Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Frugal but Festive: WW II food ideas.

I do love the British Ministry of Food’s wartime Food Facts leaflets, and have featured many of them here over the years. Today I have for you leaflet No. 125, published in The Times, of December 23, 1942 (Ha! Without my intending it, this is an “On this Day” post!). I have not included the Christmas Day Pudding and Christmas Fruit Pies, as I have previously blogged many recipes from the era for these dishes.

It will take more than Hitler to stop the British housewife from setting a festive table at Christmas time. Yes, the food will be the same – rations, vegetables, grain foods – no Christmas specials; because ship-saving matters more than ever now we have done over to the offensive. But by dressing up the old favourites, by using little tricks of flavouring, garnishing and serving we can still put up a festive show. Stuffed flank of beef may take the place of turkey, and a little cold tea may be used to darken the complexion of Christmas cake or pudding, but we can still contrive a spread which will delight the children and warm the hearts of the grown-ups.

Scrub and slice 1 ½ lb of potatoes thinly, slice 2 apples, grate 4 oz. cheese. Place a layer of potatoes in a greased pie-dish, cover with apple and a little sage, season, sprinkle on grated cheese, repeat layers leaving potatoes and cheese to cover. Pour in ½ pint of stock, cook in a moderate oven for ¾ hour. Blend 1 tablespoon flour with ¼ pint stock, pour into dish and cook for another ¼ hour.

1.      Grated bar chocolate on freshly made biscuits gives the party touch.
2.      Baked apples stuffed with war-time mincemeat are a splendid surprise.
3.      Hot Cinnamon Toast for tea makes up for the shortage of cakes. Here is the way to make it.

Cinnamon Toast.
Take 1 tablespoonful margarine, 1 dessertspoonful of sugar, 1 teaspoonful of cinnamon. Cream all the ingredients together, spread on hot toast and grill for two minutes.

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Fine Feast for Pilgrim Descendants in 1881

I have another “On This Day” story for you today folks. It is also a Mark Twain story, so it is double the fun. So, without further ado, let me begin ….

On this day in 1881 was held the First Annual Festival of the New England Society of Pennsylvania. One hundred and fifty gentlemen (no ladies of course) sat down to a fine feast inspired with enthusiasm if not historical accuracy by the events of 1620. The banquet was reported in detail in the Philadelphia Press the following day:-

A Notable Dinner at the Continental Hotel --
Addresses by President Rollins, Senator Frye,
Gov. Hoyt, President Hopkins, and Mark Twain.

The main dining-room of the Continental Hotel presented a beautiful and picturesque scene last night on the occasion of the First Annual Festival of the New England Society of Pennsylvania. The society was formed a few weeks since by residents of this city who are natives of or descendants from good old Puritan stock. The object of the association is good-fellowship and the honoring of a worthy ancestry, of which all the sons of New England are justly proud. The day fixed for the annual festival, the 22nd of December, is "Forefathers' Day," the anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrim Fathers. The society determined to make their first festival a notable one, and to that end invited many notable descendants of the Eastern States, who showed their appreciation by attending in person. The dinner hour was fixed last evening at six o'clock, and notwithstanding the stormy weather, the members and guests began to arrive promptly on time. They were ushered into Parlor C, where the president of the society, E.A. Rollins, and Gov. Hoyt, a vice-president, held an informal reception. Never was there seen a more solid and respectable gathering of business men, leaders of the bench and bar, newspaper editors and proprietors, clergymen and college professors, all gathered to do honor to their native section of country. The tall form of President Hopkins, of Williams College, was seen in the throng as he conversed with Admiral George H. Preble. Senator Frye, of Maine, stood chatting with Governor Hoyt. Mark Twain stood in one corner uttering drolleries which caused his auditors to guffaw in a manner highly reprehensible in staid and sober citizens. John Welsh conversed with Frederick Fraley, and Rev. H. Clay Trumbull, secretary of the society, darted hither and thither, arranging things generally for the event.

At seven o'clock the line was formed, and headed by President E.A. Rollins and Professor Hopkins, of Williams College, the members and guests proceeded to the dining-room. President Rollins took his seat at the centre of the north table. On his right were Professor Hopkins, Professor Daniel E. Goodwin, D.D., LL. D., one of the society's vice-presidents; John Welsh, Rear-Admiral Geo. H. Preble, Frederick Fraley, Henry Winsor, Clayton McMichael, James L. Claghorn, Calvin Wells, of Pittsburg; Charles Emory Smith, of THE PRESS, and Rev. H. Clay Trumbull, secretary. On his left were Senator W.P. Frye, of Maine; Governor Hoyt, Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain), Lieutenant Thackara, U.S.N.; Rev. W.N. McVickar, Judge Allison, Rev. George Dana, Boardman Chaplain, and Clarence H. Clark, treasurer of the society.
Among the other prominent persons seated at the tables were E. Dunbar Lockwood, who talked reform with Amos R. Little. H.W. Pitkin and other members of the Committee of One Hundred; Rev. Charles G. Amos, the noted Unitarian clergyman; Francis D. Lewis, A.G. Heaton. The Reading Railroad was represented by President Frank S. Bond, Secretary Kinsley, Receiver Stephen A. Caldwell, directors George F. Tyler, E.W. Clark, and the company attorneys, Samuel Dickson, Judge Asbhel Green, of New Jersey, the McCalmont brothers' counsel also chatted with the party. Some of the others were: A.C. Hetherington, General McCartney, E.P. Borda, George Russell, H.W. Bartol, B.H. Atwood, N.P. Storey, Joseph P. Mumford, Dr. H.M. Howe, John P. Thayer, Sidney Tyler, Dr. Forrest, E.W. Clark and B.B. Comegys, the bankers, Chas. M. Jackson, C.A. Kingsbury, J.C. Collins, T.B. Merrick, Frank O. Allen, G.A. Bigelow, C.E. Morgan, Jr., Walter McMichael, Nelson F. Evans, C.F. Richardson, G. Cornish, John Welsh Dulles, C.H. Brush, Robert N. Wilson, Walter H. Tilden, Charles P. Turner, Dr. J.F. Stone, and J.E. Graff. Altogether one hundred and fifty gentlemen sat down.

The room was elegantly and most appropriately decorated. The chandeliers were festooned with smilax. Hanging-baskets were suspended along the walls and before the windows. At the eastern end of the room were stately palms, graceful camelias and rare plants perfuming the air with fragrance. A magnificent design composed of immortelles in red, yellow and purple, was prominent at this end of the hall. It bore in large letters the inscription:
December 22,
Along the north end of the hall a long table was ranged, at which the officers and distinguished guests were seated as given above. Extending transversely from this were several other long tables, around which were placed the members.
Beside each plate lay a toast list, printed on hand-made paper of the style of two centuries ago. There was also a menu of the most artistic and original design. It was printed in chocolate-colored ink, and bore on the first page a representation of the Mayflower making her perilous voyage, with the Pilgrim Fathers on board. On the last page was a portrait of John Alden's Priscilla, one of whose descendants was present at the festival. The bill of fare was printed in antique type, and was as follows:

Thursday Eveninge, December 22, 1881.
Oysters from Chasepack Bay in their Shells.
Green Turtle Soupe.
Boyled Salmon with Sauce of Shrimps.
*Pates a la Reine.
Fillet of Beef Garnyshed with Mushrooms.
Roaste Turkey from Cape Cod, with Cranberries.
Potatoes.         Strynge Beans.            Pease.
Pork and Beans.          Stewed Terrapin.
1620        1881
Sherbot.           Cigarettes.
Canvas-back Duck. Partridge.
Lettuce Salading Dressed in Oyle.
Puddings with Plumbs.
Mince Pie.       Pumpkin Pie.
Frozen Sweete Thynges, also Jellies and Cakes.
Several Sorts of Nuts and Fruits.

*Lyttle Pies such as the Queen of France doth love.

Pâtes à la Reine were a staple at nineteenth century banquets, and I have chosen them as the feature dish for the day. I give you the recipe from Cookery for English households, by a French lady (London, 1864):-

Petits pâtes à la reine.
Line twelve small moulds about as large as an apple with a pate brisée (see No. 516), and fill up the inside with the fillets of a fowl, cut in small dice, and warmed up in a bechamelle (see No. 46, page 25); place a very thin piece of puff paste, like No. 515 page 209, over the plates, and set them in a moderate oven. They require about ten minutes' baking.
Observation.—It is easy to see that many different petits plates may be made in following the rules given above. If any meat remains, it may be cut in dice and warmed up in a thick sauce (see any of the sauces given in Chapter IV.), then put inside a mould, like Petits pâte's a la reine, No. 519. Salmon, trout, lobster, cray fish, shrimps, turbot, pike, oysters, calf's brains, sweetbreads, &c. &c. may be cooked a la poulette (see No. 323, page 129), or in a bechamelle (see No. 46, page 25), and put inside petits pates; only be careful to remember that whenever you put sauce inside it should be thick, and be careful to use only pate brisee, like No. 516. If you used puff paste all the sauce would run through.
You may use preserves inside, and in that case use puff paste; it will then be an entremets.

If anything but sweets is put inside petits plates, serve them as entrees.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Dinner Menu, 1881.

At this time of the year, newspapers and magazines are usually full of recipe and menu suggestions for the Christmas season. I have chosen a menu suggestion (with an accompanying recipe) for you today from the Fort Wayne Daily Gazette (Fort Wayne, Indiana) on Saturday, December 24, 1881. The menu does add an interesting spin to the concept of the “traditional” Christmas dinner:

Raw Oysters.
Spanish Soup.
Boiled White fish. Lobster Sauce.
Potato Puffs.
Roast Leg of Mutton Stuffed. Stewed Cabbage with Cream Sauce.
Roast Turkey. Sweet Potatoes.
Cranberry Jelly. Oyster Salad.
Cheese. Celery. Wafers.
Plum Pudding. Mince Pie. Ice Cream and Cake.
Oranges. Grapes. Bananas. Nuts. Raisins.

Spanish Soup.

Cut into slices a head of celery, two onions, one carrot, two apples, and place them in a stewpan with one ounce of butter, a few allspice, a blade of mace, the rind of one lemon, some seasoning and two quarts of water; place on the fire and let boil. Add two pounds of neck of veal; take off the foam as it rises; when free from scum and sufficiently boiled to be cooked, add one quart of milk, let it simmer slowly for one hour, then strain it through a hair sieve; let it boil a few  minutes, then add half a pint of cream, stand the stewpan in not too hot a place after adding the cream; take out the stones from twelve olives, then cut them into very  thin slices, throw these into boiling water with a pinch of sugar and the same of salt added; boil two minutes, and then drain them in a sieve; pour the boiling soup into the tureen, throw in the slices of olives, and serve immediately.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Federal Reserve Bankers Christmas Dinner: 1966

I got mixed up. I admit it. Yesterday I intended to start the post with “On This Day in 1966,” but unfortunately (or fortunately) I got side-tracked due to having too much fun with my English visitors.

So – “On yesterday’s date in 1966”,  members of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank Club sat down to their “Christmas Party and Forty-Eighth Annual Meeting” at the Sheraton Palace Hotel. A group with a name like that has got to be fun-loving, right? I am unsure therefore, why they would chose to ruin their Christmas dinner with an Annual Meeting. However, they did, and this was their menu:-

Seafood Salad
Thousand Island Dressing
Assorted Relishes
Roast Prime Ribs of Beef
English Roast Potatoes
Buttered Asparagus
Tia Maria Parfait
Petit Fours Secs.

I am also a bit puzzled why such a fun-sounding group would have such a boring menu. But what do I know about Federal Bankers and their meal preferences anyway?

For this rather Ho-Hum menu, I give you two versions of Thousand Island Dressing from the Elyria Chronicle Telegram [Elyria, Ohio] of August 9, 1967.

Thousand Island Dressing 1.
1 cup mayonnaise
2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped fine
2-4 tablespoons catsup
1 tablespoon finely chopped or grated white onion or shallot
Combine all the ingredients. Chill. Makes 1½ cups.
Recipe contributed by Mrs. Bernice Richards of Elyria, Ohio.

Thousand Island Dressing II.
1 cup mayonnaise
½ cup chilli sauce
1 tablespoon horseradish (optional)
1 ½ tablespoons minced onion
3 finely chopped hard-boiled eggs
¼ tablespoon minced green pepper
½ cup whipping cream, whipped.
Mix thoroughly and fold in the whipped cream just before serving.

This recipe was sent by Mrs. Bill Tidwell, of Oberlin.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Rhyming Recipe for Pudding.

I have featured rhyming recipes in a number of posts over the years (see the links below), and I have another one for you today. It is from The Dinner Question: Or, how to Dine Well and Economically (1860) by Tabitha Tickletooth (pseud. of Charles Silby.)

As rhyme is sometimes more impressive than reason, to complete my examples on this subject I will give you.

A Metrical Recipe for Christmas Pudding.
Air: Jeannette and Jeanot.

If you wish to make a pudding in which every one delights,
Of a dozen new-laid eggs you must take the yolks and whites;
Beat them well up in a basin till they thoroughly combine,
And shred and chop some suet particularly fine;

Take a pound of well-stoned raisins, and a pound of currants dried,
A pound of pounded sugar, and a pound of peel beside;
Stir them all well up together with a pound of wheaten flour,
And let them stand and settle for a quarter of an hour;

Then tie the pudding in a cloth, and put it in the pot,—
Some people like the water cold, and some prefer it hot;
But though I don’t know which of these two methods I should praise,
I know it ought to boil an hour for every pound it weighs.

Oh! if I were Queen of France, or, still better, Pope of Rome,
I’d have a Christmas pudding every day I dined at home;
And as for other puddings whatever they might be,
Why those who like the nasty things should eat them all for me.

For previous posts with rhyming recipes see:

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A Trinity of Special Diet Puddings.

The ‘traditional’ (by which I mean the suet-dense and fruit-heavy boiled style) is not suitable for all appetites and digestions, but luckily there is no shortage of ideas for alternatives.

For children, The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW, Australia) of 27 November 1939 gave the following suggestion:

Nursery Christmas Pudding.
Take 1 oz ground rice, 6 oz. breadcrumbs, 3 oz. raisins, 4 oz. suet, 2 oz. sugar, 3 eggs, 2 tablespoonfuls plum jam, milk, butter, 1 teaspoonful baking powder.
Mix together all the dry ingredients except the raisins. Stir in the jam, add the beaten eggs, finely chopped suet, and a little milk. Butter a mould, seed the raisins, and stick them in even rows in the mould. Pour the pudding in very gently. Cover with greased paper. Steam for two hours. Turn out and serve with custard sauce.

The same article also gave the following, although it gives no hints as to the type of condition for which it was considered suitable.

Special Diet Christmas Pudding.
Take 8 oz. coconut meal, 16 prunes (soaked and minced), 1 lb. seeded muscats (minced), 4 oz. raisins (2 oz. whole and 2 oz. chopped), 2 beaten egg-yolks, 4 oz. chopped walnuts and almonds (mixed), a very little grated orange and lemon rind, 3 dessertspoonfuls whisky (or more as desired).
Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Add a little prune juice if the mixture seems too dry, but the mixture should be fairly stiff. This amount is sufficient for two medium-sized puddings. Steam in buttered basins for one hour. If liked, a teacupful of grated carrot can be added to this mixture. For a sweeter pudding, omit prunes.

The third recipe is from a feature on Invalid Christmas Recipes from The Queenslander (Brisbane, Australia) of  29 November 1928:

Jellied Prunes

Six  prunes, 6 almonds, juice of I lemon, des[s]ertspoonful sugar, ½ of a jelly square. Put prunes, after washing and soaking for 12 hours, into a pan with enough boiling syrup to cover them (made with the water la which the prunes were soaked, the lemon juice, and sugar melted together). Stew gently. When cooked leave till cold, then take out the stones and replace them with a blanched almond. Heat the prune juice and pour it hot over the jelly square. When dissolved, add the lemon juice, strain it over the prunes, and turn into a wet mould. Serve with cream.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Trinity Pudding, and a Trinity of Puddings.

It is definitely time to start ramping up the Christmas recipe offerings, so with no further ado, I give you three quite different puddings.

Firstly, from The Cook and Houswife’s Manual (8th edn. Edinburgh, 1847) by Christian Isobel Johnstone (aka the pseudonymous Mistress Margaret Dods)

The Trinity Christmas Pudding.
Three pounds raisins, half Muscatel and half Valentia, three pounds currants, three pounds beef suet chopped very fine, sixty eggs, a pint and a half of milk, three pounds best raw sugar, the rind of six lemons minced very small, four pounds of fine flour, a half-pound treacle, four nutmegs grated, and cinnamon and cloves pounded to taste; one large table-spoonful of salt, two wine-glasses of brandy, two of rum, one of Port; of sliced candied orange and lemon-peel a half-ounce each, citron-peel a half-ounce. The whole must be thoroughly well mixed early on the 24th December, and boiled for ten hours on Christmas Eve, and four hours on Christmas Day, or from leaving chapel till dinner-time, taking care the whole time to keep the boiler filled with boiling water, and the fire strong and constant. Farther, in preparing for the boiler, the cloth, first scalded, afterwards squeezed, is put on the dresser and well dredged with flour, and then placed very evenly over a colander, so that it shall be in the middle of it. The pudding is then put into the cloth, being well stirred up, a person plaiting the cloth so that it shall be evenly taken up that no water shall get into it. It must then be excessively well tied up, allowing some room for the pudding swelling, and boiled. The Christmas Pudding should be served up with a sprig of arbutus stuck in the middle, with one of its red berries, and a sprig of variegated holly with one or two berries on each side of it. This is to keep away the witches.

And for something completely different, I give you a suet pudding made with maize.

Farmers’Own Christmas Pudding.
Indian meal (northern, yellow best), 3 lbs.; beef suet (skinned and chopped fine) 1 lb.; dried currants, 1 lb.; saleratus, 1 teaspoonful. Mix these ingredients (dry); then add 1 ½ pints of molasses, and boiling water, stirring continually, until the whole is of the consistency of hot mush. Do this at night On the next day boil the pudding in a bag for 4 or 5 hours. Water must be boiling hard when pudding is put in.
Sauce for above: Take 1 pint of molasses, 1 table-spoonful of butter, table-spoonful of brown sugar, teaspoon heaping full of ground cinnamon. Boil for nearly an hour; then pour on the sauce a wine-glassful of brandy.
Working Farmer, Vol. 16 (1864)

And to make up the trinity, a British wartime pudding:-

Dates in Christmas Puddings.
We are using dates as far as possible in our puddings to replace raisins, and also in mince-meat, as the supply of raisins in the country appears to be getting low. We have a cheap recipe for a war Christmas pudding, in which we use dates. To make a 4lb. pudding the ingredients are: ½ lb suet or dripping, ½ lb flour, ½ lb breadcrumbs, ½ lb dates, 1 lb carrots, ½ lb currants, 4 oz mixed peel, grated rind of lemon, 4 oz sugare, one egg, and spice to taste. Figs are not much used to replace raisins as the seeds give away the substitution.
The Times, [London] Wednesday, Dec 08, 1915.