I made curried chickpea salad last week, and it was so delicious, I thought I would share it for Meatless Monday. Although it is not a historic recipe, clearly it's a riff on curried chicken salad, which had its heyday in the mid-20th century, although you still see it on restaurant menus, especially tea rooms and bakeries and small cafes.
It's not super clear when precisely curried chicken salad was invented, but there are lots of references throughout 19th century American cookbooks to all sorts of curried dishes - eggs, oysters, veal, cucumbers, shrimp, okra, and yes, chicken, although not in a salad until the 20th century.
Country Captain is one of the first curry dishes in the United States, and may have inspired curried chicken salad in the 20th century. Made with browned chicken, onions, curry powder, tomatoes or tomato sauce, and golden raisins or currants, it was meant to be served over rice and likely originated in the Carolinas, where rice cultivation (fueled by slave labor) was common. It is called "country captain" because it was apocryphally introduced via a sea captain returning from India and/or involved in the spice trade.
This savory, sweet, and mildly spicy flavor combination has been deemed by some historians to be the first fusion food in U.S. history. But it is unclear where curried chicken salad as made in the United States draws its roots. It may very well be from the flavor profile of Country Captain, and mayonnaise-based salads were exceedingly common by the turn of the 20th century. Some enterprising soul may have come up with the idea independently.
However, in 1935, King George V of Britain celebrated his silver jubilee, and although I cannot find an original menu from the event, everyone swears a cold chicken dish with curried mayonnaise was part of the dinner (which some people thought was an unnecessary extravagance during the Great Depression). The dish was recycled (perhaps inadvertently) for Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953, this time with some fancier additions of tomato, pureed apricot, red wine, and whipping cream (try the original recipe). Jubilee chicken and coronation chicken, as the recipes have come to be known, are still quite popular in Britain, although they rarely show up on American shores under that name.
At the same time, prior to Queen Elizabeth's coronation, we do have recipes in the United States calling simply for cooked diced chicken, mayonnaise, curry powder, and diced celery (like this one). Basically, plain jane chicken salad with some curry powder thrown in for flavor. This 1930 cookbook has a recipe for chicken salad with grapes or raisins, and a recipe for curry salad dressing (curry powder, vinegar, and mayonnaise), but the two aren't put together.
So again, the official origins are unclear. But suffice to say, a curried chicken salad with celery and some variation of either golden raisins, currants, diced apple, and/or grapes has become an alternative to the more traditional (and boring) basic chicken salad.
I chose to replace the chicken with canned chickpeas in part because poaching chicken is a drag and I hate the canned stuff. But also because not only are canned chickpeas easier and more accessible than poached chicken, they're a little healthier for the gut, too. Vegetarians and vegans often use chickpeas as a substitute for chicken or tuna. It turned out even better than I remembered from the last time I made it, and it seems appropriately vintage, even if it isn't actually historic.
Curried Chickpea Salad
A quick weeknight supper perfect for when it's too hot to cook, but equally at home at a tea party. To make this vegan, substitute all vegan mayonnaise for the yogurt and mayo.
2 cans (16 oz.) chickpeas, or 3 cups cooked from dried
3 ribs celery, minced
1/2 cup shredded carrots (I use the bagged kind)
1 small, sweet, crisp apple, minced
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 to 1 tablespoon high quality curry powder
salt & pepper to taste
Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then mash roughly with a fork. I don't like any whole chickpeas in mine, but neither do I want a puree. Add the celery, carrots, and apple and mix well with a fork to combine. Add the yogurt and curry powder and mix, then add the 1/2 cup of mayo and mix. If too dry, add more mayo. Taste and add more curry powder, salt, and pepper if necessary. The warm spices of the curry powder set off the creaminess of the mayo and yogurt and the sweetness of the apple nicely, and the celery and carrots add crunch and texture. I like mine served open-faced on whole grain toast. The hubby prefers his sandwich closed on untoasted bread. You can also eat it with crackers, in a wrap, or frankly, with a spoon.
If you want to try something more country captain style, add golden raisins and a little tomato paste. For something more coronation-style, try diced dried apricots or a few tablespoons of mango chutney. Add lemon or lime juice for tang, or leave it out. But whatever you do, don't use that little jar of curry powder that's been in the back of your spice cabinet for years. Get yourself a new jar or better yet, go to a store with a bulk spices section and get some fresh stuff that way.
Have you ever had curried chicken salad? Or chickpea salad? Tell us your favorite quick weeknight dishes in the comments!
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In 1946 the Women's League of the Hollis Presbyterian Church in Hollis, NY published this community cookbook, Hollis Pantry Secrets. Hollis is a neighborhood in Queens County, NY and in the 1940s was a relatively new development of single-family homes that had only been part of New York City since 1898, when it was developed from rural farmland. I was in the process of digitizing the cookbook when I ran across a somewhat familiar name. "Elizabeth Trump Walter." Could it be? Was she related to President Donald Trump? I started digging, but sadly, there wasn't much to find.
Elizabeth was born in 1904 to Elizabeth Christ and Frederick Trump (Sr.), German emigrants to the United States. Frederick (sometimes spelled Friedrich) had made his fortune during the Gold Rush with a hotel specializing in alcohol and suites for prostitutes. He returned to Germany in sometime before 1902, only to run into trouble with the authorities, who deemed his emigration illegal because he had not completed his military service. He met and married Elizabeth Christ in 1902 and they moved to New York City. In 1904, homesick Elizabeth convinced him to return to Germany, but due to Frederick's trouble with the authorities over his lack of military service, they could not stay, and returned to New York City in 1905. It is unclear if Elizabeth the younger was born in Germany or not.
Her younger brother Frederick Jr. was born in 1905 and John in 1907. Frederick Trump Sr. died of Spanish Influenza in 1918, and the family was soon in trouble financially. Elizabeth Christ Trump decided to continue her husband's work in real estate development, and that her children would be her primary employees. Elizabeth the younger was also the eldest child - she left high school to attend secretarial school so that she could be the accountant for the newly formed E. Trump and Son company. Her youngest brother John was to be the company architect. Fred Jr. the builder.
John left the company early on and Fred Jr., with his mother, built E. Trump and Son into a real estate empire. Derailed by the stock market crash of 1929, when E. Trump and Son officially went out of business, by 1934 Fred Jr. managed to finagle his way into a mortgage-servicing contract, and the Trumps were back in the real estate business. The rest is fairly well-known history, including Trump's housing discrimination.
But what about Elizabeth? Her history is almost non-existent. She has no Wikipedia page. She isn't even mentioned on her mother's Wikipedia page, despite the fact that Fred Jr. is noted as the "second child" and John the "third." She is mentioned on the Trump family page. We know she married William Walter, who was training to work in a bank, in June of 1929. According to William's 1959 obituary, he was a veteran of World War I who had worked in banks starting as a page boy in 1910. The year he and Elizabeth were married, he was made assistant secretary of the newly formed Manufacturer's Trust.
Elizabeth apparently continued in her accounting role after marrying William, but it is unclear whether she left in late 1929 when E. Trump and Son went under, and whether she continued to work under Fred Jr.
Elizabeth and William Walter had two children - William Trump Walter, born in 1931, and John Whitney Walter, born in 1934. Both Elizabeth and William Sr. were highly involved in the Hollis Presbyterian Church. He was an elder, she, a member of the Women's League. So it makes sense that Elizabeth would submit recipes for the 1946 cookbook.
Here are her recipes:
The "Party Suggestions" that start on page 125 is a small section that only contains recipes from Elizabeth Trump Walter! All variations on starter salads (with one exception), probably for ladies' luncheons, but possibly also for themed dinner parties, or even children's parties.
South Sea Island
Place slice of pineapple in center of a bed of shredded lettuce. Fill hole with cream cheese and put a spring of parsley in cheese to represent palm tree. Cut banana in half lengthwise and then in half crosswise – straight bananas are best – and place these on lettuce sea around pineapple island, cut side up. Cut saltines diagonally in half. Each half makes a sail. Insert tooth pick in corner and stick in banan boat. Cut strips of wax paper about ¾ inch by 1 ½ inches. Fringe and tie around chocolate candy dolls for grass skirt and place under palm tree.
Force a Ritz cracker on either side of a toothpick for wheels and axle. Make two sets for each service. Fill lettuce cups with crab meat salad and place on top of two sets of wheels and axles. Force animal crackers on either side of a toothpick. This kames a pair of horses. As many pairs of horses as desired may be used. Place thin strips of green pepper from lettuce cups to team of horses for reins.
Ice cream cone
Scoop of vanilla ice cream
3 inch round of sponge cake
Cover sponge cake with whipped cream. – Place scoop of ice cream in center of sponge round. Invert cone on ice cream. Make eyes of melted chocolate and use slice of cherry for mouth. Force whipping cream through tube to make ruffling for collar around face.
Peel cucumber and cut in half, lengthwise. Scoop out center and mix with salmon salad. Fill mixture in cucumber boat – Place on bed of shredded lettuce for waves. To make sail, cut drinking straw in half. Cut rectangle from stiff white paper and attach to half of straw with scotch tape. Place sail in center of boat.
Easter Eggs in Nests
Place slice of pineapple on small bed of shredded lettuce. Divide cream cheese into five parts. Color each part a different pastel shade, leaving one white. Form cream cheese into small eggs, the size of a robins egg and place in center of pineapple slice.
Cut a five inch circle from a piece of stiff paper with pinking shears. Cut a slit to center from one side and then put together to form a dome shaped piece for top of tent. Place tuna fish salad in center of plate. Around salad sprinkle Cornflakes or Rice Krispies to represent sawdust. Insert five pretzel sticks around salad and place tent on top of these sticks.
Her six party suggestions make up the entire "Party Suggestions" chapter. I, personally, would have a hard time cutting saltines in half or forcing toothpicks into crackers, so clearly this sort of thing took a great deal of finesse.
Elizabeth Trump Walter died on December 4, 1961, at the age of 57, "after a long illness," just two years after her husband William. Her obituary is on page 37 of that day's New York Times, towards the bottom. She pre-deceased her mother Elizabeth Christ Trump by five years. Ironically, Elizabeth Christ Trump does not have an obituary in the New York Times, she is only listed among the deaths recorded on June 9, 1966 - her notice submitted by the Federation of Jewish Philanthropics.
According to Elizabeth's son John Walter's 2018 obituary, the Walters moved to Manhasset, NY toward the end of their lives. They lived in a retirement home built by the Walters and likely Fred Trump, Jr., but died just a few years later. John begun attending the Congregational Church of Manhasset at his mother's behest. Elizabeth Trump Walter was memorialized with a restored organ at the Congregational Church of Manhassett, NY sometime in recent years.
Elizabeth Trump Walter rarely shows up in Trump family histories, probably because of her early death compared with the Trump family fortunes. But it was a fascinating project to track down what I could about her.
The Hollis Pantry Cook Book has more secrets and famous recipe authors to share, so stay tuned for future blog posts.
Have you ever found a famous person's name in a community cookbook? Tell us in the comments!
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For those of you who have been following along, this is part of my "Dinner and a Movie: White Christmas" series! I chose this salad as a menu starter for a variety of reasons. One, because I enjoy grapefruit and wanted something relatively simple and refreshing to counter the heaviness of some of the other items on the menu. But also because grapefruit was a very typical appetizer and salad ingredient from the 1930s through the 1960s. Pink grapefruit was first commercialized in the late 1920s and by then grapefruit in general had become a popular breakfast food. In the 1930s, with the rise of Hollywood and the ubiquitousness of citrus fruits in both California and the newly popular Florida as a vacation spot, grapefruit took on other guises. Broiled grapefruit became a popular appetizer and it was increasingly used in salads. Commercially canned grapefruit became available in the mid-1920s, which added to its popularity.
So, in a movie that doesn't QUITE make Hollywood and California the star, but which definitely "visits" the tropics through the tropical nightclub in Florida, grapefruit seemed like a natural addition to the menu. This particular one is quite a simple recipe, from my 1942 edition of the American Woman's Cook Book by Ruth Berolzheimer, an extremely popular cookbook that was in print from 1938 through the 1960s.
Grapefruit Salad (1942)
The original recipe is quite simple. It reads:
"Peel grapefruit and free the sections from all membrane and seeds. Cut sections in half, crosswise; lay on a bed of lettuce leaves and serve with French dressing. Sprinkle with tarragon leaves or with mint if desired."
Supreming citrus (which is the official term for peeling and freeing citrus from the membrane) is extremely time-consuming work and doesn't always turn out how you'd like. Which is why if you'd rather use modern canned grapefruit, please feel free. The French dressing referred to in this recipe is NOT the modern, gloppy red stuff. It is, in fact, code for vinaigrette. I made my own, in my adaptation of the recipe, below. There's even a little maple syrup, to New England things up a bit.
1 large pink grapefruit for every two people
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
thinly sliced red leaf lettuce
Peel the grapefruit with a sharp knife over a small bowl to catch the juice. Using the knife, carefully cut each section away from the membrane on either side and cautiously remove, trying to keep the section intact. When done, squeeze the remaining pulp for juice into the bowl.
Arrange the lettuce on each plate, then add the sections (you can cut them in half, or not). If you get 8 intact sections, you're doing better than I did. With a fork, mash up any remaining pulp into the juice (fish out any seeds), then add the olive oil, maple syrup, and Dijon mustard and whisk with the fork to combine. Pour the dressing over the sections and lettuce and serve.
And that's it! Simple, if not easy (supreming is hard work!), and very tasty. The maple and the grapefruit flavors go very well together, although the dressing is a bit sweet. Do you think it goes with White Christmas (1954)? Let me know in the comments! And be sure to follow the White Christmas tag or visit the original menu post for the rest of the White Christmas Dinner and a Movie menu.
Want to see more Dinner and a Movie posts? Make a request or drop your suggestions in the comments!
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It's Juneteenth! Thanks to everyone who joined us for Food History Happy Hour. This week we make the Rose in June cocktail from the 1917 "Recipes for Mixed Drinks." We discussed Juneteenth, red velvet cake, victory gardens including propaganda and the exclusion of Black farmers and imprisoned Japanese Americans, the role of visuals in influencing taste, Black Food Historians You Should Know, disparities in book contracts, hot weather foods, salads, summer kitchens, how historical peoples coped without air conditioning, how historical peoples kept foods cold before refrigeration, ice and ice cream in the ancient world, rural electrification and electric refrigerators, the Frigidaire Cookbook, icebox pie, racial stereotypes in food advertising, including the history of the "Aunt" and "Uncle" terms, including Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima, the history of the mammy trope, the tragedy of child caring roles, What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking, Black children in advertising, Franchise: the Golden Arches in Black America, the forthcoming book scanner I ordered, monuments and statues, and we ended with a signal boost for the James Hemings Society.
Rose in June Fizz (1917)
The "Rose in June" cocktail comes from the "Fizz" section of Recipes for Mixed Drinks by Hugo Ensslin (1917).
The original recipe calls for:
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 2 limes
1 jigger raspberry syrup
1 jigger gin
Shake well in a mixing glass (or cocktail shaker) with cracked ice, strain into Collins glass and fizz with sparkling water
OR - if you don't have fresh citrus fruits OR raspberry syrup - you can substitute 1/3 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup lime juice, a heaping tablespoon of raspberry (or in my case, strawberry) jam, and the gin.
Very nice, very refreshing, but sadly NOT pink.
Here's a roundup of links related to everything we talked about (in addition to all the links above!):
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Many of my fans and patrons have been interested in and asking for more of what I call "sturdy salads" - lovely things made of vegetables and legumes and occasionally meats that can be stowed away in the fridge and eaten warm or cold or room temperature. One of our favorites is the Herbed Red Bean Salad I've made many times before. But it was very hot the other day, I was feeling green bean-ish, and was inspired by this little cookbooklet: Good Housekeeping's Book of Salads to heighten appetites and brighten meals (1958).
When I made this salad I couldn't find the recipe that I KNEW had inspired it, but I finally tracked it down in this lovely little cookbooklet. Now, there are definitely a million recipes in here for gelatin-and-whipped-cream-based "salads," but there are a surprising number of sturdy vegetable salads - just the kind I like.
Green Bean Parmesan Salad (1958)
Here's the original recipe, in case the print is too small to read!
2 lb. green beans, cut on angle into 2" pieces
1 small onion, minced
1/2 cup salad oil
1/4 cup wine vinegar
1 teasp. salt
1/4 teasp. pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablesp. chopped anchovy fillets (optional)
Cook beans in 1" boiling salted water, covered, until tender - about 15 min. Drain; cool. Toss beans with rest of ingredients. Refrigerate.
Green & White Bean Salad with Lemon & Parmesan
My recipe was a riff on that original. I wanted something a little more substantial for a supper dish, and I thought lemon would be a nice addition to the vinaigrette with the Parmesan. I will say, if I were to make it again, I would actually remember this time to include either minced white onion soaked in lemon juice, or thinly sliced scallions (which I had! But forgot to put in). Diced celery would also not be remiss in this salad - it needs a little extra crunch.
2 cans white cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
1 pound green beans
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons cream (optional)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 to 1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan
Bring a few inches of water to boil in a large stock pot. Snap the stem ends and any bad ends off the green beans. Add to the boiling water and cook, covered, for 3-5 minutes (15 is too long!) until bright green and tender. Meanwhile, mix the olive oil, lemon juice, cream, and mustard in a serving bowl and fold in the white beans. Add the hot green beans and mix thoroughly to coat with the dressing. Add the Parmesan and toss to mix well.
Serve room temperature with toast.
I will say - this would probably be better if you mixed the dressing and the white beans the day before to let the beans fully marinate before adding the green beans.
Don't have cannellini beans? Substitute boiled cubed potatoes, steamed cauliflower florets, small white navy beans, or even pasta.
Don't have green beans? Substitute asparagus, snow peas, frozen garden peas, or even broccoli.
And if you're trying to stay away from carbs altogether, try a combination of just the green vegetables in the sauce.
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Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.