Archive for the ‘Salads’ Category

A (Pasta) House is Not a Home

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Ah, it’s that time of year when Mona Faye’s Kitchen is busier than ever. We’ve actually packed up our computer for a few days because there just wasn’t enough room for old-fashioned food and new-fangled falderall! We’ll be having the usual wild turkey (the real free range) and, of course, cranberry salad.

But before we put the laptop away, we wanted to share a recipe. When Mona Faye’s youngest brings his brood to Mona Faye’s Kitchen, he always stops first at Pasta House Company to get their house salad. Now we do have salad here with a lovely Fat-Free French dressing or a tasty Fat-Free Ranch dressing or yummy Fat-Free Raspberry Vinaigrette to go on your iceberg. What more do you want? But these youngsters insist that this one’s better than any other.
So for the sake of family, which is always our top priority here at Mona Faye’s Kitchen, we shall publish this recipe too. It does have all the features we like here in a dish. It’s simple, tasty, and homemade.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pasta House Company House Salad


  • 1 head iceberg lettuce
  • 1/2 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 can quartered artichoke heart, drained
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 small jar pimientos
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese


  • Toss together the lettuce, artichoke hearts, onion, and pimento in a large salad bowl and set aside.
  • Combine remaining ingredients in a container with a tight lid.
  • Shake container vigorously until well-blended.
  • Pour dressing onto salad and toss until well covered.
  • Refrigerate for about 30 minutes prior to serving to marinate.

Once You’ve Had Black . . . Walnuts

Friday, June 26th, 2009

We here at Mona Faye’s Kitchen have had such a busy few months. We’ve moved! From our large farm kitchen in Festus to our newfangled modern condo kitchen in the booming metropolis of Hillsboro. We had to get rid of our jelly strainer, but carry on we must!

Even in our new duds, however, Tradition is important in Mona Faye’s Kitchen. You peel potatoes with a knife not a gadgety potato peeler. You are supposed to use three scoops of Folgers to make a pot of coffee and. nothing. less. Christmas isn’t Christmas without applesauce cookies.

And everything tastes better with black walnuts.

Any good salad or cookie or quick bread that comes from Mona Faye’s Kitchen must have a healthy portion of homegrown black walnuts. They are right from Grandpa’s “farm” so they must be good! And we’ve always put them in!!

And they taste, oh, so good!! Mmmm. . . . just like a big crunchy moth ball.

Now Mona Faye’s brood is not so thrilled. This younger generation! The first-born insists that he has to lay out his tongue on my clean counter top and scrape it with a fork after eating them. The second-born will discretely but politely mine for each nut crumb in any slice of date-walnut bread.

Yet we will keep including them.

These silly kids love this salad they found up the road. It’s at a restaurant that is simply a Mona Faye’s Kitchen wannabe. As if!! So I’ll include this recipe here because it does taste quite good. But it would be better if it were served at home instead of an unfriendly restaurant with too-strong coffee and over-sized portions.

And with real black walnuts.

Panera’s Mona Faye’s Fuji Apple Walnut Chicken Salad

    6 cups romaine lettuce

    1-1/2 cup grilled and sliced chicken breast

    1/4 cup red onion, sliced thin

    1/3 cup Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

    1/4 cup chopped candied walnuts or pecans

    2 oz. apple chips

Apple White Balsamic Vinaigrette

    2 Tbsp. apple juice concentrate

    1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

    1 Tbsp. white balsamic vinegar

    1 tsp. Dijon mustard

    1/4 tsp. garlic powder

    1/3 cup olive oil

Perfection Dinner . . . Not.

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

I couldn’t let Perfection be ignored. I couldn’t go on and on about a 102-year-old recipe without giving it a go, right? And I’m here to tell you, it’s everything you imagined it could be.

When I told Gentle Husband that I was making said Perfection, he quipped ever so galantly, “You’d better have your parents over when you serve that because somebody has to eat it.” Ah! Good idea! A party!! Perfection demands guests after all.

What else to serve alongside Perfection? I did what any good depression-era housewife would have done — I looked at what I already had in my cupboard that would fit the bill (of fare). There’s that stack of hot dogs. . . . Of course, pigs in a blanket! The exemplar of creativity and economy. Add some diced carrots and peas, and you have a square meal. Sublime!

Could any dessert match a congealed paragon of virtue? Why yes! The Crown Jewel itself! Again using that collection of Jell-O I’ve acquired over the years.

The pigs were met with skepticism. Gentle Husband recalled, “Yeah, my Mom tried that. . . . Once.” Hm. Note to self: If said recipe was once served in the literal Mona Faye’s Kitchen with little acclaim, serving it in a virtual Mona Faye’s Kitchen, even with the requisite amount of kitsch, will not please Gentle Husband. Gentle Boys, however, enjoyed the pigs but missed the swine connection.

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Those photos really sell it, don’t they? You can just smell the history as you see those sweaty weiners glistening in their Kosher glory. Yum!

Peas and Carrots were appropriately tough and under-salted. I should have boiled them for hours rather than zapped them for minutes.

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Crown Jewel Dessert was . . . well, just like you’d imagine Jell-O and whipped cream would taste. Utterly forgetable. Very diety.


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But we can’t forget the recipe that gathered this crowd — Perfection Salad itself. When I invited my parents, my mom said, “Oh yeah. . . . I remember that! They served it in the cafeteria in my high school all the time!! But it was the War.” Ah, happy memories of the good War. I chopped the pickles and gathered the Knox and vinegar. I had no pimentos, so I added chopped carrots instead. Plopped it ever so carefully into my Bundt ring and set it to chill.

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When I schlepped it onto the serving platter — a 1950s Jadeite green — Gentle Husband said, “Huh. Looks just like a Horta.” Ah . . . another vintage reference. That’s what Perfection does, I guess. Brings together all the high-cultural elements into a kind of transcendent symmetry.

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Perfection tasted gelatinous and stringy. I imagined that Perfection would be more crunchy and zingy, less slurpy. Touché. My Dad had two helpings while my dear Mother tried to imagine improvements: “Honey, I think the cabbage should be chopped smaller and less coarse. And the pickles. Leave out the pickles. . . . The recipe called for pimentos? Ew. I wouldn’t put in pimentos. . . . Well, I’ll have something to tell your Aunt Stella tonight when I call her. Aunt Wanda used to make this for all those Polish showers. Yeah, we always had something exactly . . . like . . . this.”

And so Perfection had what we all deemed the perfect ending — down the drain.

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Perfection Salad

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

So important is this little gem that I’m giving it an entire post.

If the thought of munching on “vitamins” in the second course leaves you blanched, People’s Dairy offers that dish that is nothing short of transcendent. Take a closer look-see:


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This recipe earned Mrs. John Cooke third prize in the 1905 Knox gelatin cooking contest — a new sewing machine! Food historians label this recipe an exemplar of the domestic science movement for its “impeccable,” molded looks.


It appealed to turn-of-the-century housewives who used the family dinner table as a feminine manifesto to express belief in proper nutrition, daintiness, and, above all, efficiency (Perfection Salad xi).

Dainty and disciplined, “healthy” and homemade — this aspic (my favorite vintage recipe category EVAH!) offered it all.

And so, just for you my Gentle Reader, I shall attempt Perfection right here in the next post of Mona Faye’s Kitchen. Stay tuned. Striving for the Tower of (Vege)Table might cause our servers to crash.