Old-fashioned Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks

leek-potato-soup

When it comes to cooking, March is the month I find most challenging. Many days the weather is still brisk and windy (with an occasional snow shower) – and winter foods seem most appropriate,  yet I’m tiring of them and yearn for bright and sunny spring foods.

When I searched for the perfect hundred-year-old recipe for this week, I came across a recipe for Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks that excited me.

The verdict: The Leek and Potato Soup was easy to make, and delightful;  and, just right on a damp and raw March day. The traditional combination of leeks and potatoes in a rich and creamy soup base warmed me, and delicate yellow and green leek pieces floating in the soup provided just a hint of spring.

The recipe called for serving the soup with Imperial Bread Sticks. The bread sticks were made by cutting bread into sticks and toasting. It was fun to replicate how people made bread sticks a hundred years ago – though it I made this soup again, I’d probably either serve it with a warm artisan bread or buy modern bread sticks.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1916)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Leek and Potato Soup with Imperial Bread Sticks

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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Leek and Potato Soup

6 leeks

6 medium potatoes

water

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 cup cream

1 tablespoon parsley, chopped

2 tablespoons butter

Clean the leeks and remove the coarse dark green tops. Cut the white and light-green portions of the leeks into thin slices. Set aside.

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Put the diced potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Put on the stove and using high heat bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium. Cook for 3 minutes, then remove from heat and drain.

Add the sliced leeks to the drained potatoes, and just barely cover with boiling water. (I heated the water in the microwave. In days gone by, it would have been heated in a tea kettle or pan on the stove.). Return to the stove, and using high heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover; cook until the leeks are tender (about 15 minutes).  (DO NOT drain.) Stir in the salt, pepper, cream, parsley, and butter. Heat until the soup is hot and steamy. Remove from heat, and, if desired, serve with Imperial Bread Sticks.

Imperial Bread Sticks

bread (I used sliced Vienna bread.)

butter

Cut as many slices of bread as desired into sticks 1/2 inch wide. Cut off the crust. Butter both sides of the bread sticks, and then place on a metal baking sheet.  Place under the broiler and broil until lightly browned. Remove from oven and flip, then return to broiler to brown the other side. Remove from heat and serve.

Notes: The process for preparing and cooking the leeks and potatoes in the old recipe was a bit befuddling. The potatoes (which I assume were diced into cubes) were boiled for three minutes, then the water was drained. Next the entire white and light green sections of the leeks were added to the saucepan, and everything was covered with boiling water. This mixture was then cooked until the leeks were tender – at which point, the leeks were removed from the water and thinly sliced; then returned to the water.

When I updated the recipe I simplified the process just a little. Perhaps draining the potatoes after cooking them for several minutes removed excess starch, so I retained that step. And, perhaps pouring boiling water on the leeks and partially cooked potatoes (rather than covering them with cold water which is brought to a boil) affects the texture of the vegetables, so I retained that step.

But, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why the leeks should be cooked before slicing. If seems like it would be much more difficult to slice cooked leeks than raw ones, so I simplified that step and sliced the raw leeks before adding them to the potatoes.

1917 “Buy Advertised Goods” Ad (National Biscuit Company Advertisement)

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

Are branded goods that are promoted with advertising of higher quality than similar “no-brand” items? That’s a question that has been around for at least a hundred years. Here’s a 1917 National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) ad which argues that consumers should, “Buy advertised goods – Do not accept substitutes.”

Old-fashioned Rice Pudding with Meringue Topping

rice-pudding

Creamy and sweet old-fashioned rice pudding is always a delight, so when I came across a hundred-old-recipe for rice pudding with a twist, I was intrigued. The recipe called for topping the pudding with a meringue topping.

The meringue turns a favorite comfort food, into a tasty, slightly showy dish that is sure to impress.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, February, 1916)
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine, February, 1916)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Rice Pudding with Meringue Topping

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar + 1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1 cup cold milk + 2 cups hot milk (I heated the milk in the microwave.)

1 cup warm cooked rice

1 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract ( I used vanilla.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl, then add 3/4 cup of sugar. Stir until smooth.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan (or double boiler, if available), stir the corn starch into the milk to make a smooth paste, then pour in the hot milk while stirring. Using medium heat, cook while stirring constantly until the mixture begins boil slowly and thicken. If a regular saucepan is used, be sure to carefully stir all the way to the bottom of the pan because this mixture will easily scorch.

Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot milk mixture into bowl with the egg and sugar, stir quickly. Then pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture while stirring rapidly. Continue cooking for one additional minute. Remove from heat and stir in the rice and vanilla (or orange) extract. Put the pudding in an oven-proof serving bowl.  (Cook’s note: The egg is first combined with a little of the hot milk mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot milk mixture.)

To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of  the pudding, and then swirl. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.

rice-pudding-2

Play Aprons for Children Making Mud Pies

burlap bag 1

Are children’s play aprons and mud pies a relevant topic for a post on A Hundred Years Ago? This blog is about food and related topics. Today I may be stretching the limits,  but somehow it seems to work on this muddy spring day.

Now that spring is on the horizon, children are playing outside again—and horror of horrors– perhaps making mud pies. They may need a play apron.

Here are hundred-year-old directions for making one:

Play aprons for children may be made most satisfactorily of burlap. An ordinary feed bag will do.

For the material on the shoulders cut a kimono clip apron having a square neck large enough to permit dropping of the apron over the child’s head. Do not seam it, but bind it all around with some bright-colored material and fasten under the seams with large buttons and loops.

This kind of apron requires little washing, as the coarseness of the material prevents the dirt from sticking to it. Such aprons will protect the children when playing in the sand or dirt, or making mud pies.

Ladies Home Journal (April, 1914)

Sometimes when I read old magazine articles, I’m surprised how much times have changed. A hundred-year-ago so many people must have still had such close ties to farms that a mass-circulation magazine like Ladies Home Journal thought that readers could easily get an “ordinary feed bag” made of burlap.

I also can’t quite picture parents putting burlap aprons on their children today. And, do kids still play in the mud? What about the germs?

P.S. I know that the burlap bag in the photo is not anywhere close to being a hundred years old, but it brought back nice memories of Agway feed bags that we had on the farm when I was a child.

Hundred-Year-Old Rosy Macaroni Recipe

rosy-macaroni

When I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Rosy Macaroni, I just had to give it a try. It’s really macaroni and cheese made with canned tomato soup, and some celery and onions thrown in for good measure, as well as tiny amounts of ground cloves and paprika.

The tomato soup added a new dimension to the macaroni and cheese – and I loved the crunchiness that the celery added to the dish. Rosy Macaroni definitely falls into the comfort food category, though I must admit that I find it slightly disappointing that commercially canned soups have been available for more than a hundred years.

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

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

The murky language of old recipes is often challenging. The nuanced language differentiating between a “dust” of ground cloves and a “pinch” of soda was particularly confounding. When I updated the recipe, I went with 1/8 teaspoon for both ground cloves and baking soda – but I’m I probably not exactly replicating the original recipe for either ingredient.

And, I started with a box  of macaroni containing the typical 1-inch pieces. (Macaroni must have looked very different a hundred years ago if it needed to be broken into short pieces.) I also stirred the cooked macaroni into the tomato sauce rather than making them separate layers since it was easier – and it seemed like there would be little difference in the end product.

Here’s how I updated the recipe for modern cooks:

Rosy Macaroni

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups macaroni

3 tablespoons  butter + 1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons corn starch

1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1 can condensed tomato soup

1/2 soup can of water

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

salt

paprika

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Fill a large sauce pan 2/3’s full of water, bring to a boil using high heat. Stir in the macaroni, and reduce heat to medium so that the water just simmers. Cook until the macaroni is al dente (about 6 – 8 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Rinse with cold water to prevent the macaroni from sticking together, drain again.

Melt the 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet using low heat. Add the corn starch and stir until smooth. Stir in the onion, celery, cloves, and baking powder. Add the tomato soup and water; stir until smooth. Stir in the cooked macaroni, then increase heat to medium while continuing to stir. When hot remove from heat.

In the meantime, melt one tablespoon butter using low heat in a small skillet. Stir in the bread crumbs. Increase heat to medium and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes to lightly toast the crumbs. Remove from heat.

Place 1/3 of the macaroni mixture in a buttered  1 1/2- quart casserole dish, then put 1/2 of the cheese on top of it and sprinkle with salt and paprika. Repeat, ending with the macaroni mixture. Top with the buttered bread crumbs.

Put in oven and bake until hot and bubbly (20-30 minutes).

Raising Pineapple in Hawaii a Hundred Years Ago

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

Did you ever wonder what it was like in Hawaii a hundred years ago?  Well, according to a 1917 magazine article there were huge pineapple plantations – and there were tourists. Here are a few excerpts from the article:

Hawaii’s Immense Fields of Pineapples

The Islands of Hawaii possess many interesting sights, but they have none that elicit more universal admiration from the tourist than the immense pineapple plantations, which, in some localities, spread over the landscape as far as the eye can see.  While pineapples are grown on nearly all of the islands of the group, by far the larger part of the acreage is on the capital island of Oahu.

The larger portion of the Hawaiian pineapple crop is consumed by the canneries and juice-makers on the Islands. The raw or fresh fruit comes chiefly to the mainland ports of the United States, but the juice and the canned product go, also, to Canada, Great Britain, and the continent of Europe.

American Cookery (February, 1917)

Hundred-Year-Old Cottage Cheese Pie Recipe

cottage-cheese-pie

Occasionally a recipe that I pass over when selecting what to make for this blog will somehow get stuck in my memory, and I keep getting pulled back to it.  The recipe I’m sharing today for Cottage Cheese Pie is one of those recipes.

I first saw this recipe for Cottage Cheese Pie in a hundred-year-year-old magazine almost a year ago, and made an image of it. But it sounded just different enough that I didn’t actually make it at the time. Every time I cleaned up my blog material  files, I’d see this recipe again and wonder, “What does Cottage Cheese Pie taste like?” –and I couldn’t quite bring myself to discard the recipe.

Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1916)

Well,  a few days ago I finally made Cottage Cheese Pie and I now know what it tastes like. The rich  cottage cheese custard contains dried currants and  just a hint of lemon. Even though I’ve never eaten Cottage Cheese Pie before, it immediately fell into the comfort food category for me. It is not very sweet–and could be eaten either for lunch or as a dessert.

My first reaction when I took my first bite of Cottage Cheese Pie was, “hmm . . . This is a little different.”

When I took the second bite I thought, “It tastes like cottage cheese, but it’s sort of like a cross between a quiche and a cheesecake.”

By the time, I finished the slice I was thinking, “This actually is pretty good.”

And, a half hour later I wanted to eat another slice (and had to struggle to convince myself that I really should wait until dinner to eat any more of the pie).

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cottage Cheese Pie

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups cottage cheese

2 eggs, beaten

2 tablespoons milk

2 tablespoons sour cream

1/4 teaspoon lemon extract (or reduce the milk to 1 tablespoon and use 1 tablespoon lemon juice instead of the extract)

1/2 teaspoon flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dried currants

1 9-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put the cottage cheese, eggs, milk, sour cream,  lemon extract, flour, and salt in a mixing bowl; mix until combined. Stir in the currants, and put the mixture in the pie shell. Bake 15 minutes; then reduce heat to 350°. Continue baking (about 30-40 minutes) until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.