Tag Archives: #4 That 70’s food

02/19/11 Episode #4: Soup’s on

8 Mar

From NinaG via email:

“Having spent my formative years in the ‘70s (ages 5 to 14), this challenge started with almost too many choices. After all, for elderly sorts like me, ‘70s cuisine ain’t a theory you learn about on Google; it’s a sense memory of everything your parents ever put in front of your brother and yourself during the decade. Plus a bunch of false memories the movies have drilled into us.

Fun, but daunting. I rejected a ka-billion ideas in the days before our Bite Me™ Collective dinner:

  • The baked ziti my mom cooked by the gallon and froze in individual tinfoil portions, so she and dad could eat “good food” like liver and onions or squid (rendered cartilage-free in the kitchen sink) without worrying that my brother and I would starve to death? Too hard to improve on
  • Kraft Macaroni and Cheese? A treat I only learned about in the very late part of the decade, at a friend’s house, so more of an 80s delight to me
  • Jello salad? Not really one of our staples
  • Filipine chicken adobo, which we had almost as often as the baked ziti? Not likely one of the Collective’s staples

A couple of days before the meal, I hit on it: that classic quick-to-“cook” delight: Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled cheese. Relatively ubiquitous. Yummy delicious. Instantly recognizable by fellow 70s survivors.

NOT Warhol


Not Warhol either

At first, I thought I would combine the “grilled” portion of the game with the tomato one, so I did a little research on grilled tomato soup.  (Who knew how often beef broth is used in tomato soup?) I thought I’d pair my soup with a celery and pepper-infused vodka, so Friday night I chopped up a bunch of celery, crushed some black peppercorns, and sloshed a ton of Grey Goose over it. Kind of disgusting thing to taste first thing Saturday morning, but subtle and delicious. I loved the idea of a deconstructed Bloody Mary, and thought to spice the soup with a touch of Tabasco to bring that out a bit more. But the lackluster tomatoes at the local Whole Foods put me off the whole project. And making little cayenne pepper cheese toasts seemed pedestrian.

11:00 AM. Need to be at Rocc’s by 6:00. Back to the drawing board.

When I suggested this theme for the Collective, I’d written, “Haute versions of seventies’ staples (which is to say, how can you take a jello salad into 2011, and onto a Harold Dieterle menu?)” As we used to say in the ‘70s: Adoy! I quickly remembered: when I went to Dieterle’s <http://kinshopnyc.com/menus.php> a few weeks earlier, I loved his incredible Garam Masala & Tomato soup.

More research. Better goal. And thanks to my well-worn Madhur Jaffrey cookbook, I adapted what I think was a delicious Indian-spiced tomato soup, sans beef anything, easily made with organic canned grilled tomatoes, a whole lot more cayenne pepper, and a lot of fresh lime at the end. Instead of serving it with grilled cheese, I cheated bought Aloo Paratha at my local Indian joint: <http://www.indusvalleyus.com/> With its crispy outside and mushy/creamy spiced potato inside, a tip of the hat to grilled cheese, indeed.

A few hours later, I served it to my newfound compatriots with small glasses of icy cold beer, and earned my right to stay at that table and keep on eating. Perfection.


Fish Sticks

5 Mar

For episode 4 I picked Fish Sticks. The challenge was to do haute 70s food, but fish sticks are 50s food. So I decided to modify the Nobu Black Cod recipe that made its debut in the 90s. It averaged out to the 70s!

I used the epicurious website for the recipe for the marinade. Mirin, white miso, sake, and sugar over black cod. I only had time to let it sit overnight.

You need tarter sauce with fish sticks, so I made Meyer lemon mayonnaise (Meyer lemons approximate yuzu IMHO). I’d wanted to put chopped ginger in the mayo to replace the pickles in the tartar sauce, but it was unpleasantly lumpy. I decided to put it on the side of the dish, but I completely forgot about the ginger when we plated.

The nice fragrance of Meyer lemons wasn’t apparent in the mayo, so I made a Meyer lemon oil using Meyer lemon zest and canola oil. I blended for about 5 minutes in a Vitamix, strained the oil through a cheesecloth, incorporated about a cup of the infusion into the mayo, and saved some Meyer lemon oil to add directly to the fish at the end.

When we got to David’s place, I wiped off the marinade, cut up the fish into fish sticks, brushed with a little extra marinade, then breaded with panko (flour, egg wash, panko).

I baked on parchment for a bit too long, 25 minutes, so the fish melted a bit. I think I may have been able to get away with 10-15 minutes. It’s tricky because the breadcrumbs don’t brown after 10 minutes, but if you wait too long then the fish melts. Maybe next time I’ll brush the breadcrumbs with oil. The flavor was there, though.

To finish, I plated one fish stick, a squirt of the Meyer lemon oil directly onto the fish, and a dollop of Meyer lemon mayo on the side.

2/19/2011: Diggin’ my potatoes

27 Feb

<Note” This is cut & pasted from MabelC’s email (title and photo captions are mine) Apologies to Big Bill Broonzy. :)>

“I was a little bit at a loss when I found out the theme would be
“Haute Versions of 70’s Food.” But I dug around the apartment and
found this:

Not so New! anymore

My mom’s old cookbook published in the 70’s! I remember using it when
I was little to cook my very first recipe – strawberry shortcake. And
when I started flipping through it to look for inspiration, I found my
mom had underlined certain recipes like “Chow Mein” (of which the
first listed ingredient is “1 lb chow mein meat”) and “Teriyaki Beef.”
Kind of neat.

There were several pictures that were so ridiculously awesome that I
thought of using them as inspiration for my dish:

How is this not a crime?

Basic Meat Loaf baked in a ring mold frosted with a sauce made from
mushroom soup. It looks like a meatloaf volcano! Or:

Warning: NSFW!

Chuckwagon Round-Up. Slightly gross looking but also an awesome
presentation. Then I came upon the Cheeseburger Casserole, which I
seriously considered. Instead of ground beef mixed in tomato sauce in
a casserole dish with frozen Pilsbury biscuits stuffed with cheddar
cheese chunks baked until the biscuits get cooked, I thought of doing
an oxtail stew with biscuits made from scratch filled with Delice de
Borgogne, one of my favorite soft and salty cheeses. The Delice seemed
a little unstable, though – a thought that was only confirmed when I
test microwaved the cheese and got an oily and funky smelling mess.
And I wasn’t sure I would be able to pull off the oxtail stew.

Ultimately, I fell back on one of my favorite cooksbooks, “Bistro
Cooking” by Patricia Wells. My idea was potato gratin, but the fancy
version would be her recipe for potato and celery root gratin that
incorporated a nice tomato and creme fraiche sauce. The potatoes and
celery were peeled, boiled, and sliced (David R’s new slicer made
slicing the celery root super easy!). I peeled the tomatoes (I had
never peeled tomatoes before I cooked from Patricia Wells’ book, and
while the difference is small, it does make the final dish a little
nicer). Then I assembled everything, threw on some grated Gruyere,
baked for 40 min, and voila! I paired it with a simple bitter green
salad with chicory for contrast. That’s it – a small contribution to a
super-fun evening!”

Potato & Celery root gratin

<Thanks, Mabel!  I saw the actual book… I know I initially expressed regret that you didn’t bring it to the dinner, but now that I look closer at the photos… I’m really glad you didn’t ;)>

2/19/11 Appetizer (amuse) & breads

25 Feb

So, when on friday night it sounded like Judith would be out with the flu, Reid and I agreed that he’d take on the dessert, and I’d scramble something together for an appetizer.  I’d already bought a bottle of Mateus, as an amuse wine course to spring on everyone when they least suspected it —

Someone in this room was conceived as a consequence of this wine. Guaranteed.

With no time to create a dish from scratch, I ended up pulling out some fresh sausage that Hilary, Francine and I made… it was breakfast sausage, with pork and sage — no matter; I had some home-made roasted poblano pepper green sauce in the freezer, hoping the spiciness would overpower the sage, and bring breakfast into dinner.  I racked my brain to put together some little bite that would tie in a 70’s ingredient, and thought the crunch of a few CornNuts™, a classic ’70’s snack food, would be a nice addition.

Alas, they turned out to be the most difficult ingredient to source saturday morning.  Funny.  When we’re out traveling the backroads of North America on our dirt bikes, CornNuts™ (along with beef jerky) are a staple in our diet.  They’re readily available at each and every gas station and corner store we stop at.  In Manhattan, not so much.  I ended up picking up some “corn nuts” from the market that were made from regular corn, and not the huge kernels of Peruvian Cusco hybrid corn of REAL CornNuts™.

"corn nuts", poblano sauce, sausage

The breads:  I really enjoy baking.  The day assumes a certain pace, a predictable rhythm when you have to tend to mixing, resting, kneading, fermenting, forming, rising, and baking.  Because I was on call friday night, I had to choose breads with either a prolonged fermentation in the fridge, or a relatively short prep that I could start saturday morning.  I chose the latter and settled on classic Parker House Rolls, using the recipe Bobby Flay pried out of the actual Boston hotel and adapted to a smaller batch.

Parker house dough

Let’s just say they involve more time, effort, and butter than I anticipated.

The second bread I made was a double batch of Anadama, that classic 70’s Moosewood cookbook hippie staple.  It’s a New England regional bread, and I first ate it in the early ’80’s when I came east for college.  It has cornmeal and molasses, but otherwise is pretty straightforward.  I reviewed a bunch of recipes, and settled on this one.

ready to bake

I’d never made either of these breads before, and don’t usually bake in these quantities — I’m usually baking one loaf at a time, using Jim Lahey’s no-knead technique, and mixing in the food processor a la Charles Van Over.  But both the recipes I’d chosen called for old-school mixing and kneading.  I actually realized that if I’m going to enjoy baking for these events, we could use a good stand mixer; so I was inspired to pick up an Electrolux Magic Mill Assistent (sic), which I’ve started playing around with — some baguette dough was mixed last night, in the fridge now, and will be baked this evening :).

Loaves (and fishes)


2/19/11 Tuna “Casserole”

25 Feb

There are a number of ways to approach a theme like “’70’s food”… you can simply take a classic dish that was popular in the ’70’s and simply recreate it — Beef Wellington comes to mind; kinda tough to improve on that one.  Another approach is to use the idea and deliciously mutate it almost beyond recognition by substituting different, but related ingredients — witness DavidP’s “pigs in a blanket”.  My idea was to stay as true to the ingredients as I could, while updating them.  The classic tuna casserole is noodles, cream of mushroom soup, canned tuna, and peas.  Yuck.

What I came up with was vermicelli noodles in a béchamel sauce, fennel/juniper/wasabi poweder-rubbed tuna loin pan-seared and cut into medalions, surrounded by a pea foam, and garnished with mixed mushroom duxelles.  The plates looked a bit of a mess, but I wanted people to have the option of tasting each component separately, or combining a forkful to get the “casserole” experience.

I sourced the tuna loin in Chinatown — I had to check each fish monger for the smallest diameter piece, since no one would trim it for me lengthwise; as it was, I trimmed off about half a pound to get the loin into the shape I wanted.  I didn’t want huge widths of steaks, since I was searing the loin whole and then slicing, if it was too wide I’d have ended up with a over-cooked rim around way too much raw tuna center.  The rub I just made up — I thought it’d be interesting.


The pea-foam was sort of a challenge I took on after Vito attempted a hot-chocolate foam for episode #3.


I did my homework regarding how to create warm, savory foams with minimal heavy cream.  Knowing Nina doesn’t eat meat, I opted for agar-agar as opposed to gelatin (which has too low a melting point for a warm foam anyway).


I made three practice foams in the week before, each an improvement, and I was just starting to understand the variables at play.  The one I made that night didn’t stand up as much as I thought it would, but I liked the silky texture that the nitrous micro-bubbles add.  There’s definitely room for improvement for me with the whipper… I’m not confident I can be consistent yet, need more practice :).

The wine pairing was fun.  I struggled with pairing a wine with the tuna casserole taste-wise… Probably a pinot noir would have hit the spot, but that had nothing to do with the ’70’s.  I vaguely recalled some competition between the then-emerging Napa valley wineries and French wines, where the American wines scored stunning victories in a tasting.  Turns out, it happened in 1976, in Paris, and achieved notoriety in Time Magazine.  The more I read about it, the idea came to me to take a nod to history, and serve the modern versions of the winning wines.  The tasting was referred to as “The Judgment of Paris” and it was the basis for the 2008 film, Bottle Shock:

The winning wines in Paris were the Stag’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Chateau Montelena Chardonnay.  Obviously I wasn’t gonna serve the 1970’s vintages, (I’d have to steal them out of the Smithsonian) but it turns out that the same vineyards are producing the same wines, and I was able to source bottles that were just as old for us as the bottles that were drunk in 1976.


Anyway, that’s what was behind my dish; I hope everyone enjoyed it!

Special request…

23 Feb

Thanks again, everyone who has been participating in the FMC… I think it’s fair to say that the concept has exceeded everyone’s expectations.  We had another fabulous evening on the 19th with great food, awesome drinks, and fantastic company, as you can see from the photos.  What you can’t see, is the hilarious streaming 70’s music that we were listening to all night — Boston, Styx, Chicago, Peter Frampton… what a throwback — aack!

Anyway, if you cooked for the 70’s show (episode #4), or for Chinese New Year (episode #3), or for that matter, episodes #1 or 2… please, please when you have a few minutes, post a little description of your dish — either here at WordPress, or on the Facebook FMC page, or just email it to me — I’ll cut and paste it into the blog so we have an archive of the dishes cooked.  Describe why you chose the dish, the beverage, and anything special about the ingredients, technique, recipe, etc.  I know it’s a pain in the ass, but everyone else is actually really interested and appreciative of even a few sentences.  I’ll try to throw in some photos, links, and edits as appropriate, so don’t worry if it’s not polished or proof-read.

Also, there are still four spots open for the March 19th event — once that fills, we’ll post a poll to choose the theme.

PS: Someone left an earring here during episode #3, and Marc, you left your mirror.  Dude, don’t tell me you don’t want it back. 🙂

02/19/11 Episode #4 – Plating, eating, and fun!

23 Feb

I hope you know, this will go down on your permanent record


If only you could both have smiled...

...at the same time!

Round One - eatin'

It's a contagious smile


Oh, that pale ale

Group hug

Keeping the home fires lit

Another olympic team-plating event

Eatin' - round 3, or 4?

Plating blackened chicken

That's spicy!

2011-02 The FMC episode #4 70's food 129
2011-02 The FMC episode #4 70's food 130
2011-02 The FMC episode #4 70's food 131

Pig pillows

French's mustard would kill for rights to this photo

Special guest appearance





Things get a little fuzzy after that.

02/19/11 Episode #4 – Ingredients, prep, & cooking

23 Feb

Parker House Rolls

Pea foam

Trimming pork loin

Cutting lines

Potatoes for gratin

Meyer lemons for aioli

Sausage for amuse

Adjust to taste?

Some assembly required

Gratin sauce

Reid demonstrating impeccable technique

Pangrattato for tuna

Tuna loin

Pouring lemon curd

Blackening chicken

NOT Mrs. Paul's fish sticks


Heroism in dishwashing

Baking Alaska

Still life with grapes (tomatoes)


02/19/11 Episode #4 – The people

23 Feb


"Lines" of manchego and Tang™


"Herb" garnish


Master of Criminis


Don't try this at home!


Tang™, breakfast of champions


Measure twice, cut once


Where did I leave my towel?


Holding court


Recovering Thera-flu addict

Full Episode #4 cast:


With special guests:

Garmento refugees

02/19/11 Episode #4 – The food

23 Feb

Pre-meal Cocktail & snack: Manchego cheese + Tang™-laced Margaritas

Pre-meal snack & cocktail

Manchego Cheese + Tang™-laced Margaritas

Table bread: Fresh baked Parker House Rolls + Anadama bread

Parker Rolls & Anadama

Parker Rolls & Anadama

Appetizer course: Corn nuts (with home-made sausage & poblano sauce) + Mateus (N.V.)

Sausage, green sauce, corn nuts, cheap 70's wine

2nd course: Indian-spiced tomato soup and aloo paratha + Brooklyn Brewery East India Pale Ale

Indian-spiced tomato soup

Indian-spiced tomato soup

3rd course: Tuna “casserole” + Stag’s Leap Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon ’07 & Chateau Montelena Chardonnay ’08

Tuna "casserole"

Tuna "casserole"

4th course: Potato & Celery root gratin + El Chaparral de Vega Sindoa Old Vines Garnacha Navarra ’08

Potato & Celery Root gratin

Potato & Celery Root gratin

5th course: Blackened chicken + Maison Louis Latour Grand Ardèche Chardonnay, ’08

Blackened chicken

Blackened chicken

6th course: Fish “Stix” with Meyer Lemon aioli + Jun Mai Kimoto Kurosawa Sake

Fish "Stix" (Styx?)

Fish "Stix" (Styx?:))

7th course: Pig in a blanket + Tanguerita

Pig in a blanket

Pig in a blanket (or on a pillow?)

Dessert: Baked Alaska + Billecart-Salmon, Demi-Sec – NV & Gruet Rosé Brut – NV

Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska

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