Archive for April 2nd, 2011
1 lb. white sugar
2 qts. sherry OR 1 qt. Cognac brandy
Bruise the finest ripe raspberries with the back of a spoon; strain them through a flannel bag into a stone jar, allowing a pound of fine powdered loaf sugar to each quart of juice; stir it well together, and cover it down; let it stand for three days, stirring it up each day; pour off the clear, and put two quarts of sherry, or one of Cognac brandy, to each quart of juice; bottle it off; it will be fit for the glass in a fortnight [two weeks].
The Cook’s Oracle by William Kitchiner, MD, New York, 1829
Comment: This is not really so much a recipe for “how to make raspberry wine or brandy” (sorry Dr. Kitchiner) as it is for “how to add raspberry flavoring to wine or brandy you already have on hand.” We confess we have never actually tried this recipe, due to a shortage of affordable raspberries in the quantity needed, so we are not exactly sure what Dr. K. means about that “pour off the clear” instruction. It does suggest that a glass or clear plastic bottle might be the preferred vessel to use during the berry-juice-ripening part of the process. With this one will be able to see where the clear part ceases and the juice part commences, so as to avoid wasting any of the latter.
1/2 c. rice
1 c. water
1 qt. milk
5-6 peach leaves
1/2 c. sugar
Boil a teacupful of rice in two teacups of water. When it has swelled so as to absorb all the water, add a quart of milk and five or six peach leaves and boil it until the rice is perfectly soft. Take it from the fire, remove the peach leaves, add a small piece of butter, a little salt, and three or four eggs, beaten with a teacup of sugar. Put it into a buttered dish, grate nutmeg over the top, and bake three quarters of an hour. Most people prefer this pudding cold.
From The Young Housekeeper’s Friend by Mrs. [M. H.] Cornelius, Boston, 1863
Comment: Rosewater is unusual today, fried parsley as a garnish is obscure, but if you want an ingredient which is completely unknown to the 21st century cook, the peach leaf surely qualifies. Ideally this should be a leaf of the early spring, just recently hatched from the bud, but apparently they were considered suitable for use at any time of year as long as they were still green. Why the leaf of the peach tree, and not the apple, plum or cherry? Beats the heck out of us, as we have been trying to grow peach trees for six years now and have nothing but dried up woody corpses to show for our efforts. We had in mind more the fruit of the tree than its leaves (peaches as sold in stores are a shame and a disgrace to the name) but in either case our efforts have come to naught.
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.
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.