Recipes From the Golden Age of the Luncheon

Clockwise from top left: Mrs. Hering’s Famous Pot Pie; Helen Corbitt’s Chicken Salad; Bullocks Coconut Cream Pie; Nordstrom Tomato Basil Soup

Clockwise from top left: Mrs. Hering’s Famous Pot Pie; Helen Corbitt’s Chicken Salad; Bullocks Coconut Cream Pie; Nordstrom Tomato Basil Soup


James Ransom for The Wall Street Journal, Food Styling by Brett Regot, Prop Styling by Anson Call
Mrs. Hering’s Famous Pot Pie

The Walnut Room,Marshall Field’s, Chicago, 1890s

Total Time: 30 minutes Serves: 4

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cut circles from 1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed, to fit the tops of four 10- to 12-ounce ovenproof ramekins. Cut 2-3 slashes in each circle and set aside. // In a large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in ¼ cup all-purpose flour until there are no lumps, and cook 1 minute more. Add 2 cups chicken broth, whisking constantly until smooth. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking occasionally, until thickened, about 4 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Stir in 3 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast, ½ cup small frozen peas, thawed, and ½ cup diced carrots. Divide mixture among baking dishes. Top each with a pastry round, tucking edges into ramekin. Beat 1 large egg with a splash of water. Lightly brush pastry tops with egg wash. Place baking dishes on a baking sheet and transfer to oven. Bake until pastry is golden and filling begins to bubble, about 25 minutes. Serve hot.

Helen Corbitt’s Chicken Salad

The Zodiac Room, Neiman Marcus, Dallas, 1950s

Total time: 15 minutes Makes: 3 cups

Remove skin and pull meat from bones of 1 small rotisserie chicken. Cut meat into ½ -inch cubes. In a large bowl, combine chicken, ¾ cup mayonnaise, 1 cup thinly sliced celery, ½ cup toasted sliced almonds and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. In a separate medium bowl, whisk ½ cup heavy whipping cream until thickened and soft peaks begin to hold, about 1½ minutes. Gently fold cream into chicken mixture along with 1 cup halved purple grapes and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley until well combined. Season with more salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve on lettuce.

Bullocks Coconut Cream Pie

Bullocks Wilshire Tea Room, Los Angeles, 1930s

Total Time: 5 hours (includes chilling) Makes: 1 (9-inch) pie

Make the pie crust: In a food processor, combine 1¼ cups sifted all-purpose flour, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon sugar. Add ¼ cup vegetable shortening, chilled, and 55⅓ tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into pieces. Pulse to form pea-size bits, about 1 minute. Add 2 tablespoons ice water and pulse until just combined. (You should still see little pieces of shortening and butter in the dough.) Remove dough from processor, shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill at least 1 hour and up to overnight. // On a floured surface, roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Starting from center of dough, roll outward, rotating dough 2-3 inches after each roll, to create a true circle. After every 4-5 rolls, slide a large offset spatula under dough to release it from work surface. Add a little flour to work surface, rolling pin and/or dough if dough sticks or becomes difficult to roll. (If dough becomes too soft, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze until dough becomes manageable, about 10 minutes). // Roll dough onto rolling pin, then unroll into a 9-inch pie pan, centering the round. Gently press dough into bottom of pan and against sides, making sure there are no air pockets. Press dough against upper edge of pan so it extends about ½ inch beyond rim, and trim any excess with kitchen shears. Fold overhang under and use a fork to make symmetrical indentations all around rim of crust. Chill crust until cool and firm, about 15 minutes. // Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove crust from refrigerator. Prick bottom of dough with a fork about 10 times, evenly spaced. Place pie pan on a baking sheet and bake until lightly golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack. (Leave oven on.) // Make the filling: Combine 1 cup evaporated milk, 1 cup heavy cream and ½ cup sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together 6 large egg yolks, 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch, 1 tablespoon softened unsalted butter, ¼ teaspoon vanilla, ¼ teaspoon coconut extract or almond extract and 3 tablespoons cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez brand. Whisking constantly, gradually stream hot cream mixture into egg mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until custard thickens and coats back of a wooden spoon, 10-15 minutes. // Pour custard into baked pie shell. Bake until custard is set and lightly golden on top, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a cooling rack. (Leave oven on.) // Make the toppings: Spread ½ cup sweetened shredded coconut on a baking sheet and toast in oven, stirring twice, until golden, about 6 minutes. Let cool completely. // Use an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment to whip 3 cups heavy cream with ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar until very stiff peaks form. // Finish the pie: Scoop whipped cream onto center of pie. Use an offset spatula to smooth whipped cream into a dome shape. Cover with toasted coconut. Pie is best enjoyed the day it is made. Store in a cake box or under a cake dome in the refrigerator.

Nordstrom Tomato Basil Soup

Nordstrom Cafe, Seattle, 1980s

Total Time: 2 hours Makes: 12 cups

In a 6- to 8-quart pot, heat ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add 1 pound carrots, peeled and diced, and 1 pound onions, peeled and diced. Season with kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes. Add 3 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, crushed roughly by hand, and cover with 2 cups chicken stock. Add 1 tablespoon dried basil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soup thickens, about 1½ hours more, monitoring heat to maintain a gentle simmer. // Turn off heat. Taking care with the hot liquid, use an immersion blender or transfer soup to a blender, working in batches if necessary, to blend until smooth. Return soup to saucepan. Stir in 1 cup heavy whipping cream, then season with a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt and black pepper to taste. Cut 1 cup basil leaves into chiffonade. To serve, ladle warm soup into bowls and top with cut basil. Soup will keep up to 1 week in an airtight container in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.

—Adapted from “Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook” by Michael Northern

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