What is the 1950s but a not-so-subtle era of sexual repression? Take for example art and film (the final shot of North by Northwest) or the stockpiling of phallic nuclear missiles. And in the suburbs, it was a time of polished surfaces and crisp suits that covered an undercurrent of desire.
Thanks to the cultural currency of mid-century cookbooks, we can revisit that time of the happy hostess, willing to please the men in her life with a variety of satisfying appetizers. After all, the way to a man’s–ahem–heart is through his stomach.
This entry comes to us from the pages of Good Housekeeping’s Appetizer Book: Irresistible canapes, hors d’oeuvres and nibblers, (1958). This 68 page booklet is packed with recipes and entertaining tips, including a seemingly endless variety of ways to use ripe olives, mayonnaise, frankfurters and toothpicks. Recipes are conveniently organized into categories like “Dips and Dunks,” “Meat Quickies,” “Stick and Pick,” “Pick-me-ups,” and, my favorite, “Hot and Bubbly.” Did I mention innuendo…?
As usual, the list of amazing recipes is too long to include here. But don’t worry, I’ll revisit these in time for your Holiday parties. To give you a hint as to their authenticity and wholesomeness, here’s a list of companies acknowledged by the (unnamed) editors on the opening page:
The Borden Company, The Frito Company, Hawaiian Pineapple Company, Ralston Purina Company.
What more would you expect from the magazine that housewives have trusted for over 125 years? Owned by Hearst Communications (of Yellow Journalist William Randolf Hearst fame), the magazine has grown to an empire of TV shows, websites, and of course, the infamous Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval that millions count on as an arbiter of quality household items.
But enough about that. I know you’re ready to work out your frustrations and satisfy your cravings.
Below are several recipes I’ve hand-picked for your Innuendo Hors d’Oeuvres Menuette. But first, some words of advice from the editors about entertaining etiquette:
“Pick-Me-Ups: Everything is done by you the hostess. The guest merely transfers the appetizer from dish to mouth and munches away. Sometimes it’s a matter of picking up a cheese ball wedged between two walnut halves, a stuffed chunk of pickle, or a crisp cracker tastily spread and attractively garnished. But whatever it is, be sure the appetizer is easily handled and doesn’t fall twixt dish and lip.”
Let that be a lesson to those of you who are a little too quick on the draw…
1 large peeled, pitted avocado
Fresh, frozen or canned lemon juice
Crushed potato chips
Cut avocado into 3/4″ cubes. Roll, first in lemon juice, next in French dressing, if desired, then in crushed potato chips. To serve: Arrange avocado cubes in bowl, with picks nearby.
My Recipe Notes: Definitely use the French dressing, a typical American bastardization of the French vinaigrette made most often with a tomato-based mayonnaise sauce, popularized in the early 20th century. Snooty-tooty foodies usually go for panko crumbs if they want their food to be crunchy. I say stick with the basics (like a bag of Frito-Lay original potato chips (product placement!) in this recipe). But this wouldn’t be the first time I’ve seen this technique. An old man I taught with once inspired me in the teacher’s lunchroom: Added to his cup of raspberry, low-fat yogurt, he grabbed a handful of barbecue flavored Doritos, crumbled it, and stirred it all together. That’s what I call culinary improvisation!
Ingredients & Directions:
Cut thin bologna slices into 2″ circles. Fold each bologna circle, then insert a thin strip of pickle to represent the stamen on a lily. Fasten at the base with a pick. Refrigerate until needed.
My Recipe Notes: This is the gastronomic equivalent of a Robert Maplethorpe or Georgia O’Keeffe artwork.
6 hard-cooked eggs, well chilled
1/4 cup relish-cheese spread
7 drops liquid hot pepper seasoning
1/2 lb. frankfurters
Early in day: Hard-cook, refrigerate, then cut hard-cooked eggs crosswise into 1/4″ slices. Select the 25 egg slices with rings of white large enough to encircle a frankfurter. Remove yolk from these slices; set rings aside.
Chop remaining smaller pieces of egg and all egg yolks; combine with cheese spread and pepper seasoning.
Now cut each frankfurter in half, lengthwise; with the cheese mixture, spread cut surface of half of them; top with unspread ones. Scrape off extra filling, then wrap stuffed frankfurters in waxed paper, saran or foil, and refrigerate.
To serve: Cut each stuffed frankfurter into 5 crosswise pieces; then insert each piece through a hard-cooked egg white ring, pushing a pick through egg white and frankfurter to hold in shape. Makes 25
My Recipe Notes: Isn’t this recipe out of this world? Nothing like sliding that cheesy frankfurter through the egg white ring! I have no idea what a relish cheese spread is, but is sounds appetizing. Let me know if you’ve ever tasted one before. Also, I have no idea why the magic number 7 drops of hot sauce. I say turn it up to 11!
2 3-oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1/8 lb. crumbled blue cheese
2 tablesp. minced celery
1 tablesp. minced onion
dash cayenne pepper
dash liquid hot pepper seasoning
1 tablesp. mayonnaise
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Directions: Combine all ingredients except walnuts. Shape into small balls. Roll each ball in chopped nuts. Refrigerate until served. Makes about 36.
My Recipe Notes: No doubt your guests will be thrilled to pop these little darlings into their mouths. Be sure to tell them the name AFTER they’ve commenced munching. Bon Appetit!