Friday, March 29, 2013

Hot Cross Buns, Again.

The Harper’s Bazaar edition of April 1900 which gave us yesterday’s Easter Egg recipes also included one for Hot Cross Buns. I have given you recipes for Hot Cross Buns previously, but there is always room for one more, and anyway, I liked the introductory words:

FOR days before Easter the shop windows are gay with Easter gifts, Easter favors, Easter novelties of all sorts. Even those to whom Lent has been little more than a name feel the influence of the spring gladness the approaching festival brings. The Easter thrill is in the blood, and it is natural that there should be a desire to express the inner spirit by some outward and visible sign. It is the effort to do this which fills our homes with blossoms, that moves us to send Easter cards and tokens to our friends, and that prompts us to make the children about us joyous by the bestowal of rabbits, colored eggs, baby chicks, and the other quaint and pretty emblems of the season. The housekeeper who marks the calendar of the year in the kitchen, as well as out of it is seeking diligently just now the dishes suitable for this feast. In some respects the task is less easy at this festival than at others, since there is no time-honored convention concerning Easter. With the Easter breakfast the work is comparatively simple. It is not so long after Good Friday that cross-buns are yet out of season, and the leftovers can be made hot and crisp for the Sunday breakfast. Eggs are a sine qua non, and instead of converting them into an omelet or other made dish, they would better be served whole. If it does not seem sufficiently festive to have new-laid eggs boiled in the shells, they may appear as stuffed or deviled eggs, retaining thus their natural shape, and crisp from frying or masked with a white or anchovy sauce. Colored eggs of ice-cream each egg placed in an individual nest of spun sugar make a pretty dessert. In circumstances where for any reason the spun sugar and ice-cream are not feasible, an excellent home-made substitute can be provided by a hen’s nest  of preserved orange-peel shredded to imitate straw.

Hot Cross Buns.
Make a sponge of a cup and a half of milk, half a yeast-cake dissolved in half a cup of warm water, and flour enough to make a thick batter. Set in a warm place overnight. In the morning add two large spoonfuls of butter, melted, half a cup of sugar, a salt-spoonful of salt, and as much cinnamon or gratedd nutmeg. Work in more flour until the dough can be handled, kneading it well. Cover, and let it rise in a warm corner for five hours longer, then roll out into a sheet about half an inch thick, and cut into rounds, like biscuit. Lay them in a buttered baking-pan, let them rise half an hour, cut a cross upon each, and put into the oven. When they are baked to a light brown brush over with white of egg beaten up with fine sugar, and take from the oven. For a large supply double the quantity.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Variations on a Theme of Easter Eggs.

It is time for something a little lighter than the fare I have fed you the last few days, and it is certainly time for Easter Eggs. I give you two egg recipes – deep-fried hard-boiled eggs for the grown-ups and something light and fluffy for the grown-ups. The kids will get plenty of their own, trust me. The recipes are from Harper's Bazaar of April 7, 1900.

Stuffed Eggs, Fried.
Boil six eggs hard. Cut them in half, remove the yolks, and rub them smooth with a table-spoonful of melted butter, two tablespoonfuls of minced ham or tongue, a little chopped parsley, a few drops of onion juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Fill the whites with this mixture, press the halves together, and either stick the edges with a little beaten egg, or pin them together with fine toothpicks. Roll the eggs first in fine crumbs, then in beaten egg, and then in crumbs again. Fry to a fine brown in boiling deep fat.

Easter Eggs in The Nest.
Soak one box of gelatine half hour in cold water. Put three cups of milk on the fire in a double boiler and make very hot. When the gelatine is soft add to it two cups of sugar; mix well, and turn both in the boiling milk. Stir until thoroughly dissolved. Take from the fire, divide into as many portions as you desire colors. To one portion add a couple of tablespoonfuls of grated chocolate, melted over boiling water. Tint another pink with cochineal. To a third add the beaten yolks of two eggs, and return to the fire long enough to cook the egg about five minutes. Leave one portion white. Flavor this with vanilla, add a few drops of strawberry juice or rose-water to the pink, and orange-peel to the yellow. If you have no egg-moulds you may have improvised some by emptying the contents of eggs to be used in cooking through a small hole broken carefully in one end. Rinse the shells out thoroughly in cold water, and fill them with the blancmange mixture. Set them to form, open end up, in a pan of flour or meal, which will hold them steady, and put them in a cold place. Make your nest of preserved orange-peel, cut in shreds. The orange marmalade put up in glass jars may be used for this. Arrange a bed of it in the bottom of a glass or silver bowl, break the shells from the eggs with great care, and arrange them in the nest. If you wish, you can heap wine jelly about them by the spoonful, or half bury them under whipped cream

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fashionable Food.

Fashionable Food.

I hope you enjoy the following extract from a lengthy piece in London Society (1867) on the Curiosities of Fashion in the Matter of One’s Food, the wily and wonderful ways of cooks, and how to roast a peacock.

Fashion is society's Chancellor of the Exchequer, and fails not to tax the lieges with ingenuity and unrelenting sternness of purpose . … You prefer an old-fashioned English dinner, full, substantial, abundant, and materialistic, to the lightness and insubstantiality of a diner à la Russe, but then - the fashion! … Fashion makes you wear a hat that pinches your ample brow, and puts on Amanda's head a bonnet that does not become her. Fashion tempts you to live on a thousand a year when your income is only eight hundred. …
But perhaps the most personal and humiliating of Fashion's  salle à manger are safe from its vexatious intrusion. As sternly as an Abernethy to a dyspeptic patient, it says to society, “This thou shalt eat, and this thou shalt not eat. This dish is vulgar; yonder plat is obsolete; none but the canaille partake of melted butter; only the ignorant immerse their souls in beer.” And changeable as that sex which is supposed to worship it most humbly, Fashion proscribes in 1863 what it sanctioned in 1763; and approves now, what in the days when George III was king - consule planes - it most sternly condemned. The meals which now do (too often) coldly furnish forth the table were regarded with contempt by our great-great-grand fathers. Fancy Sir Roger de Coverley examining a salmi des perdrix or a pate de foie gras! In like manner the Honourable Fitzplantagenet Smith would regard as 'deuced low' the boar's head that delighted his cavalier ancestor, or the peacock pie that smoked upon Elizabethan boards.
… In the year 1272, the then Lord Mayor of London issued an edict which fixed the prices to be paid for certain articles of provisions at the pence; a goose for fivepence; a wild goose, fourponce; pigeons, three for one penny; mallards, three for a halfpenny; a plover, one penny; a partridge, three-halfpence; a dozen of larks, one penny halfpenny; a pheasant, fourpence; a heron, sixpence; a swan, three shillings; a crane, three shillings; the best peacock, one penny; the best coney, with skin, fourpence; and the best lamb, from Christmas to Lent, sixpence, at other times of the year, fourpence.
Now, out of the foregoing list of edibles, Fashion nowadays would strike the mallard, the heron, the swan, and the crane, and would look askant at the peacock. But the peacock was of old right royal bird, that figured splendidly at the banquets of the great, and this is how the medieval cooks dished up the mediaeval dainty: “Take and flay off the skin with the feathers, tail, and the neck and head thereon; then take the skin and all the feathers and lay it on the table abroad, and strew thereon ground cumin. Then take the peacock and roast him, and baste him with raw yelks of eggs; and when he is roasted, take him off and let him cool awhile; then take him and sew him in his skin, and gild his comb, and so serve him forth with the last course.”

... In a fish-tariff issued by Edward I, mention is made of ' congers, lampreys, and sea-hogs.' Fancy Lady Mayfair inviting her guests to partake of a sea-hog! In the Earl of Northumberland^ Household Book we find allowed for 'my Lord and Ladie's table,' 'ij. pecys of salt fische, vj. pecys of salt fische, vj. becormed herryng, iiij. white herryng, or a dish of sproots (sprats).' Certes, a deep draught of Canary or Malvoisie would be needed to wash down so dry a repast!

… The great ministers of Fashion, its agents in enforcing its decrees upon unhappy society, have been the cooks - always a potent, a conceited, and, sooth to say, an ignorant fraternity. From the days of Aristoxenes and Archestratus to those of Ude - Ude, who refused four hundred a year and a carriage when offered by the Duke of Richmond, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, because there was no Opera at Dublin - from the days of Archestratus to those of Ude, they have studied rather the display of their inventive powers than the laws of physiology and the stomachs of their patrons. Ben Jonson furnishes us with an admirable description of one of these gentry, who are more solicitous about the invention of wonderful novelties than the provision of a wholesome and sufficient dinner :- ' A master cook!' exclaims the poet;

Why, he’s the man of men
For a professor; he designs, he draws,
He paints, he carves, he builds, he fortifies;
Makes citadels of curious fowl and fish.
Some he dry-dishes, some moats around with broths,
Mounts marrow-bones, cuts fifty-angled custards
Tears bulwark pies, and for his outerworks
He raiseth ramparts of immortal crust;
And teacheth all the tactics at one dinner:
What ranks, what files to put his dishes in;
The whole art military. Then he knows
The influence of the stars upon his meats,
And all their seasons, tempers, qualities;
And so to fit his relishes and sauces,
He has Nature in a pot, ‘bove all the chemists
Or airy brethren of the Rosy-Cross.
He is an architect, an engineer,
A soldier, a physician, a philosopher,
A general mathematician!

It is the cooks who are responsible for the untasteful monstrosities and semi-poisonous plâts that still figure in our bills of fare. Just as the cooks of ancient Rome served up to their patrons the membranous parts of the matrices of a sow, the echinus or sea-hedgehog, the flesh of young hawks, and especially rejoiced in a whole pig, boiled on one side and roasted on the other—the belly stuffed with thrushes, and yolks of eggs, and hens, and spiced meats; so the cooks of modern London love to disguise our food with an infinite variety of flavours, until the natural is entirely lost, and the most curious examiner is at a loss to detect the component parts of any particular dish. The ancient cooks, with a vegetable, could counterfeit the shape and the taste of fish and flesh. We are told that a king of Bithynia having, in one of his expeditions, strayed to a great distance from the seaside, conceived a violent longing for a small fish called aphy, either a pilchard, an anchovy, or a herring. His cook was a genius, however, and could conquer obstacles. He had no aphy, but he had a turnip. This he cut into a perfect imitation of the fish; then fried in oil, salted, and powdered thoroughly with the grains of a dozen black poppies. His majesty ate, and was delighted! Never had he eaten a more delicious aphy! But our modern cooks are not inferior to the ancient. Give them a partridge or a pheasant, a veal cutlet or a mutton chop, and they will so dish you up each savoury article that nothing of its original flavour shall be discernible. O Fashion! O cooks! O confectioners ! We are your slaves, your victims; and our stomachs the laboratories in which you coolly carry out your experiments. Look, for instance, at vegetables: no food more wholesome, or more simple, and yet how the cooks do torture and manipulate them, until the salutary properties of these cibi innocentes utterly disappear!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Potatoes for Family Uses.

The discussion about the poisonousness, or otherwise, of the potato “fruit” goes on in the background, and I will keep you informed. The potato was treated with great suspicion in Britain and Europe when it was first introduced from the New World. In addition to the general suspicion of any new food, it was feared as being poisonous (probably because it is from the ‘Deadly Nightshade” family), as causing leprosy (probably because it was white,) and as being an aphrodisiac (probably because the fertile peasants used it) and also as inherently evil (because it was not mentioned in the Bible.) It was over two hundred years before it began to be taken seriously in the Old World as a useful, nutritious, and delicious food.

One of the earliest to write about the culture and day-to-day use of the potato (which he calls the Earth-Apple) was our old friend, William Ellis, who gave it a significant amount of space in The Modern Husbandman, Vol. III, (the months of July, August and September) published in 1744. Ellis’ belief in the nutritional value of the potato (and of vegetables in general) and the consequences of a diet prominent in meat is remarkably up-to-date, and his range of recipe-ideas for them is extraordinary for the time.

The different Way of Dressing and preparing Potatoes for Family Uses.
IT is now become common, even among Quality, to make Use of this Earth-apple as a Supper-food great Part of the Winter-season, by roasting them in Embers, and eating them with Butter and Salt, in the Manner a boiled Egg is; and this, because of the light Nature of its Food, and the contrary Quality it has to the Breeding of the Scurvy, which causes it to induce Repose much better than the saline, scorbutic, heavy Nature of Flesh. And so careful are many of the knowing Sort of Persons at this Time, that, out of their paternal Affection to the future Health of their Childrens Bodies, they hinder them as much as they well can from eating Flesh at any Time, and, instead thereof, encourage them to the feeding on Vegetables, and particularly and most of all on the Potatoe. Accordingly, if this Oeconomy was more observed among all Sorts of Persons, there would not be such a diseased Progeny, as are commonly brought into the World by the hereditary Distempers of their Epicurean Parents; yet so fond are some of the Ignorant of Flesh-Diet, that I have known a Person to enjoy it in its full Extent, and never eat Bread with it. Another, whose Function I ought and do conceal, would constantly spoon up the Gravy of Meat where Decency did not hinder him ; but he dearly paid for this Epicurean Fancy, for he became so afflicted with the Gout, that one of his Intimates told him he ought to be constituted President of the Gouty Fraternity. There are many other Ways of preparing Potatoes for Eating besides roasting them in Embers, or boiling them, and eating them with melted Butter, as I am going to shew. .
A Second Way of preparing and dressing Potatoes. When Potatoes are to be boiled, put them into a Pot of cold Water, and allow them enough of it, else they will crack and let in the Water to the Loss of their best Taste; and for this Purpose Spring-water exceeds all others, as performing it in the best Manner, provided the Potatoes are nor boiled too furious in it, for a quick Fire is very apt to break them, before they are boiled enough. In my travelling between Bristol and Bridgwater, I put up at a lone House, where, asking what I and my Man could have to eat, the Woman told me, she had nothing but Bacon and Potatoes. I was surprised to hear of such a Dish at that Time of the Year, being the Month of June, for, in Hertfordshire and many other Countries, they have no Notion of eating them in the Summer-time, because they have not Skill enough to preserve them good all the While; but this Woman did, and her Way of doing it was this: Near Lady Day [March 25], she said she dug up all her Potatoes, when they appeared a little sprouted; upon which she immediately washed them, dried them, and packed them up in a square Heap on a wooden Floor along the Sides of the Walls about the Room, where the Fire she usually made for her daily Purposes very much contributed to their Preservation, though they lay two Feet high and two Feet broad; here they grew a little afterwards, but not so much, but that they eat very well, according to the Woman's Character of them, who told me beforehand, they would eat the more mellow, lighter, and sweeter for being thus sprouted; and, that they might answer the better, she fell to paring them directly, before she put them into the Pot; and I must needs say the Bacon and Potatoes, as she ordered them, proved a pleasant Dinner. But what I am here farther to remark is, that in these Parts they are such Lovers of Potatoes, that they employ their greatest Care in their Propagation and Preservation; insomuch that at Stoke-Market, in Somersetshire, on the sixteenth Day of June, 1737, they were sold for three Shillings a Bushel, and, there and at Bristol, they enjoyed them till near Michaelmas. An Example, I should think, sufficient to encourage the universal Planting and Preserving of this excellent Root, since, by this Precedent and what I have wrote, it plainly appears, that Potatoes may be enjoyed as Meat or Sauce all the Year. Others say, that, if Potatoes are peeled or pared like a Turnep, before they are boiled, it will make them taste watery and insipid; but, if some Salt and beaten Spice be first put into the Water, it will give them an agreeable Relish, provided they be eaten directly.
A Third Way. Others, when they are boiled, have a Sauce ready to put over them, made with Butter, Salt, and Pepperothers use Gravy Sauce, others Ketchup, some eat them boiled with only Pepper and Salt, others cut the large ones in Slices, and fry them with Onions, or stew them with Salt, Pepper, and Ale, or Water.
A Fourth Way: It is also a very common Way to boil them first, then peel them and lay them in the Dripping-pan under roasting Meat.
A Fifth Way, as I remember, the Welch follow very much, in Caermarthenshire in particular; they bake them with Herrings mixed with Layers of Salt, Pepper, Vinegar, sweet Herbs, and Water. Also they cut Mutton in Slices, and lay them in a Pan, and on them Potatoes and Spice, then another Layer of all the fame with half a Pint of Water; this they stew, covering all in the Time with Cloths round the Cover of the Stew-pan, and account it excellent Victuals.
A Sixth Way. The Irish have several Ways of eating them. The poorer Sort are often glad to eat them with only Salt, after they are boiled, others with Butter and Salt, but most of all with Milk and Sugar as the most delicious and most common Way of all others; and so when they can get a Piece of Pork, Bacon, or salt Beef, they account it an excellent Dish with their boiled Potatoes.
A Seventh Way, is to mash boiled Potatoes and then put them into Bacon or Pork-Broth, with Pepper, Spice, and sweet Herbs, and they will make a Soup like Pease-soup.
An Eighth Way, is to mash boiled Potatoes as fine as can be done; this with Spice, sweet Herbs dried, and beaten small, and mixed with Butter and Salt, makes a delicate Pudding for Rabbits, Hires, Fawns, Jacks, or Mullets, in the cheapest Manner that can well be; I mean, by putting and sowing it up in their Bellies, for being roasted in them.
A Ninth Way, is to mash them after the Potatoes are boiled, and then with a Mixture of other Ingredients, they will make a Composition for. Skin
A Tenth Way. Potatoes, boiled, pulped, and mixed with Milk and Salt into a Dough, will make Cakes, if baked.
Potatoe Bread. This Root has often been employed, like the Turnep, towards making Loaves of Bread in the scarce Times of Corn. Take as much boiled Pulp of Potatoes, as Wheaten Flour, Weight for Weight, and knead them together as common Dough is done for Bread.
Potatoe Pudding. Boil, peel, and beat them to a Mash in a Mortar. Take three Pounds of this Pulp, and add to it one Pound of Butter, whole Oatmeal, Currants, six Eggs, and Pepper, and Salt, and grated Nutmeg, and beat all well together in the Mortar for Boiling or Baking; when it is done, make a Hole in the Middle at Top, and pour in melted Butter. Another says, Add to the Pulp of Potatoes a fourth Part Weight of Marrow [bone marrow, not the vegetable marrow], and season all with Orange-juice, and Orange-flour Water, beaten Spice, and Rose-water; lay this in a prepared Paste in a Dish, and bake it in a gentle Oven; when ready, pour some sweetened Cream over it—Or, mix Potatoe-pulp with Apples chopped small, Cream, and Loafsugar, Powder of Cinnamon and Cloves; put all into a Paste and bake it in a slow Oven. Or, mix Potatoe-pulp with fat Bacon, finely cut, Oatmeal whole, Currants, Pepper, and Salt, which bake in a Pan. To fry Potatoes. When they are boiled and sliced, have Yolks of Eggs ready beaten up with a grated Nutmeg or two. When the Pan is hot you must dip them into the Yolks of Eggs and charge your Pan; when they are fried on both Sides, pour over your Layer of Butter, Vinegar, Sugar, and Rose-water.
Potato Fritters. Boil and then mix the Pulp with Milk, Clover, Cinnamon, and Loaf-sugar powdered. To this Batter add shredded Apples, and fry them like others, in Hogs-lard.—Or, to make them in a seasoned Way,- put to the Pulp Cream, and mix Pepper and Salt and Currants with them for a Batter, or, if you think fit, chopped Beef sewet may be added.
Potatoe Pye. Boil Potatoes (not too much) cut them forth in Slices as thick as your Thumb, season them with Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Ginger, and Sugaryour Coffin being ready, put them in over the Bottom; add to them the Marrow of two or three Bones, seasoned as aforesaid, a Handful of stoned Raisins of the Sun, Dates, Orangado, Citron, with Ringo-roots [Eringo-roots] sliced, put Butter over it, and bake them; Let their Layer [Lear] be a little Vinegar, Sack, and Sugar, beaten up with the Yolk of an Egg, and a little drawn Butter; when your Pye is enough, pour it in, shake it together, scrape on Sugar, garnish it, and serve it up.
The Farmers Way of Dressing them. Our common Way of dressing Potatoes is, to boil them, peel them, and slice them; when this is done, we put them into a Dish with boiled Salt-fish, or with a Piece of Bacon, or with pickled Pork, or with powdered Beef, or under a Shoulder or Leg of Mutton; in short, this is the best Root in the World for supplying the Place of Bread and Meat, because it is nourishing, pleasant, and cloying, and thus they will very much lessen the Charge of Flesh; so that the Farmer who does not furnish himself every Year by a Plantation of Potatoes, I am sure, is not his own Friend.

Monday, March 25, 2013

How to use Potatoe-apples.

I was briefly puzzled when I first came across reference to “potato-apples”, but I should not have been. The word ‘apple’ used to be used to refer to the fruit of any plant, hence, a potato-apple is the fruit of the potato. As potatoes are not usually grown from seed, I would have assumed that these potato apples would be useless. Many gardening books say they are “not edible.’ There are, however, differences between being “not edible” and “not delicious” and “poisonous.”

Here are a couple of ideas to prove that potato apples are indeed edible and drinkable.

From potatoe apples large quanities of Brandy have been distilled in France. The process is very simple: the apples or berries being gathered at full maturity, are then carefully bruised by means of cylinders, the pulp is put into vats and left to ferment; when this is finished it is distilled, and a hectoliter of Brandy, at about 15 under proof, is obtained from twenty to twenty-five hectoliters of uncrushed berries. From experience we can pronounce favourably on the potato apple Spirit.
British & Foreign Spirits: Their History, Manufacture, Properties, etc. (1864),
by Charles Tovey

I should also have remembered the suggestion from John Evelyn’s Acetaria: A Discourse on Sallets (1699): “The small green fruit, when about the size of a wild cherry, being pickled, is an agreeable sallet.” Evelyn does not give explicit instructions on pickling the potato apples, but here below is a recipe from 1839. I have no idea what the ‘Swedish’ connection is.

Swedish Method of pickling Potato Apples.
The apples produced in such abundance on potato stalks are generally suffered, in England, to rot on the ground. In Sweden, these apples are collected while in a green and hard state, well rinsed in cold water, soaked for forty-eight hours in a strong filtrated brine, drained half a day in a colander, and then boiled in vinegar with spices till they acquire some degree of transparency, or clearness, without becoming too soft Thus prepared, they are said to afford a more palatable pickle than either olives or cucumbers. Those, however, who relish the peculiar flavour of the olive, will probably protest against any such preference in the taste, and may even contend for the at least equal salubrity of their favourite fruit. They are, indeed, well worth pickling, if they even equal the cucumber; which, eaten in moderation, is less insalubrious than generally imagined.
A Modern System of Domestic Cookery (Manchester, 1839)
by M.Radcliffe.

There is an entirely different sort of Potato Apple too. Here is the recipe, from Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cookbook (1918 edition.)

Potato Apples
2 cups hot riced potatoes
Few grains cayenne
2 tablespoons butter
Slight grating nutmeg
⅓ cup grated cheese
2 tablespoons thick cream
½ teaspoon salt
Yolks 2 eggs
Mix ingredients in order given, and beat thoroughly. Shape in form of small apples, roll in flour, egg, and crumbs, fry in deep fat, and drain on brown paper. Insert a clove at both stem and blossom end of each apple.

Friday, March 22, 2013

A New Kind of Old Vegetable.

The New York Times in 1913 had a new section with a title that would be unlikely today:


The new kind of woman seemed, however, to be stuck with the old kind of chores, to judge from the content of the articles. On January 12, it was cooking vegetables. At least they were “new” vegetables. The article began:

The United States Bureau of Plant Industry has sent far afield in search of strange foreign fruits and vegetables which are being imported into the United States to add to the ordinary American menu. In addition to this, the same department has been analyzing weeks that grow along roadsides and in back pastures, and has discovered that many of these are good to eat.

One of the vegetables featured was, in fact, new to this old(ish) lady. Do you know it?

The Udo from Japan.
The udo is a vegetable from Japan which is as common there as celery is with us. But udo is crisper than celery and has none of the objectionable fibres of the latter. It has been found adaptable to the soils of the large part of the United States, and is now found in the markets of some of our large cities. It is ready for market early in the Spring and can also be blanched in the autumn. It has a fresh taste like the midrib of a lettuce leaf, with a slight but most agreeable suggestion of pine flavor. Here are a few suggestions for cooking it.
For boiling, peel the shoots and cut them into cubes. Cook for ten minutes in water seasoned with salt. Drain off, then put in fresh boiling water to which salt has been added, and boil until tender – twenty to thirty minutes in all will be sufficient. Serve with a drawn butter sauce. If the shoots are cut four or five inches long instead of into cubes, they may be served on toast like asparagus.
For a luncheon entrée, peel the shoots, and cut into four-inch pieces, and boil for fifteen minutes in water to which a little baking soda has been added. Prepare a meat stock of chicken or beef seasoned with a dash of Worcestershire sauce; then add the stalks and allow all to simmer for three-quarters of an hour. Add a touch of lime or lemon, and serve on slices of toast.
The salad possibilities of udo were discovered by an American girl in Japan. She peeled the stems with a sharp knife, cut them into two-inch lengths, and then split these into shavings about a sixteenth of an inch thick. These were dropped into ice water and left for an hour, during which time they curled attractively, then drained and served with French dressing. The salad must be dressed immediately before using it or it loses its crispness.

For those of you botanically-inclined, the udo is Aralia cordata,  a member of the ginseng family. Do you know it?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Barbecued Bulls’ Heads.

I have an interesting menu for you today. I found it in The menu maker; suggestions for selecting and arranging menus for hotels and restaurants, with object of changing from day to day to give continuous variety of foods in season .. , published in Chicago in 1910. The menu is not dated, but all of the other menus in the book appear to be contemporary, so we can reasonably assume it comes from the first decade of the twentieth century.

I give the menu as it appears in the book – luckily an English translation was included, although I am not in a position to judge its accuracy. If you can add or improve the interpretation, please do so. I am particularly entranced by the idea of Mexican Nic Nacs.

The barbecue luncheon at the Vaquero Club, Los Angeles.


Carne tatemada— (barbecue beef)
Borrego rellena— (barbecue lamb. Spanish dressing)
Frijole del pais— (beans Spanish)
Carne con chile— (meat with chile)
Cabesa tademada— (bull heads)
Tamales Calientes— (hot tamales)
Fri pas de leche
Sarza de chile verde— (green chile sauce)
Sarza chile Colorado— (red chile)
Ensaladas de papas a la moda del pais
Tata huila beve leche con pinole— (Pinole and milk)
Puchitas— (Mexican nic nacs)
Agua apollinaris

(From report of this feast in Hotel Monthly.)
Then came the Spanish-Mexican barbecue: the meat cooked in three pits, one for the beef, another for the mutton and a third for the bulls' heads. The cooking of the tamales, chilis, beans, tortilla bread and other components of the menu was done in the open air in full view of the visitors. Chef Joe Romero is an authority on Spanish and Mexican cookery, and has prepared most of the great feasts of this kind in Southern California during the last twenty-five years.
The bulls' head course was served from the last of the barbecue pits to be uncovered. They are a great delicacy. Said Chef Romero: "At the bull fights, when the bull is killed, his head is cooked and eaten, and is the greatest delicacy known to the Spaniard and Mexican.'"
The bulls' heads in Romero's barbecue pit were cooked so tender that the meat just fell from the bones. Six heads were cooked for this particular barbecue.

I give you, for your amusement, an interpretation of the concept of a “Spanish Salad” according to an Englishman of Italian heritage, chef to the very English Queen Victoria - Charles Elme Francatelli. This Spanish Salad  comes complete with Mayonnaise AND French “vinegaret.”  

Spanish Salad.
Cut two or three ripe tomatas in slices, and dish them up in a circular row in a salad-bowl or dish; fill the centre with either small Windsor beans, French beans, garbancas or Spanish peas, pickled button-onions, large green peas, or haricot beans: all, or any of these, to suit convenience and taste, should be gently mixed with some mayonaise sauce: the salad when finished is to be sauced over with vinegaret,—the ordinary seasoning for French salads.
The Cook's Guide (1867)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Shape of Bread to Come.

The British wartime Ministry of Food had more to say on the subject of bread than the extraction rate of the flour used, and the exhortation not to waste a crumb of the precious resource. I had no idea, until I came across the following snippet from The Times of July 9, 1940, that they were concerned about the shape of the loaves too.

It is probable that the wide variety in the size and shape of loaves will soon be drastically limited to save labour in bakeries. The Ministry of Food is considering the question, after receiving a recommendation from the Bakers’ and Confectioners’ Advisory Committee, that the 45 different shapes and sizes of loaves sold in England should be reduced to four: one-piece tin, one-piece Coburg (a round loaf), one-piece sandwich (a long, square loaf), and a Vienna loaf – a fancy type, tapering at each end – weighing not more than 12 oz.
In Scotland, where there are 85 varieties the committee recommends a similar reduction, with the addition of a one-piece batch loaf and a one-piece pan loaf.

As I read this, it seems that the Scots got the choice of six breads? I am not sure what a one-piece batch loaf or a one-piece pan loaf are, exactly. I presume they are different from a one-piece tin loaf and a one-piece sandwich?

If your favourite bread was removed from the list, you could have potatoes for breakfast instead. From the Ministry of Food’s Food Facts leaflet No. 30, here is an alternative idea which also happens to use up some of the stale bread you might have lying around.

Potato Cutlets for Breakfast.
These make an excellent start to the day; and one of the beauties of them is that you can prepare them the day before. Scrub 1 ½ lbs potatoes and boil in their skins. When cooked, peel and mash them thoroughly. Scrape ½ lb carrots, boil till tender, and mash. Mix the potatoes and carrots together, season with salt and pepper, then shape into cutlets. Dip in browned breadcrumbs, made by baking stale bread in the oven and crushing it. Next morning, place the cutlets in a greased tin, and bake in a moderate oven for about 15 minutes, or fry them in a little hot fat.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Breakfast Prescriptions.

I love the idea of a ‘Breakfast Prescription.’ Choose your breakfast according to your mood or circumstances – or according to the amusing names on the menu.  The hotel with a menu like the one following deserve the business.

From The Practical Hotel Steward (Chicago, 1913) by John Tellman, published for The Hotel Monthly, I give you:

Breakfast Prescriptions.
The newest idea in club breakfasts comes from Hotel Casey, Scranton, Pa. It is in booklet form, and gives eighteen selections ranging from thirty-five to eighty cents. Each breakfast is given a special head in large type, to suggest the meal suited to inclination. In this reproduction we omit, to save repetition, the lines “Served to one person only’ and “Cereal with cream 15 cents extra.”
In the book the cards are displayed in the customary fashion:

A Breakfast "Fit for the Gods" (80c):
Grape fruit; Small sirloin with rasher of bacon; Hashed brown potatoes; Cream toast ;
Pot of tea or coffee; (or instead of Steak have Lamb chops or half a broiled chicken).

A Substantial Breakfast (75c):
Fruit in season; Combination chop; Potatoes Julienne; Hot rolls; Tea or coffee; (or Pork
chops or Lamb chops or Veal cutlet).

A Breakfast for any Kind of a Morning (65c):
Fruit in season; Veal steak fried plain in butter; Hashed in cream potatoes; Hot waffles;
Maple syrup or honey; Pot of tea or coffee.

A Breakfast for the Blase "Who Don't Know What to Eat”(65c):
Fruit in season; Boiled salt mackered swimming in hot milk and butter; Hot fresh baked potatoes; Crisp brown toast; (or Hotel Casey perfection rolls); Tea or coffee.

A Breakfast from the Old Farm (60c):
Baked apples with cream; Fried salt pork; Hot baked potatoes; Shirred eggs; Perfection rolls;
Tea or coffee.

A Satisfying Breakfast (60c):
Fruit; English mutton chop split and broiled with kidney; Potatoes au gratin; Perfection rolls;
Tea or coffee.

Breakfast Hashes (60c):
Grape fruit ; Chicken hash with poached eggs or (Lamb hash with green peppers), or (Roast
beef hash with chopped onions), or (Hamburger steak), or (Chopped fresh porterhouse saute) ;
Baked potatoes; Hot Rolls; Tea or coffee.

A Breakfast for the Epicure (50c):
Baked apple; Genuine (country) sausage; Baked potatoes; buckwheat cakes and New Orleans molasses; Tea or coffee.

A Breakfast for the Morning When You Don't Feel Like Eating Much (50c):
Sliced pineapple; Spanish omelette (or Omelette with chicken livers); Saute potatoes; Perfection
rolls; Pot of tea or coffee.

A Breakfast Always Good (50c):
Orange; Genuine corned beef hash; Poached eggs; Toasted muffins; (or Calf's liver and bacon
or Codfish cakes).

A Dainty Breakfast (50c):
Fruit ; Veal kidneys, stewed or saute; (or Chicken livers, en brochette)  Saute potatoes ; Dipped toast ; Tea or coffee ; (or Chicken hash or Codfish and cream).

A Breakfast for Friday or Any Day (50c):
Baked potatoes ; Perfection rolls ; Tea or coffee.

Omelette Breakfast (50c):
Fruit; Eggs Benedictine; (or Plain omelette); Hashed brown potatoes  Waffles and honey; Tea
or coffee; (or Ham omelette or Parsley omelette).

Breakfast — Out of the Ordinary (50c):
Fruit; Finnan haddie, Epicure; Baked potatoes; Perfection rolls: Tea or coffee; (or Yarmouth
bloaters or Kippered herring).

A Breakfast That is Always Palatable (60c):
Fruit; Ham fried nice and brown with eggs fried in ham gravy; Grilled sweet potatoes; Toasted corn bread  (or Perfection rolls); Tea or coffee.

An English Breakfast (50c):
Orange marmalade; Cream toast; Eggs any style, with Crisp bacon;  Baked potatoes; Rolls; Coffee or English breakfast tea.

A Breakfast — And That's All (40c):
Prunes; Broiled, fried or scrambled eggs; Perfection rolls ; Tea or coffee.

A Hurry-Up Breakfast (35c):
Boiled eggs; Hot rolls; Cup of coffee or tea.

I was very uncertain about the cream toast and the dipped toast, neither of these things ever being offered to me. If they ever are, I will pass, in favour of hot fresh toast with lashings of butter and Seville Orange Marmalade.

Cream Toast.
Cut six slices of bread in halves, toast slowly, or put into a moderate oven until light brown and crisp, dip each piece into Sauce for Cream Toast, and put into a covered serving dish; pour over
remaining sauce, and cover for two or three minutes before serving.
Sauce For Cream Toast.
  2 cups milk                   ½ teaspoon salt
  3 tablespoons flour       1 tablespoon butter
  ¼ cup cold water
Scald the milk; mix the flour to a smooth paste with water, add to milk and stir until thickened; cook over hot water fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally; add salt and butter, and pour over toast.
Better Meals for Less Money (New York, 1917.)

Dipped Toast.
Have ready some milk boiled and thickened with a very little flour; add butter according as you wish your toast rich or otherwise; into which dip the toasted bread. Serve hot. This should not be dipped until sent to table, as by standing it becomes sodden. If cream is used instead of milk, no thickening is necessary, and a very little butter.
The American Matron (Boston, 1851)

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Pic Nic Supper.

In 1803, the latest fad was a Pic Nic Supper.  It was not the same sort of event that we associated today with the word ‘picnic’ however.  The Annual Register, Or, A View of the History, Politics, and Literature for the Year explains:

This season has been marked by a new species of entertainment, common to the fashionable world, called a Pic Nic supper. Of the derivation of the word, or who was the inventor, we profess ourselves ignorant, but the nature of it we can inform our readers is as follows:

A Pic Nic supper consists of a variety of dishes. The subscribers to the entertainment have a bill of fare presented to them, with a number against each dish. The lot which he draws obliges hm to furnish the dish marked against it, which he either takes with him in his carriage, or sends by a servant. The proper variety is preserved by the talents of the maître d’hotel, who forms the bil of fare.

And here is another perspective, from 1826.

 I believe pic-nic is originally a cant word, and was first applied to a supper or other meal in which the entertainment is not provided by any one person, but each of the guests furnishes his dish. In a pic-nic supper one supplies the fowls, another the fish, another the wine and fruit, &c.; and they all sit down together and enjoy it. A very sociable way of making an entertainment Yes, and I would have you observe that the principle of it may be extended to many other things. No one has a right to be entertained gratis in society; he must expend if he wishes to enjoy.— Conversation, particularly, is a picnic feast, where every one is to contribute something, according to his genius and ability. Different talents and acquirements compose the different dishes of the entertainment, and the greater variety the better; but even one must bring something, for society will not tolerate any one long who lives wholly at the expense of his neighbours.
The Works of Anna Lætitia Barbauld

It seems, then, that there were no dishes made specifically for picnics, although presumably then as now, it would be sensible to prepare ones that were easy to transport.

By the second half of the nineteenth century, the picnic had evolved into an outdoor meal, much as we know it now, although the food is more complex, as was the Victorian way. Here are some ideas for picnic food from Commonsense Papers on Cookery (1877.)

We will run hastily through the ordinary picnic dishes, with a word or two to say on each.

First, cold lamb and mint sauce. Bear in mind that the former is very apt to turn quickly, in hot weather, especially if packed close, or put in a hamper near the top exposed to the sun. Pepper the joint,  and wrap it up in cool cabbage-leaves. The mint sauce must be put in a small bottle, a stone ginger-beer bottle being as good as anything.

Second, lobster salad. This of course is dressed on the ground. Take care, however, in packing the lobsters, that they do not impart a fishy flavour to everything else. A few hard-boiled eggs should be taken to garnish the salad.

Pigeon pie. A good pigeon pie ought to have plenty of gravy, and this gravy when cold should be properly a firm jelly. I recollect once in a picnic the pigeon pie had leaked, and the gravy had soaked quite through the table-cloth, which had been placed folded up near it in the hamper. Now a very little trouble would have avoided this in making the gravy for the pie, bearing in mind the time of year, and how unlikely gravy is to set firm unless made exceedingly strong. All the cook has to do is to put in a little gelatine. This will insure the gravy being firm when cold.

A cucumber properly dressed is an exceedingly nice accompaniment to cold fowl and cold meat in hot weather, and perhaps never appears to better advantage than at a picnic.

And let us not forget the picnic beverages. The author suggests claret cup:

I have already given directions how to make claret-cup. When claret-cup is required for a picnic, it will be found best to take ready mixed in a small bottle some plain syrup, and also in another bottle a little sherry, brandy, and noyeau, mixed in the proportions I named before. All, therefore, that is required is a strip of the peel from the cucumber and a slice of lemon to be added to a bottle of claret, the mixed wine and spirit out of the bottle next, a little syrup, a lump of ice, and a couple of bottles of soda-water to finish with.

And here are her lengthy instructions for claret-cup.

It is impossible to make a good cup out of really bad claret. I do not mean cheap claret, but sour. It is quite possible to get a good sound wine for twenty-four shillings a dozen, or even less; but at the same time it is quite possible to pay more, and get a sour compound that would be unfit for cup or any other purpose. On the other hand, to use really good claret, such as Chateau Margaux or Chateau Latour, for making cup, would be as bad as using 1834 port to make negus.
Perhaps the most difficult point to determine in making claret-cup is its sweetness. Now, as this is purely a matter of taste, I would recommend persons to err on the side of too little sugar rather than too much, as it is always easy to add, but impossible to take away.
Take therefore about an ounce and a half of white sugar, and dissolve it by pouring a table-spoonful of hot water on it, and afterwards adding a little claret. I have always found this plan best, as otherwise the sugar is apt to settle at the bottom of the cup or jug, thereby often making the compound not quite sweet enough at starting, and a great deal too sweet at the finish.
We will suppose, therefore, that the sugar is completely dissolved, and added to a whole bottle of claret in the jug or cup selected for the purpose. Add two thin slices of lemon — cut across the lemon, care being taken to avoid any pips — and one thin slice of cucumber-peeling about as long and as broad as the first finger, and the thickness of the blade of a dinner-knife. Next add one sherry-glassful of sherry, one table-spoonful of good brandy — not some of that dreadful cheap brandy that smells like naphtha — and one table-spoonful of noyeau or maraschino. Rub a nutmeg about half a dozen times across the grater over the cup.
Let the cup stand for about a quarter of an hour, and then taste it. Should the flavour of the cucumber be very decided, take out the piece of cucumber; and the same as regards the lemon. Should the flavour of the peel of the lemon be detected, take out the two slices of lemon, for lemons vary immensely in strength.
Now add a large lump of ice and a bottle of soda- water, taking care to pour the latter in carefully – i.e - to put the soda-water bottle almost into the cup. I have seen persons pour the soda water from a height, thereby losing half the carbonic-acid gas, which ought to go into the cup to freshen it up, so to speak.
All that the cup now requires is drinking. It is by no means a very cheap affair, as the sherry, brandy, and noyeau probably cost more than the claret.