In the spring of 1954, Marjorie Mills of WBZ-Boston radio invited Chester Grady and John Creighton of Hampton, New Hampshire onto her show to talk about cooking. Dubbed by Mills the “inspired Comrades in Cuisine,” the foodies shared their recipes for crustless pecan pie and bacon-wrapped chicken, and, in true New England style, they recommended that cooks use grated cheese to punch up their favorite johnnycake recipes. Today we call these vintage dishes “comfort foods,” but in the ‘50s they were just delectable eating.
Crustless Pecan Pie
19 Ritz crackers, rolled not too fine
4 egg whites, stiffly beaten
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
½ teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch pie plate.
Roll crackers. Beat egg whites stiff, and beat in sugar gradually, a spoonful at a time, beating until stiff and glossy. Fold in crumbs, flavorings, pecans and baking powder. Turn the mixture into the pie plate and bake for 25 minutes. Pie puffs up during baking, but expect it to fall back after removing from oven. Serve with whipped cream.
2 broiler chickens, cut in quarters
12 strips bacon
1 cup heavy cream
Wrap each quarter chicken with 3 strips of bacon. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour or until tender. Five minutes before serving, add cream to the pan to make the sauce. Add a shake of freshly ground pepper at serving time.
Add ½ cup grated cheese to your favorite johnnycake recipe. As “Dame Boston” Marjorie Mills said, the cheese “melts as the Johnnycake bakes and gives such flavor and richness. Also, if any is left over, the split and toasted Cheese Johnnycake is ambrosial.” ***
Baked Lobster ala Grady
Here’s Chester’s recipe for baked lobster, given on Marjorie Mills’s radio show in 1950:
“Boil your lobsters, take out the meat and place in a baking dish, then prepare on top of the stove in a large skillet your sauce. A lump of butter (or margarine), a generous lump like the proverbial egg. Melt over slow fire, and ¾ tablespoon dry mustard, salt and black pepper to taste, paprika, a pinch of marjoram, and make a paste of this. Then add enough heavy cream to cover the lobster, heat through, then pour over the lobster, cover with a few cracker crumbs and bake slowly in a moderate oven for 20 to 25 minutes.”
*** Mrs. Andrew Paulsen’s Johnnycake recipe from the 1903 Hampton Cookbook:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sour milk
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoonful cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoonful soda
Small piece of butter
(Like many of the recipes in this cookbook, there are no directions for preparation. To obtain a copy of the 1988 reprint, contact the Hampton Historical Society.)
Read July’s History Matters column, The Unusual Life of Chester Grady.
History Matters is a monthly column devoted to the history of Hampton and Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. “Hampton History Matters,” a collection of new and previously published essays, is available at amazon.com and Marelli’s Market. Contact Cheryl at firstname.lastname@example.org or lassitergang.com.