October 28, 2011

Poor Persecuted Pineapples

I am a big fan of pineapple. My favorite side dish is baked pineapple. I like jello salads with pineapple in them and fruit salads with pineapple mixed in. But there are certain things that a decent, law-abiding citizen should never do to a pineapple - and the Ten P.M. Cook Book is like an instruction manual for all the things you shouldn't do. This cookbook was published in 1958, when people apparently put on their tuxes and cocktail dresses and had amusing little parties at 10. It has one of those luridly-colored covers that make the featured dish (Cherry Peach Flambe) appear radioactive. Frightening foods are bountiful (Exhibit 1: Cocktail Prunes - Pit cooked prunes and fill with peanut butter or cream cheese mixed with deviled ham. More to come, another day) but pineapple stands out for the variety of recipes in which its taste and dignity are ruined. Here are some examples:

Cranberry Pineapple Chunks - pineapple chunks dipped in a mixture of mashed jellied cranberry sauce, vinegar and mustard.
Buffet Pineapple - wash and dry the pineapple (leaving the rind on it) then cut around each eye, creating a cone that guests can pluck out and nibble. "Calorie counters enjoy their pineapple as is. For others, provide bowls of rum [!], chive cream cheese thinned with milk, and mayonnaise mixed with curry for dipping". No doubt most guests claim to be watching their weight.
Tuna Pineapple Dip - a can of crushed pineapple with a little juice, a block of cream cheese and a can of chunk-style tuna with a dash of salt and a dash of nutmeg, all "well-blended", then mixed with  avocado chunks and topped with a sprinkle of nutmeg. Served on crackers, although the "calorie-watchers" are advised to use celery sticks.
Anchovy-Pineapple Bites - Cream cheese again, mixed with a bit of pineapple juice, then spread on crackers and topped with an anchovy fillet [what, only one?] and pineapple tidbits.
Pineapple-Salad Mold - Lemon jello and pineapple,with the addition of grated cheddar and a little whipped cream once it is partly set. When unmolded, it is garnished with walnuts and maraschino cherries, and gets a little endive tucked in around the edges. Then, it's served with French dressing!

There are a few decent uses for pineapple mixed in here and there. Here's one to make up for all those yucky ones!

1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 TBS. granulated sugar
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1 pkg. vanilla pudding
1 1/4 cup water
1/2 cup syrup from pineapple
1/2 cup drained, crushed pineapple
1/4 cup flaked coconut

Start heating oven to 375 degrees. Combine crumbs, sugar and butter; firmly press one-third of mixture into bottom of a 8"x8"x2" cake pan. Bake 5 minutes; cool. Meanwhile, in saucepan, combine pudding, water and pineapple syrup. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until mixture comes to a full boil. Add pineapple; cool 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Pour over crumbs in pan. Sprinkle reserved crumbs and coconut over top. Refrigerate several hours, or until firm. Serve cut into squares, with sweetened whipped cream, if desired. Makes 6 to 9 servings.

GOOD HOUSEKEEPING'S Ten P.M. Cook Book, refreshments designed with guests in mind

October 3, 2011

Appetizers for Mrs. Sprat

When I posted the recipe for goose fat fried in goose fat, I thought that that was about the most fat that you could work into a meal. I was so, so wrong. For sheer quantity of fat, I don't think today's recipe can be beat. I didn't even know this type of fat existed, and I could have lived happily ever after in that state of ignorance. But I bought the cookbook, I read the recipe, and now I know the whole ugly story which will no doubt linger in my mind for a sadly long time. Why must fat be so persistent? The subtitle of this recipe could be "How to transform pork into a blob of fat in 4 easy steps." The French have a lot to answer for.


3 pounds of lard (kidney fat)
3 pounds fresh pork (shoulder, loin or leg), cut into small pieces
1 cup water
Salt, freshly ground black pepper

Render the leaf lard in a large pot. When it is melted, add the pork and water. Cover and cook slowly on top of the stove or in a 250 to 300 degree oven until the meat is so tender that it almost falls apart; this will take about 4 hours.Remove the meat from the fat and shred it with two forks. Season to taste with salt and pepper.Spoon the shredded pork into small pots with some of the fat, mashing so that the pork absorbs the fat. Ladle enough fat on top to make an airtight cover over the Rillettes. To serve as an hors d-oeuvre, spread on toast.