Saturday, July 4, 2015

Poppy's Toothpick and Ice-stravaganza!

Happy Independence Day (at least for American readers)! When I think party food, I think of small things on toothpicks and/or ice, so today we're looking at "Good Housekeeping's Appetizer Book" (1958) for some inspiration for our fourth of July party.

With the sauce's red glare and shrimps toothpicked midair, I thought this might be the most secretly patriotic appetizer picture I cold find.

There's not much that could be more '50s American than a basket with shrimp bursting out of it willy-nilly, held aloft on crimson picks and awaiting a dunk in a hefty goblet full of something ketchup-y looking.

Need to make your own shrimp explosion? Here's the recipe:

Pretty easy: quickly cook shrimp in water with pickling spices (?), refrigerate, then toothpick the little buggers. The recipe merely suggests arranging the shrimp "in dish on tray" or even worse, simply supplying the toothpicks and letting guests spear their own, but CLEARLY the best way to do this up right is to make the rocket shrimp display!

I think the dip in the picture is the "Spicy Dunk Sauce":

Surprisingly enough, it may even be a little spicy, what with the horse-radish AND two full dashes of "liquid hot pepper seasoning."

I'm kind of puzzled by the quarter teaspoon of "bottled thick meat sauce." Do they mean steak sauce? Do they mean a thick barbecue sauce? Maybe that weird British brown sauce? Would that tiny amount be enough to notice? In any case "bottled thick meat sauce" does not sound particularly appetizing to me.... Sort of sounds like it should be overcooked liver baby food or something like that....

What if you have a ton of leftover toothpicks and want another overly-complicated composition to show off some speared tidbits? And what if you feel a bit ripped off that the shrimp recipe didn't necessitate a trip to the dime store for craft supplies? You may want to try this:

This big wheel of cheese surrounded by "frankfurters," olives, and salami "cornucopias" is the "Nosegay Appetizer."

This appetizer is truly made for the OCD cook: It starts with a "plastic foam circle, 9" in diameter, 1" thick" and requires quite a bit of precision. The center needs exactly 17 cubes of sharp Cheddar, not only on a pick but also dipped in salad dressing and parsley on only one side.

Then the hot dogs must be cut in half lengthwise, filled with sharp cheese spread, reassembled, cut into half-inch pieces, picked, and carefully arranged to surround the cheese cubes.

At least the olives are easy, but then the salami cornucopias have to be snipped, rolled, secured with a  pick, and filled by pastry bag with a homemade seasoned cream cheese before being jammed into the outer perimeter of this big ring o' saturated fats.

It's a holiday, though, and maybe you're not OCD. What if you want to actually spend some time doing something other than making toothpick-based craft projects that will be demolished the second you set them out?

I've saved the easy app for last.

This is "Olives in Ice." Can you guess how to make it?

Maybe a little more complicated than you envisioned, but still not bad. The day before, put a water-filled ring mold in the freezer and re-marinate the olives in garlic, lemon and cloves. The day of, drain the olives and dump them in the ice ring with some carrot curls and celery sticks.

Or you could just dump a drained jar of olives into the ice ring and spend your holiday trying to keep the kids from setting each other on fire.

I'd stay in the back working on the Nosegay Appetizer, though.

Happy Independence Day! May your toothpicks and patience be infinite!


  1. Wow, I can taste the patriotism from here! :D That spicy dunk sauce though, yum

    1. I always imagined patriotism tasted like hot dogs and gunpowder....