At my house all the holiday baking is done (and has been consumed), and I’m ready to put up my feet and relax. To me this means that it’s time to make simple, basic, comfort foods like Creamed Tuna Fish.
The hundred-year-old recipe that I found for Creamed Tuna Fish only had two ingredients: tuna fish and white sauce. My updated version has four since I listed the ingredients in the white sauce.
Here’s the original recipe:
Creamed Tuna Fish is wonderful when served on toast, and it hits the spot after all the heavy holiday meals.
Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. If mixture is too thick, add a little more milk. Stir in the tuna and bring back to a boil; remove from heat. Serve over toast, biscuits, rice, etc.
Christmas isn’t even here yet, but I’m already worrying about leftovers. I justify this to myself by saying that I like to plan ahead, but maybe I should be enjoying the moment.
In any case, I ALWAYS have leftover mashed potatoes after holiday meals, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Potato Croquettes that calls for mashed potatoes. The Potato Croquettes had a crispy crust filled with a delightful spicy mashed potato mixture flavored with paprika, cayenne pepper, celery salt, parsley, and onion.
2 cups hot mashed potatoes (If they are cold, they can be reheated in the microwave.)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
1/8 teaspoon celery salt
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup flour
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fine bread crumbs
approximately 1/2 cup shortening
Mix together the potatoes, butter, salt, paprika, cayenne pepper, celery salt, parsley, egg yolks, and minced onion. Shape into 1-inch balls; then roll in flour, dip in beaten egg, and finally roll in bread crumbs. (If the potato mixture is sticky – and not very firm, skip dipping in the egg.)
Place the shortening into a frying pan, and heat until hot. (There should be about 1/2 inch of melted shortening. Add more if needed.) Drop balls into the hot shortening, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.
When I made the recipe I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt rather than the 1 teaspoon called for in the original recipe. I also used chopped onion rather than onion juice. The recipe turned out fine with these substitutions.
Scalloped Oysters are a classic holiday dish, so I was curious when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for “new” Scalloped Oysters, that called for tomatoes and corn in addition to the usual bread or cracker crumbs.
The old, “new” twist adds interest to this traditional dish. “New” Scalloped Oysters were colorful, flavorful, and easy to make.
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (I used bread crumbs.)
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 pint shucked oysters (drain-though it’s okay if there is still some liquid clinging to the oysters.)
1/2 cup stewed or canned tomatoes
2/3 cup corn (if using frozen corn, cook and drain)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter 1-quart casserole dish. Put 1/3 of crumbs in bottom of dish. Lay 1/2 of the oysters on crumbs, sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with small pieces of 1 tablespoon of butter. Add layers of tomatoes and corn, using 1/2 of each. Repeat with layers of bread crumbs, oysters (sprinkled with salt and pepper and dotted with 1 tablespoon of butter), tomatoes, and corn.
In the meantime, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet. Gently stir in the remaining 1/2 cup crumbs; continue gently stirring until the bread crumbs are coated with melted butter. Remove from heat. Put the buttered crumbs on top of the previously assembled layers in the casserole dish. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Combine brown sugar and milk in saucepan; add cream of tartar and stir. Continue stirring while heating over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Quit stirring and bring to a slow boil. Reduce heat to low and continue boiling (without stirring) until candy reaches the soft ball stage (235-240 degrees F.) (about 10-15 minutes). Stir in butter and remove from heat, beat until the mixture thickens. Stir in walnuts. Pour into a buttered 8 X 8 inch pan. When cool, cut into pieces.
I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy holiday bread recipes, so was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Orange Nut Bread. Graham flour, candied orange peel, and pecans give this bread a nutty, yet distinctly sunny, orange flavor.
I definitely plan to make this recipe again. It’s tasty, and the candied orange peel makes it just enough different from most nut bread recipes that it is sure to be a hit this holiday season.
Here’s the original recipe:
I was surprised that the recipe called for no shortening, and for less sugar than many modern nut bread recipes – but it all worked. This bread has a nice texture; and, while a little drier than some quick breads, is very tasty.
When I made this recipe I used less salt than called for in the original recipe. Two teaspoons of salt seemed a tad excessive.
I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Chinese Chews. The recipe was for walnut and date cookie balls. Why were they called Chinese? Were the balls supposed to seem special because the name evoked thoughts of exotic, far away places? I think of the middle east when I think of dates – but not China. That said, improbably named recipes inevitably intrigue me, so the next thing I knew I was making Chinese Chews.
Chinese Chews are a sweet chewy treat, and would make a nice addition to a holiday cookie tray.
They were fun to make. The dough is spread thinly in a pan or baking sheet, and then baked until it just begins to brown. The baked dough is then removed from the oven, cut into pieces, and rolled into balls which are then coated in granulated sugar.
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a mixing bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, and eggs. Then stir in the dates and walnuts. Spread thinly on a baking sheet. (There may not be enough to cover the entire sheet.) Place in the oven and bake until the dough sets and just begins to brown (about 15 minutes). The baked dough should look “not quite done.” Remove from oven and cool about five minutes.
Use a spatula to remove the baked dough from the pan Take chunks of the baked dough and shape into 1-inch balls. (Don’t worry if baked dough comes out of the pan in odd-shaped pieces. I put all the pieces in a bowl, and intentionally combined some of the “crustier” portions from the edge of the pan with some of the softer portions from the center to make balls that had a nice consistency.) Roll each ball in granulated sugar. Work quickly because the balls are easier to shape when the dough is still warm.
Cook’s note: The hundred-year-old recipe called for pastry flour. I used all-purpose flour and it worked fine.
If you like pumpkin pie, but are looking for something a bit richer and more flavorful, Squash Pie is the pie for you.
I used heirloom hubbard squash to make this hundred-year-old Squash Pie recipe, but other winter squash would work equally well.
This recipe uses less milk and more eggs than the typical modern pumpkin pie recipe. Similarly the spices are just a little different from modern recipes. Many modern recipes call for cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger – the old recipe lists cinnamon and nutmeg, but does not call for any ginger. All of these tweaks are good – but the texture and taste are a little different than modern Pumpkin Pies.
Here’s the original recipe:
Paste is an archaic term for the pie pastry. When I made this recipe I used my usual pie pastry recipe, but sometime soon I’ll try the old recipe for “Chopped Paste.”
Here’s the Squash Pie recipe updated for modern cooks:
1 3/4 cups winter squash (hubbard, butternut, etc.), pared and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 9-inch pie shell
Put cubed squash in a saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until tender (about 20 minutes); remove from heat and drain. Puree squash. (There should be approximately 1 cup of pureed squash.)
Preheat 425° F. Put pureed squash in mixing bowl, add sugar, eggs, milk, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; beat until smooth. Pour into prepared pie shell. Place in oven. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350°. Continue baking (approximately 40-50 minutes) until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.