1/2 lb. bitter almonds
1/2 lb. sweet almonds
whites of 4 eggs
2 and 1/4 lb. sugar
whites of 9 eggs
To half a pound of blanched bitter, and half a pound of sweet, almonds, put the whites of four eggs; beat them quite fine in a mortar, and stir in two pounds and a quarter of loaf sugar, pounded and sifted; rub them well together with the whites (by degrees) of nine eggs; lay them out from the biscuit-funnel on cartridge-paper, in drops about the size of a shilling, and bake them in a middling-heated oven, of a light brown colour, and take them from the papers as soon as cold.
N.B. A smaller pipe must be used in the funnel than for other articles.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: The distinction between “bitter” and “sweet” almonds is no longer made today as the bitter variety is hardly ever commercially available. It is illegal to sell in many jurisdictions since its cyanide content (the component which gives it the bitterness) is so high as to violate legal standards for toxicity. Practice Safe Baking and just use a pound of regular old almonds, okay? If you want to live dangerously, think of something to do with the leftover 13 egg yolks.
A “biscuit-funnel” is better known today as a pastry bag and is most often used to make fancy icings on cakes. You will need a large (about one inch) nozzle to use it to produce items “the size of a shilling.” If perfection of form is not a concern just scoop up a spoonful, press it into shape with another spoon the same size, and scrape it out onto your cookie sheet with or without parchment paper lining.
To each pound of ripe red or English raspberries, put one pound of loaf sugar–stir it frequently, and stew till it is a thick jelly.
From The Virginia Housewife Or, Methodical Cook, by Mary Randolph, 1860 edition. (First edition published 1824.)
Comment: It doesn’t get much more basic than this in Jam and Jelly World. No pectin, no rennet, no additives of any sort. You will on the other hand stir till your arm falls off, but such are the sacrifices called for by art.
We are not sure if Mrs. Randolph meant this for short-term consumption or for use over the course of the year. Most jelly recipes of the period call for packing into small jars which are then “sealed” with a sheet of paper which has been dipped in brandy and then tied over the top of the jar. More recent generations have allowed the product to cool and jell somewhat, and then poured a thin (half inch or less) layer of melted paraffin over the top, or else used standard canning jars using rubber ringed seals. In any event the idea is to exclude air, which carries mold spores, which breed with delight and abandon on encountering something with this much sugar in it.
1 rabbit, boiled
yolks of six eggs, hard boiled
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. vinegar
1/4 c. prepared mustard
4 tbs. oil, olive or vegetable
Bread and butter, crackers, grated cheese
Having a fine young rabbit boiled very tender, mince it fine from the bones. Mince an equal portion of lettuce, which should be of the loaf lettuce, that heads up, and is quite white and frangible [breakable]; mix them together, and set them by till the dressing is prepared. Mash very fine the yolks of six boiled eggs, add to it a tea-spoonful of salt, a tea-spoonful of pepper, half a gill of vinegar, half a gill of made mustard, and four table-spoonfuls of sweet oil. Mash and stir it together till it becomes very smooth; then put it over the rabbit and lettuce, stir it up lightly together with a fork, put it in a dish of suitable size, and send with it to table plates of bread and butter, crackers, grated cheese, &c. It is a supper dish, and seldom eaten at any other meal. Do not prepare it till just before you sit down to table, that it may be as fresh as possible. Rabbits make a very good pie, prepared like a chicken pie.
The Kentucky Housewife by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, 1839
Comment: A 17th century cookbook was recently reprinted under the modern-day title “First Catch Your Rabbit.” While Mrs. Bryan’s book was intended for a market-shopping urban audience rather than live-off-the-land backwoodsmen, rabbits were a common nuisance and a threat to gardens everywhere. This is a very elegant dish and could certainly be made with chicken or veal as an alternative if rabbits are uncommon in your apartment building, or the neighbors frown on backyard game hunting.
1/4 lb. butter
1/2 pint milk
1/2 c. brandy
1 bottom pie crust
Additional pie dough, cut in strips and twisted (optional)
Stew a fine sweet pumpkin till soft and dry; rub it through a sieve, mix with the pulp six eggs [beaten] quite light, a quarter of a pound of butter, half a pint of new milk, some pounded ginger and nutmeg, a wine glass of brandy, and sugar to your taste. Should it be too liquid, stew it a little drier, put a paste [strip of pie dough] round the edge, and in the bottom of a shallow dish or plate–pour in the mixture, cut some thin bits of paste, twist them, and lay them across the top, and bake it nicely.
From The Virginia Housewife or, Methodical Cook, by Mary Randolph, 1841
Comment: Canned pumpkin is so universally available, and so cheap, that few indeed are the people who make a pie by starting with a raw fruit of the vine. Since the situation was quite reversed in Mrs. Randolph’s day, she omits a few processing details. These include the detachment of the rind (the hard, thin outside shell) from the edible part of the pumpkin (the soft yellow-orange flesh) and of course the removal of seeds and strings from the very center as you do when making the jack-o-lantern at Halloween.
The stewing process is probably best accomplished in a double boiler to avoid scorching, since the intent is to use just barely enough water to cook all the chunks through and then evaporate.
The rest of the recipe is quite straightforward, until of course we get to those elaborate cooking instructions: “bake nicely.” The usual directions for pumpkin pie baking say to start at 450 degrees for the first 15 minutes and then reduce to 350 for the remaining 45 or so. The use of any sort of top crust is unusual today but might be considered if this is to be made for an educational or other public setting such as a living history exhibit or fundraising project.
We note that this pie is called a pudding but is basically a custard. Thus does nomenclature change over time.
1 lb. lean cold boiled ham or tongue
1/4 lb. fat from ham, or 2 oz. butter
Mace or allspice (optional)
Cut a pound of the lean of cold boiled ham or tongue, and pound it in a mortar with a quarter of a pound of the fat, or with fresh butter (in the proportion of about two ounces to a pound), till it is a fine paste (some season it by degrees with a little pounded mace or allspice); put it close down in pots for that purpose, and cover it with clarified butter, a quarter of an inch thick; let it stand one night in a cool place. Send it up in the pot, or cut in thin slices.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This is a form of preserved meat which over time evolved into that well-known form of ham spelled with an “s” in front of its name, mocked and derided by everyone from World War II soldiers to British comedy troupes to recipients of unwanted commercial email. We would be more explicit about this but do not want to arouse the ire of the wonderful, forgiving folks in the legal department of Hormel Foods.
All sorts of meats, seafoods and vegetables were preserved in potted form. The common factors were the extremely fine mincing to which the potted items were subjected, the tight packing of the resultant paste, and the use of melted butter over the top to exclude air and ensure, or at least encourage, preservation.
1 lb. potatoes
3/4 oz. onion
2 oz. butter
2 layers of pie crust
4 egg yolks, hard boiled (optional)
1 tbs. mushroom catsup (optional)
Tiny onions rolled in curry powder (optional)
Peel and slice your potatoes very thin into a pie-dish; between each layer of potatoes put a little chopped onion (three-quarters of an ounce of onion is sufficient for a pound of potatoes); between each layer sprinkle a little pepper and salt; put in a little water, and cut about two ounces of fresh butter into little bits, and lay them on the top: cover it close with puff paste. It will take about an hour and a half to bake it.
N.B.: The yelks of four eggs (boiled hard) may be added; and when baked, a table-spoonful of good mushroom catchup poured in through a funnel.
Obs.–Cauliflowers divided into mouthfulls, and button onions, seasoned with curry powder, make a favorite vegetable pie.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This is a fairly unusual vegetable pie in that it does not call for any layers of meat products at all. Most that we have seen in books of the time have either complete layers or at least random bits, usually of leftover meat from the previous day, added as flavoring if not a prime ingredient. The final “Obs[ervation]” is somewhat unclear, as we are not sure if Dr. Kitchiner is recommending the cauliflower and/or curried onions as an addition to the potato recipe or as a separate pie of their own. The former seems more probable to us, because if there was a chance to list “Cauliflower and Curried Onion Pie” as a separate entry Dr. K would have almost certainly taken it. He was a somewhat wordy chap.