Old-fashioned Fig Meringue Pie

A hundred years ago, fresh fruit was scarce during the long winter months, so pies were often made using dried fruit.  I found a wonderful recipe for a Fig Meringue Pie in a 1919 cookbook. The delectable fig filling is topped with a creamy meringue.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

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

Fig Meringue Pie

  • Servings: 5-6
  • Difficulty: moderate
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12 ounces dried figs

1 1/2 cups water

2 eggs separated

2 tablespoons sugar + 4 tablespoons sugar + a small amount of additional sugar

dash salt

1 8-inch (small) baked pie crust

Remove stems from figs, then chop. (There should be approximately 2 1/2 cups of chopped figs.) Put chopped figs in a saucepan, add water. Bring to a boil using high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 325° F. Place egg yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and salt in a bowl; beat together. Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of hot fig mixture into bowl with beaten egg mixture, stir quickly to prevent eggs from coagulating. Then put this mixture in the saucepan with the cooked figs while stirring. Return to heat (medium), and cook until the mixture thickens while stirring continuously.  Pour into a pie shell which had been previously baked.

In a separate bowl make the meringue. Place egg whites in the bowl, and beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Gradually add 4 tablespoons sugar while continuing to beat. Then spoon on top of the pie and swirl; sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20 minutes or until the meringue is lightly browned.

Old-Fashioned Pastry Hearts

heart-shaped pastries

Are you looking for a tasty, fun-to-make Valentine’s Day treat? Well, I may have found the perfect recipe for you. Pastry Hearts are made by spreading jelly on pastry dough, rolling into a log, slicing, and then shaping into hearts. The process of squeezing and pressing the dough to create the hearts was fun and felt a bit like playing with play dough.

Here’s the original recipe:

recipe for Pastry Hearts
Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Pastry Hearts

  • Servings: approximately 12 hearts
  • Difficulty: moderate
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pie pastry for a 1-shell pie (or use scraps of pastry dough left-over after making a pie crust)

1 egg white

red-colored jelly – red raspberry, cherry, etc. (I used red current jelly, but if I made this recipe again, I’d select a redder jelly.)

sugar

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pie pastry into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick. Thinly spread with jelly. Starting at the narrow end, firmly roll into a log-shape. Cut into 1/4 inch slices.

Place slices on a greased cookie sheet. Shape into hearts by pulling into a point at one end, and pressing in at the other end. Use a paper towel to dab away any excess jelly. Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for approximately 10 -15 minutes (or until lightly browned).

Old-fashioned Curried Chicken

I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Curried Chicken. The recipe turned out wonderfully. The crispy chicken is served with rice and a delightful mild curry sauce that has just a hint of sweetness. This recipe is a keeper, and I’m sure that I’ll make it again.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Recipes for Everyday by Janet McKenzie Hill (1919)

This recipe is from a  1919 cookbook titled Recipes for Everyday that was published by Proctor and Gamble. Many of the recipes, including this recipe, call for Crisco shortening which was produced by Proctor and Gamble. At the time, it was considered a new and modern fat. Crisco was first sold in 1911. It was the first shortening made completely from vegetable oil, and was originally made from cottonseed oil. According to the  cookbook’s author:

The careful housewife fully understands that her success in cooking absolutely depends upon the quality of the ingredients she chooses. A variable cooking fat like lard, often having unpleasant odor and flavor, cannot give the pleasing, appetizing results insured by a clean, pure, tasteless , odorless, uniform fat like Crisco.

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Curried Chicken

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 chicken, cut into pieces

cold water

1/2 cup flour + 3 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup shortening (Lard could be substituted for the shortening.)

1/2 teaspoon salt + 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 large onion, sliced

1 tablespoon curry powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1 cup milk

1/2 cup light cream

2 tablespoons currant jelly

1 teaspoon lemon juice

cooked rice

Dip chicken pieces in water, then roll in 1/2 cup of flour to coat. Heat shortening in a frying pan using medium heat. Stir 1/2 teaspoon salt to the melted shortening. Place the coated chicken pieces in frying pan and cook until lightly browned. Turn the chicken to brown all sides.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with foil, then put the pieces of browned chicken on baking sheet and place in oven. Bake until the chicken is completely cooked.

After the chicken is removed from the frying pan, strain the shortening. Return 3 tablespoons of shortening to the frying pan; then reheat using medium heat. (The remainder of the shortening can be discarded or used for another purpose.)  Add sliced onions and stir occasionally; cook until lightly browned. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour, curry powder, paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Continue stirring until hot and bubbly, then gradually add milk and cream while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil. Add currant jelly and lemon juice; stir until the jelly is dissolved. Removed from heat and strain. Serve the sauce with the chicken pieces and rice.

Hundred-Year-Old Pot Roast with Potatoes, Onions and Carrots Recipe

On these cold January days, Pot Roast with Potatoes, Onions, and Carrots is the classic comfort food. I used a hundred-year-old recipe to make this dish, and it was just as tasty now as it was a century ago.

Here’s the original recipe:

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

When, I made this dish, I used a chuck roast instead of soup or stewing meat. Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Pot Roast with Potatoes, Onions, and Carrots

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 pound chuck roast

water

4 cups small potatoes

2 cups carrots, cut into bit-sized chunks

1 cup onions, sliced

2 teaspoons salt

1/8 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons flour

sprigs of parsley or celery leaves (I used celery leaves.)

Put the chuck roast in a dutch oven with 1 cup water; using high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Turn several times while cooking; add additional water as needed.  Add potatoes, onions, carrots, salt, paprika, and 2 cups water. Cook for an additional 40 minutes. Put meat on a serving platter, then put the potatoes on one side of the meat and the carrots on the other. Put onions in a small bowl, and serve on the side.

Put the flour in a small bowl. While stirring constantly, slowly add 1/4 cup of water to make a smooth paste.

Bring the meat broth back to a boil, then stir in the flour slurry. Stir constantly until the mixture has thickened. Remove from heat. The gravy may be poured over the meat and vegetables, or served on the side. Garnish with sprigs of parsley or celery leaves.

Old-Fashioned Mashed Turnip Recipe

 

Hundred-year-old Christmas menus sometimes included Mashed Turnips as a vegetable side dish, so I was pleased to find a 1918 recipe for Mashed Turnips. This rustic side dish has a delightful earthly, sweet, yet slightly bitter, flavor.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1918)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Mashed Turnip

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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6 medium turnips

water

1 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons butter

Wash and peel turnips; cut into slices or quarters. Put in a saucepan and cover with water; add salt.  Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer until turnips are tender (approximately 35 – 45 minutes).  Remove from heat and drain. Mash the cooked turnips, then stir in pepper and butter. Serve immediately.

Old-Fashioned Sand Tarts

Are there some types of cookies that immediately bring back warm, fuzzy memories of childhood. Well, for me, Sand Tarts are that cookie. This thin, crispy cookie is my all-time favorite.  My mother never made them (I’m not sure why.), so I was always thrilled when they were on a cookie tray at church or a friend’s house.

I recently found an awesome hundred-year-old Sand Tart recipe that makes cookies just like I remembered.  The cookies are sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar (“sand”), and taste almost like a thin Snickerdoodle. (Does anyone eat Snickerdoodles any more?)

Here is the original recipe:

Source: American Cookery (December, 1917)

This recipe originally appeared the American Cookery magazine during World War I. There were sugar shortages during the war. Even though the magazine chose to publish the recipe, the editors encouraged cooks not to make Sand Tarts because they “call for more sugar than ordinary cookies.”

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Sand Tarts

  • Servings: approximately 75 cookies
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup sugar + 2 cups sugar

1 cup shortening

1 extra-large egg + 1 egg yolk (or 2 large eggs + 1 egg yolk)

3 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg white

1/2 cup sugar

whole almonds or raisins (I used almonds.)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Put cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl; stir to combine, then set aside.

Cream the shortening; beat in the 2 cups of sugar, and the whole egg and yolk. Then stir in the flour and salt. The dough will be crumbly, but will cling together when pressed together. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, and knead until smooth. Roll out dough out until it is very thin (1/8 inch thick). Cut into rounds or, if desired, other shapes; and place on a greased cookie sheet. Brush cookies with the egg-white, then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Set an almond or raisin in the center of each cookie. Cut into desired shapes. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake 8-12  minutes or until lightly browned.

Popped Corn Macaroons

The recipes in specialty cookbooks focused on specific ingredients are often hit or miss. The authors sometimes get so focused on using certain ingredients that taste is lost. So I had a bit of trepidation when I recently came across a cookbook published in 1918 called The Corn Cook Book: War Edition by Elizabeth O. Hiller. This cookbook was written during World War I when wheat flour was in short supply, so Ms. Hiller sought to help cooks, “save the wheat” by using corn.

I was drawn to a recipe for Popped Corn Macaroons. I was intrigued by idea of using pop corn to make macaroons, and I liked that it was a gluten-free recipe.

The verdict: Popped Corn Macaroons are light and delightful. They have a nice balance of sweetness and saltiness that works well with the popped corn.  And, Popped Corn Macaroons are very attractive with each topped with a piece of candied cherry. This recipe is a keeper, and I’ll definitely make it again.

Here is the original recipe:

Source: The Popped Corn Cookbook (1918)

And, here is the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Popped Corn Macaroons

  • Servings: approximately 15 macaroons
  • Difficulty: medium
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3/4 cup unsalted popped corn, chopped

3/4 teaspoon butter, melted

1 egg white

5 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1/4  teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

about 2 tablespoons almonds, chopped

4-6 candied cherries, each cut into several pieces

Stir melted butter into the chopped popped corn, set aside.

Preheat oven to 325° F. In a medium mixing bowl, beat egg white until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat. Stir in the vanilla and salt, followed by the popped corn.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (It is important to use parchment paper. I had problems with the macaroons sticking to the baking sheet when I did not use it, so remade the recipe using parchment paper and it worked much better.) Drop heaping teaspoons of the mixture on the baking sheet. Space 1 1/2 inches apart. Then shape into a circle and flatten with the back of a spoon or a knife. (Spoon or knife can be dipped in cold water before shaping and flattening, if there are problems with the dough sticking.) Sprinkle with chopped almonds, and then press a piece of candied cherry in the center. Bake approximately 25 minutes or until the macaroons are lightly browned.