I admit freely that I passed by this recipe in the file quite a few times simply because of the name – it’s definitely not the most appealing sounding concoction. But after coming across multiple versions I started to dig a little deeper and now have a new appreciation for its cleverness.
Essentially it’s a recipe for mayonnaise made without oil. And quite frankly it’s ingenious. Dating as far back as the early 1800s Cooked Salad Dressing would have been popular in areas of Europe and the early Americas that didn’t have easy access to cooking oil normally associated with a mayonnaise type preparation. Olive oil, typically from Spain wasn’t always readily available and when it was, it was far too expensive to use for day-to-day cooking. And vegetable oil wasn’t available until the mid 20th century. This dressing could easily been made and preserved for months at a time making it very convenient – the clear predecessor to the huge variety of bottled salad dressings available today.
This recipe comes from my Grandma Drake’s collection and likely from the days she and my Grandad managed a farm west of Edmonton in the 1930s. In her cooking lexicon, salad would have referred to a “composed” or “bound” assortment of vegetables like potato salad rather than the loose collection of leaves and vegetables we’re more used to today. She quite likely used this recipe when preparing some kind of vegetable salad to accompany lunches sent out to the farm hands working in the fields. I know they had a food chest similar to the one pictured here. It could keep food cool or warm for extended periods and was easily transportable. Mom and Dad found one at a country auction some years ago and used it as a coffee table at the lake.
The history lesson that comes with each of these recipes is the real treasure. I’m endlessly astounded by the ingenuity of the cooks – literally and figuratively – that have come before. It’s truly inspiring!
Cooked Salad Dressing
1 envelope unflavoured gelatine
1/2 cup cold water
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/3 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup vinegar
In the top of a double boiler soften gelatine in cold water (according to package directions). Add sugar, salt, mustard and paprika – mix well. Add boiling water and butter.
Beat eggs well and slowly beat them into the hot mixture. Return the mixture to the double boiler and cook over hot – not boiling – water stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove from heat and slowly stir in vinegar. Beat until smooth.