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Mystery Ingredient Dish for Book Club

My book club theme this month is Mystery books and we are all charged with cooking a dish that has a mystery ingredient that everyone else has to guess. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good mystery ingredient and dish? Thank you!

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  1. An easy one is tomato soup cake - google it - there are a bunch of them.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jeanmarieok

      there's also recipes for chocolate cake with mayo

    2. Here's a recipe for brownies with cayenne, anise and cinnamon:

      1. Freeze coleslaw or shredded cabbage. When thawed, add to your favorite meatball or meatloaf mixture (about a cup to a mix that has a pound of ground meat). Freezing breaks the cell walls, jumpstarting the melding of the cabbage into the meat. If it is even visible at all in the finished dish, it looks like onion. It adds moisture, tenderness, and mellow sweetness to the meat. Nobody thinks it's cabbage.

        1. Make meatloaf cake. If you get the potatoes smooth enough, you can't tell it's not real cake.


          1. I like the tomato soup cake idea. But if you are in a pie-making mood, think about mock apple pie, made with ritz crackers. Also online. The crackers kind of smoosh down while baking into clumps that look like apple, and when seasoned with some butter and cinnamon taste like apple pie. Not the greatest apple pie, but apple pie.

            I made this and served it years ago. I served it as apple pie and noone questioned it in the least.

            1 Reply
            1. re: karykat

              Another delicious dessert made with Ritz crackers - it tastes a bit like a blonde brownie, different texture because of the nuts and egg whites. I bet no one would guess that crackers are the main ingredient. Both my mom and grandmother used to make this, it's great served slightly warm with whipped cream - and homemade whipped cream makes a huge difference. I'm not a snob about canned, but there's a lot of sugar here, and the plain chilled homemade really makes a nice contrast as well as a better texture. You want to crush the crackers very fine with a rolling pin.


            2. You have lots if ideas for desserts so far, the recipe I'd probably make is Seafood Lasagne, which is perfect for a group. The mystery ingredient is Pernod. When I've made it everyone loves it, and it stirs up quite a bit of conversation as people ask what is that flavor. I start with the recipe in Silver Palate, and use different seafood and veggies. It's delicious and beautiful.

              1. Lamb with Preserved Lemons - the lemons are the surprise that add the kick

                Chocolate Avocado Coconut Muffins? http://www.foodbuzz.com/recipes/20635...

                Lamb with Muhammara with Pomegranate Molasses? http://www.forkfulofnews.com/?p=3923

                i make Salmon Croquettes using almond meal to bind, and they are always extraordinarily light and fluffy, and people always want to know why and what the secret is... i don't know if it's my recipe or the almond meal or both... i served them last saturday with a creamy garlic dill sauce to great raves.

                1. Make your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, replacing the chips with chopped Nestle Crunch cereal. Then stir in about a cup of Rice Krispies to the finished dough. They add tremendous texture, but no one knows why.

                  1. Tofu chocolate mousse/pudding. Use Bittman's recipe, but cut back on the sugar a tad. No one will ever guess it's soy and not devilish dairy.

                    1. i have heard tell of fudge recipe that involves velveeta.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: eLizard

                        Paula Deen has made that in guest appearances on TV talk shows more than once. It must be in her cookbooks and/or website.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          a funny thought -- make a paula deen recipe without butter, then tell people it's her recipe and watch them never guess that the secret is that it's butter free... oh wait, i'm not sure one of those exists.

                      2. Lots of recipes call for anchovy paste that most people would--unsuspectingly--eat. ;-) (after all, anchovies are in Worcestershire sauce...)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Beckyleach

                          I make Green Goddess dressing as a crudite dip, and even the anchovy haters never suspect that there are anchovies in it. "What's that delicious flavor," they always ask. I think because it is so green no one suspects anchovies.

                        2. I had a wonderful salsa made of kiwi, avocado and pomegranate seeds that had us all dissecting to identify the ingredients.

                          1. Make a simple vinaigrette using oil, vinegar, a little dijon mustard, some finely chopped shallots, then add pomegranate molasses to it. Put it on a nice salad with fresh greens, maybe a little fruit (whatever's in season where you live), and some chopped roasted almonds.

                            The pomegranate molasses makes a big difference and I'm betting most people won't be able to identify it.

                            1. people love this spread, and never guess the secret ingredient (unless they've read this post of mine before, of course. ;-).


                              This recipe is from a friend married to a retired Colonel, and so has years of entertaining informing her repertoire. This spread is amazing, because it is so savory and mysterious. Nobody suspects smoked oysters, but everyone is quite addicted.

                              The recipe below can be halved. Try it -- even if you think you don't care for smoked anything!

                              Smoked Oyster Cream Cheese Roll

                              16 ounces cream cheese
                              2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
                              1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
                              1/2 small onion, grated
                              3 tablespoons mayonnaise
                              1/8 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
                              2 cans smoked oysters, well drained and finely chopped
                              1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

                              Cream together cream cheese, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion, mayonnaise. Blend in oysters. Taste for salt. Shape into a log on wax paper, tightly wrapped, and chill for an hour. Then roll in chopped parsley, rewrap in plastic and chill for a few hours (or can serve immediately.)

                              Festive Variation (but NOT so mysterious): Don't add oysters into the cheese blend. Instead, spread cheese mixture on wax paper until it is about 12 x 8 inches and less than 1/2 inch thick. Chill in refrigerator about one hour. Then sprinkle finely chopped smoked oysters over this, and roll up like a roulade. Coat with parsley, following directions above.
                              Serve with crackers.

                              1. Hey, OP! Anything strike your fancy yet? BTW, I'd think twice about using any mystery ingredient that's a common allergen, such as shellfish or nuts.

                                1. I made Mario Batali's Chocolate and Valpolicella Crema for exactly the same theme dinner - nobody could guess that there was red wine in the chocolate pudding. It is quite intense, and terrifically good.

                                  I found the recipe online here: http://www.labellecuisine.com/Archive...

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Splendid Spatula

                                    Thanks for all the ideas everyone! I love them all! Especially this red wine chocolate pudding!