When I first saw the kitchen in the 1940s bungalow I was soon to move into, I honestly got a little queasy. There were buckling vinyl floors in cafeteria-beige, faded gold-specked Formica countertops with jagged silver edging, and clunky cabinets with huge chips revealing layer upon layer of sea foam, peach, and pink paint beneath. It was a great disappointment in an otherwise charming home.
As a food writer and recipe developer, I had no time to bemoan the lemons I was dealt. I had lemonade to make. So, I overlooked the rusty, rickety ventilation fan, the almost complete lack of storage and counter space, and the years of grime, and put that regrettable kitchen to work. In my first five years in that room, I wrote two cookbooks (The Farm to Table Cookbook and The Adaptable Feast), a weekly food column, and countless recipes for national magazines. I made do, but every day as I did dishes and gazed out the off-center window, I wondered how on earth a housewife could have managed to make three meals a day, every day, in that awkward 120-square-foot space.
To see how Ivy remodeled her kitchen, and savor more of the recipes she cooked that were inspired from a 1940s menu from Portland’s Hotel Mallory, purchase your copy of the May/June 2011 issue of Northwest Palate magazine.
In the meantime, here’s one of Ivy’s recipes:
The L’Abbé menu offered a “Crab Cocktail ‘Supreme’” for 75 cents, but there is no explanation of what “supreme” meant. My guess is it was served with green goddess dressing. There’s lots of theories on where the herby dressing came from. The most popular theory is that it was the invention of a chef at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in the late 1920s in honor of a The Green Goddess, a popular play being put on around the corner. Green goddess dressing continued to be popular with the ladies-who-lunch set well into the 1940s.
Dungeness Crab Cocktail with Green Goddess Dressing
Serves 4 as an appetizer
• 1/2 cup mayonnaise
• 1/2 cup crème fraîche
• 2 green onions, green part only, finely chopped
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh tarragon
• 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
• 1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
• 1 pinch cayenne pepper
• 3 cups shredded romaine lettuce
• 1 pound Dungeness crab meat, picked over
• 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges
An hour before serving, combine the mayonnaise, crème fraîche, tarragon, chives, vinegar, and cayenne in a blender.
Blend until smooth, season with salt and pepper to taste, and
refrigerate for 1 hour.
Divide the lettuce among coupe glasses or chilled salad
plates. Divide the crab among the glasses or plates. Spoon 2 to
3 tablespoons of the dressing over each salad and serve with
a wedge of lemon.
- Photo credits: David Lanthan Reamer