Are any of you old enough to remember Chicken a la King, Tuna Noodle Casserole, Tunnel of Fudge Cake or Beef Wellington? All popular recipes from the past. I thought I would have a little fun this week and cook up some of these old timers.

Holiday Cheese Balls

The cheese ball is an American party food classic that takes you back to the 1960’s.  A cheese ball is the kind of thing you can easily adapt by using your favorite cheeses, herbs and seasonings. Here is the classic recipe.

Ingredients

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 finely chopped green onion
1 teaspoon (Tabasco) hot sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 roasted and chopped pecans
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
A few dashes paprika

Directions

With a hand beater, combine the cream cheese with the next 5 ingredients ( lemon juice) in a mixing bowl until thoroughly combined.

Refrigerate the mixture overnight. The next day, stir together nuts, parsley and paprika in a large bowl.

Shape the cheese mixture into two balls and roll each in the nut blend to coat completely.

Serve at room temperature with crackers.

Old Fashioned Creamy Tomato Soup

Yes, before the canned version. Don’t forget to have it with a grilled cheese sandwich.

Ingredients

1/4 cup salted butter
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
Two 26-28 oz. containers finely chopped tomatoes (undrained)
2 cups vegetable stock
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions

In a large saucepan, heat the butter and cook the onion, celery and carrot in the butter for 2-3 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients except the cream.

Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Remove the pot from the heat and puree the mixture with a hand immersion blender.

Add cream and black pepper. Return the pot to very low heat and warm gently. Do not let the soup boil.

Chicken Divan

A chicken casserole dish with broccoli and cheese sauce from the 1950’s that was usually reserved for company dinners. Chicken Divan was the signature dish of  aNew York restaurant, the Divan Parisienne. In English, the word “divan” came to mean sofa, from the council chamber’s benches. The owners of the New York restaurant thought it a fitting name for this dish.

Serves 6

Ingredients

2 large boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 1 lb.)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head broccoli, stems removed and florets cut in half
5 tablespoons butter, divided
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup half & half
3 tablespoon sherry
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Gruyère cheese
Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until golden brown and just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; let cool slightly.

Cut the chicken into four equal sizes and set aside.

Place the broccoli into a large pot, cover with salted water, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until barely tender, 2–3 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Rub the inside of a deep 2-quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the butter; set aside.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Gradually pour in stock and half & half while whisking constantly. Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes.

Add salt and pepper, sherry, nutmeg, and 1⁄4 cup of the cheese; stir until cheese melts, about 1 minute. Remove cheese sauce from the heat and let cool slightly.

Arrange the broccoli in the prepared dish in a single layer and sprinkle with the remaining 1⁄4 cup cheese. Arrange chicken evenly over the top.

Pour the white sauce over the chicken. Bake until golden brown and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

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