Chyrel's Recipes From Friends

Recipes From The 50's News Letter

Recipes From The 50's News Letter
Thu, 17 Jun 2004, at 11:34 p.m.
This news letter is from an AOL food chat and is printed here at Recipes From Friends with permission of host Judee.

Tonight we had a small crowd but they enjoyed the continuation of our chat "Grandma, Mom, and Me" with history and recipes from the 1950's. Unfortunately some people were in and our due to thunderstorms and tornado warnings and only hope the weather is better next week as we slip into the 1960's and 70's. Hope to see you there.


*This is a permanent mailing list. If you want your name removed just e-mail me.

Welcome to Part 3 of of Grandma, Mom and Me, the Past 80 Years”. Put on your Poodle Skirts, Pedal Pushers, White Buck Shoes (don’t forget the buck bag) and tie a scarf around your neck. You men get out those pegged pants and comb that jelly roll. Put a forty-five of Earth Angel on the ol’ record player and Let’s Rock Around the Clock. Judee just drove up in her Little Nash Rambler, wearing her Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and the Purple People Eater, Amy, is running around looking for her hula hoop. We will take you through the 50’s with a bit of history and some truly memorable recipes.

Howdy Alf you sure look nice in that White Sports Coat with the Pink Carnation and oh my Torydee I love your popbead necklace.

We have come a long way since the Depression, WW II, Victory Gardens and food rationing. America was a rich country in the 50’s. The middle class was growing, unemployment was low and real incomes were rising. With the help of low interest loans from federal mortgages new homes were being built at about a million a year, and most were in the suburbs. The place for women was in the kitchen with every modern appliances available. Women seemed happy now after their loneliness and hardships of war.

Women had choices in their cooking from the huge array of convenience foods that appeared in suburbia markets or to cooking like a gourmet from scratch. She had the time and the money. One night it could be a five can casserole, a simple barbecue, or Boeuf bourguignon, when the boss was coming for dinner.

Five Can Casserole

1 can Chow Mein Noodles
1 can tuna
1 can drained mushrooms
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can evaporated milk

Mix all together and bake in a casserole at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.


***”We have...definite opinions about charcoal cookery. We believe that it is primarily a man’s job and that a woman, if she’s smart, will keep it that way. Men love it, for it gives them a chance to prove that they are, indeed, fine cooks. The ladies can do the planning and the marketing, the preparation and the hostessing, but the man will do the actual cooking over the coals” - James A. Beard and Helen Evans Brown, the Complete Book of Out door Cookery (1955)

These are the times I remember the most while growing up. My parents were one of those families that moved to suburbia in the late 40’s. They bought a three-bedroom home with a large lot in the Baldwin Hills, a Los Angeles Suburb. Then several years later we moved to Manhattan Beach, California. My father was a masonry contractor and we were the first in our neighborhoods to have a built in barbecue in the back yard. They were pretty fancy with flagstone tabletops on either side of the grill. The one Dad built in Manhattan Beach was even larger and had a fireplace.

The most expensive grills were made by Char-Glo Broilers in 1957 and they were gas fired. The cheapest grills were the Japanese hibachis: little cast-iron grills with shallow bases about 10-12 inches high or wide. They needed very few briquettes and were considered safe to use on a fire escape or even a picnic table.

Barbecued Steaks

4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil, tarragon, or savory (or your favorite herb)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter.

Crush the garlic in a mortar or heavy bowl with the salt. Blend in the mustard, pepper and herb or your choice. spread the mixture on both sides of the steaks (or other meats) and let sit, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Let the meat come to room temperature, then grill to proper doneness. remove to a warm platter and place a tablespoon of the butter on top of each steak. Makes enough for 4 steaks.

Try this on chicken. Dad had us all fooled as we thought he made the marinade from scratch.

1 Bottle of Wishbone Italian Dressing (do not use low or no fat type)
Juice from 1 lemon, or to taste

Marinate chicken for several hours and then grill.

Gelatin salads were generally forgotten. They were not manly enough and had a tendency to melt in the summer heat. Green salad was popular and of course there was the Lazy Susan relish tray with green onions, radishes, pickles, olives, cucumber sticks and cherry tomatoes. Other favorite salads were Three Bean, Potato and Macaroni.

Three Bean Salad

1 (15 1/2 oz) can red kidney beans
1 (15 1/2 oz) can yellow wax beans
1 (15 1/2 oz) can green beans
1/2 cup diced celery
3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil (or salad oil)
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
Red onion rings, chopped green onion, or green bell pepper rings for garnish

Combine all the ingredients except the garnish and toss lightly. Chill well. Present in a chilled bowl and with desired garnish. Makes 10 servings

Everyone has their special Potato Salad. I have included this as it is our all time favorite.

Nonna’s Potato Salad (Nonna was my Italian Grandmother)

about 3 - 4 lbs new potatoes, boiled and peeled (do not overcook) and cubed
1/4 to 1/2 cup Olive oil
3 to 5 cloves finely chopped garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste
Red Wine Vinegar, to taste
Tablespoon or more of mayonnaise (as a binder, don’t use too much)
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 to 1 cup of freshly chopped parsley (we liked lots of parsley)

Put potatoes in a bowl and while still warm add the dressing and then stir in the parsley. To make the dressing mix oil, garlic, salt, pepper, Wine Vinegar, mayonnaise and mustard until well blended. Allow the salad to sit several hours before serving. This is the way Nona and my Mom made this salad. There are no exact amounts. You just have to keep tasting. We preferred lots of garlic and a little on the vinegar tasting side.

Skewer cookery was a huge fad in the 50’s. Here is an unusual recipe that could be done at the barbecue grill or in a campground.

Caramel Apple Kebabs
(other firm tart fruits, such as pineapples or peaches, are delicious this way too.

1 long piece of heavy duty aluminum foil
1/2 pound of caramels
2 tablespoons water
6 tart apples, cored and cut into quarters

Fold the foil lengthwise and then fold up the sides to make a double thickness foil disposable pan. Place the caramels and water in the foil pan and set on the grill. Stir occasionally until melted. Skewer the apple quarters. Each guest toasts his apple over the grill until the apple starts to soften, then twirls the apple in the melted caramel. Let cool and eat from the stick.

***Campbell Soup Co. started selling canned soups in 1897. It was so successful that by the 1920’s it was selling 18 million cans a week. Originally they were eaten just as soup, but housewives soon found them very good for sauces. By the 50’s canned condensed cream soups, with their salty and peculiarly metallic taste, had become our fond de cuisine. Cooking with canned soup was not only acceptable, it was chic and terribly modern.

***Velveeta was a kitchen staple in the 50’s, especially good in hot dishes as it did not curdle very much. I know how most of you feel about Velveeta Cheese but this just wouldn’t be a real 50’s chat without at least one recipe.

Crab and Cheese Soufflé

6 tablespoons (3/4 cup) butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk, hot but not boiled
1/4 teaspoons salt
Pepper and a pinch of ground nutmeg
1 1/3 cups grated Velveeta cheese
4 eggs separated
1 1/2 cups crabmeat (about 1 1/2 pounds)
6 slices canned pineapple, drained

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt 1/4 cup of the butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir the flour into the butter and cook slowly, stirring constantly, until well blended and frothy, about 3 minutes. take the saucepan off the burner and gradually stir in the hot milk, stirring vigorously to prevent lumping. return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thick and hot. Season with the salt and pinch of pepper and nutmeg. remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese all at once. Continue stirring until the cheese is melted. Beat the egg yolks until thick and lemon colored in a large bowl. slowly pour the cheese mixture into the egg yolks, stirring vigorously. Stir in the crabmeat. beat the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff but not dry. Gently spread the cheese mixture over the egg whites and fold in until blended (a few lumps of egg white here and there are okay). Pour into a buttered 6-cup soufflé dish. Place a pan filled with hot water that comes halfway up the sides of the soufflé dish and bake until browned and a knife inserted gently near the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. While the soufflé is cooking, melt the remaining butter in a heavy skillet over high heat. Add the pineapple slices and saute on both sides until golden brown. to serve, place a pineapple slice on each plate and top with a serving of soufflé. Makes 6 servings.

***A hot item for making jiffy gourmet dishes for adults in the 50’s was pureed baby food. After all wasn’t baby food made from the best and freshest ingredients?

Baby Borscht

2 (4 3/4 ounce) jars strained beets
2 (4 3/4 ounce) jars strained carrots
2 cups canned beef bouillon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Sour cream and chopped fresh chives for garnish

combine the first four ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve in soup cups garnished with a blob of sour cream and a sprinkling of chopped chives. Makes 4 servings.

***In 1952 Better Homes and Gardens introduced the Parfait Pie.
***Bundt Cakes were being made with the invention of the first aluminum bundt pan.

Canned and processed food were used quite often. Fruit cocktail appeared in coleslaw, pork chops Hawaiian, in muffins, cakes and more. A precursor to the Carrot Cake was the Fruit Cocktail Cake. I make this several times a year and everyone loves it.

Fruit Cocktail Cake

1 1/4 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 eggs - well beaten
1 Medium can Fruit Cocktail (1 lb can)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1 cube butter, or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. Vanilla

Mix together sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, eggs and then add fruit cocktail. Sprinkle with brown sugar and nut topping. Bake for 40 minutes in a 400 degree oven. While baking, mix 1 cube butter, sugar, milk and vanilla in saucepan and melt. Pour over top of cake while still hot. Allow to cool and serve with whipped cream.

***Span was first marketed by Hormel in 1936. It was the economy meat for all. After the war Spam was still favored by economy-minded housewives. You would find it in scrambled eggs, macaroni and cheese, studded with cloves and baked like a ham and in the following recipe.

I must admit I gave this a second thought before I decided to include it in this chat. I just couldn’t resist.

Fruit Cocktail-Spam Buffet Party Loaf

1 (no. 2 1/2) can Del Monte fruit cocktail, drained (reserve syrup)
2 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 (12 ounce) cans Spam, very finely chopped
1/2 cup very finely chopped celery
1/4 cup green olives, very finely chopped
1/2 cup Miracle Whip
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt.

For Garnish

5 lemons
Additional Miracle Whip

Arrange the drained fruit cocktail in a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan. In the top of a double boiler, mix the reserved syrup with the gelatin, vinegar, cinnamon, and cloves. Place over hot water and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Carefully pour 1/2 cup of the gelatin mixture over the fruit. Place the pan in the refrigerator and chill until the gelatin has thickened but has not set. Mix the Spam with the celery and olives. Mix the Miracle Whip with the mustard, salt and the remaining gelatin mixture. add the spam mixture to the Miracle Whip mixture and blend well. spread over the Fruit cocktail. Chill until firm, at least 4 hours.

For garnish, make lemon cups by halving the lemons, slicing off the pointy ends (so lemons will stand up), and scooping out the pulp. Dip the cut edges of lemons in paprika. fill the cups with Miracle Whip and sprinkle lightly with additional paprika. To serve, unmold the loaf onto a large platter and surround with the lemon cups. Makes 8 -10 servings.

I must tell you that when I spell checked this chat I was queried on both Spam and Velveeta. The computer didn’t recognize these words.

***Food Fact:
Refrigerated dough became available in the early 1950’s. A Louisville baker named Lively Willoughby actually invented the packaged processed biscuits in the 30’s but until he figured out how to keep the biscuits compressed he was unable provide the product. He sold his process to Ballard and Ballard Flour Company, who in turn sold it to the Pillsbury Company. They refined the product and introduced them to the consumer in 1952. In 1953 they introduced buttermilk biscuits.

Liqueurs were fashionable during the 50’s. Either poured over ice cream made a nice dessert or you could add melted marshmallows and make a rich filling for a cool, summery pie.

Grasshopper Pie

1 1/2 cups fine chocolate or vanilla wafers crumbs (about 1/2 pound)
1/2 cup sugar
6 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 pound marshmallows
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup green crème de menthe
14 cup white crème de cacao
1 cup heavy cream, whipped
Semisweet chocolate shavings

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine crumbs and 1/4 cup sugar with the melted butter. Press into a 9 inch pie plate and bake for 10 minutes to firm crust. refrigerate at least 1 hour or until cold.

In top of a double boiler, combine marshmallows and milk, and cook over simmering water - stirring often - until all marshmallows melt. Stir in crème de menthe and crème de cacao. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken. fold marshmallow mixture gently into whipped cream. spoon into pie crust. Cover. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. Before serving, garnish pie with chocolate shavings. Serves 6 - 8

***In 1955 James Beard started a cooking school in New York City to teach the basics of fine cooking to interested adults. It was an instant success. He also produced half a dozen books on such subjects as barbecue and rotisserie cooking. His mother had taught him the basics of outdoor cooking at family picnics on the Oregon coast.
***Betty Crocker’s Cookbook was first published in 1950.
***S&H Green Stamps were used by supermarkets to entice customers to their stores. They were followed by other major stamp companies; Gold Bond, Top Value and Blue Chip while other stores issued their own. Stamps Books were redeemed for merchandise chosen from a catalog.
***Small appliances were starting to flood the market: electric fry pans with specific heat settings, saucepans, deep-fat fryers, roaster ovens, table top broilers with a spit, egg boilers, ice-cream freezers, bean pots and corn poppers. Roasts were being carved by electric knives.
***Major appliances: fully automatic defrosting refrigerator, side by side refrigerators-freezers and then the Whirlpool frostless refrigerator was introduced in 1958.

Two very popular recipes during this era were Beef Stroganoff and Chicken Divan. Both are made in my kitchen, quite often. I learned to make these from the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook and continue to use these recipes today.

Beef Stroganoff

Cut 1 pound beef sirloin into 1/4 inch strips. Combine 1 tablespoon flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt in brown bag. Add the meat and shake until meat is coated with flour. Heat skillet, then add 2 tablespoons butter or margarine. When melted, add sirloin strips and brown quickly on both sides. Add one 3-ounce can sliced mushrooms drained (I use fresh sautéed mushrooms), 1/2 cup chopped onion and 1 clove garlic, minced; cook 4 to 4 minutes, or till onion is crisp-tender.

remove meat and mushrooms from pan. Add 2 tablespoons butter or margarine to pan drippings; blend in 3 tablespoons all purpose flour. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste. Stir in 1 1/4 cups cold beef broth or one 10 1/2 ounce can condensed beef broth. cook and stir over medium-high heat till thickened and bubbly.

Return browned meat and mushrooms to skillet. Stir in 1 cup dairy sour cream and 2 tablespoons dry white wine; cook slowly till heated through. Do not boil. Keep warm over hot water. Serve over hot buttered noodles or steamed rice. Makes 4 - 5 servings.

Classic Chicken Divan

2 - 10 ounce packages frozen broccoli spears. (I use fresh cooked broccoli)
1/4 cup butter or margarine
6 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons dry white wine
3 chicken breasts, halved and cooked
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook broccoli using package directions, or if using fresh steam until tender but do not overcook. Melt butter; blend in flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt and dash pepper. Add chicken broth; cook and stir till mixture thickens and bubbles. Stir in cream and wine.

Place broccoli crosswise in 12x7 1/2 x2 inch baking dish. Pour half the sauce over. Top with chicken. To remaining sauce, add cheese; pour over chicken; sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or till heated through. Then broil just till sauce is golden, about 5 minutes. Serves 6 (Use left over turkey slices if you want, it is delicious)

Lobster Thermidor Classique

4 (1 pound) lobsters, cooked in bouillon, removed from the shell, meat cut into bite-size chunks, and shells reserved
2 cups bechamel made with heavy cream and lobster stock and flavored with 1/2 teaspoon dry English mustard
1/2 pound small whole mushrooms, sautéed in butter (the Waldorf said truffles)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat the broiler. Mix the lobster meat, bechamel, and mushrooms together in a large heavy saucepan and heat slightly. Pile the lobster mixture into the reserved shells. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and put under the broiler until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Serves 4

Lobster Thermidor, Can-Opener Gourmet-Style

It is hard to believe that a beautiful, expensive lobster was mixed with a canned soup, but many fashionable cooks had no qualms about doing just that.

1 (15 ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/4 soup can water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
3 cups frozen cooked lobster meat, thawed and cut into chunks

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Mix the soup, water, lemon juice, half of the cheese and the mustard in the top of a double boiler. Add the lobster chunks and heat (do not boil) over simmering water. Pour into a buttered shallow baking dish or into lobster shells. sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Place in oven until the cheese is browned, about 15 minutes. Makes 6 servings.

***Dishwashers were a status symbol. The earliest were so noisy that the cook left the house while they were running. Soon more insulation was added and in 1952 the first portable dishwasher was introduced.
***Corning Glass Works created glass-ceramic in 1953. It was first used in the nose cones of missiles. In April 1958 Corning developed cookware products from this glass-ceramic, Corning Ware, remember that little cornflower?
***The 1950’s were the years of Plastic. Melmac was produced. It was square with rounded corners and came in designer chartreuse, burgundy, emerald, and pearl.
***In 1945 chemist and inventor Earl Tupper had introduced food-storage containers. They set on hardware and department stores until Brownie Wise and Tom Damigella began showing them at home parties. Tupper took his product out of the stores and hired Brownie Wise to create the direct selling system now known as Tupperware Home Parties.
***Banana splits cost 25 cents.
***Grilled cheese sandwiches and a Coke could be had for a quarter at a lunch counter in a five and dime store.
***The drive-in restaurants with service at your car, by roller skating waitresses were soon replaced by Fast and Faster foods restaurants. The following is the year and first Franchise location of the first fast food restaurants:

1950 - Dunkin’ Donuts - Quincy, Mass
1951- Jack in the Box - San Diego, Calif
1952 -Church’s Fried Chicken - San Antonio, Texas
1952 - Kentucky Fried Chicken - Salt Lake City, Utah
1953 - Burger King - Jacksonville, Florida
1954 - Shakey’s Pizza - Sacramento, Calif
1955 - McDonalds - Des Plaines, Illinois (First Franchise) The prototype for McDonalds was first founded by By Richard and Maurice McDonald in San Bernardino, California. As a child my family ate there several times on our way to Big Bear Lake to ski.
1955 - Mister Donut - Revere, Mass
1957 - Gino’s Pizza - Baltimore, Maryland
1958 - Pizza Hut - Wichita, Kansas
1958 - Burger Chef - Indianapolis, Indiana

My Mother made this dip with such pride and I actually remember the Kraft Music Hall television show where the recipe was featured.

1 garlic clove, cut in half
1 (8 ounce) can minced clams, drained and 1/4 of their liquid reserved
1 (8 ounce) package Philadelphia brand cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcester shire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of pepper

Rub a mixing bowl with the garlic halves. Combine the remaining ingredients, mixing until well blended. chill. serve with chips, crackers, or raw vegetable dippers.

***Eating out and elegant dining has always been fashionable whatever the cuisine. To help make paying the tab for fine food as painless as possible, Frank McNamara created charge cards for use in any restaurant anywhere. In February 1950 Diner’s Club was initiated. Its only serious competition came in 1958 with the American Express Card.

***We started in 1950 with 48 states and ended in 1959 with 50. Alaska and Hawaii were admitted to the United States.

In honor of the admission of these two states I have included these recipes.

Alaskan Barbecued Venison

2 slices bacon
1 pound boneless venison cut in 1 inch cubes
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcester shire Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
Hot cooked rice.

Cook bacon till crisp; drain, reserving drippings. Crumble bacon; set aside. cook meat and onion in drippings till meat is browned. Drain; set aside. In saucepan combine catsup, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, garlic, 1/2 cup water, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Stir in venison, onion, and bacon. cover; cook till venison is tender, 45 - 55 minutes. Serve on rice. Serves 4

Hawaiian Mai Tai

2 jiggers light rum (3 ounces)
1 jigger dark rum (1 1/2 ounces)
1/2 jigger orange liqueur (3/4 ounce)
1/2 cup pineapple juice
1/3 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 ice cubes
Maraschino cherries or fresh pineapple spears.

In blender container combine rums, liqueur and fruit juices. cover; blend to mix. Add ice cubes, one at a time; blend after each till chopped. Pour into glasses; garnish with cherries or pineapple. Makes 2 (6 ounce) servings.

As we close the 50’s let’s sit back enjoy our Mai Tai and listen to Andre Kostelanetz “Star Dust” or perhaps Don Ho’s “Sweet Lelani” would be more appropriate. Or how about a cup of coffee and some more spicy music, featuring Henry King, Jose Cortez and of course Zavier Cugat and his coochie coochie girl, Charo.

Thank you for joining Amy and me tonight with another trip down memory lane. Join us next week when we bring you plenty of surprises from the 1960’s and 1970’s.

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