When people think of retro, or use it in a sentence, it usually conveys some sort of nostalgia — fondness for the past and simpler times. When it comes to food, however, retro can yield alarming results; unlike a favorite pair Levis, vintage recipes often do not age very well.
Vintage Recipe Cards is a wonderful curated collection of retro recipes. Browsing the site for mere minutes will have you reeling. So many awful photographs! Ring molds, canned mushrooms, canned salmon, prawns that look like cartoon characters, and so, so, so much gelatin!
Unfortunately I do not have all the answers, but I do have delicious recipe alternatives — modern-day upgrades for these old-school dishes. So please, peruse these recipes and try to contain your shock! Some of these recipes are truly terrifying!
This delightful recipe begins with these instructions: “Drain liquid from salmon and add enough milk to make 2 1/4 cups. Flake salmon and mash round bones. Set aside.” Yum, so appetizing!
Instead of this mess of canned salmon and hard-boiled eggs covered in salmon sauce, why not use delicious smoked salmon and cook your favorite kind of eggs? Poached, boiled, scrambled — whatever you feel like eating!
Here is another spectacular salmon dish that will wow guests at your next dinner party! A perfect use for that canned salmon and those scallop shells you may have gathering dust in the back of the cupboards. Or maybe not! Instead, try making delicious salmon cakes — full of flavor and with a crunchy crust made using panko breadcrumbs. Much better!
These chicken stack-ups are a make-ahead meal featuring pancakes and creamed chicken. The recipe uses ingredients like sour cream mix, biscuit mix, jellied cranberry sauce, and American cheese. Instead, make chicken and waffles for a brilliant breakfast or brunch.
Chicken liver pate can be a really delicious start to any meal, but this recipe’s overly enthusiastic use of aspic along with the carrot “flowers” seems a bit unnecessary and outdated. Try a more modern pate, with simpler presentation and solid flavor. You don’t even need to stick with chicken livers — a vegetarian pâté can be an equally great start to a diner party.
Here we have a recipe for a sandwich that is simple in its ingredients and heavy on garish garnish. Though this recipe is far from the worst on the list, the wacky designs and the use of ingredients solely based on their visual appeal make this recipe stand out. If you want to make some corned beef appetizers, try something a bit more modern like corned beef puffs.
Mmmmm, doesn’t this dish look appetizing! Scampi are carefully fried and then covered in a cream sauce, seasoned with lemon juice, and garnished with parsley or chives, not both! Instead, try cooking a version of scampi that’s loaded with flavors from garlic, red pepper flakes, and Cajun seasoning — served over some delicate angel hair pasta. Much better!
Are these not the saddest deviled eggs you’ve ever seen? They are obviously quite a departure from the tasty, stuffed renditions of deviled eggs that we are used to these days. If you’re looking for a good deviled egg recipe, stick to something more modern.
With ingredients like canned mushrooms, dehydrated onion flakes, and evaporated skim milk, this recipe doesn’t exactly inspire! Instead of this odd casserole, make something delicious like sweet and spicy salmon.
Bring on the gelatin! Bring on the ring molds! With layers of fruit, gelatin, and cottage cheese, with a gorgeous garnish of lettuce leaves — who could resist such a delectable dish? Instead of this retro ring mold fiasco, make a salad of fruit, on a bed of fresh leaves, with crumbled feta and balsamic vinegar.
Another glorious ring mold creation, here we have a variation of a meat loaf. The actual recipe doesn’t sound too horrifying, but the styling is wonderfully old-fashioned. After being molded and cooked, the center is filled with creamed peas and potatoes — charming, but maybe not something you would want to make for your next dinner party. Instead of this old-fashioned recipe, try a meatloaf fit for champions!
There’s a lot going on in these sandwiches, and it seems unlikely that gondoliers ever ate anything resembling them. Tuna salad, macaroni salad, and “cheese mixture” — stuffed into rolls? How random does that sound?? Better stick to something that is safe and delicious, like an Italian deli-stuffed loaf.
This name of this recipe really says it all. I think it is safe to say that there are many better ways to prepare lovely lamb chops that don’t involve covering them in aspic.
Here we have another bizarre ‘salad’ recipe that involves a lot of gelatin and cottage cheese — how wonderful, how appetizing… Instead of this tomato soup-turned-Jell-o on top of cheese, why not try a traditional; and (most importantly) delicious Caprese salad, using ripe tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese?
The best thing about this recipe is the decorative toad in the corner of the photograph. The murky, dishwater-like substance is apparently a lime dressing that contains… gelatin! Because of course it does! Make a delicious shrimp cocktail filled with Mexican flavors instead for a much more enjoyable start to a meal.
This bizarre recipe has the home cook poach whole chickens and then make a sauce using the poaching liquid, milk, eggs, and butter. This sauce is poured over the chicken, before being garnished, alarmingly, with bananas. Instead, make a tasty yogurt chicken and caramelized onion pasta.
This is a very sad pizza. Instead of smothering a piece of enriched white bread (untoasted) with sauce and provolone cheese — just make a real pizza. These days, with high-quality, ready-to-roll dough (if you don’t feel like making your own) and pizza stones, it’s easier than ever to make delicious pizzas at home. For something even more simple, try a stovetop pizza.
Here, on Fish Card 16, we have more comical shrimp and unappetizing rolls of fish that have been covered in a very thick-looking “thin sauce.” Instead, look to Sicily for a recipe that uses plenty of lemon and fresh herbs to ensure a delicious dinner.
Here we go, with more ring molds and canned mushrooms! This recipe features boiled veal, a “hot rice ring,” and a “paprika garnish.” If you prefer a delicious braised veal shank dish, you can’t go wrong with an Italian classic like osso buco — you can even serve it over rice if you’re feeling nontraditional.
Shrimp, bananas, and sauce over rice does not a jambalaya make. Instead of this horrifying recipe, stick to a traditional and far more delicious rendition.
Everything is wrong with this recipe, which is far from perfection. Featuring lemon-flavored gelatin as well as unflavored gelatin (can’t have enough of the stuff, apparently) and meant to be served with mayonnaise or salad dressing, this salad is appalling! Instead, try any other salad for a major improvement.