Archive for the ‘Vegetable dishes’ Category
Several stalks of rhubarb
Premade tart shells or pie crusts
Granulated white sugar
Take the young green stalks of the rhubarb plant, or spring fruit as it is called in England; and having peeled off the thin skin, cut the stalks into small pieces about an inch long, and put them into a sauce-pan with plenty of brown sugar, and its own juice. Cover it, and let it stew slowly till it is soft enough to mash to a marmalade. Then set it away to cool. Have ready some fresh baked shells; fill them with the stewed rhubarb, and grate white sugar over the top.
For covered pies, cut the rhubarb very small; mix a great deal of sugar with it, and put it in raw. Bake the pies about three quarters of an hour.
Miss Leslie’s Directions for Cookery by Eliza Leslie, 1851
Comments: Instructions to use “granulated white sugar” seem redundant today, when that’s pretty much the only way that sugar is commonly sold. In the 19th century things were different. Sugar was produced at the cane-refining mills in molds shaped like cones to make the end product easy to remove. The sugar cones were then wrapped in paper and shipped to market without further processing. Grocers would upon request break off a chunk of smaller size, since few people could either afford a whole cone or had (ant-proof!) ways to store it at home. In either case the cook was often called upon to get the amount needed for an individual recipe from the chunk by means of a hammer and chisel, and then scrape it over a grater to the desired fineness. Brown sugar, since it still contained much of the molasses that had been refined out of the white sugar, was often softer and easier to work with.
Pickle for red beets (see recipe)
Get a fine purple cabbage, take off the outside leaves, quarter it, take out the stalk [core], shred the leaves into a colander, sprinkle them with salt, let them remain till the morrow, drain them dry, put them into a jar, and cover them with the pickle for beet roots.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This recipe looks like a triumph of brevity, but Dr. Kitchiner cheats just a bit since the key to the whole thing is “the pickle for beet roots” which is not described. Rather than make our readers go off and scrounge the Internets for this recipe we include it here:
“[Add] to a quart of vinegar an ounce of ground black pepper, half an ounce of ginger pounded, same of salt, and of horseradish cut in thin slices; and you may warm it, if you like, with a few capsicums, or a little Cayenne; put these ingredients into a jar; stop it close, and let them steep three days on a trivet by the side of the fire; then, when cold, pour the clear liquor on the beet-root, which have previously arranged in a jar.”
It is in fact just possible that Dr. Kitchiner had the shortcomings of the Red Cabbage recipe brought to his attention by his own irate readers, since it is not included in the main text of the book but rather in an Appendix. Never underestimate the importance of consumer protest.
Batch of beets, green leafy tops cut off
Are not so much used as they deserve to be; they are dressed in the same way as parsnips, only neither scraped or cut till after they are boiled; they will take from an hour and a half to three hours in boiling, according to their size; to be sent to the table with salt fish, boiled beef, &c. When young, small and juicy, it is a very good variety, an excellent garnish, and easily converted into a very cheap and pleasant pickle.
From The Virginia Housewife or, Methodical Cook by Mary Randolph, 1824
Comment: It is a shame Mrs. Randolph did not give here her recipe for the “pleasant pickle” she would use on preserved beets. Those who think they dislike the vegetable have simply never had properly pickled beets, or else perhaps they were forced to eat them hot as Mrs. Randolph suggests, which we must admit sounds disgusting.
Anyone adventurous enough to try this should remember to wear old or protective clothing during the process, as the water in which the beets are cooked, and then the beets themselves, produce one of the most brilliant, and most indelible, red dyes imaginable. No known cleaning product will remove a beet juice stain, so reconsider whether you want to serve them on a day when you will be using Grandma’s treasured pure white Irish linen tablecloth. Particularly if Grandma is going to be in attendance at the dinner.
Lima beans, removed from shells
These beans are very fine, and should be full grown, but quite tender. Having shelled them, rinse them in cold water and boil them till soft, throwing in a small handful of salt; drain and serve them, and put over them pepper and melted butter.
From The Kentucky Housewife by Lettice Bryan, 1839
Comment: We note that these legumes, detested by at least four generations that we know personally, were evidently not in fact engineered in a secret laboratory by enemies attempting to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids, but were indeed known and loved, or at least endured, by our long ago ancestors. If one is confronted with a lima bean and can neither flank nor flee from its presence, this is probably about the best thing you can do with it short of slipping it under the table to the dog.
When they are boiled quite tender, squeeze them as dry as possible between two trenchers; put them into a sauce-pan; mash them with a wooden spoon, and rub them through a colander; add a little bit of butter; keep stirring them till the butter is melted and well mixed with them, and they are ready for table.
From The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner MD New York, 1829
Comment: Turnips may be grown more for their greens than their roots nowadays, but in the 19th century they were at least as popular as parsnips, if not quite as universal as potatoes. “Trenchers” are slabs of flat bread, used since ancient times as edible dinner plates. In this situation it may be considerably easier to dry one’s turnips with a clean absorbent cloth. We would also think it easier to grate the turnips through a colander or similar device first, then do the mashing-with-butter routine in the pot after, but we must defer to Dr. Kitchiner’s expertise in the matter.
Maitre d’hotel sauce
Take fresh ones,–the size is not very important,–cut off nearly all the stalks, and wipe off the skin with wet flannel. Arrange neatly in a pie-dish, pepper and salt, sprinkle a little mace among them, and lay a bit of butter upon each. Bake about half an hour, basting now and then with butter and water, that they may not be too dry. Serve in the dish in which they were baked, with maitre d’hotel sauce poured over them.
Common Sense in the Household by Marion Harland, New York, 1871
Comment: Unless you gather your mushrooms yourself in the wild, you can skip the wiping-with-wet-flannel step called for here. The complication will come not from the recipe, which is very plain when compared to the stuffed mushrooms for which chain restaurants so notoriously overcharge, but the maitre d’hotel sauce, which is complicated in the extreme. We will not tell anybody if you quietly use Worcester sauce or something else to your taste instead.