Posted by: Erica Retrochef | February 8, 2016

Cottage-Borscht Cracker Dip

Time for our annual Super Bowl retro appetizer! This year it’s a cheesy dip for whatever crackers you happen to have on hand — with a special pink addition…


1 cup small curd cottage cheese
1 tablespoon crumbled Blue cheese
1/2 cup shredded beets
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a mixer or blender beat cottage cheese and Blue cheese until smooth. Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Chill.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | February 1, 2016

Rice Pudding Melah

Why did we decide to do a special post each month about a politician? I already can’t remember. But for February, we’re doing a really simple dessert that was nonetheless presidential.

Ulysses Grant is really better remembered for his military career than his presidency, which was notorious for corruption scandals. He was, however, a politician, and a really popular one at that. He served two terms as president. He wrote his personal memoirs (while dying of throat cancer), and its sales would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for his heirs. In 1900, his tomb was the most popular tourist attraction in New York; it had tens of thousands of visitors, many of them Civil War veterans.

I’ve always found him sort of a poignant figure, out of his depth in politics, and so I was interested to read that his favorite dessert was plain and simple: rice pudding. But this isn’t just “rice pudding” — it’s “Rice Pudding Melah”, after White House steward Valentino Melah, who apparently was obliged to serve it as often as possible (even at state dinners!)

No dessert at Delmonico’s, no matter how special, ever pleased President Grant as much as simple rice pudding. The Grants’ Italian steward Melah regarded this homey concoction as a challenge to his ingenuity and tried to vary it from time to time. No matter how he embellished it, Grant liked it and had it as often as possible when the family dined alone. When the inventive Melah experimented with rice pudding, however, it was good enough to be served at official functions–and actually was.

Measure 3/4 cup long-grain rice into a saucepan. Add 1 1/2 quarts milk and simmer very slowly until the rice is soft. Add 3 tablespoons butter, remove from heat, and cool. Meanwhile, beat 5 eggs well and stir them into the rice mixture. Add 1/2 cup sugar and mix carefully. Pour the mixture into a large greased baking pan and add 1/2 cup slivered almonds, mixing them gently into the pan. Bake in a medium-warm (325 degrees F.) oven until the custard sets. Remove from the oven, sprinkle a mixture of cinnamon and nutmeg over the top and serve. Delicious either warm with cream or chilled. Serves 8.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | January 25, 2016

Tuna Tarts

Our oldest daughter went on an overnight school trip and came back full of excitement about the chicken pot pie they’d served for dinner. “It was amazing!” I’ve made a handful of pot pies for her since then (vegetable-based, since she is keen on being as vegetarian as possible) with equally enthusiastic reception, and so I now feel safe enough to branch out into slightly weirder recipes for pie filling. Such as this one from the mid-60’s…


Tuna Tarts: Prepare enough pastry for double crust 9-in. pie. Cut tops and bottoms to fit four 5 or 6-in. tart pans. Combine 10 1/2-oz. can cream of mushroom soup, 7-oz. can drained and flaked tuna, 1/4 c. sliced ripe olives, 2 tbsps. chopped sweet pickles, tbsp. each Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, chopped parsley, 1/2 tsp. curry powder. Spoon into pastry-lined pans. Top with pastry and seal. Cut vents in top. Bake 20 to 30 minutes at 450.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | January 18, 2016

Tuna-Egg Casserole

There are many things that I might think of as reasonable partners with tuna fish.


Mayonnaise, pickle relish, celery, mustard — any of those I could see (if not necessarily enjoy personally) as a pairing with tuna. Eggs, though, are not normally high on that list.

1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp. paprika
1 10-1/2 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 No. 1/2 can Star-Kist Tuna
2 tsps. grated lemon peel
4 hard-cooked eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup grated American cheese

Simmer celery in water until softened. Add half of mushroom soup and blend. Combine tuna, lemon peel and remainder of soup. In greased 1-qt. casserole, arrange layers of tuna, chopped egg whites, crumbled yolks, and celery and soup mixture. Add salt and pepper. Top with cheese and paprika. Bake in hot oven (450° F.) 15 min. or until bubbly and brown. Serves 5.

“Is that a chicken dancing with a tuna?”

“Yeah. I think it’s sort of like when you’re advertising a barbecue restaurant with a cheerful pig in a butcher’s apron. Animals cheerfully serving you other animals.”

“I guess the tuna’s just too stupid to understand what’s really happening. The chicken, though… That’s just creepy somehow.”

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | January 11, 2016

Fruit Cocktail Crackle

This week, I’m turning crackers into cake!


And for more fun, we’re using fruit cocktail with character. Doesn’t that sound like the dessert equivalent of nice personality? “My, Nancy, this fruit concoction has lots of character.”


1 No. 2-1/2 can DEL MONTE Fruit Cocktail
1 pkg. lemon pudding and pie filling mix
2 eggs + 1/4 cup sugar for meringue
3/4 cup coarse soda cracker crumbs
1/2 cup brown sugar, well-packed
1/2 cup melted butter or margarine
3/4 cup sifted flour
1/4 teaspoon soda
1/2 cup shredded coconut

Drain fruit cocktail; chill. Make pudding according to directions on box; fold in meringue made from egg whites and sugar. Add 1/2 cup of the drained fruit. Cool.

Mix crumbs and brown sugar; add melted butter. Sift flour with soda; combine with coconut, mix well with cracker mixture. Put 3/4 this mixture in well-greased round 9 x 1-1/2-inch baking dish or cake pan. Pour lemon filling on top; sprinkle with remaining crumbs. Bake in moderate oven (350°F.) 25 min. or till golden brown. Cool; chill. Serve topped with rest of the fruit cocktail. Serves 6.

Apparently, pudding is equivalent of character. Or maybe it’s the crackers?

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | January 4, 2016

Snapper with Sesame Seed Stuffing

2015 was a busy, busy year. With the kids getting older and more responsibilities at work, I had less time to cook and blog. We had enough of a backlog of pre-written posts and could limp along, but it was a challenge. I’m not as pleased with last year’s productivity as I expected to be last January.

This year, we’re looking forward to a full 52 weeks of retro recipe wackiness. And we’re going to start off with a hilarious serving chosen by Buzz. He texted me at work to say he’d found a good recipe, but wouldn’t say what it was.

This recipe will also be the first in a monthly series for election year 2016. Each month, we will feature a recipe related to a politician. This month, the connection is admittedly a bit tenuous, because we didn’t come up with the idea until after this recipe was cooked and eaten.


Baked red snapper with sesame seed stuffing: Toast 2 tbsps. sesame seed in 3 tbsps. butter. Combine 3 cs. toasted bread cubes, 1/4 c. chopped celery, tbsp. chopped parsley, 1/4 tsp. salt, dash pepper. Moisten with 2 tbsps. white wine. Stuff 5-lb. whole red snapper. Bake 35 min. at 350°.

The recipe comes from 1967 Ebony magazine. The cover story was about Adam Clayton Powell — the controversial congressman well known for his love of Caribbean vacations. Right after the article about Powell and his boat came a few pages of tips and recipes for how to prepare more exotic varieties of seafood.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | December 21, 2015

Mincemeat Filled Cookies

We’re finishing up our “mincemeat month” with what I originally thought was just a molasses cookie recipe, but upon closer reading does, in fact, have mincemeat in it. An interesting idea…


Molasses Filled Cookies

1/2 cup soft shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2/3 cup Brer Rabbit Molasses
2 3/4 cup sifted flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup mincemeat

Cream shortening with sugar, add egg and molasses, beat well. Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon. Add flour mixture; beat well. Wrap in waxed paper; chill.

Roll out 1/8 inch thick on lightly floured board. Cut dough with round cookie cutter about 2 inches in diameter. On bottom part of cookie, place about 1 teaspoon of filling, with a little of the liquid portion. Slash top of cookie to about 1/2 inch from sides. Pull back and place over bottom part and filling. Bake at 375°F. for 10 minutes. Makes 3 dozen filled cookies.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | December 14, 2015

Mincemeat Chiffon Pie

We like mincemeat. I personally don’t go in for the traditional British mince (finding bits of meat in a fruit pie bothers me, although Buzz thinks it’s fun), but it’s not hard to find vegetarian, fruit-only options around.

So this week we’re putting mincemeat back in a pie, but a very fluffy pie — a mincemeat chiffon pie, in fact.


1 envelope Knox Unflavored Gelatine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup rum
1 1/2 cups prepared mincemeat
3 egg whites
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
1 9-inch baked pie shell
Maraschino cherries

Sprinkle gelatine on water to soften. Place over low heat, stirring constantly until gelatine is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in rum and mincemeat. Chill in refrigerator or in bowl of ice and water, stirring occasionally, until the mixture mounds when dropped from spoon. Beat egg whites until stiff. Beat in sugar and salt. Fold gelatine mixture into stiffly beaten egg whites. Fold in whipped cream. Turn into a baked pie shell. Garnish with Maraschino cherries, and chill until firm.

This is a page from Knox On-Screen Recipes, a cookbook I’m actually quite curious about — is it just pretending to have screenshots of steps of a recipe, or actually from a gelatin cookery show?

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | December 7, 2015

Mincemeat Swirlybuns

I’ve always associated mincemeat with pies. Buzz loves making mincemeat pies… and I love eating them.


But now, we’re doing “mincemeat swirlybuns”, which apparently is the way to break mincemeat out of the dessert category and put it in breakfast instead.

3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine
2 packages Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 egg
4 cups unsifted flour
1 jar (1 pound, 12 ounce) Borden’s None Such Mince Meat
confectioner’s sugar icing

Scald milk: stir in sugar, salt and margarine. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve Fleischmann’s Yeast in warm water in large bowl. Stir in lukewarm milk mixture, egg and half the flour; beat until smooth. Stir in rest of flour to make stiff batter. Cover tightly with aluminum foil. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. (It may be refrigerated up to 3 days.)

Divide dough in half. On floured board roll one half into 18″x9″ rectangle. Spread with half the Mince Meat filling. From 18″ side roll up as for jelly roll. Seal edges. Cut into 1 1/2″ slices. Place in greased muffin cups, cut side up. Repeat with rest of dough and filling. Cover: let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled, about 1 hour. Bake at 350°F. 20 to 25 minutes, or until done. Frost with confectioners’ sugar icing while warm. Makes 24 beautiful buns.

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Posted by: Erica Retrochef | November 23, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!


via Roger Wilkerson

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