Posted by: Erica Retrochef | June 20, 2011

Stuffed Prunes (Three Ways!)

I generally try to be a couple week’s ahead on blog posts here. That has slipped a little bit (if you’ve noticed that I missed some of my weekly postings in the last two months), and this week I yet again ran out of buffer. Consider this post to be unusually timely — we ate this stuff just last night.

Because of Father’s Day, I gave Buzz the privilege of picking out this week’s retro recipe. (Doesn’t that sound so much nicer than, “I didn’t want to take the blame if it tasted nasty”?) For some reason he decided to go with… prune salad.

We’d picked this on Friday, and then on Saturday afternoon, Rosemary (of Romantoes) commented on another post:

BTW, saw this recipe on the “Awful Library Books” blog and thought of you: http://awfullibrarybooks.net/?p=11728

Spooky — she was on exactly the right wavelength. (Plus I now have another hilarious blog to follow.) That 1960 Home Ec textbook has the same recipe the Del Monte proudly advertised.

Stuffed prunes were clearly not a passing fad — they could even be holiday festive!

With such a surfeit of stuffed prunes, how could I possibly choose which to make? It’s Father’s Day — let’s just splurge and have them all!

Each recipe is built on the same basic platform: something in stewed prunes. The simple first step, therefore, is to stew some prunes.

A bit of hot water, and 25 minutes later we have some soft, stewed prunes. Time to get started on the different fillings…

4 servings prune salad

Stuff cooked Del Monte Brand Prunes with cottage cheese, nuts, sliced celery (at right). Easy eating — because Del Monte’s “Natural Flavor” process protects both flavor and delicate fruit tissues while it “plumps” the prunes with moist, sterile heat.

(Side note: I worry when something like natural flavor is in “sarcastic quotes.”)

It was actually a little hard to put nuts and celery on top of the cottage cheese; prunes aren’t that big, so there isn’t much filling, and not much room to add toppings. It looks a little elegant, though.

Next up is the Home Ec recipe — the only one that gives any sort of measurement of information.

Stuffed Prune Salad

12 large dried prunes cooked to avoid breaking the skin
3/4 c. creamed cottage cheese or 1 3-ounce package cream cheese
Salad dressing

1. Wash prunes. Cook as directed on page 77 or steam in the top of a double boiler. Cool. Then slit the prunes to remove stones.

2. If cream cheese is used, mix with enough salad dressing to moisten. Stuff prunes with cheese mixture. Sprinkle with paprika. Arrange on a bed of salad greens. Serve with your favorite salad dressing.

We only made six, and also chose to use cottage cheese rather than cream cheese — we couldn’t decide which salad dressing would really work well, and just avoided the question.

The most difficult part of this was sprinkling paprika on top. It’s easy to spill, although we had no idea whether a light or heavy sprinkle of paprika would be better.

Finally, from the “sugarplums” assortment…

Spice the filling! Add ginger to cream cheese for stuffing pitted SUNSWEET Prunes. Place on fresh orange slices with salad greens. Result: Oriental Prune Salad!

These seemed the most promising, since cream cheese (about 3 tablespoons) mixed with ginger (about 1 teaspoon) made a really interesting spicy mixture.

They also look the prettiest, with the nice contrasting colors of the mandarin orange slices underneath.

When it came time for dinner, we plated one of each prune type alongside the main dish (barbecue wings).

I was discussing the assortment with my daughter, and explained I wasn’t going to make her eat a lot of them, but she did need to at least try one of them. “One of each?” she said, a rather horrified expression creeping onto her face. I said she could pick one — which frankly just concerned her more, as she tried to decide which sounded least horrible.

But I’m proud to say, she tasted every single one! We made a game of it — everyone put one flavor on their fork, and ate it all together. And all went “Ewyeargh!” together, too.

Everyone agreed: the celery-walnut stuffed prunes were worst (celery just added a weird texture), the paprika stuffed prunes were underwhelming (you tasted cottage cheese, not paprika or prune), and the ginger-orange stuffed prunes were pretty adequate. The orange and cream cheese really made the difference.

So if you have to eat stewed prunes and can’t stand them plain, toss in some mandarin oranges and a bit of ginger cream cheese. It might not be worth it to slit and stuff the prunes, but it makes the presentation prettier!

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Responses

  1. Wow–who knew stuffed prunes were “trending” last week? 🙂 I’m ridiculously excited that you made these!

    I’m not surprised that the ones with paprika came in third–that just sounded like a bad idea. There was a comment on the original post that “salad dressing” probably referred to something like Miracle Whip, rather than the Raspberry Walnut Balsamic Vinaigrettes of today. Not that adding Miracle Whip to cottage cheese seems likely to make those any more palatable!

    But the ones with the ginger-flavored cream cheese actually sound good. Still, I’m not sure stuffed prunes can ever really be passed off as fancy appetizers.

  2. Correction: The paprika prunes came in a “distant” second, not in dead last place.

  3. Oh, how I love “Your Home and You.” Not only for the hilarious content, of course, but for the authors’ extensive use of italics. I don’t think there’s a single sentence in the entire book that doesn’t have at least one word in italics. And oddly, the choice of words to italicize seems 100% random. I’ll bet reading the book aloud would be a lot of fun. And probably take forever.

  4. Since so many old recipes for prunes involve stewing the dried fruit, I suspect that the prunes of yesteryear were much harder than those you can get in stores today. They would have been dessicated, chewy, and difficult to eat. So people softened them with stewing. But the texture of stewed prunes isn’t that spectacular either, so recipes like this were dreamed up, to make something a little more interesting out of a ball of sweet, fruity mush.

    Bottom line: I love prunes, but I like them (the modern ones, at least) without the stewing process.


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