Canned Fruit Custard

 

Cherries in custard sauce in stemmed glassesSometimes it is a challenge to make a recipe in an old cookbook. The cookbook may make assumptions about the knowledge level of the cooks who will use the cookbook that totally miss the mark when it comes to modern cooks; or one recipe may refer to another recipe which might then refer to still another.

For example,  I recently found a hundred-year-old recipe for Canned Fruit Custard that at first appeared very simple – Make a thin (soft) custard and pour it over drained canned fruit. But there was just one problem; the cookbook did not contain a recipe for thin custard. Apparently cooks were just supposed to know how to make thin custard.

Recipe for Canned Fruit Custard
Source: The Cook Book for Left-Overs (1920) Compiled by The More Nurses in Training Movement (Illinois)

Unfortunately I  am not as knowledgeable as cooks a hundred year ago, and didn’t know how to make a thin (soft) custard, so I searched through other old cookbooks for a recipe. I finally found a soft custard recipe in a 1920 home economics textbook.

soft custard recipe
Source: School and Home Cooking (1920) by Carlotta Greer

All was good, but I then was surprised to discover that I needed to find still another recipe. The Soft Custard recipe said to “mix the materials in the same way as for steamed or baked custard.”

Steamed or Baked Pudding Recipe
Source: School and Home Cooking (1920) by Carlotta Greer

Whew, this was getting complicated. After I found all three recipes, I took a stab at synthesizing all the directions, I finally made Canned Fruit Custard using canned sweet dark cherries. The dessert was lovely, with the cherries coated with a creamy, slightly sweet custard sauce, but the whole process has left me feeling drained.

So that others don’t need to go through the process of synthesizing the recipes, here is the Canned Fruit Custard recipe updated for modern cooks.

Canned Fruit Custard

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 pints canned fruit (15-16 ounce cans) – I used canned dark sweet cherries.

Custard

2 eggs, separated

2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

To make the custard, first scald the milk. To do this, put the milk in a heavy sauce pan (use a double boiler if available); then heat using medium heat. Stir frequently until the milk just barely begins to bubble, then remove from the heat.

In a bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks slightly, then add sugar and salt. Beat to combine. Then place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of hot milk into bowl with the egg mixture, stir quickly. Add this mixture to the hot milk and stir. (This helps prevent the egg from coagulating when the egg is introduced to the hot liquid.)  Return to stove and cook, using medium heat while stirring constantly until the mixture begins to thicken or coat a spoon. Quickly stir in the beaten egg whites. Remove from heat. Strain and then stir in the vanilla. Chill at least 3 hours.

To Serve

Drain canned fruit. Put the fruit in dessert dishes, and spoon the soft custard over the fruit.

Old-Fashioned Dainty Cheese (Cheese Ball) Recipe

Cheese ball surrounded by crackers on a plateBased on a quick scan, many cooking blogs currently have Super Bowl posts – The Best Super Bowl Food Ideas, Easy Super Bowl Recipes, Super Bowl Crowd Pleasing Snacks, and so on.

So I asked myself, “A hundred years ago what would people have eaten during the Super Bowl?” And, I immediately realized that it was a stupid question – the first Super Bowl wasn’t held until 1967.

So I revised my question, “Are there hundred-year-old recipes that might make a crowd pleasing snack for Super Bowl LIV?”

Success. . . I think I found a winner. A 1920 cookbook, Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries, has a wonderful recipe for Dainty Cheese – which is actually a cheese ball. I have no idea why it was called Dainty Cheese; but, regardless, the cheese ball is delicious, and would be a perfect Super Bowl snack.

The Dainty Cheese cheese ball is made with cream cheese embedded with finely chopped stuffed olives and hard-boiled egg, and a bit of onion. Since the old recipe does not call for cheddar cheese, it’s less “cheesy” than many modern recipes. (hmm . . . Maybe that’s why it is called Dainty Cheese.”) It also isn’t coated with nuts, bacon, or pepperoni like many modern balls.

But, once I set aside my modern expectations, the Dainty Cheese cheese ball was delightful. It is slightly salty with a mild onion and olive taste that works perfectly when spread on crackers.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Dainty Cheese
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Recipes and Household Discoveries (1920)

I couldn’t find onion juice at the store (Is it still made?), so I substituted 1 teaspoon grated onion for the 1/3 teaspoon onion juice. When I made the cheese ball, instead of following the old directions and packing the mixture into a mold (which I worried that I’d have difficulty unmolding), I shaped the cheese ball  on a piece of plastic wrap. then wrapped it in the plastic wrap and chilled until firm.

Here is the modern recipe updated for modern cooks:

Dainty Cheese (Cheese Ball)

  • Servings: 1 medium-sized cheese ball
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened to room temperature

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1/3 teaspoon salt

dash cayenne (red) pepper

15 stuffed olives, finely chopped

1 hard-bowled egg, finely chopped

1 teaspoon onion, grated

Put cream cheese in a mixing bowl, beat until smooth. Add butter, salt, and cayenne pepper; beat until combined. Add olives, egg, and onion; stir until combined.  Shape into a cheese ball on a piece of plastic wrap, then wrap in the plastic wrap. Chill (at least two hours), then unwrap, put on plate, and serve with crackers.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-Fashioned Eggs with Spinach and Cheese

Eggs, cheese and spinach in ramekin with toast on plate

Preparing eggs in the basic ways can get boring, so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Eggs with Spinach and Cheese. Each egg is served in an individual ramekin which makes an easy to serve, lovely presentation that can turn any breakfast into a special meal. The eggs are embedded between layers of creamed spinach and cheese.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for eggs with spinach and cheese
Source: Balanced Daily Diet by Janet McKenzie Hill (1920)

I’m not sure what a “very moderate” oven meant in 1920, but I interpreted it to mean 350° F. Maybe it actually was higher. The 5-8 minutes baking time called for in the original recipe was not nearly long enough to set the eggs. It took about 15 minutes for them to set.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Eggs with Spinach and Cheese

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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5 ounces (5 cups) of fresh baby spinach (approximately 1/2 cup cooked spinach)

1 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup shredded cheese (I used cheddar.)

3 eggs

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350° F. Wash spinach and put in a sauce pan. There should be some water clinging to the spinach. Using medium heat, cook until the spinach has wilted down (about 2 minutes) while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.

In the meantime, in another pan, using medium heat, melt butter; then stir in the flour and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Gradually, add milk while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the white sauce thickens. Remove from heat, and add the cooked spinach. Stir to combine.

Put 1/6 of the spinach and white sauce mixture in each of 3 small ramekins; then sprinkle with 1/6 of the shredded cheese. Then break an egg into each of the ramekins. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Put 1/6 of the spinach and cream sauce mixture on top of each egg; then sprinkle with 1/6 of the shredded cheese on top of it.

Put in oven and cook for 15 – 18 minutes, or until the eggs are set.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Mushroom Croquettes

Mushroom Croquettes on plate

Now that we’re in 2020, I’ve set aside the 1919 cookbooks and magazines that I got recipes from last year, and have been gathering 1920 cookbooks and magazines. (EBay is wonderful source of old cookbooks.) As I shift to 1920, I am really enjoying browsing through a whole “new” set of old recipes.

One recipe that piqued my interest was a recipe for Mushroom Croquettes. The coquettes are made by combining mashed potatoes, and chopped mushrooms. They are then browned in a skillet.

The Mushroom Croquettes were crispy on the outside, and filled with a delectable creamy mashed potato and mushroom mixture on the inside.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for Mushroom Croquettes
Source: The Cook Book of Left-Overs (1920) compiled by The More Nurses in Training Movement from Recipes Contributed by Illinois Ladies

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Mushroom Croquettes

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup mashed potatoes

1 pint mushrooms

2 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon salt

2 eggs, beaten

vegetable oil (shortening or lard would also work)

Mashed potatoes should be at room temperature when making this recipe. Either allow hot mashed potatoes to cool, or remove cold mashed potatoes from refrigerator and allow to warm to room temperature.

In the meantime, chop the mushrooms into small pieces. There should be approximately two cups of chopped mushrooms. Melt butter in a skillet, then add the chopped mushrooms. Sauté  for 20 minutes while stirring occasionally. Then remove from heat.

Place the mashed potatoes into a mixing bowl, stir in the salt and eggs; then add sautéed mushrooms and stir until the mushrooms are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

Heat about 1/2 inch of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Then drop heaping spoonfuls of the mushroom and potato mixture into the hot oil. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom, then gently turn to brown the other side. When browned, remove croquettes from the skillet with a fork or slotted spoon. Drain the croquettes on paper towels, then serve.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Sausage with Apple Rings

Sausage link and apple rings on plateSausage and apples are a classic combination, so I was thrilled when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Sausage and Apple Slices. It is a simple recipe that brings out the best of both foods.

Old-fashioned classic peppery sausage links such as country sausage, farmer’s sausage, or breakfast sausage work well in this recipe. And, the apples are cooked in a simple sugar syrup which enhances their natural tart-sweetness.

I can’t decide whether this dish was originally intended to be a breakfast or dinner dish. I served it at dinner, but it would work well for either meal.

Here is the original recipe:

sausage links and apple rings on plate
Source: American Cookery (January, 1920)
Recipe for Sausage with Apple Rings
Source: American Cookery (January, 1920)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sausage with Apple Rings

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1 pound sausage links (This is excellent with old-fashioned peppery sausage such as country sausage, farmer’s sausage, or breakfast sausage.)

1 cup sugar

1 cup water

4-5 tart apples which hold their shape when cooked (I used Braeburn apples; Rome or Granny Smith would also work well.)

Prick each sausage link several times with a fork. Put in a large saucepan, and cover with water; bring to boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. While cooking sausage, preheat oven to 400° F. Put sausage links in an oven-proof skillet (I used a cast iron skillet), place in oven and brown (about 10 – 20 minutes). The sausage should be turned several times so that they brown evenly.

In the meantime, peel and core apples, then cut into slices about 1/3 inch thick. Put the sugar and water in a large saucepan. Heat the mixture using medium heat. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the apple slices. When the liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the apple slices are soft. Using a large spoon, gently rearrange the slices once or twice, so that they all soften at about the same time. Remove from the heat, and gently remove the slices from the syrup.

To serve, arrange links on plates, and place apple slices to the side.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned White Bread

two loaves white bread with butter and knife on cutting boardOne of the simple joys of life is the aroma of warm homemade bread when it first comes out of the oven. And, when the bread is thickly sliced and smothered with butter, it is one of my all-time favorite comfort foods. Though I’ve been making hundred-year-old recipes for years, I recently realized that I’ve never made a hundred-year-old recipe for White Bread, so when I came across a White Bread recipe in a 1920 cookbook, I just had to give it a try.

The bread did not disappoint. This classic white bread has golden crust, and a light and fluffy texture.

Here is the original recipe:

Recipe for white bread
Source: Balanced Daily Diet (1920) by Janet McKenzie Hill

When, I made the recipe, I substituted a packet of dry yeast for each cake of yeast.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

White Bread

  • Servings: 4 loaves
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

2 packets dry active yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

1 quart (4 cups) lukewarm water (110 – 115° F.)

2 tablespoons shortening

3 quarts (12 cups) bread flour

1 tablespoon salt

In a large bowl dissolve the yeast and sugar in the lukewarm water. Add shortening and half the flour;  until smooth beat.  Add salt and then gradually add the remaining flour until the dough reaches a consistency where it can be handled. Turn onto a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Put in a large greased bowl, cover and place in a warm spot that is free from drafts until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

Punch dough down, then divide dough into four equal parts and shape into loaves. Place in four greased loaf pans, and cover. Let rise until doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Bake loaves in 375° F. oven for 35 -45 minutes or until lightly browned.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Coffee and Tapioca Trifle (Coffee Tapioca Pudding)

glass dish with coffee tapioca pudding

Tapioca can be used to make some wonderful old-fashioned desserts. We’re all familiar with tapioca pudding, but there are also some other fun recipes that call for tapioca in hundred-year-old cookbooks and magazines. I recently was intrigued by an old recipe for Coffee and Tapioca Trifle (Coffee Tapioca Pudding), and decided to give it a try.

Anyone who likes both coffee and tapioca will enjoy this dessert. Since the Coffee and Tapioca Trifle is made using coffee rather than milk, it was lighter than many tapioca desserts. It was delightfully refreshing, and had just the right amount of sweetness.

4 single servings of coffee and tapioca trifle in cups
Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1919)
recipe for coffee and tapioca trifle
Source: American Cookery (June/July, 1919)

I used small pearl tapioca when I made the recipe.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Coffee and Tapioca Trifle (Coffee Tapioca Pudding)

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

1/2 cup small pearl tapioca

2 cups coffee

1/2 cup sugar

whipped cream

Soak tapioca in room temperature water overnight. Drain.

Heat coffee (preferably in double boiler) until warm, add drained tapioca. Cover, turn heat to very low and cook until mixture thickens, and the tapioca pearls have plumped and are tender (5 – 45 minutes) depending upon the brand of tapioca used. Stir occasionally. (It will boil over very easily—and also has a tendency to burn on the pan bottom if care is not used). Stir in the sugar, and cook just a bit longer to allow the sugar to dissolve. Remove from heat, and put in serving dishes. Chill at least 3 hours before serving. Serve with whipped cream.