My assignment was to take "vintage" food and revamp it with my spin on it - a makeover, if you will. I'm taking 3 very popular food preparations from a particular era and transforming them into something else.
Please read the article. If you're of a "certain age," you'll enjoy this bit of nostalgia.
First, let's take a look at what I had to work with.
Food of the fifties was highly processed, sodium-laden, and many were ready-to-eat. Casseroles were the number one food choice at the family dinner table. Cream of whatever soup thickly blanketed unidentifiable meats and vegetables which struggled to swim, floundering in a condensed sea of mediocrity. Jello molds were de rigueur with all sorts of unrecognizable food pieces artfully trapped in a quivering gelatinous mass.
Let's take a look at some of that Jello, shall we?
Here's the inspiration for my article.
Innocent incarcerated vegetables and unidentifiable objects.
"Please, sir. Let us out!"
Shrimp frolic in a congealed sea of green.
This is called "Perfection Salad," thereby giving new meaning to the words perfection and salad.
This is where bad vegetables end up - in prison.
Those vegetables, whatever they are, never hurt anyone.
And that there is some gourmay radish carving, I tell you what!
I prefer my food not to watch me.
The eyes follow you everywhere.
The 50s nod to Fifty Shades of Chicken - Hen in Bondage.
My life is now complete. Jello meatloaf, where have you been all this time?
Is that a meat cylinder in the center?
Imagine cutting into this, actually expecting pineapple, and instead biting into a mixture of liverwurst, mayo, and Worcestershire sauce. I know! YUM!!!!!
The eyeballs impaled with pretzel sticks are a nice touch.
Too often, food seemed to be trying to escape.
This has to be my favorite of the genre. It's so versatile.
You can have Vienna sausage and SpaghettiOs for dinner or Vienna sausages and CherriOs for breakfast. It's win-win!
Oh sweet Jesus. I believe the kitchen sink is in this one.
Swim away, little fishie! Swim out of that toxic nuclear waste you're flopping around in.
Lovin' the heads-on shrimp riding piggyback!
I would be too with remora-shrimp sucking on my back.
And what's up with the anthropomorphism of fish?
Don't you love it when you can see the internal organs?
I'm loving the olive eyes.
I like to gag my food before eating it.
I hate it when fish argue with me.
What a happy little fish!
He probably knows nobody will eat him.
Harvest gold and avocado were the operative colors of the day.
Who didn't have one of these in their kitchen?
I think Mama Hawthorne had those exact same TV trays.
Now that you're firmly implanted in the decade, let's concentrate on the food. I'm updating vintage recipes from the golden age in which I grew up and giving them a fresh new look, concentrating on simplicity, freshness, and goodness.
I'll be focusing on preparing three dishes to pay homage to my generation.
I'm starting with fondue.
Ahhh. The communal fondue pot which practically begged double dipping and screamed, "Fondon't!"
For my appetizer course, I'll be transforming the fondue pot into an edible bowl filled with a sublime crab meat dip.
I prepared an edible container - a hollowed-out boule - and filled it with a heady crab concoction containing crab meat, butter, cream cheese, Brie cheese, minced peppers, and sherry.
Next up is the ubiquitous can of congealed condensed cream of mushroom soup, which served as a glue to hold many a casserole dish together - from green bean casserole to that era's number one casserole - the tuna casserole, basically a can of tuna, a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup, canned peas, typically some type of noodle and cheese, all crowned with crushed potato chips. I'm deconstructing that tuna casserole and creating two courses - a soup course and a main course. For the soup, I making a Mushroom Bisque. Accented with hints of truffle oil, this earthy soup gives you intense mushroom flavor and packs a powerful punch of umami. For the main course, I'm further deconstructing the tuna casserole by substituting tuna steaks for canned tuna and fried spiraled potatoes for the potato chip topping.
Fresh green beans and scallion curls round off the dish, with a nod and a smile to the ever-present green bean casserole.
By the way, when I Googled "Cream of Mushroom Soup" to get the above picture, I unknowingly/sub-consciously typed in "Crime of Mushroom Soup." My brain said "cream," but my fingers typed "crime." Hee. My mind works in mysterious ways.
At any rate, not to worry, the Campbell's can turned right up.
This is Mr. Hawthorne's favorite soup. Mushroom Bisque.
I had the soup de jour which happened to be a mushroom bisque.
I believe I might have swooned after tasting it. Sometimes food will do that to me.
Anyhoos, I told Mr. Hawthorne my next food project would be to make a Mushroom Bisque.
I made my own mushroom stock with mushroom pieces I save in the freezer, then created this lovely concoction.
Earthy. Herby. "Exotic" mushroom blend.
I know. It sounds like the mushrooms are pole dancers.
Fresh thyme and scallions from the garden.
A few drops of truffle oil.
It's Umami, Mama!
And the thing I liked best about writing about my mushroom bisque was throwing in the line, "Let the shiitake hit the pan." I was not censored.
Now, let's get to the main course - my tuna fillets.
The tuna was heavily peppered and seared in butter and peanut oil and served with a
butter/lemon/peppercorn/chopped olive sauce.
I spiral cut potatoes and fried them. Scallion curls topped off the dish.
I tell you... It's hard to eat food when it's looking at you.