring about this fine recipe I found in my new 1965 Dinner in a Dish Cookbook.  It’s macaroni & cheese mixed with ham and stuffed into green peppers.  Maybe I’ve been staring at disgusting vintage recipes too long, but I think this sounds good for some reason.  A hell of a lot better than Jello & Tuna Pie!

I guess it’s all relative.

Yes, it’s a Tuna & Jello Pie!

pie

I never thought I would find a disgusting vintage recipe to top the famous Liver Sausage Pineapple, but dang if I didn’t find one that is just as repulsive – and maybe, just maybe –  a little bit more.

Voilà the “Summer Salad Pie” – a concoction listed as “pretty as can be” in my 1965 Betty Crocker’s Dinner in a Dish cookbook.  Um, not so sure “pretty” would be the word I’d use to describe it, but I’m not a cookbook editor – so what do I know?  Basically this pie is made up of a lemon jello layer with tomato sauce, celery, olives and onion, in a cheese crust topped with tuna salad.  Yes, tuna salad.

Don’t get me wrong – I love tuna salad.  I just don’t love tuna salad on top of jello in a pie shell.  What is the fascination with gelatin?  Why must it be used in every other recipe in 1965?  Was Jell-O thought to be space-age?  Was it a favorite at Camelot? Were we using it to show the Commies who’s boss?

All I know is that this has got to taste like Barf Pie – summer or not.

slice