Monday, December 11, 2006

"Political Palate Ticklers" & "SCEF Recipes - A Radical Cookbook" - Noodle Casserole Supreme and Carrots Vichy

Date I made these recipes: December 10, 2006

Political Palate Ticklers Compiled by South Washington County DFL
© sometime between 1963 and 1967

Recipe: Noodle Casserole Supreme – p. 49

SCEF Recipes – A Radical Cookbook
Published by Southern Conference Educational Fund
© 1973

Recipe: Carrots Vichy submitted by Yvonne Pappenheim – p. 27

In yesterday’s blog, I noted how I uncovered a few more election/politically-oriented cookbooks to add to my “Election Day” postings. I swear to you, this is the last of them. In fact, as I’m sitting here, I’m not quite sure how these ended up here in the first place although I think that they probably came from my mother-in-law’s collection which makes sense since she used to be very active in DFL politics.

At any rate, last night’s main dish was called Noodle Casserole Supreme submitted by Mrs. Eugene McCarthy (and a big shout out to her for using “casserole” instead of “hot dish”). As with some of the other Election Day postings, you probably need a brief history lesson:

Eugene McCarthy, Democrat, was a Minnesota Senator who made an unsuccessful presidential run in 1968. For those of you who were alive at the time, the ’68 convention in Chicago was one of the most contentious conventions of all times. The Vietnam War was raging, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy had been assassinated, the party was divided and things got so bad in Chicago that Mayor Daly called in the troops to try to restore order. Of course, he only made chaos out of chaos, but that’s another story for another day.

At any rate, Mrs. Eugene McCarthy, otherwise known as Abigail, submitted this recipe for this cookbook which also includes recipes from then Senator Hubert Humphrey, Governor Karl Rolvaag and Attorney General Walter Mondale.

I decided to make this recipe because it seemed fairly straightforward and it also, as you will see, is glorified lasagna only done in casserole form. And while it was very easy to make, it was not without its problems.

First, let’s talk about the sugar to tomato ratio that comes into play with most “pasta” sauces. For most tomato-based sauces, you need sugar to cut the acidity and tartness of the tomato. How much is a matter of opinion.

In my family, we have the equivalent of the Three Bear’s sauce: Aunt Rose’s recipe (the true Sicilian in the family) has the least amount of sugar, followed by my mother’s (non-Sicilian), and further followed by my Aunt Martha’s (non-Sicilian) which has the most. It’s all of matter of taste, but my taste buds were waiting for Aunt Rose’s sauce but got Aunt Martha’s instead. Were I to make this recipe again, I would cut back on the sugar (maybe 1 tablespoon instead of two) for better balance.
Second, let’s talk about the “filling.” This recipe called for cottage cheese with chives and I was please to find that such a thing still existed in grocery shopping land. The cottage cheese I bought, however, had cottage cheese, chives and onions. And here, Houston, we had a problem.

I debated whether or not to just add chives to plain cottage chives or whether to go with the cottage cheese I found. I decided on the cottage cheese, chives and onions ready-made mixture and people, it was not the best choice. The onions in the mixture are raw and crunchy and just did not go with the nicely sautéed onions called for in the actual recipe. Between the sugar and the onions, I did not enjoy this dish but I wouldn’t call it an all-out failure, I would just adjust things differently the next time. Except, sadly, there cannot be a next time as I must continue on through the rest of my cookbooks so as to finish cooking my way through my collection before I’m to old to start the oven!

Noodle Casserole Supreme
8 oz. package wide noodles
3 T butter
1 c. chopped onion
1 can (17 oz.) whole tomatoes. (Note: I broke these up a bit before adding them to the mix as directed).
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T sugar (I’d recommend using a lot less unless you like very sweet sauce)
1 c. cottage cheese and chives (as noted above, I don’t recommend using a cottage cheese/chive/onion mix. If you can’t find just cottage cheese and chives, buy chives, snip them into small pieces and add to plain cottage cheese)
1 c. sour cream
¼ c. Parmesan cheese

Cook noodles as directed on package; put in greased casserole (2 qt.). In saucepan, melt butter, add onion and cook over medium heat until tender. Stir in tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and sugar; bring to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in cottage cheese and sour cream. Mix with noodles in casserole; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake in a 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Serves 8.

As an accompaniment to the casserole, I made Carrots Vichy from the SCEF (Southern Conference Educational Fund) cookbook. The subtitle of the book is “A Radical Cookbook” and in a way it was. The recipes were reminiscent of the natural food movement of the 60’s and 70’s and I had a hard time deciding on something to make that didn’t involve a recipe that would leave me healthier but still hungry during this cold winter month. (I know I will kick myself later for not making Bambi’s Tuna Casserole, I just know it). The carrots seemed like a good compromise.

Carrots Vichy
1 T shortening or margarine (I used butter)
6 carrots, sliced (I did not use, nor do I recommend, baby-cut carrots)
1 large onion (the recipe didn’t say so I chopped the onions)
2 T sugar

Heat fat and brown the onion. Add the carrots and remaining ingredients. Cover and cook slowly 1 hour or more. Mix from time to time.

Okay…first order of business…I hate recipes that just assume I know what the author wants. “Carrots sliced”…how thick? “1 large onion”…chopped, sliced, diced…what?! I need to know these things.

So I improvised and all was well until the onions started to caramelize. I had the heat as low as possible and mixed (i.e. stirred) as directed but they still cooked too quickly. I recommend checking them after about a half hour rather than an hour or you risk having really cooked, possibly burned, carrots.

And then there’s the sugar problem. Again, maybe it’s just me, but two tablespoons of sugar is too much for the 6 carrots, especially since carrots are sweet by nature. I’d taste test as I went along. But other than the sugar fix I got between both recipes, the carrots were good and I would make them again, with modifications.

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