Monday, June 16, 2008


A friend lent me Good Housekeeping’s Appetizer Book from 1958, and I thought I’d share some of the findings with you. Let this be a lesson on what not to do when you entertain.

“This is an era of dips and dunks and sticks and picks,” announces the booklet. “And we say ‘hurrah!’” The authors’ excitement may be premature.

Not everything in the book is bad, of course, but a lot of the recipes seem as if they’d be best enjoyed by people who have deadened their taste buds through heavy smoking. Some of these might also be more palatable after the third martini. In fact, the booklet insists on it:

“And when it comes to selecting that drink, don’t overlook the possibilities of fruit, tomato or vegetable juice, hot or cold soup, bouillon-on-the-rocks, hot tomato juice, mulled cider,” the booklet counsels. Yeah, sign me up for bouillon on the rocks. Preferably large rocks that I can use to hit myself in the forehead to condition myself not to do that again. If that’s not enough shock therapy for you, take a hard look at this:

There’s nothing wrong with an appetizer of prosciutto and melon, but this looks as if it’s been sitting out in the sun all afternoon.

And here’s some good old-fashioned nightmare fodder:

Another of the recipes keeps us in the tradition of inappropriate cakes. It’s the Hors d’Oeuvre Birthday Cake, and it combines olive spread and deviled ham and liver pate in a layered fright. And as a special bonus, you can get melted wax all over it! I notice the “cake” serves 12-15, which I’m guessing is a conservative estimate; a little of this would go a long way.

A section of “Slimmers” includes celery sticks filled with a corned-beef and sauerkraut juice mixture. That sounds like a very effective appetite suppressant.

The back cover of the booklet sends us off in style. I’m not sure just what’s in the basket behind the flying shrimps, but once I decided it looked like macaroni and cheese I could not see it as anything else. Yum!

Hors d’Oeuvre Birthday Cake
1 1-lb. round loaf pumpernickel
1 jar or pkg. cheese spread
1 4-oz. jar olive spread
2 2 ¼-oz. cans deviled ham
1 4-oz can liver pate
3 3-oz pkg. cream cheese
¼ cup top milk or light cream
Birthday candles
Red carnations and laurel leaves

Several hours ahead: Cut ½-inch thick slice of pumpernickel from bottom and top of loaf (save these to use next day). Then slice remaining loaf into 5 layers.

Starting from the bottom, put layers together with the following fillings: cheese spread, olive spread, deviled ham, and liver pate. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To serve: Place “cake” on round tray. In bowl, rub cream cheese with milk until smooth; use to frost loaf. Around cake on tray, put candles, securing them with melted wax. Place red carnations and laurel leaves between candles.

Cut cake into pie-shaped wedges. Serve on dessert plates with forks.
Makes 12 to 15 servings

Peanut-Butter Catchup Dip
½ cup peanut butter
½ cup catchup
corn chips

Mix peanut butter with catchup until smooth. Refrigerate until served.
To serve: Arrange dip in bowl, surrounded with corn chips. Let guests dip their own.

From Good Housekeeping’s Appetizer Book: Irresistible Canapes, Hors d’Oeuvres and Nibblers. The Hearst Corporation, 1958.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Breakfast Cake

I expect to be able to post a little more in the coming weeks while I am on vacation from work. I have a lot of content wrangling to do, so for now here's a quick link to Breakfast Cake, which I don't think is specifically related to Meat Cake, though I don't know for sure.