If we had French Cheese dishes yesterday, why not Italian Cheese Dishes today - with an old Australian spin, of course?
The women’s pages of the Sunday Times of Perth, W.A. on May 20, 1934 asked the question “Can You Cook Macaroni?” Just in case you answered No! to that question, or even if you answered Yes! - here, for your pleasure are two cheesy mac recipes and a couple of not so cheesy. And of course it is OK – recommended, even – to use Gruyere cheese in an Italian dish.
CAN YOU COOK MACARONI?
Some New Recipes.
Macaroni pudding and macaroni cheese-are the usual manifestations of this pleasant paste in this country, but there is a very large number of ways of preparing it, some of them especially useful.
Macaroni cheese, as commonly made, is generally boiled macaroni In a cheese sauce, with the top browned in the oven. But here are two Italian cheese dishes which some may like to try.
MACARONI ALLA CREMA.
Take three-quarters of a pound of macaroni and boil it for three-quarters of an hour In salted water with a
small onion stuck with a couple of cloves and half-an-ounce of butter.
When it is cooked drain it, remove the onion and put the macaroni back into the pan with a quarter of a pound of butter, the same of grated gruyere cheese and the same of grated parmesan.
Season with a little pepper and nutmeg, add half a pint of white stock and two or three tablespoons of cream, and cook, stirring for five minutes or so. Serve very hot.
MACARONI AL FORNO.
Break the macaroni into pieces about three inches long, and cook till tender (20 minutes or half an hour), in stock or water. Drain it and put a layer in a buttered fireproof dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and grated gruyere cheese (but other cheese would do) and repeat these layers till the dish is full. Then
put a fairly thick layer of grated cheese on the top with some fine breadcrumbs over it, dot with butter, and bake in the oven till the top is browned.
MACARONI ALLA MILANESE.
Nearly every Italian town has a special way of serving macaroni. This is one of the fashions from Milan.
Peel and slice, four or five mushrooms and cook them for a few minutes in a little butter. Add to them a tablespoon each of finely-chopped ham and tongue and a tablespoon of tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm
Cook the macaroni in water or stock, and when it is done drain it and put it into a saucepan with the sauce. Mix well together, and (if you like) a little grated cheese, and serve as hot as possible.
This way is rather uncommon. Cook three ounces of macaroni in a pint of milk in which you have put the thinly pared rind of a lemon, till it is tender. Put the macaroni into a greased pie dish, and pour in three eggs beaten up in a pint of fresh milk (not the milk the macaroni has been cooked in) with two ounces of castor sugar, and, if you like, a couple of tablespoons of sherry.
A little nutmeg may now be grated on the top, and the pudding baked for half an hour. A hot jam sauce should be served with it.
This paste is hardly ever used, except for garnishing a clear soup, one of the names for which is Angel's Hair Soup (Consomme Cheveux d'Anges). It must have been this soup which the poet Cowper offered to the tramp. The man looked at it, and then said, “I may be poor and hungry, but I cant eat soup with maggots in it.” As a matter of fact, crushed vermicelli makes an admirable coating for rissoles (the pastry ones) In place of breadcrumbs. Simply brush the rissoles with beaten egg, and then roll them In the finely-crushed vermicelli and fry them.
I've seen other old recipes that suggest cooking macaroni for half an hour or so. It must have been very different back then, because I'm fairly sure it would dissolve into mush if I tried that with a box of macaroni now.
Good. Lord. Forty-five minutes. Doesn't it dissolve?
I have an old cookbook (circa 1900) with vegetable cooking times; it starts at 20 minutes for asparagus and goes up from there. I once cooked my asparagus for 7 minutes when I was distracted and it disintegrated. How did they do it? Either food used to be a lot tougher, or a hella lotta people were severely deficient on the tooth front. Both, maybe.
I'm a little surprised at how long they say to cook the pasta: 20-30 minutes in one recipe, 45 in another. Al dente was clearly not the desired texture in those days!
I suspect that the pasta was oldier and drier than we are used to today - but it still does sound like a long time.
I remember reading a marvellous quotation a long time ago (cant remember who by) to the effect that "the English cook their vegetables so long in case grandma forgot to bring her teeth" :)
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