For today’s blog, I am not only giving a shout out to a wonderful author, Alexandra Richland, writer of the Starlight Trilogy, but I will also be pointing out how the golden age influenced food trends, and how those trends changed with the collapse of the studio system.
First things first, if you love old movies and the nostalgia of Hollywood, the Starlight series by Alexandra Richaland is for you. It will be a great summer read on the beach, by the pool or just a lazy summer afternoon.
They can be found at Amazon.com, you can find my reviews on amazon under lstnrome or on goodreads goodreads.com/goodreadscomKaren_Komarinski
The 1950’s were the golden age of Hollywood. It was exciting…talking pictures, Technicolor, and young hot bad boys were stealing the hearts of teenage girls, while all the boys wanted to be them. Hollywood and its stars were considered royalty. People wanted to not only dress like them but to dine like them.
When we think of the famous eating establishments of the rich and famous, we think of The Brown Derby in LA, Sardi’s in NY, and Hudson’s Department store in Detroit. All three establishments produced items that are still found on menus today, as well as being made in people’s hone in the 1950’s and today.
As things began to change in Hollywood with the studio system, they also began to change in general throughout the country. The restaurant owners saw this and knew to survive they needed to change and set new trends. Gone was the elite dining experience ushered out not only by the returning soldiers from Europe and the South Pacific, but by the main stream public at large.
The restaurants not only had to accommodate the growing middle class, but they needed to keep the stars happy. They changed from exclusive havens to where stars could be seen dining with the public. There were still private dining rooms where the stars could dine in peace, but all patrons and food was served equally.
Night clubs, cocktail parties, lunch counters, soda fountains, all night diners, Drive-Ins (like Mel’s of Happy Days), and backyard cook outs were becoming all the rage. Along with this, people were also cooking more at home and were looking for quick easy and convenient recipes. Television was knocking at the door and along with it came TV dinners. In my opinion this was the start of the downward spiral of too many preservatives and unnatural ingredients in our food. We began to pull away from fresh food. Don’t get me wrong, some great products of convenience came about at this time such as cake mixes, Bisquick, canned and frozen Vegetables.
Sardi’s favorite lunch was a grilled cheese sandwich with cheddar cheese and mayo. It was grilled crisp and served with a cup of soup, coleslaw, or green salad. Little known secret at Sardi’s was they served two menus:”the lower priced actor menu and the regular priced menu for non actor patrons.”
Below you will find recipes from The Brown Derby and Hudson’s Department store, along with some trivia information. Enjoy KK
The famous “Brown Derby Cobb Salad” was said to have been created late one night by Bob Cobb of The Brown Derby. The original salad was tossed with the special French dressing, but at some point it changed to blue cheese. I was told a story by a waiter of The Brown Derby in Walt Disney World that people would get confused between The Cobb salad and the Maurice. For it is said that a famous movie mogul would come into The Brown Derby and order the Cobb Salad Maurice style, where all the ingredients were chopped very fine and mixed together.
Makes 4 to 6
Cobb Salad Ingredients
• 1/2 head each of iceberg and Romaine lettuce, chopped
• 1 small bunch curly endive, torn into small pieces
• 1 small bunch watercress, large stems removed, chopped
• 2 Tbsp snipped chives
• 1 cup fresh tomato, diced
• 1 cup roasted chicken breast, diced
• 6 strips uncured bacon, cooked, diced
• 1 avocado, peeled and diced
• 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped fine
• 1/2 cup Roquefort (or substitute your favorite blue cheese) crumbled
Special French Dressing Ingredients
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
• 1/4 tsp sugar
• 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp black pepper
• 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
• 3/4 tsp dry mustard
• 1 small clove garlic, peeled and minced
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 3/4 cup grape seed oil
• Make salad dressing: In a large cruet or shaker bottle, combine all ingredients. Shake vigorously until dressing begins to emulsify. Chill.
• Make salad: Combine chopped lettuces in a large shallow bowl. Top salad greens with rows of the remaining ingredients. At table, toss salad with Special French Dressing and serve.
• Derby Mixed Green Salad Serves 4
• 1/2 head romaine cut in 1-in pieces
• 1/2 head (medium size) Lettuce, pulled
• 1/2 bunch watercress
• 1/2 head chicory
• 2 tomatoes, peeled and quartered
• 1/2 cup chopped celery
• 1/2 cup Brown Derby Old-fashioned French Dressing (see recipe below)
• Toss the greens in a large cold salad bowl and mix lightly. Garnish with the tomatoes. Sprinkle chopped celery on top. Just before serving add French Dressing and toss lightly.
.Brown Derby mixed green salad original recipe
Brown Derby Old-Fashioned French Dressing, 1-1/2 qts.
This is the French Dressing which became so popular among the stars that the Brown Derby was prevailed upon to bottle it for home use. The cup of water is optional depending upon the degree of oiliness desired in this dressing.
1 cup water
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Juice of 1-2 lemons
2 1/2 tbs.* salt
1 tbs. ground black pepper
1 tbs. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tbs. English mustard
1 clove of garlic chopped
1 cup olive oil
3 cups salad oil
(*UK readers note a US tablespoon = British dessert spoon)
Blend together all ingredients except oils. Then add olive and salad oils and mix well again. Chill. Shake before serving.
This dressing keeps well in the refrigerator. Can be made and stored in mason jars and refrigerated
Copy of the original recipe:
Hudson’s Department store in Detriot was the second largest to Macy of NY, and it’s restaurant was just as famous for it’s legionary Maurice salad as it was for it’s merchandise. In 1954, the store had sales of $163 million.
To make this wonderfully easy and tasty dressing, you’ll need:
2 tsps. white vinegar
1-1/2 tsps. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1-1/2 tsps. onion juice
1-1/2 tsps. sugar
1-1/2 tsps. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsps. dry mustard
1 cup of mayonnaise (homemade or store-bought)
2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh parsley
1 hard-cooked egg, finally diced
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.
Combine the vinegar, lemon juice, onion juice, sugar, Dijon & dry mustard’s in a bowl and whisk well to dissolve the sugar.
Now whisk in the mayonnaise, parsley and egg. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
Use this as a salad or sandwich dressing. Keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days.
If you’d like to make the official Maurice Salad as served at Hudson’s, in a large bowl, combine 1 lb each of cooked ham, turkey breast, and Swiss cheese all cut into thin julienned strips. Add 1/2 cup minced sweet pickles. Toss lightly, add the dressing and fold together. Shred one head of iceberg lettuce and arrange a bed of shredded lettuce on 4 salad plates. Top each salad plate with ¼ of the meat & cheese mixture and garnish each salad with 2 pimento stuffed green olives and a couple hard-cooked egg slices. Serve at once!