19-3. Ladies Bridge Lunch: What Bess Truman Served Her Bridge Club

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According to The First Ladies Cookbook by Margaret Klapthor, she served that classic of American cuisine and the ladies bridge lunch–the tuna-noodle casserole. To her credit Bess did not descend to canned mushroom soup for the sauce but made a white cheddar cheese cream sauce from scratch.

Ozark Pudding was her dessert of choice. I’ve mislaid the article, but not too long ago the N.Y. Times’ prestigious food section in the Sunday magazine section did an article on just this–Ozark Pudding–must be a classic. If I find it, I’ll blog later as to how it differs from Mrs. Truman’s purported recipe as follows:

Beat together one egg and 3/4 cup of sugar. Sift together one tablespoon of flour, one teaspoon
of baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. Stir in the egg mixture. Add five small apples that
have been peeled, cored and diced, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and a teaspoon of vanilla.

Bake in a buttered casserole, covered, at 350 degrees, for thirty-five minutes. Uncover.
Continue baking until the top is nicely brown. Servie with whipped cream and sprinkling
of additional walnuts.

There must be a million recipes for tuna-noodle casserole, especially in the kind of cookbooks published as fundraisers that are made up of contributed recipes. Typically canned mushroom soup is an ingredient. Why then, have I never made it myself?

One of these days I’m going to make the version in Cooks’ Illustrated American Classics. It has all the gourmet touches one can expect from a Cooks’ Illustrated cookbook. From the home-toasted crumbs that top the finished casserole to the sauce of fresh mushrooms, chicken stock and milk to fresh thyme (not dried). It even tells you what tuna to buy–solid white Starkist was #1 choice, followed by 3 Diamonds, Chicken of the Sea, Bumble Bee and Geisha. The only chunk light tuna they found acceptable is Geisha.



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