People knew how to make lovely pies a hundred years ago. An old-time winter favorite was Butterscotch Pie with Meringue Topping. I found this classic recipe in the February, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping.
The Butterscotch Pie is irresistible with a smooth, buttery pudding and a light, delightful meringue. Here’s my adaptation of the recipe for modern cooks:
Preheat oven to 325° F. Combine brown sugar and hot water in a saucepan, bring to a boil. In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the flour and salt. Gradually stir the cold water into the flour mixture to create a smooth paste; then stir in the beaten egg yolks. Add one tablespoon of the hot sugar liquid to flour and egg yolk mixture and stir to combine; then add several additional tablespoons of the hot sugar liquid while stirring constantly. When enough liquid has been added to make a thin paste, stir the flour and egg yolk mixture into the remaining hot sugar mixture in the saucepan. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring constantly; reduce heat and simmer while continuing to stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. When the butter is melted, pour into the pie shell.
To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until peaks form, then beat in the granulated sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of the pie, and then swirl. Use care to get the meringue spread all the way to the edge of the pie. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.
Pork chops are a food that I crave in mid-winter, but would seldom think about eating in July. Maybe it brings back vague memories of eating freshly butchered pork in January when I was a child. When I saw an intriguing recipe in the January, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping for Baked Pork Chops with Apples, I immediately knew that I wanted to try it. The old magazine featured the recipe–and even included a picture.
The top of a baked apple showily topped each pork chop for a lovely, yet decidedly old-fashioned, presentation. The pork chops had a nice, slightly crispy, bread crumb coating with sage undertones that blended nicely with the tanginess of the baked apples.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Combine bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and sage. Coat the pork chops with the bread crumb mixture and put in a baking dish or oven-proof skillet. Cut the top 1 1/2 inch off the apples and core. (Reserve the remainder of apple for use in another recipe.) Center a cored apple top on each pork chop; place 1 teaspoon of butter in the center of each apple. Bake for 45 minutes or until the pork chop is thoroughly cooked.
I’m always on the outlook for salads and relishes that use seasonal ingredients. When browsing through the January, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping, I came across an intriguing recipe for Beet Relish. Of course, I had to try it.
The Beet Relish contains chopped beets and cabbage in a tangy vinegar dressing that has a fun horseradish kick. This recipe makes an absolutely beautiful, slightly flashy, sweet- sour side dish.
Combine sugar, vinegar, salt, dry mustard, and celery seed in a bowl. Add chopped beets and chopped cabbage; stir to combine. Add horseradish to taste. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours before serving. Will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
Here is the original recipe:
I halved the recipe when I made it. I also used much less horseradish than called for in the original recipe. A little horseradish adds a nice peppery flavor to this dish–but too much can easily overwhelm the other flavors.
The rail system in the United States was in largely in place by the 1910’s, but I’m still surprised sometimes about how readily (and inexpensively) fresh produce was transported across the country a hundred years ago.
Here’s part of a 1916 magazine article about oranges:
Let’s Eat Oranges
Probably the reason many of us consider the orange a luxury rather than an every-day food is because we still cherish memories of the time when the fruit was high-priced and not widely distributed, and an occasional orange was a surprise often reserved for the toe of the Christmas stocking.
Many of us are more or less slaves of our habits of thought, and in face of the fact that oranges can be purchased from December to April at almost any price, and the rest of the year at prices which are moderate when the value received is considered , we do not take advantage of their wonderful dietetic properties because we consider them too expensive.
It is generally known that the orange contains citric acid, which s a liver stimulant, and that it is a gentle laxative. But its wonderful supply of phosphates, a direct nerve-food, is usually overlooked, and the fact the oranges therefore have a most beneficial effect in cases of insomnia is practically unknown. In short, the importance of the orange as an every-day food the year round cannot be too greatly emphasized.
Hundred-year-old cookbooks have oodles of steamed pudding recipes. These slow-cooking molded desserts were easy to make back in the days when people had a fire constantly burning in a wood stove. I have vague warm fuzzy memories of steamed puddings made by an elderly neighbor when I was a child, and I’ve wanted a pudding mold for some time–so I was thrilled to get one for Christmas.
A few day ago I flipped through my old cookbooks, and tried to decide which pudding recipe to make. I finally decided to try the recipe for Chocolate Nut Steamed Pudding because it sounded delicious – and didn’t require steaming for as long as many other puddings. (It only needed to be steamed for 1 1/2 hours.)
This recipe was worth the time and effort. The pudding was incredible. I expected the pudding to be heavy and rich–and was thrilled that it actually was moist, yet light, with a hint of chocolate that enhanced the taste of the walnuts. The recipe called for beating 5 egg whites (and only 1/2 cup of flour) which resulted in a very light cake-like dessert.
I served it with Hard Sauce (which is actually a brandy butter). The Hard Sauce partially melted on the warm pudding surface releasing a luscious buttery brandy essence .
Here’s my updated version of the recipe for modern cooks:
In a saucepan, combine the 2 tablespoons sugar, flour, salt, and grated chocolate. Gradually stir in the milk to make a smooth mixture; and put on a stove burner at medium heat. Cook until the mixture thickens while constantly stirring. (This mixture become quite thick, so use care not to scorch.) Remove from heat and set aside.
Put the egg whites in a bowl, and beat vigorously until stiff peaks form.
Working quickly (so the egg whites remain beaten), put the egg yolks and sugar in another bowl; and combine. Add the chocolate mixture, and beat until smooth. Stir in the walnuts, and then gently fold in the beaten egg whites.
Put the mixture in a greased mold, and steam for 1 1/2 hours.* Remove from mold and serve warm with Hard Sauce. (This pudding is also excellent cold without the Hard Sauce.)
*Notes: I used a 2 liter mold, but had some extra space at the top. A 1 1/2 quart mold would be large enough. Historically coffee cans were often used as molds. BBC Good Food has an excellent video that succinctly describes how to steam a pudding (or follow the directions that come with the mold).
1/2 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon water
2 tablespoons brandy
Cream the butter, then slowly add the powdered sugar while stirring constantly. While continuing to stir, add the water, and then the brandy.
Here are the original recipes:
There were two Hard Sauce recipes in the cookbook. I adapted the first one.
One of my New Year’s resolutions is to lose a few pounds. I’m trying to eat healthy (and January is the perfect time for soup), so I looked through my hundred year-old cookbooks for a soup that was light yet rich and tasty. I wasn’t sure it was possible to find a soup that met my criteria, but I think that I came up with a soup that fits the bill.
I found a recipe for Cauliflower Soup in Lowney’s Cook Book (1912). This milk-based soup is a very smooth, strained soup—and not very thick; so I think that today it would be considered a “silky” soup.
This Silky Cauliflower Soup is lovely, and has a surprisingly subtle cauliflower taste. The soup will warm you up on a cold winter day–plus, it’s light enough that you don’t need to feel guilty.
Here’s my updated version of the recipe for modern cooks:
Put chopped cauliflower in a saucepan and cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until tender. Drain cooked cauliflower and puree in a blender or food processor.
In the meantime, melt butter in a large saucepan; then add the chopped onions and saute until tender. Stir in the flour, and slowly add 3 cups water while stirring constantly. Stir the egg yolk into the remaining 1 cup water; and then add the egg and water mixture to contents of the large sauce pan while continuing to stir constantly. Add the pureed cauliflower, salt, and pepper to the mixture and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and strain. Return the liquid to the pan and stir in the milk. Heat until hot, then stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve.
Brrr, it’s cold outside and I’m ready for some comfort foods. When I saw a recipe for Scotch Potatoes in the January, 1916 issue of Ladies Home Journal, I just had to try it.
Scotch Potatoes are very similar to Scalloped Potatoes, but they contain a lot more onions. The recipe calls for a 1:1 ratio of potatoes and onions (2 cups potatoes and 2 cups onions).
This recipe was a winner, and I may never make regular scalloped potatoes again. Scotch Potatoes wonderfully pairs the creamy potatoes with the sweet, bright, complex flavor and texture of the onions to create a lovely taste sensation.
The recipe I typically use for Scalloped Potatoes just has me put the raw potato slices into the casserole dish and then pour white sauce over it. When I bake that casserole I often struggle to get the potatoes tender before the top gets overly brown. One of my favorite things about the Scotch Potatoes recipe is that I had no issues with a burned top and under-cooked potatoes.
This recipe called for boiling the potatoes and onions for a few minutes before putting them into the baking dish. This worked perfectly—and I now wonder why I never thought of doing this before.
4 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced (approx. 2 cups)
4 medium onions, sliced (approx. 2 cups)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400° F. Put the sliced potatoes and onions into a saucepan, and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer until the potatoes are just barely tender (about 12 minutes). Remove from heat and drain.
In the meantime, make a white sauce by melting the butter in another saucepan. Stir in the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. While stirring constantly, slowly add the milk. Continue stirring until the mixture is hot and begins to thicken.
Place the cooked potatoes and onions in a baking dish. Pour the white sauce over them, and put into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly, and the top begins to brown. Remove from oven and serve.
Here’s the original recipe:
I didn’t make my potato and onion slices as thick as the slices called for in the original recipe. Mine were about 1/4 inch thick, and they worked beautifully in the updated recipe.