So back in the 1950/60s my grandfather was a pilot for BOAC (BA these days). As was then typical by nature of the job, he’d go to work for days at a time, and my grandmother stayed at home looking after the children, housekeeping and cooking. Over the years, he flew regularly to Asia, the Middle East (he even brought back a bottle of pre-revolutionary era Persian Vodka) and the USA. At the time, of course, the USA was the land of plenty with all these modern gizmos for the housewife, and my grandfather would buy them and bring them back as gifts for my grandmother.
As a result, the house often had mod cons even before they were sold in the U.K. It also meant that my grandmother had all sorts of cookery books that came from America. One such cookery ‘book’ is actually the Cookindex, a box set of index cards from 1958 by H.S. Stuttman Co. Inc and the Tested Recipe Institute Inc. of New York. The cards, each with a colour photo on the front and recipe or two on the back, are broken into categories such as meat, vegetables, salads and so on.
Among the recipes for pot roast, and various poor imitations of classic Italian, European and Mexican dishes, there are, I suppose unsurprisingly, some truly horrendous recipes. At first the names sound bad enough (tuna in tomato aspic anyone?) but then you see the pictures and you have to wonder what on earth is meant to be enticing about them? However, among the litany of individual horrific dishes (articles on which will follow), there are also two distinct groups that a number of dishes fall into: 1. bananas where bananas shouldn’t be, and 2. jelly/aspic where it really doesn’t belong. And this is to say nothing of the strange things they garnished dishes with.
But where is the jelly that’s in the wrong place? Well read on to find out – oh and yes, some of the recipes do say mold, but fear not, its not the fungus, in the US it’s the same spelling for mould as it is mold.
Three Tier Salad
This ‘enticing’ salad is sliced olives, chopped nuts and pickles set in gelatine. I mean…!? And if that isn’t tempting enough, they suggest you garnish it with curly chicory and lemons filled with mayonnaise.
Jellied Fruit Salad
Clearly the way to produce a salad set in jelly isn’t all that creative and doesn’t change in technique from dish to dish. In this case, as with the Three Tier Salad, you stir the ingredients into the gelatine to set. This time its chopped banana, maraschino cherries and canned chunks of pineapple – the ingredients of a 1950s tropical fruit salad if ever I’ve heard one. Here they suggest you garnish it with balls of cream cheese, definitely an unusual combination.
This time the home cook gets to add green food colouring (along with lemon juice and vinegar) to the gelatine to give it that extra wow factor. No doubt this brings out the greenness of the cucumber that’s set in the jelly with crushed pineapple. If you fancy a garnish, they recommend that you go all out and use stuffed olives.
Spring Vegetable Mold
Now this time the recipe is fancy as the gelatine is lemon flavoured and you make an initial layer of it containing sliced radishes before adding more gelatine with cucumber, onion and more radishes in it. It creates a lovely layer effect when turned out and served with crisp greens. Still raw onion and jelly, lemon flavoured or not, doesn’t really appeal much, at least not these days.
Cottage Cheese Ring
First of all, lets face it cottage cheese is, well it’s just blah. It’s not as awful as many make out, really its just boring and dated, something your grandparents ate or people trying to loose weight eat. So that being said, maybe the idea of serving it as a gelatine set ring is the way to make it popular again among the young?
To make your cottage cheese ring they instruct you to mix the cottage cheese and salad cream into the gelatine. Add to this chopped parsley, pimento, onion, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt and double cream, Mix this all together and leave to set in a ring mould before serving with crisp greens and filling the centre of the ring with a vegetable salad medley. What’s the vegetable medley I hear u ask. Well it’s made of two drained cans of mixed vegetables, combined with salt oil (what ever that is), vinegar, garlic, salt, Tabasco, paprika and a beaten egg that’s been left to chill in the fridge.
While I don’t know about you, this defiantly is not a recipe to get me eating cottage cheese again.
Tomato Aspic Salad
Don’t panic, there are no tomatoes in this, just tomato juice from a carton. To be honest, at this point do I really need to outline how it’s made, because I’m rapidly loosing the will to live given the repetitiveness of it all? Lets face it, you’re not likely to want to make it. But, just in case, other than the tomato juice and gelatine, the main ingredients are grated onion, cayenne and sliced celery. You can see from the image what it’s meant to look like and the middle is stuffed with ‘Golden Potato Salad’.
Molded Salmon Salad
Get out that canned salmon that’s been stuck at the back of your grandparents’ or parents’ cupboard; there’s finally a use for it. By mixing it with chicken stock, gelatine, chilli sauce, mayonnaise, lemon juice, grated onion, Worcestershire sauce, chopped celery and stuffed olives, and setting it in a salmon mould, you get a lovely pink salmon shaped set mousse. Hmm, delicious?
Featured Image – Copyright 1958 Tested Recipe Institute, Inc., New York. Published by – COOKINDEX – Division of H.S. Stuttman Co., Ind., New York