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Oct 26, 2009 12:02 AM

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:
              and here:

              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:

                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. The original comment has been removed
                      1. 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.