Monday I talked about Poppy Cannon and the inspiration behind her most popular cookbook The Can Opener Cookbook. Today and Friday I will be talking about the recipes you can find in the cookbook. Most recipes in the book use a convenience product to cut down the time it takes to create a meal. It is something that we still do today. Poppy uses a premade crust when making a quiche Lorraine, doctors up a jar of pasta sauce with some spices to make Green Noodles with Meat Sauce or uses some Kitchen Bouquet and canned beef consomme with fresh ingredients to make Irish Stout Beef. She uses jar dressings, canned soups, frozen vegetables and box cake mixes. Nothing too crazy or out of the norm.
Then there are these recipes sprinkle throughout that tries really, really, really hard to make a heavily processed item into something gourmet. You look at them with a heavy dose of skepticism that there is no way this recipe works. Then you read her enthusiasm in the description for the recipe and you start to wonder if it was possible. Did Poppy Cannon crack the code on these recipes and create magic? Was she really able to make a great Spanish Rice using quick cooking rice, a can of meat balls in tomato sauce and dehydrated vegetable and onion flakes? Using that same can of meat balls in tomato sauce did she create a great gourmet version of Swedish Meatballs by adding only Kitchen Bouquet, allspice and heavy cream? Or were her guest blown away by her Hasty Tamale Pie which uses canned chili con carne and canned tamales as its base?
Then I spied the corned beef hash recipes. In The Can Opener Cookbook there is two recipes that uses a can of corned beef hash to make an entree. By the time she puts out The New New Can Opener Cookbook, Poppy Cannon has added two more corned beef hash recipes. Now if you have never had corned beef let alone corned beef hash, it has a very strong and distinct flavor through the curing process with pickling spices. I have grown up with both in my life as both my grandfather did and my father still is quite fond of the stuff. So I decided to try them all out because if you could get a can of corned beef hash to taste like something other than a can of corned beef hash then you might have succeeded in the other recipes.
The first recipe up is Baked Corned Beef Hash de Luxe. It is just a quick way to make Red Flannel Hash. It is nothing fancy and does what most recipes in the cookbook does, takes a product adds some ingredients to try to make it the best version it can be. The recipe calls adding finely chopped onions and diced canned beets. This mixture is moistened with either milk, ketchup or chili sauce and bake in a pie plate in a 350 degree oven for 25 minutes. I don’t really think it needed to be moistened with anything but other than that it was fine and tasted like hash.
The second recipe is Crunchy Brown Hashburgers. A can of hash is chilled in the fridge then opened on both ends. The hash is carefully pushed out and sliced into four patties. Each patty is brushed with prepared mustard and Kitchen Bouquet (yes if you noticed Poppy Cannon LOVES this stuff). It is then cooked in a frying pan at medium heat for 8 to 12 minutes on each side or until a good crust forms. She suggests serving these on top of a English muffin half or corn bread that is topped with a mixture of chili sauce mixed with steak sauce. It tasted exactly like you expected it to. A patty of hash topped with an overpowering sauce that did not compliment it in any way. Nothing more and nothing less.
Number three is Pizza Hash. It starts the same as the hashburgers where you chill the corned beef then slice into four patties. This time you top it with some grated cheese and then a sauce that uses a small can of tomato sauce, canned mushrooms, garlic salt and oregano. Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top before putting it in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Poppy Cannon says that if you want to make it extra fancy serve each slice on a thick piece of garlic toast. Same as above it tasted like hash with tomato sauce on top. I don’t get why she didn’t just use a hamburger patty and would have had something more compatible in flavor.
The last recipe is Shepherd’s Pie au Gratin. Spread a layer of premade (whether boxed or frozen) mashed potatoes on the bottom then add a thick layer of corned beef hash that has been moistened with ketchup, chili sauce or steak sauce and onion juice. Top with another layer of mashed potatoes and then with grated cheddar cheese. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve with a green salad or crisp carrot sticks, celery and radishes. Surprisingly this is the one I hated the most as it was just a pile of mush with very little texture. The corned beef hash has potatoes in it already so it was potatoes on potatoes and then you hit the corned beef moistened with the overpowering steak sauce. I raged about this one quite a bit as it frustrated me that she had everything to make a quick Shepard’s Pie closer to what a completely homemade one would have been. There are recipes that uses canned and frozen vegetables and canned gravies as well as other recipes that used beef in her cookbook. It could have been so simple Poppy Cannon!!!!!!!
So did Poppy Cannon succeed in changing a can of hash into a gourmet meal? No. Bless her heart she tried but no she did not succeed in these recipes. Check back Friday when I talk about another one of Poppy Cannon’s recipes.