Sunday, February 27, 2011

12 Retro foods I wouldn't mind having right now, and 3 I don't care ever to have again

(It's a snowy day. Inspired by a Sunday Scribblings prompt, and the sudden desire to put a pot roast on the stove, am heading straight into list territory.)

1) French onion soup, made with slowly caramelized onions, homemade beef broth, bay leaf, and just the right amount of fresh thyme. A sturdy crouton made from a thick slice of a french baguette; lots of gruyere. Goes well with artichoke hearts and hollandaise, which, when I was in Paris, was what I lived on, being too poor to afford anything else.

2) Artichokes with hollandaise.

3) Hollandaise.

4) Artichoke heart dip. Which is kind of like artichokes with hollandaise plus cheese, but heated. And lately, when I make it, spiked with a heavy dose of smoked spanish paprika or ground chipotle peppers in adobo. Best served hot; as it cools and congeals, will remind you of the damage it is doing to your arteries. I like to think a glass of red wine counteracts any ill effects, but I could be wrong.

5) Russian tea (aka Tang tea): an unholy concoction of tang, sweetened lemonade mix, nestea instant tea mix, MORE sugar, cinnamon and cloves. I lived on this stuff in high school, along with cheese curls -- and liked it best when I made it so strong I could spoon the sludge from the bottom of the cup. If the thought of all that sugar makes you as queasy as it does me now, then you can go for a similar effect by diluting cranberry juice with equal amounts of water or tea, and just the smallest bit of added sugar, and simmering with whole cinnamon and cloves for 20 minutes or so. Add fresh orange juice and a little lemon juice to finish. Serve hot or cold.

6) Coquilles St. Jacques. And the salad bar at Bacchus in Kalamazoo. Even today, 20 years later, still one of the most over-the-top indulgences in memory.

7) Magic bars. I don't miss toll house chocolate chip cookies, but I sure do miss these bars made from sweetened condensed milk, graham cracker crumbs, chocolate chips, coconut and chopped nuts. Also miss making them in the kitchen of my friend, L., where no one ever seemed to mind whatever mess we made.

8) The enchiladas chipotle from Pedros at the Stanford Mall. Spicy tomato sauce with smoky chipotle peppers and a sweet kick of pineapple. Loved these. So sad when they went out of business.

9) Beef fondue. Especially if made in a copper pot and served with a rotating carousel of sauces and garnishes. Must include ground roasted peanuts and homemade hot mustard; someone will probably insist on ketchup. Twice-baked potatos are mandatory.

10) And while I'm on a beef kick... the grilled steaks from the Elks Club in Midland. Best in the world. Made me the bovo-vegetarian I still am today.

11) Wide buttered egg noodles with freshly chopped parsley.

12) Italian sundried tomatos from San Remo. As ubiquitous as shoulder pads in the 80s, and much more appealing. Unfortunately, the Californians started muscling in with their inexpensive, dessicated tomato chips and this already far more luxurious variety became the kind of item it takes special connections and suitcases filled with cash to obtain.

As for the three foods I don't care if I ever have again...

1) Pop tarts. Cardboard and jelly. Blech.
2) Kraft macaroni and cheese. Plastic and pasta. Again, blech.
3) Any flourless chocolate torte floated on a sea of raspberry sauce. It is just. too. much.

So tonight, we're having pot roast with buttered egg noodles. If I'd had mushrooms at home, I'd have made it with mushrooms and tomato, with maybe a bit of orange zest, but I didn't, and the roads are looking kind of impassable, so it's pot roast with carrots and potatos, which we always have on hand. If you've made it this far, tell me: What are you having for dinner?