Looking to impress? Or maybe you’ve been watching a lot of those baking shows while on lockdown and you’re think you’re ready for some of the “tougher” stuff. Well, here’s a good one for you to test your skills.
I made 17-15: Cream Puffs for Thanksgiving last year (2019), but haven’t written about it until now. Cream puffs feature pâte à choux, which is the puffy, airy dough that you also find in éclairs. We made profiteroles when I worked at a restaurant a few years ago, and it’s essentially the same thing.
Simply Delicious suggests you can fill your cream puffs with vanilla or whipped cream–the most traditional ones also feature pastry cream (crème pâtissière).
The ones we served at the restaurant I worked at were filled with house-made, hand-scooped ice cream that were (sometimes) baked and (often) assembled by yours truly and then drizzled with a chocolate glaze like these. It was one of those trendy gastro-brew pubs that made the beer onsite and had many beardy/tattooed gentlemen working there, so you can imagine the rest of the menu and atmosphere. At least we served most of it on a normal plate. #wewantplates
Here’s a very basic dessert recipe: 14-21: Pear Pandowdy. Pandowdies are typically made with apples, but Simply Delicious offers a pear variation which is also popular. Both are in season right now, so either one would work for this recipe if you’re looking for something to do with all of that fall produce.
An old-fashioned favorite, the pandowdy is, by definition, a cooked fruit dessert sweetened with maple syrup or molasses and topped with a pie pastry. The name refers to the act of “dowdying” the crust — that is, breaking it up with a knife and pressing it into the bubbling juices — midway through baking. While it’s not the prettiest of pastries, what it lacks in streamlined good looks it more than makes up for in rich flavor.
Yankee Magazine, August 2020
Let’s see how close Simply Delicious gets to their definition. They sell this thing much better than I do.
Usually, I give Simply Delicious a hard time for their attempts at “cultural cuisine”–I had gone into 8-13: Japanese Beef Casserole with the same expectations. I even cooked the recipe with that thought in mind–that this was just another lame attempt at something “exotic” for the 1980s housewife crowd to try to excite their disaffected family about. I mean, read that description below and try to imagine how that would go in real life.
However, while researching for the write-up (the last part of this multi-step process), I found some interesting “similar” recipes. I’m still not sure if I’m right or wrong about this one.
Here’s my thoughts on the two things this recipe could be (given my new findings):
They might be trying to attempt nikujaga (Japanese “beef stew”), but it’s missing potatoes which are a crucial (and easy to obtain) part of that dish.
They’re attempting some sort of pan-Asian sautéed beef/Asian veggies dish that you’d be more likely to find in a dead mall’s food court and just calling it Japanese casserole.
I’m guessing it’s the latter, but if you’d like to decide for yourself, keep reading.
Oh, and that dead mall link above? That’s another one of our projects…
A LOT of the dessert recipes in Simply Delicious feature almonds, and 14-23: Almond-Baked Sliced Pears is a perfect example of these type of “semi-fancy” recipes. I’m not sure why almonds are featured so heavily in the book (or 1980s cuisine in general), but I suppose it’s to lend a sense of haute cuisine to something that would be (in reality) executed in a home kitchen.
The 1980s were all about stylish and flashy veneers without much to back it up underneath, even when it came to food, and this recipe is a perfect encapsulation of it. The fancy top covers up the cheap canned pears underneath, dazzling you with a hint of something high-class to distract you from the less impressive core which makes up the bulk of the dessert. Maybe some things should have just stayed in the 80s.
Given the header picture, I suppose it’s not much of a secret that I’ve made some adaptations to 2-31: Smoked Chicken Salad. Namely, that I’ve changed it from a salad to a sandwich. Here’s the thing–it’s a sad salad as written, but can be made into a pretty decent sandwich that doesn’t require anything different than what’s already required/recommended.
See those rolls in the back of the picture (the ones suggested in the blurb above)? Here’s the quick and dirty: cut one open, take the (very few) salad ingredients, stack inside, eat. Not much more to it than that, but if you’d like to see how that went for me in greater detail, please continue reading.
In these trying times (are you tired of hearing that yet?), it’s important to make the food you have go as far as you can, and to reduce the amount of food being wasted. Even before “the Rona“, I’ve been spending many a Saturday (or Sunday) meal-prepping for the upcoming week, which has brought down our grocery bills (and our waistlines, but apparently not as quickly).
7-31: Lime Cayenne Pork Chops was part of a “pork chop” meal-prep week, prepared in tandem with 7-53: Cider-Braised Pork Chops and served with some mixed roasted potatoes courtesy of the CSA box. It’s “meat and potatoes”, but maybe with a healthier twist?
My mom apparently made this back in November 1993, and it was “good” and “easy”. I’m not sure who ranked it as such (since she doesn’t eat pork), but we’ll go with that recommendation.
If you were around in the 1980s-1990s, you may remember the obsession with low-fat everything, and finding ways to make “sinful indulgences” into something “guilt-free“. Note the deliberate choice of words, and that we still use that type of psychological framing around food today (and have been for a long time, even prior to the era in question).
The “low-calorie swap” in 16-42: Easy Lime Pie is cottage cheese, which was all the rage in the 1970s as a “healthy” option, but could still be found in a lot of recipes throughout the 80s and 90s.
I feel like even Simply Delicious didn’t really know how to make this pie sound appealing–do you think halved grapes as a garnish can be considered something notable? You can definitely tell this particular recipe was aimed at the dieting/low-calorie crowd.
I came clean in 11-9: Fried Jumbo Shrimp that we’ve been eating plant-based for about 2 years now–most entries that I’ve published since mid-2018 feature me essentially attempting to convert these old recipes into meatless/vegan options. 8-27: Classic Beef Stew will be no different.
I realize that not everyone chooses to eschew meat/dairy, and I’m not here to proselytize or debate it with you. I didn’t write these recipes–the goal of this project has always been to take these existing recipes and attempt to cook them ALL, somehow. The recipes are still here, in their original form–it’s up to you (and me) how to interpret them.
Believe it or not, 1-3: Melon with Smoked Turkey is one of my last few remaining Group 01: Hot and Cold Appetizers recipes left to cover. I’ve put this one off for a while because I’m not a big fan of melon (other than watermelons)–but when the weekly CSA box keeps bringing them to you, you have to do something with them.
Theirs looks super fancy–mine looks like a sloppy mess. I suppose if I were actually serving this for a party I would have tried harder. Melon + meat = appetizer isn’t a new equation–even Pillsbury has their own version. Most versions include prosciutto instead of turkey, which is the variant I’m more familiar with.