Welcome back! I am cooking my way through the 1929 Photoplay cookbook (recipes of the stars!) and you are invited to tag along. (I have listed all the recipes that I have tested on this dedicated page. Check back often.) This time, we are trying a recipe from a popular screenwriter, Jeanie Macpherson. She is most famous for her work with Cecil B. DeMille but she was also a pioneering director and actress.
She wrote the original Ten Commandments and famously got into an onscreen catfight with Geraldine Farrar in Carmen.
Stuffed veggies were quite the thing for the first half of the twentieth century and the Stuffed Tomato Ravigotte involves a seafood salad inside a, you guessed it, tomato. “Ravigotte” is defined as “A vinegar sauce seasoned with minced onion, capers, and herbs, used with boiled meats or fish.” As you will soon see, there are no capers or herbs to be had so I think we can safely just call this a stuffed tomato. Here is the recipe:
Jeanie is a girl after my own heart! I detest sweet pickles and sweet seafood, potato or egg salads. I was also pleased by the amount of cayenne called for. It gives the recipe much more kick than one would expect from recipes of this era.
I ended up making a few changes to the recipe. I added some sour cream to the crab salad to that things would hold together a little better. As one of my tasters does not eat shellfish, I used imitation crab. (Sacrilege!) I also used Vlasic Dill Relish instead of chopping up a pickle. (I told you I hate sweet pickles. I go through dill relish like mad.) As the tomatoes at my house are not yet ripe, I was obliged to use store-bought toms. The mustard was just plain old French’s. I used finely minced onion instead of onion juice.
Here is what it looked like when I was done.
Here is the taste test video.
My Rating: 4 out of 5. My testers all agreed that this was pretty darn tasty.
The cayenne really put the thing over and the bell pepper sprinkled on top was both pretty and delicious. The recipe has a nicely balanced combination of flavors, though you may wish to tone down the mustard a bit, especially if you are not used to such an amount of the yellow stuff. The salad can be challenging to eat. I ended up handing out sharp knives and letting everyone slice it up for easy consumption.
Stuffed veggies are pretty rare these days and I think it is high time that they made a comeback. It is a healthy, tasty and attractive way to serve salad. As the recipe says, it can easily be the main course of a light luncheon. Serve the stuffed tomato, some crusty bread and butter, maybe some lemonade or mineral water and voila! A very civilized lunch, ideal for writers of semi-sleazy biblical epics.
Can it be improved? I am planning to make this recipe again once my tomatoes are ripe. Home-grown tomato? Yum! I am also considering substituting egg for crab. I think the recipe could stand a bit less mustard and a bit more creamy stuff. You know, sour cream, mayonnaise, Vegenaise, something like that.
Variations: If you are vegan, you might try an “egg” salad. Or just a nice chopped veggie salad. Just remember to use the killer combo of cayenne, onion and bell pepper. Carnivores might enjoy a chicken salad inside the tomato. Just follow the recipe and substitute cold shredded chicken for crab.