Curious Cookbooks

Curious Cookbooks — my ongoing collection of quirky fundraising cookbook recipes — is back. But this time, the posting of recipes and the occasional demo is purely for my own amusement. That’s as ambitious as I get with my blogging these days, and I’m quite relieved about that. Read more about it here. And feel free to share your own recipe ideas or suggestions with a comment.

Recipe: Spam and Pineapple.

(Being Filipino-American, I consider Spam part of my heritage. Apparently so do Hawaiians of all ethnic stripes. My love of Spam and eggs with rice as the pinnacle of comfort food is extending to my newfound skill in making Spam musubi, a snacking mainstay in the islands. However, I never grew up with the kind of high-end treatment of the canned stuff that follows.)

2 cans Spam
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup pineapple juice
12 whole cloves

Stick cloves in Spam. Mix sugar and juice and pour over Spam. Simmer for 20 minutes or bake in a casserole dish at 325 degrees F. 6 servings.

Source: “Still Many More of Our Favorite Recipes,” Maui Extension Homemakers’ Council (1974)


Recipe: Pretzel Jell-O Salad.

(One of the things I love the most in these fundraiser cookbooks is the expanded definition of “salad” that encompasses Jell-O as a legitimate ingredient. This recipe puts Jell-O together with pretzels — pretzels! — and Cool Whip and calls it a salad. I love America.)

1 1/4 cup sticks margarine, melted
2 c. coarsely rolled pretzels
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 c. sugar
9 oz. Cool Whip
2 3 oz. pkgs. strawberry Jell-O
2 c. hot pineapple juice
2 small pkgs. frozen strawberries
1 small pkg. (or 1 small can) crushed pineapple

Melt margarine in 9 x 13 inch pan. Add crushed pretzels. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Cream sugar and cream cheese; add Cool Whip. Spread over cooled crust. Dissolve Jell-O in pineapple juice; add frozen berries and stir until separated. Pour over Cool Whip mixture; cool until firm.

Source: “A Smile is the Same in Every Language: District 53 PTA, Butler and Brook Forest Schools 1994 Ethnic Cookbook”


Recipe: Passover Lasagna.

2 eggs
1 lb. cottage cheese
3 to 4 whole matzo
16 oz. can Rokeach tomato mushroom sauce
1/2 lb. shredded Muenster cheese
garlic powder to taste, optional
oregano to taste, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs, mix with cottage cheese and seasonings. Moisten matzahs under hot water. (Don’t soak.) Pour tomato sauce on bottom of 8×8 inch pan to cover. Then layer: whole matzo, cottage cheese-egg mixture, tomato sauce, Muenster cheese. Repeat as often as desired, ending with cheese. Bake 45-50 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool 5-10 minutes before cutting.

Source: “Foodworks,” B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim Sisterhood, Glenview, Ill. (1988); recipe by Sharon P. Silver


Recipe: Matzo Brittle.

(I’m allergic to pecans, but I want to give this recipe a go. Hoping to try this with almonds or peanuts.)

2 sticks butter or margarine
1 c. light brown sugar
1 c. chopped pecans
tea matzo

Boil butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Add pecans. Butter sides and bottom of jellyroll pan. Spread to cover with sheets or pieces of matzo. Pour mixture over matzo. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes. Cut while hot; let cool in pan. Store in covered tin.

Source: “Foodworks 2,” B’nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim Sisterhood, Glenview, Ill. (1998); recipe by Sharon Silver


Recipe: Lenten Pirogi.

4 c. flour
Dash salt
1 cake yeast
½ c. warm water

Dissolve yeast in water. Add salt and flour. Knead well. Add more flour or water if necessary. Let rise until double. While waiting make filling.

Sauerkraut filling:
½ can sauerkraut
1 onion, chopped
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp. oil

Wash sauerkraut and drain well. Saute onion in oil. Add rest of ingredients and fry until light brown.

Potato filling:
Boil as many potatoes as needed. Drain. Save water. Fry 1 chopped onion until brown in several tbsp. oil. Add salt, pepper, onion and oil to potatoes. Mash. Add some of reserved water, if necessary.

After dough has risen, roll out on floured board, to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into squares. Drop 1 tbsp. filling into center of square. Take 1 corner of square and put across filling to opposite corner so that a triangle is formed. Pinch edges together. Drop pirogi into boiling water and simmer for 20 minutes. Drain and pour some browned onion over pirogi.

Variations: Deep fry or bake in oven.

Use prunes, cherries, or sautéed fresh cabbage for filling.

Source: “A Bit of Our Best,” St. Panteleimon Orthodox Church, Summit, Ill. (circa 1986); recipe by Lucy Rusinko