Perfect Potato Salad

Perfect Potato Salad

A Recipe from Better Homes & Gardens Salad Book (1958)

About the Recipe

When friends are coming over for a beach picnic, what do you do? You make potato salad, of course! I went to this book right away looking for a recipe, knowing that it was one of my grandma’s go-to’s. When I saw the 3x math on the page, I knew this one had to be a winner!

My husband doesn’t like celery, so I left it out. The onions and pickles give it plenty of crunch and flavor, and in the end it’s exactly as described – a perfect potato salad.

For potato salad newbies (like me!), don’t miss the step by step instructions on how to cook the perfect potato for a salad.

About the Glassware

I found the cradle and the Fire King rectangular baking dish together at a vintage store just outside of Palm Springs on a recent visit. It’s not clear on whether they might have been originally purchased together or not. Many sets like this seem to have a clear dish instead of an opaque one. Either way, it’s a great little serving piece, and I can’t resist the opportunity to make potato salad look fancy.

About the Book

I went to visit my grandma this past weekend, who is getting ready to move out of the house that she’s lived in for… well a very long time. It’s no secret to anyone following my posts that she’s a big inspiration for a lot of the work I do on this blog. While I was there, she told me to take the cookbooks. Any of them that I wanted, including this Salad Book. I cried.

This book is so clearly well loved and well used. There’s a page covered in plastic wrap, because a recipe was used so often, she was trying to keep the splatter off it (a Caesar salad, for the record!). There are splotches on most, if not all of the pages. The edges are torn. I could not love this book more.

The Recipe!

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups cubed or sliced cooked potatoes
1 t sugar
1 t vinegar
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup sliced celery (if desired)
1/4 cup sliced sweet pickle (if desired)
1 1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t celery seed
3/4 c mayonnaise
2 hard-cooked eggs, sliced

Directions:

Sprinkle potatoes with sugar and vinegar. Add onion, celery, pickle, seasonings, and mayonnaise; toss to blend. Carefully “fold in” egg slices. Chill. Serve in lettuce-lined bowl. Trim with egg slices.

Cook potatoes in boiling salted water, peel and cube — they’re salad-ready

1. Scrub potatoes thoroughly with a firm vegetable brush. Choose potatoes of equal size so all will get done at the same time.

2. Cook potatoes in boiling, salted water. Begin fork testing after 25 minutes of cooking. When just tender, remove from heat and drain. Shake in pan over low heat to dry.

3. Peel potatoes while hot, holding on long fork or on paper towel. Salad secret: Mix salad with warm potatoes — they absorb seasonings.

4. Halve potatoes lengthwise. With flat side down on cutting board, slice each potato half in 3/4-inch strips. Then cut it crosswise to make bite-size cubes.

Zucchini Lasagna

Zucchini Lasagna

A Recipe from The Wonderful World of Cheese (1979)

About the Recipe

With so many cheesy, delicious recipes to choose from out of this book, my husband opted for the lasagna. This is a super simple lasagna recipe, if you’re looking to break the ice and try one for the very first time. The sausage provides a punch of flavor, and the zucchini is timed just right so that it’s slightly crunch, adding great texture to the dish.

The recipe itself kind of tricks you into making a meat sauce – brown the meat and onions, add the tomatoes / sauce and spices, simmer for a bit to let everything blend together. Rather than using their quick sauce, I used this Basic Red Sauce from the New York Times cookbook that’s become a staple in our home. You could absolutely feel free to use your favorite jarred sauce as well for a nice short-cut.

About the Book

This is everything I love about advertising booklets from the 1970’s: Swirly, ridiculous fonts. Weird suggestions on what to do with the product in question. Colored photographs that are supposed to look appetizing, but somehow… miss the mark. It’s a total winner!

This booklet was produced by the American Dairy Association. It eschews the value of a good cheese, and gives a thorough list of the 200 different variations available in the United States in 1979. It’s a total treasure, and came again from the giant box from my cousins. Only fitting, since Becky and I have been munching on cheese together since the beginning of time.

The Recipe!

Ingredients:

1 lb. mild Italian sausage, casing removed
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can (15 oz.) tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/4 t salt
1/4 t oregano
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 T flour
8 lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
4 cups zucchini slices, cut 1/4″ thick
12 oz. sliced Mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Brown sausage with onion; drain. Stir in tomato sauce, water and seasonings. Simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Preheat oven to 375*F. Combine Parmesan cheese and flour. Layer half of the lasagna noodles on bottom of buttered 13×9-inch baking dish. Top with half the zucchini, half the Parmesan mixture, half the meat sauce and half the Mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers of noodles zucchini, Parmesan mixture and meat sauce. Bake 20-25 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Add remaining cheese; return to oven until cheese begins to melt. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

NOTE: Option to use your favorite jarred sauce or make your own with this Basic Red Sauce from the New York Times instead of using ingredients 2-6 above.

Corn Bread

Corn Bread

A Recipe from the Mary Margaret McBride Encyclopedia of Cooking (1959)

About the Recipe

A friend of mine sent me a text the other day with a mission – She decided to give back this holiday season by stocking full Thanksgiving dinners-for-four in the community fridges in her neighborhood in Brooklyn. Did I have any interest in helping? Of course I did!

So I set my sights on baking 12 mini corn bread loaves for her Thanksgiving trays. Because of the volume of baking to be done, I picked a simple recipe and went to town! I’m not eating it this time around, so all I can say is, these smell amazing, and the batter was delicious!

In order to turn the tray bake into loaves, I got 6×2.5×2″ loaf pans (mine are paper) and I baked them for 40 minutes at 350*F, rotating the tray once during the bake to keep everything even. A knife comes out clean – these are good to go to fill some bellies this Thursday.

Interested in the fridges or in how you can get involved to give back to hungry families this holiday season? Check out Clinton Hill Fort Greene Mutual Aide for more information on the fridges, or to donate today.

About the Book

This Mary Margaret McBride Encyclopedia is a freaking god-send. When I went looking for a corn bread recipe, I found around 20 different regional variations on the corn bread to take my pick from. It’s such a go-to resource, and I know I’ll be cooking again from it frequently. Check out more recipes in the Mary Margaret McBride Collection here!

The Recipe!

Ingredients:

1 cup flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup yellow corn meal
1 cup milk
1 egg, well beaten
1 T melted shortening

Directions:

Mix and sift flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Stir in corn meal.

Add milk to beaten egg and stir into first mixture. Add shortening and blend.

Turn into shallow, greased 8-inch pan. Bake in hot oven (400*F) about 20 minutes. Cut into 6 squares. Serve hot.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan

A Recipe from The Italian Cookbook (1956)

About the Recipe

I’ve been planning on making eggplant parm for years. I’ve looked at recipes, bought the eggplant, and then chickened out numerous times. It took a small (COVID responsible) gathering to push me to make it, and all I can say is WOW.

Although it feels like a lot of steps, this is actually a very easy to execute recipe. I paired it with the Basic Red Sauce from the New York Times Cookbook (1961) and it was absolutely divine, especially on a chilly northeast autumn evening.

One quick note to add on this one – It’s worth it to take the time and prep your eggplant slices. As you slice them, lay out the slices on a rack and salt one side. Wait about 10-15 minutes and then flip them and salt the other side. Then wait 10-15 minutes again before you pat them dry and move forward with the egg and bread crumbs steps. It results in a crispier, less slimy eggplant, and the extra steps are well worth it.

About the Book

This book is from the Cooking Magic set released by the Culinary Arts Institute. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorites (see the ricotta pie recipe on my Instagram page that I used earlier this year for another example of a phenomenal recipe). The one downside is that the recipes are laid out a little funky, especially compared to modern layouts.

That said, these books are always a winner and they’re still plentiful in the market. If you see one – grab it!

The Recipe!

Ingredients:

Tomato Sauce
4 quarts water
1 T salt
3 cups (8 oz.) noodles
1 eggplant (about 1 lb.)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/4 cup undiluted evaporated milk
3 T olive oil
2/3 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (1 cup, grated)
6 slices (3 oz.) Mozzerella cheese

Directions:

Grease a 2 qt. casserole having a tight-fitting cover. Prepare the sauce and set aside.

Heat to boiling the water and salt. Gradually add noodles, stirring with a fork. Boil rapidly uncovered, 10-15 min, or until noodles are tender. Test tenderness by pressing a piece against side of pan with fork or spoon. Drain by pouring into a colander or large sieve. Set aside.

Wash, pare, and cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch thick slices. Set aside.

Combine eggs and evaporated milk. Heat the oil in a skillet. Dip eggplant into egg mixture, then into bread crumbs. Place eggplant in skillet and slowly brown on both sides. Meanwhile, grate and set aside cheese.

Place 1/3 of the drained noodles into the casserole. Top with 1/3 of the eggplant slices. Pour into casserole 1 cup of the sauce. Top with 1/2 of the grated cheese. Repeat layers (including sauce and cheese) ending with eggplant slices topped with sliced cheese.

Cover casserole and bake at 350*F for 20 minutes. Remove cover and bake 10-15 minutes longer, or until cheese is lightly browned. Serve with remaining sauce.

Gourmet Spinach

Gourmet Spinach

A Recipe from Quick Dishes for the Woman in a Hurry (1955)

About the Recipe

This is a delightful creamed spinach recipe, and as it says a truly quick dish. A friend of mine compared it (much to my delight) to the creamed spinach at Peter Luger’s. While I’m not that talented in the kitchen, this was a lovely way to eat spinach.

One quick note – really really drain that spinach. I didn’t drain it enough and the end result was a little liquid-y for my taste. But the flavor was good, and I’ll make it again, especially given as quick and easy as it was.

About the Book

I happened upon this book in a set called Cooking Magic released by the Culinary Arts Institute at a flea market here in High Falls. The set I have includes several booklets, clearly lovingly collected over time. While the recipes themselves can be a challenge, I’ve not yet had one that’s turned out poorly.

The Recipe!

Ingredients:

1 lb. spinach
1/4 cup cream
2 T butter or margarine
1 T minced onion
1 t prepared horse-radish
1/2 t salt
1/4 t monosodium glutamate
1/8 t pepper

Directions:

Remove stems, roots, and bruised leaves from spinach. Wash thoroughly by lifting up and down in cold water. Lift leaves out of water each time. When free from sand and gritty material, place spinach in heavy saucepan. Cook in a partially covered pan with only the water which clings to the leaves after final washing for 8-10 minutes.

Drain cooked spinach and chop. Return spinach to saucepan. Add cream, butter, onion and horse-radish, and the mixture of the salt, monosodium glutamate, and pepper, and stir to blend. Return to heat; cook until heated thoroughly.