Monday, July 9, 2012

After perusing the cookbook “American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th Century” by Jean Anderson, I began to think about how recipes, foods, and food trends have evolved from the 1900s to the 1990s.

The first half of this story was published on May 14. It chronicled foods invented in the first half of the 20th century including peanut butter in 1903, Hellman’s mayonnaise in 1915, Caesar salad in 1924, Fritos corn chips in 1932, and M&M’s in 1941.

This segment includes foods significant to the last half of the 20th century, from the 1950s to the 1990s. Fewer new foods were introduced, but as the years passed, food trends were established.

1954 Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing

Have you ever wondered where ranch dressing got its name? Owners of a dude ranch outside of Santa Barbara, Calif., began serving it to their guests in 1954. The dressing was a hit, and Steve and Gayle Henson started selling bottles of this creamy concoction. They later opened a factory to distribute packets of ranch seasoning to be mixed with buttermilk and mayonnaise. Those packets are still sold today.

Today, ranch dressing is the best-selling salad dressing in the country. It overtook Italian dressing in 1992. It’s a staple for some families and used for everything from salads and dips to seasoning.

Original Ranch Pork Chops

At our house, we love pork chops. Kellan, 4½, especially likes them. In the summer we like to grill our chops, but this is a great alternative when I don’t have access to the grill. I can bake them in the oven, giving me time to prepare the rest of dinner.

1 packet (1 oz) Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix
6 pork loin rib chops about 1-inch thick
dash of paprika (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, add the seasoning mix, together with the salt, pepper, and paprika and mix well. Liberally sprinkle the pork chops on both sides with the seasoning mixture. Arrange the chops on a baking sheet (can also be placed on a rack on top of baking sheet). Bake the pork chops for 20 minutes, turning once until browned or an internal temperature of 150-160 degrees is reached. Serve immediately.

1967 Cool Whip

In 1967, the Birds Eye division of General Food introduced Cool Whip to the American market. William A. Mitchell, a food chemist at General Foods, invented the whipped-cream-like product that could be distributed frozen, creating a longer shelf life. Cool Whip became the biggest and most profitable product for Birds Eye.

Fruit Dip

This is a super simple dip that is well-suited for a baby or bridal shower or a quick treat. Kids will enjoy making this dip for a healthful snack.

¾ cup skim milk
1 pkg fat-free instant vanilla pudding
2 teaspoons almond extract
8 oz tub Cool Whip
Pour milk into a bowl. Whisk in the pudding mix. Mix until well blended and pudding is slightly set. Whisk in almond extract. Fold in the Cool Whip. Serve with fresh fruit such as bananas, apples or strawberries.

1978 Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
Burlington, Vermont

In 1978, friends Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield took a correspondence course on ice cream making and opened an ice cream shop in a dilapidated gas station in Burlington, Vt. The next year, they marked their anniversary by giving away free ice cream cones. To this day, the yearly tradition continues. The pair began packing their ice cream in pints in an old spool and bobbin mill in 1980 to sell to local restaurants and grocery stores. Today Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is known for its kooky names and outrageously fun flavors.

“Crème Brulee”

Traditional crème brulee screams decadence. Once in a great while, I allow myself to order this treat while dining out. This is a quick version of the French classic using vanilla ice cream.

1 pint of Ben & Jerry’s vanilla ice cream (Other flavors may be used. Smooth flavors work best. Break up chunks if using chunky flavors)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar, reserve for “burnt sugar crust”
4 oven proof ramekins for custard
Soften ice cream to a liquid state. You can empty the pint into a bowl and leave in the refrigerator for a few hours. Do not heat at high temperatures to melt ice cream. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place four ramekins in a pan with water half way up the sides of the ramekins. Beat the eggs only until well blended, no more then 15-20 seconds. Pour eggs, sugar, and vanilla into softened ice cream and stir until well blended. Pour crème mixture into ramekins. Place pan with water and crème mixture into oven for 1 1/2 hours. Custard is done when top is firm and jiggles slightly in the middle when shaken. Remove pan from oven and cool custard to room temperature.

Note: You will see holes on top of the custard from the air in the ice cream having escaped — this is normal. When completely cooled, cover with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.

To create burnt sugar crust:
Immediately before serving, pour a liberal amount of sugar on the top of the first custard, pouring any excess into the next ramekin. Continue until the tops of all four ramekins have a thin layer of sugar. Caramelize the sugar by placing the ramekins under a broiler on the top rack or by using a small culinary flame torch. Note: This step goes quickly, remove when sugar on the custard turns golden brown. Serve immediately.

1985 Pre-packaged Chex Mix

In 1888, Ralston Purina debuted Chex cereal. In the 1950s, housewives began making Chex party mix for parties, including the wife of a Ralston Purina executive. It wasn’t until 1985 that Ralston Purina introduced pre-packaged Chex mix for fans of Chex mix to enjoy.

Chocolate Chex Mix

I had this yummy Chex mix at my school on treat day. A fellow teacher brought it to share with staff. It’s a sweet and crunchy snack using Chocolate Chex cereal, one of eight varieties of Chex cereal.

¾ cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons corn syrup
6 tablespoons butter or margarine
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 box Chocolate Chex cereal
Combine in a bowl and microwave for 1½ minutes. Stir. Add baking soda. Stir. Pour one box of Chocolate Chex cereal into a bowl. Pour mixture over the top of the cereal. Stir and microwave for 3 minutes, stirring after each minute. Spread out onto a cookie sheet to cool. After 10 minutes, break into pieces.

1996 Pillsbury Bake-Off raises grand prize to $1 million

When the Food Network debuted in the 1990s, along came a host of televised bake-off shows. The first Pillsbury-sponsored contest, the Grand National Recipe and Baking Contest, was hosted in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. The original contest was to celebrate Pillsbury’s 80th birthday. The interest was so great Pillsbury made it an annual tradition. In 1996, the grand prize was upped considerably from $50,000 to $1 million.

Cream Cheese and Bacon Crescent Rolls

If you need a quick appetizer for your next party, try these. They are flaky, savory, and creamy — plus who doesn’t like bacon?

8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup onions, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons parsley
1 tablespoon milk
16 ounces crescent rolls
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix cream cheese, bacon, Parmesan cheese, onion, parsley and milk until well blended. Set aside. Separate each can of dough into individual triangles. Spread each triangle with a generous teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture. Be sure to spread cream cheese in an even layer. Roll up each roll as normal. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm.
Note: Recipe can be halved. You must work quickly or dough will become too soft.