Sunday, September 29, 2013

Cookbooks for Holidays: Canapes, Chafing Dishes, Cocktails and 'Jiffy' Cooking

The holidays are here, and you'll probably have company over for a dinner or family for the weekend. Peter Pauper Press has re-released several of the their old cookbooks, and this is the perfect season for several of them. From chafing dish items to recipes for simple canapes, there is something for every need. All versions of these books are in the unadulterated forms: recipes have not been updated to modern times so a change or two may be necessary to substitute a hard-to-find ingredient or a technique not recommended today due to food safety issues (namely consuming raw eggs). All in all, fun little reads, and many of the recipes may spark a memory or two. All the books of this series show the reader what life was like back in the 50s and 60s through recipes.

The ABC of Canapes

The ABC of Canapes was first published in 1953 when canapes containing pimentos and sardines reigned supreme. This book is no exception, but there are several simple recipes that can be adapted for a holiday buffet today. Recipes like Jumbo Shrimp on Toast are easy to put together, and would make great use of that gourmet jar of chutney just sitting on your pantry shelf (shrimp sauteed in butter, flavored with curry, topped with chutney). As with most books of that time period, there is liberal use of liver, liverwurst, anchovies, and sardines. After reading this book you may find a new love for them. Some recipes I may not ever try (Idiot's Delight showcases canned Chinese fried noodles, butter, and MSG as main ingredients) but others, like the Variety Spreads recipe, offer a spring board of ideas for canapes.

The ABC of Chafing Dish Cookery

Another book from the mid 50s, The ABC of Chafing Dish Cookery was published when the little chafing dish was in popularity, and people simply entertained more. And ate in front of the television. From the preface:
The fun in owning a chafing dish is in using it often! The more you use it the more you will want to use it, and you will find that cooking can continue right in front of your television set and you won't miss a thing!
Classic 50s. The recipes are classic, too, and many would make great additions to a recipe box if not already inside: Crabmeat Newburgh; Appetizing Welsh Rarebit with Pineapple; and Creamed Codfish with Pimiento are a few.

The ABC of Jiffy Cookery

Short on time? The ABC of Jiffy Cookery, originally published in 1961, focuses on recipes that are quick to put together or can cook left undisturbed in the oven or pot. Recipes range from one serving to many, and from appetizers and snacks to main course entrees and desserts. Favorites of mine from this book are Lobster a la King, Poulet Saute Sec, Veal Scallopine, and Aluminum Foil-Baked Shad Roe. 68 recipes in all.

The ABC of Cocktails

This 1953 reprint is a bar book that shows its 'sign of the times' when stiff drinks and cocktails were in order, no matter what time of day, social or business. I loved the 'About Cocktails' in the beginning of the book, sort of a warning of what is to come. A warning to amateurs and maiden aunts out there currently reading this:
Obviously, if you are making cocktails for vigorous drinkers, you will make them long on liquor and short on flavoring and sweetening. If you are making them before dinner you will make them short on sugar or sweet flavorings. If you are making them for amateurs, maiden aunts, and such, you will make them short on liquor and strong on flavoring and sugar. The recipes given hereafter are on the strong side for experienced drinkers...Once you understand the basic facts of the paragraph above, you can choose a suitable cocktail, can face any recipe with understanding, and can modify it to get the best results.
Classic!! I loved the preface. All the recipes are sound, and these four short sections: Glassware & Measures; Sweetening; About Ingredients; and Cocktail Hints, offer pretty good advice about cocktail mixing in general. You won't find modern frilly cocktails or any photos of them. What you will find, as with the rest of the series, is serious recipes showing a glimpse at what our parents and grandparents must have enjoyed way back when.

Book Information:

Disclosure: These books were provided by the publisher and any opinions are my own.

Renee Shelton
The Cookbook Papers


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