Taste With The Eyes' Gourmet Retro Dinner Party
Twelve 50-Somethings recreate a dinner party our parents may have had in the late 50’s – early 60’s. Born all over the country from Long Island to Texas, Ohio to Chicago, Pennsylvania to New Orleans to the West Coast, these friends are cooking together at my home in Los Angeles, California. All the recipes have special meaning for each cook, who will reminisce about the dish. We’ll also be borrowing some old china, glass, and silver from our parents (if we haven’t already inherited it) to make an authentic table setting. We'll swing and cook to the music of Perry Como...Papa Loves Mambo, don't you know? By the way - this is not just Retro, it's Gourmet Retro, as THESE FOLKS CAN COOK! We'll move the sofa and have dancing after dinner in the living room just the way our parents did it, and play our Dean Martin albums. Ain't that a Kick the Head? We are excited that Foodbuzz will be featuring this dinner party as part of the hugely successful 24 Meals, 24 Hours, 24 Blogs Event.
THE GOURMET RETRO TASTING MENU
Pigs in a Blanket - by GINA FROM LAKE RONKONKOMA, LONG ISLAND, NY
Rumaki with Mai Tai Cocktail Gelée - by LAUREN FROM REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA
Vichyssoise - by NORAMAE FROM NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
June's Seven Layer Green Goddess Salad - by GINA FROM LAKE RONKONKOMA, LONG ISLAND, NY
Crab Louie - by SALLY FROM HOUSTON, TEXAS
Pork Chop, Rice and Tomato Casserole - by GAIL FROM TORRANCE, CALIFORNIA
Old Fashioned Roast Beef with Vegetables - by PAT FROM FOSTORIA, OHIO
Ortega Chile Cheese Rice Casserole - by BOB FROM REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA
Aunt Edna's Lemon Jello Cake - by LORI LYNN FROM CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
Mom's Apple Pie - by PAT FROM FOSTORIA, OHIO
vintage china by VAL FROM MONTEBELLO, CALIFORNIA
50/60's music by BARRY FROM LEAVITTOWN, NEW YORK
photographs by GARY FROM PALOS VERDES, CALIFORNIA
bartender extraordinaire is TOM FROM RIVERVIEW PARK, PENNSYLVANIA
LAUREN FROM REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA
"My parents were part of California's beach and surf culture during the 50's and 60's. They and their friends were really into the Polynesian fad so popular then, as represented by restaurants such as Trader Vic's, and the famous Latitude 20 on Pacific Coast Highway, about a mile from our house. Latitude 20 featured tall, exotic tropical plants and banana trees, huge tikis lit by colored lights, music by Martin Denny and Don Ho, and a menu with food and cocktails with a South Seas theme. My Dad cooked this rumaki all the time when I was a kid, using the oven broiler. He would also make mai tais and tropical punches, often serving them in the tiki mugs he collected from Latitude 20; they used to give you the glass when you bought special drinks. My dish is a modern take on the Polynesian pupu platter, or little bites of appetizers. My rumaki revisited is grilled rather than broiled, and then served plated along side the mai tai gelée cocktails, a contemporary twist on the retro classic. Light and dark rums, juices, mai tai mix, almond syrup, pineapple, and a slice of maraschino cherry are all made semi-solid by gelatine, cut into cubes, and eaten with the fingers instead of poured in a glass. But hold onto your hula: They have just as much alcohol as the originals! So Aloha and Mahalo from Redondo Beach!"
Lemon Curd Crème Fraiche
"Coming from New Orleans, we are accustomed to putting everything (including whatever is sitting in the kitchen sink) into the pot. So imagine my feeling of insecurity with the assignment of Vichyssoise with a total of 5 ingredients only! At least it is French...and so am I. Well, it came out so smooth and such a lovely soft green that I elected not to add dairy to the soup, preferring to garnish with crème fraiche. Here is where my roots kicked in. A couple weeks ago I’d made Minted Lemon Curd (from my garden) and I could not stop myself from to folding that into the Crème Fraiche (hey, it was sitting there). That was a good move. To finish, I picked the flowers off of my gigantic basil shrub, and their pale purple was perfection sprinkled on the ivory bed of crème. Pretty enough for a picture!"
June's Seven Layer Green Goddess Salad
Pigs in a Blanket
GINA FROM LAKE RONKONKOMA, LONG ISLAND, NEW YORK
"What can I say about pigs in a blanket. Nothing but fond feelings for the hostess that whipped up that culinary masterpiece. I wonder if it was the invention of hot dog company or the dough people?? The seven layer salad was a staple, I now find out, but June's was something special. I knew I was in the presence of greatness when that first bite hit my palate. June was a great cook and she worked for Estee Lauder. Her husband Willie was very handy. I'll always remember that he made a spice drawer out of the useless space in front of the sink where there is usually a false drawer. It just flipped forward. He made it fit those little tin spice cans, exactly. June had them in alphabetical order. She had a zucchini tree (probably just a well established vine) in the backyard and grew zucchinis the size of baseball bats. When they were in season it was nothing but zucchini this and that. I was friends with her daughter Diane and in later years she dated my brother Brian. He gained a lot of weight. I think I hung around with her because her brother Paul was a hunk. He married my friend Donna Marinelli . Oh well. That's Lake Ronkonkoma for you. Looking forward to looking back..."
Roast Beef with Vegetables
PAT'S MOM'S ROAST RECIPE
- Chuck roast dredge in flour and brown in little oil.
- Add tomato paste thinned down. ½ inch deep above meat.
- Season with granulated garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
- Cook ½ done 350 degrees for 1 hour.
- Add quartered onions, potatoes, and carrots.
- Cook until all is browned – 1 hour.
GAIL FROM TORRANCE, CALIFORNIA
"My mother cooked for 4 kids and a husband but she only had 5 recipes. This pork chop casserole is the only one of the five recipes that we remember to this day." Pork chops, rice, tomato, onion, green bell pepper, beef bouillon to flavor the rice. That's it.
Ortega Chile Cheese Rice Casserole
BOB FROM REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA
"Ortega Chile Cheese Rice Casserole is one of my favorite side dishes. After my mother passed away in the mid 70's, I would go to dinner every Sunday night to my sister's house. She would have a real Sunday sit-down dinner with her family. This recipe is a real 'Keeper'."
Crab Louis Salad
Tangy Pink Homemade Crab Louis Dressing and Accompaniments
SALLY FROM HOUSTON, TEXAS
Sally gave us a history lesson on the Crab Louis Salad, also called the "King of Salads," dating back to 1904 where it was prepared at the Seattle Olympic Club for Enrico Caruso. Shortly after that it was on menus in San Francisco and Spokane. But during the 1950's it is The Palace Hotel in San Francisco that is credited with making this salad famous.
Lemon Jello Cake
LORI LYNN FROM CHICAGO, ILLINOIS
"My late Great Auntie Edna made the moistest Lemon Cake you have ever tasted. In the 1950's she worked in a bakery. Loved to bake. My mom says she made a mean Pineapple Upside-Down Cake, and my Great Aunt Ethel fondly remembers her Prune Cake. During the 1960's, with convenience all the rage, a lemon jello cake recipe made its way around the country. It was quick and easy, made from a box of cake mix and a box of Jello. Auntie would bring this lemon cake to all the family functions...Please go here to read more about the Lemon Jello Cake recipe."
Mom's Apple Pie
PAT FROM FOSTORIA, OHIO
MOM’S APPLE PIE RECIPE
- 4 cups of flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 T sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 ½ Crisco
- ½ cup cold water w/ 1 T vinegar (apple cider)
- Beat egg till fluffy and water
Then add liquid egg mixture. Good for 3 pies.
- 6 to 8 peeled and sliced tart apples red - Jonathan
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ to ½ cup sugar
- 2 T flour
- Toss and add to pie crust
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ stick margarine or butter
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ cup flour
- Mix till crumbly top pie
I asked Joyce (my mother) what did she like to drink back then? Her answer was, "Ooh, a grasshopper. I haven't had one in decades." So here it is Ma, and when you come over for Thanksgiving, I'll make one for you too. Creme de Cacao, Creme de Menthe, and Cream go into cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Sip slowly to taste the fifties.
VAL FROM MONTEBELLO, CALIFORNIA
"Bob’s sister’s friend traditionally did all the Wedding and Baby Showers and of course used these dishes. I don’t know how she started with them but I know her collection grew over the years. At every party I reminded her that I had first dibs if she ever wanted to get rid of them. Well, I got a call from her a couple of years ago that her husband was retiring and they were moving to Wyoming. I bought the 30 cup and luncheon dish set plus a few water goblets that I use as flower vases. I LOVE them! We had lots of fun. Can’t wait to read the blog. Thanks for including us."
Val's Vintage China. What a hoot! It even has a little ashtray with an indentation to hold your cigarette. Dessert: Aunt Edna's Lemon Jello Cake, Coffee and a Cigarette. It doesn't get more RETRO than that! Go Retro!
The 'Go Retro' Gang
Noramae and Vichyssoise
Sally and Noramae
Tom and Gary and Bob
Pat and Pork Chop Casserole
Pat and Sally and Mom's Apple Pie
Gary and Camera
Val and Bob
Noramae and Sally and Pat
Gina and Pie
Barry and Gail
Barry and Gail - dancin' to Frank Sinatra
We sure are a bunch that likes themed dinner parties. I've written about a few of them on this blog, including the Wild Salmon Party and the Wolfgang Puck Party. Some other themes we've enjoyed include a Moroccan Night, Julia Child Party, and a Frida Kahlo Party (we all sported unibrows at that one) to name a few. A huge thank you to all my friends who particpated in the Gourmet Retro Dinner Party. What's next?
And by the way, if you have a suggestion, we'd love to hear it!