Canapes made using bread as the base were a popular appetizer a hundred years ago. I was intrigued by a recipe for Grated Cheese Canapes in a 1922 cookbook. Rounds of thin-sliced bread were spread with mustard then topped with grated cheese and chopped olives. The tangy mustard combined nicely with the slight saltiness of the cheese and olives to make a lovely hors d’oeuvre.
Here’s the original recipe:
A hundred years ago did the term “French mustard” refer to a yellow mustard or a dijon-style mustard? I googled it discovered that French’s Mustard was introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair – but that is a brand and not exactly a type of mustard. In the end, I decided to use a dijon-style mustard, but am not sure that was commonly available in the United States in 1922.
1 pound cabbage (about 1/2 of a medium cabbage), shredded
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons fat (I used butter.)
1/4 cup vinegar
Put cabbage, onion, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, butter and water in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil using medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer until the cabbage is tender; stir frequently. If needed, add additional water. After the cabbage is soft (about 30 minutes), add the vinegar and cook an additional 5 minutes.
I am so fortunate to have such wonderful readers, and am humbled by their kindness and thoughtfulness. Recently one reader, Judy L., gave me a special hundred-year-old cookbook out of her collection. The book is called For Luncheon and Supper Guests by Alice Bradley. Judy is not sure, but the cookbook may have belonged to her grandmother. The small book has 10 menus and more than 100 recipes that are:
Suitable for company luncheons, Sunday night suppers, afternoon parties, automobile picnics, evening spreads, and for the tea room, lunch room, coffee shops, and motor inns.
The book’s author dedicated it to:
The thousands of women who like to entertain their friends and prepare for them something new and delicious to eat.
The book is a joy to browse through, and I can picture cooks a hundred years ago using it to plan lovely events. Judy, thank you!
The first recipe I made out of the book was the recipe for Cream of Mushroom Soup. I tend to associate Cream of Mushroom Soup with the condensed canned soup and think of it as more of a recipe ingredient than something to eat on its own. Yet the old cookbook recommended it as a special dish to serve guests, so I decided to give it a try.
This recipe is for a delicate, velvety smooth mushrooms soup that was perfect on a cold winter day – and that would be delightful for a light lunch with friends.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made this recipe I bought an 8-ounce box of whole button mushrooms – and chopped the entire mushrooms rather than buying more mushrooms and only using the stems and skins. (By the way, what is a mushroom skin?)
The old recipe says to serve the soup in bouillon cups which made me think about presentation. How would a hostess in days gone by serve this soup to her lunch guests? I then remembered some vintage luncheon plates way in the back of the top shelf of my kitchen cabinets. They have an indentation for a small matching bowl. I pulled my step stool over, climbed up and got one of the plates and bowls out. I then made a sandwich to go with my soup. And, suddenly, with just a little imagination, my boring Saturday lunch was transformed into a beautifully presented luncheon in a different time and place.
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (Use less if the chicken broth contains salt.)
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Put milk in a saucepan, and using medium heat, heat until it is scalded (just begins to boil); stir occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the mushrooms, onions, and chicken broth in another saucepan, and bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and strain; keeping the liquid. (The vegetables can be discarded or served separately.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper, then gradually add the mushroom broth while stirring constantly, Using medium heat bring to a boil while continuing to stir occasionally; then stir in the scalded milk and reheat until hot and steamy.
Note: This recipe is for a silky smooth mushroom soup, but if desired, the cooked chopped mushrooms and onions that were strained out when making the mushroom broth, can be stirred back into the soup for a more robust chunky soup.
I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Grapefruit Pie, and decided to give it a try. The pie was bursting with a sunny grapefruit flavor. It reminded me of lemon meringue pie, but was a little less tart.
Here’s the original recipe:
Source: American Cookery (March, 1922)
Rather than squeezing a grapefruit to get juice to make the pie, I purchsed a bottle of grapefruit juice. A typical grapefruit contains about 3/4 cup of juice.. When I made this recipe, the pie filling was a little juicy, so when I updated the recipe I added an additional egg yolk, (The original recipe called for 2 yolks and 3 egg whites. Using an additional yolk eliminates the need to figure out what to do with an extra yolk.). I also added an additional 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch when I updated the recipe to further thicken the filling.
Place water, sugar, cornstarch, salt, and grapefruit juice in a saucepan, stir until thoroughly mixed and smooth. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add a small amount of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks, while stirring constantly, and then slowly add to the contents in the saucepan while stirring constamtly. Remove from heat. If not smooth, stain the mixture. Allow the mixture to cool.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 ° F. and make the meringue. Place egg whites in a bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add 6 tablespoons sugar while continuing to beat; add the 2 teaspoons of grapefruit juice and beat. Then spoon on top of the pie and swirl. Place pie in the oven and bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.
Some recipes don’t change across the years; others do. As tastes and preferences change, recipes are updated. In other cases, lack of availability of an ingredient might lead to tweaking of an old recipe. Also, for commercially-prepared foods, government regulations can affect their composition. Last week I was amazed to discover that the government regulated French Dressing for many years.
On January 13, the Wall Street Journal had an article titled “The U.S. Federal Government Deregulates French Dressing.” The government established the standard for French Dressing 72 years ago, and “according to the original 1950 standard, a French dressing should include vegetable oil, and a vinegar and/or lemon or lime juice, and could be seasoned with ingredients such as salt, sugar, tomato paste or puree, and spices such as mustard are paprika.”
This article made me remember the many French Dressing recipes that I’ve seen in hundred-year-old cookbooks over the years, and how those recipes differed from today’s seemingly ubiquitous creamy orange dressing. Back then the dressing was often more of a vinaigrette. Here are two French Dressing recipes from 1922 cookbooks:
Source: Good Housekeeping’s Book of Menus, Recipes, and Household Discoveries (1922)
I made the French Dressing in the photo using the first recipe.
And, here is a 1922 magazine article that responds to a reader’s question about French Dressing. The response differentiates between French Dressing and Russian Dressing -though it is mostly focused on French Dressing:
Whew, my head is spinning. Who would have guessed that for a least a hundred years people have been giving lots of thought to exactly what comprises French Dressing?
A hundred years ago there was a limited selection of fruits and vegetables during the winter months. Onions and apples are two foods that store well, and were frequently eaten during the winter – though I had never thought of them as being foods that would be combined in one recipe until I saw a recipe for Fried Onions with Apples in a hundred-year-old cookbook. I couldn’t picture what this recipe would taste like, so decided to give it a try.
The sweet tartness of the apples combined beautifully with the sharpness of the onions to make a tasty side dish. I served the Fried Onions with Apples with roast beef and it nicely complemented the meat.
3 large tart apples, peeled and sliced (I used Braeburn apples.)
2 tablespoons bacon fat or other fat (The old recipe called for meat drippings.)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water
Heat fat in a skillet, then add the onion slices. Saute using medium heat until the onions begin to turn transparent, then add the apples, salt and water. Cover and cook until the apples are soft (10 – 15 minutes). Remove lid, increase heat to medium high, and fry until the water has evaporated and the onions and apples are a light brown; stir frequently.
January always energizes me. This year I am sharing 1922 recipes. I have a whole new set of hundred-year-old cookbooks and magazines that I’m just beginning to explore, and I look forward to trying recipes that look intriguing and sharing them with you.
Cold, wintery January days always make me crave comfort foods, so for my second recipe this year, I decided to make Brown Beef Stew with Dumplings. This hundred-year-old recipe made a delightful stew. The stew had a wonderful aroma while it cooked, and was hearty and flavorful with tasty homemade dumplings.
1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons fat (lard, shortening, or cooking oil)
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoons salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt for dumplings
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
approximately 1/3 cup milk
Put the stew beef in a bowl with the flour. Stir until the beef is coated with the flour.
In the meantime, melt the fat in a skillet or other broad pan that has a lid (I used a 12 inch skillet with a lid). Then put the chopped onions in the skillet and saute until translucent. Add the flour-dredged stewing beef. Increase heat to medium high and saute while stirring until the meet is browned. Then add water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. When it begins to boil, reduce the heat, cover, and gently simmer for 1 hour and 45 minutes.
While the stew is simmering make the dumpling dough by putting the flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl; stir to mix. Add 1/3 cup milk slowly stirring until a smooth dough forms. (Add additional milk if crumbly and too dry.)
Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of the dumpling dough into the simmering stew; evenly space the dropped dumpling dough across the top of the stew. Cover tightly with lid and steam for 12 minutes. Remove lid and remove from heat, serve.