As a housewife in the 1930s, my grandmother, Hanna, modernized her kitchen with the latest convenience: an electric refrigerator. The Silent Hostess Treasure Book (1932) from General Electric taught her how to use this new-fangled appliance, which followed the invention of the electric iron, the vacuum cleaner, and the washing machine. Hanna persisted in calling the refrigerator “the box,” a hold-over from the days of the ice box, an insulated chamber kept cold by slabs of ice. A horse-drawn wagon rattled along the back alleys of Richmond to deliver fresh supplies of ice.
The booklet taught Hanna how the refrigerator could save her trips to the market for fresh food, prepare meals in advance, and “make more leisure” for herself. I’m not sure it improved her cooking, but I couldn’t resist the book’s idea for a luncheon canapé. The recipe’s placement in the Relish chapter is a mystery but the ingredients are still familiar, even in 2015.
Luncheon Canapé (1932)
3 hard-cooked eggs
Few grains cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon finely minced chives
3 tablespoons butter
Mayonnaise and catsup [I used about 1 tablespoon of each]
6 circular pieces of bread [I cut these by pressing an upside-down glass into the bread]
- Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and remove the yolks.
- Over a bowl, press the yolks through a ricer or mash with a fork. Add the cayenne pepper, chives and 2 tablespoons of melted butter. Moisten with equal parts mayonnaise and catsup. Mix well.
- Fill each egg white half with this mixture. Place on a plate, cover and chill thoroughly in the refrigerator.
- When ready to serve, melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a skillet. Saute the bread, turning until crisp on both sides. Remove from the pan and spread each piece of toast with a thin layer of anchovy paste.
- Place each piece of toast on a small plate, and on each one place a stuffed egg half. Sprinkle with paprika and garnish with parsley.