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10 Nostalgic dishes to make at home

BY Kate Oczypok

24th Aug 2022 Recipes

10 Nostalgic dishes to make at home

Some of these dishes have been delighting taste buds for 100 years. Whip up a comforting bowl of one of these vintage recipes—just like granny made it!

If you’re up for a classic meal that will bring a smile to your parents’ or grandparents’ faces, get ready to do a time warp with these recipes.

Sampling traditional dishes is sure to get people of all ages doing some major reminiscing.

Here are ten recipes for nostalgic dishes from decades past. The following foods include some of British and some American origin.

Fondue

A pot of cheese fondue with skewers dipping slices of bread in Fondue is a great sharing dish that was popular at parties in the 1970s

Chances are, if you’re a millennial, your parents spent the 1970s at parties where fondue was prominently featured.

The best part about this dish is that you can dip virtually anything in it—bread, apples, bell peppers, broccoli or, if you want to go sweet with chocolate fondue, cookies, graham crackers and cubes of angel food cake.

Boeuf bourguignon

A dish of Boeuf bourguignon and winter vegetablesBoeuf bourgiugnon is stewed in red wine to make a rich, wintery dish

Famed chef Julia Child’s first cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was published in 1961 after nearly a decade of research, recipe testing and editing with her co-authors.

One nostalgic recipe that seems to have stuck around through the years is her iconic boeuf bourguignon.

Interested in mastering Child’s classic entrée yourself? Knopf Doubleday, the company that published Child’s cookbook, has posted a PDF of the recipe.

Black forest cake

Black forest cake topped with cherries and chocolate flakesBlack forest cake sweetens up the dark chocolate sponge with its fruity cherry centre

Black forest cake is German in origin. In fact, the Black Forest is a mountain region in Germany in the state of Baden Württemberg and is Germany’s largest continuous forest.

One fascinating theory as to how the cake got its name is the similarities it has to traditional dance costumes worn by the women who live in the area.

It reached its height in popularity in the 1940s (bet your granny has a great version!) and is a relatively easy and impressive dessert to make.

While there are many different types of black forest cake recipes, they all have the same basic starters: chocolate cake, whipped cream and dark cherries.

A lot of the time, the cake is topped with chocolate shavings and more whipped cream and cherries.

Make a version of this vintage cake using this recipe from Reader’s Digest Canada.

Shepherd’s pie

Shepherd's pie with slice cut out to reveal meaty and carrot centreFor a twist on this classic shepherd's pie recipe, try mixing some cheese into the potato topping

This affordable recipe is often featured on many a Brit’s dinner list.

Shepherd’s pie is of British and Irish origin and usually follows these basic ingredients: a crust of mashed potatoes on the top and bottom and minced lamb meat simmered in gravy with lots of veggies.

You can find what food blogger Michelle Lettrich calls the “best ever” shepherd’s pie in this recipe.

Toad in the hole

Dish holding toad in the hole with sausagesTop your toad in the hole with a jug of gravy for a hearty and filling winter warmer

This classic recipe with a whimsical name is perfect for cold winter nights. You can cook this dish made of sausages in a Yorkshire pudding batter in a cast iron skillet.

Toad in the hole was invented by lower-income families as a way to get the most out of meat, which was quite expensive back then.

It has been served since the 18th century and many have said that the sausages in the dish are reminiscent of toads peeking out of the pudding batter.

Bake your own version using this recipe from Kitchen Sanctuary.

Beef wellington

Slices of beef wellington resting on a chopping boardBeef wellington is made by wrapping puff pastry around a beef fillet

Beef Wellington was quite the rage in the 1960s, as it was a favorite of former US President Richard Nixon. It was said that he served it at every state dinner held during his time as president.

The dish goes back to the early 1800s, to the kitchen of the first Duke of Wellington (aka Arthur Wellesley). He was most famous for winning the battle of Waterloo against Napoleon.

British chef Gordon Ramsey created his version, perfect for a Sunday dinner. 

1950s Jell-O mold

A glass bowl of strawberry jell-o on a pink tableJell-O introduced a variety of eccentric flavours in the 20th century, including celery, red pepper and cabbage

Most likely, you’ve come across the mind-boggling photos of Jell-O mold recipes that were popular in the 1950s. Most are indeed stomach churning, but some are not so terrible.

Back then, Jell-O recipes were seen as a status symbol, as refrigerators were newer mid-century appliances typical of upper income households.

If you’re looking to tackle a 1950s Jell-O mold, this refreshing orange sherbet gelatin mold is great for hot summer days.

Or, if you’re looking for something nostalgic during the holiday season, this cranberry Jell-O salad will do the trick.

Baked Alaska

Basked Alaska with crisp browned topBaked Alaska combines cold ice cream and hot meringue so that it resembles a cooked snowball

This fun, fanciful sweet treat’s name was inspired by the March 30, 1867 land deal that the US bought from Russia, making Alaska the country’s 49th state.

The dessert’s scientific discovery came from Sir Benjamin Thompson (known as Count Rumford due to a title he gained for remaining loyal to Britain during the American Revolution).

He invented the kitchen range and a double boiler, but pertaining to the Baked Alaska, he realized air bubbles inside whipped egg whites made meringue the perfect insulator.

The Baked Alaska was a popular dessert choice at 1970s weddings because it was seen to be quite magical—it comes out of the oven both hot and cold at the same time.

Make a traditional version with the help of Martha Stewart's recipe.

Ambrosia salad

Fruit salad with dessicated coconut and cherry on topDust your ambrosia salad with a dessicated coconut finish for extra sweetness

Ambrosia salad is the perfect old-school fruit salad that’s sweet, creamy, and delicious when paired with a salty Easter ham or Christmas roast.

The sweet and sticky stuff dates all the way back to early 19th-century France. Candymakers whipped and sweetened marshmallow plant sap and used it in candies.

They eventually moved over to egg whites, gelatin and cornstarch and the ingredient gained popularity in the US toward the early 20th century.

The dish began to really take off in popularity in the 1930s though, particularly in the American South. It is now seen as a staple for holiday meals in that region.

This quick and easy version is a lovely last-minute addition to your meal.

Yorkshire pudding

Yorkshire puddingsNo roast is complete without a yorkshire pud to mop up the juices

Sweet and dessert-like this is not! Don’t let the “pudding” part of this dish fool you. The classic Yorkshire pudding is meat-based.

The first recorded Yorkshire pudding recipe was in a recipe book dated back in 1737, then called a “Dripping Pudding.” A decade later, the entrée took off as one of Britain’s favorites.

With the modern, busy lives of many families, a Yorkshire-based commercially produced pudding was launched in 1995, called Aunt Bessie’s.

Want to make your own and impress Granny and Mum? Try British chef Jamie Oliver’s recipe.

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