I’ve been on a tangent of studying “named foods.” You know: dishes like Steak Diane, Parker House Rolls, and the like. Of course, some were named after the restaurants where they were created. Others have murky origins or are even have faux origins:
Steak Diane: Named after Diana, the goddess of the hunt in Greek mythology. Basically a filet mignon with a sauce made from the pan juices and butter, shallots, brandy, and other ingredients. In earlier eras, this was usually served flambé at the table.
Beef Wellington: A filet steak cooked with a puff pastry covering, supposedly named after the Duke of Wellington. The first known recipe with this name appeared in 1966.
Waldorf Salad: Created in the 1890s at the Waldorf Hotel in New York (now the Waldorf-Astoria), it’s a cold salad made of fresh apples, walnuts, and celery with a mayonnaise dressing. Some cooks call any cold salad primarily made of apples, and including things like coconut, maraschino cherries, or other fruits, a “Waldorf Salad.”
Lobster Thermidor: A very delicious (and expensive) dish made from lobster meat, egg yolks, flour, brandy or sherry, and put back into a lobster shell, then often covered with cheese (usually Gruyere). The dish was created in 1894 by Marie’s, a restaurant in Paris, to honor a play named Thermidor opening at a nearby theatre.
Lobster Newburg: The ancestor of Lobster Thermidor, similarly made, and which debuted in 1876 at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York. What’s the difference? Newburg is not returned to the shell to be served. Some say the sauce is lighter, being made without flour and with white wine instead of other liquors.
Parker House Rolls: A soft, buttery roll usually in the shape of a half-moon, introduced of course at the Parker House Hotel in Boston. The hotel opened in 1855 and is also famous for inventing Boston Cream Pie. The earliest reference to the name of these rolls dates back to 1873. Photo at right: The Omni Parker House, on the site of the original Parker House Hotel.
Chicken Kiev is a faux Russian dish that appeared on a restaurant menu in Chicago in 1937. It might date back to the early 1900s, however. It’s a boneless chicken breast wrapped around butter and herbs and either baked or fried.
Chicken Cordon Bleu is not named after the famous cooking schools. This boneless chicken breast wrapped around cheese and thinly-sliced ham started in the mid-1950s, though it was Veal Cordon Bleu in those days. It originated in the U.S., not France.
Beef Stroganoff, lean beef strips sautéed and served in a cream sauce with onions and mushrooms, was supposedly named after a 19th century noble named Count Stroganoff. The legend says he was stationed in Siberia and found the only way he could use his frozen beef was to cut it in thin strips. One source says the recipe first appeared in the 1870s, another source says it was launched in the 1930s.
Now let’s talk about Hasselback Potatoes. Ever heard of those? Probably not. This is a clever but little-known treatment of potatoes that makes it both a soft and crispy side dish. Some recipes say to “scallop” the potato and others say to “shingle” the potato, but both of these terms are unclear in their exact nature. Basically, you take a potato and slice it thinly so that it stays together but is in a fanned shape. The ingredients are not complicated. The preparation is what makes it seem like a fancy dish. I like to use russet potatoes but Yukon Golds also work. Round potatoes might be fine once you get the cutting technique mastered.
This recipe seems to have started in the 1700s at the Hasselbacken, a restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden. It still appears on the menu there.
4 large, preferably oblong, potatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon parsley
Scrub potatoes thoroughly, with skin on. Place each on cutting board and cut off the bottom, about a half inch deep, to make a flat bottom surface. Then make slices in top of potato, about one-fourth to one-half inch thick, cutting only through three-quarters of the depth of potato to leave it joined at the bottom. Place, flat side down, in pot of boiling water (enough to cover potatoes) with one teaspoon coarse salt. Boil for 12-20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, mix garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, paprika, and Worcestershire sauce.
Lift potatoes with slotted spoon onto baking sheet, flat-side down. Brush each potato thoroughly on top and sides with liquid mixture. Place in oven and bake 40-45 minutes. (If using medium-sized potatoes, allow between 20-30 minutes.)
Remove from oven, sprinkle with parmesan and parsley, and serve.
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