Many in the marketing industry know George Lois as a pioneer in advertising, with claims such as having a hand in creating the New York magazine, 92 Esquire magazine cover designs, the slogan “I want my MTV”, and naming Stouffer’s Lean Cuisine line.
However, many might not know of the pivotal role food played in this creative genius. In a recent 6 part Design Observer article by Adam Harrison Levy about designers, artists and cooking, Lois boasts:“No man in the history of the world has eaten the quality of food that I have.”
Lois invariably connects the marriage of his parents to his mother’s ability to cook. As Greek immigrants in the Bronx back in the 1930s, the deciding factor in Lois’ father choosing his wife was her “excellent cooking skills.”
When Lois looked to starting his own family in the 1950s, it was his Polish wife’s determination in winning over his Old World relatives by tackling difficult recipes created by his own indomitable mother. Rosemary, his wife to be, successfully recreated the following recipe in an effort to win over her new in-laws.
Try your hand at this two day recipe next year, as an homage to George and his new bride. Granted, we just passed Thanksgiving time, but it might be fun to try and prepare next November!)
Vasilike Thanasoulis: Thanksgiving Turkey Stuffing (circa 1923)
This recipe was created when Vasilike cooked for the family and fifteen farmhands on her brother's farm on Staten Island. It was translated into English by her daughter, Hariclea Lois, for Vasilike's new daughter-in-law, Rosemary Lois in 1951.
(If any substitutions are made for ingredients or procedure the results will not be the responsibility of the Lois family.)
This recipe can serve twelve people or more.
1 12 lb. fresh turkey with giblets (use the livers only, discard the lung and heart)
1 lb. Bacon
3 lbs. round steak ground
6 slices Arnold stone ground whole wheat bread (moistened in water and squeezed dry)
3 sweet onions (preferably Vidalia)
1 bunch scallions
1/2 bunch celery
1 small bunch Italian parsley
1/2 cup black raisins
1/2 cup pignolia nuts
3 medium size cans Hunt's tomato sauce
1 lb. whole, skinned and cooked chestnuts in a can or jar Butter, salt and pepper
THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING:
1.) Fry the bacon until quite crisp (do not burn). Drain on paper towels. Cut into 1” pieces.
2.) Roughly chop onions, leeks, scallions, celery and parsley and place in separate bowls.
3.) Slice chestnuts in half.
4.) Roughly chop turkey livers.
5.) Heat a small amount of butter in a large pot and quickly sauté the pignolia nuts until golden, not brown, and add the turkey livers just until rarely cooked. Remove from pot and set aside.
6.) Add to pot: onions, leeks and scallions and brown well, stirring often. (Add a little more butter if necessary. Turn off heat and leave vegetables in pot.)
7.) In a large bowl, with your hands, mix the round steak ground, salt and pepper, eggs and whole wheat bread until well blended. Brown the meat mixture well in a separate pan.
8.) Add browned meat to vegetables in large pot.
9.) Dilute the tomato sauce in 1 and 1/2 cups of water, stir to blend and add to meat mixture.
10.) Add the raw chopped celery and parsley to mixture. Add pignolia nuts and raisins, chestnuts, bacon and giblets. Mix all together very well.
11.) Simmer for 3/4 hour, uncovered, stirring often to keep from burning. 12.) Cool and refrigerate overnight.
THANKSGIVING DAY A.M.: THE TURKEY:
1.) Wash the turkey under cold water several times, inside and out. Remove any pinfeathers observable. Remove the dark red kidneys in the lower back and discard.
2.) Salt and pepper the inside of the turkey and stuff (but don't pack too full or the bird might split when being roasted).
3.) Tuck the wing tips behind the back of the turkey. Place the crust ends of the loaf of whole wheat bread into the large cavity containing the stuffing to seal the stuffing inside the bird.
4.) Brush melted butter over the whole turkey and salt and pepper well. Place on a rack in a large baking pan and add water to the pan. Make a tent over the turkey with tinfoil, sealing firmly around all sides of the pan. Let the tent rise an inch or so above the turkey breast.
5.) Roast at 325 degrees for 4 hours, removing the tinfoil after 1 1/2 hours and then basting often. If bird looks brown enough at 3 1/2 hours prick the thigh with a fork. If pink juice runs out, continue baking another 1/2 hour or so.
6.) The last half hour, begin simmering the reserved, covered stuffing, stirring often to prevent burning. When turkey is done remove the stuffing from the bird and add it to the simmering stuffing and mix it all well. Carve the turkey and serve a portion of the stuffing beside the slices of turkey.
This article was originally published on Gourmet Live!
You can read more about this fascinating man and the starring role food takes here: