retro party platter: flaming cabbage

I’m pretty sure the best thing about the re-issue of Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook isn’t the actual recipes but the insane circa-1950 entertaining tidbits sprinkled throughout. Just the names of the appetizers on page 50 are enough to kill my inner 12-year-old (“Wedgies,” “Green Balls,” “Burning Bush” — on one page, seriously), but the best has to be “Flaming Cabbage.” It sounds like an unfortunate gastrointestinal condition, but is actually, well, that thing you see above. I made it for a friend’s birthday party because his wife had brought a similarly atomic platter to our house last year (theirs was fruit-based). Read on to see what the heck this is, straight from the 1950 Betty:

An exciting, spectacular feature at a cokctail party in Mr. and Mrs. Phil Hindley’s charming home, Oakland, California. Clean a large cabbage. Curl outer leaves back from top. Cut out center; hollow it out about 6″ deep. Place a sterno lamp in the cavity (lamp hidden, but flame should come almost to top of cabbage). Place cabbage on serving plate. Surround with a frill of parsley. Thrust wooden picks through cocktail sausages, and stick into the cabbage. Stick an olive onto end of each (to protect fingers from flame). Guests broil their own sausages.”

Yes, you read that right: guests broil their own sausages! I made do with what we had on hand, so no frill of parsley for me. We put Lit’l Smokies on skewers and skipped the olives. I can say that this thing made for a spectacular entrance (if a harrowing car ride), and guests did indeed broil their own sausages. — Mary T.

P.S. That rad platter you see above is actually a vintage Lazy Susan that two very fabulous friends purchased for me on eBay!

From our partners

I got excited for a moment, then realized that you’re talking about the Betty Crocker Picture cookbook–the one I grew up on and love is the Betty Crocker NEW Picture cookbook, first published in 1961. My mom got married in 1962, and i was one of her basics. I bought myself a copy in a Louisiana antiques mall years ago for about $3. Now they consistently go for $50 or more on eBay, depending on edition and condition. They should republish that one, obviously people want copies. I love it, whenever I need a basic recipe, for a yellow cake (try Bonnie Butter) or how to make a roux, or how long to cook meat, I look in there and it has an answer, along with fabulous vintage photos and adorable line drawings of a period that is long gone. Except on Mad Men.


This is so funny. It reminds me of the hand-illustrated cookbook of time-honored family recipes that a friend’s distant cousin pulled together, photocopied, and mailed out to all her relatives. Some of whom had never even heard of her before. (I believe her other hobby, besides creating obscure recipes using non-traditional ingredients, was genealogy.)

My favorite recipe was called Red Hot Salad. I thought from the title in the index (yes, the super woman created a back of the book index!) that it would be a spicy salad. But no, indeed. It was a salad made of whipped cream and the candy called Red Hots. Personally, I’d have given consideration to putting this recipe in the desserts section, but she had boldly placed it amongst the salads.