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Nov 2, 2013 08:45 AM

Classic old dishes I remember

This is inspired by
a) The "carpetbag" and "remember these restaurants" threads
b) The LA magazine food issue out now
c) Julia Child's quote on nouvelle cuisine but could also apply to fusion dishes "It is so beautifully arranged on a plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it ".

I love the diversity of LA cuisine but sometimes I have a craving for the old classics. Here are just a few I remember - what are yours ?

Tableside dining apart from Caesar Salad and Guacamole such as Bananas Foster, Cherries Jubilee, Crepes Suzette, Steak Diane and Au Poive
Dover Sole fileted tableside
Veal Oscar
Anything in papiotte or savory in puff pasty shells
Sole Veronique and Almondine
Duck Montmorency
Strawberries Romanoff
Coquille St Jacques
and last but not least for breakfast - simple half grapefuit broiled for a second with brown sugar, REAL homeade corned beef hash extra crispy and quiches.

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  1. Many of those tableside preparations are still available at the venerable Dal Rae in Pico Rivera.

      1. re: ozhead

        a la Tour d'Argent, with the big silver duck press done tableside? Now you're talking!

        1. re: Caroline1

          Exactly! They used to do that on the Queen Mary!

        2. re: ozhead

          There were a couple of great Chinese restaurants that served a fantastic pressed duck in plum sauce.

        3. I love old-style recipes. There's a current thread elsewhere on Chow which mentions Boston Baked Beans -- those are pretty much alive, still.

          But I agree that table-side presentations have disappeared, and so have many dishes I enjoyed in the '70s and '80s:

          Coquille St. Jacques
          Veal Oskar
          ... and to add to the list:

          Crab Louis
          Beef Stroganoff
          Chicken A La King
          Eggs a la Russe
          Oeufs en Gelee (Eggs in Aspic)
          and speaking of aspic, when was the last time you had Tomato Aspic?
          "Wilted" Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon/Sugar Dressing

          Does anyone remember the "canapes" made by spreading slices of Olive Loaf (a cold cut like bologna with green pimiento-stuffed olives shot through) with cream cheese and making pinwheels by slicing and skewering with a toothpick?

          Around the same time people were serving "sweet and sour meatballs" with a sauce consisting of nothing but warm ketchup with jelled cranberry sauce melted into it -- ick!

          31 Replies
          1. re: shaogo

            That spinach salad was revelation! First time I can remember spinach served "raw." BTW, Crab Louis is still served. The Grill has the best. SM Seafood has a decent version, which is acceptable if the line next door at Huckleberry is long.

            1. re: shaogo

              Lots of Crab Louie salads around; I've never ordered, so I can't comment on the authenticity.

              Beef Stroganoff is another that I see reasonably frequently (I know it's on the menu at Smitty's in Pasadena, for example). Chicken a la King - definitely an old time dish, but they serve it at Musso & Frank.

              What is coquille st. jacque? In French, it is simply the word for scallops (however prepared or served).

              I personally serve a version of those meatballs - chili sauce & currant jelly, though, rather than ketchup and cranberry sauce (which, to this day, remain a huge hit at cocktail parties - people have actually asked me how to make them!)

              Finally, best wilted spinach salad w/warm bacon dressing I ever had was, I kid you not, at Marie Callender's (early 80s).

              1. re: Jack Flash

                The last time I had Chicken à la King, ironically enough, was at the lunch break for an all-day Adobe Photoshop seminar at a hotel in Nashville, about 25 years ago. Here were all these young tech-savvy people learning the latest in digital image manipulation, and our lunch was convention food from our parents' era!

                The upside was that it was pretty damn good, if you didn't mind pimentos.

                Chili sauce and grape jelly is the standard presentation for cocktail weenies at parties in Nashville. Well, it was back in the '80s, so I'm pretty sure it still is. Those folks don't change real fast.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  "The upside was that it was pretty damn good, if you didn't mind pimentos."

                  I've been told time and again by old timers / old school diner cooks that the pimentos are there purely for color. I still hate them in there though.

                  1. re: Gastronomos

                    Just curious...what is it you don't like about pimentos??

                    1. re: The Professor

                      What about vinegar in a cream sauce makes sense??

                        1. re: The Professor

                          clearly not. they are still adding those pickled jarred red pimentos to Chicken à la King in the few places that still make it. I also won't make a stink about the fact that Chicken à la King has mushrooms. have you seen any? or just the pickled red jarred pimentos?

                2. re: Jack Flash

                  Coquille St Jacques is a classic French dish of scallops served in a white wine cream sauce, topped. Wi breadcrumbs or cheese and broiled briefly. It is commonly served in a scallop shell. And the word coquille is French for shell, not scallop.

                  1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                    Coquille may be shell, but Coquille St. Jacques is Scallop.

                    Thanks for the description of the dish. Sounds like a preparation from the old days.

                    1. re: Jack Flash

                      Not "may", it IS shell. And St Jacques refers to the preparation of the scallops. Not the scallops themselves. The French do not refer to scallops as St Jacques. Yes, I'm being technical. I'm a foodie who was a French major.

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        I've got my 10 years of French plus living there for a while, too. I know what I was taught by my (from France) French teachers, thank you very much.

                    2. re: Dirtywextraolives

                      Conevenience and elegance married in some "haute cuisine" dishes in the French restaurants of America during the last century. What would b e called "scalloped scallops" in American English was "Coquille Saint Jacques au Gratin" in French, and was customarily served in the scallop's own shell. The world has changed. Scallops -- what we now call "diver scallops" in the U.S. -- once had HUGE shells, so when the scallop mussel was prepared and the sauce gratin was added, there was often messy overflow in the oven.
                      See picture #1. Additionally, they had to be steadied by placing them on a bed of rock salt so they didn't tip and spill all over the oven.

                      Then some brilliant soul realized that if you pipe rosettes of mashed potatoes around the rim of the scallop shell, then paint it with an egg yolk glaze and baked them that way, the potato rosettes acted as sort of a dam, covered/prevented any char around the edges, and viola! Even a "coquille Saint Jacques" recipe a home cook could handle. see picture #2

                      But it was widely adopted in French restaurants in the U.S. from around the 1950s forward, with the end result that many Americans think THAT dish *IS* "Coquille Saint Jacques"! Of course it's not, but as long as I get what I think I'm going to get when I order something, I don't much mind what they call it... '-)

                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                        In Europe, served w/ the pinky shaped roe.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          I'd like a double order of that, please!

                      2. re: Jack Flash

                        Crab Louis is a dish I look forward to every fall: fresh local Dungeness crab (the best crab there is, and I will tolerate no arguments on this), home-made dressing, cold, crisp Romaine lettuce, served with a loaf of sourdough and a nice California white. - I can't wait.

                      3. re: shaogo

                        shaogo, at least the ketchup and jelled cranberry sauce was a "compound sauce." What about that pure Welch's grape jam melted and poured over meatballs? That's a toe curler on the gourmet circuit! '-)

                        1. re: shaogo

                          had a hankering for chicken a la king just today when i was looking at puff pastry shells.

                          1. re: alkapal

                            Vol au vent, Baby, vol au vent!

                            Go for it, and never mind that your age is showing. It's a GOOD thing! '-)

                              1. re: alkapal

                                Your poor mom. I hope you weren't a messy eater!

                            1. re: alkapal

                              You should have come over last Wed. night then. LOL
                              I used fresh lobster mushrooms instead of 'buttons'.

                              1. re: Puffin3

                                OT, but reading marcella hazan's "more classic italian cooking" (awesome introduction by the way), she says "magic" happens when you combine and sauté together rehydrated dried boletus mushrooms and fresh mushrooms.

                                i don't think i've ever had a lobster mushroom, but i love every mushroom i've had (as long as it is cooked. i'm not crazy about raw mushies).

                                i love the vols au vent for creamy dishes of all sorts.

                            2. re: shaogo

                              The spinach salad is still going strong in this region.

                              1. re: shaogo

                                My Mom detests cooking but she makes a mean tomato aspic!

                                1. re: shaogo

                                  I would gladly eat a whole tray of those, but no, I have never heard of them.

                                  1. re: shaogo

                                    Shaogo sez:
                                    Does anyone remember the "canapes" made by spreading slices of Olive Loaf (a cold cut like bologna with green pimiento-stuffed olives shot through) with cream cheese and making pinwheels by slicing and skewering with a toothpick?

                                    You're kidding, right? The only difference between "Then & Now" is that you no longer have to make them yourself. You can pick them up already assembled and ready to go in the freezer section of any Sam's Club in the country, as far as I know. Not that buying them ready made makes them taste any better. '-)

                                    1. re: shaogo

                                      I used to make those pinwheels with cream cheese and smoked salmon. They were always a hit!!!

                                      1. re: wincountrygirl

                                        I tried making them myself once. They didn't perform well for guests because they "fell apart at the seams," so to speak. So I reverted to the... I can't remember if it had a name but you sliced the crusts off a long brioche loaf, then cut it into horizontal slices -- 4 to 6, depending on the loaf -- then starting with the bottom slice put about a quarter inch layer of different strongly flavored and brightly colored cream cheese mixtures. The final step for presentation was to encase the whole thing in whipped cream cheese, then decorate that as elaborately or simply as you liked. Each guest then sliced themselves a piece and ate it from a cocktail plate with a fork.

                                        Hey, look, Ma! No silly piinwheels breaking apart in guest's hands and getting walked into the carpet!

                                        The worst part of big parties was always the morning after, and I am NOT talking about a hangover.

                                      2. re: shaogo

                                        Had tomato aspic last week. It's on the menu at the Woman's Industrial Kitchen (Women's Industrial Exchange) in Baltimore. Deviled Eggs, Tomato Aspic and Pickles.

                                      3. Chipped Beef on Toast, Welsh Rarebit and Scotch eggs.

                                        10 Replies
                                        1. re: wienermobile

                                          I love the first two; have wanted, but never been able to find, the third.

                                          1. re: jmckee

                                            The Shamrock restaurant in Thurmont, MD serves scotch eggs currently.

                                            1. re: melpy

                                              LOVE Scotch Eggs! They're so easy to make at home, I do up a few at least once a month. A Scotch Egg, a wedge of cheese, a crusty roll, and some Branson pickle is the perfect lunch. A glass of Wells' Bombadier ale to wash it all down makes it even more perfect. And a glass of Traquair House ale elevates it to a gourmet meal. :-)

                                              1. re: The Professor

                                                I so agree. Sadly, the Traquair Ale is out of the picture for me as it contains gluten (have celiac) but man, I love to bake Scotch eggs.

                                          2. re: wienermobile

                                            There are a couple of English style pubs near me that have Scotch Eggs and even Bubble and Squeak on their menus!

                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                              I can't remember where you live- is it in New Mexico? That sounds pretty risque, even for there.

                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                LOL! I live in a Dallas 'burb. But there a lot of large scale and regional scale "bistros" across the country that are aiming for that Brit or Irish pub ambience to bring in the crowds, and such places often feature several dishes to underscore their theme, though rarely a whole menu of it. Beside Scotch Eggs, you often find one or two of these:
                                                Irish Stew
                                                Bangers and Mash
                                                Bubble and Squeek
                                                Spotted Dick (dessert menu)
                                                Fish and Chips (in a "newspaper" cone)
                                                Corned Beef & Cabbage
                                                Shepherd's Pie, aka Cottage Pie if they don't use lamb
                                                Cock A Leekie soup (Scots)

                                                But the menus in such places are also likely to feature hummus and gyros right along with the Bubble & squeak.

                                                As I've said before, the whole wide world seems to be on a fusion quest that will eventually end up with no distinct flavors to anything, it will all be FUSED...!!!! <sigh>

                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                  Ahhh....Caroline, the pub by me has both Spotted Dick and Banofee Pie. God Save the Queen.

                                                  1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

                                                    Yeah, the Queen and and a few princes too! '-)

                                            2. re: wienermobile

                                              I have made Welsh Rarebit twice this week. I just love it. Tomorrow is Scotch eggs!

                                            3. I would have to say any restaurant dish garnished with fluted mushrooms! How long since you've seen a fluted mushroom? <sigh>

                                              And I also liked "steak houses" where the refrigerated, dry aged for at least a month, USDA Prime grade prime cut was brought to your table-side and your steak was cut to your specification on the spot. Do ANY restaurants do that any more?

                                              6 Replies
                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                I'm 40 and had to Google "fluted mushroom". Nope, never seen one!

                                                1. re: cant talk...eating

                                                  LOL! That just underscores that being 80 DOES have some very nice advantages! I still have my fluting knife (Julia Child used hers to dice some things on her early TV shows) and just to check out whether I still remember how to flute a mushroom, I just went in the kitchen and I happily report, "I remember!" Doesn't make the mushrooms taste any better, but it can sure add a touch of glamour to a dish! '-)

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    Didn't Juliea put the white mushrooms in a water/vinegar cold bath for a minute to keep them from going brown?

                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                      The best remedy to keep them from oxidizing (turning brown) is to cook them immediately after cutting, but I'm not convinced it's a meaningful precaution since they change color somewhat while cooking anyway. I'd be more concerned about the mushrooms absorbing enough vinegar flavor to make the finished dish taste as if I'd used pickled mushrooms! '-)

                                                    2. re: Caroline1

                                                      Caroline, you remind me of my MIL, only she was a Midwestern Home Ec graduate with too much Betty Crocker in her. If she had your culinary expertise, she would be superhuman. You already are.

                                                      1. re: EWSflash

                                                        Boy oh boy oh boy, do I ever have you fooled! '-)

                                                        Thank you.