70s Week: Terrific Women Make Pineapple-Ham Spread

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We still can’t believe it’s been 40 years since we first met! It doesn’t feel so long ago when we were packing Jen’s Oldsmobile—she liked her cars like she liked her dogs: white with red interior—filling the entire back seat with grocery bags crammed full of canned pineapple and curly parsley before heading over to the studio. That’s actually how we rediscovered the photos that go along with this sweet and salty spread.

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We were thinking back on that time when Linda was absolutely obsessed with Dolly Parton’s Jolene album, specifically the title track. She would get so passionate every time CHUM played it on the radio, reaching over from the back seat, in amongst the groceries, to blare it over the car speakers—I think it would stir up some rather raw memories of her first husband. It became a real distraction as Jen tried to manoeuvre the car down Yonge street one day, and caused her to crash into a stop sign narrowly missing our tiny, perfect mayor, David Crombie. To make a short story long, it was this Dolly Parton album that the photos for this episode were found in.

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The Terrific Women loved using ground ham in their recipes. It was one of those secret ingredients Joy liked to pull out of her back pocket to add a little heft and richness to her cooking. If she wasn’t satisfied that a casserole or salad was meaty enough she would sprinkle on a little ground ham, marvelling at the chewy pink rubble bits as they passed through her fingers. Most of the time we could find ground ham packed in a plastic tube at the butcher counter but occasionally would have to resort to picking up a few ham steaks and grinding them ourselves in the Cuisinart. It was horribly inconvenient but the steaks often came with a lovely lemon raisin sauce packet, which could be used for other things, like an ice cream topping or mixed in with a little mayonnaise for a quick and exotic condiment for hotdogs.

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Make your best “mayonnaise face”, ladies!

Linda and Joy always served party sandwiches when they entertained because it gave Joy a chance to show off her cookie cutter collection. She had shapes for every occasion; angels for Christmas, babies for New Years, cherubs for Valentine’s Day, etcetera. Actually, most of her shapes were of babies but she used a piggy cookie cutter exclusively for these sandwiches.

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There are two important steps to making this recipe successfully. First make sure the canned pineapple is thoroughly drained as any excess moisture will make the spread runny. I find the best way to do this is to use a clean sports sock so the tiny bits of pineapple can’t escape as you squeeze the juice out. Save the juice for a later use, perhaps to mix with some vodka for a Jackhammer before your guests arrive. The second important step is to make sure you use a lot of butter before sandwiching in the spread. The butter will act as a moisture-proof barrier, meaning the sandwiches will never go soggy, so they can sit out all night as the party goes on.

Pineapple-Ham Spread

1 cup fully-cooked ham, ground
8 1/2 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
12 slices white bread

Mix ham, pineapple, mayonnaise, brown sugar, and mustard in a bowl. Spread 12 slices of bread generously with butter on one side. Spread 6 slices of the buttered bread with pineapple-ham spread and top with a piece of buttered bread, giving you six sandwiches. Use a cookie cutter to cut out fun shapes like a pig or pineapple.

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70s Week: Terrific Women Make Minced Clam Cheese Dip

We’d completely forgotten about this recipe. But it all came flooding back to us when we were looking at some behind-the-scenes photos, trying to see what unappetizing thing Linda was scooping out of some tacky clam shells that she had placed on a platter filled with decorative sand. It took some sleuthing to find out where we stashed the recipe but we finally found it scribbled down on the inside sleeve of Jen’s Rags to Rufus LP. No idea what the association was between clam dip and Chaka Khan was at the time but I’m guessing it wasn’t anything to do with “Tell Me Something Good”.

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This dip has a lot going for it or at least it did in 1974, including ingredients like canned clams, cream cheese, and flavour extender. Those three ingredients could transform the most mundane pantry staples into a party, which was Linda’s basic criteria for entertaining company—better to save your energy for the key party.

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Refrigeration on set was a constant problem. We used two miniature refrigerators running around the clock, one next to Linda’s kitchen set and the other in Linda and Joy’s dressing room that was generally only stocked with nail polish and peach schnapps, and you didn’t dare move the schnapps unless you were fixing yourself a breakfast Fuzzy Navel.

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On the night before we were to shoot this dip recipe, I made the mix up and put it in the kitchen fridge to use the next day. Unfortunately that night, Linda and Joy ran into a foxy group of sailors down at the harbour and decided to take them back to the studio so Joy could show them her pressed flower collection that she kept in their dressing room. In their haste to chill down the case of Baby Duck that Linda had secured away for special visitors, the clam dip was relocated from the kitchen fridge to beside the radiator.

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The genius of this recipe meant that when it came time to start shooting I could still go ahead and use the toxic dip in the beauty shot because, despite it being warmed over a six hour period, its signature clay-grey colour remained intact. The only tweak needed was to cover up some of the dried coagulated bits with curly parsley. It meant, however, that Linda and Joy couldn’t eat it on camera, having to resort to tasting the food they made fresh during the taping, which they rarely ever did because it was always so peppered with cigarette ashes. None of this actually mattered In the end though because Joy still stole a bite of the radiator clams, lost in her craving for something salty to chase the Mai-Tai she was sipping during filming. Thankfully at the hospital her doctor wasn’t concerned about a thing, since he advised at her stage in the pregnancy it was completely safe to eat soured clams as long as it was followed by a stiff drink.

Minced Clam Cheese Dip

7 1/2 oz can minced clams, drained
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon flavour extender (MSG)
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Serve from cleaned clam shells or other nautical serving ware. Spread on a Ritz.

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Gazelle Horns

This past Friday, Sarah Skinner’s dance collective, the Sisters of Salome put on a show themed The Tea Room to raise funds for their upcoming Toronto summer 2014 Fantasy Belly Dance show, which will be  a full-length production inspired by the stories of the Arabian Nights. For Friday’s show, the dancers presented a traditional Moroccan tea ceremony to the audience, encompassing mint and rose water tea as well as various Moroccan delicacies.

This sounded like the ideal Crustcrumbs experience to us. I’m not generally a fan of rose or orange water but I could certainly be coerced into liking them in the right setting, like if a belly dancer happen to bring me a tray, spilling over in abundance with fragrant cookies. We also heard that the dancers would be balancing trays of candles on their heads in one of their routines, which meant we really couldn’t miss out on this performance.

Gazelle Horns

When I use rose and orange water at home, I generally use it to clean my counters. Its powerful floral scent overwhelms the white vinegar and water solution I use, masking the vinegar scent, leaving my counters smelling like roses. I think it’s something Martha Stewart came up with, and you know – it’s a good thing.

But given the right setting those floral scents can work wonders and have the ability to transport a person across the globe to another time where the fragrance of roses and orange blossoms hang in the thick night air. When we were invited to contribute to the evenings delights, I knew I had to do something that incorporated those scents. Gazelle Horns fit in perfectly with the theme, as they are scented heavily with orange blossom water and almonds, and their elegant crescent shape would mimic the fluid moves of the dancers.

The pastry for these cookies is not what you might expect. It’s actually much closer to a pasta dough than a cookie dough. As such, I say go all the way and use a pasta machine to achieve the appropriate thinness. You could absolutely roll out the dough by hand, as it’s done traditionally but I’ve found the pasta roller makes a major difference in making this an easy production.

Gazelle Horns

Gazelle Horns

Makes 30-40 cookies

For the filling:
340g jar almond butter, roasted and unsalted
115g icing sugar
25ml cold water
50g unsalted butter
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons orange blossom water

For the pastry:
330g unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
50g unsalted butter, melted
150ml orange blossom water
1 large egg, beaten for egg wash
icing sugar, for garnish

Start making the filling by first draining off any liquid that has separated at the top of the jar of almond butter. In a small saucepan over low heat combine the icing sugar and water and heat just until the sugar is dissolved. Melt in the butter then add the almond butter and continue to stir until the mix is fully incorporated and smooth. With the pan off the heat, add the almond extract and orange blossom water and stir to incorporate. Refrigerate until ready to use. This mix can be made up to a week ahead of time.

To make the pastry, combine the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the dough hook. With the mixer on low speed add the butter and orange blossom water and mix for approximately 5-10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic, similar to a pasta dough. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before proceeding.

Divide the dough into four pieces and going one piece at a time, and using a pasta roller be it hand crank or an automatic attachment on your stand mixer, feed the dough through the roller, gradually working up the thinness as you would for pasta, until the dough is very thin, finishing around the 5 or 6 mark if using a Kitchen Aid stand mixer attachment. The idea here is that you want a sheet that’s tissue paper thin.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line two baking trays with parchment paper.

This next part is a little bit like making ravioli and pierogi. Lay the thin sheet of pastry down on a work surface. Grab a teaspoon of the filling mixture and roll it into a 1 1/2” – 2” log with your hands and place on the end of the pastry sheet, giving yourself approximately a 3” border, and cut the square of pastry using a pastry cutting wheel. Using your finger, dab the egg wash sparingly along three of the four side of the pastry square. Fold the pastry over the log and press firmly to seal the pastry, while also shaping the pastry into a crescent shape. Using a ravioli cutter, cut the crescent, giving yourself approximately 1/4” between the filling and the edge, as the pastry will shrink as it bakes. If there isn’t enough of a border, the chances of the filling exploding out during baking are pretty good.

Place each crescent on a parchment-lined baking tray and keep refrigerated until the trays are full. Bake the trays for approximately 5-8 minutes. The dough will not brown but dry slightly. Transfer the crescents to a cooling rack and allow to cool before dusting with the icing sugar.

Gazelle Horns

Sisters of Salome