Tomato and Cauliflower Salad is a tasty, attractive salad – though it seems very old-fashioned. A hundred years ago salads were frequently arranged on a plate on a bed of lettuce, and this salad is a nice example of that type of salad.
For this salad, tomato slices are arranged in a circle on top of the lettuce. A dab of mayonnaise is spread around the center of the plate. The mayonnaise is then topped with the small cauliflower florets that have been marinated in French salad dressing. I made homemade French dressing using an old recipe that I previously posted. A hundred years ago French dressing was a vinaigrette with paprika rather than the typical orange bottled dressing that is common today.
When I served this salad, my daughter asked if she should eat the lettuce. I said that I don’t think that lettuce beds are typically eaten, but that she should go ahead and eat it if she wanted. I wonder why lettuce is generally left uneaten with this type of salad.
Here’s the original recipe:
I made several minor adaptions to this recipe. I skipped peeling the tomatoes. A hundred-years-ago tomatoes were often peeled, but today almost never. (And, I know from previous experiences doing various tomato salad posts that -at least by modern standards – that peeled tomatoes don’t look very good in a photo.)
I used less mayonnaise than the original recipe called for. I just thickly spread a dab of mayonnaise on the lettuce in the center of the plate.
Put the cauliflower in a small bowl. Pour French dressing over the cauliflower and stir gently to coat. Set aside. Arrange the lettuce on plate(s). Core tomatoes and cut into sixths. Arrange in a the tomato slices on the plate(s). Place dollop of mayonnaise in the center; spread over the lettuce in the center of the plate with the back of a spoon. Drain cauliflower, and put on top of the mayonnaise.
Ever see an ad for a product that sounds awful? Well this is one of those times. This hundred-year-old ad does not make me want to buy powdered dehydrated oysters and clams. Somehow I’m guessing that this product has not stood the test of time.
I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Sliced Beets in Lemon. They taste similar to pickled beets – though typically vinegar is used to pickle beets. This recipe instead called for lemon juice. This recipe is quite healthy with only 2 tablespoons of added sugar. .
The Sliced Beets in Lemon were lovely, and tasted very similar to the pre-packaged pickled beets sold in the produce section of my local store.
Here’s the original recipe:
It seems odd that the recipe called for optionally adding one hard-boiled egg to the pickling liquid. The recipe only makes enough liquid to cover one -or maybe two – hard boiled eggs. It seems like the recipe author either would have skipped the egg or used larger qualities of the ingredients so several eggs could be added. Maybe only one person in her family liked eggs in beets.
I was also a bit foggy on how to serve the Sliced Beets with Lemon “with a sprig of green leaves stuck into one end for garniture.” I interpreted it to mean that parley was to be used as a garnish.
sprigs of parsley or other green for garnishing, optional (I used flat leafed Italian parsley.)
Cut the greens off the beets, and place in a large saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until the beets are tender when poked with a knife (30 – 40 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Allow beets to cool slightly so they can be handled, then rub the skins off and slice beets into a bowl. Set aside.
Put water, lemon juice, sugar, and salt in a large saucepan; stir to mix. Then bring to a boil using high heat. Remove from heat; add bay leaf and then gently pour over the sliced beets. Chill.
If desired, a hard-boiled egg can be added to the liquid before chilling.
If desired, garnish with parsley or other greens before serving.
A century ago people believed that it was better eat different foods in different seasons. Here’s what a hundred year old cookbook said:
Some food adapted for use at one season or in one climate are not suited to another.
Some people make the mistake of eating in warm weather the same foods and the same quantities of food that they consume in the winter; but the quantity of food should be reduced during the spring and summer months. The digestive organs cannot readily care for the same quantity or the same quality in spring that they are capable of digesting during the winter. Wisely, therefore, with the return of spring, nature take away the desire for many of the more solid foods, and furnishes us with fruits, and greens, and succulent vegetables, which are appetizing and cooling to the system.
Much of the common sickness, especially during the spring and summer months, is caused by the absorption of poisons resulting from the decay of unsuitable food in the intestinal tract. Pimples, rash, and itching of the skin are often signs that nourishment ill-suited to the season or to the condition of the blood has been taken into the body. Fresh fruits are both food and medicine, and are needed by the blood; being especially rich in alkaline elements, they serve to keep the blood in good condition, and because they contain the carbon in the form most easily digested (fruit sugar), they hold first place in the list of foods which go to make up the ideal diet.
Summer is the perfect time to make chilled desserts, so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Chocolate Mint Blancmange.
Chocolate Mint Blancmange is smooth and chocolaty with the essence of mint. It is made with milk and thickened with gelatin, and topped with whipped cream.
This molded dessert seemed old-fashioned, but the taste and texture reminded me of some of the small individual- serving chocolate desserts that I’ve had at restaurants or hotels. I think that Chocolate Mint Blancmange would seem much more trendy and modern if put into individual serving cups.
3 ounces grated chocolate or 5 tablespoons cocoa (I used cocoa.)
1 quart (4 cups) milk
1 cup sugar
dash of salt
3 or 4 drops of peppermint extract
Place the cold water in a small bowl; then sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let the gelatin absorb the water and soften for a few minutes.
In the meantime put the milk in a large saucepan and bring to a boil using medium heat; stir constantly. Stir in sugar, chocolate (or cocoa), and salt. Add the softened gelatin while continuing to stir constantly. Once the gelatin has dissolved, remove from heat. Strain and let partially cool for a few minutes, then add the peppermint extract and stir. Put into a 5 or 6 cup mold (or put into individual serving dishes or cups). Chill until firm (at least 4 hours).
To serve (if molded): Quickly dip the mold in hot water, then unmold onto serving plate.
When making jams and jellies, pectin helps make the juice “jell.” A hundred years ago commercial liquid and powdered pectin was not available. Rather cooks used fruits with naturally occurring pectin – and often combined several fruits, including one with a lot of pectin, when making jelly. Here’s what it said in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook:
Fruit juice can be made into jelly when it contains two substances, (1) pectin and (2) acid. All fruits do not contain these in sufficient amounts to make good jelly, and often it is necessary to combine the juices of two fruits before the juice will “jell.” Sugar helps to make the juice form jelly, but unless pectin and acid are present, no amount of sugar will have that effect.
Fruits used for jelly should not be over-ripe, and sometimes it is better to use green fruits, because as fruit ripens it contains less pectin and acid. Tart apples, grapes, currants, crab apples and plums are good for making jelly. Sweet ripe apples, strawberries, blackberries, peaches and pears are poor fruits from which to make jelly.
Lemon and orange peel contain pectin in considerable amounts and are sometimes used to make fruit juices “jell.” Remove the yellow layers of the peel and put the white material that is left through the food grinder, cover with water and let stand for several hours, then cook slowly for two or three hours; strain the liquid and add it to the fruit juice that lacks pectin.
Elementary Home Economics (1921) by Mary Lockwood Matthews
Sometimes old cookbooks contain recipes for very basic foods that barely seem to need a recipe. For example, I recently came across this recipe for String Beans in a hundred-year-old cookbook.
But, when I look more closely, I realize that the directions are very different than how the beans would be made today. Boiled string bean recipes today often call for leaving the beans whole and merely breaking the tips off the beans; other modern recipes call for breaking the beans into 2- 3 inch pieces. The hundred-year-old recipe, however, called for breaking or cutting the beans into small 1-inch pieces.
Modern recipes for boiled string beans also call for cooking them just a few minutes – 5 minutes or maybe 10 max. However the old recipe directs cooks to boil the string beans for 1-to 3 hours!!!
What the heck? But, next thing I knew I was boiling string beans for 1 hour. (I couldn’t bring myself to boil them for more than that).
The verdict – The beans were very soft, but still maintained their shape. My daughter said, “Why did you ruin some perfectly good green beans? They taste like frozen or canned beans.”
Break the tips off the string beans. Cut or break into 1-inch pieces. Wash beans, then put into a sauce pan. Cover with water and bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 to 3 hours. Add salt for last 1/2 hour of cooking. If most of the water boils away, add additional water. Remove from heat and drain. Put in serving bowl and top with a dab of butter.