Wednesday, December 20, 2006

"Buffy's Cookbook" & "Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Cookbook" - Baked Bean Casserole and Scalloped Potatotes and Hot Dogs

Buffy’s Cookbook by Jody Cameron of Celebrity Kitchen
Published by: Berkely Publishing Company
© 1971

Recipe: Baked Bean Casserole Dish – p. 141

For those of you who don’t know, Buffy was a character from the TV show Family Affair that aired from 1966 to 1971. The premise of the show was this: Bachelor engineer, Uncle Bill, suddenly found his NY apartment invaded by his niece, Cissy, and six-year old fraternal twins, Buffy and Jody, after their parents died. Although Uncle Bill adapted well, let’s just say his manservant, Mr. French, was a bit dismayed to find himself playing instant nanny to the kids.

People, I loved this show. I thought it was just too cool to be living in a New York apartment at that age along with a butler to do everything for you! And then there were the clothes -- when the young actress, who played Buffy, Anissa Jones, was featured in a magazine photo spread wearing white go-go boots, well, I just had to have them. Of course, this meant that I never got them, not that I didn't covet them through my pre-teen years.

And do you know, although my pre-teen years are long (and I mean long) behind me, as I was preparing this recipe, all of a sudden the theme song, dormant for 40 years, suddenly popped into my head. This from the woman who cannot locate her car keys for neither love nor money.

And speaking of locate, it was by sheer luck that I saw this book when I did. I was staring up at my cookbook shelf while on hold with someone about an internet problem (my computer is by my cookbooks) and I spied this book which was almost eclipsed by some of the larger books nearby. I completely forgot until then that I had it, but since I yanked it from it’s hiding place, I thought the least I could do is cook from it.

Now obviously, Buffy, at age six, is not going to make gourmet dinners (nor is her ghost-writer) so finding something that was a little more complicated than “put the bread in the toaster” was challenging. Nonetheless, I spied this recipe and was off and running.

By the way, I was disappointed when I discovered there was not one recipe for Mr. French’s French toast. Not one. How could they not include it?

I’ve reprinted this recipe exactly as it was shown in the book which is why you’ll see “utensils,” “what you will need” and “how to do it.” I thought it was pretty cute.

Baked Bean Casserole Dish – Serves 4

1 ½ quart casserole dish
Can opener
Measuring cup
Measuring spoons

What you will need:
2 cans (16 ounces each) baked beans (mine were 21 ounces)
2 tomatoes
½ c. potato chips, crumbled
1 slice American cheese
1 T margarine (butter)

How to do it:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease casserole dish with margarine (butter)
Open canned beans (with the aforementioned can opener). Pour ONE can of beans into casserole dish.
Slice tomatoes into thin slices; cut cheese slices into strips
Place the slices from 1 tomato on top of beans. Sprinkle half of the potato chips on top. Now we do the whole thing over again: Pour second can of beans over the layer of potato chips. Place the slices of second tomato over beans. Sprinkle the rest of the potato chips on top layer of tomato slices.
Place cheese strips over the potato chips. Bake in over for 25 minutes.

Frankly (and by the way, franks are involved in the next dish to follow), I didn’t think the tomatoes added anything to the dish so I’d probably use ketchup the next time around. It might also be that tomatoes aren’t in season right now but I still think ketchup is better.

And speaking of tomatoes, can we talk about the instructions to “slice tomatoes into thin slices?” Buffy is six. I can’t see Buffy thinly slicing anything at age six. I can’t even thinly slice tomatoes (well, I can, but they’re not very pretty) and I am definitely not six. I’m just saying I’d rethink that instruction if I were you.

I also didn’t use the slice of American cheese as directed because my husband threw me a horrified look when I mentioned it was in the recipe. I took that to mean that we should instead use a slice of the Cheddar cheese that was already in our refrigerator rather than buy processed “cheese” slices that would remain unopened and unused because that’s not the type of cheese we tend to keep in our house. (Yes, you can call us cheese snobs.) Whatever makes him happy….

Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Cookbook by Murray Handwerker
Published by: Grosset & Dunlap
© 1968

Recipe: Scalloped Potato Hot Dog Casserole

Once upon a time, Nathan’s hot dogs were a well kept secret to those living in New York. Nathan’s Hot Dogs was one of the original stands on Coney Island, where people queued up by the thousands to get one of Nathan’s Famous. ( Nathan’s is still “famous” for its hot dog eating contests; this year’s winner ate 53.75 hotdogs in 12 minutes. Oy!

Over the past few years, Nathan’s spread its wings and set up shop in Minneapolis’ Mall of America. Although I haven’t stopped in, I’m guessing that they probably sell the hot dogs cooked (I may be going out on a limb here, but I don’t think so) whereas I needed them to be raw. I could have mail ordered the dogs to be sent to me but that was too expensive so I substituted Oscar Mayer for Nathan’s. I know, I should be ashamed of myself, but there it is. If you’re lucky enough to be able to buy Nathan’s in your area, then by all means, stay true to the recipe. The rest of us will have to use our imagination.

Speaking of imagination, some of the recipes in this book were quite…imaginative! I really wanted to make Hot Dogs a Go Go (who doesn’t love that name?) but it called for 24 hot dogs and there was no way I was cooking that many dogs for two people. I’m thinking you’ll probably thank me for sparing you Minted Kabobs (I hate mint but regardless…ew!), Peanut Butter Hot Dogs (which was listed in the Kid’s section but…double ew!), as well as Hot Dog Eggplant Casserole.

So instead, I settled on Scalloped Potato Hot Dog Casserole as it sounded good and it was a good dish to pair with Buffy’s Baked Bean Casserole dish. When I was younger, my mom often served us meatloaf, scalloped potatoes (sans hot dogs) and baked beans for dinner. To this day, it’s one of my favorite comfort food meals.

Scalloped Potato Hot Dog Casserole – serves 4
6 hot dogs
3 large onions, sliced very thin
4 ½ cups potatoes, sliced thin
2 teaspoons salt
3 T butter or margarine
2 T flour
1 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon paprika
2 cups milk
2 T parsley, minced
3 think slices Cheddar cheese

Cook the onions and potatoes in one inch of boiling water to which 2 teaspoons salt have been added. After boiling 5 minutes, drain.

Okay, I’m one instruction in and I already have “issues.” I couldn’t quite see how one inch of water was going to appropriately cook 4 ½ cups of potatoes and 3 large, sliced onions, so I added a bit more water to the pot.

The next problem was the “boil 5 minutes instruction.” After boiling 5 minutes, the potatoes were very soft, almost mushy, but the onions were not. If I were you, I would consider boiling the two items separately to make sure they are evenly cooked. I’m just not a big fan of crunchy onions.

Back to the instructions…Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, boil a small amount of water in a pan and then place another pan on top of the first pan so that the boiling water “cooks” your ingredients. The top pan should be the same size, if not slightly larger, than the pan below. Stir in the flour, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, paprika and milk. Stirring constantly, cook until smooth and thick (about 5 minutes). In a 2-quarter casserole, arrange one-third of the potato-onion mixture topped with half the hot dogs, cut into halves lengthwise, and minced parsley. (You might want to consider cutting the halves in halves as well as it makes them easier to get the hot dogs out of the bowl). Pour on one-third of the sauce. Repeat in two more layers. Arrange the slices of cheese on top, and bake for 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Just so you know, I topped the dish with the last layer of hot dogs and when I pulled it out of the oven, all the hot dogs were curled up in a semi-fetal position. It actually didn’t look that bad, but I’m sure that was not the intended effect. Alas, a food stylist, I am not.

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