18 Retro Recipes So You and Mom Can Cook Up Some Nostalgia
As we all know, food goes through trends just like fashion. In the time of poodle skirts and kitten heels, we dined on cheese balls, and grasshopper pies were all the rage. In the decade that took us from mod Twiggy-esque looks to bell bottoms and tie-dye, we noshed on Swedish meatballs and fondue gave us reason to party. As we donned our wrap dresses and disco-danced and line-danced "Soul Train"-style through the '70s, a brunch of eggs Benedict or quiche Lorraine were de rigueur. When we wore power suits (with shoulder pads, of course) and teased our big permed hair, we were delighted by Asian noodle salads and potato skins. And as we channeled our favorite "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Friends" characters, we brought baked brie to every party and nibbled on "fusion cuisine" salads like the uber-popular Asian chicken salad.
Running through these decades' fashion and culinary trends alone brings a smile to your face. So what better way to mom's heart than to serve up a dish that takes her back to a cherished time or perhaps tickles her taste buds with flavors her own mom made for her? Here's a nostalgic collection of trending foods by decade with recipes that, when prepared with love, will surely warm mom's heart!
1950s: Best Green Bean Casserole
Green bean casserole — the kind with Campbell's cream of mushroom, canned green beans, and French's fried onions — had its heyday in the '50s, but many of us. still delight in this incredibly low-maintenance dish, with its sinfully creamy, savory goodness. This version adds cheddar cheese to the crunchy fried onion topping. It will take mom back to her high school days by the jukebox!
1950s: Herman Reunion Cheese Ball
Rather than a block of cheese or a bowl of pimento cheese spread, someone in the 1950s had the bright idea to form the cheese into a ball and cover it in a topping, often nuts. Et voila! The perfectly chic party appetizer! "The requests for this family recipe never stop, so here it is for everybody to enjoy," says Ann. "These cheese balls freeze well for months and make wonderful holiday gifts."
1950s: Creme de Menthe Grasshopper Pie
Creme de menthe grasshopper pie was perhaps a favorite in the 1950s because of how easy it is to whip up this fluffy, minty, boozy, chocolaty frozen sensation. A chocolate cookie crust anchors the pie, which is filled with a creme de menthe, marshmallow creme, and whipping cream mixture with crunchy chocolate cookie crumbles topping it off. Pull this out to remind mom of a favorite childhood treat.
1960s: Chef John's Chicken à la King
This is one of the classic comfort-food dishes, so it makes sense that its popularity surged in the turbulent decade of the '60s. With roasted chicken, sauteed vegetables, and herbs in a creamy roux, Chicken à la King can be enjoyed over pasta, toast, rice, or mashed potatoes. And Chef John's version is easily adaptable. "You can make it thicker or thinner by changing the amount of roux and having a little extra stock on hand," he says.
1960s: Swedish Meatballs (Svenska Kottbullar)
These delightful meatballs hailing from Sweden combine beef and pork, soaked breadcrumbs, egg, sautéed onions, and a bevy of spices. Once browned and finished in the oven, they are served in a rich brown gravy. Top it all with a generous dollop of sour cream that begins to melt into the dish for meaty morsels in a creamy belly-warming gravy. These are great for parties, so if you're having a potluck to celebrate mom, this is your dish.
1960s: Cheese Fondue
Parties were arranged around the fondue pot in the '60s, so throw a fondue party for Mother's Day! Usually featuring melted chocolate for those with a sweet tooth or melted cheese for those with a savory bent, all manner of bites, from fruits and vegetables to bread and even meats can be dipped in the fondue pot. This cheese fondue recipe marries Swiss and Gruyere with a bit of white wine and a hint of spice, best enjoyed with toasted bread bites.
1970s: Beef Wellington
A beef tenderloin coated in a combination of liver pate, butter, onions, and mushrooms, then wrapped in a puff pastry that is baked to a perfectly beautiful golden-brown. Serve with a drizzle of red wine au jus — and a nice glass of red wine to toast your mother! "This is a very easy recipe that I learned when I was living in England," says Normala. "Note that Beef Wellington should always be served with the center slightly pink. Enjoy!"
1970s: Eggs Benedict
It's hard to imagine a dish as ubiquitous as eggs Benedict being a completely novel idea, but it caught on like wildfire in the 1970s. Fluffy, buttered English muffins, Canadian bacon, and poached eggs are topped with hollandaise in the classic version. But if your mom prefers the vegetarian options of recent years or smoked salmon, then host a Mother's Day brunch featuring the "eggs Bene" of her dreams!
1970s: Chef John's Pasta Primavera
Pasta primavera marries the comfort of pasta with the fresh, light veggies of spring. Mom will love this served up with a crisp white wine for an al fresco meal with the family. "When done right, this is one of the year's great seasonal recipes," says Chef John. "This looks, smells, and tastes like a cool, sunny spring day."
1980s: Sesame Noodle Salad
Cold sesame noodle salads were added to menus across America in the '80s. "I take this to every picnic and everyone loves it! You may also add diced chicken for a variation," says jkmom. Eighties Women loved its light noodles with a mix of crunchy veggies, Asian flavors, and sometimes shrimp, chicken, or even steak.
1980s: True Italian Porcini Mushroom Risotto
Treat mom to something as rich and sumptuous as risotto this Mother's Day. "As classically Italian as you can get, this unadulterated risotto is made in the traditional way and simply flavored with porcini mushrooms, white wine, butter and Parmesan cheese," says miche. Serve it with a pork tenderloin and a bright green vegetable for a meal she won't soon forget.
1980s: Potato Skins
The popular potato skins craze of the ;80s inspired all manner of topping variations. Potato skins are like souped-up potato chips. Baked once; hollowed out, filled with everything from cheese, green onions, chunks of meat, or bacon bits; and twice-baked so they form into a melty, crispy treat. Top with or dip into sour cream for the perfect Mother’s Day party appetizer!
1990s: Asian Chicken Salad
Chicken, sweet orange slices, fresh lettuces, crunchy dried rice noodles, and sesame seeds with an addictive Asian dressing create a salad that is a crowd favorite. “A very crunchy salad with a tasty sweet Asian-style dressing,” says D. “The kids love it too!” It is certainly a healthy addition to your Mother’s Day potluck spread!
1990s: Baked Brie in Puff Pastry
No party in the '90s was complete without a baked brie of some stripe. Moms of the 1990s simply couldn’t get enough of this dish. Usually served with toast points or crackers, some baked-brie dishes were topped with honey or jam before melting in the oven, while others included nuts or figs in their topping melange. A particularly fancy touch was wrapping your brie wheel in puff pastry before baking, as in this delectable recipe.
1990s: Creme Brulee
Creme brulee seems like a tricky or out-of-reach dessert to prepare, but it’s really not that hard and the "wow factor" in the eyes of those you'll serve it to coupled with the delight upon tasting this gorgeous dessert will be well worth the effort. A creamy, sweet center topped with a hardened caramelized sugar crust … If your mom has a sweet tooth, this trendy '90s dessert is a surefire hit.
2000s: Dark Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes
Cupcakes and cake pops burst onto the sweets scene in the 2000s, bringing along with them entire books and bakeries dedicated to the petite cakes, as well as television shows like TLC's Cupcake Wars. At the same time, bacon started trending as the ingredient du jour. It was on everything from candy bars and salads to, yes, cupcakes. Recreate the memories of those cupcake-crazed days with these dark, deeply satisfying cupcakes with a hint of salty tang from crumbled bacon.
2000s: Garlic Mashed Cauliflower
The South Beach and Atkin's Diet craze of the 2000s lead to a revolution of low-carb foods, even on restaurant menus. Low-carb mashed cauliflower took the place of mashed potatoes, but creative cooks found ways to trick even the sharpest eaters into believing they were eating the real spuds. Make this side dish with mom to accompany low-carb main dishes and recall the carb-phobic era of the 2000s.
After decades of rice pilafs and potato gratins, quinoa slipped onto the scene in 2000s and stole the spotlight from all other grains. Ancient in the world's timeline but new to most American eaters, quinoa remains incredibly popular today, so this quinoa recipe will be welcome for a Mother's Day dinner or just a one-pan weeknight meal.