Posted by: Erica Retrochef | September 22, 2014

Peas Indienne

The saddest part about some retro recipes is how poorly they do at “appreciating” some styles of cuisine. Want to make your peas taste like they’re from India? Just add curry powder.


2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 to 3/4 teaspoon curry powder, according to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped
1 can (17-oz.) DEL MONTE Early Garden Peas

Melt butter or margarine. Mix in curry powder, add peanuts; sauté 2 min. Add well-drained DEL MONTE Peas and mix carefully with a fork till peas are hot. (Be sure to use a light hand — remember all these peas are tender!) Serves 4.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | September 15, 2014

Bacon-Tomato Soup Sandwich

Today we decided to try a “new” idea for lunch: broiled soup sandwiches. We can always count on Campbell’s soup advertisements to come up with some truly strange attempt to turn soup into sauces, but it’s slightly new for them to invent an entire sandwich line.


So yesterday, we decided to try making these for lunch. I’ve got a few cans of cream of mushroom soup in the cupboard more or less constantly, and so BACON-TOMATO SOUP SANDWICH was on the menu…


Put 4 slices buttered toast on cookie sheet; top each with 2 slices tomato, 2 slices cooked bacon. Stir 1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup till smooth; add 1/2 cup milk, 1 tsp. minced onion, 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire; pour over open-face sandwiches. Broil till hot and bubbly. Serves 4.

In the accompanying photograph, it looks like cream soup poured over bacon and tomato. Think an open-face BLT, but with mysteriously absent lettuce.

Perhaps the green leafy vegetable went on strike? I certainly would be if I heard I was going to get drenched in “sauce” instead of getting to hang out with my regular accompaniment.


The pile of ingredients is a strange intersection of sensible sandwich parts (toast, bacon, tomatoes) and… sauce stuff (everything else).


A delicious, ripe summer tomato paired with high-quality bacon is a simple but delicious combination.


Oh, but this is a broiled soup sandwich, so there has to be soup in here somewhere.


In fact, there needs to be soup all over the place.

Yeah, I know. It looks like you ordered a BLT, but they were out of lettuce, so instead the cook sneezed on the sandwich and hoped you wouldn’t notice.


The soup-sauce itself was surprisingly bland, but it did lend some creamy flavor to the sandwich. It also made everything soggy. The broiling step was pointless — we would have been better off just heating the soup and then pouring it on. Adding the milk was pointless and made it much too runny.

Come to think of it… we probably should have just eaten bacon-tomato sandwiches and given away the can of soup. This wasn’t a disastrous dish, but it was definitely an example of an ingredient in search of a recipe.

Broiled soup sandwich advertisement was originally shared by Amy Em. on Flickr.

Posted by: Erica Retrochef | September 8, 2014

Shrimp Rajah, or Curried Shrimp

We got a wildly good deal on some South Carolina shrimp this week. Since I am (apparently) a crazy person, my first thought was what retro recipe calls for shrimp? Turns out, not too many of them. (I assume shrimp used to be far less commonly available in non-coastal states, which pretty much rules it out of the “popular ingredients for advertisers to use.”)

But French’s came through, trying to convince us that their curry powder is the best way to prepare this seasonal bounty. Or rather, currie powder…



1/4 cup butter or margarine
1/4 cup French’s Onion Flakes
1/3 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons French’s Currie Powder
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
4 cups (about) shrimp (cooked)

Melt butter, add onion flakes, and cook until soft. Stir in flour, seasonings. Add stock; cook until thick, stirring constantly. Add milk, lemon juice, shrimp. Heat thoroughly. Yield: 8 servings. (Chicken may be substituted for shrimp.)

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | August 31, 2014

Nut Log

For some reason, I have a harder time making desserts than dinners for my blog. Despite the fact that they’re more popular (with the kids in particular), I don’t generally meal-plan dessert, and so I forget to make it most of the time.

But this Labor Day weekend we had an empty milk carton, and decided to try a sweet treat with it: Nut Log.


Tired of serving the same old things for parties and snacks? Try a nut log! It’s crispy good and quite different. Get a half-gallon of milk in a plastic-coated Pure-Pak carton. Drink it up. Then open the top at both corners, wash and dry, and the rest is easy.

The ingredients are: 1/4 pound butter or margarine, 1 cup (6-ounce package) semi-sweet chocolate morsels, 1 10-ounce package miniature marshmallows, 1 8- or 10-ounce package crisp rice cereal, 2 cups Spanish peanuts, 2 cups chopped pecans, 1 cup raisins, 3 cups popped popcorn.

Melt butter, chocolate and marshmallows together in top of double boiler. Mix remaining ingredients in a very large bowl.

Pour melted chocolate sauce over dry ingredients in bowl and mix thoroughly. Then spoon the mixture into Pure-Park carton — pack tightly — and place in refrigerator.

In about an hour your nut log will be firm and ready to serve. Peel the carton away, slice, and watch it disappear! Makes about 24 servings.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | August 18, 2014

Ribbon Slaw

Fun food safety fact: Mayonnaise isn’t dangerous if left unrefrigerated. Made with pasteurized eggs, vinegar, and lemon juice, it’s not a bacteria-friendly environment. Which means you can safely enjoy this “new idea for coleslaw” brought to you by 1960’s Miracle Whip, even at a sweltering August picnic!


Toss purple cabbage with radish and stuffed green olive slices and Miracle Whip; layer this with green cabbage tossed with cucumber slices, kidney beans, Miracle Whip.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | August 11, 2014

Neptune Sandwiches

I really like avocados. One of my friends got me this giant avocado — the grocery store had a sale, they were about to throw away the promotional avocado, she asked if she could keep it and now it lives in my kitchen.


His name is Avi the Avocado.


Another of my friends got me this super cookbook, published by Calavo some decades ago (it’s undated) and full of ways to eat these tasty green fruits.

Interestingly, it’s also full of slightly defensive paragraphs about how avocados are nutritional powerhouses, not fattening, and have less calories than various other foods. Which is all true, in fact — avocados are very nutritious as well as delicious! I was mostly surprised that the “omg so fattening” myth was old (this was published in the late 1960’s).



Makes about 1 3/4 cups filling.

1 1/2 tsps. instant minced onion
1 T. water
1 (7-oz.) can tuna
1/3 to 1/2 c. finely chopped celery
drop or two Tabasco sauce
1 T. fresh lime or lemon juice
3/4 tsp. seasoned salt
1 mashed Calavo avocado

Combine onion and water. Flake tuna; combine with celery, Tabasco, lime juice, salt and onion. Mash avocado (see pg. 2) and blend into tuna mixture. Spread on toast.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | August 4, 2014

Mock Steak

In retro days of yore, beef was the thing to cook when grilling out in the summer time. (Even Elsie and Elmer got in on the action, which is kinda cute until you start to wonder exactly where does a cow family get a big pile of hamburgers?) Slapping a giant steak down on the barbecue was iconic, and August is prime grilling time pretty much everywhere — but steak ain’t cheap. If your spouse didn’t make steak money, what was the solution?


No, silly, “get a job” isn’t an option, this is the 50’s. You make fake steak, of course!

MOCK STEAK (Serves 8): Mix 2 lbs. ground round, 1/2 lb. lean pork, 1 env. dry onion soup mix, 2 Tbs. Lea & Perrins, 2 cups stuffing mix, 1 1/2 cups tomato juice. Form into steak shape 1 inch thick. Wrap 2 strips thick bacon at outer edge to resemble fat. During broiling brush with mixture of 1/2 cup melted butter, 2 Tbs. Lea & Perrins, 3 Tbs. catsup. Broil 10 min. each side. Use carrot strip to make bone.

There’s just so much to love (and fear) about this recipe. I didn’t tell Buzz what I was doing in the kitchen (which is rare, usually he helps both choose and cook); I just said we’d be having steak and he should go away for a while until it was done.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | July 28, 2014

Susie’s Fresh Lemon Ice Cream

Remember how your family invites The Boss over for dinner all the time, and you need to impress him?


Henry’s boss hadn’t had homemade ice cream since he was a kid. No wonder he raved and raved. Susie didn’t tell him it was easy. Just a little lemon trick.

What I really like about this little tidbit is it shows that homemade ice cream was antiquated even in the 50’s.

2 cups half & half or heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh grated lemon peel
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice

In large bowl, stir together cream and sugar until sugar is thoroughly dissolved. Mix in lemon peel and juice. Pour into ice cube tray, 8″ square pan, or directly into sherbet dishes. Freeze several hours until firm. Makes about 1 1/2 pints.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | July 21, 2014

Frankfurters & Corn Casserole

One-dish meals that combine meat and vegetable are a great idea, at least in theory. The whole dinner is in one place, the kids can’t fussily avoid one or the other, and cleanup is reduced.

That’s the theory, at least. In practice, one-dish dinners tend to be even messier (somehow) and picky eaters will outright refuse everything because “the hot dog is touching the corn, waaaah!”


1/4 cup finely chopped onions
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
2 cups canned whole kernel corn, drained
3 eggs beaten
1/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon melted butter or margarine
1 pound frankfurters, scored

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook onions in butter until transparent; stir in flour. Add salt and pepper. Over low heat, gradually stir in milk; cook until sauce is thick and smooth, stirring constantly. Remove from head and add corn. Fold in beaten eggs. Pour into 1 1/2 quart buttered casserole. Mix melted butter and bread crumbs; sprinkle on top. Bake 30 minutes; place frankfurters on top of casserole and bake 15 minutes longer.

Let’s see how this casserole turns out, shall we?

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | July 14, 2014

Savory Cabbage-Rice

Thrifty, and nifty, and 18 minutes!



Savory Cabbage-Rice. Prepare 1 1/3 cups (5-oz. package) Minute Rice as directed on package, substituting 2 cups tomato juice for the 1 1/2 cups water. (Minute Rice takes on the rich red tomato color — makes a wonderfully appetizing dish!) Fry 8 slices bacon until crisp. Mix 4 cups shredded cabbage, 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; simmer 5 minutes. Drain. Add 1/8 teaspoon oregano, 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, and the rosy rice. Delicious! Serves 6.

Not only fast, but with extra glamour!

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