Adapted from The Nantucket Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase
Serves 8 to 12 depending on how much other food you have
I have a couple of recipes posted on this blog that I keep thinking about removing because I'm a little embarrassed to admit they are part of my collection.
The first one is this ziti salad. We used to make it at Sea Island at least once each summer when nine to twelve of us were there for a month. It never lasted long because every person going into the refrigerator would sneak a bite from what was left over. I haven't made it since we stopped going to the beach in a group, but if I were having a big summer party at the farm, I would be happy to put it on the picnic table alongside barbecue brisket, roasted beets vinaigrette, tomato salad, and creamed corn. I might substitute penne rigate for the ziti - but then again I might not.
The secret ingredient - and there's no way this recipe would taste the same without it - is G. Washington Brown Bouillon Powder, which is the reason I hate to own up to it. This product is loaded with salt, followed closely by MSG. It's not the kind of product I use for anything else. I don't even use canned broth anymore. If I don't have my own stock, I follow Michael Ruhlman's advice and use water. But now that I've read what The Italian Dish has to say about MSG, I don't feel so bad about holding on to this recipe for the right occasion. If you want to try it, feel free.
The next recipe I hang my head over is this beef stew. It has a can of soup in it. Tomato Soup to be specific. You know, the one with the red and white label; the one no one I know would even think about eating anymore - even if it were in a cup next to a plate with a grilled cheese sandwich on it - because it contains high fructose corn syrup.
The original beef stew recipe called for Tomato Bisque - also in the red and white can - with little pieces of tomato in it. But it was still a can of soup. I thought it had been discontinued, but Marge wrote to tell me she can get it in her store, so I called Campbell's, and, lo and behold, it has not been discontinued; it's just not stocked in every store. They told me I can get it at some Food Emporiums in NYC.
I now have a can on my desk, and sure enough, no HFCS. True, it's still a can of soup. But at least it isn't Cream of Mushroom!
I don't remember the last time I made this recipe for stew, but it's so handy that I can't quite bring myself to get rid of it. I just keep reminding myself about The Midnight Egg and Other Revivers, an M.F.K. Fisher article published in the May 1978 issue of Bon Appetit describing what she did to comfort herself when she had indulged in food and drink, perhaps in an immoderate way, and needed a little down time. She made that same, ubiquitous tomato soup and drank it from a special little chipped blue speckled pitcher.
This doesn't totally make me feel better because I'm sure the soup M.F.K. Fisher drank, while it did come from a can, didn't have HFCS in it. But if I ever find myself in a position where it's cold outside, I don't have time to cook but I want to eat at home, and I have to come up with something that cooks itself, I might want to get my hands on this recipe.
Here's another recipe I don't make often either, not because I'm embarrassed about it, but because I just don't have the occasion to make it that often. It's for a meatloaf that can be sliced thin and served cold, and it's good to have up your sleeve when you're having a party.
The original recipe called for 2 tablespoons of dried Italian herb blend, which I don't have in the pantry. Personally, I never use dried oregano but substitute marjoram instead, so in this recipe I use marjoram - but a lot less than 2 tablespoons. If you have a particular herb blend you like to use, it would probably work well here.
1-1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1 pound ground veal
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried marjoram, crushed between your fingers
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2-1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1 cup tomato juice
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
8 ounces sliced Provolone cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the ground meats with the onion, garlic, marjoram, parsley, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Beat the eggs with a little salt, and add to the meat mixture along with the tomato juice.
Shape the mixture into a rectangle 15 inches by 10 inches on a piece of wax paper or parchment paper. Arrange the prosciutto in an even layer over the mixture, leaving an inch on all sides. Cover the prosciutto with the slices of Provolone, continuing to leave an inch on each side.
Starting from the long end, use the paper to roll up the rectangle like a jelly roll, and pat the ends to close them up.
Carefully slide the roll from the paper onto a baking sheet - a half sheet pan works well. Bake in the preheated oven for 55 minutes. Let come to room temperature, wrap in foil, and chill. Use a serrated knife to slice. I usually make 1/2 inch-thick slices, but you can make them a little thinner if you like.