Have a Merry Modern Holiday

By David Alan and Todd Duplechan

In every modern American family there are some holiday traditions that are not so modern. In my family it was green bean casserole made with that mid-century miracle, Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup (condensed, of course), and topped with French’s French Fried Onions. Then there was the congealed gelatin salad, which we snarkily referred to as “concealed salad” for all of the canned-fruit treasures hidden within.

For all of the criticism heaped upon the home-ec. gastronomy of yore, there is something endearing and nostalgic about those standards that makes us revisit them around the holidays. Accordingly, Chef Todd Duplechan of TRIO and I combed through our archives of cookbooks and entertaining guides from the glorious postwar years, when crème de menthe was hot and every other food item was formed into a ball, ring or loaf. We added some playful twists to our favorites—from a modified Grasshopper to Chef Todd’s vintage double header, Swedish meatball-stuffed mushrooms. Whether your collectible cookbooks came from Grandma or a garage sale, you’re sure to find a wealth of inspiration for this year’s holiday feasts.