1940s Archive

Food Flashes

Originally Published January 1944

Neither a feast nor a famine, that's the dinner bell tidings for the new year. There will be less of some things, much more of others. More bread—bread tops the list. More cereals: soybeans, dried beans, peanut butter, Irish and sweet potatoes, and as much margarine as in 1943.

This year you will get about the same amount of eggs, and as much fresh citrus and canned fruit juices, canned vegetables, meat, fish, and chicken as you had last year. Here's the pinch—no extra fluid milk and less of dairy products, fewer broilers and fryers. Fresh fruit will be skimpy until the new crop. And next year at holiday time there won't be so many turkeys.

New foods will be coming. Peanut flour, soy flour, soy grits are now in national distribution. More feather-weight foods will appear in civilian markets. Dehydrated sweet potatoes, sugar-crammed, vitamin-rich, are intended to help fill up the sweet tooth when used in candies, pies, cookies, cakes, and ice creams. Gimbel Brothers, at Broadway and 33rd, sell such a product, called “Vita-Yam,” the 14-ounce box 38 cents. All that dehydration does is to take out the moisture, leaving sugars, minerals, and vitamins intact. Next, it is said, the humble sweet potato is coming to America's breakfast table as a crisp cereal carrying its own sugar—you add only the cream.

Expect a bevy of hot-off-the-ice, ready-made foods to take the place of heat- and-eat canned stuffs now absent from the pantry shelves.

Drum major of the quick-frozen parade is the corned beef hash. Several brands are in the market, but two we have tried and applaud are Cap brand and Birdseye. In these hashes, the proportion of meat and potatoes is about half and half. The meat is carefully shredded, then combined with the finely chopped potatoes, which are cooked firm. Cap brand hash is carried by La Pampa, the new Argentine meat shop, 368 West 57th Street. The Birdseye is distributed nationally to Birdseye dealers.

To prepare properly a block of quick-frozen hash, place it as it comes from the package in a hot frying pan with the fat. Cook at low heat, breaking the hash down with a fork as it thaws. Let it brown slowly—twenty minutes is about the right time for a pound. When it is brown and slightly crisp on the bottom, fold over omelette fashion, and lift to a platter. Serve with poached eggs, and garnish the dish with parsley and quarters of tomato.

Foreign delicacies are all too often lost in the shuffle of the nutritional cards these wartime years. So it is with pleasure we note the return of the Scotch blood puddings, the mealy puddings, the mutton pies at Rahmeyer Table Delicacies, 1022 Third Avenue. The same shop has new crop Scotch oatmeal, the fine or the coarse, also Irish oatmeal, all for 18 cents a pound.

We recommend for special gratitude oysters Casino, as they are prepared on order by the Rosedale Fish and Oyster Market, 1132 Lexington Avenue. It is the Cape Cod oyster that is featured there, a deep sea oyster, firmly meated.

These flavorful bivalves are opened with care, in order not to spill their colorless elixir, and are left as they are on their own lower shell. Over the cool, grey velvet goes a thick sprinkling of minced chives, the proper seasoning; then a little square of bacon is laid across. The cook's job is to run the oysters under the broiler until the grey edges curl and the bacon bits are browned. Use at least two of these for a serving, along with a lemon section for the to-be-or-not-to-be drop of lemon juice.

The Rosedale market also sells shrimps boiled and shelled, a blessing to the woman with a cookless kitchen. There you go for deviled crabs at 50 or 60 cents each, according to size. The big lumps of crab meat are mixed with a sauce made with milk and butter and eggs, and are garnished with cracker meal and paprika. Before the deviled crabs are placed in the hot oven, add to the top of each a bit of butter, if you have it, and sprinkle with parsley, finely minced.

Present butter supplies just won't stretch to meet every holiday occasion. Take a tip from the Danes and try a quarter-pound of an unrationed fat, the Krydderfedt, made of tried-out fat of poultry, beef, and pork. It's a good spread for dark bread or the ubiquitous rye krisp. We approve it especially for a sandwich made with salami or corned beef or the Danish rolled veal. The chef of Old Denmark, 135 East 57th Street, cuts the fats into small bits, puts them into a heavy kettle along with diced onion, then over low heat for two to three hours. Next the fat is strained, then set to harden. Meanwhile, the crisped skin of the poultry and the golden bits of onion are ground and returned to the fat, to make a savory stuff that has all the appearance of a golden nut butter.

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