Potato Tarts a la Gratin

Potato Tarts a la Gratin on plate

Au Gratin potatoes are a nice comfort food, but they can get boring, so I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Potato Tarts a la Gratin.  A muffin tin is lined with pastry dough, then filled with diced au gratin potatoes. The resulting tarts were tasty, visually appealing, and a nice change of pace. They reminded me a bit of the savory hors d’oeuvres served by hotels at events – though they were tastier than many of those hors d’oeuvres.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Potato Tarts a la Gratin
Source: American Cookery (November, 1921)

I substituted butter for the lard when I made this recipe. Rather than using left-over cold potatoes, I made boiled diced potatoes which I immediately used in the recipe.

When I made the sauce, it seemed rather thin for a tart filling, so I coarsely mashed a few of the diced potatoes and stirred them into the sauce to make it thicker before adding the remainder of the diced potatoes. This worked well.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Potato Tarts a la Gratin

  • Servings: approximately `10 - 12 tarts
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 – 4  medium potatoes, diced into 3/4 inch pieces (about 2 cups diced potatoes)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1/2 cup shredded cheese + additional cheese to sprinkle on the top (I used cheddar cheese.)

pastry dough (enough for 1 2-crust pie, or use approximately 4 pre-rolled sheets)

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pastry dough and cut into circles. Line the space for each muffin in a muffin pan with the circles of pastry dough. Fit each circle, trim, and flute edges.

Put the diced potatoes in a sauce pan and cover with water. Put on the stove and bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes). Drain potatoes. Remove about 1/3 cup of the potatoes from the sauce pan; put in a bowl and coarsely mash using a fork. Set aside both the mashed and diced potatoes

Melt the butter in another sauce pan, then stir the flour and salt into the butter. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in the milk and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir in the mashed potatoes and 1/2 cup shredded cheese, continue heating until the cheese melts. Add the diced potatoes. Stir to combine.

Spoon into the pastry shells, and sprinkle additional shredded cheese on top. Bake until hot and bubbly, and the top begins to brown (about 30 minutes).

Old-fashioned Minced Potatoes

 

minced potatoes on plateOccasionally I make a hundred-year-old recipe that is lovely – but that seems to be misnamed. This is one of those times. The name of the recipe is Minced Potatoes – yet recipe directions call for either cutting the potatoes into 3/4th inch chunks or slicing them — I sliced them — which resulted in pieces which seemed much larger than what I’d expect for Minced Potatoes.

To make this recipe, potatoes are first boiled, the cut into pieces and put into the oven to brown. Then they are stirred and 1/2 cup of cream is poured over them. They are then returned to the oven to brown a second time. Most of the cream evaporated, but a delicate creaminess remained.

Minced Potatoes reminded me a bit of Scalloped Potatoes – but they were not nearly as creamy. But I’m saying this in a good way. The Minced Potatoes made a tasty side dish.

Recipe for Minced Potatoes
Source: The New Cookery (1921) by Lenna Frances Cooper

The recipe does not say when to add to the salt. It is not clear whether it should be added to the water that is used to boil the potatoes, or to the cream that is poured over the potatoes. I decided to add the salt to the cream – though I only used 1/2 teaspoon of salt instead of the teaspoon called for in the old recipe. A teaspoon seemed like too much. (If I’d instead added the salt to the water used to boil the potatoes, 1 teaspoon would have been an appropriate amount of salt to add.)

The recipe called for “cream.” I was uncertain whether this meant heavy cream or a lighter cream. I decided to use half and half rather than heavy cream.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Minced Potatoes

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 medium potatoes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup half and half

Peel potatoes and put in a saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce heat and cook until the potatoes are tender (25-30 minutes). Remove from heat, drain, and put the potatoes in the refrigerator to cool.

Pre-heat oven to 400° F. Cut the cold boiled potatoes into 3/4th inch cubes or slice the potatoes. (I sliced them.). Put the potatoes in a 1-quart buttered baking dish. Place in oven.

Put the cream and salt in a small bowl. Stir to combine. Set aside.

When the potatoes begin to brown, gently stir the potatoes to turn them. Pour the cream mixture over the potatoes. Return to the oven and allow to lightly brown a second time. Remove from oven and gently stir, then serve. (If desired, put the potatoes in a serving bowl. After I stirred the potatoes, they didn’t look particularly attractive in the casserole dish that I cooked them in – but they looked very nice in a serving dish.)

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Lyonnaise Potatoes

Lyonnaise Potatoes in BowlI 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:

Recipe for Lyonnaise Potatoes
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (Revised Edition, 1921)

Some Lyonnaise Potato recipes call for browning the potatoes, but since this one didn’t; I didn’t brown the potatoes.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Lyonnaise Potatoes

  • Servings: 2 - 3
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 cups boiled potatoes, diced into 1-inch cubes

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon onion, finely chopped

3 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped

salt and pepper

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,

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Cheese, Corn, and Potato Scallop

Casserole Dish with Cheese, Corn, and Potato Scallop

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:

Recipe for Cheese, Corn, and Potato Scallop
Source: Household Arts for Home and School by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr (1920)

The recipe calls for Cheese Sauce. Here is the Cheese Sauce recipe.

Recipe for Cheese Sause
Source: House Arts for Home and School by Anna M. Cooley and Wilhelmina H. Spohr (1920)

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.

Cheese, Corn, and Potato Scallop on Plate

I combined the two old recipes into one. Here is the updated recipe for modern cooks:

Cheese, Corn, and Potato Scallop

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

dash pepper

1 cup milk

1 cup cheese (I used cheddar cheese.)

2 1/2 cups cooked potatoes, diced

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.

http://www.ahundredyearsago.com

Old-fashioned Potato O’Brien

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:

Source: American Cookery (June – July, 1918)

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.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Potato O'Brien

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

4 medium potatoes (about 2 cups, diced)

1 tablespoon butter

1 green pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1/2 cup milk

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup American cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 425° F.

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.

Old-Fashioned Savory Potatoes

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:

Source: Good Housekeeping (June, 1917)

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.)

Savory Potatoes

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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

dash pepper

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).

When Potatoes Are Expensive, Substitute Rice

potatoes

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.

Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1917)
Source: Good Housekeeping (March, 1917)

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.

Good Housekeeping (March, 1917)