My wife's parents came over for brunch yesterday and brought us a copy of a cookbook Nina's grade school put together when she was young, with contributions from parents. There's apparently a couple of recipes in the book they've enjoyed and so we figured we'll add it to the bookshelf....
After they left, I started flipping through the book. Where I very quickly discovered some recipes that I can't resist sharing, because they really do sound like The Worst Recipes In The World.
I recognize that back in the '80s, there weren't really Whole Foods and farmers markets and places to buy fancy ingredients. I understand that. But these tragedies go far beyond that.
Liver Knishes. Take slices of white bread, cut off the crusts, put chopped liver inside, dip in an egg batter, and fry. This is french toast + liver. Made with white bread. I thought this, on page 9, would be the worst of what I'd find. Turns out it wasn't even close. Because on the very next page:
Gefilte Fish Ring. Gefilte fish is a Jewish holiday dish that most people don't like, but my grandma happened to make delicious gefilte fish and I grew up enjoying it. It's basically a fish hamburger, held together with onion and egg, salt and pepper, served cold with horseradish and carrots. But even liking gefilte fish doesn't excuse this recipe.... Even if I ignore that it uses jarred gefilte fish (which is to real gefilte fish what canned tuna is to a piece of a seared tuna steak).... The recipe has you make LEMON JELLO, mix it with the liquid from a jar of horseradish, place slices of the jarred gefilte fish in this mixture, and refrigerate it into a ring mold. This is GROUND BALLS OF FISH SUSPENDED IN LEMON JELLO, in a ring mold. To be eaten. By humans. Bizarre. But it gets worse.
Pistachio Cheese Ball. 2 pounds of cream cheese, mixed with heavy cream. 1 cup of pistachio nuts. 4 drops green food coloring. Mix everything together and roll into a green cheesy ball.
Salmon Ball. Same idea, but with canned salmon, and the instruction "remove as many bones as possible." Yeah, how about removing all of them? Of course, in your ball of salmon cheese, bones are probably the least of your concerns.
Oriental Salad. Yeah, yeah, I know, oriental was an okay word when this was written. But what is "oriental" about the following salad: 2 to 3 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 onion, 1 bunch parsley. Mix with the juice of 1/2 lemon and 2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil. That's it. This is salad with oil and lemon. Oriental? What?
Antipasto Salad. There quickly emerged a theme in the book. Cans of tuna fish. Jars of mayonnaise. Bottles of ketchup. This salad uses two of those things. Take cans of tuna, mix with canned artichoke hearts, canned olives, canned chickpeas, canned anchovies, canned mushrooms, and a jar of roasted peppers (did we not have fresh produce in 1987?). Mix all together WITH AN ENTIRE BOTTLE OF KETCHUP. Serve. Vomit. Cry.
Cold Pea Salad. I love the name. Frozen peas. Sour cream. Mayonnaise. Mix. Suffer. Die.
Chinese Tuna Salad. Again, the inappropriate use of ethnic modifiers. Can of tuna. Romaine lettuce. Mushrooms. Bean sprouts. Wide "Chinese noodles". Sunflower seeds. Mix with A BOTTLE OF ITALIAN DRESSING and 2 oz. soy sauce.
Cranberry-Jello Mold, where cranberry sauce is mixed with 1 pint of sour cream.
One of my favorite finds:
Tuna and Sweet Corn SOUP. Yes, that's right. Tuna soup. Can of tuna fish, can of creamed corn, cup of milk, onion, butter, flour, CURRY POWDER. Cook it all in a pot. Eat. Vomit. Cry. Can of Tuna... Soup. Who would ever... ever... ever... ?
Pasta Salad. Sounds innocent, right? 4 cups of ziti mixed with: 1/4 cup olive oil. 1/2 cup heavy cream. 1 cup mayonnaise. And a cup of dill pickles, y'know, to keep it healthy.
Meat Noodle Pudding. Do you even want the recipe? Oh, you do. Because it's not actually even meat that's going into this dish. It's noodles, 1/2 pound of liver (beef or chicken), 1 cup of chicken fat, and 1 cup of orange juice. Liver + orange juice = ????
Tuna Quiche. Canned tuna. 8 oz. swiss cheese. 1/2 cup mayonnaise. 1/2 cup milk. Mix. Bake.
Chicken in Festive Fruit Sauce. Chicken cutlets, covered in a sauce made from: cornstarch, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, and the juice from cans of fruit cocktail. Isn't there anything else in the pantry we could add to this dish?
Apricot Chicken Roll-Ups. Chicken cutlets mixed with one bottle of Russian dressing, a jar of apricot preserves, and a package of dry onion soup mix.
Sweet Brisket. Brisket mixed with a package of onion soup mix, a cup of ketchup, and 12 ounces of ginger ale.
and I've saved the best for last:
Cold Veal With Tuna Sauce. In a blender, combine a can of tuna with oil and lemon juice until smooth and creamy. Pour over cold cooked veal slices.