Classic French dressing

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DawnT
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2009/10/24 13:48:33 (permalink)

Classic French dressing

There was a time during the 50's and 60's when I was a kid that when you asked for salad dressing it meant two things. Vinegar and oil or that bright orange French dressing. No mattter where you went; cafeteria,family restaurant,diner, or in-store restaurants (remember them?) that's all that was available. It wouldn't be 'til the late 60's that some restaurants began to bring a 4 bowl carrier to the table with a few other selections such as blue cheese, Italian, and Thousand Island type dressings. That orange stuff remained the basic staple of dressings. No matter where you went, it pretty much tasted the same.
 
That taste is vanishing. Quickly. It's rare that to see French dressing any more unless it's a variant such as Catalina or some other kind of "French" dressing. Some are vinaigrettes, catsup based, or adulterated with other flavors/ingredients that taste nothing like the classic French. In the retail bottled dressings, almost nothing any longer bottled as a French dressing tastes like the original, even the store brands around here. The only retail dressing that still has that unique taste is Wishbone's Deluxe French. Kraft overhauled theirs a few years ago and it too now tastes nothing like the original. There's a few institutional house brands that are similar too, but you're forced to buy a gallon container.
 
I've tried every imaginable recipe using catsup,paprika,mayo,oil,...you name it, but never does any published recipe even come even remotely close to that mellow taste and bright orange color. This can't be a non-reproducible combination of oleoresins and flavor extracts common in the industry today. If this was available in the 50's, there has to be some way to make this stuff in a blender from common ingredients.
 
Any thoughts?
#1

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    mar52
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/24 14:12:36 (permalink)
    My thought is that I'm with you on this one.

    I can get something similar at Dinah's in Culver City but their food isn't good anymore.

    I miss the old style French!
    #2
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/24 14:21:09 (permalink)
    Here is an article about the topic and it includes a recipe. Everything seemed to turn Ranch in the 80s...
     
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/mbauer/day?blogid=26&year=2007&month=09&day=05&cat=
     
     
    #3
    DawnT
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/24 14:39:39 (permalink)
    Thanks CC. The authors sentiment was right-on until he mentioned Pink. Pink? This stuff is taxicab orange at the least.  I took a look at Lynne's recipe and then down the page about American style. The first one is out just by looking at it. The second French appears to be the fallacy that everyone seems to think is key to this style of french dressing with mayo and catsup. No permutation of mayo and catsup will taste anything similar. That combo begins the taste of what's commonly called Catalina nowadays...and the basis of virtually every printed home recipe going back to 50's vintage cookbooks.
    #4
    mar52
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/24 14:42:06 (permalink)
    Ha!  That French Dressing recipe can't be right as it has sriracha as one of the ingredients.

    Thanks for the link though as there are some others that sound good.
    #5
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/24 19:53:06 (permalink)
    I did not even taste French dressing until I was at least 21 years old!!
     
    My Grandmother swore I was allergic to most salad dressings because I am allergic to blue cheese. Salad dressing was oil vinegar sugar salt and maybe sour cream until I became an adult. There is a Spanish restaurant in town that makes a house dressing that is sort of the same color as Roadfood. Delicious! I will try to get the recipe from them. I got the sangria recipe years ago...and that has served me well.
     
    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/437871/restaurant_review_mediterraneo_spanish.html?cat=22
     
    I am like a foreign exchange student when it comes to the old-school dressings. I thought French dressing was Mc Donald's special sauce without the relish. I must have some crazy cookbook from the 50s or 60s with a recipe and mod color.
      
    Paging RubyRose!!
     
    post edited by CCinNJ - 2009/10/24 20:05:18
    #6
    stricken_detective
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/25 01:30:05 (permalink)
    ^^right? She did a great job helping me recreate Green Goddess.
    #7
    David_NYC
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/25 03:00:09 (permalink)
    Around here, that flavor at retail is scarce. Preiffer still makes their version:
    http://www.marzetti.com/products/pfeiffer/detail.php?bc=20&cid=1&pid=213
    I don't even remember my local market carrying the French flavor in their Wishbone line. You also don't see bowls of salad dressing in restaurants anymore; I think that practice stopped about the time people started adding LSD to them on the tables.

    Frankly, I don't think Classic French dressing can be reproduced in the average home kitchen. Shelf stable French dressings (there are magazine ads for Kraft French from the 60's for sale right now on ebay) are processed to keep fresh. Who knows how they made it - pasteurized it, homogenized it, used trans fats, etc. Certainly a lot of dressings were reformulated after the nuitrition labels became mandatory, mainly reducing fat. My favorite canned chicken broth at the time was made by Venice Maid. It came out of the starting gate with a rating of 52% of a day's allowance of sodium. It was soon reformulated to 37%. Taste went downhill.

    In the Northeast, Cain's and Ken's Foods, both out of Massachusetts, still sell a retail French dressing. For food service, Ken's Foodservice, Cain's Foodservice, and Admiration (Supreme Oil) still make a lurid French. Most coffee shops, and diners will provide it on request.

    I would go the foodservice route. The gallon jars are not that expensive. By the time you test out every french salad dressing recipe on the Internet.........
     
    ADDENDUM: That link to the Pfeiffer dressing includes the ingredients list for that product. It would be nice if someone still had an old Kraft French dressing bottle (empty) with the label, and could post the ingredients list.
    post edited by David_NYC - 2009/10/25 10:49:35
    #8
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/25 17:50:22 (permalink)
    stricken_detective

    ^^right? She did a great job helping me recreate Green Goddess.

     

    Amen! RubyRose is the best on these types of cases!
     
    The Silver Palate Cookbook includes a recipe that begins with "From an American family cookbook comes this alternative to the orange horor on your grocer's shelf today"
     
    2 eggs
    1/2 c. red wine vinegar
    1/2 c. granulated sugar
    1 T. prepared Dijon-style mustard
    1 t. salt
    1 t. imported sweet paprika
    1 c. vegetable oil
     
    Combine all ingredients (except oil) in food processor fitted with steel blade. Process 2 minutes.
     
    With the motor running drizzle oil in slow steady stream until incorporated.
     
    post edited by CCinNJ - 2009/10/25 17:57:11
    #9
    seafarer john
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/25 20:13:25 (permalink)
    I thought I knew what "French Dressing " was until you folks raised the question and I started looking through my cookbooks. While, at some past time there might have been general agreement as to what was "French Dressing" , I've come to the conclusion that it is a meaningless term now-a-days. The term seems to encompass everything from a simple vinegrette to exotic mayonnaise concoctions. 

    As to what was originally described here - the orange stuff - While my memory now-a-days sometimes fails me - what I seem to remember from places here in the Hudson Valley and Connecticut shore  areas - it was generally pinkish - I think it had some catsup or cocktail sauce in it...

    Cheers , John  
     


    #10
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/25 20:52:14 (permalink)
    It certainly is a fun mystery. The recipes go from same same same to so very different with the"forget about that stuff" and do this slant that seems to make it nothing like the classic french dressing. Along the way you get to discover and remember some things almost forgotten!
     
    Other than ketchup I also notice tomato soup being mentioned as the red base along with mayonnaise in many same same same recipes.
     
    Like Dawn said it would not be something from the "lab" based on the time period.
    #11
    David_NYC
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    DawnT
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/27 00:04:07 (permalink)
    Great post David! There's something here. Notice in the 1952 ad that there are 3 French dressings. The original was pale yellow and the "Miracle and Casino were bright orange. Aside from the coloring, that's a tacit reference to Miracle Whip being the ingredients of one of them. That's an angle that I haven't ever tried. You won't get an orange color from catsup in sufficent concentrations. That yellow will have to come from a food coloring, most probably some extract of paprika or annato. The color is then academic and probably a tasteless extract from paprika. I've looked into some older ingredients lists on institutional French dressings years past and dry mustard,vinegar, and onion powder have been constants as well as Xanthan gum as a thickener. Generally when I see tomato paste and corn syup togther in an ingredients list, I'm predisposed to thinking catsup. Some clues here. Tnx. David
    #13
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/27 08:24:29 (permalink)
    Achiote oil would give it a nice orange gold color.
     
    I love the shape of the bottles in the 1952 ad. Today buying a  dressing in a unique bottle will cost plenty.
     
    French dressing on fruit salad? Was that popular years ago?
    #14
    cavandre
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/27 08:28:15 (permalink)
    A couple of weeks ago, we were in our local Italian joint where you get a salad before your entree. The server rattles off the choices & it gets me thinking that I hadn't had French dressing in ages, so I order it. It comes out with the somewhat bright orange color. A couple of bites into the salad & I realize why I hadn't had this ages...I don't like it! If I'm going to indulge in the calories, give me blue cheese or Russian (1000 Island).
    #15
    DawnT
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/27 11:10:40 (permalink)
     I use achiote (annato) in my chicken breader and arroz con pollo for color. That certainly would make for a bright orange color, but I somehow doubt that Americans would be familliar with using it back in the 50's. I remember boiling lard or oil and straining the seeds for that beautifully red oil. Haven't done that in ages. I can rememer a time when you bought chorizos, it was packed in that orange achiote lard that was as much as a prize to cook with as the chorizo. Geesh I feel very old right now
    #16
    RubyRose
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/31 18:40:25 (permalink)
    Try this one from the era of sugar and msg. 

    P.S.  I didn't create the name.

    MAN-PLEASING FRENCH DRESSING
    1/4 cup ketchup
    1/4 cup white sugar
    1/4 cup oil (use Crisco oil, not olive oil)
    1/4 cup cider vinegar
    1/4 tsp. Accent
    1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
    2 tsp. grated onion
    Salt & pepper to taste

    Put all ingredients in blender and mix well.  Refrigerate overnight before serving.  Best served at room temperature.
    #17
    David_NYC
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/10/31 21:51:01 (permalink)
    I was in a few supermarkets today, and looked at the ingredients lists in bottles of French dressing from such brands as Wish Bone, Ken's, and some of the house brands made by Bay Valley Food's E.D. Smith division in North East, PA. The ingredients list all read about the same as the Pfeiffers that I provided a link to above.
    #18
    DawnT
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/01 20:37:35 (permalink)
    I had a chance to look over some ingredients lists. Basically they are similar. Tomato paste, Vinegar,corn syrup, onion powder. (This already sounds like catsup ingredients). Mustard flour, oil, salt, paprka oleoresin, Xanthan gum, shelf stabizers & emulsifiers. The paprika oleoresin will add no taste, only red color. The dry mustard may be the clincher here, but this in no way tastes like a dry mustard and catsup BBQ base mixture.

    I've noticed something looking over the main chains here. Pfeiffer's is no longer carried down this way. I remember it years ago. We have the usual Kraft,Wishbone,Ken's,Hidden Valey,store brands, Marzetti's in the vegetable cooler, and a few indies. What ever happened to Russian? Nothing anymore under that name.  Are the newer red Frenches,California style, and Catalina's new names for what used to be called Russian?

    dwt
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    CCinNJ
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/01 20:47:32 (permalink)
    I just noticed the same thing at the Supermarket. No Russian dressing. California French & Catalina...
     
     http://hubpages.com/hub/Russian-Dressing1
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    stricken_detective
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/01 23:10:22 (permalink)
    I myself have often wondered whatever happened to Russian dressing & furthermore, what made it different from French?

    There was French at the grocery store last week, but last time I took pictures there a manager came scurrying over to me asking me why. I will see if I can do it sometime this week, because what kind of detective would I be if I couldn't secure pics? The green duck barks at midnight, over & out.
    #21
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/02 00:02:17 (permalink)
    Godspeed Stricken!!
     
    Yikes like they never saw people taking pictures of salad dressings for the around the world in 80 dressings collection. 1000 island. Check. Catalina. Check. French. Check. Italian. Check. Where is the Russian? The Russians are coming the Russians are coming.
     
    The Prince ties his shoes...twice.
    #22
    David_NYC
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/02 00:50:52 (permalink)
    You can get Russian made by Ken's Steak House and WishBone up in my neck of the woods.
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    6star
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/02 01:07:05 (permalink)
    stricken_detective

    I myself have often wondered whatever happened to Russian dressing & furthermore, what made it different from French?



    As I was growing up (about 60 to 70 years ago), at home we always used regular Kraft French Dressing, not the Miracle French, which was much more oily (and if I remember correctly, at that time Miracle French needed to be shaken before pouring, since it tended to separate into layers).
     
    Russian dressing at that time, however, was not like a French, but always more like a 1000 Island, a French with "little chunks" in it.  From the copycat recipe on the internet of the Russian Tearoom Russian Dressing (supposably the original Russian Dressing) it does contain various "chunks" (dill pickle, green pepper, green onion, horseradish):
    http://www.copykat.com/2009/05/13/russian-tea-room-russian-dressing-this-is-a-salad-dressing-recipe-from-a-place-with-a-rich-history/
    #24
    DawnT
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/02 01:32:04 (permalink)
    Recipe appears to be missing something. Note the Chilli (chilli sauce?) that's in the instructions is missing from the ingredients. No tomato product is listed. Tnx for the link.
    #25
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/02 08:55:52 (permalink)
     
    http://www.winslam.com/rlaramee/salad/index.html
     
     
    Seven Seas ingredient list for Russian Dressing circa '76.
     
    "A thick and creamy Russian dressing ... with a special blend of herbs and spices. Your family will love it mixed with cream cheese and used as a dip or as a spread on celery pieces."
    INGREDIENTS: SOYBEAN OIL, VINEGARS, TOMATO PASTE, WATER, SUGAR, SALT, DRIED BELL PEPPERS AND ONION, SPICES, POLYSORBATE 60 (IMPROVES CREAMINESS), XANTHAN GUM (IMPROVES POURABILITY), POTASSIUM SORBATE AND SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVES), FLAVORING, CALCIUM DISODIUM EDTA (A PRESERVATIVE).
    #26
    boyardee65
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/03 04:33:27 (permalink)
      Personally, I don't have polysorbate 60 or any xanthan gum to help make this recipe viable to me! The ascorbic acid I can get from any lemon.  I don't even know what CalDiSo EDTA is?

    JMHO

    David O.
    #27
    CCinNJ
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/03 09:19:36 (permalink)
    That recipe is not to duplicate. Just to show the ingredient list for commercial Russian dressing in that time period.
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    DawnT
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/03 10:09:37 (permalink)
    Most of the strange named stuff only enhnaces shelf stability and preservation. Polysorbate is an emulsifier. You'd get the same effect of getting the oil and water to mix from egg or mustard powder in a shorter term. The Xantan gum actually will give the thicker,creamy texture to a dressing or sauce. You can buy it in most any health food store in a bottle. It doesn't take much to thicken a cold liquid in a blender. As an alternative, you can use a powdered pectin used in jam making such as Certo to get the much same effect.
    #29
    RubyRose
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    Re:Classic French dressing 2009/11/03 10:23:39 (permalink)
    CCinNJ

    That recipe is not to duplicate. Just to show the ingredient list for commercial Russian dressing in that time period.

     
    In the 50's and 60's, it seemed as if more restaurants made their dressings in-house than used food service preparations.  
     
    In the restaurants we frequented, Russian dressing was mayo and chili sauce based and Thousand Island was the same but with chopped ingredients added to it.  There was also a red Russian dressing by Wishbone (?) that was similar to the red French but oilier and darker.  It was the base of an awful chicken recipe of that era where a bottle of it was mixed with a pack of onion soup mix and a jar of apricot preserves and poured over the fowl before baking to produce a gloppy, sticky mess that became a fad across the country.

    #30
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