First off, I want to point out how international Dinner is Served! has been recently: lasagna, goulash, chow mein, sauerbraten, chili con carne–and now #86, Albondigas con Salsa Fria. I didn’t realize how frickin’ global and cultured this box was when I first opened it. After a quick flip through the remaining cards, it looks as though there is no shortage of treats from abroad. Dinner is Served! is especially special when it comes to ethnic food so that’s something to look forward to!
But anyway…as I’ve been writing this blog I have discovered a whole group of bloggers all around the globe who really dig vintage cookbooks, food photography and all things mid-century modern. We all frequent each other’s sites and hit the comment boards; so I have internet friends.
Yeah, read that again. I have honest to God internet friends. It’s weird. Awesome and weird. (Please take a moment to go check out all of their blogs over on the right hand of this page, by the way). Anyway, every once in a while you get to meet your internet friends in real-life. That’s what happened with Bob (Veg-O-Matic). He doesn’t have a blog himself (although he does have an insanely cool collection of toys that cook food with the power of a 60 watt bulb–it goes way past the Easy Bake Oven, believe you me) but he is a regular on a lot of the other retro food blogs. Well we started emailing back and forth and that resulted in this: my first DiS! collaboration…
I made my dishes early in the day and then packaged them up for the road trip. The meatballs I made all the way up until the boiling/baking step and wrapped them to cook later. Note that I did NOT place a green olive in the center of each walnut-sized ball. I am not offended by olives, but I know that many are. I also did not make a full 1.5 pounds worth of balls–I used just beef.
I made the salsa fria as directed and used fresh tomatoes instead of busting out a can. I boiled them out of their skins and then roughly chopped them. This was really unnecessary. I should have used a can, but I will use this as an excuse to show off my awesome retro manicure.
The sour cream enchiladas were simple enough. And they turned out just fine. I just want to point out two things. 1. The Safeway brand medium red enchilada sauce is much hotter than anything labeled ‘medium’ should be. And 2. I would like to know what kind of wonky math was at work in 1972 when these cards were published. 1/2 cup cheese + 1 cup sour cream + 1/2 cup chopped green onions should yield enough tablespoons to fill 6 enchiladas, yet it didn’t make enough. Just eyeballing it I knew I would have nowhere near enough filling–the amount of filling in the tortillas became smaller and smaller as I went on assembling them. I know that this isn’t the first time in the brief history of Dinner is Served! that this happened.
Once done, I wrapped them up for transport.
So when we arrived at Bob’s suburban retreat (of course I got lost on my way there) we were greeted by Keith (Husband of Veg-O-Matic), a plate of veggie crudites and this dip from The 1972 Retro Weight Watchers experiment (if you recall, I did a skinny margarita guest post on Mimi’s webpage). Here is the recipe for Mimi’s Weight Watchers Dip:
1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
Dash Hot Sauce (I used many dashes)
6 oz. cottage cheese (I used fat free)
1 4-oz. can pimentos, drained
dash garlic salt
Puree in blender until smooth!
It was a nice little nosh while we were waiting for dinner–and healthy to boot. Plus, Bob is super-rad for the photographic documentation of his portion of #86.
Bob isn’t a fan of spinach, and since the casserole was his responsibility, he subbed a Caker Corn Bake instead. This recipe comes from Brian (no, not my Brian) at Caker Cooking, which is a fun food site out of Canada (jeezie creezie it’s international in these them parts!). Here is the recipe, which is so simple it’s ludicrous.
1 can kernel corn, undrained
1 can creamed corn
1 cup uncooked macaroni
1 cup Cheez Whiz
Heat oven to 350°. Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Place into a two quart casserole dish. Cover and bake for about 45 minutes or until macaroni is done.
The casserole looked a little soupy going into the oven which gave us pause–what the hell did Caker Cooking get us into? How was this macaroni going to cook? But I am happy to report that the Caker Corn Bake turned out very well. Initially it seemed overly sweet, but since the enchiladas had a bit of a kick to them, it paired nicely.
Here is the finished meal:
I do not have a tiny pig-cow figurine lying about, so to give this one some Mexican flair I brought out my mini-sombrero. But of course, it is always a good time to bring out the mini sombrero.
I think that overall this meal was a win. I liked everything. The meatballs were over-baked, but oh well. I thought that everything else was pretty damn good. Cleve liked it. And I think that Bob and Keith liked it. I hoped they did.
Now onto the dessert: almond torte. Oddly (or not so oddly) there are very few almond torte recipes on the web. They are either overly easy (i.e. make boxed cake. Garnish with slivered almonds) or monster-recipes like the one for the famous burnt almond torte at Prantl’s Bakery in Pittsburgh. Just look at the size of this thing:
Burnt Almond Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Honey Almond Brittle:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons water
2 ounces slivered almonds (about 1/2 cup), toasted
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup milk
3 large egg yolks
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans.
For the cake: Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating 30 seconds between additions. Add alternating increments of the flour mixture and buttermilk and vanilla, blending well after each addition; this should take about 3 to 5 minutes.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans, on wire racks, for 10 minutes, unmold the cakes and let cool completely.
Note: The cake recipe makes two 8-inch round cake layers. Only one is used for this recipe.
To make the brittle: Combine the granulated sugar, honey and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil, without stirring, until the mixture turns a deep amber color, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the toasted almonds, butter and baking soda. Mix with a wooden spoon just until the butter melts and the foaming subsides. Pour the mixture into a nonstick or lightly greased baking sheet and set aside to cool. Once the brittle has hardened, break it up and crush to fine crumbs in a food processor. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator until ready to use.
To make the custard cream: In a heavy saucepan over medium- low heat, heat milk to barely simmering. Meanwhile, combine egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk to blend smoothly. Stir the heated milk into the egg mixture; return mixture to saucepan. Bring back to a boil, over medium-low heat, whisking constantly; boil 1 minute. Remove pan from heat; add butter and vanilla, stirring to melt the butter. Transfer custard to a bowl; place a piece of waxed paper directly on top to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until cold.
Whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold into the chilled custard and refrigerate until ready to use.
To assemble cake: Cut the cake in half horizontally. Place one layer on a cake plate, spread cake with cold custard cream and sprinkle with brittle crumbs. Cover with the remaining layer of cake. Spread the remaining custard cream over cake, applying a thinner coat to the sides, then the top. Chill for a least 1 hour before garnishing.
To garnish, press brittle crumbs onto the sides of the cake with the palm of your hand and sprinkle a layer of crumbs on the top. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Note: To toast nuts, arrange in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake in a 375-degree oven until golden brown, about 7 to 10 minutes. Allow nuts to cool before using.
That is an epic cake recipe. I’m tired just looking at it. So you can give up 12 hours of your life and take on that mother of a cake, or make it easy on yourself and have one shipped to your house. Do that here. It is delicious, I highly recommend it.
Needless to say, Bob didn’t go the Prantl’s route. The recipe he ultimately chose was a happy medium between the overly simple and the fantastically complicated, although I don’t know which exact recipe he used. I do know that it wasn’t from one of the retro recipe sites. Bob thought that the torte was a bit of a let down because it was a thin, dense cake and not a towering confection; but what it lacked it height it made up for in taste. It was chock-full of almondy goodness and wasn’t too sweet. It was a nice finish to #86.
This was a really fun night and I’m glad that we got to meet Bob and Keith They were gracious hosts and we hope to have them visit our humble abode for another fantastic Dinner is Served!–perhaps once I get a proper kitchen dining set.
And this dinner was extra-special because we used recipes from 2 other retro foodie blogs. See what happens when 3 food blogs collide! So a big thanks to Brian and Mimi. See, the interwebz really do bring people together!
Speaking of bringing people together: do you (or someone you love) want to go halfsies on a Dinner is Served! meal and experience 1970s haute cuisine at its finest? Or do you want to do a guest post of some sort? Email me at email@example.com and we’ll talk. There are so many gems still left in the avocado box. Believe me.