Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24: Gourmet Retro Dinner Party

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



hors d’oeuvre
Pigs in a Blanket – by GINA FROM LAKE RONKONKOMA, LONG ISLAND, NY

appetizer
Rumaki with Mai Tai Cocktail Gelée – by LAUREN FROM REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA

soup
Vichyssoise – by NORAMAE FROM NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

salad
June’s Seven Layer Green Goddess Salad – by GINA FROM LAKE RONKONKOMA, LONG ISLAND, NY

fish
Crab Louie – by SALLY FROM HOUSTON, TEXAS

main
Pork Chop, Rice and Tomato Casserole – by GAIL FROM TORRANCE, CALIFORNIA
Old Fashioned Roast Beef with Vegetables – by PAT FROM FOSTORIA, OHIO

side
Ortega Chile Cheese Rice Casserole – by BOB FROM REDONDO BEACH, CALIFORNIA

dessert
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
Rumaki
Mai Tai Cocktail Gelée

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!”

Vichyssoise

Lemon Curd Crème Fraiche

NORAMAE FROM NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA
“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.

Pork Chop Casserole
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

Crust

  • 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

Sift dry ingredients 3 times add Crisco in small pieces.
Then add liquid egg mixture. Good for 3 pies.

Filling

  • 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

Crumb Topping

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ stick margarine or butter
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup flour
  • Mix till crumbly top pie

Bake 400 degrees 15 minutes down to 350 for 45 minutes.

The Grasshopper
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.

Vintage China
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!

Symbolic Dinner

Rosh Hashanah Dinner

Rosh Hashanah
Jewish New Year 5769

Crusted Fresh Petrale Sole
Topped with Caramelized Honeycrisp Apples
Israeli Couscous Medley
Honeyed Baby Carrots

Carrots represent our hope that we increase our good deeds, topped here with butter and honey, to symbolize the wish for sweetness in the coming year.

Wishing You a Sweet New Year
L’Shana Tova!

To observe Rosh Hashanah, traditional foods sweetened with honey, apples and carrots are served. They symbolize sweetness, blessings, abundance and the hope for a sweet year ahead. Fish is a part of the Rosh Hashanah meal, for it is an ancient symbol of fertility and prosperity and also represents knowledge since its eyes are always open. This is the time to reflect on our lives, values and relationships. The festive symbolic meal is an integral component of the Rosh Hashanah celebration.
L’Shana Tova Tikatevu

May Your Name be Inscribed in The Book of Life
For a Good Year

Mojito Cake

A Mojito is a Cuban cocktail made by muddling fresh mint leaves with sugar and lime, then adding ice, rum, and club soda.
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…

Several years ago my brother was coming to visit me, and I asked him, what would you like me to cook for you? Aunt Edna’s Lemon Cake. I asked my mom if she had the recipe, she did, and I have been making different incarnations of it ever since. And although I did not inherit my Great Auntie’s love of baking, I do have her appreciation for convenient desserts.
Here is my MOJITO CAKE Version of Lemon Jello Cake:

3 oz. Jello added to 1 box (18 oz.) white cake mix.
To get the cake the color of a mojito, I use 1 1/2 oz. each Lemon Jello and Lime Jello.

Add 4 eggs, 3/4 c. canola oil, and 3/4 c. water. Mix well, then pour into a greased Bundt pan. (I use Trader Joe’s Cooking Spray with Flour). Bake at 325 for 45 minutes.

Cool slightly. Pierce lots of holes all over the cake. I use a wooden skewer, or you can use a chopstick.

Put 2 T. Rum and 1 T. Crème de Menthe (a sweet mint-flavored liqueur) in a measuring cup then add fresh squeezed lime juice to make 1/2 cup.

Combine the lime juice mixture with 2 c. powdered sugar.

Pour over the holes and let the lime sugar mixture saturate the cake. Invert the cake onto a platter, serve with limes and fresh mint. Dust with powdered sugar.
Mojito Cake: with flavors of lime, mint, rum, and sugar!
The Retro Lemon Jell-O Cake Recipe:

  • 1 package 18 oz. classic yellow cake mix
  • 1 small box 3 oz. Lemon Jello
  • 4 eggs
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil

Mix well, pour into a greased 13 X 9 cake pan and bake at 325 degrees for about 45 minutes until the cake is set.

Cool slightly and then poke holes all over the cake with a fork.

  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • ½ c. fresh lemon juice
Mix, then pour glaze over the cake.
Some of our other versions include:
Margarita Cake – sub Tequila and Cointreau in the Mojito recipe and garnish with salt crystals.
Pink Lemonade Cake – substitute raspberry Jello for 1/2 of the lemon Jello
Molly’s Strawberry Margarita Cake – add strawberry Jello
Did your Grandma or Great Aunt make a similar cake?

Petits Pots de Crème

Chocolate Orange Pots de Crème

The term “Petits Pots de Crème” refers both to a soft baked custard and to the small ceramic pots, often with lids, that they are baked in. These adorable authentic petits pots are made in France. They belonged to my grandmother-in-law, Evelyn Dawn.

To continue our Celebration of Julia Child during her birthday week, we made her chocolate pots de crème recipe for dessert.

Evelyn and Julia hailed from the same town. Both were born in Pasadena, California, Evelyn in 1907 and Julia in 1912. I never heard Evelyn mention that their paths had ever crossed. But she did get a kick out of telling us that a boy named Marion Morrison asked her to the high school prom and she turned him down. He eventually became an actor and changed his name to John Wayne. Both ladies were nonagenarians. Julia passed away two days before her 92nd birthday, and Evelyn passed away just 8 days after her 93rd birthday.

We made this dessert in honor of Evelyn and Julia. The recipe comes from Julia & Jacques Cooking at Home.

We used 4 oz. unsweetened Ghirardelli chocolate and added the optional orange zest and coffee as Julia suggested.

Two cups of heavy cream with orange zest and instant coffee are heated to a simmer then steeped 5 minutes off the heat.

Four egg yolks are whisked with 1/3 c. sugar until the yolks are pale and thick.  Then the hot cream is slowly stirred into the egg mixture.

The custard is then poured through a sieve, (which removes the orange zest and any coagulated bits of egg) into a bowl with broken chocolate pieces. It is stirred to melt the chocolate and 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract is added.

The petits pots are filled with the chocolate mixture, then placed in a baking pan with hot water about half way up the pots. Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes. Cool briefly then refrigerate to chill thoroughly.
Thank you Julia, for the delicious recipe and inspiration, and thank you Evelyn for the darling petits pots.

Hollywood Bowl Picnic

Summer Evening in LA
Picnic and Concert at the Hollywood Bowl

The Hollywood Bowl is the largest natural outdoor amphitheater in the United States. It is a friendly sociable place where Southern Californians gather to picnic and enjoy outstanding music. Last Wednesday, we thoroughly enjoyed the music of Chris Botti and Orchestra. Chris is an engaging entertainer, refreshingly humble, gracious and funny, not to mention a fabulous trumpeter. He’s my new fav. You can hear him here.

The gates open at 6 PM for the picnickers  to set up their tables and enjoy a meal before the show starts at 8 PM. We set up our box then went around to socialize with our neighbors and check out their picnics before dinner.

I spy… Veuve Clicquot Champagne


Our Mediterranean place settings and picnic menu:
Appetizer
Green Olive Tapanade, Dates, Sprouted Flatbread
First Course
Shrimp, Herbed Tomato & Feta
Grilled Ciabatta
Main
Cold Thin-Sliced Beef Tenderloin – Savory & Sweet Mustard Rub
Lemon Caper Aioli
Arugula Salad – Rosemary Vinaigrette
Cannellini Bean, Haricot Verte, Roasted Tomato, Marcona Almond
Dessert
Grilled Apricot
Greek Yogurt, Honey, Chocolate Mint Sprigs
Coffee

Since table setting is one of my hobbies, I get a kick out of some of our neighbors’ tables…
this one is totally groovy!

These gentlemen had a manly setting and a nice bottle of Zin

Adorable little fresh flower arrangement,  jaunty table cloth & napkins

Centerpiece is a gourd with sprigs of lavender with sophisticated white linens
After the meal, the chairs are turned around to face the stage, everything is packed up and stored stuffed under our seats, and then…

…we enjoy the show!

Bravo Chris Botti and Orchestra!

“To me, music that breaks your heart is the music that stays with you forever,” muses the best-selling jazz artist Chris Botti when talking about his new album, Italia. “It’s one thing to be melancholy and one thing to be sophisticated, but when you get the two of them together in a way people can relate to, then I think you’re on to something.  You want the sophistication to lie in the purity of the sound, the beauty of the arrangements, and the quality of the performances.”
A special thank you to Val, James and Terri for a wonderful evening under the stars.

Pineapple Peanut Coleslaw Alfresco

Summer is here! YAY! Time for alfresco dining.

One of the side dishes that was a hit at this alfresco meal was
The Pineapple Peanut Coleslaw.

Nothing fancy, but this combination of ingredients is a winner.

A small can of crushed pineapple is drained.

Napa cabbage is thinly sliced.
The crinkled leaves give a good texture to coleslaw.

Sliced scallions and cilantro are added.

Equal parts of mayonnaise and sour cream are blended together with pineapple.
Add peanuts and toss. Season with salt and pepper.

Let’s eat!
Where’s the beef?


We’re looking forward a long summer with plenty of grilling and outdoor dining ahead.

How ’bout you?