Monday, 18 June 2012

Isabel's 5 Cup Salad/Dessert


Sunday mornings, I visit a senior woman who lives across the street from me. Isabel isn’t your typical senior. She’s got a flat screen TV, a computer and she even has an e-reader. Here’s hoping I’m that up-to-date at her age, but, knowing me, I’ll be wearing acid wash overalls and trying to work an iPod.

A few Sundays ago, I noticed a package of coconut, a can of pineapple and a tin of mandarin oranges on Isabel’s side table. Naturally, my caker senses starting tingling. I asked her what everything was for.

“5 Cup Dessert,” she replied. Needless to say, I got her to write down the recipe.

Now, there’s some debate over whether this is a dessert or a side dish. Isabel says it’s a dessert. I remember it as a side dish. (Of course, I also grew up in a house where Cool Whip was considered dairy.) And, when I found the same recipe in another cookbook, it recommended serving it on a lettuce leaf. So we may never know the answer.

What I do know is that 5 Cup Salad/Dessert has been enjoyed by generations of cakers. The marshmallows get soft and squishy, the pineapple stays crunchy and you’ll have hours of fun picking the coconut out of your teeth.

Thanks, Isabel! And happy belated birthday.

1 cup miniature marshmallows
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup pineapple pieces, partially drained
1 cup mandarin oranges, drained
1 cup sour cream

Make the day before and refrigerate. Isabel also adds in quartered maraschino cherries.

Source: Modern Girl Isabel


16 comments:

  1. Oh man, I *love* this stuff! 'Round these parts, it's always called Five-Cup Salad. Sneakily, it's always served at a buffet, so it's up to the eater whether it's a salad or a dessert.
    As for me, why can't it be both?
    It's also knows as Funeral Salad, due to its popularity at wakes.
    And to make it even more awesome, add some drained maraschino cherries.
    You're welcome.

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    1. I can't imagine why more people don't refer to it as "Funeral Salad." That name is so much more...festive, don't you think? Your point about the maraschino cherries is well noted. In fact, Isabel adds it to her salad. I would've, but the grocery store didn't have any and they're such a pain to make from scratch, what with all that sugar and varnish. But next time.

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    2. I love homemade maraschino cherries, but they're such a pain to make. I think the Bareass Contessa has a recipe. Or maybe it's Martha. One of that crowd.
      Anyway, the more names for this dish the better, I think. That way, should I find myself at a potluck featuring several Pyrex bowls full of this stuff, I can say to myself "Well, I'll try a little of the 5-cup salad, and maybe some of this Ambrosia, and Oh!, there's Alaska salad, too," and I still haven't reached dessert yet.
      My mama didn't raise no stupid children.
      Red marshmallow strawberries? Is that a Canadian thing? I don't think I've ever heard of them.

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    3. Does Jeffrey know you refer to his wife that way? I'd be looking over your shoulder if I were you.
      I thought red strawberry marshmallows were a universal thing, but maybe not. There are different kinds. Like banana and sometimes peach. The strawberry ones are the prettiest, but they also taste kind of chemical-y. There are also pastel coloured peanut shaped ones, but for the life of me, I can't figure out what those are all about. I mean, who decides it's a good idea to make marshmallows look like peanuts?

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  2. I make this with coloured marshmallows and whipped cream instead of sour cream. And in an attempt to delude myself into thinking it is healthy, fresh strawberries (only Canadian ones mind you). Perfect way to kick start summer.

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    1. Joy, you've taken this salad up to new plateaus. Fresh fruit? It's unheard of in most caker dishes. I think the closest most cakers get to fresh strawberries are those red marshmallows ones.

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  3. This is served as a side at every Thanksgiving in my family and we call it Ambrosia "Salad." So I'm on the side dish side of this debate.

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    1. Nicole, I was a little on the fence with this, because I'm not sure of the difference between Ambrosia and 5 Cup Salad. Then my mother threw me for a loop the other day when she referred to this as "Alaskan Salad." Between you and me, I think cakers like to make up different names for the same dishes so it sounds like the buffet table has a lot more going for it than sour cream, canned fruit and marshmallows.
      I'm happy to have you on my "salad" side. There's strength in numbers. We'll win this debate. I just know it.

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  4. I made this last night and if I had a favourite things list and a talk show and my name was Oprah, I am 60% sure this would be on it. I loved it.

    I was surprised at how sweet it was with no added sugar. I can't see whipped cream making it better, it's really perfect the way it is.
    I was wondering about toasting the coconut first to give it less of a raw, stick in your teeth taste, but that seemed like work.

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    1. I'm glad you're 60% convinced this salad would make the show! Those odds are pretty good. Toasting the coconut seems like a good idea, but you're right - more work. And that would go against the very principle of caker cooking: less equals more.

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    2. I'm now at 100%. You know the song "What is God were one of us?" Well, if He was a salad, he would be this one.

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  5. We called it "Ambrosia". Also added halfed marischino cherries.

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  6. I just posted your blog on my Facebook status and before seeing this specific post I started craving Ambrosia salad...! This is a great website for someone like me whose 3+ months pregnant with twins and eating all kinds of bizarre things!

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    1. Hi Lisa. This blog is the perfect place for expectant mothers. You'll find no shortage of strange ingredient combinations. And don't worry. The kids will turn out fine. Look at me. My mom ate caker food throughout her pregnancy and I turned out just fine. Sort of. Ok, maybe not.

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  7. I just finished making this for our family's Thanksgiving Dinner tomorrow in honour of my grandmother who always made it--with coloured mini marshmallows no less! We always knew it as Ambrosia or Sister Acey salad growing up, but the recipe I use now is credited to it's source giving it the full title of Great Auntie Nellie's Ex-Boyfriend's Ex-Wife's Ambrosia Salad. And it's definitely a salad to be served with turkey, not a dessert. Happy Thanksgiving!

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    1. Glad you made it! I've never heard it referred to as "Sister Acey Salad" before, but it has a nice ring to it. Although "Great Auntie Nellie's Ex-Boyfriend's Ex-Wife's Ambrosia Salad" had a way of rolling off the tongue, too.

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