I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Lyonnaise Potatoes. Diced potatoes are coated with butter, chopped onion, and parsley. This classic comfort food makes a nice side dish.
This recipe also brought back food memories of a similar dish from my childhood that we called Parsley Potatoes. I don’t think that Parsley Potatoes contained any onion, but otherwise it was the same as Lyonnaise Potatoes.
Here’s the original recipe:
Some Lyonnaise Potato recipes call for browning the potatoes, but since this one didn’t; I didn’t brown the potatoes.
Melt butter in a skillet; stir in the onion. Cook until the onion is transparent while stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley. Add potatoes, and season with salt and pepper; stir gently to coat with butter, onion, and parsley. When hot, remove from heat and serve,
Au Gratin Potatoes are tasty, so when I came across a hundred-year-old recipe that looked similar to an Au Gratin Potato recipe – but with a twist (the recipe called for corn in addition to potatoes) – I decided to give it a try.
The Cheese, Corn, and Potatoes were very nice. The rich, cheesy sauce worked nicely with the corn and potato combination.
Here’s the original recipe:
The recipe calls for Cheese Sauce. Here is the Cheese Sauce recipe.
Ever make a recipe that turned out well, but that required some interpretation and tweaks along the way? Well, this was one of those recipes.
The first decision I needed to make was what kind of canned corn should I use – whole kernel or cream style? I have a vague sense that canned cream-style corn has been around longer than the whole kernel (though I’m not sure), so I went with cream style. I had two cans of corn – 8.25 ounce can and a 14.75 can. The small one contained a little less corn than called for in the recipe; the large on a little more. (The recipe called for 1 1/2 cups of corn.) I decided to go with the small can even though it only contained a little more than 1-cup of corn.
Next I needed to figure out issues related to the Cheese Sauce. The Cheese, Corn, and Potato Scallop recipe called for 2 cups Cheese Sauce, however, when summing the amounts in the list of ingredients in the Cheese Sauce recipe, it was clear that it made less than two cups. The Cheese Sauce recipe called for 1/2 cup of grated cheese, but it did indicate that more could be used. I decided to use 1 cup of cheese so I’d have approximately the correct amount of sauce. All was good.
But, once I’d prepared the Cheese Sauce, I realized that 1 1/2 cups of diced potatoes didn’t seem like very many potatoes given the amount of sauce that I had, so I decided to peel, dice, and cook an additional potato. This gave me about another cup of diced potatoes, so I now had a total of 2 1/2 cups. (If I’d used whole-kernel corn, perhaps the amount of sauce would not have seemed to excessive – not sure.)
When I assembled the ingredients, I just stirred the corn and cooked, diced potatoes into the Cheese Sauce rather than layering; and, then poured into the casserole dish to finish cooking.
Whew, this recipe required lots of interpretation. Sometimes the recipes that look the simplest end up being the trickiest. This recipe required lots of little adjustments, but the final dish turned out well.
I combined the two old recipes into one. Here is the updated recipe for modern cooks:
1 – 1 1/2 cups canned corn (I used a small – 8.25 ounce can – of cream-style corn, which is a little over 1 cup of corn.)
Preheat oven to 400° F. In a saucepan , melt butter using medium heat; then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Gradually, add the milk while stirring constantly. Add cheese, and continue stirring until the cheese melts and the sauce thickens. Add corn and potatoes, and reheat until hot. Pour into a casserole dish and put in oven; bake for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and the sauce bubbly.
When browsing through hundred-year magazines, I came across a recipe for Potato O’Brien. Diced potatoes (that are first boiled) and green pepper are immersed in a hot and bubbly mild cheese sauce. The dish is then browned in the oven.
This version of Potato O’Brien is a little different from most modern recipes (which generally call for frying the potatoes), but it’s delicious. It reminds me a little of Scalloped Potatoes, but with cheese and green peppers.
Here’s the original recipe:
This recipe contained several firsts for me. It’s the first hundred-year-old recipe that I’ve ever seen that called for American Cheese. I googled it, and learned from Wikipedia that:
After the official invention of processed cheese in 1911, and its subsequent popularization by James L. Kraft in the late-1910s and the 1920s, the term “American cheese” rapidly began to refer to this variety, instead of the traditional but more expensive cheddars also made and sold in the US.
Apparently by 1918, American cheese was commonly enough available that it was included in recipes published in magazines.
It’s also the first hundred-year-old recipe that I’ve ever seen that called for skim milk. I’m not clear to me why skim milk is preferred in this dish, so when I updated the recipe I just listed milk as an ingredient.
Peel and dice the potatoes into 1/2 inch pieces. Put diced potatoes in a saucepan and cover with water. Put on high heat and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes).
In the meantime, in a skillet, melt butter using low heat. Add the green pepper; saute until tender, and then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add cheese, and stir until the cheese is melted. Gently stir in the cooked potatoes. Put into a baking dish and place in the oven. Bake until the top is lightly browned (about 20 – 30 minutes).
One teaspoon of salt seemed like a lot to me, so when I updated the recipe, I used less salt than was called for in the original recipe. I also sauted the green pepper in butter, rather than cooking it separately first.
Sometimes old-time recipes seem decidedly modern . A hundred-year-old recipe for Savory Potatoes is one of those times. This recipe reminded me of roasted potatoes that I sometimes get in restaurants. The Savory Potatoes were coated with a delightful, moist, onion and sage mixture which created an aromatic, savory taste sensation.
I’m not sure whether it’s a plus or a negative, but my kitchen smelled like Thanksgiving when I made this recipe. The roasting potatoes smelled very similar to a roasting turkey stuffed with a traditional sage and onion dressing – though (thankfully) the actual dish did not remind me in the least of Thanksgiving.
Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe:
I assume that the 1550 calories listed in the recipe refers to the total number of calories for this dish. There’s no way that a single serving could have that many calories.
And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks. (When I made this recipe I halved it.)
1 1/2 pounds small or medium potatoes (if small, halve the potatoes; if medium, cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons powdered sage
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 400° F. Put the water, olive oil, sage, salt and paper in a mixing bow; stir to combine. Add the chopped onions, and stir. Then add the potatoes and gently toss until coated. Arrange the potatoes in a single layer in a glass baking dish. Put into oven. After 25 minutes, gently stir the potatoes, then return to over. Continue baking until the potatoes are tender (approximately an additional 20-30 minutes).
In 1917, food prices were rising rapidly in the U.S. because of World War I and the demand for food in Europe. Magazines were filled with articles about how to cope with the high food prices. One article encouraged readers to substitute rice for potatoes. Here’s a few excerpts:
Who Cares for Potatoes?
When there are cheaper foods that can take the place of Irish potatoes, why do we worry over their increasing cost? Besides, mankind has not always had potatoes to eat. The potato became widely popular only about one hundred years ago. It was the middle of the sixteenth century that the Spaniards found the potato in Peru and took it back to the Continent where it was cultivated as a curiosity.
In our own country we know the potato was cultivated in the temperate sections, for we have record of Sir Walter Raleigh’s taking it in 1585 from North Carolina to Ireland, to be cultivated on his estate near Cork. Its cultivation first became general in Ireland (whence its name) and not until a little more than a century ago did it come into widespread popular usage.
Certainly we are not wholly dependent upon the potato for a well-balanced dietary since our ancestors thrived without it. To be sure, the potato has justly soared its popularity because of its cheapness, its food-value, its palatability, the convenience with which it can be shipped and stored, and the ease with which it can be prepared in a surprisingly large variety of attractive ways.
It is true that men and women are largely creatures of habit, but the time has come when the women, as controllers of at least seventy-five percent of the incomes of the men of the nation, must look to our habits to see whether they are expensive and whether they need to be altered.
Starch is not the only necessary constituent of a substitute for potatoes. The potato is rich in vitamins. This property, however, is possessed by most fruits and vegetables, and by milk.
Rice would more than fit the bill, as it contains nearly three times as much energy-building material as the potato. If we substitute it for potatoes, me must have at the same meal vegetables or fruits that will supply the needed potassium and bulk. Such vegetables and fruits are: Cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, cucumbers, beets, lettuce, celery, string beans, parsnips, rhubarb, rutabagas, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, bananas, apricots, lemons, oranges, peaches pineapple, strawberries.
In purchasing rice we have a chance to economize by buying the broken kernels, which sell for several cents a pound cheaper than the whole grain, and have exactly the same food value.
Not that we wish to taboo potatoes–far be it from that–but since their price is relatively high we can save money by using potato-less menus.
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.
16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today:
Wednesday, March 13, 1912: Nothing of much account did I do today.
Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:
Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to give you another old recipe. This one is for Potato Cakes, and it’s a great way to use left-over mashed potatoes.
When I was a child we frequently ate Potato Cakes. My memory is that they were a very traditional Pennsylvania food—and I can picture Grandma eating them when she was a teen.
I hadn’t made Potato Cakes in years until I decided to make them for this post. I don’t have a written recipe—but this is how I made them.
Old-Fashioned Potato Cakes
left-over mashed potatoes
shortening or lard
After the meal where the mashed potatoes were served, take the left-over potatoes, shape into flat patties and press firmly. Put on a plate, cover and refrigerate. Will keep for several days.
When ready to make the Potato Cakes, melt enough shortening in a heavy frying pan to cover the pan to a depth of about 1/8 inch. Slip the patties into the hot shortening. Fry until golden brown; flip and fry on the other side. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
The amounts are very flexible. When I made the mashed potatoes, I made more than I typically would—and then I just used all of the left-over potatoes to make the potato cakes.
The Potato Cakes turned out great. My husband and I enjoyed eating them, and I’m planning to make them again in the near future.