Monday, October 31, 2011

"The Mystery Chef's Own Cookbook" and "The Nancy Drew Cookbook" - Baked Sliced Ham and Apples & Dave's Deviled Potatoes

Date I made these recipes: October 30, 2011

The Mystery Chef’s Own Cook Book by The Mystery Chef (John McPherson)
Published by: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc.
© 1934, 1943
Recipe: Baked Sliced Ham and Apples – p. 77

The Nancy Drew Cookbook – Clues to Good Cooking by Carolyn Keene
Published by: Grosset & Dunlap
© 1973 – 1974 printing
Recipe: Dave’s Deviled Potatoes – p. 59-60

I am not a big fan of Halloween. It’s too cold, too dark and when I was growing up, it often snowed. Trust me it is not fun to wear a Halloween costume under a winter coat.

And speaking of snow, the east coast got blasted this weekend by an early (for them) snowfall. This prompted all the local media to remind us Minnesotans of our huge 1991 Halloween blizzard. I cannot believe 20 years have passed since that debacle.

On that Halloween, a rain shower quickly turned into a ton of heavy, wet snow that just kept and falling and falling and falling. While we are used to a big snowfall in these parts, it was hard to get around the cities; snow plows got stuck, roads were only half plowed, mail wasn’t delivered, schools closed and so on. In a word, folks, we were truly snowed in. Well, true confession: my husband brought me to work the next day as driving in this stuff is a challenge to him and I went in on the day after that (the weekend) to get some work done as I was under deadline. Let me just mention that while I made it there and back safely, I also managed to spin the most beautiful doughnut on the freeway without hitting a thing! (So.proud). Darned ice!!

So back to the snow, this did not deter some intrepid trick or treaters who now have a great story to tell their children when they grow up. And in the blink of an eye, Halloween is once again upon us. The sun is out and it appears we are safe from a snowstorm this year. Hooray.

Given my track record of dark, cold and snow, I usually ignore the date all together. Yes, that’s my house, as dark as dark can be. That glow you see? It’s the TV. Otherwise, we usually settle in for a couple hour’s worth of “Just ignore them and they will go away.” (That is very Scrooge of me; I’m getting an early start to Christmas.) Actually, we don’t have many kids in the neighborhood and our street is pretty much ignored by the masses. And that’s good because we never stock up on candy except for ourselves, naturally!

But as I was working on my cookbook list on Saturday, I remembered that I had recently purchased The Nancy Drew Cookbook and if that doesn’t say mystery and spooks and whatnot, then I don’t know what does.

And then, taking a little liberty with the title, I also chose to make a recipe from The Mystery Chef’s Own Cook Book.

In this instance, The Mystery Chef is a man who took the place of a friend on a radio show about cooking and food and built a following of fans although of course, his identity remained a – key point here - mystery. Well, with the advent of the internet, it is no longer a mystery—his name is John McPherson. A clever mystery problem-solver however, could also determine his identity by looking at the copyright information: “Copyright, 1934 by John McPherson.” Move over, Nancy Drew!

So while John’s book is not quite related to today’s theme, it was close enough for me.

As to Nancy Drew, I hardly know a woman in my age category who didn’t read Nancy Drew as a kid. My teeny, tiny library at Sacred Heart Catholic School (grade school) actually carried most of the Nancy Drew books and I believe I managed to read them all—twice! I still love solving a good mystery which might be why I became an attorney. Not that attorneys solve mysteries but sometimes when putting a case together, you often become your own little Nancy (or Ned) Drew.

Tonight’s meal was really easy to make and it kept with my Halloween theme: Ham and Apples (I remember getting caramel apples as a kid for Halloween) and Dave’s Deviled Potatoes for that little Halloween devil in all of us!

Baked Sliced Ham and Apples (to serve 4)
2 large, thin slices raw ham (1/4 to 1/3 inch thick) Ann’s note: I used one large pre-cooked ham steak and that was sufficient for two of us.
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 cooking apple
½ cup brown sugar

Remove bone from ham. Mix together the mustard and vinegar. Spread the mixture thinly on the ham. Slice apples very thin and spread 2 layers on the thin slices on ham. Sprinkle well with brown sugar. Now roll the ham the long way, starting from the fat side and folding the fat into the center. Hold together with metal butcher skewers. Place in baking pan and put a few dabs of butter on each ham roll. Bake in a moderate oven (375) for 25 minutes. Baste 2 or 3 times while baking.

Ann’s Note: What am I, a culinary school graduate? I didn’t bother to roll the ham slices as that is just way too much work. Besides, I couldn’t find my metal skewers, assuming I even have any. So I put the ham in a baking pan, spread the mixture mustard and vinegar mixture, put the sliced apples on top of the ham, sprinkled the sugar and then put dots of butter over the ham slice and it worked just fine. As to the apples, the instructions didn’t say to peel them or core them or anything, so I left them peeled and took out the cores when needed.

Dave’s Deviled Potatoes – serves 4
4-6 medium potatoes
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons softened butter
1/3 cup warm milk (or, in place of the above ingredients, one envelope of instant potatoes)
½ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon mustard
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
(optional) 4 slices bacon for topping

Wash, pare and cut potatoes into 4 pieces each for faster cooking. Cover with boiling water, add salt and cook (covered) from 20 to 40 minutes until tender when tested with a fork. Drain. Add softened butter and warm milk. Mash until free of lumps. (If you are using instant potatoes, follow directions on package.)

Heat the sour cream in a small saucepan over a low flame. Add mustard and sugar to the sour cream and mix until well blended. Stir potatoes into the sour cream mixture. Blend in chopped onion. Put the potato mixture into a 1 quart casserole.

Heat the over to 350. Bake for 12 minutes.

“Nancy’s Topper”
Add a surprise by frying 4 slices of bacon in the skillet over low heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels, crumble, and sprinkle on top of deviled potatoes.

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