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Mad Men

If you were going to put together a Mad Men dinner, what would you serve?

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  1. There would definitely be a preceding cocktail hour, with martinis, Manhattans and gimlets, and then I'd serve something glazed in aspic, a roast of some kind, asparagus, potatoes, possibly some sort of gratin.

    13 Replies
    1. re: AuRevoirOeuf

      Definitely something aspic--maybe a tomato-aspic "salad"?

      1. re: Olivia

        were home cooks really doing aspic back then? i know it was all over hotel and restaurant menus, but at home? just asking because it's a b*tch to make and i find it disgusting.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          A friend's mother who wasn't much of a cook made tomato aspic for special occasions, so I think so, yes. Her father used to emphasize the "asss" part of the name when referring to it.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            I tried to post this yesterday and ran into trouble but ehre goes again. Aspic was all over in the 1950's and 1960's, especialy in the South. But in my childhood in NY and Connecticut we'd see it. The kind that was prevalent was emphatically not a problem to make--tomato juice and seasoning, heated and then Knox gelatin. Pour into a mold with whatever inside--artichoke hearts (canned, of course) peas...hard boiled eggs...etc.

            We had Stroganoff a good bit, using a Junior League recipe from teh g'wich cookbook. Actually, any of those Greenwich/larchmont/Rye cookbooks would be a perfect starting point.

            I do not follow the show and have only seen a few episodes but I never heard of a Scotch old-fasioned. rob Roy, maybe. Rye highball would be the standard other than Beefeater martini.

            I know nothing about teh Heinken episode referred to but I do recall the great story about popularizing the beer by having shills go in bars in lower Manhattan and loudly order it, then walk out when the bar did not have the beer. that was a famous stunt sometimes claimed by other brands.

            Any of those Good Housekeeping cookbooks from the era--with those washed-out color pictures--can do teh trick. Oh, and the snail shells stuffed with cream cheese with nuts and the bleu cheese stuffed black olives.

            1. re: hazelhurst

              ok, i learned to make aspic starting from scratch with consommé. that tomato juice thing sounds vile, lol.

              and yes, old-fashioneds are either rye or bourbon. not scotch.

              planting shills in bars remains a very common marketing tactic -- they usually hire very attractive young girls to do it. i met miss iceland, who was working for reyka vodka, that way.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Well, regarding to thomato juice thing, y'otta try it for fun. In truth you can make something decent if you take a little time. (We are not talking about classic aspic here, obviously. No one is reducing stock from bones for this stuff.) For the Mad Men theme, though, cheating would be the Order of the Day. If you wish, you can enhance the juice with real tomato or, better yet, your favorite canned tomatoes. All you do it heat the stuff with some celery sticks, maybe some onion, some Brave Souls in Enlightened Northeastern towns might add Genuine Curry(powder). Add the Knox gelatin (softened) and boil. Cool, add to your mold with your other goodies therein. Do this at least a day before because, when you turn the mold out, it will probably be too light on gelatin and it will collapse into little jiggly pieces of goo. Horrors....So, you need to throw it into a pot again, and add MORE gelatin...and, eventually, you will get it to the point that Forrest Hill will be calling you to make balls for the US Lawn & Tennis Club tournament. The Great Hostess of 1960 knew how to make it look good witout it being too "rubbery." Takes practice.

                Serve with some mayonnaise, of course.

                1. re: hazelhurst

                  this makes it sound even more disgusting, lol. this was not something ever served in my italian household. ever. sounds like it was just for wasps, eh?

                  even in school from scratch it's just a big pile of "ew".

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    Yes, it was a more elaborate and hence classier version of the tomato juice with lemon slice my mother served to make fancy. (My friend's family was better off than we were and more prone to putting on the dog.) And which glass of tomato juice is noted here as having been served to Betty at a classy restaurant. The Mad Men people are very good at period - the only really major gaffe I've seen them make is Peggy referring to keeping herself in pantyhose, which were not widely worn/produced until the advent of the miniskirt several years later.

                    1. re: buttertart

                      My earliest recollections of NY restaurants (and other places, such as Hershey PA) include that tomato juice in a chilled class with the lemon, on a serving plate. The Boston Ritz did it too, come to think of it. I still insist on lemon with the stuff.

                      1. re: hazelhurst

                        And a paper doily under the glass on the plate. La di da!

                  2. re: hazelhurst

                    I'm old enough to remember when restaurants served tomato juice as an appetizer.

                    I just love hazelhurst's post about the intricacies of tomato aspic firmness/texture. I've had some mean aspics, but have often resorted to melting down my own efforts and reinforcing with more gelatine.

                  3. re: hotoynoodle

                    What about whiskey sours for the "girls?"

              2. re: Olivia

                Oh jeeze, just cheat (or rather, be true to the era) and use tomato juice instead of water when making lemon Jello: tah dah!

                I have a vintage Jello cookbook with all kinds of hilarious concoctions like tuna salad in lime Jello, and "BBQ salad" which are BBQ sauce flavoured cubes of Jello to be served on top of iceberg.

            2. don't forget the fixin's for an old fashioned, Don Draper's drink of choice. Also, Heineken (remember that episode?) and a non-alcoholic punch of frozen lime or lemon sherbert and gingerale (totally channeling my great-aunt here).

              For nibbles: a port wine cheeseball rolled in almonds served with Ritz crakers (so classy! ;) ), Manzanilla (green) olives, smoked almonds, UTZ potato chips and/or veggie platter with Lipton onion-soup mix dip, and Chex mix. For starter: hearts of palm salad (Don's fave), an iceberg wedge salad (with lots of bleu cheese dressing and bacon) or Waldorf salad, or spinach salad with toasted almonds and canned mandarin oranges. Main dish: lamb chops or crown roast, big T-bones, beef Wellington, beef (or hamburger) stroganoff, Swedish meatballs. A mixed vegetable side dish of frozen veggies (corn, lima beans, peas--possibly in a Velveeta sauce). If you could work in a tater-tot or green bean casserole, I'd be most impressed.

              More ideas here: http://www.foodtimeline.org/fooddecad...
              and here: http://www.foodtimeline.org/fooddecad...

              7 Replies
              1. re: ChristinaMason

                And for dessert: tunnel of fudge bundt cake, lemon chiffon cake, assorted fruit sherberts, a Cool-whip confection such as "ambrosia" (pineapple and coconut) or (my personal favorite) pistachio pudding salad: http://basic-recipes.com/salads/pista...

                1. re: ChristinaMason

                  The tunnel of fudge cake came along later; it was a Pillsbury Bake Off winner in 1966.

                2. re: ChristinaMason

                  Does anyone remember the appetizer consisting of small meatballs in a sauce made of one part Welch's grape jelly and one part chili sauce? It sounds horrible but it was actually rather tasty. You always served them in a chafing dish, a standard issue piece of equipment in the 1960's kitchen.

                  1. re: mandycat

                    That's a recipe for Sweet & Sour Meatballs, a mainstay at our home party when the Patriots are in the Super Bowl. I put frozen Swedish meatballs in a crockpot, add the jelly and chili sauce and let it cook on high for a few hours. No fuss no muss. Teenage boys wolf them down.

                    1. re: mandycat

                      And miniature hot dogs in pretty much the same sauce. Alternately little "pigs in blankets" (mini hot dogs with some kind of dough. I think you buy them that way.

                    2. re: ChristinaMason

                      you need those frilly "panties" on the ends of the bones too.

                      shrimp cocktail would also be a good fit here.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        lol, yes, the frilly paper bone covers are a must!

                    3. some sort of jello mold fruit salad.

                      1. This is great! ChristinaMason, thank you for the websites. We are thinking of using each of the individual characters as an inspiration for the courses. So for drinks, OF COURSE, Scotch Old Fashioned is the order.

                        I am curious about the tomato aspic salad. I love aspic, but I have never had this dish. I can see Peggy eating an iceberg wedge with bleu cheese dressing. Beef Stroganoff might be our main course (inspired by Betty).

                        Dessert? Not sure yet.....

                        After dinner drinks?

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: Dagney

                          roger has definitely eaten wedge salads.

                          1. re: Dagney

                            After dinner drink: Brandy Alexander

                            1. re: Dagney

                              If the idea of jellied, slightly oniony tomato juice floats your boat, tomato aspic is just the ticket.

                            2. You must get out the "best" china, silver, and table linens. And I cringe to even bring it up, but are there any children in your life that you could recruit to mix the drinks like Sally Draper does?

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: lesliedm3

                                Love it...used to do the same when I was little...

                                1. re: buttertart

                                  lol, omg, me too. when we watched that episode my b/f could not believe it on the show or that i also had that job sometimes. of course his family were all tea-totallers !

                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                    I have a single GF who taught her nine year old how to mix a dry martini. Crazy! She said that she mixed drinks for her parents as a child, and she thinks it's a great skill. She's actually a very good mom (other than this!) and doesn't drink a lot, so hold off on calling child services!

                                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                                      I could make my grandmother's Old Fashioned when I was about 8 & I graduated to making martinis a few years later. Both of these were approached with more solemnity than any religious/mystic event. As a result, when I was allowed to have strong spirits, I savored rather than slugged them down.

                                    2. re: hotoynoodle

                                      Whole nother definition of "cute" from today's! I was also allowed a sip of my dad's or grandpa's beer, and the occasional drop of cherry whisky or brandy in ginger ale, from a very early age.

                                      1. re: buttertart

                                        Ditto here. I developed my taste for scotch on my father's knee.

                                        1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                          We (Italian family) kids were always served a little red wine with Sunday dinner at Grandfathers, and a sip of Creme de Minte after dinner.

                                          1. re: JEN10

                                            we had red wine mixed with cream soda! for reasons now that nobody recalls! lol.

                                            1. re: JEN10

                                              I can remember drinking a small glass of Asti Spumante at every holiday since I was a very small child.
                                              At regular Sunday dinners, we too, would a have a bit of red wine. My favotire was red wine with sliced peaches that my grandpa used to make.

                                              When I was a bit older (11) I moved on to beer. Me & my dad would split a Heinekin every so often!

                                              I am not an alcoholic today., though I do enjoy a tipple every so often!

                                    3. I forgot to mention Bitter Lemon..everyone had that in those days..and Ballentine's Scotch was ubiquitous on the Connecticut shore (a "ladies scotch" as a friend called it)

                                      1. I recall a small glass of creme de menthe as a "refined" after dinner drink to aid digestion. It's very green. You can find the colorless variety, but it's not nearly as much fun.

                                        1. Remember the episode when Betty came into the city to meet Don for dinner? I think it was after her first session with the therapist. She started the meal with tomato juice...and they brought it in a lovely glass with a lemon slice.....on a little plate. so cute.........

                                          1. My husband and I have talked about having a dinner party like this for years and years. We called it the dinner party that your parents would have gone to, but now I guess it would be a Mad Men dinner. Women would wear black cocktail dressers and the men would be in dark suits. Martinis would start the whole thing off (Manhattans and Gimlets also offered), and rumaki and Swedish meatballs would be the passes appetizers. There would also be a cheese ball, preferably one that had been mixed with red wine and rolled in nuts. There would be no wine served with dinner. You could keep on drinking your cocktail, but each place would have a cup and saucer for coffee. The first course would be a broiled half grapefruit, preferably garnished with a maraschino cherry. The main course would be something swankola like Beef Wellington with string beans with almonds. Dessert would be either Baked Alaska or Crepes Suzette.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: roxlet

                                              Sounds on-target to me...men should wear sock garters. No one would know, of course, but who cares? Authenticity in details!

                                              Cauliflower sauce mornay used to be big, too. And it is easy, to boot.

                                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                                And the ladies, foundation garments, slips, and hose (not! pantyhose). Under their proper dresses that is.

                                              2. a bowl full of loose cigarettes

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: hyde

                                                  Excellent touch...although I remember them in cigarette cases and in little glasses on the mantlepiece..usually a silver baby cup or some sort of apertif glass.

                                                  1. re: hazelhurst

                                                    Remember how there used to be candy and/or chocolate cigarettes? Those might be fun........
                                                    And zippo lighters as gifts.....

                                                2. I had a "late 1950's" Christmas party a few years ago, and made a Jell-O cake ringed with ladyfingers (in a springform pan). It had about three different colors of Jell-O in it, mixed with cool whip and more gelatin. I'm not sure if it's really a 1960 recipe, or earlier, but the book I got it out of was from 1961. It looked pretty, even though I find the concept of a jell-o cake disgusting :)

                                                  Also, what about those ham deli slices with cream cheese rolled up inside, and sometimes, a green olive slice?

                                                  1. All of you simply ROCK! This is great. Crepes Suzette is a wonderful suggestion for dessert. Back then it would have been considered oh so fashionable and upscale. Definitely something Betty Draper would serve.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Dagney

                                                      These are incredible and very retro... perfect with cocktails:


                                                      1. re: Dagney

                                                        Whay about fondue, or was did that come later?

                                                      2. Wasn't shrimp cocktail big as an appetizer in the '60s? I'm also thinking party foods like Swedish or sweet and sour meatballs. And definitely one of those big wooden salad bowls full of an iceberg lettuce-based salad or a spinach salad.

                                                        About fondue, I'm not sure if it was in vogue in the '60s, but it definitely was in the '70s. My mom gave me her pea geen fondue pot that we had when I was a kid. I never use it,as I have several more modern fondue pots, but can't bring myself to get rid of it.

                                                        P.S. If I were going to an adult Halloween party, I would go as Betty Draper and get my S.O. to go as Don Draper Or maybe I would go as one of Don't girlfriends (Rachel from a past season, I think?) LOL.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: Gigi007

                                                          I remember my mother getting a fondue pot for her birthday. It would have been in the 1968-70 period--certainly not later than that. And we lived in a small city in Virginia--it wouldn't surprise me if the fashion began earlier in the NY suburbs. And yes, I still have the fondue pot and have used it a few times.

                                                        2. Not too long ago Oprah did a "Mad Men' show. She and the audience members wore 60s dresses (I even think they wore the uncomfortable undergarments!). I watched a little of the show (you know, the part when Jon Hamm showed up).If you check Oprah's web site, I bet you can find the video. There's probably something about food for the period, "Mad Men" themed too.

                                                          EDIT: My curiosity got the better of me. Here's Oprah's 'Mad Men" Cocktail party guide:

                                                          Old-fashioned, classic martinis, deviled eggs, and just what I was thinking before - shrimp cocktail. Sounds like a good time to me. :)

                                                          9 Replies
                                                          1. re: Gigi007

                                                            You are right about shrimp cocktail--and oyster coktails, too. The latter was often served in a double old fashioned glass..it was usually just ketchup doused on them, maybe a little Lea & Perrin and onion powder. In New Orleans, of course, the oyster cocktails were much spicier that the stuff in New Yrk back then

                                                            1. re: hazelhurst

                                                              Yum. But don't serve those if Roger's coming!

                                                              1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                I have memories ( from the early '70s, I think) of my mother arranging the shrimp cocktail in fancy cocktail glasses or small glass bowls. I didn't like shrimp at the time, but liked cocktail sauce.

                                                                And since buttertart mentioned Roger's not liking oyster cocktails , what are some of the food and drink favorites or preferences of the other Mad Men characters? I think Don likes old fashioneds, right?

                                                                1. re: Gigi007

                                                                  there was an episode where don and roger ate many oysters and had a billion martinis. roger threw up all over the feet of important clients. oit was the booze, not the oysters, lol.

                                                                  yes, don drinks old fashioneds. this season roger has been drinking stoli and betty drinks lots of red wine, but is almost never shot eating.

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    What year are they in (as in 1960's)? I recall stolichnaya coming in around the mid-1960's, say 65 or 66, but few people touched it out of animus towards the Soviets..hell, I remember very few vodka drinkers then. Even Bloody Marys were made with gin

                                                                    1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                      The show focuses on things that occurred from 1961-1964. Don's Cadillac is a 1964 model.

                                                                      In the first season, Roger had a bit of verbal business regarding Stolichnaya, Smirnoff, and vodka in general. You're right about there being very few vodka drinkers -- until the advent of the "Moscow Mule" with the little copper cups. I think the Moscow Mule debuted in '66 or '67, but I'm not certain. The '70s brought us the memorable slogan "Smirnoff leaves you breathless..." -- which caused a mass migration from "smelly" drinks like Scotch, Whiskey and Gin to Vodka -- which appealed to lunchtime drinkers who had to return to the office.

                                                                      1. re: hazelhurst

                                                                        currently 1963, still before kennedy was assassinated. stoli was coming into the country only in drips and roger won't let anybody else touch his stash. there was an article someplace about the show's accuracy regarding spirits, and they have a consultant specifically just for that.

                                                                        1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                          Well, I am sure teir consultant has done his consulting but it suprises me to hear that stolitchnaya was available in 1961, even smuggled in diplomatic pouches. I found a referene to it being available in the USA in 1965 and that comports with my memory. I recall very well in the 1970's that there were people bringing in myriad "unknown" vodkas that were "better than Stoli--the Russians wont let this good stuff out"...it became an arriviste parolor game. Perhaps the same thing was being done in the early 1960's. But I think other than drinking on the sly, vodka just would not be around in Manhattan business of 1962, '62, '63. Rye was still everywhere (real Manhattans) but beginning its decline. the absolute king was the dry Beefeater martini. Someone referred to the whiskey sour and that is an excellent observation. The sour vanished later on--maybe as a reult of vodka's merciless onslaught against cocktails.

                                                                          I was distressed to see Brooks Brothers announce its Don Draper suit, created in consultation with the show's fashion people. They need help to return to doing what they always did best....

                                                                        2. re: hazelhurst

                                                                          In my part of Canada at the time vodka was an alcoholic's drink. As was wine (at least the locally produced truly appalling stuff which was just about the only wine known to my socioeconomic bracket). And drinking any booze with milk (as Roger drinks his vodka) equalled alcoholic with an ulcer.

                                                                2. Re-reading this post, I'm starting to regret getting rid of my Better Homes and Garden cookbook, circa 1969. That's obviously later than the Mad Men era but BH&G isn't exactly a revolutionary publisher so I'm guessing that many of the recipes dated from ten years earlier. The pen and ink drawings I remember from that book certainly looked like 1959: happy housewives in full skirted shirtwaist dresses greeting their suit-and-tie wearing husbands as they came home from work, Beaver Cleaver children beaming at plates of home made cookies, cocktail party guests being offered drinks by a hostess dolled up in a frilly apron and so on.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: mandycat

                                                                    Sure sounds period-appropriate, it was hardly an innovative time in home cooking. There's a 1963 Good Housekeeping Cookbook that's available on ABEBooks that is precisely from the year this season was set in - it's seen heavy use in my mother-in-law's kitchen and is available used on ABEBooks and so forth. The menus are eye-opening to say the least.

                                                                  2. Well, the dinner was simple...

                                                                    We started with Scotch Old Fashioneds. Knocked them back like June and Ward on warp speed.

                                                                    Appetizer- small slices of sourdough bread SLATHERED with butter and parmesan cheese, baked into warm crispy goodness.

                                                                    Dinner- Beef Stroganoff. Oh my goodness. Sour Cream. Beef. yes please. Served with red wine!

                                                                    Dessert- Strawberry Jello.

                                                                    1. canapes - see http://recipes.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Ca...
                                                                      Cheese tray
                                                                      cocktails (especially martinis with olives


                                                                      At dinner:
                                                                      Shrimp cocktail
                                                                      Caesar salad
                                                                      A roast, rack of lamb, or boeuf bourguignonne
                                                                      Scalloped potatoes
                                                                      Cherries jubilee

                                                                      How to set the table:


                                                                      Men dressed in dinner jackets
                                                                      women in the cocktail dresses

                                                                      Don't forget charades!

                                                                      1. Oh, its over, LOL!

                                                                        I'm not slow . . .

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                          I'm late to this party toon and what a good one. I don't know how I missed this thread. I enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoy "Mad Men."

                                                                              1. re: nomadchowwoman

                                                                                he never seemed to need help there and mostly is shown smoking and drinking. rarely eating, lol.

                                                                        2. What fun. Here's what my mother served before the prime rib (.79 per pound in the early 60s) when there was no tomato aspic appetizer. I still serve it today and it succeeds as a period piece quite well. Guests are open-mouthed as I make it right in front of them. 1/2 avocado per person. Spoon in a spoonful or two of Campbell's jellied consomme (make sure your fridge is cold enough to chill it properly). Then add a spoonful of black caviar, or red caviar, a lemon slice and serve on your grandmother's china. Or skip the caviar and top with a bit of sour cream. Make sure there are parker house rolls with the main course and matches and cigarettes within everyone's reach.