Sunday, March 25, 2012

Retro Food Redux - Mad Men Viewing Party Menu

NK's favorite show, Mad Men, is finally returning to AMC after an excruciatingly long hiatus. We just can't wait, and I know we aren't alone. What better way to celebrate our favorite cocktail-swilling, angsty and adulterous ad execs, than with a Sixties-style menu? To put our own mark on tonight's offerings, we've modernized them just a bit - mainly to increase the ease of preparation. Below, you'll find quite a few tasty bites, just like him:

Don Draper, Photo Courtesy of AMC TV
Mad Men Menu:
Pre-Dinner Bite - Mock Rumaki and Pineapple Skewers
Cocktail - Don Draper's Rye Old Fashioned  
Main Course - Easy Deconstructed Beef Wellington 
Dessert - Grasshopper Ice Cream "Pie" Sundaes

Got your Sixties duds ready?  

Now eat up, and happy Mad Man premier night to you all!

Pre Dinner Bite: 
Back in the Sixties, Rumaki was as pervasive at cocktail parties as pigs in a blanket are today. Their invention, which most likely occurred a decade before, is widely attributed to Vic Bergeron of Trader Vic's Restaurant in San Francisco. But what in the world is Rumaki? Traditionally, it's a chicken liver and water chestnut wrapped in bacon and dipped in a sweet and savory sauce. It was said to be Polynesian-inspired with Asian origins.  Back in the Fifties and Sixties, Polynesian food and Luau themed party foods were all the rage. Need more proof? Betty Draper serves Rumaki in season two during the episode, A Night To Remember. 

Our update of Rumaki was two-fold: first, I eliminated the chicken liver component. I wanted to simplify, and though I like various liver-based foods (especially foie gras, which pops up later in our menu), I hadn't yet tackled the liver of a chicken. Secondly, because pineapple was such a favorite addition to any party skewer back in the Sixties, I felt that adding a pineapple cube would add some extra flair and color, while increasing the sweet/savory flavor or these little bites. I have to say, they came out really good.  

Mock Rumaki and Pineapple Skewers
Adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Serves 3-4 as a light cocktail bite

1 Lb Bacon, each slice cut into thirds (you'll need 1/3 of a slice of bacon/piece Rumaki 
2 cans Whole Water Chestnuts, drained on paper towels 
Small Pineapple cubes. 1 for every Rumaki bite
1 cup Brown Sugar
4 Tablespoons Ketchup
3 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce
2 Tablespoons Yellow Mustard of your choice. We used regular yellow deli mustard
2 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce

Preheat oven to 350. 
Wrap bacon around the water chestnuts and secure with a toothpick.
Set on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes if you like bacon crispy. Less time, if not. 
Bacon should be golden brown.
Drain skewers on paper towels.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small to medium sized saucepan and heat through until sugar is dissolved and sauce is hot.

Cook one minute longer, and then transfer to a small bowl. Top each skewer with one cube of pineapple, then dip skewers into sauce and set on a serving plate.
Rumaki and Pineapple Skewers! Photo: NK

Rendezvous Rye, High West Whiskey, Photo: NK
Our cocktail of the night is not just retro, but very retro. The Old Fashioned is a drink that actually dates back to the late 1800's. There's plenty of hard drinking on Mad Men, and the more drama-stacked scenes just would not be complete without a finger (or three) of scotch and a Lucky Strike. I wish drinking at the office like Don does was still acceptable. Wouldn't that be something? The Old Fashioned is definitely Don's go-to drink, and it was also quite popular in the Sixties and has experienced a resurgence during the last decade as well. Here's a great scene where Don jumps behind a bar to make one himself in Season three's episode, My Old Kentucky Home. Check it out: Don Draper making an Old Fashioned This time around, his chosen spirit is Rye, but Old Fashioned's can also be quite nice with bourbon. After sampling quite a few of both varieties lately, I think Rye makes for a smoother cocktail. 

Don Draper's Old Fashioned
Yield: 1

2 ounces Rye Whiskey
A few dashes Bitters
1 sugar cube
1 drop of Club Soda 
1 orange peel or 1 wedge of orange
Garnish with an orange peel or orange slice. A cherry makes a nice touch too

Don's Favorite Old Fashioned, Photo: NK
What to do: 
Add orange peel or wedge to the bottom of a short rocks glass or tumbler.
Add sugar cube and bitters. 
Pour club soda on top of the sugar cube and muddle carefully as sugar dissolves.
Add Rye, ice, and stir.
Serve with your chosen garnish.

Now look brooding as you sip, like Don. Cheers.

Main Course: 
Beef Wellington was a staple dinner party offering in the Sixties, and a dish that I have always wanted to attempt. Trouble is, it's notoriously difficult to make. A traditional Wellington will be made with a large tenderloin roast, coated with a mushroom and foie gras mixture, then wrapped in a sheet of puff pastry before cooking. I wanted to eliminate the puff pastry wrangling, so I opted for ready cut puff pastry cups to hold our deconstructed Wellington. My variation was inspired by Martha Stewart's "Beef Wellington Tarts." 

Easy Deconstructed Beef Wellington
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Serves 3

2 Beef Tenderloin Filets, a half pound a piece
Salt and Pepper
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 package frozen Puff Pastry Shells (packages come six per, you'll use 3)
1 Tablespoon Unsalted Butter
1 package Cremini Mushrooms, sliced thin
1 Tablespoons fresh Thyme leaves, plus a few sprigs for garnish
1 Garlic Clove minced
1/2 cup dry White Wine
4 oz Foie Gras Mousse (available at specialty food shops)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
Season beef with salt and pepper. 
Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a large oven proof skillet over medium-high heat.
Add medallions of beef and cook about 1 minute per side until nicely browned.

Browning Tenderloin, Photo: NK
Place skillet in oven and cook to desired doneness, about 17 minutes should get you to a nice medium rare. The thermometer should register an inside temperature of 130 degrees.

Transfer beef to a plate and let rest, uncovered. Next, turn oven up to 425 and set the puff pastry rounds, one per person, on a cookie sheet. Cook for 20 minutes until they are puffed and golden brown. If cooking directions on the puff pastry box differ, follow them instead.

Meanwhile, melt butter with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add mushrooms, thyme, and garlic, cooking until mushrooms are tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add wine and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 1-2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl using a slotted spoon, leaving the liquids in the skillet.

Add foie gras mousse to the same skillet and reduce the heat to low. 
Stir until just melted and remove from the heat. You'll want the texture to be a bit runny so it works like a sauce, so feel free to thin it out with a bit more wine if need be.

Note: Your meat will be cold by now. If this bothers you, other variations I would recommend would be:

1. If you are lucky enough to have a large toaster/convection oven or second stove, you could opt to cook the puff pastry at the same time you cook your tenderloin. None of these options applied to me, so I went with the second option.

2. Quickly flash-warm the meat in a pan for about a minute, just to heat it up a bit. If you do choose this option, you may want to shave a few minutes off the original cook time so you don't over cook it.

3. Keep in mind, Filet is pretty delicious even at room temperature and both your foie gras topping and mushroom will be hot.

To assemble: Take each puff pastry round and remove its middle. It should appear like a cup shape. Next, cut about a three inch slice out of its side, leaving the pastry base but removing a portion of the puff pastry wall. Thinly slice beef and arrange a few slices inside the puff pastry circle, spilling out through the cut in the pastry wall. It will look like this:

Assemble like so, Photo: NK 

Place a few more slices of beef between the inside and outside of the puff pastry. Top with the mixture of mushrooms and thyme then drizzle with the foie gras mousse. Serve immediately with some thyme sprigs as garnish and Enjoy! 

Deconstructed Beef Wellington, Photo: NK 
For more Wellington adventures, check out Martha Stewart's hors d'oeuvre adaptation here:

Grasshopper Pie is traditionally a chiffon pie of creme de menthe and gelatin in a chocolate cookie crust. Though likely originating in the Fifties, this pie enjoyed great popularity during the Sixties, primarily around the time when all things Jello were incorporated into party dishes (including Jello salads!). You may recall a cocktail called the Grasshopper, also popular during the Sixties, which was made with a concoction of Creme de Menthe, Creme de Cacao, and milk. You haven't really experienced a spinning room until you've overindulged in grasshoppers. I once served them at a party I hosted in my (very) early twenties, and the results were messy, to say the least. They basically taste like a delicious mint chocolate chip shake so it's easy to overdo them... Anyways, never again.  Since we were only serving three people tonight, I felt making a whole pie would be overkill. When I came across this easy, no bake, Grasshopper Ice Cream pie, Grasshopper Ice Cream Pie I got an idea. 

Why not adapt this into more of a sundae? It would be easy to create single serve portions in dessert cups and guests could have fun topping them themselves. Problem solved.

Grasshopper Ice Cream "Pie" Sundaes
Serves 4
Adapted from Taste of Home

1 Pint of Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
15 chocolate wafer cookies such as Famous brand. 
2 Tablespoons Butter, melted in the microwave
Toppings: Chopped Mini Oreos, Smucker's Magic Shell Chocolate Topping, Dark Chocolate Mint Bar shaved into curls with a vegetable peeler.
Sprigs of Mint - as an optional garnish

Place chocolate wafers into a zip-loc bag, press out the air, and seal.
Using the bottom of a pan or a rolling pin, press the cookies into crumbs, taking care not to pierce the bag. Remove crumbs to a small bowl and pour in melted butter slowly, until a  crust comes together. If you need a bit more liquid you can add a bit of water. Spoon even amounts of crumbs into each cup, and press moist crumbs into the bottom with your fingers. This can be done in advance if you like. 

Chocolate Crust, Photo: NK
When ready to serve, top with a few scoops of ice cream. Drizzle with Magic Shell chocolate topping, and serve with mini oreos and chocolate curls on the side for guests to add as they like. Garnish with mint if you like. 

Grasshopper "Pie" Sundae, Photo: NK

Thanks for checking out our Mad Men Season Premier menu. For more great ideas on how to throw a Sixties cocktail party, check out AMC TV's Mad Men Party Planner:
AMC's Mad Men Party Guide


  1. This year's Mad Men premier meal is already in development. I've gotten some great emails from NK readers and I am interested in your ideas. Don't forget to share your feedback or tell me about dishes you'd like to see! Email or share your thoughts in the comments section of either of our Mad Men Dinner posts - there are two.