Skewered Fresh Fruit with Celery Seed Dressing

Department store eateries, whether the humble lunch counters at Woolworths or the elegant dining rooms of upscale stores like Lord and Taylor or Saks Fifth Avenue, had a definite place in our culture in the 1950s and 1960s; many of the fancier ones became destinations apart from the shopping experience because the food was often that good.

In the 1950s my mother worked as a waitress in a restaurant called The Coin Room in Rike’s Department Store in Dayton, Ohio. The restaurant featured light, well prepared meals for 99 cents plus the 3 cents sales tax bringing the total for a wonderful cooked from scratch luncheon to $1.02. It was great for shoppers who wanted a quick, inexpensive and tasty meal.

My mother brought home The Coin Room recipe for Celery Seed Dressing which was a big hit there and in our home. It was a dressing for a fruit salad. It tasted great on grapefruit, pears, apples– just about any fruit, as well as greens, nuts and other fruit salad accompaniments. However, somewhere along the line it got lost. Rike’s was sold to a conglomerate, The Coin Room disappeared and then, in 1986, my mother died. Then, just this year, tucked in an old cookbook left to me by my mother, there it was. I couldn’t wait to prepare it again and relive those lovely times.

I submitted this recipe for America’s Best Lost Recipes published in 2007 by America’s Test Kitchen. The test kitchen “loved the sweet and sour flavors of this dressing and tasted it on everything from apples to greens (we especially loved it on Bibb lettuce) to a cucumber and radish salad. The taste gets better as it sits, so be sure to allow it the full hour (or days) to develop all of its potential flavor. Also, be sure to use celery seeds, not celery salt, for this recipe.”

Here it is as a refreshing side for your backyard picnic. Serve it chilled alongside skewered cubes of fruits of your choice. Try any combination of
Kiwi Cantaloupe
Watermelon Mango
Bananas Papaya
Honeydew Strawberries
Apples Pears
Grapefruit Peaches
Nectarines Plums

Just make sure the fruit is ripe. Makes about 1 cup

¼ cup sugar
½ t dry mustard
½ t salt
½ t celery seed
2 T grated yellow onion
2 ½T white vinegar
½ cup peanut or canola oil


Stir the sugar, mustard, salt and celery seed together in a medium bowl. Add the onion and the vinegar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the oil until well blended. Cover and refrigerate until the flavors meld, about 1 hour. (The dressing can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Whisk before serving.)

Photographer Bill Brady
Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell
Recipe Provided by Phyllis Kirigin, aka sweetpaprika

About Bill Brady Food Photographer

I am an accomplished food and beverage photographer. Having managed to combine my 2 great passions food and photography into a career has been an absolute joy. I spend my time creating food images not only for a living but for my audience. It's a labor of love for me. Recently I have teamed up with a group of very talented people to launch an online Magazine called Heat Magazine. A magazine about all foods spicy. Enjoy
This entry was posted in Food Photography, Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Skewered Fresh Fruit with Celery Seed Dressing

  1. Pingback: Skewered Fresh Fruit with Celery Seed Dressing « Cook, Shoot, Eat … |

  2. lauren says:

    very fresh… must try this

  3. Michelle says:

    Wow! Stunning photo! Very artistic and beautiful. Loved the story, also.

  4. Aleza says:

    Wow, Boy do I remember the Coin Room and there are many recipes I wish I had from Rikes.
    Thank you so much for sharing…I lost my Mother this year and just thinking about Rikes and eating at all of the great restaurants in the Downtown location brought back great memories of eating there with her.

  5. Pingback: Skewered Fresh Fruit with Celery Seed Dressing « sweetpaprika

  6. Joanna says:

    I’m 99.9% sure this was the same celery seed dressing drizzled on molded red Jell-o on a lettuce leaf in the lunchroom of Diamond’s Department Store in Las Vegas NV in 1977, because Diamond’s originated in Dayton. Even tho I was an employee, the chef wouldn’t give up the recipe, but I found a similar recipe on the back of a vinegar bottle and played with it until it tasted exactly like the one from Diamond’s. Got family and friends hooked, but alas, lost the recipe for my version in a move and am thrilled to find this one here!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s