Old-fashioned Curried Chicken

I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Curried Chicken. The recipe turned out wonderfully. The crispy chicken is served with rice and a delightful mild curry sauce that has just a hint of sweetness. This recipe is a keeper, and I’m sure that I’ll make it again.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

This recipe is from a  1919 cookbook titled Recipes for Everyday that was published by Proctor and Gamble. Many of the recipes, including this recipe, call for Crisco shortening which was produced by Proctor and Gamble. At the time, it was considered a new and modern fat. Crisco was first sold in 1911. It was the first shortening made completely from vegetable oil, and was originally made from cottonseed oil. According to the  cookbook’s author:

The careful housewife fully understands that her success in cooking absolutely depends upon the quality of the ingredients she chooses. A variable cooking fat like lard, often having unpleasant odor and flavor, cannot give the pleasing, appetizing results insured by a clean, pure, tasteless , odorless, uniform fat like Crisco.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Curried Chicken

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 chicken, cut into pieces

cold water

1/2 cup flour + 3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup shortening (Lard could be substituted for the shortening.)

1/2 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 large onion, sliced

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 cup milk

1/2 cup light cream

2 tablespoons currant jelly

1 teaspoon lemon juice

cooked rice

Dip chicken pieces in water, then roll in 1/2 cup of flour to coat. Heat shortening in a frying pan using medium heat. Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt to the melted shortening. Place the coated chicken pieces in frying pan and cook until lightly browned. Turn the chicken to brown all sides.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with foil, then put the pieces of browned chicken on baking sheet and place in oven. Bake until the chicken is completely cooked.

After the chicken is removed from the frying pan, strain the shortening. Return 3 tablespoons of shortening to the frying pan; then reheat using medium heat. (The remainder of the shortening can be discarded or used for another purpose.)  Add sliced onions and stir occasionally; cook until lightly browned. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour, curry powder, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue stirring until hot and bubbly, then gradually add milk and cream while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Add currant jelly and lemon juice; stir until the jelly is dissolved. Removed from heat and strain. Serve the sauce with the chicken pieces and rice.

Hundred-Year-Old Pot Roast with Potatoes, Onions and Carrots Recipe

On these cold January days, Pot Roast with Potatoes, Onions, and Carrots is the classic comfort food. I used a hundred-year-old recipe to make this dish, and it was just as tasty now as it was a century ago.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1917)
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1917)

When, I made this dish, I used a chuck roast instead of soup or stewing meat. Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Pot Roast with Potatoes, Onions, and Carrots

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 pound chuck roast

water

4 cups small potatoes

2 cups carrots, cut into bit-sized chunks

1 cup onions, sliced

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons flour

sprigs of parsley or celery leaves (I used celery leaves.)

Put the chuck roast in a dutch oven with 1 cup water; using high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Turn several times while cooking; add additional water as needed.  Add potatoes, onions, carrots, salt, paprika, and 2 cups water. Cook for an additional 40 minutes. Put meat on a serving platter, then put the potatoes on one side of the meat and the carrots on the other. Put onions in a small bowl, and serve on the side.

Put the flour in a small bowl. While stirring constantly, slowly add 1/4 cup of water to make a smooth paste.

Bring the meat broth back to a boil, then stir in the flour slurry. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. The gravy may be poured over the meat and vegetables, or served on the side. Garnish with sprigs of parsley or celery leaves.

Old-Fashioned Sand Tarts

Are there some types of cookies that immediately bring back warm, fuzzy memories of childhood. Well, for me, Sand Tarts are that cookie. This thin, crispy cookie is my all-time favorite.  My mother never made them (I’m not sure why.), so I was always thrilled when they were on a cookie tray at church or a friend’s house.

I recently found an awesome hundred-year-old Sand Tart recipe that makes cookies just like I remembered.  The cookies are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar (“sand”), and taste almost like a thin Snickerdoodle. (Does anyone eat Snickerdoodles any more?)

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

This recipe originally appeared the American Cookery magazine during World War I. There were sugar shortages during the war. Even though the magazine chose to publish the recipe, the editors encouraged cooks not to make Sand Tarts because they “call for more sugar than ordinary cookies.”

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sand Tarts

  • Servings: approximately 75 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar + 2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

1 extra-large egg + 1 egg yolk (or 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk)

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1/2 cup sugar

whole almonds or raisins (I used almonds.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl; stir to combine, then set aside.

Cream the shortening; beat in the 2 cups of sugar, and the whole egg and yolk. Then stir in the flour and salt. The dough will be crumbly, but will cling together when pressed together. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth. Roll out dough out until it is very thin (1/8 inch thick). Cut into rounds or, if desired, other shapes; and place on a greased cookie sheet. Brush cookies with the egg-white, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Set an almond or raisin in the center of each cookie. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 8-12  minutes or until lightly browned.

Popped Corn Macaroons

The recipes in specialty cookbooks focused on specific ingredients are often hit or miss. The authors sometimes get so focused on using certain ingredients that taste is lost. So I had a bit of trepidation when I recently came across a cookbook published in 1918 called The Corn Cook Book: War Edition by Elizabeth O. Hiller. This cookbook was written during World War I when wheat flour was in short supply, so Ms. Hiller sought to help cooks, “save the wheat” by using corn.

I was drawn to a recipe for Popped Corn Macaroons. I was intrigued by idea of using pop corn to make macaroons, and I liked that it was a gluten-free recipe.

The verdict: Popped Corn Macaroons are light and delightful. They have a nice balance of sweetness and saltiness that works well with the popped corn.  And, Popped Corn Macaroons are very attractive with each topped with a piece of candied cherry. This recipe is a keeper, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: The Popped Corn Cookbook (1918)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Popped Corn Macaroons

  • Servings: approximately 15 macaroons
  • Difficulty: medium
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3/4 cup unsalted popped corn, chopped

3/4 teaspoon butter, melted

1 egg white

5 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4  teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

about 2 tablespoons almonds, chopped

4-6 candied cherries, each cut into several pieces

Stir melted butter into the chopped popped corn, set aside.

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat. Stir in the vanilla and salt, followed by the popped corn.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (It is important to use parchment paper. I had problems with the macaroons sticking to the baking sheet when I did not use it, so remade the recipe using parchment paper and it worked much better.) Drop heaping teaspoons of the mixture on the baking sheet. Space 1 1/2 inches apart. Then shape into a circle and flatten with the back of a spoon or a knife. (Spoon or knife can be dipped in cold water before shaping and flattening, if there are problems with the dough sticking.) Sprinkle with chopped almonds, and then press a piece of candied cherry in the center. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until the macaroons are lightly browned.

Maple-Karo Fudge

I love the flavor of maple syrup, so was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Maple-Karo Fudge. I also was intrigued that the recipe called for Karo corn syrup.

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

Many modern candy recipes call for corn syrup, but this is the first century-old candy recipe I’ve seen which listed corn syrup (and branded corn syrup at that) as an ingredient. Times were a-changing.

There are lots of pros and cons to adding corn syrup. The addition of corn syrup makes the fudge smoother and reduces the likelihood that the sugar will crystallize; but, at the same time, corn syrup is a man-made sugar that may not be healthy for us (though the Karo of a hundred years ago was not “high fructose” like modern corn syrups, so it may have been a tad healthier).

The verdict – Maple-Karo Fudge has a nice texture, and a delightful maple flavor. I added walnuts to the fudge mixture, and the nuts nicely complemented the sweetness of the maple syrup.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Maple-Karo Fudge

  • Servings: about 20 pieces
  • Difficulty: difficult
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3 tablespoons butter

1 cup sugar

1 1/4 cups maple syrup

2 tablespoons dark Karo

2/3 cup half and half

1/2 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans), dried or candied fruit (optional) (I added walnuts.)

Using low heat melt butter in a saucepan; add sugar, maple syrup, Karo, and half and half. Increase heat to medium, and stir until sugar is dissolved. Using a wet paper towel, wash the include of the saucepan to remove any sugar crystals. Reduce heat to low, cover and let boil two minutes. Watch pan extremely closely to ensure that the mixture does not boil over. (If there is a risk of it boiling over, remove lid in less than two minutes.) Uncover and let boil without stirring until the mixture reaches 238° F (soft ball stage). This will take approximately 45 minutes – 1 hour. Remove from heat

Wipe a large plate or platter with a wet paper towel, and immediately pour the cooked fudge mixture onto the platter. Let cool then use a spatula to “knead” the mixture by lifting the edges and moving them to the center. Continue “kneading” until the mixture stiffens, and is smooth and shiny (about 10 minutes). If desired, the later part of the kneading may be done by hand rather than with a spatula – though I did it all with a sturdy spatula.  If desired add chopped nuts or fruit while kneading.

Press into a small buttered pan, about 6″ by 6″. Let sit for several hours. When firm, cut into squares.

Grated Apple Omelette (Fruit Omelette)

Similarly to what we believe today, people a hundred year ago believed that healthy eating was important, and that good nutrition could support their health.  A 1918 cookbook called the Nature Cure Cook Book is chock full of health advice and interesting recipes.

The recipe for Fruit Omelette intrigued me. Eggs and fruit are both nutritious foods, but I’d never before seen them combined in an omelette.

Source: Nature Cure Cook Book (1918)

This recipe offers lots of options. It can be made using “apple sauce, stewed pears, peaches, plums, berries, raisins, etc.” or, as indicated in the note at the end of the recipe, grated apples. And, either cinnamon or nutmeg could be used to season the omelette. I decided to go with the grated apple option and cinnamon.

I served Grated Apple Omelette at breakfast – though it had a dessert-like essence. The omelette had a nice cinnamon-apple flavor, and the liquid from the grated apples combined with the eggs during baking to create an omelette with a custard-like texture.

The old recipe calls for “sugar to taste.” I used two tablespoons of sugar when I made the recipe – though I think that it would work just fine to skip the sugar.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Grated Apple Omelette

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups grated apples, (2-3 peeled and core apples, grated)

5 eggs, well beaten

1 tablespoon melted butter

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375° F.

Put eggs in mixing bowl, and beat until light and foamy. Add butter, sugar, and cinnamon; beat until combined. Then stir in grated apples.

Put egg mixture in a well-greased oven-proof skillet. Put in oven and bake until the eggs are set (approximately 20 minutes). Remove from oven,  loosen the edges with a knife or spatula, then gently flip or slide onto a plate. Fold in half to create the omelette. To make the most visually appealing omelette, it should be folded so that the side which was facing up when in the pan is on the outside of the finished omelette.

Cook’s note: Care must be used when removing omelette from pan and when folding to keep it all in one piece.

Beets a la Poitevine

Beets are a tasty low-calorie vegetable, have lots of fiber, and are chock full of nutrients including vitamin B, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium. But I often struggle to find good beet recipes. So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Beets a la Poitevine. Beet slices are immersed in a light sauce that brings out the natural sweet goodness of the beets. At first I thought that this recipe might be similar to Harvard Beets – but it is very different. The recipe calls for no sugar, and only a minimal amount of vinegar which I could barely taste.

I was curious about the French name of this recipe, and googled it but didn’t come up with much. Poitevine may refer to a place in France. There is a village called Bussière-Poitevine in central France.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (March, 1917)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Beets a la Poitevine

  • Servings: 3-5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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4 medium beets (about 2 cups sliced beets)

2 tablespoons vinegar +1 tablespoon vinegar

1/4 cup butter + 1 tablespoon butter

1 small onion, finely diced

1/4 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 cups chicken broth

Wash and trim beets. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water; add 2 tablespoons vinegar to reduce bleeding. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce temperature and simmer until the beets are tender (approximately 30 – 45 minutes, depending upon size). Remove from heat, drain, and cool slightly, then peel beets. The skin is easy to remove after cooking. Slice the peeled beets.

In the meantime melt butter in a saucepan, then add diced onion and saute until tender. Stir in the flour and salt; then gradually, add the chicken broth while stirring constantly. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar. Continue stirring until the sauce boils and thickens. Gently stir in the sliced beets, and cook until hot and bubbly while gently stirring. Remove from heat and serve.

The original recipe called for adding additional butter as well as the vinegar at the very end of the cooking process. This seemed unnecessary to me – so I added all the sauce ingredients prior to adding the beet slices. After I added the beets, I just cooked it until the sauce returned to a boil and the beets were hot.