Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sour Cream Cornmeal Muffins


Many nights I end up doing fly by the seat of my pants meals.  I know what the main dish will be but the sides are always a mystery until I start diving into my vintage cookbooks and coming up with a plan.  This is one of those recipes that comes by way of the "Rumford Dainties and Household Helps" cookbook from 1922.  It needed some tweaking as Sour Cream was different back then from the thick stuff we use on our potatoes now so we have to add a little milk or risk a dry muffin at the end.  They went well with our dinner that night and I think you'll like them too.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mother Bechamel And Her Daughters


Back in the vintage era the home cook always knew how to make a sauce that would be the perfect accent to any meal.  This has becomes something of a lost art in the modern world as we have been indoctrinated over the years by the wood be health gurus that sauces are bad for us because of their richness and fat content.  Poppycock!  A well chosen sauce is perfect for making a dull uninteresting piece of meat sing with renewed vigor.  You may think that making sauces at home is time consuming but I assure you it will become second nature with practice.  Indeed, sauce making from scratch is rather easy once one knows the tricks of the trade and after a few times of doing it yourself you will wonder why you ever used a shortcut sauce like the disgusting concoction above.  To learn the whole array of sauces available to chefs would be a lifetime of work and take up volumes on the bookshelf but the vast majority of sauces available are really only attainable by professional chefs.  So for the purposes of this article we will be dealing with 1 mother sauce and it's daughter sauces.  With these you will be able to put the topping on any meat desired.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mushroom Gravy


It may seem silly to post something as trivial as a mushroom gravy on here given all the more complicated recipes that I have talked about over the years, but you would be surprised how many cooks cannot make a simple sauce without resorting to something in a jar or worse, an envelope.  It's really not that hard and this makes the perfect accompaniment to the Bacon Meat Roll With Olive Stuffing I wrote about the other day.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Recipe: Bacon Meat Roll With Olive Stuffing


I found this ad online and I immediately became intrigued because we seem to think that wrapping everything in bacon before cooking it is a modern invention.  That point of view couldn't be any more misguided as this 1936 ad for Armour Bacon shows.  Unfortunately the recipe was not included in the ad, just a note to "Ask your grocer for the recipe folder".  Hmm, another thing we still do to this day, grocer inspired recipes.  I posted this ad to my blog's Facebook page and immediately started getting requests for the recipe, I suppose the siren call of crisp bacon is too much to ignore so I set about searching for the lost recipe.  Now this is where I truly shine when it comes to vintage cooking because I am the Jedi Master of the search.  It didn't take long to hunt down the recipe on an old edition of the Deseret News thanks to Google and the Gutenberg Project.  While the ad may claim this is a frugal recipe, that is not the case today as it calls for 1/2lb of ground veal and veal is very dear right now.  I replaced the veal with ground chuck and the recipe came out fine.  The article claims you get "10 generous servings per roll" and they are quite right.  We ate it for dinner 2 times and I had enough for lunch for a couple of days.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Heinz Ketchup, Portrait of a Corporate Sell Out


     This ad is from 1926 when Heinz was celebrating it's 57th anniversary.  The message is that Heinz spends time and money to select the best ingredients for it's products including apparently a supply of pith helmets for Indian safari's.  The real question I ask is where did it all go wrong?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Recipe


Mixing rhubarb with strawberries is an old tradition probably dating back to the 1800's.  Rhubarb was easy to grow in the garden although it likes cooler weather so thrives best in the spring and fall.  The sweetness of good ripe strawberries is balanced with the slightly tart flavor of the rhubarb to make for an excellent combination.  As with all vintage pie recipes, getting the amount of thickening agent (flour in this case) just right is a bit of a pain.  Too little and pie is juicy and doesn't set right, too much and the pie filling is gummy.  I think in the old days cooks were able to eyeball the juiciness of the fruit in the recipe and their intuition told them how much thickening agent to use.  I highly recommend making your own crust for this or any pie.  There is just no comparison between homemade crust and store bought crust.  Also if you make your own crust you can add the true secret ingredient of this recipe, orange juice.  Just replace the water in the crust recipe with orange juice, in mine I used Indian River Valencia.  I was going to shoot a video of how to do a proper and easy lattice crust top but my camera broke so it's going to have to wait until I get a new one capable of shooting video.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Classic French Quarter Beignets


I lived in New Orleans for 6 months way back in the 90's, sharing an apartment with a friend who lived there full time in the French Quarter.  I developed a love for the city of New Orleans but none so much as my love of chicory coffee and beignets.  Now I've been drinking chicory coffee for some time now but never gave much thought to the little square doughnuts of Jackson Square until my wife and I went into a small deli/diner one morning in search of breakfast.  It was there I rekindled my passion for beignets and inflamed a new one in my wife.  The diner had 2 drawbacks though, they were using boxed Cafe du Monde Beignet Mix and they were expensive, charging $5.99 for an order of 3.  Well, I can do anything I put my mind to and that goes for making my own beignets as well.  For a real beignet experience you need cottonseed oil for frying as it has the most neutral flavor and you need powdered sugar for dusting.  Unfortunately these 2 items are the most compromised ingredients these days as all cottonseed oil is GMO and powdered sugar has a disgustingly off taste from the ever increasing amount of cornstarch (from GMO corn) that they add to prevent caking.  Fortunately I was able to get around both issues.  First the oil needs to be changed to peanut oil and not just any peanut oil but Planters peanut oil.  Their oil has an almost cottonseed oil quality about it in that the flavor is not peanutty or worse an insipid taste of rancid peanuts.  Next, and I don't know if this is distributed everywhere but I can get it here in Florida, for the powdered sugar use Florida Crystals Organic.  Still has cornstarch (organic corn), but it's so small a touch that it doesn't impact the flavor at all.  Speaking of flavor, this powdered sugar is less sweet than what you're used to but has an incredible depth of flavor to it not to be found anywhere else (that I've seen).  So without further fanfare, on to the recipe.  This recipe is cut in half from normal recipes but still yields around 10 servings of 3 beignets each.

Friday, March 1, 2013

"Topo Pino" Currant Muffins


This recipe comes by way of a cookbook from the 1920's titled "Rumford Dainties and Household Helps" that I picked up on Ebay.  The recipe itself is called Topo Pino Blueberry Muffins but I lacked in Blueberries so used currants instead.  If using blueberries use 1 cup fresh but I advise against using any from Chile as foreign produce is so suspect in the chemicals it may contain.

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