Learn about Life in the 1920s

A Collection of Christmas Dinners and Desserts

A very diverse range of Christmas Dinner and Dessert Recipes follow that provide something for everybody.


AS THE Pacific Coast housewife has usually "come from somewhere else" she has not established a typical dinner that is native to the Coast, but she has put into the dinner she has eaten in other sections of the country the wonderful California fruits. Her dinner may be eaten without after-effects of discomfort.

California Fruit Cocktail. Put small cantaloupe melons on ice until nearly frozen; cut them into halves, scrape out the seeds and fill the halves with pineapple, oranges and red plums cut into small, irregular pieces; add strawberries, and sprinkle sugar over all. Arrange a grape leaf on each plate, on which place the halved cantaloupe.

Roast Sucking Pig. Wash the pig in cold water and wipe it thoroughly dry. Stuff it with finely grated bread crumbs, minced sage, chopped onion, chopped ham, gravy, salt and pepper, mixed together and put into the body of the pig. Sew up the slit, and truss the legs back to allow the inside to be roasted and the under part to be crisp. Rub the pig with butter and baste with it very frequently while the pig is roasting. Serve with currant sauce, baked apples and roasted sweet potatoes.


IN THE good old days of long ago, Christmas, to the loving, warm-hearted Southerner, was a time of happiness, indeed, and great were the preparations for this day, both in the cabin and in the mansion. It was then that Mammy Chloe came into her own as she prepared the Christmas dinner. There were so many delicious things to eat, one had to make a choice. Our choice for the piece de resistance falls on planked chickens.

Planked Chickens. Use broilers or frying chickens for this purpose. Have the chickens split down the back, and then remove the neck and also the thigh and breast bones. Parboil the chickens for ten minutes; then broil them in the usual manner and lift them to a well-heated plank. Make a border of mashed potatoes; then, with a sharp knife, cut carrots and beets into flowers, and place a cornucopia filled with peas in each corner. Next, with a clean pastry brush, brush the potatoes and chickens with well-beaten egg to glaze. Heat for ten minutes before serving.

To prepare the planking board for the chickens, soak in warm water for one hour; drain, wipe dry and place, it in the oven to heat. This method prevents charring.

Christmas Pudding Cake. Recipes were family or neighborly affairs and were often handed down like heirlooms. Bake a sponge cake in either custard cups or deep muffin pans. When cold, cut a slice from the top and remove the crumbs of the cake, leaving just a wall of the sponge cake. Fill the center with custard made by stirring to dissolve one cupful of milk and seven tablespoonfuls of flour. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes. Add six tablespoonfuls of sugar, the yolks of two eggs, seven preserved cherries cut into bits, two fingers of candied pineapple cut into tiny bits, six blanched almonds cut into bits and two pieces of candied ginger cut into bits. Mix, and then fill into the prepared cakes. Replace the tops, and set aside to mold.

When ready to serve, cut into halves, showing the custard filling. Top with fruit meringue made of the white of one egg and half a glassful of apple jelly. Beat with an egg beater until the mixture holds its shape. Use a rose tube in a pastry bag and pile around and over the pudding. A large sponge cake may be made in place of the individual cakes and then cut and served in slices.


AN OLD-FASHIONED New England Christmas dinner was, first of all, characterized by a lavish simplicity because, given two courses only, it appeared a matter of hospitality to load the table with every dainty that could possibly pertain to those two courses. At one end of the table—on which was placed, before the guests seated themselves, everything provided for the more substantial portion of the feast—was displayed the ample chicken pie; at the other end, perhaps, a roasted fresh ham might be displaying its tempting pink slices, white-rimmed and clove-dotted; or a "sparerib" bursting with richness.

Chicken Pie. For a large pie; boil two fine fowls until tender and allow them to cool in the broth, which has been salted, overnight. Next day drain, and cut or pull off the meat in nice pieces of suitable size for serving. Small bones, like the wishbone, second joint, and so forth, may remain. Boil a dozen and a half very small onions and a few small potatoes, quartered, until tender, salting the water the last part of the time. Meantime, boil away the broth until strong and rich, and thicken a pint and a half of it with four tablespoonfuls each of butter and flour melted together. Season highly to taste with a little paprika, salt, pepper and add a cup of rich cream; let boil up, thicken a bit more if desirable, and pour over the pieces of chicken, which have been laid in a rather shallow large baking dish, with the onions and potatoes arranged in layers. A small cup may be placed in the middle, bottom side up, before putting in the chicken and vegetables. Parsley and minced sweet pepper may be added to the sauce if liked.

Make a rich baking-powder crust; roll to half an inch in thickness and lay over the top, first buttering the edges and putting dots of butter over the chicken. Cut ornamental gashes, brush all with milk and bake in a hot oven until top is a rich, golden brown. Brush with melted butter when removed from the oven. Regular pastry may be used if preferred.

Delicious Christmas Pudding. One cupful each of chopped suet, milk or coffee and molasses, three cupfuls and a half of flour, one teaspoonful of saleratus, two teaspoonfuls of cream of tartar, one teaspoonful each of salt and cinnamon, half a teaspoonful of cloves and nutmeg, a little mace, a little grated orange or lemon peel and two or three cupfuls of fruit, either raisins, currants or sliced citron.

Steam in a buttered pudding boiler Sour or five hours; serve with hard sauce.


A MIDDLE WEST dinner is likely to be also a reproduction of Christmas dinner "back home" and we are not surprised that we must suggest for that dinner two standbys—roast turkey with dry sausage stuffing and giblet gravy, and mince pie; with cranberry jelly on the side.

Roast Turkey. Select a young bird weighing about fourteen pounds; dress, stuff and truss it. Place it on its back in a roasting pan, put it into a moderate oven and baste frequently, using a quarter of a cupful of olive oil and one cupful of boiling water. A fourteen-pound turkey requires five to six hours for roasting.

Dry-Sausage Stuffing. Mix one loaf of fine bread crumbs, one cupful of finely cut celery, one tablespoonful of chopped parsley, one tablespoonful of finely chopped onion, salt and cayenne pepper and three tablespoonfuls of finely chopped dry sausage; add the liquid in which the giblets were cooked, sufficient to give the desired moisture. Add three tablespoonfuls of melted butter. Pack the stuffing in as solidly as possible. Sew up with deep stitches, and remove the stitches before serving. Serve on a large hot platter with sprays of holly to garnish.

Mince Pie. Mix and sift one cupful and a half of pastry flour with one teaspoonful of salt; add one-quarter of a cupful of pure leaf lard or vegetable shortening, and chop until the mixture resembles meal. Chill; add cold water to make a stiff paste. Roll the pastry an eighth of an inch in thickness, cut it an eighth of an inch larger than the plate to be filled; spread it on plate, wetting the edge of the crust with cold water; cover the wet edge with a strip of pastry half an inch wide. Fill plate with mincemeat; cover with pastry cut a quarter of an inch larger than the plate; press the edges of the pastry firmly together; prick the top of the crust with fork. Bake. Place the pie in a hot oven at first, reducing the heat after the crust becomes hardened. Turn frequently while baking. Bake until a golden brown—for about forty-five minutes.

Source: The Ladies Home Journal - December 1919




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