Eggs and tomatoes make a nice pairing, so I was excited when I saw a new way to make eggs and tomatoes in a hundred-year-old cookbook – Poached Egg in Tomato.
Preparing the tomato shell for the egg reminded me of scooping a pumpkin but on a much smaller scale. And, it was fun to slide the egg into the tomato shell, and cover it with a circle of parchment paper that I’d cut out.
The Poached Egg in Tomato was delightful with toast. The one downside – it took longer to bake than I anticipated. I had to delay breakfast because it took about 45 minutes for the egg white to fully set.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut the top of the tomato and gently scoop out the pulp, then set the tomato in a ramekin or custard cup. Break the egg into a small bowl, then slide the egg into the tomato shell, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cut circles from a piece of parchment paper that is the same size as the ramekin; then cover the filled tomato with the parchment paper circle.
Place the ramekin into a small cake pan or other oven-proof dish or pan. Gently pour hot water (approximately 125° F.) into the pan until it is about 1 inch deep. (I use the hottest water that comes out of my tap.). Place into the oven and cook until the egg is desired firmness (approximately 45 minutes).
Old recipes call for separating egg whites from yolks much more frequently than modern recipes. For example, a few days ago I needed to separate four eggs to make the hundred-year-old Lemon Meringue Pie recipe that I recently posted. The yolks went into the lemon custard filling and the whites into the meringue.
Old cake recipes also often call for separating the eggs and beating the whites before adding them to the batter to get a lighter, fluffier cake. . . and so do some old omelette recipes. . . . My list could so on and on.
Here are directions in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook for separating eggs:
Separating Whites from Yolks
Break the egg over a bowl, turn the small end down, and pull the shell apart, slipping the yolk from one half of the shell to the other once or twice, so that the white will drop into the bowl. If any of the yolk is mixed with the white, the white will not beat well on account of the fat present.
The Science of Home Making: A Textbook in Home Economics by Emma E. Pirie (1915)
I have a short list of brunch dishes that I regularly make. I recently found a recipe in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping for Asparagus Omelet that I’m adding to my repertoire of go-to brunch recipes. It makes a stunning presentation, and has a wonderful texture and taste.
Often omelets are a little heavy, but Asparagus Omelet is not like the typical modern omelet. The recipe calls for beating egg whites into stiff peaks, and then folding the remainder of the ingredients into them. This omelet incredibly light and airy with embedded pieces of asparagus.
The omelet was so thick that I didn’t even try to fold it over like the typical omelet, and instead just turned the unfolded omelet onto a plate (actually I turned it onto a baking sheet) and cut into wedges.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Make a white sauce by melting the butter in small saucepan, then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Add a small amount of milk and make a paste. Gradually add remaining milk while stirring rapidly and continuing to heat. Continue stirring until thickens. Then remove from heat and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until lemon colored. Stir in the white sauce and asparagus pieces; then fold into the beaten egg whites.
Heat a large oven-proof skillet on the top of the stove using medium-low heat. (If needed to prevent sticking, liberally grease the skillet before heating.) Pour the egg and asparagus mixture into the hot skillet, and gently cook for 1 minute. Move the skillet to the oven, and bake for about 10 minutes or until the egg mixture is set.
Remove from oven, and loosen the edges of the omelet from the skillet with a knife or spatula, then turn onto a plate. Garnish with asparagus tips and cut into wedges.
Today, reasonably priced eggs are generally available year-round, but a hundred years ago people worried about the high price of eggs.
Here’s some advice in a hundred-year-old home economics textbook:
The demand for fresh eggs is great, and so many eggs are exported, that the price is high. Twenty-five cents a dozen is a reasonable price, but this is below the average at the present date. Thirty-five cents a dozen will permit the moderate use of eggs as the main dish for breakfast or luncheon sometimes, but not a liberal use in cakes and desserts.
If a recipe for soft custard calls for three eggs to a pint of milk, leave out one egg or even two, and use one or two tablespoons of cornstarch.
Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts (1915)
Serve eggs every morning if you like, but do not repeat the same method of cooking more than twice a month.
Good Housekeeping (July, 1915)
Let’s see, I could make scrambled eggs one morning, fried eggs the next, then hard-boiled eggs, followed by soft-boiled eggs, and then poached eggs followed by an omelet. That’s only six different ways to make eggs.
Help! I have no idea how to make eggs 15 or 16 different ways.
17-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Tuesday, February 18, 1913: Please excuse me for today. I haven’t much material to write about.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’ll share a hundred-year-old recipe for Scalloped Celery and Eggs.
Scalloped Celery and Eggs
2 cups diced celery
1/4 cup diced onion
4 hard-cooked eggs
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 cup celery stock
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs
Dice celery and onion, then simmer until tender in water to cover. Reserve one-half cup of the liquid (celery stock). Melt butter in a frying pan, stir in flour and seasonings. Gradually stir in reserved celery stock and milk to make a sauce. Bring to a boil. Add the cooked celery and onions, and put a layer in a buttered baking-dish (I used a 1 1/2 quart dish–it might have fit into a 1 quart dish, but I was worried that it would boil over.); chop the eggs, sprinkle on a light layer, add more celery, continuing until the dish is filled. Cover with the buttered crumbs, and bake in a moderate oven (375°) until browned.
Makes 4-5 servings
Adapted from recipe in the November, 1913 issue of Ladies Home Journal
I’ve enjoying rediscovering celery this winter. Celery was a popular winter vegetable a hundred years ago. It was easy to transport and store.
I’ve also discovered that celery and egg combinations were very popular years ago. You might enjoy this previous post:
16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Monday, August 7, 1911: I wound up my driving this afternoon, and I’m not sorry either. Carrie was over this evening. We did some planning for that picnic, which we wish to have some time next week if we can.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Grandma began driving horses five days ago. As discussed in the August 2 entry, she probably was operating a horse-drawn roller that leveled the plowed ground in preparation for planting winter wheat.
As Grandma planned for the picnic, she may have thought about foods that she could take. Beets are in season, so a hundred years ago Grandma may have thought about taking Pickled Beets and Eggs to the upcoming picnic. Here’s an old recipe that I use to make pickled beets and eggs.
Pickled Beets and Eggs
2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 cup reserved beet water from cooking beets
1 1/3 cup sugar
1 piece stick cinnamon
2 cups cooked beets, sliced (leave beets whole if small)*
12 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
Combine vinegar, beet water, sugar, and piece of stick cinnamon in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved then remove from heat.
Put sliced beets and hard-boiled eggs in a glass jar or other container. Pour cooked liquid over the beets and eggs. Chill overnight to marinate. (For darker eggs, chill for several days before serving.).
*Peel beets before cooking (or canned beets may be used–though that’s probably less authentic).