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A few weeks ago, I was inspired by my Retro Cooking series and the ridiculous amount of vintage cookbooks I have accumulated and decided to throw a Retro Dinner Party. The idea was a bit wacky, just how I like them: the food would be inspired by 1950’s recipes and everyone was invited to dress up in a retro fashion.
I spent weeks browsing through cookbooks and vintage ads to choose the right dishes to make. I wanted to include a few odd-looking dishes, some classics, as well as a few family favorites. It took me quite a while to decide the final menu, and I continued to change it, up until the day of the party.
- Deviled Eggs
- Olives with pimiento & cornichons
- Celery with Cheez Whiz
- Philly Hostess Dip with Fritos (source: Philadelphia cream cheese ad, pictured above)
- Pigs in a Blanket (source: Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys & Girls)
- 24-Hour Salad (source: Better Homes & Gardens All-Time Favorite Salad Recipes)
- Potato Salad Loaf (source: Ripe Olive Potato Salad recipe and a Hellman’s ad, both pictured above)
- Spam Sliders: Pan fried Spam with a slice of pineapple, BBQ sauce, served in an Hawaiian roll (no official source but inspired by many vintage ads for Spam)
- Beef Ball Stroganoff (source: Women’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 3)
- Chicken à la King (source: Better Homes & Gardens Best Buffets)
- Seafood Mold (source: New York Times Large Type Cook-Book)
- Upside-Down Pineapple Cake (source: Dole advertisment, pictured above)
- Raspberry Petal Cake (source:Women’s Day Encyclopedia of Cookery, Volume 3)
- Carrés aux dattes, inspired by my paternal grandma (source: La Cuisine Raisonnée)
- Bagatelle, inspired by my maternal grandma (source: La Cuisine Raisonnée)
- Trader’s Punch (source: Better Homes & Gardens Best Buffets)
For the decoration, I printed classic movie posters from the 1950’s. I bought cheap vinyls at Goodwill, and also used vintage toys and cookbooks. We also played 1950’s songs to get in the mood.
For the serving dishes, I mostly used items from Dollar Tree (plastic and metal serving trays of various sizes) and vintage looking dishes I own. For the dinnerware, I went to Target and went for a gold theme.
The spread turned out to be fairly impressive in size, and I was pretty proud to have pulled it off. It was definitely the largest amount of food I have ever prepared for a party, especially considering that all recipes were new to me.
PARTY LIKE IT’S 1950!
Of course, the best part of all was sharing this experience with our friends! Everyone got in the game, dressed up and was willing to taste the food, even the weirdest dishes offered. We laughed, we chatted, we ate, we had a good time…and in the end, that’s all that really matters, right?