Pork chops can be a little boring – but add some dressing (stuffing) and an onion slice; and, a mundane meat is transformed into a special dish. The recipe that I used was from a hundred-year-old magazine – but the Pork Chops with Dressing are timeless.
The Pork Chops with Dressing smelled wonderful while baking – and the finished dish did not disappoint. The presentation was lovely, and the dressing was delightful with just the right blend of herbs and onion.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Place the pork chops into a baking dish or oven-proof pan. (I used a cast iron frying pan.) Sprinkle each pork chop with salt and pepper, then set aside.
Put the bread crumbs in a mixing bowl, then sprinkle water on the bread crumbs. Add enough water, so that when squeezed, the pieces of bread cling together. Add the chopped onion, melted butter, egg, pepper, poultry seasoning, and salt. Stir to combine. Then divide the dressing into five equal portions Shape each portion into a ball and press together firmly.
Place a ball of dressing on top of each pork chop, then top each with an onion slice. Dot the onion slices with butter. Pour a little water (about 2- 3 tablespoons) into the edge of the pan. Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes to an hour. (Time depends upon thickness of the pork chops.) If the onion slices start to brown midway through the baking time, flip the onions and dot with additional butter.
A key to successfully making many hundred-year-old dishes (as well as many modern ones) is the ability to make a good white sauce. An article in a century-old magazine called it the mother sauce. Here’s some excerpts from that article:
The Mother Sauce
The mother sauce is merely a very-well-made white sauce. But tremendous importance is attached to the words well-made. When it is done, it should be creamy, ivory-tinted, smooth, a velvety liquid that clings, but does not stifle, blending its delicate flavor with and invariably enhancing that of the croquettes or vegetables with which it is served. But though the sauce be light and ethereal when rightly made, the making of it must be undertaken with concentration and seriousness.
Such a sauce is not often encountered – more’s the pity – but it is quite as simple to prepare as the less pleasing variety, and because of its many uses its secret should be mastered by every housekeeper. Thin, it provides the most delicious of dressings for vegetables, omelets, fish, and other dishes, or it forms the base of the most delicate of our cream soups and souffles. Thick, it is the foundation for the best of our croquettes, souffles, and dishes au gratin. And, with it as a background, any number of variations may be produced by the addition of flavors, herbs, or other condiments.
A perfect white sauce is made in the following manner. Mix together to a smooth paste two tablespoonfuls of butter and two of flour. Cook to a smooth, bubbling, semi-liquid consistency over a hot fire. Do not allow the mixture to brown, but see that the flour is well cooked. Now add slowly and carefully a cupful and a half of cold milk. Stir constantly until the boiling point is reached. Then season with a half-teaspoonful of salt and a dash of white pepper. If you have stirred the sauce conscientiously, it will be as smooth and delicate as you can possible desire. No straining will be necessary; but it will do no harm to pass the sauce through a fine sieve.
An unusually rich cream sauce is sometimes required. In that case make the sauce half milk and half cream, and it will be extraordinarily good.
Usually when I browse through hundred-year-old cookbooks searching for a recipe to make, I skip over the ones that seem particularly odd or strange. However, I recently read a quote that made me give some of these recipes a second look:
Recipes that a century ago would have been the apogee of culinary chic may no longer be prepared because they are no longer in vogue; they may be considered unappealing, outdated, or unhealthful.
(Eat My Words: Reading Women’s Lives Through the Cookbooks They Wrote, 2002)
So when I saw a colorful illustration for Asparagus Shortcake in a hundred-year-old promotional cookbook published by the KC Baking Powder Company, my curiosity was piqued. Was Asparagus Shortcake an example of a food that once had been at the “apogee of culinary chic”?
When I made this recipe, I worried that my husband and I won’t like it, so I only made half a recipe so that I won’t have too much left-over.
The verdict: Asparagus Shortcake gets high marks for the “wow” factor when served. And, while the combination of asparagus and shortcake seemed a bit odd, the dish was tasty. The asparagus in its rich butter sauce worked well with the shortcake. Overall, Asparagus Shortcake made a satisfying lunch.
Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease and lightly flour a 6-inch round baking pan; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine the 1 1/4 cups flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking powder. Cut in the shortening; then add the milk. Stir gently with a fork to create a dough. Place on a pastry cloth or other prepared surface, and gently knead for 15 seconds; then shape into a 6-inch round disc and place in the prepared baking pan. Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until the top is light brown.
In the meantime, put the asparagus pieces in a saucepan and add water. Using high heat bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat; simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and drain (reserve liquid).
In another saucepan, melt two tablespoons butter using medium heat, then stir in the 2 tablespoons of flour. Add the asparagus liquid while stirring constantly; continue to stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat, and immediately stir in an additional 2 tablespoons of butter, then gently fold the cooked asparagus into the sauce.
To assemble the shortcake, split the baked shortcake. Place the bottom half of the shortcake on the serving dish and then spread with half of the asparagus sauce. Cover with the top of the shortcake and spread with the remaining sauce. Garnish with hard-boiled egg quarters. Serve immediately.
A hundred years ago there were some delightful cake recipes. I recently found an old recipe for Cocoa Angel Food Cake with Boiled Icing. It made a delectable light and airy cake with an absolutely decadent old-fashioned gooey frosting.
The Boiled Icing brought back memories of fluffy, glossy frosting on incredible cakes that great aunts brought to family reunions. (Does anyone still make Boiled Icing?) I’d forgotten how good it is.
Here’s the original recipe:
This recipe makes a relatively small cake. It has a wonderful texture, but it is not as thick as many modern angel food cakes.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Sift together cocoa and flour, then stir in the sugar. Set aside.
Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and continue beating until the mixture holds stiff straight peaks. Gently stir in the vanilla.
Sprinkle a small amount of the flour and sugar mixture (about 2 tablespoons) onto the whipped egg mixture; and then fold it in. Continue sprinkling and folding the flour and sugar mixture until it all is folded in.
Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased 10 X 4 tube pan with removable bottom (angel food cake pan). Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched.
Invert pan until cool (at least 1 hour) and then remove cake from pan, and ice with Boiled Icing
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
dash cream of tartar
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a saucepan; put on medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture reaches a bowl, reduce heat so that there is a slow boil. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (240° F.), then remove from heat.
In the meantime, in a mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Slowing pour the hot sugar mixture over the egg whites while beating constantly. Add the vanilla; continue beating until cool. Immediately use to ice cake.
When it comes to cooking, March is the month I find most challenging. Many days the weather is still brisk and windy (with an occasional snow shower) – and winter foods seem most appropriate, yet I’m tiring of them and yearn for bright and sunny spring foods.
When I searched for the perfect hundred-year-old recipe for this week, I came across a recipe for Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks that excited me.
The verdict: The Leek and Potato Soup was easy to make, and delightful; and, just right on a damp and raw March day. The traditional combination of leeks and potatoes in a rich and creamy soup base warmed me, and delicate yellow and green leek pieces floating in the soup provided just a hint of spring.
The recipe called for serving the soup with Imperial Bread Sticks. The bread sticks were made by cutting bread into sticks and toasting. It was fun to replicate how people made bread sticks a hundred years ago – though it I made this soup again, I’d probably either serve it with a warm artisan bread or buy modern bread sticks.
Clean the leeks and remove the coarse dark green tops. Cut the white and light-green portions of the leeks into thin slices. Set aside.
Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Put the diced potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Put on the stove and using high heat bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and drain.
Add the sliced leeks to the drained potatoes, and just barely cover with boiling water. (I heated the water in the microwave. In days gone by, it would have been heated in a tea kettle or pan on the stove.). Return to the stove, and using high heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover; cook until the leeks are tender (about 15 minutes). (DO NOT drain.) Stir in the salt, pepper, cream, parsley, and butter. Heat until the soup is hot and steamy. Remove from heat, and, if desired, serve with Imperial Bread Sticks.
Imperial Bread Sticks
bread (I used sliced Vienna bread.)
Cut as many slices of bread as desired into sticks 1/2 inch wide. Cut off the crust. Butter both sides of the bread sticks, and then place on a metal baking sheet. Place under the broiler and broil until lightly browned. Remove from oven and flip, then return to broiler to brown the other side. Remove from heat and serve.
Notes: The process for preparing and cooking the leeks and potatoes in the old recipe was a bit befuddling. The potatoes (which I assume were diced into cubes) were boiled for three minutes, then the water was drained. Next the entire white and light green sections of the leeks were added to the saucepan, and everything was covered with boiling water. This mixture was then cooked until the leeks were tender – at which point, the leeks were removed from the water and thinly sliced; then returned to the water.
When I updated the recipe I simplified the process just a little. Perhaps draining the potatoes after cooking them for several minutes removed excess starch, so I retained that step. And, perhaps pouring boiling water on the leeks and partially cooked potatoes (rather than covering them with cold water which is brought to a boil) affects the texture of the vegetables, so I retained that step.
But, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why the leeks should be cooked before slicing. If seems like it would be much more difficult to slice cooked leeks than raw ones, so I simplified that step and sliced the raw leeks before adding them to the potatoes.
Creamy and sweet old-fashioned rice pudding is always a delight, so when I came across a hundred-old-recipe for rice pudding with a twist, I was intrigued. The recipe called for topping the pudding with a meringue topping.
The meringue turns a favorite comfort food, into a tasty, slightly showy dish that is sure to impress.
1 cup cold milk + 2 cups hot milk (I heated the milk in the microwave.)
1 cup warm cooked rice
1 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract ( I used vanilla.)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl, then add 3/4 cup of sugar. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
In a large saucepan (or double boiler, if available), stir the corn starch into the milk to make a smooth paste, then pour in the hot milk while stirring. Using medium heat, cook while stirring constantly until the mixture begins boil slowly and thicken. If a regular saucepan is used, be sure to carefully stir all the way to the bottom of the pan because this mixture will easily scorch.
Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot milk mixture into bowl with the egg and sugar, stir quickly. Then pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture while stirring rapidly. Continue cooking for one additional minute. Remove from heat and stir in the rice and vanilla (or orange) extract. Put the pudding in an oven-proof serving bowl. (Cook’s note: The egg is first combined with a little of the hot milk mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot milk mixture.)
To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of the pudding, and then swirl. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.
When I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Rosy Macaroni, I just had to give it a try. It’s really macaroni and cheese made with canned tomato soup, and some celery and onions thrown in for good measure, as well as tiny amounts of ground cloves and paprika.
The tomato soup added a new dimension to the macaroni and cheese – and I loved the crunchiness that the celery added to the dish. Rosy Macaroni definitely falls into the comfort food category, though I must admit that I find it slightly disappointing that commercially canned soups have been available for more than a hundred years.
Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:
The murky language of old recipes is often challenging. The nuanced language differentiating between a “dust” of ground cloves and a “pinch” of soda was particularly confounding. When I updated the recipe, I went with 1/8 teaspoon for both ground cloves and baking soda – but I’m I probably not exactly replicating the original recipe for either ingredient.
And, I started with a box of macaroni containing the typical 1-inch pieces. (Macaroni must have looked very different a hundred years ago if it needed to be broken into short pieces.) I also stirred the cooked macaroni into the tomato sauce rather than making them separate layers since it was easier – and it seemed like there would be little difference in the end product.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Fill a large sauce pan 2/3’s full of water, bring to a boil using high heat. Stir in the macaroni, and reduce heat to medium so that the water just simmers. Cook until the macaroni is al dente (about 6 – 8 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Rinse with cold water to prevent the macaroni from sticking together, drain again.
Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet using low heat. Add the corn starch and stir until smooth. Stir in the onion, celery, cloves, and baking powder. Add the tomato soup and water; stir until smooth. Stir in the cooked macaroni, then increase heat to medium while continuing to stir. When hot remove from heat.
In the meantime, melt one tablespoon butter using low heat in a small skillet. Stir in the bread crumbs. Increase heat to medium and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes to lightly toast the crumbs. Remove from heat.
Place 1/3 of the macaroni mixture in a buttered 1 1/2- quart casserole dish, then put 1/2 of the cheese on top of it and sprinkle with salt and paprika. Repeat, ending with the macaroni mixture. Top with the buttered bread crumbs.
Put in oven and bake until hot and bubbly (20-30 minutes).