August 23, 2011

Tom and Jerry in the Kitchen

Today's recipe is not so much frightening food as weird food. While I was flipping through the Miscellaneous section of A Collection of the VERY FINEST RECIPES ever assembled into one Cookbook CONVENTIONAL AND MICROWAVE (yes, that is actually the title of this cookbook!), my eye was naturally drawn to the recipe for "Tom and Jerry Batter".  Of course, I immediately thought of the cartoon, then tried to picture what type of batter would merit an association with Tom and Jerry. Some type of cheesecake? Maybe one of those little mouse-shaped chocolate-covered mousse cakes? Well, I could have guessed until the cows came home (not that we have cows, but they are right down the road) without guessing what you would make with Tom and Jerry Batter because, ladies and gentlemen, it turns out to be the secret ingredient in a wassail-like hot drink. At first, I thought bellying up to the bar at your local watering hole and ordering "one of those drinks you make with Tom and Jerry Batter" would earn you nothing more than a blank look. I was willing to bet that none of the 200 drinks my daughter is learning to make at bartending school would feature Tom and Jerry Batter as an ingredient. Now that I've Googled the name, though, I'm questioning those assumptions. There are lots of entries for Tom and Jerry Batter on recipe websites, and apparently it's even sold commercially!

Although whoever wrote this recipe (the authorship of the cookbook is totally anonymous) claims it's, "The best ever!" I can't even decide if this drink sounds good or bad. If you decide to give this recipe a try, don't worry that you'll have to finish off the dozen eggs' worth of batter in one fell swoop -  it lasts for weeks in the fridge and months in the freezer. Plenty of time for you to put together a Tom and Jerry theme party. Let me know when to show up.


12 eggs, separated
1/2 tsp. salt
1 lb. butter of margarine, at room temperature
3 lbs. powdered sugar
1 tsp. each vanilla and rum (or brandy) flavoring
1 tsp. mace
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cloves
1 tsp. allspice

Beat egg whites until stiff; add salt. Beat egg yolks until light. Cream butter and powdered sugar and mix until crumbly. Add egg yolks and flavorings; mix well. Add spices and egg whites. Beat until well mixed. Batter will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. May be frozen, covered, for several months. Use 1 heaping tablespoon of batter for each Tom and Jerry serving. Drop batter into a hot mug and pour in 1 jigger of rum or brandy and boiling hot water. Sprinkle with nutmeg. The best ever! 

August 19, 2011

Chowderheads and Weiners

Ah, chowder, the quintessential soup of New England. Corn, potatoes and broth, with or without clams; a soup that's an American tradition. Maybe that's why this German version seems so wrong. If I asked you to name 10 ingredients that might be found in a bowl of chowder, what would you say? I'll wait a moment while you make your list................................................. Okay, name your 'ten likely ingredients'. Sauerkraut is not on that list, is it? How about all beef weiners?

Yes, lolcat, weiners. There is one thing this recipe has going for it though - you just dump the ingedients in the pot, heat for 15 minutes, and dinner is ready. Introduce it as Beefy Mushroom Soup and maybe the family will go for it.

1 pound package sauerkraut
3 cups beef broth
1 onion, chopped fine
1/4 pound mushrooms, sliced
4 beef frankfurters, sliced very thin so they will curl when cooked
1/4 tsp. paprika
Salt and pepper

Mix together the first five ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes; add spices and serve.

Truly Unusual Soups, Lu Lockwood, Pequot Press, 1977

August 4, 2011

Daring Yet Frugal

According to Lu Lockwood, author of Truly Unusual Soups, there is one soup in her recipe collection that requires an adventurous spirit. Given the name of the book, and what I read as I leafed through it, more than one of her soups requires a certain derring-do to slurp up. Today's recipe, though, is also directed to the truly frugal. Let's say you had a potluck dinner and someone brought an overabundance of green salad and put dressing on everything in the bowl. That's not going to stay fresh to be eaten as leftovers - the greens will suck up all the dressing and go totally limp. But, never fear, Lu offers a recipe that will keep those greens from going to waste. I think her comment at the end of the recipe gives fair warning: "Like nothing else you've ever tasted." Note that she doesn't claim that it's 'better than anything you've ever tasted' or 'surprisingly good' or even "better than wasting food.". Are you bold enough - or cheap enough - to try it?

If you have 2 cups of leftover green salad, and an adventurous but sometimes parsimonious spirit, saute a sliced peeled potato in 3 TBS. of butter. When the potatoes are golden, add two cans of chicken broth and cook 15 minutes. Add the salad remains (don't drain the dressing) and your favorite herb (dill, basil, oregano, rosemary) and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Pour the whole thing into your blender and whirl for a couple of minutes. Like nothing else you've ever tasted!

August 3, 2011

Soup Cubed

People have been inspired to do all kind of things with gelatin (and in some cases, in gelatin), with a wide range of results. There's the Good:
the Bad:
and the Ugly:
The bad, by the way, is a faux turkey made of gelatin and avocados. You have to wonder, "Who thinks of these things?" And, "Why?" Of course, that could be the mantra for the whole frightening food blog. Should today's recipe from the Truly Unusual Soups cookbook really be considered a soup at all? It's served in cubes, for pete's sake! Well, Lu Lockwood says it is, and who am I to argue with Lu, who has owned 2 hotels, a catering business and 2 restaurants? Sequentially. She seems to move on somewhat frequently. Maybe I'm not the only one who begs to differ with her idea of "good" food. Pickle-flavored Jello ®? Just say NO!

4 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp. mixed pickling spices
5 cups water
1 TBS. chopped parsley
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
4 TBS. sour cream

Place the cucumbers, onions. spices and water into the saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer 1/2 hour. Pour through a sieve, pressing the cucumber through as much as possible. Take the soup and add the parsley, salt and pepper. Soften gelatin in 1/2 cup of cold water. Stir into the soup. Let soup cool and pour into a shallow pan to set. When soup has jelled, chop into small cubes and serve in champagne glasses with a dollop of sour cream.
Truly Unusual Soups, Lu Lockwood, 1977 

August 2, 2011

Just Ducky

Truly Unusual Soups. What a promising name for a book to be culled for frightening food recipes! Alas, although there really are a lot of unusual recipes, many of them actually sound good. Our featured recipe is not from among those! Can you guess what it is from the picture? Duck Soup, you say? Very close, but no cigar - note the tomato-red broth. Give up? It's Duck Gumbo! Ordinarily, gumbo includes okra, a vegetable that cooks to a snot-like consistency. This one doesn't - but the duck pieces and giblet water together qualify this twist on a traditional cajun dish as a frightening food. The comments in regular parentheses are from cookbook author Lu Lockwood. I love how she orders you to contract out the yuckiest part of the recipe. The grammar and punctuation (or lack thereof) are all hers, too. Maybe she wrote out this recipe after testing recipes from two of her other books - Cooking with Beer and Cooking with Scotch!

(Very Special)

1 Duck, cut up into small pieces (have butcher chop up duck)
1/4 cup salt and pepper [really, this is what it says!]
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup bacon drippings
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 large peeled tomatoes, cut up
3 tablespoons of flour
3 cups giblet water

Boil giblets in 4 cups of water to 1/2 hour and set aside.
Season duck pieces and roll each in flour, fry in bacon drippings until tender. About 10 minutes. Remove from pan add onions and tomatoes saute a few minutes.  Add tablespoon of flour and stirring over heat with onions and tomatoes until flour all disappears. Add giblet water and duck, cook over low temperature for 2 hours. Taste for seasoning. Serve over rice.

Truly Unusual Soups, Lu Lockwood, 1977

August 1, 2011

A Rose by any Other Name.....

would smell as sweet. Perhaps not - what if it was named Athlete's Food Plant? You might not want to get near enough to find out if it is sweet - or noxious!  Many recipes in my collection of vintage cookbooks are placed at a disadvantage by their selected name. Water-fried Onions, anyone? Sounds like a soupy messy, but it's only carmelized onions that are then cooked a little longer by adding 1/4 cup of water to the pan and letting it evaporate.  Or Salad Soup? Doesn't sound as appealing as Gazpacho, but it's about the same thing. How about Beerocks?I thought it would be some conflation of beer and rock-hard somethings, but it's a version of the Welsh pasty, or hot pocket, made with a potato bread crust. The clear winners in the bad name contest , though, are the authors of The Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook. I think the recipe for Boova Shenkel takes the prize. A silly name, but not that bad, you say? Allow me to translate: Boy's Legs. What? You read that right: Boy's Legs.

Where the name came from is hard to imagine. The only similarity I see is that most boys have two legs, and this recipe makes two giant potato-stuffed pierogies (about calzone size). I actually can't decide if this one sounds good or bad. I think I would prefer that the beef served on top of this was in gravy rather than broth. What do you think?


3 lbs. beef for stewing
2 tsp. salt
12 medium potatoes, washed, pared and thinly sliced
3 TBS. butter
1/3 cup minced onion
2 TBS. minced parsley
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 TBS. lard
2 TBS. shortening
8 to 10 TBS. cold water

Cut meat into piecves and place into Dutch oven. Cover with water, add salt and simmer for 2 hours. Cook potatoes until tender; drain. Mix in butter, onion, parsley, salt and pepper. Add eggs and beat mixture lightly. Set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cut in the lard and shortening with a pastry blender or two knives. Add water, using only enough to hold the dough together. Work quickly; do not overhandle. Shape into a ball. Using 1/2 of dough, roll on a floured surface into a 10" round about 1/8" thick. With a knife or spatula, loosen dough from surface whenever sticking occurs; lift dough and sprinkle flour underneath. Spread one half of the potato filling on one half of the round. Fold dough in half over filling. Press edges together with tines of fork to seal. Set aside. Repeat process for remaining half of dough. Carefully drop the two filled pastries into the boiling broth with the meat. Cover and simmer about 25 minutes. Arrange the Boova Shenkel on a platter and pour hot sauce over pastries. Serve immediately. 8 to 10 servings

The Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook, 1977, Culinary Arts Press