Old-fashioned Thousand Island Dressing Recipe

I’m always on the look-out for good homemade salad dressing recipes. so when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Thousand Island Dressing, I had to give it a try.

The Thousand Island Dressing was delightful, though much thinner than the typical modern commercial rendition. This olive oil- and mayonnaise-based dressing had just the right amount of spiciness and a lovely citrous undertone.

The modern version typically contains sweet pickle relish; the hundred-year-old recipe called for sliced chestnuts and olives. The sweet nuttiness of the chestnuts and saltiness of the olives added an appealing new  (old?) dimension to this classic dressing.

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:

Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book (Lilla Frich, 1917)

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Thousand Island Dressing

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1/2 cup olive oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 orange

1 teaspoon onion, grated

3 teaspoons parsley, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise

8 olives sliced (I used stuffed green olives.)

8 chestnuts, sliced ( I used vacuum-packed, recipe-ready chestnuts.)

Put the olive oil, lemon juice, orange juice, onion, parsley, mustard, salt, paprika, Worcestershire sauce,  and mayonnaise in a medium bowl; and whisk together until smooth. Stir in the olives and chestnuts.

Hundred-year-old Monsanto Saccharin Advertisement

Source: American Food Journal (February, 1916)
Source: American Food Journal (February, 1916)

Sometimes I’m in awe of (or perhaps a better wording is “shocked by”) some of the things I find in advertisements from a hundred years ago.  This 1916 advertisement for saccharin appeared in a trade magazine for food processors.

Saccharin was banned in 1911 by the Pure Food Referee Board in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to an article in National Food Magazine called “The Passing of Saccharin”:

It has a preservative power and is very cheap. But the Referee Board, which has been investigating Saccharin, has found it guilty of causing indigestion and otherwise injuring the system. Therefore, the government has issued a ruling entirely prohibiting its use after July 1.

National Food Magazine (June, 1911)

In 1912, the government reversed the decision and again allowed the use of saccharin, but it remained controversial – thus the advertisement in the trade magazine explaining why saccharin “won”.

Hundred-Year-Old Pork Chops with Dressing Recipe

Pork chops can be a little boring – but add some dressing (stuffing) and an onion slice; and, a mundane meat is transformed into a special dish. The recipe that I used was from a hundred-year-old magazine – but the Pork Chops with Dressing are timeless.

The Pork Chops with Dressing smelled wonderful while baking – and the finished dish did not disappoint. The presentation was lovely, and the dressing was delightful with just the right blend of herbs and onion.

Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1915)
Source: Good Housekeeping (December, 1915)

Pork Chops with Dressing

  • Servings: 5
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: moderate
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5 pork chops

salt and pepper

3 cups coarse bread crumbs (cubes)

water

1 medium onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 egg

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

5 onion slices (from a medium onion)

butter

Preheat oven to 375° F. Place the pork chops into a baking dish or oven-proof pan. (I used a cast iron frying pan.)  Sprinkle each pork chop with salt and pepper, then set aside.

Put the bread crumbs in a mixing bowl, then sprinkle water on the bread crumbs. Add enough water, so that when squeezed, the pieces of bread cling together. Add the chopped onion, melted butter, egg, pepper, poultry seasoning, and salt. Stir to combine. Then divide the dressing into five equal portions Shape each portion into a ball and press together firmly.

Place a ball of dressing on top of each pork chop, then top each with an onion slice. Dot the onion slices with butter. Pour a little water (about 2- 3 tablespoons) into the edge of the pan. Place in the oven and cook for 50 minutes to an hour.  (Time depends upon thickness of the pork chops.)  If the onion slices start to brown midway through the baking time, flip the onions and dot with additional butter.

White Sauce: The Mother Sauce

white-sauce-gh-4-1917
Source: Good Housekeeping (April, 1917)

A key to successfully making many hundred-year-old dishes (as well as many modern ones)  is the ability to make a good white sauce.  An article in a century-old magazine called it the mother sauce. Here’s some excerpts from that article:

The Mother Sauce

The mother sauce is merely a very-well-made white sauce. But tremendous importance is attached to the words well-made. When it is done, it should be creamy, ivory-tinted, smooth, a velvety liquid that clings, but does not stifle, blending its delicate flavor with and invariably enhancing that of the croquettes or vegetables with which it is served. But though the sauce be light and ethereal when rightly made, the making of it must be undertaken with concentration and seriousness.

Such a sauce is not often encountered – more’s the pity – but it is quite as simple to prepare as the less pleasing variety, and because of its many uses its secret should be mastered by every housekeeper. Thin, it provides the most delicious of dressings for vegetables, omelets, fish, and other dishes, or it forms the base of the most delicate of our cream soups and souffles. Thick, it is the foundation for the best of our croquettes,  souffles, and dishes au gratin. And, with it as a background, any number  of variations may be produced by the addition of flavors, herbs, or other condiments.

A perfect white sauce is made in the following manner. Mix together to a smooth paste two tablespoonfuls of butter and two of flour. Cook to a smooth, bubbling, semi-liquid consistency over a hot fire. Do not allow the mixture to brown, but see that the flour is well cooked. Now add slowly and carefully a cupful and a half of cold milk. Stir constantly until the boiling point is reached. Then season with a half-teaspoonful of salt and a dash of white pepper. If you have stirred the sauce conscientiously, it will be as smooth and delicate as you can possible desire. No straining will be necessary; but it will do no harm to pass the sauce through a fine sieve.

An unusually rich cream sauce is sometimes required. In that case make the sauce half milk and half cream, and it will be extraordinarily good.

Good Housekeeping (April, 1917)

white-sauce-ingredients-gh-4-1917

Hundred-Year-Old Asparagus Shortcake Recipe

Usually when I browse through hundred-year-old cookbooks searching for a recipe to make, I skip over the ones that seem particularly odd or strange.  However, I recently read a quote that made me give some of these recipes a second look:

Recipes that a century ago would have been the apogee of culinary chic may no longer be prepared because they are no longer in vogue; they may be considered unappealing, outdated, or unhealthful.

Janet Theophano
(Eat My Words: Reading Women’s Lives Through the Cookbooks They Wrote, 2002)

So  when I saw a colorful illustration for Asparagus Shortcake in a hundred-year-old promotional cookbook published by the KC Baking Powder Company, my curiosity was piqued. Was Asparagus Shortcake an example of a food that once had been at the “apogee of culinary chic”?

Source: The Cook’s Book (KC Baking Powder Cook Book) (1911)

When I made this recipe, I worried that my husband and I won’t like it, so I only made half a recipe so that I won’t have too much left-over.

The verdict: Asparagus Shortcake gets high marks for the “wow” factor when served.  And, while the combination of asparagus and shortcake seemed a bit odd, the dish was tasty. The asparagus in its rich butter sauce worked well with the shortcake. Overall,  Asparagus Shortcake made a satisfying lunch.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Asparagus Shortcake

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 1/4 cups flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 cup shortening

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups asparagus, cut into 1 inch piece

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons butter + 2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 hard-boiled egg, quartered

Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease and lightly flour a 6-inch round baking pan; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, combine the 1 1/4 cups  flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking powder. Cut in the shortening; then add the milk. Stir gently with a fork to create a dough. Place on a pastry cloth or other prepared surface, and gently knead for 15 seconds; then shape into a 6-inch round disc and place in the prepared baking pan. Place in oven and bake 20-25 minutes or until the top is light brown.

In the meantime,  put the asparagus pieces in a saucepan and add water. Using high heat bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat; simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and drain (reserve liquid).

In another saucepan, melt two tablespoons butter using medium heat, then stir in the 2 tablespoons of flour. Add the asparagus liquid while stirring constantly; continue to stir until the sauce begins to thicken. Remove from heat, and immediately stir in an additional 2 tablespoons of butter, then gently fold the cooked asparagus into the sauce.

To assemble the shortcake, split the baked shortcake. Place the bottom half of the shortcake on the serving dish and then spread with half of the asparagus sauce. Cover with the top of the shortcake and spread with the remaining sauce. Garnish with hard-boiled egg quarters. Serve immediately.

Hundred-Year-Old Reasons to Eat Salad Greens

Greens are so good for us – and as spring arrives there’s a renewed focus on these delightful vegetables. Here’s what a hundred-year-old cookbook says about them:

Salad Greens

At no time have greens played such an important part in our diet as they do today. We are realizing and appreciating their beneficial effects on the system more than ever before. Containing, as they do, valuable mineral salts and special medicinal virtues, they should be used liberally, while they are in season.

The tonic greens of spring correct the results of the heavy winter diet. Greens of every sort are held in high esteem for their purifying qualities–spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, lettuce, cress, dandelion, sorrel, mustard greens, chicory, beet greens, horseradish, and parsley are examples.

Each green is considered as possessing specific medicinal value, and all are aids in clearing the liver, blood and skin.

Serving a variety of greens from day to day provides all the virtues possessed by the different ones. Americans are appreciating the homely garden greens more and more and are utilizing them in salads, soups, sauces, and as garnishings.

In the these days of auto-intoxication, and other diseases, due to accumulated poisons in the body, it is well to make liberal use of nature’s cleansing agents.

  • Water cress grows wild and may be found on streamlets. Like other greens it is an anti-scorbutic, palatable and wholesome.

  • Dandelion greens are regarded as liver and blood purifiers.

  • Lettuce contains an opium principle, is a laxative, introduces mineral matter and helps to provide an alkaline condition of the blood.

    The Housevife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

The statement about lettuce containing an opium principle made no sense to me, so I googled it, and discovered that the white oozy liquid that emerges from lettuce stems when they are freshly cut looks similar to opium. This liquid was once considered to have medicinal properties. It used to be dried and was put into some patent medicines. It was believed to be a sedative and cough suppressant.

Cocoa Angel Food Cake with Boiled Icing

 

A hundred years ago there were some delightful cake recipes. I recently found an old recipe for Cocoa Angel Food Cake with Boiled Icing. It made a delectable light and airy cake with an absolutely decadent old-fashioned gooey frosting.

The Boiled Icing brought back memories of  fluffy, glossy frosting on incredible cakes that great aunts brought to family reunions. (Does anyone still make Boiled Icing?) I’d forgotten how good it is.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Larkin Housewives Cook Book (1915)

This recipe makes a relatively small cake. It has a wonderful texture, but it is not as thick as many modern angel food cakes.

And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Cocoa Angel Food Cake with Boiled Icing

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Time: 1 hour active prep time
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Cocoa Angel Food Cake

1/4 cup cocoa

1/2 cup pastry flour

1 cup sugar

5 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Sift together cocoa and flour, then stir in the sugar. Set aside.

Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl and beat until foamy, then add the cream of tartar and continue beating until the mixture holds stiff straight peaks. Gently stir in the vanilla.

Sprinkle a small amount of the flour and sugar mixture (about 2 tablespoons) onto the whipped egg mixture; and then fold it in. Continue sprinkling and folding the flour and sugar mixture until it all is folded in.

Gently spoon the batter into an ungreased 10 X 4 tube pan with removable bottom (angel food cake pan). Bake for 30 minutes or until the cake is lightly browned and the top springs back when lightly touched.

Invert pan until cool (at least 1 hour) and then remove cake from pan, and ice with Boiled Icing

Boiled Icing

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

dash cream of tartar

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Combine sugar, water, and cream of tartar in a saucepan; put on medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Once the mixture reaches a bowl, reduce heat so that there is a slow boil. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches the soft ball stage (240° F.), then remove from heat.

In the meantime, in a mixing bowl beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Slowing pour the hot sugar mixture over the egg whites while beating constantly.  Add the vanilla; continue beating until cool. Immediately use to ice cake.