Hundred-Year-Old Cranberry Tarts (Turnovers) Recipe

I tried to make a hundred-year-old recipe for Cranberry Tarts, but I think I actually made Cranberry Turnovers. Is there regional variation  in the meaning of “tart”?

I’m probably just looking for an excuse to justify my mistake, but I’m really hoping that someone other than me thinks that a tart is made by putting a filling in pie crust dough and folding it over.

Let me explain –

On Saturday morning, I made a tasty filling using chopped cranberries and raisins.  I then hummed as I  prepared the pie crust dough, rolled it out, cut it into rounds, put some filling on one-half of each round, flipped the top half over, sealed, and baked.

The results were outstanding. The “tarts” were enticing with a wonderfully balanced filling that was slightly acidic, yet also slightly sweet. All was good.

Then I decided to google “Cranberry Tarts” to see if there were similar modern recipes – and discovered to my horror that I had not made tarts, but rather that I’d made turnovers.

My recipe success, suddenly became a recipe disaster. I’d misinterpreted the recipe.

In any case, here’s the original recipe :

Source: American Cookery (November, 1917)
Source: American Cookery (November, 1917)

And, here’s the (turnover) recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cranberry Turnovers (Tarts)

  • Servings: 10 - 12 turnovers
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup raisins, coarsely chopped

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup water

milk

sugar

enough pie dough to make a 2 crust-pie (or  use packaged prepared pie crust or puff pastry)

Put the cranberries, raisins, sugar, flour, and salt in a saucepan; stir to combine. Add the water, then bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. If the filling to too thick, add additional water. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 425°  F. If using pie pastry, roll until 1/4 inch thick, then cut int circles or rectangles. (I used an inverted cereal bowl to cut the rounds.) Place 2 tablespoons of the cranberry mixture on one side of each round or rectangle, fold the pastry over and press edges together. Put filled pastries on a baking sheet; brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar. Put in oven and bake until the top is lightly browned (about 20 minutes).

Cook’s note: I needed to add about 1/4 cup more water than the hundred-year-old recipe called for to create a filling that had the typical pie-filling thickness. I also did not cook it for as long as the original recipe called for since it was so thick.

 

Boiled Cider Pie

Old-fashioned Boiled Cider Pie is a delightful Fall treat. This pie has a smooth and delicate filling with a mild apple flavor and (even though it contains no milk) a lovely custard-like texture.

This recipe is from a 1905 cookbook published by a church in Berwick, Pennsylvania. I found the cookbook last summer when I was visiting the area in Central Pennsylvania where I had lived as a child. My husband and I were to meet someone for lunch – but we finished a visit with another friend earlier than anticipated. So when we saw that a tiny country church was holding a rummage sale, we decided to stop in to fill the time.

There was a sign which said, “Donate whatever you think the items you select are worth.” I was immediately drawn to the book table. There were lots of colorful cookbooks from the 1960s and 70s on the tabke. But then I noticed an a small dog-eared cookbook with  pages browned by age. I gently flipped through the book. Several pages were missing. But I could tell that it was old, really old; and that it was a church cookbook compiled by women in the nearby by town of Berwick.  My heart beat a little faster. I really wanted this book.

But there was no price. I was to donate whatever I thought it was worth.  I dug into my wallet, and pulled out a $1 bill, a $5 bill, and a couple 20’s.

I picked up the 1905 Berwick cookbook, and another small pamphlet from the 1930s that contained recipes. I handed the church member serving as cashier $6 for the two items. She said, “Some of the other cookbooks are nicer, are you sure you want these?”

I said,  “I like old cookbooks” and walked out to the car. The woman obviously felt like I paid more than enough for the items I bought. Yet I’ve felt a little guilty ever since. To me, the hundred-year-old cookbook was a find worth much more than what I paid. Should I have made a larger donation?

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Berwick (PA) Cook Book, No. 2 (The Ladies of Directory No. 2 of the Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1905)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Boiled Cider Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups cider

1 egg

1 1/2 cups sugar

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups water

2 8-inch (small) pie shells or 1 9-inch deep-dish pie shell

Put the cider in a saucepan, and bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and boil gently until it is reduced to approximately 1/2 cup (about 45 minutes). Stir frequently. Remove from heat. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put egg in mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add sugar and flour; stir until combined. Then stir in the water and boiled cider. Put in pic shell and place in oven. Bake until the top is lightly browned, and the filling does not move in waves. (This pie takes a long time to bake. Start checking it after 45 minutes, but don’t be surprised it it takes more than 1 1/2 hours for the filling to thicken.)  Remove from oven. Cool pie before serving.

Old-Time Baked Apples with Sauce

Baked apples are one of my Fall comfort foods, so I was thrilled to find a delightful hundred-year-old recipe for them. The recipe had a new (old?) twist – serve the apples with a custard sauce.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Baked Apples with Sauce

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

6 apples (Use an apple variety that keeps its shape when cooked – Rome, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, etc.)

1/4 cup water

1/2 cup sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1 1/2 cups milk

1 egg. beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350° F. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.

Core apples, and place in a baking dish. (The baking dish will be easier to clean if it is lined with foil.)  Spoon sugar and cinnamon mixture into the center of the apples. (Depending upon the size of the apples, there may be some left-over cinnamon and sugar.) Drizzle a small amount of water over each apple. Place in oven and bake until tender (about 35 – 45 minutes).

In the meantime, make the sauce by putting the sugar and corn starch in a saucepan; stir to combine. Slowly stir in the milk, then put on the stove and bring to a boil using medium heat. Remove from heat and place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of hot mixture into dish with the beaten egg, stir quickly. Add the egg mixture to the hot liquid in the saucepan and return to heat. Cook for 1 minute while constantly stirring.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

To serve, spoon sauce over the baked apples. Serve warm.

Old-fashioned Stuffed Sweet Potato Recipe

Sweet potatoes are the perfect Fall vegetable – they’re both delicious and nutritious. They are a rich source of vitamins A and C, and contain substantial amounts of calcium and potassium.  So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, I had to give it a try.

The recipe was a winner. It was easy-to-make, visually appealing, and most important, tasty. Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks (I halved the original recipe.):

Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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3 medium sweet potatoes

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

2 teaspoons minced parsley

1 egg white, beaten

Preheat oven to 400° F. Prick each sweet potato several times with the tines of a fork. Place of a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until tender (about 45 minutes – 1 hour, depending upon size).  Take out of oven, and cut each sweet potato in half. Gently scoop out pulp, and put into a bowl. Mash; then add butter, salt, pepper, and parsley. Mix thoroughly, then refill the skins. (The mixture should be heaped and nicely rounded–which means that not all the potato skins will be needed. ) Brush with beaten egg white. Put under the broiler until the top is lightly browned.

I used less salt than called for in the original recipe because it seemed excessive for my taste.

Old-fashioned Spanish Scrambled Eggs

Food for week-end breakfasts and brunches should be special – yet I also want convenience. I found a hundred-year-old recipe that fits the bill.

Spanish Scrambled eggs are colorful, tasty, and easy to make. These savory scrambled eggs have flecks of green pepper, pimento, and onion that delight both the eye and the taste buds. This recipe is a keeper.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (July, 1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Spanish Scrambled Eggs

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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6 eggs

1/4 cup milk

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 green pepper, chopped

1 2-ounce jar pimento

Whisk the eggs  together in a bowl, then stir in the milk, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

In the meantime,  melt the butter in a skillet, add the onion and green pepper and saute until tender. Add the egg mixture and the pimento. As the mixture begins to thicken, use a spatula to lift and fold the curds. Continue cooking and folding until no liquid remains. Remove from heat. If desired, may be served with toast.

Cook’s note: The old recipe called for 1 teaspoon salt. This seemed excessive to me, so I reduced it to 1/2 teaspoon when I updated the recipe.

Old-fashioned Onion Toast

Sometimes simple foods are the best. Toast toppers are a favorite of mine for lunch or a light dinner, so when I saw a recipe for Onion Toast in a hundred-year-old magazine, I had to give it a try.

Mild, sweet onion slices embedded in a rich, creamy sauce are served over a classic French toast.  The bread was soaked in beaten eggs, and then grilled to create a delightful French toast that added an unexpected, but delightful, dimension to this dish.

In days gone by, this simple dish was probably seen as a way to stretch budgets when money was tight – but I would put this dish in the category of gourmet comfort food. This recipe is a keeper, and will become part of my repertoire of recipes that I regularly make.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Good Housekeeping (August, 1917)

When I made this recipe I wasn’t exactly sure what a Bermuda onion was, so I googled it and determined that it was a large, mild onion. But I was surprised to discover that in the late 1800s and early 1900s that large quantities of onions actually were imported into the U.S. from Bermuda. According to the Bermuda 4U website, after Mark Twain visited Bermuda, he wrote about its wonderful onions in Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion:

The onion is the pride and joy of Bermuda. It is her jewel, her gem of gems. In her conversation, her pulpit, her literature, it is her most frequent and eloquent figure. In Bermuda metaphor it stands for perfection — perfection absolute.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Onion Toast

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Onion Sauce

2 onions, sliced (about 1 1/4 cups sliced onions)

3 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 cup milk

French Toast

2 eggs

4 slices bread

1/4 teaspoon salt

pepper

butter

Onion Sauce: Melt butter in a skillet using medium-low heat, then add the onion slices and saute until the onions become soft and translucent.  Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the milk while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve over the French Toast.

French Toast: Beat eggs with a fork, then stir in salt and a dash of pepper.  Dip the bread slices in the egg mixture then place on a hot griddle that has been generously greased with butter. Using medium heat, grill until the bottom side of the bread is browned, then flip and cook the other side.

Cook’s notes: The original recipe called for 6 slices of bread, but I used 4 slices. I only had enough of the beaten eggs to coat 4 slices – and the amount of onion sauce seemed about right for 4 slices. I also did not scald the milk prior to stirring it into the onion mixture.

Old-fashioned Apple John Recipe

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

The apples on my tree are ripe. It’s time to dig out the apple recipes, which for me means searching for apple recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks. I found a recipe with an unusual name, Apple John. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try.

I think I found a winner. The Apple John is kind of like an upside-down cobbler made with shortcake dough. It was tasty, attractive, and easy to make.

Here is the original recipe:

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Apple John

  • Servings: 5-7
  • Difficulty: easy
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Stewed Apples

6 cups sliced apples

1/3 cup water

1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Shortcake

2 cups flour

4 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup milk

To make stewed apples, place the sliced apples in a large saucepan, then add sugar, cinnamon, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Continue to simmer gently until the apples are soft (approximately 10-15 minutes). If needed, add additional water. Remove from heat and put the stewed apples in a 9″ X 9″ X 3″ or similar-sized greased baking dish or pan.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 425° F.  Put flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl; stir to combine. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture  Add milk and stir just enough to combine using a fork.

Drop spoonfuls of the shortcake dough on top of the stewed apples to cover them. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and invert on serving plate.