Last year I interviewed Addie Gundry, who was the 2015 winner on Cutthroat Kitchen on the Food Network, about the two cookbooks she had just recently written. Well since then, Addie has been very busy. She is a finalist competing on Food Network Star, Season 13, had a baby, Cooper James Gundry, is currently the culinary director for a lifestyle publishing company and, as if that wasn’t enough, she’s written two more cookbooks including Addie’s Retro Recipes from the ’50s and ’60s: 103 Vintage Appetizers, Dinners, and Drinks Everyone Will Love (Griffin 2018; $19.99). She also keeps up with frequent postings on her blog, easyelegantentertaining.com. I guess she does have some help, her dog, Paisley, cleans up the food Cooper drops on the floor but still.
With all this snow and the need for comfort food this last week, I started flipping through Retro Recipes deciding what cold-weather dishes I wanted to make. There were some I remembered such as Chicken Ala King and Bananas Foster eating as a child. Others sounded intriguing but I’d never tried such as Elvis’s Favorite Sandwich. Now Addie is writing for a broad based audience here, so she explained in her introduction to the recipe that Elvis Presley was a cultural icon in the 1950s and ’60s, and his legacy even spilled over into the culinary world. I guess there probably are people who don’t know who Elvis was.
Now, today when it comes to food, we’re used to all sorts of combinations, but back when Elvis’s peanut butter, banana and bacon sandwiches first made the news, a lot of people were like “you’ve got to be kidding.” So, I made it. And you know what? It’s actually pretty good though certainly not low-calorie. No wonder Elvis couldn’t fit into all those sequined suits towards the end.
Elvis’s Favorite Sandwich
Yield: 4 sandwiches | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cook Time: 2-3 minutes per sandwich
8 thick-cut bacon slices, chopped
1½ cups creamy peanut butter
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 thick slices brioche bread
¼ cup packed dark brown sugar
4 bananas, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to cool. Pour the rendered bacon fat into a small bowl.
In a small bowl, stir together the bacon and the peanut butter.
In another small bowl, combine the butter and granulated sugar. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat. Spread the mixture on one side of each slice of bread.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon fat in the skillet used to fry the bacon. Add the bananas and brown sugar and cook until caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes.
Spread all 8 slices of bread with about 3 tablespoons of the peanut butter mixture.
Divide the bananas evenly on 4 of the peanut butter bread slices.
Press the remaining 4 bread slices on top.
Place ½ tablespoon butter in the skillet and let melt. Add the sandwich to the skillet and cook for 2 to 3 minutes until brown, then flip and brown the other side for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Set the sandwich on a wire rack to cool slightly.
Repeat with the remaining sandwiches. Cut in half and serve.
Yield: Serves 8 | Prep Time: 5 minutes | Cook Time: 4 hours
This vintage recipe debuted in the early 1970s when Kraft Foods introduced its instant pistachio pudding mix. Originally called Pistachio Pineapple Delight, a Chicago newspaper dubbed it “Watergate Salad”—and the name stuck.
1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple with juice, undrained
1 (3.4-ounce) package pistachio instant pudding mix
1 cup miniature marshmallows
½ cup chopped pecans
1 (8-ounce) container whipped topping, thawed, plus more for garnish, if desired
Chopped nuts, for garnish (optional)
In a large bowl, combine the crushed pineapple, pudding mix, marshmallows, and pecans.
Fold in the whipped topping.
Cover and chill for 4 hours or longer.
Top with additional whipped topping and chopped nuts, if desired. Serve.
Chicken à la King
Yield: Serves 4 | Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 20 minutes
This dish was an elegant dinner recipe often found at wedding receptions, banquets, and fancy dinners during the ’50s and ’60s. The most common origin story says that the chef at Brighton Beach Hotel in New York prepared it one evening for the owners, Mr. and Mrs. King, and it was so well received that it was quickly added to the hotel’s menu.
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped cremini mushrooms
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups whole milk
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups cubed cooked chicken
1/4 cup chopped pickled cherry peppers
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Baguette, for serving
In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the bell pepper and onion and cook, stirring, for about 4 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 2 to 3 minutes more.
Add the flour and stir well. While stirring, add the milk and broth. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring frequently, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the chicken, cherry peppers, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper and mix well. Cook, stirring, until the mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes.
Serve over baguette.
Yield: Serves 2 | Prep Time: 2 minutes | Cook Time: 5 minutes
Bananas Foster was first made in 1951 in New Orleans at a restaurant called Brennan’s. The city served as a major port for bananas coming in from South America, so chefs in that area got the freshest inventory to use when experimenting for their menus.
4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
2 whole bananas, sliced on an angle into thick slices
1/2 cup dark or light rum
Dash of ground cinnamon
In a heavy skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and stir together. Add the heavy cream and cook for 5 minutes, then stir in the bananas. The mixture should be bubbling.
Pour in the rum and stir to combine. Carefully tip the skillet slightly toward the open flame of the burner to ignite the alcohol in the pan (or use a very long kitchen match or grill lighter), then let the mixture flame for 30 seconds or so. (It should go out on its own.) You can shake the pan a bit to get it to calm down. Remove from the heat and stir in the cinnamon.
Pour the sauce over the vanilla ice cream and serve.
(Copyright 2018 by Addie Gundry in Retro Recipes from the ‘50s and ‘60s and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.)