Monday, May 14, 2012

My mom, Ann Wilson, recently lent me her cookbook “American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century” by Jean Anderson. The cookbook published in 1997 provides a wealth of information as the author spent ten years tracking recipes, foods, food trends, and appliances from 1900 onward.

The book got me thinking about how we as American consumers have become accustomed to having almost every food imaginable available at the grocery store. It is not often we give thought to life without foods such as peanut butter, mayonnaise, Caesar salad, Fritos corn chips, and even M&M’s. All of these foods were invented in the first half of the 20th century. The following includes tidbits about the history of each food and a corresponding recipe. A future column will chronicle foods from the last half of the 20th Century.

1903 Peanut Butter

Ambrose W. Straub patented a machine for making peanut butter in 1903.
At the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair peanut butter, a new “health food” was unveiled.

Peanut Butter Gooey Cake

This cake by Paula Deen of the Food Network is beyond yummy. It incorporates three of my favorite things: peanut butter, chocolate and cake.

1 (18¼ oz) package chocolate cake mix
1 egg
8 Tablespoons butter, melted

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 Tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16 oz) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees; lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking pan.

To make cake: Combine all the ingredients and mix well with an electric mixer; pat the mixture into the bottom of the lightly greased baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread peanut butter mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.

1915 Hellman’s Mayonnaise

In 1915, German immigrant, Richard Hellman, began making mayonnaise full time after its popularity on sandwiches at his New York City deli.

Creamy Garlic-Buttermilk Dressing

This dressing has better flavor if made ahead of time. Stored tightly covered in the refrigerator, it will keep for four to five days. It can be used to dress salad greens or any shrimp, crab, or lobster salad, or even boiled potatoes.

1 cup buttermilk
½ cup sour cream
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
2 Tablespoons finely minced scallions
2 Tablespoons minced fresh parsley
½ teaspoons black pepper
¼ teaspoon salt

 Mix all ingredients by shaking in a 1-quart jar with a tight fitting lid. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 2 cups.

1924 Caesar Salad

Caesar Cardini, an Italian immigrant and restaurant owner in Tijuana, Mexico, began making this dressing made of romaine lettuce and croutons dressed with parmesan cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, egg, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, and black pepper. After its introduction Caesar salad became an instant hit in Southern California.

Caesar Pasta Salad

This recipe by Sandra Lee of the Food Network is a simple way to blend Caesar dressing with pasta salad, perfect for a picnic at the shelter house.

1/2 (16 oz box) rotini pasta
1/2 cup creamy Caesar salad dressing
1 lemon, zested with juice
3 Tablespoons chopped parsley leaves
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup garlic croutons

 Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the pasta and stir gently. Boil uncovered, stirring occasionally until al dente, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Drain well and rinse with cold water.

In a large bowl, combine the Caesar dressing, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, Parmesan and pepper. Add the croutons and cooked cooled pasta. Mix until all of the pasta is coated with the dressing. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve. This pasta salad can be made a day ahead, reserve the croutons and add them 15 minutes before you are ready to serve.

1932 Fritos

In 1932 an ice cream salesman named Elmer Doolin was traveling through Texas and stopped for lunch and bought a bag of fried corn chips for a nickel. Doolin offered the Mexican man who made the chips $100 for his recipe, the Fritos name, and the hand-operated potato ricer that made the chips. Unbelievably, in order to come up with the $100, Doolin’s mother hocked her wedding ring.

Frito Pie

A Texas favorite that is served at many high school athletic events also makes a quick meal to eat at home.

3 cups Fritos Original corn chips
3/4 cup Texas yellow onion, diced ¼ inch or less
1 cup Mild Cheddar cheese, grated
2 cups Chili (your favorite kind — homemade, canned, whatever)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread 2 cups of Fritos in a baking dish. Sprinkle half the onion and half of the cheese over the Fritos. Pour the chili over the onion and cheese. Sprinkle the remaining onion and cheese over the chili. Top with the remaining 1 cup of Fritos. Bake for 15 or 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Serve hot.

Optional toppings include salsa, yellow mustard, sour cream, or jalapeños.

1941 M&M’s

“The milk chocolate melts in your mouth — not in your hand” candy debuted in 1941 in six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, violet and brown. In 1941, tan replaced violet.

Monster Cookies

What isn’t there to love about a monster cookie? I once made these cookies for a group of refugee students. I’m guessing these brightly colored cookies containing everything but the kitchen sink seemed a bit odd to them at first, but they were a hit. They even asked for more to take home to share with their family members.

3 eggs
1½ cups packed brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon corn syrup
2 teaspoons baking soda
½  cup butter
1½ cups peanut butter
4½  cups rolled oats
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup M&M’s
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a very large bowl, beat the eggs. Add the remaining ingredients in order, mixing well. Use an ice cream scoop to put on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes.