Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category
Beef, chicken or vegetable broth
Minced meat or vegetables as desired
This dish is particularly suitable to invalids and little children who are not of an age to masticate [chew] their food. All the nutritive qualities of the eggs are preserved, together with the lightness of the omelette.
The requisite number of eggs is beaten, seasoned, and passed through a sieve, to which a small quantity of good gravy [broth or stock] is added. The mixture must be placed in an enameled stewpan, and set over a slow fire till the eggs thicken. The stewing pan is then removed and a small piece of fresh butter is added to the mixture, which, when melted, is ready to receive the addition of any finely minced fowl, meat, fish, asparagus, pease or cauliflower that may be desired. The latter ingredients must be stirred in until warm through, but not suffered to boil.
From Godey’s Lady’s Book magazine, reader submitted recipe, 1864.
Comment: This is clearly the dish which, with the substitution of “Chinese” vegetables such as bean sprouts, evolved into what we now know as “egg foo yung.” The technique of cooking–perhaps better described as scrambling–the eggs first and then adding the meat and vegetable ingredients is puzzling, but we prints ‘em as we gets ‘em. The added ingredients should be leftovers or previously cooked items needing only to be reheated, since the eggs would be hideously overcooked otherwise.
“Pease” is simply the plural of “pea” as spelled in earlier times. The pudding known as “pease porridge,” perhaps better known as the subject of a nursery rhyme than as a dinner dish today, is the main surviving use of the term.
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.
1 tbs. vinegar
1/2 c. cream or milk
Nearly fill a clean frying-pan with strained water boiling hot; strain a tablespoonful of vinegar through double muslin, and add to the water with a little salt. [Break eggs one at a time into a saucer to detect any one which has spoiled.] Slip your eggs from the saucer upon the top of the water (first taking the pan from the fire). Boil three minutes and a half, drain, and lay on buttered toast in a hot dish. Turn [pour out] the water from the pan and pour in half a cupful of cream or milk. If you use the latter, thicken with a very little corn-starch. Let it heat to a boil, stirring to prevent burning, and add a great spoonful of butter, some pepper and salt. Boil up once, and pour over the eggs. A better way still is to heat the milk in a separate saucepan, that the eggs may not have to stand. A little broth improves the sauce.
From Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: What, you thought giving a recipe a semi-French name to class up an otherwise pedestrian item was something new? Mais non, ma petite chou! This is oeuf poché with an uninspired white sauce, feh. Although we suppose if the optional “broth” was of a particularly fine or spicy quality the result could be enjoyable enough.
Oh, and you can skip the step of straining your vinegar if you are using standard commercially bottled stuff. Homemade vinegar was still common in the 19th century and would sometimes get bits of the “mother” or plain mold in it, making straining a prudent if not mandatory action.
Place a broad stew-pan of clean water over the fire till it boils, and set it level before the fire. Break the eggs separately into a plate or saucer, to ascertain if they are good, dropping them as you examine them into the boiling water. They must not be too much crowded, and there must be plenty of water to cover them well. Having put them all into the pan in this manner, let them remain till the whites become set; then place the pan again on the fire, and cook them as hard as you desire; they probably will be sufficiently hard by the time the water begins to boil. Raise them carefully from the water with an egg-slice, trimming the edges smoothly, and lay them separately upon small buttered toasts or broiled ham, arranging them neatly in the dish; sprinkle on a very little salt and black pepper; put on each a spoonful of melted butter, and send them up warm. They are eaten at breakfast. When prepared for the dinner table, omit the toasts or ham; serve them in a small deep dish, sprinkle on some salt and pepper, and pour over the same melted butter. They are sent as a side dish to accompany poultry and game.
From The Kentucky Housewife by Lettice Bryan, Cincinnati, 1839
Comment: Most people today find poached eggs entirely difficult enough to make in a nonstick pan on top of a range with carefully calibrated temperature controls. Picture Mrs. Bryan and other women of her era accomplishing the same task over an open fire with cast-iron cookware–while at the same time getting the bread toasted, butter melted, ham broiled and sliced, and other dishes prepared– and you will begin to appreciate the back-breaking nature of the work required of a “housewife” in this time.
Between cooking, laundry, chopping wood for the fire, hauling water from the well, and nearly continual pregnancy, it is not to be wondered at that so many simply wore out and died in what would today be considered barely middle age.
Fat or oil for frying
Cut cold pudding in slices the thickness of your finger, and lay them on the griddle. More fat will be necessary than for buckwheat cakes, but it fries much slower. If the fire is right it will be ready to turn in fifteen minutes, and will be brown. Turn it and let it lie about half as long as on the first side.
This is a very good breakfast for a winter morning. It does very nicely to be laid in the dripping-pan, and set into a stove oven; it will in that case not need turning, and of course will absorb less fat. It will take forty minutes to brown it in the stove.
From The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. [M. H.] Cornelius, Boston, 1863
Comment: Hasty pudding is more famous for its name than its qualifications as an exciting breakfast dish, as it is little more than dressed-up cornmeal mush. Breakfast was a very substantial meal in our ancestors’ time, particularly for those in rural settings. People rose, dressed, and then started building up the fires for both heating and cooking. While those progressed one went out to gather eggs, chickens, items from the smokehouse, or whatever else was on the breakfast menu, while the other partner milked the cows. The items gathered then had to be prepared (killed, cleaned and cut up in the case of chickens) and cooked. All of this, particularly in the winter, took place while it was still pitch dark outside. By the time everyone sat down to eat the first meal of the day they had probably been working for several hours already, and were yet to start the heavy labor of the day. A good slab of fat-laden reheated mush was not an indulgence but a necessity.
1 qt. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbs. homemade yeast [1 cake or envelope dry yeast]
1 additional tbs. flour
3 tbs. melted butter
Additional butter or lard to grease waffle iron
Make a thick batter of three eggs, a quart of milk, and flour, adding a little salt, and two large spoonfuls of good yeast. Set it in a warm place till it gets very light [risen], then stir in a spoonful of flour, and three of melted butter. Heat your waffle irons of a brisk heat, butter them well to prevent the waffles sticking to them, put in batter according to the size of your irons, not filling them quite full, as the waffle will expand a little while baking; close the irons, and bake them till a light brown on both sides; then take them from the irons, sprinkle them with powdered sugar and cinnamon, and send them to table warm.
From The Kentucky Housewife, by Mrs. Lettice Bryan, 1839
Comment: We are never quite sure what an author means when they use the term “light” for a recipe. Given the number of eggs and quantity of butter called for here, it is certainly not to be confused with the modern meaning of “low calorie” or “intended to produce weight loss.” Waffle irons have been in existence since the 15th century, it seems, and in America at least since Thomas Jefferson brought one back from one of his trips to France. Today of course the electric version is nearly universal, and one wishing to cook this recipe as its author intended must scour the junk shops of the land, or resort to eBay. Another alternative is to find a device known as a pizelle maker, although these normally produce a much thinner product than one expects of a typical waffle.