Ah, it’s that time of year again! Time to make funky appetizers from the 1960s!
As longtime readers know, I’m obsessed with old cookbooks. Specifically, cookbooks from that weird stretch of years when every other recipe called for unflavored gelatin. This obsession hits a fever pitch during the holiday season, because even if the cookbooks made no such claims, every appetizer in them sounds Christmassy to me.
After spending many years simply reading these ancient recipes, I’ve spent the last few years actively putting them to use. In 2012 and again in 2014, you’ve seen the results of these bizarre experiments. Some of the appetizers were doubtlessly in bad taste by today’s standards, but despite such reader responses as “no thanks” and “that’s literally shit,” most of them turned out better than they sounded.
Below are five more recipes for ancient holiday appetizers, predominantly plucked from the pages of hardbound Better Homes and Gardens books from the 1960s.
Thing to note: I’ve tried all of these, and ALL of them are good. I swear.
To be honest, I only made this Avocado-Cranberry Salad because it sounded like a good photo. Little did I know that the ridiculous components of avocado slices, cubes of cranberry sauce and goddamned french dressing would make for something that I’d make-and-eat even when there wasn’t a Dino Drac review on the line.
My description won’t be much help, but here it goes: It’s like the free salad course from a mid-level restaurant that desperately wants you to think it’s fancy. There’s a fine line between class and trash, and I’ve come to realize that pure nirvana exists squarely on that line. This salad is boss.
Start with a bed of lettuce. Add diced celery, avocado slices and chunks of jellied cranberry sauce. Drizzle with french dressing. The cookbook I got this from offered no photographic assistance, but the dish still looked like it belonged on its front cover. This is so ‘60s.
Still a relatively popular dish, this was my first crack at the fabled Broiled Grapefruit. HOLY GOD are these things good. Wow.
Okay, so you cut a grapefruit in half, and then cut around the membranes so that the fruit is safely detached from the peel. Top with spoonfuls of sugar and cinnamon, and then add a pat of butter. Broil that shit for 7-8 minutes, and out comes this hot, bubbling wreck that looks and smells amazing even before you garnish it with a maraschino cherry.
If that sounds pretty good, I promise that it’s 50x better than you’re imagining. The heat, butter and spices neutralize much of grapefruit’s natural tartness, and the whole thing tastes like some liquor-drenched fruitcake sent from God to quietly bring about world peace.
Guys, get over the anchovy thing. I mean, if you’re vegan or vegetarian or allergic, okay, but treating anchovies like the devil just because every sitcom character who ever ordered a pizza did is a bad way to go through life.
I say this not as an anchovy fan, but as someone who knows that anchovies as an ingredient in something else is just no big deal at all. Most of the time, you hardly notice them.
Such was the case with this Anchovy Olive Dip recipe, which resulted in a dish that was altogether bereft of anchovyosity. Really, if you left out the anchovies, you’d end up with roughly the same dip.
Into the cauldron went a cup of sour cream, a teaspoon of grated onion, a teaspoon of mashed-up anchovies, and enough diced green olives to fill a Slurpee cup. The dip came out tasting like creamy olives and not much else. I’m not complaining.
The main benefit of the dip is that it doesn’t at all taste like something you could buy from the store in a prepared tub. If you’re having guests over, I think they’ll appreciate the fact that this weird salty bullshit came from your own hands and heart. Plus, if they like it, you’ll get to ask them if they’re down wit’ AOD.
A simpler spin on rumaki, Bacon-Pineapple Bites are exactly what the title promises. Half-cook some bacon, wrap portions of the slices around chunks of canned pineapple, toothpick ‘em together, and broil for 6-7 minutes. It’s probably the easiest recipe in this post, and I’ll remind you that all I had to do for one of the others was pour french dressing over cranberry sauce.
Mine arguably came out a tad overcooked, but you definitely want the bacon to be crunchy. The whole point is to create a contrast between the pineapple’s sugary mush and the bacon’s salty crispness. If a Polynesian restaurant hasn’t already taught you this, I’ll confirm that pineapple complements meat quite well. These screwball nuggets are the best way to make your holiday party feel like a luau full of dead grandmothers.
I’m fudging the timeline with these Ranch Oyster Crackers, as the recipe didn’t come from a 1960s cookbook, but rather a 1980s Hidden Valley Ranch magazine advertisement. (As soon as I wrote that post, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I made the things.)
Everything I’ve written about tonight tastes great, but this is the one that you absolutely MUST try.
To make them, combine a cup of olive oil and a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix in a bowl. Add some garlic powder, lemon pepper and a generous dose of dill weed. Mix it all up, and then pour it over a tray of oyster crackers. Leave the crackers in the oven for 15-20 minutes on the “warm” setting, and then clear your fucking calendar, because you’re about to eat a whole damn wheelbarrow of Ranch Oyster Crackers.
The flavor is dangerously good. I was barely through my first handful before realizing that this would only end with me crying my eyes out to a support group of total strangers, desperate to kick my Ranch Oyster Cracker habit.
The most meaningful moments of the holiday season will change over time, because they have to. Expecting it to be the same as when we were kids and then being repeatedly disappointed when it isn’t is a weak ass strategy. You gotta develop new traditions. Following absurd recipes from 50 year old cookbooks has become one of mine. Laugh all you want, but you’ll never catch me whining about this time of year.
PS: In my return to DealNews, I’m covering 10 gone-but-never-forgotten balloons from long ago Macy’s Parades!