Friday, January 29, 2016

A Flash of Pastry.

I want to talk briefly today about éclairs, because I do not believe I have done so before, and because many of you appear to love posts about baking in general, and pastry in particular.

The word sounds French, because it is. In its original language, it means ‘a flash of lightning.’ Presumably this name was chosen because of the speed with which they can be eaten (because of their airy lightness,) or must be eaten (because of their desirability to your tea-time companions.)

In the unlikely event that you have not heard of the éclair, it is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘A small finger-shaped cake made of choux-pastry, and filled with any of various kinds of cream.’ ‘Chou(x)’ of course, is French for cabbage, and this is because profiteroles (also made from choux pastry) are approximately cabbage-shaped. An éclair then, is simply a value-added profiterole.

‘First mentions’ are a favourite topic of mine, as you know, and the OED has opinions on that topic which are not always correct, but I love it anyway. First mention of choux paste is given as:

1706   Phillips's New World of Words (ed. 6)    Petits Choux, a sort of Paste for garnishing, made of fat Cheese, Flower, Eggs, Salt, etc. bak'd in a Pye-pan, and Ic'd over with fine Sugar.

This is clearly later than the first actual iteration of this type of pastry, but that explication must wait for another day.

First mention of the éclair is given as:

1861   Vanity Fair (N.Y.) 2 Feb. 50/1   A waiter, whereon stood..a plate of macaroons, éclairs and sponge cake.

Secure in the knowledge that recipes are made for years or decades before they reach cookery books, I intend to find references earlier than before 1861, but that too, must wait for another day.

I give you a basic recipe, with many variations, from Pierre Blot’s Hand-book of Practical Cookery, for Ladies and Professional Cooks (New York, 1867)

Pâté à choux.—Weigh four ounces of flour, to which add half a teaspoonful of sugar. Put two gills of cold water in a tin saucepan with two ounces of butter, and set it on the fire, stir a little with a wooden spoon to melt the butter before the water boils. At the first boiling of the water, throw into it the four ounces of flour and stir very fast with the spoon, holding the pan fast with the left hand. As soon as the whole is thoroughly mixed, take from the fire, but continue stirring for about fifteen or twenty seconds. It takes hardly half a minute from the time the flour is dropped in the pan to that when taken from the fire. The quicker it is done, the better. When properly done, nothing at all sticks to the pan, and by touching it with the finger it feels as soft as velvet, and does not adhere to it at all. Let it stand two or three minutes, then mix well with it, by means of a spoon, one egg; then another, and so on; in all four. It takes some time and work to mix the eggs, especially to mix the first one, the paste being rather stiff. They are added one at a time, in order to mix them better. If the eggs are small, add half of one or one more. To use only half a one, it is necessary to beat it first. Let the paste stand half an hour, stir again a little, and use. If it is left standing for some time and is found rather dry, add a little egg, which mix, and then use.

Eclairs au Chocolat—Make some pâté à choux as directed above, and put it in the pastry-bag with tube No. 1 at the end of it. Force it out of the bag into a bakingpan greased with butter. By closing and holding up the larger end of the bag and by pressing it downward, it will come out of the tube in a rope-like shape and of the size of the tube. Draw the bag toward you while pressing, and stop when you have spread a length of about four inches. Repeat this operation till the baking-pan is full or till the paste is all out. Leave a space of about two inches between each cake, as they swell in baking. Bake in an oven at about 370-degrees. When baked and cold, slit one side about half through, open gently and fill each cake with the following cream, and then close it. Cream: put in a block-tin saucepan three tablespoonfuls of sugar, two of flour, four yolks of eggs, and mix weU with a wooden spoon. Add a pint of milk, little by little, and mixing the while; set on the fire, stir continually till it becomes rather thick, and take off. Have one ounce of chocolate melted on a slow fire in half a. gill of milk, and mix it with the rest, and use. Put one ounce of chocolate in a tin saucepan with a teaspoonful of water, and set on a slow fire; when melted, mix with it two tablespoonfuls of sugar, stir for a while; that is, till it is just thick enough to spread it over the cakes, and not liquid enough to run down the sides. A thickness of about one-sixteenth of an inch is sufficient. The cakes may either be dipped in the chocolate or the chocolate may be spread over them with a knife. Serve cold.
Eclairs au Café —It is made exactly like the above, except that you mix with the cream three tablespoonfuls of strong coffee, instead of chocolate and milk.
Eclairs au Thé—It is made like the preceding one, with the exception that strong tea is used instead of strong coffee.
Eclairs à la Vanille.—Proceed as for the above, but mix a teaspoonful of essence of vanilla in the cream instead of tea.
Eclairs à l’ Essence.—The meaning of eclairs a à l’ essence is, that a few drops of any kind of essence are mixed with the cream instead of chocolate and milk, and prepared and served like the others.
Eclairs aux Fraises.—Instead of filling the cakes with cream, fill them with strawberry-jelly, and for the rest proceed as for eclairs au chocolat.
Eclairs aux Groseilles.—Made like the above, but filled with currant-jelly.

Do the same with apple, blackberry, cherry, grape, peach, pear, plum, quince, raspberry jelly, etc.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Very Recherché Dishes.

Yesterday’s recipe came from a book called Recherché Luncheon and Dinner Sweets, published in 1906, and it occurred to me that some of you may not be familiar with the term ‘recherché’ in relation to food. It was a popular concept in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and Charles Herman Senn, the author of yesterday’s recipe source, included the term in the title of a number of his books.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word means ‘Rare, choice, exotic; far-fetched, obscure.’ It is a borrowing from the French (no surprises there) and has meant, at various times, ‘affected, unnatural (1580,) ‘desirable, prized’ (1601 or earlier), and ‘unusual, well-crafted’ (1690.) I think you will agree that a recherché dish then, is one in which there are overtones of snobbish desirability. This desirability comes via some study, however, as the word is an adjectival use of the past participle of the verb rechercher, meaning ‘to research.’

The OED goes on to note that the term was common in the nineteenth century ‘esp. of meals, articles of food or drink, and dress.’ The earliest reference cited by the OED is, to my delight, a literary one:

1838   H. W. Longfellow Jrnl. 19 May in S. Longfellow Life H. W. Longfellow (1886) I. xix. 287   A quiet recherché dinner at the Albion.

I have been completely unable to find any cookery books making regular use of the term as early as 1838 however, but I feel sure we can push the date back a little further than Charles Herman Senn’s work, with a little more research.

Senn was a very prolific writer of food and cookery books. Several included the word  Recherché in the title. Yesterday we enjoyed a recipe from Recherché Luncheon and Dinner Sweets, published in 1906. I have chosen a couple of other examples for you today, from his other works.

“The recipes collected in the present volume represent the newest and most popular Entrées of the present time, and the dishes described are of the highest type of the Continental cuisine.”

My choice for you today from this book is:

Filets de Boeuf aux Bananas.
(Small fillets of Beef with Bananas.)
About 2 ½ lb. fillet of beef, 4 bananas, 1 gill cream, meat glaze, chopped parsley, pepper and salt, 2 oz. butter, 1 small onion, 2 yolks of egg, horseradish, frying fat, flour and bread-crumbs.
Trim the meat and cut it crossways into six or more even-sized fillets, pare these neatly and season with salt and pepper. Broil both sides of the fillets in butter over a quick fire for about eight minutes, take up, glaze over with meat glaze, and keep hot.
Have ready the onion finely chopped, blanched, drained, and fried without browning in the butter in which the fillets were cooked; add the cream; stir till hot (not boiling). Add the yolks of egg and let bind, then rub it through a sieve and keep hot.
Peel the bananas, slit each in two and divide in halves crossways. Dip in flour, egg, and bread-crumbs, and fry in hot clarified butter fat.
Dish up the fillets on a hot dish. Mix a little finely grated horseradish with the sauce, and put a dessertspoonful of it on top of each fillet. Sprinkle over a little liquid meat glaze and chopped parsley, garnish the dish with fried bananas and serve with rich brown sauce.

Another of his titles is Recherché Side Dishes: for breakfast, luncheon, dinner and supper comprising the newest hors d'oeuvre, savouries, sandwiches & salads, oriental dishes, etc. (1901.) I hope you like my choice from the book:

Curried Potatoes and Apples.
(Pommes de Terre et Pommes au Kari.)

Slice six cold potatoes. Peel and slice half the quantity of sour apples. Egg the slices of potatoes, crumb them in a mixture of breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, and curry powder, and fry in hot fat. Dust the apples with flour; egg, crumb, and fry them likewise. Dish them up alternately in the form of a border; season with Krona pepper, pile up some fried parsley in the centre, and serve.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Station Hotel, Kuala Lumpur, 1932.

I am reluctant to leave our vicarious travels this week, so before I change topics, I want to share with you a menu from the Station Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, for a dinner held by the Malay States Railway, on February 3, 1932.

I think we can be forgiven for assuming a meal of delicious Malay dishes. This was not the case, however, as you can see:


1. Canapes Caviar
2. Consomme Royal
3. Poisson al' Italienne
4. Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb
5. Roast Fowl a l'Anglaise, Artichoke, Baked Potatoes
6. Creme de Fraises
7. Cheese
8. Fruit, Coffee

I leave you with a recipe for a thoroughly European dessert of strawberry jelly (I use the term in the English sense of a dish set with gelatin, not a ‘jam’ or conserve.)

Crême de Fraises à la Chartreuse.
I small punnet of ripe strawberries, ¾ pint clear wine jelly, ½ pint cream, I glass Chartreuse, ½ oz. angelica, 4 leaves of best gelatine.
Melt some of the jelly, put a fancy or plain mould in a basin containing crushed ice, and line the inside of the mould thinly with a layer of jelly. Pick out a few of the best fruit, halve them, remove the stalk, and substitute a stalk with small pieces of angelica stuck in each half. Decorate the bottom and sides of the mould with these; mask well with jelly so as to keep the fruit firm and in position. Pick the stalks of the rest of the strawberries, and cut them in slices; melt the remainder of the jelly, put in the sliced fruit, melt the gelatine in a little jelly, and strain into this. Let cool a little, whip the cream, and mix it with the above; add the liqueur and stir over the ice until it begins to set, then pour into the decorated mould. Stand it on the ice until firm, then tusrn out and serve.

Recherché Luncheon and Dinner Sweets, by Charles Herman Senn (1906)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Breakfast aboard RMS Aquitania, 1937.

I thought it might be fun to compare yesterday’s breakfast menu from the S.S. Hakusan Maru with one from a ship of the same era, but a different shipping line.

Today we are breakfasting aboard the R.M.S Aquitania. The ship was (along with RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania) one of the three jewels in the Cunard Company’s crown in the pre-war years. She was launched in May 1914, and set off on her maiden voyage was to New York. A month later, the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand was the spark that ignited World War I, and the Aquitania was requisitioned for war purposes. The Aquitania was again requisitioned for military purposes when World War II broke out, and she served the post-war purpose too, when she was chartered to transport war brides and their children to Canada.

On January 27, 1937, passengers (the class is not specified) aboard the Cunard liner R.M.S Aquitania sat down at breakfast to a fine list of dishes that I can only describe as Anglo-American (I especially love the choice of ‘Griddle Cakes with Maple or Golden Syrup’ !)

Grape Fruit   Apples            Oranges         Bananas
Stewed Figs   Compote of Prunes  Compote of Pears
Orange Juice.

Quaker Oats              Hominy          Grape Nuts
Bonny Boy Toasted Oats     Puffed Rice   Bran Flakes
Corn Flakes               Force              Oatmeal

Fried Fillets of Flounder and Lemon
Broiled Yarmouth Bloaters

Broiled Smoked Wiltshire, Irish, and Pale Bacon
Grilled York Ham
Eggs – to Order – Fried, Turned, Boiled, Poached
and Scrambled
To Order – Omelettes, Plain and Jelly

American Dry Hash Cakes

Roast Beef – Horseradish Sauce   Bologna Sauce            London Brawn
Rolled Ox Tongue                York Ham and Jelly

Watercress    Radishes        Spring Onions
Griddle Cakes with Maple or Golden Syrup

Hot Rolls       Scones            Swedish, Rye and White Bread
Hovis              Toast

Tea- India, Ceylon and China
Ovaltine         Coffee             Cocoa             Jams, Honey and Marmalade
Horlicks Malted Milk (Plain and Flavoured)
Cadbury’s Cup Chocolate

The mystery to me on this menu is – what is ‘Pale Bacon’? For the time being it must join Fried Rice Pudding on my To Be Researched list.

I hope that the muffins on this menu were not in the style of ‘cakes for breakfast’ but were the original ‘English’ type, raised with yeast and cooked on a griddle. Here is the thoroughly American Miss Maria Parloa’s version from her eponymous cookbook:

English Muffins.
One quart of flour, one teaspoonful of salt, one-third of a cake of compressed yeast, or one-third of a cupful of liquid yeast; one cupful and a half of water. Have the water blood warm. Dissolve the yeast in one-third of a cupful of cold water. Add it and the salt to the warm water, and gradually stir into the flour. Beat the dough thoroughly; cover, and let it rise in a warm place until it is spongy (about five hours). Sprinkle the bread board with flour. Shape the dough into balls about twice the size of an egg, and drop them on the floured board. When all the dough has been shaped, roll the balls into cakes about one-third of an inch thick. Lay these on a warm griddle, which has been lightly greased, and put the griddle on the back of the stove, where there is not much heat. When the cakes have risen a little, draw the griddle forward and cook them slowly, turning often, to keep the flat shape. It will take about twenty minutes for them to rise on the griddle, and fifteen to cook. Tear them apart, butter them, and serve.

Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (New York, 1882)

Monday, January 25, 2016

All Aboard for Yokohama, 1935.

In its heyday as a passenger and mail ship liner in the 1920’s and 1930’s, guests aboard the S.S. Hakusan Maru of the Japanese NYK (Nippon Yusen Kaisha) Line were likely as ignorant of the vessel’s history as they had to be of its future role and tragic end. The vessel had been built in 1923 for the NYL Line, and regularly plied the route between Yokohama and England until she was requisitioned as a troop ship by the Imperial Army at the outbreak of World War II in 1939. The ship was sunk on June 4, 1944 several hundred miles from the Bonin Islands, by a torpedo fired by a US submarine (USS Flier: SS-250.)

On December 28, 1934, the ship had left Gravesend in the River Thames estuary, on its regular return trip to Yokohama via the Suez Canal and Singapore. On the morning of January 17, 1935 second class passengers sat down to a very Western breakfast menu:


Rolled Oats
Corn-flakes & Force with Milk
Fish Cake Anchovy Sauce
Frittered Calf’s Brain
Meat Curry and Rice
Potatoes: Boiled & Cream

(To order from the Grill 10 minutes)

Rump of Beef Steak Horseradish Sauce
Grilled American Bacon
Omelet: Plain and Tomato
(EXTRA)                                Ozōni
Buckwheat Cake
Hot Roll
Jam and Marmalade
Teas:- Green, Chinese, & Liptons
Costa Rica Coffee
Roast Ribs of Beef    Spiced Brawn
Thursday, 17th, January, 1935.

The only indication of any connection with Japan was the inclusion in the menu (as an ‘extra’) of the dish called ozōni - a soup containing rice cakes which is traditionally eaten at New Year.  

I had hoped to find an early twentieth century recipe for ozōni in the Chinese-Japanese Cook Book, by Sara Bosse and Onoto Watanna [pseud.] published in Chicago in about 1914. Alas, it was not to be. It does however have the following, which will stand in its stead as the recipe for the day:-

UWO SHIRU (Fish Soup)
One and one half pounds of fish (any kind); one quarter pound of fat pork; one pound of miso paste (bean and rice paste); one half cupful of syou [soy] sauce; one cupful of cooking juice sauce; one small carrot; two onions; three hard-boiled eggs; two tablespoonfuls of cooked, chopped ham; pepper, salt, sugar, and spices.

To make this soup, any fish of the milder variety can be used, such as cod, haddock, or bass; lobster and shrimps are also good cooked this way. Have the pork cut into small pieces, and fry a golden brown; then wash the fish and take out all bones, chop up into small pieces, add to the pork, and fry for a few minutes. Have ready all the vegetables, cleaned and grated, and put into the pot with the syou and cooking juice, salt, pepper, and spices. Let it come to a boil, then add the miso paste, mixed with a pint and a half of boiling water. Stir all well together, and boil for one hour, adding boiling water if it cooks away. Strain into soup bowls, and serve with slices of hard-boiled eggs, sprinkled with chopped parsley and grated ham.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Foods of Luxury: Delicacies for the Wealthy; 1914.

Foods of Luxury: Delicacies for the Wealthy; 1914.

I invite you to read the following interesting article from The Times (London, England), of Monday, June 8th, 1914, and to then ponder upon the concept of luxury food items then and now. Please let me know your thoughts.

Foods of luxury should not be confused with foods that are expensive because they are out of season. A strawberry in the winter may cost half a crown, and prawns in a Paris restaurant are sometimes a franc apiece, but neither strawberries nor prawns are luxuries at the right time and in the right place. Caviar, oysters, and plovers’ eggs are luxuries, for they are difficult to obtain. Caviar becomes a super-luxury when, according to Cubtat’s practice in his Paris restaurant, a sturgeon is brought to table and the caviar is brought out of it on the spot. Turtles conveyed from the warm seas of the West that aldermen may dine on them rank high among luxuries, and so do their smaller cousins, the terrapins. The birds’ nests that the Chinese taught us to use in soup, and which bring to the sense of taste a memory of the sea, are food of luxury, but that other great Chinese delicacy, sharks’ fins, no one but  Chinaman can eat. The sea-slugs from the Seychelles are another delight from a far country that give a pleasant flavour to soup.
There could be no more suitable introduction to banquets, after we have trifled with the hors d’oeuvres – the anchovies Alici tartufate [Mozzarella with anchovies in truffle oil], the crayfish tails, the sardines with truffles, the Astrachan caviar, or the tunny fish à l’huile – than these soups which give a healthy glow to the system and stimulate the appetite for what follows. All manner of soups prepared for the table, from the lordly turtle to the tail of the kangaroo, the bêche de mer from Queensland, the Milanese potage d’escargot, and a host of others, are available for the Londoner, and can be enjoyed here in their full perfection, because these luxuries lend themselves so rapidly to preservation for their use. Fish in Great Britain ought not to be a luxury, for our seas and rivers teem with them. But our whitebait are not so toothsome fry as the nonnats of the Bay of Monaco, while to the ombre-chevalier of Lake Leman and the fogash of Lake Balaton we can show no equals. A fat quail is certainly a luxury, so is a canvas-back duck, and the little ortolan can creep in under that heading. Agneau de lait and the snowy white veal of Pontoise are luxuries in the wide list of meats, while asparagus, whether the great white stalks of Agenteuil or the more slender green plant of England, can claim the same distinction. Of tubers, the noble truffle is the acknowledged king. The pâtés are all in the list of luxury – the fatted geese livers of Strasburg, the ducks’ livers from the Midi of France, the pâté de Perigord aux truffles, and the woodcock pâtés of Belgium. Hams, whether Virginia peach-fed from America, or chestnut-fed and snow-cured from Traveles, near Granada, the ham of Bayonne, or of the other half-hundred varieties, come under the heading; and of fruit, British hothouse grapes and pines contest supremacy with mangoes from Bombay and Alpine strawberries. England has yet to learn the supreme delicacy of taste of the mangosteen of the Straits Settlements.
Certain luxuries depend to some extent upon mere association; thus the dainty little agone of the North Italian lakes must be eaten on a terrace overlooking Como, and we can scarcely believe that its reputation would be the same if we could enjoy it on a London breakfast table. There is a certain flat cream cheese with just a soupçon of the fragrance of wood-smoke from the forest which seems a little short of perfection, if eaten at Fontainebleau, in the vicinity of the chasselas vines, but we question if it would ever seem quite the same elsewhere. No doubt modern skill as brought within the epicure’s reach, well preserved in transparent glass, many of the delicacies of foreign lands, but it is too often found that, away from the scenes where we once considered their flavour to be so admirable they lose much of their persuasive power to tickle the palate. We can no more bottle up the sunshine than we can bring away the haunting grace of the surrounding that gave more than half their charms to many of these well-remembered dainties, and so time and place must ever have their share in the subtle effect produced by their merits. The mushroom gathered from the dewy pastures in the early morning may challenge comparison with the hothouse product of the market gardener, but to the refined taste the champignon plucked from the rings where the fairies have danced puts both into the shade by its superlative excellence.
A peacock roasted and then reclad in the skin with the superb tail feathers duly displayed no doubt made goodly show in point of decorative effect, but, apart from that, it would not command the epicure’s respect. The partridge, the pheasant, and the grouse have now become so common that we scarcely include them among luxuries, but the lark or mauviette carefully wrapped in bacon and served upon toast is a toothsome morsel, The snipe and the woodcock rank high among the smaller game birds, and many of the ducks which visit this country are splendid for the table, though they should be eaten almost raw or very lightly cooked. Though it is not given in modern times to destroy the nightingale to obtain it tongues which might be here find place, from the carefully smoked tongue of the ox to that of the reindeer or the tender tongue of the lamb, cunningly enshrined in clear aspic. Sheeps’ tongues and Russian ox tongues are among the choice viands prepared for the breakfast table, and several varieties of cooked tongue, whether rolled in glasses or collared in tins, may almost claim inclusion among the present list of dainties.
There are those who scoff at the results of the cold storage system in the matter of luxuries, and at the possibility of bringing over by this means many delicacies from foreign lands in the ice chamber. Except, perhaps, in the case of certain fruits, the success of this mode of transport is by no means free from cavil, but the plan has hardly received fair treatment from the epicure’s point of view, for as yet little has been attempted with rare and choice morsels. The aim of the importer is to convey meat and foreign produce in bulk; and hitherto, with the exception of butter, dairy produce, and fruit, the possibility of freezing and transporting table delicacies has received but little attention. It is obvious that there are difficulties to be overcome in the conveyance of the frozen products from the ship’s hold to the table, and the case is very different from that in which commodities such as entire carcasses of animals are being handled in large quantities. We do not despair of the solution of the problem in the near future, when it may be possible to enjoy the guava, the mangosteen, and many other Oriental fruits in their prime. Indeed, judging by the success with which peaches, nectarines, and other delicate fruits have been brought from South Africa and Australia the ultimate issue is no longer doubtful.
In no other department of luxuries for the table do we rely more implicitly upon the skill of the French cuisine than in the matter of sweet-meats and confectionery – whether it be the delicately flavoured chocolate of Marquis; the Parisian crystallised flowers – the acacia, the rose leaves, the orange blossom, and the violet; the glacé fruits in rings and knot, the lunettes and the mirabelles; the caramels à la vanilla, or le Rajah; the marrons glacés vanillés and a score of other delicacies. All these and a host of others, too numerous to mention, have only to be named to remind the epicure of the French capital.

Your luxury recipe for the day is from The Art of rench Cookery (1827) by Antoine Beauvilliers.

To roast Woodcocks and Snipes. Bécasses, Bécassines, &. À la Broche.
Prepare three woodcocks without opening them, take off the skin of the head, truss up their feet and use their beaks for skewering them; choose the leanest and lard it; barb the other two; pass a skewer between the thighs and fix the ends to the spit; half an hour will do them; baste them and lay three toasts in the dripping pan to receive their fat; when ready to serve take them up, dish the bread, and lay the woodcocks over it.
Another Way. Autre Manière de les servir a la Broche.

Draw or empty the woodcocks by the back, take out the neck, mince, and add about half the quantity of rasped lard with the intestines, a little minced parsley, young onions and shalots, salt and pepper; stuff the woodcocks, sew them up, cover them with slices of bacon, and finish as above. If they are to be served to the English, send to table with them a bread sauce.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Variations on a Theme of Fried Rice.

Fried Rice. A pretty pedestrian dish, most of the time, I think. Interestingly, in the West, what constitutes ‘Fried Rice’ has changed significantly over the last century and a half or so.

Fried Rice.
Boil a cupful of rice, drain; then fry it with a little butter, sprinkling in a very little cayenne and saffron powder, salt, and sugar. Some people add a few raisins.
A Lenten Cookery Book: Being Nearly 200 Maigre Recipes,
by Henrietta Louisa Lear.(1876)

Spanish fried rice is excellent. Wash the rice and brown it in hot butter. Add onions, tomatoes and garlic. Cover the whole with hot water. Season with salt and pepper. Let the rice cook thoroughly, but do not stir it.
[From an article on the cookery of Porto Rico.]
Portsmouth Herald [New Hampshire] March 22, 1899.

Fried rice with cheese is a good luncheon dish. Cut slices of cold boiled rice
and fry brown in butter. Sprinkle the hot slices with grated cheese, which may
be a combination of dairy and Parmesan. Fresh tomatoes go well with the rice
and the two make a substantial meal. Slice the tomatoes in rather thick slices,
sprinkle with bread crumbs and fry carefully so as not to break the slices.
After lifting them out of the spider pour in a little cream, stir for a moment and
pour the gravy over the tomatoes.
Racine Daily Journal [Wisconsin] July 9, 1904

Fried Rice.
Take any rice that is left over, and mold it in a pan or dish. Turn out of molds, cut in slices, and bake on both sides in oven or fry in hot drippings or bacon fat.
Rice for Breakfast, Dinner, Supper (c.1919) by Betty Murphy.

Rice, Fried.
Rice boiled in milk and flavored with orange or lemon. To it add sugar and milk. When cold cut in pieces, roll each piece in cracker crumbs; then in white of an egg; then in cracker crumbs and egg again. Fry in hot konut.
Unpolished rice, the staple food of the Orient;
Philadelphia, The Vegetarian society of America, 1905
Henry Stephen Clubb.

Different Fried Rice.
3 slices bacon                                                4 tablesp. soy sauce
3 ½ cups cooked unsalted rice                  Green tops from 3 to 4 green onions.
2 eggs, beaten
Dice bacon, and fry until crisp in skillet. Remove from pan. Fry cooked rice in bacon drippings 5 min., stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove rice from pan, and add to fried bacon. Pour eggs into pan, and cook slightly about 1 min. Add rice-and-bacon mixture and soy sauce; stir till thoroughly mixed. Place rice in serving dish; garnish with onion tops cut crosswise in 1/2 “ pieces with kitchen shears. Makes 4 servings.
Good housekeeping: Volume 131, Number 4: Oct. 1950

Chinese Fried Rice.
[From a feature on Chinese recipes.)
This can be made the following day from any left-over cold boiled rice. Fry in oil any left over bacon or cooked meat chopped up with one large onion. Add the cold rice and when it has browned slightly add a mixture of one beaten egg, a dessertspoonful of soy sauce, and salt to taste. Continue cooking for a few more minutes, and serve hot.
The Times (London, England), Monday, Jan 16, 1956

I am now on the trail of something called Fried Rice Pudding. I will keep you informed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Triple Decker Hot Sandwiches, Aussie-style, 1936.

Some time ago I wrote a post on hot sandwiches, which were “Something of a Novelty” in 1896. More recently I wrote another on the club sandwich – the celebrity version of the sandwich with multiple layers. I now want to share with you an entire article from an Australian newspaper of 1936 which combines both concepts, and as a bonus includes recipes whose names are completely irresistible.

From the Warwick Daily News (Qld.) of 6th March 1936:

That Earl of Sandwich who is credited, with inventing the now indispensable comestible named after him would certainly fail to recognize the sandwich if he could see it today. From "two slices of bread with a piece of meat between" the sandwich has grown higher and tastier, and it may even be served as the principal dish at lunch or supper.

Hot sandwiches, by the way, art eaten with knife and fork, and any favourite vegetable may be served with them, mashed potatoes being a delicious accompaniment.

OUT WEST.—Cut into small thin slices some left-over boiled mutton, spread them over lower deck and sprinkle with capers or any mild (chopped) pickle. Add second deck, spread over it a layer of hot mashed potato sprinkled with parsley, add top deck and serve.

ROST-FIGHTER.—Fry in a little butter till brown some chopped left-over fowl or rabbit, 1 onion, 1 cooking apple and some raisins, add 1 teaspoon flour and ½ cup thick gravy. Stir till thick and very hot, spread mixture over, slice of hot buttered toast, put on second deck, cover with layer of mild chutney and put top deck on. Serve with sliced hard-boiled eggs.

DAD'S FAVOURITE.—Put into a saucepan ½ cup good stock, add some cold cooked carrots (diced) and minced cold salt beef and a little thickening, heat till thick and pour on to first slice of toast. Add second deck, cover this with hot mashed potato and turnip with a little mustard- pickle, add top deck and serve hot with onions boiled in milk.

TROPIC TRANSPORT.—Slice a ripe tomato ½ in. thick, season with salt, dip in flour and saute in hot fat. Cut pineapple the same thickness and cook in same way. Arrange a slice of tomato on biscuit or bread, then a slice of pineapple, then another of bread or biscuit, another of tomato, and bread or biscuit on top. Place under toaster; turn to toast under-side and serve.

TOMMY-IN-THE-CORN.—Cut corn from a cooked cob or use ½ cup of tinned corn. Fry a small onion in fat till brown, add corn as dry as possible, add 1 tablespoon butter, 1 of flour and 1 cup - tomato sauce or puree. Season well, simmer till very hot and thick. Butter slices of brown or white bread or toast, pour the mixture over them and put a slice of bread on top. Serve with a lettuce leaf.

CHICKAMUSHROOM.— Cut up finely 1|cup of left-over cooked chicken, add 1 cup tinned mushrooms, sliced and sauted in butter, and add 1/2 cup of flour to form a thick paste; stir in ¾ cup of milk and stir till thick. Add chicken, 1 well beaten egg, a little chopped parsley and simmer a few moments. Serve hot between slices of toast, hot biscuits or buttered roll or use bread and lightly toast on each side after filling is placed in sandwich.

THREE-IN-ONE.—Flake enough cooked or tinned fish to make a cupful, add 2 cups cooked potato and mix all with a beaten egg and salt and pepper to taste. Mash well, and add milk if the mixture is too dry. Make into rolls about 4 inches long, wrap in thin bacon, skewer with a match and grill or fry till the bacon is cooked. Place between two crisp slices of toast and pour over a little tomato sauce or a touch of anchovy sauce if preferred. May be made a three-decker.

MURRAY MOUTHFULS. — Well-butter three slices of hot toasted brown bread and sprinkle each "deck" with salt and pepper. Spread on the first deck 2 tablespoons of cooked rabbit chopped fine, 1 tablespoon minced cooked ham, some finely chopped pickled onion and some shredded parsley, all mixed with a little thick gravy and made hot before spreading. Put on the second deck and spread on some cooked cauliflower well mashed in white sauce; sprinkle grated cheese over, put top piece of toast on and serve hot garnished with sprigs of parsley.

CELERY CREAM.—One cup of finely sliced onion, 1 cup celery cut into ½ in.lengths. Fry with 1 tablespoon butter till transparent, but not brown, pour on buttered toast and cover with this sauce. Cook 1 ½ tablespoon each of flour and butter till frothy and stir until thick, adding 1 cup finely cut celery and a little cream or milk to make thin enough to use as sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste and put slice of toast over. Grated cucumber or carrot may be added to this sauce.

DERWENT DELIGHT.—Three tablespoonsof chopped and cooked mushrooms, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 cup of thick gravy (any left-over may be used),mashed potato, 2 tablespoons chopped cooked lean ham or bacon. Heat mushrooms, lemon juice and gravy, add seasoning and pour mixture on to a slice of toast; add middle deck, cover with mashed potato and ham, add top slice, garnish with hot cooked mushrooms and serve with remainder of mashed potato.

EDGECLIFFE ZEST.—Cut a ripe tomato into slices about ½ in. thick and fry lightly, seasoning with salt and pepper and a touch of chopped mint or parsley. Make a rich sauce of 1 ½ tablespoon butter, the same quantity of flour, and nearly a cup of milk. Season and add herb used in tomato. Arrange tomato on thin slices of toasted brown or white bread, buttered, and pour hot sauce over them. Serve quickly so that sauce does not soak into the bread. Fried bread maybe used for this or any sandwiches.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Diet in the Time of Cholera.

Diet in the Time of Cholera.

Eighteen forty nine was a very bad year for cholera. A pandemic of the awful gastro-intestinal infection killed countless thousands across France, England, Ireland, and the Americas. Australia, in its relative isolation, escaped, but the colony remained fearful, and newspapers reported the situation at “home” and elsewhere in the world with great regularity.

The Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston, Tasmania) had a regular column of English news, as did almost every newspaper in the country. The edition of March 7th 1849 carried an article about diet during the epidemic – a diet, for healthy folk intended to reduce their risk of contracting the disease: 


BREAKFAST: To eat: Bread baked previous day, toasted bread, biscuit, rusk, with butter; an egg, boiled 3½ minutes; mutton chop; cold chicken. – To drink: tea, coffee, milk and water. – DINNER: Mutton, boiled or roasted; roast beef; eggs, boiled or poached; boiled or roast fowl; tripe; rabbit; minced veal; sago; tapioca; arrowroot; semolina; rice; rice-milk; bread; biscuit; light puddings; mealy potatoes;- To Drink: toast-and-water; weak brandy-and-water; bitter-ale; sherry and water; porter; stout. – TEA: Bread and butter; dry toast; rusk; plain seed-cake; biscuit. – To Drink: coffee; black tea. – if anything is required for luncheon or supper, it may consist of a few oysters or a small mutton chop, with bread. A few glasses of good wine, port, sherry, or madeira, spiced negus, warm brandy or rum and water may be taken, with discretion, during the day. – A careful selection should be made from the diet table as to that which agrees best with the stomach. A light meal should be taken every fourth or fifth hour. Much fat should be avoided. Great care should be taken to properly masticate the food, and to rest a certain time after meals

It was not until the amazing investigative work of physician John Snow during the cholera epidemic around Broad Street in London in 1854, that it became known that contaminated water was the source of the infection. I assume physicians thereafter ceased suggesting raw oysters as part of a preventive diet.

I give you as the recipe for the day, as prescribed a plain seed cake.

A Plain Seed Cake
Half a pound of butter beat with the hand to a froth, ½ lb.very fine loaf sugar sprinkled in; eggs, the yolks and whites beaten separately, the yolks put in first; ½ lb. of flour sprinkled in. Sprinkle seeds in, and flavour. The cake is to be mixed with the hand, and the things put in as they follow in the directions. An hour and a half will bake it. The tin to be lined round with paper.  

The Australasian, 6 October, 1866