I love looking at older cookbooks and vintage magazines for meal plan ideas. Sometimes I get tired of the same old recipes and it’s fun to cook like the 1940s or 1950s for a few days.
Here is a vintage-inspired meal idea we’ve enjoyed recently and I thought I’d share it with you.
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Some vintage recipes are just…odd. Bananas in hollandaise sauce, anyone?
And there was that strange obsession with congealed salads.
But there were plenty of delicious recipes, as well, many which are still in use. Some of the things I have discovered when cooking vintage meals is that there was often a decided effort made to vary the colors and textures, as well as providing good amounts of vitamins and minerals. This might not be obvious in a single meal but when you look at a week’s worth of vintage meals you’ll notice the focus on variety and food groups.
This hearty “meat and potato” meal went over very well with my husband. And I must admit that I found myself wondering why I don’t make scalloped potatoes more often. Yes, they are a bit time-consuming but oh, so delicious! And the leftovers made a wonderful lunch for me the next day.
- ham steak
- scalloped potatoes
- buttered peas
- baked apples
Now, had we really adhered to a typical vintage meal there would have been bread and butter served, as well. And I like good bread and butter about as well as anyone. But we’ve got a beach vacation coming up soon so…
How to prepare:
Start with the potatoes because they will need to bake for about an hour. Peel and very thinly slice 6 medium potatoes. Dice about 2 tablespoons (or more if desired) of onion. Grease two quart baking dish (if you have one with a lid that is best, otherwise you’ll need to cover with foil) and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Make a white sauce by melting 3 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan and then adding 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour. Stir continuously over medium high heat for a minute or two and then gradually pour in 3 cups of milk. Continue to stir and cook for a few minutes until sauce thickens.
Layer half of the potatoes in the greased baking dish, sprinkle with half of the diced onion and season generously with salt and pepper. I also used onion salt, garlic powder and Creole seasoning because I think a lot of vintage dishes are a bit bland.
Pour half of the white sauce over the potatoes then repeat with the rest of the potatoes, onions, seasonings and white sauce, making sure potatoes are well covered with the sauce. Cover tightly and bake about 45 minutes. Remove lid or foil and continue cooking until potatoes are tender and the sauce just begins to brown a bit. You can also add grated cheese at this point but despite my obsession for cheese, this is truly delicious without it.
(Note: For a more formal recipe format and photos, see “Scalloped Potatoes ~ A Vintage Recipe“.)
About half an hour before potatoes are done start cooking the ham steak. In a large skillet, brown the ham over medium high heat in a bit of butter or oil. Or if you are cooking in a well-seasoning cast iron skillet you probably won’t need any additional fat.
When lightly browned, remove ham to plate. Deglaze skillet with about 1/4 cup of chicken broth. Add 2 to 4 tablespoons of butter and about 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Put ham back into skillet and cook over medium heat until heated through. Add more chicken broth or a bit of water if needed.
Cook frozen peas in a small amount of boiling water until tender. Do not overcook. Drain and place in serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of butter.
Doesn’t that look yummy? And there’s a nice contrast of colors, as well.
For a tasty dessert that still provides some nutrition, baked apples are perfect with this meal.
Remove cores from apples – one per person – and place in baking dish. Inside each apple place a few raisins (if desired), a bit of butter and some brown sugar. Sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon. Carefully pour about an inch of water into the baking dish and bake at 350 degrees until tender – about 45 minutes to an hour.
These are delicious as is but you could pour a bit of heavy cream over them, as well.
This whole meal is really good and only the potatoes take much effort. It all reheats well for lunch the next day, too.