Part of my desire to start a blog was to be able to take part in events like the Weekend Cookbook Challenge. When I saw this this month's, hosted by Carla at Chocolate Moosey, I knew the exact cookbook I wanted to choose: The Nancy Drew Cookbook, Clues to Good Cooking, originally published in 1973. Growing up, I loved Nancy Drew and so wanted to be a girl detective just like Nancy. This was until I realized that Nancy was constantly investigating scary places, being tied up by bad guys and just generally getting herself in bad situations. At heart I am basically a big chicken and wouldn't want to be in those situations at all, thus I decided I needed a new career goal but never lost my admiration for smart and spunky Nancy! My older sister had most of the Nancy Drew books in our house and I coveted and borrowed most of them. She also had the Nancy Drew Cookbook which I also coveted for years until seeing a copy in a used book store a few years ago, I bought my own. The cookbook has recipes named after characters and places from the Nancy Drew books and notes and tips "from Nancy" at the bottom of each recipe which are fun to read. I had never cooked from it before but quickly settled on two recipes: Ivory Charm Shrimp Curry and Fire Dragon Spiced Fruit. I could see Nancy inviting her friends Bess and George over for a "girls night" of exotic, sophisticated (for the times) food and conversation and serving these two dishes with a simple green salad.
Ivory Charm Shrimp Curry
2 cups cooked rice
1 10-ounce package of frozen cooked shrimp
1 can frozen condensed cream of shrimp soup*
1 cup sour cream
1 large onion
1 tbs butter or margarine
1/2 tsp curry powder
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Thaw shrimp as directed on the package. Spread cooked rice in the bottom of a baking dish. Chop onion into small pieces, melt butter in skillet and cook onion over low heat until tender but not brown. Stir in the soup until smooth. Add sour cream and curry powder until ingredients are blended and add shrimp. Pour this mixture over the rice, sprinkle with paprika and parsley flakes. Bake for 20 minutes. Serves 4.
Nancy's notes: "Foreign Flavor: For Far Eastern intrigue, serve small bowls of crushed salted peanuts, chopped hard-boiled eggs and chutney for guest to sprinkle over the shrimp dish."
*I am not sure I have ever seen frozen condensed cream of shrimp soup in Hawaii or any where, so I asked myself "WWNDD?" (what would Nancy Drew do?). I think that if Nancy discovered that Hannah Gruen, her beloved housekeeper, had not restocked the freezer with the condensed soup, and being the resourceful girl she was, she would have headed over to her cupboard and used a can of Campbell's Cream of Celery Soup as a suitable replacement.
Fire Dragon Spiced Fruit
2 cups peach halves
2 cups pear halves
1 small jar maraschino cherries
2 1/2 cups pineapple chunks
1/3 cup butter or margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Drain all fruit and dry on paper towels. Arrange fruit in a 2 quart casserole, mixing the pieces. Melt butter in a skillet over low heat. Add brown sugar and curry powder and stir until smooth. Pour over the fruit and bake uncovered for 1 hour. Serve with meat or salad.
"Nancy's Helpful Tip: This fruit dish becomes even tastier if it is left covered in the refrigerator overnight. Before serving, reheat it for 20 minutes at 350 degrees."
The Results: Not too bad! Very kitschy and 70's I think but kind of fun. The friend I bribed with cupcakes from my favorite place to come and try it said, "Pretty Good! It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be!" This is not the normal reaction I like to hear when I cook but in this situation, I'll take it! We both wanted more curry flavor--it was a small amount and a little subtle but I wanted to keep as true to the recipes as possible. Having the chopped egg, chutney and chopped cashews (I was out of peanuts) helped add some "Far Eastern Intrigue" as promised by Nancy, The dishes were pretty rich and filling and if I were Nancy, I would feel more like taking a nap after eating them than solving a mystery, (OK that might have been the cupcakes talking!). I liked the curry in the brown sugar on the fruit and since I like to serve ice cream with grilled fresh pineapple as dessert, I might try playing around with the brown sugar, butter, curry as a dessert topping. Overall a fun experience for my very first blog event!