One-hundred-year-old Strawberry Soft Custard Recipe

Strawberry Custard 2

Fresh, juicy strawberries at the peak of the season are best served in simple desserts that celebrate their natural sweetness and nuanced tart undertones. If you are looking for the perfect summer dessert try Strawberry Custard. This classic soft custard has the consistency of a rich cream, and is heavenly when spooned over luscious sliced strawberries.

Here’s the original recipe, in a hundred-year-old cookbook:

Strawberry Custard Recipe
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

I found this recipe to be more challenging  than I anticipated. The first time I made it, I ended up with a curdled mess.  After doing a little research I realized that I’d overcooked the custard. I think that I was picturing that the custard would get firm, like modern puddings – but this custard is quite soft and really a sauce (which probably should have been obvious from the name of the custard recipe, Soft Custard — but, somehow that slipped by me the first time around).

The second batch, I watched like a hawk when I cooked it, and removed the custard from the heat the instant the hot liquid coated the spoon that I was using to stir it. This time the custard turned out perfectly.

Here is the recipe updated for modern cooks.

Strawberry Soft Custard

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Time: 20 minutes active prep time
  • Difficulty: difficult
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2 cups milk

4 egg yolks

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

sliced strawberries

Put the milk in a sauce pan (use a double boiler, if available), and using medium heat,  scald the milk. This is done by stirring the milk continuously until steam begins to rise from the milk and small bubbles form along the sides of the pan. (Do not allow the milk to boil). Remove from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, and salt; beat until the mixture is smooth and lemon-colored. While continuing to beat, slowly pour the scalded milk into the mixture.  (It is important not to add too much milk at a time since the hot milk could cook the eggs into scrambled egg clumps.)

Return the mixture to the sauce pan that was used for scalding the milk. Using medium heat, heat the mixture while stirring constantly. As soon as the mixture coats the spoon, remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Put the hot custard into a bowl and refrigerate until cold.

To serve, put sliced strawberries in a serving bowl or dessert dish; spoon the desired amount of custard over the strawberries and serve.

The original recipe calls for using only 1 cup of strawberries. For modern tastes, this recipe needs to be adjusted so that each serving lots of strawberries, so I didn’t specify the amount of strawberries.

Creamed Macaroni and Dried Beef

Creamed Macaroni & Dried Beef 3

When browsing through hundred-year-old magazines, I came across a recipe for Creamed Macaroni and Dried Beef. This dish has a creamy, rich, white sauce that works perfectly with the macaroni and dried beef to create a comfort food that simultaneously seems both new and old-fashioned.

Most varieties of dried beef that are available today are technically chipped beef. I always think of dried beef as a food that the military ate during World War II, but drying meat is historically a good way to preserve it and there are some really good hundred-year-old dried beef recipes.

Here’s the Creamed Macaroni and Dried Beef recipe updated for modern cooks:

Creamed Macaroni and Dried Beef

  • Servings: 5 - 6
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup macaroni

2 – 4 ounces dried beef

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups milk

Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of boiling water until al dente (6 – 8 minutes).  Remove from heat and drain.

In the meantime, rinse dried beef to reduce the salt content, then drain well. Dice into 1/2 inch pieces.

Melt butter in frying pan; then add the diced dried beef and “frizzle” it until the diced beef curls and browns slightly. Stir flour into the dried beef and butter mixture. Slowly pour in milk, and bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly.  Stir in the macaroni and cook for 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and excess liquid is absorbed, while stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

Here’s the original recipe:

Creamed Macaroni & Dried Beef
Source: American Cookery (Boston Cooking School Magazine) (March, 1916)

I did not use salt in the water that I used to cook the macaroni, nor did I add additional salt to the macaroni and dried beef mixture. The dried beef that I used was quite salty–even after I rinsed it, so additional salt was not needed.

Rhubarb and Pineapple Conserve

Rhubarb and pineapple conserve

It never seems quite like spring until I make a few rhubarb recipes, so when I saw a recipe for Rhubarb Conserve in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, I just had to give it a try. In addition to the rhubarb the recipe called for a pineapple (as well as for the juice and grated peel of an orange).

Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)
Source: Good Housekeeping (May, 1916)

The recipe turned out wonderfully, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. The conserve tastes more like a pineapple conserve than a rhubarb one with lovely sunny notes of pineapple that are slightly muted by the tartness of the rhubarb.

And, it wasn’t a bright red color like I anticipated. Instead the conserve is a blend of delightful shades of yellow, green, and brown. The rhubarb I used had a little red in the stalks–but much of the length was green. This may have affected the color. I also did a little research and discovered that rhubarb jam recipes often call for strawberry gelatin or other added coloring agents so I now think that the conserve color is exactly right given the ingredients I used.

Conserves are typically served with meat, and this conserve is lovely with pork or poultry, but I also enjoy using it as a marmalade on toast and English muffins.

Rhubarb Conserve meat

When I worked on this post, I pondered whether I should use the old name or whether that was misleading. In the end, I decided to add “pineapple” to the recipe title, but to keep the keep the word conserve.

The bottom line: Whatever this recipe is called, it is delightful and something that I would make again.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-fashioned Rhubarb and Pineapple Conserve

  • Servings: 5 one-half pint jelly jars
  • Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 pineapple (approximately 4 cups shredded pineapple)

4 cups rhubarb, chopped

juice of 1 orange

grated rind of 1 orange

2 1/3 cups sugar

Core pineapple and remove flesh from skin, then shred into small pieces. Place in a large sauce pan.  Add rhubarb, orange juice, grated orange peel, and sugar. Let sit for 1/2 hour to allow the juice to start flowing; then using medium high heat, bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and boil gently for 30-40 minutes or until the mixture is the consistency of jam. Stir frequently — especially towards the end of the cooking time.

A good way to tell if the mixture is the right consistency is to lay the spoon that is used for stirring on a plate. Allow the liquid clinging to the spoon to cool for a few seconds, and see if it has a jam-like consistency.

Pour mixture into hot one-half pint jars to within 1/4 inch of the top. Wipe jar rim and adjust lids. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes.

Old-Time Endive Salad with Homemade French Dressing

Endive Salad

Endive was a popular early Spring bitter green a hundred years ago. This divine tangy homemade French vinaigrette dressing served on crisp endive greens creates a flavorful, nutrient-rich salad.

Even though I found this recipe in a hundred-year-old cook book, it probably was considered a tad old-fashioned in 1916. Cooks a hundred years ago worried that tossed salad greens looked disorganized, and sought to impose order to salads using  scientific salad making techniques that,  for example, embedded ingredients in gelatin. Thank goodness strange food trends get reoriented over time. In 2016, this old recipe seems amazingly modern–and Endive Salad would be perfect with grilled salmon, chicken, or other dishes.

Here’s the hundred-year-old recipe updated for modern cooks:

Old-Time Endive Salad with Homemade French Dressing

  • Servings: 5 - 6
  • Time: 15 minutes active prep
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 head curly endive

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne red pepper

1/2 teaspoon finely minced onion

6 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Chopped chives (for garnish)

Wash the endive and pat dry with paper towels, then tear the endive into bit-sized pieces and put into a large bowl. Set aside.

To prepare the dressing: In a small bowl, combine the mustard, salt, paprika, red pepper, onion, olive oil, and vinegar.

Pour the dressing over the torn endive and gently toss. Refrigerate for at least one hour, then drain off any excess dressing and place the marinated endive in a serving bowl. Garnish with chopped chives.

Here are the original recipes:

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1912)

Source: Lowney's Cook Book (1912)

French Dressing apparently was very popular a hundred years ago. Lowney’s Cook Book, a cookbook published in in 1912, had three French Dressing Recipes – none of which are anything like the cloying bright orange bottled dressing that’s in all the supermarkets today. I made French Dressing, Number 2. In my opinion, the original recipe was too salty, so when I updated the recipe, I only used half as much salt as was called for in the old recipe.

Hundred-Year-Old Rice Creole Recipe

Creole Rice

Food is expensive. Sometimes I’m shocked by how much I spend when making a recipe, so I was absolutely thrilled to see a page of recipes in the January, 1916 issue of Ladies Home Journal for dishes that could be made for 10 cents.

Source: Ladies Home Journal ,1916

I tried not to get my hopes up too much, but the magazine promised that the recipes were not only inexpensive, but also nutritious and appetizing. I decided to try Rice Creole.

I was not disappointed. The Rice Creole was simple to prepare, and absolutely delicious. This is a lovely rice-pilaf type dish with a mild onion flavor.  And, diced tomatoes with bits of green pepper and parsley interspersed in the rice create a colorful dish that is a perfect accompaniment to fish, meat, or other entrees.

Bottom line – Rice Creole is wonderful with a surprisingly modern look and taste.  I plan to serve it in the very near future when I have friends over – and I fully expect they will to be amazed when I tell them it’s a hundred-year-old dish.

Here’s the recipes updated for modern cooks:

Rice Creole

  • Servings: 6 - 8
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 cup rice

1 tablespoon bacon drippings

1 cup onions, finely diced

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) green pepper, finely diced

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon parsley flakes (or use 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley)

1 1-lb. can diced tomatoes, drained

Cook rice following the directions on the package. In the meantime, melt bacon drippings in a skillet, then add onions and green pepper; sauté until tender. Stir in salt, parsley, and tomatoes, and heat until it begins to simmer. Stir in the cooked rice; heat until hot.

Since Rice Creole is supposed to be an inexpensive recipe, I decided to cost it out:  1 cup rice ($0.50), 1 onion ($0.50), 1/4 green pepper ($0.32), 1 can tomatoes ($1.29), salt/parsley/bacon drippings ($0.05) for a total of $2.66. It’s a little more than the 10 cents of days gone by, but considering that a dollar in 1916 is worth $22 today, it’s still an inexpensive dish.

Here’s the original recipe:

Source: Ladies Home Journal (January, 1916)
Source: Ladies Home Journal (January, 1916)

When I made this dish I used 1 teaspoon of salt (instead of the 2 teaspoons called for in the old recipe), and it turned out perfectly.

The old recipe calls for strained tomatoes. It’s unclear whether this means that the drained tomatoes or the strained liquid should be used in the recipe. I interpreted it to mean that drained tomatoes were combined with the other ingredients.

Hundred-Year-Old Fried Asparagus Recipe

Fried AsparagusI’ve eaten Fried Asparagus several times in the past year as an appetizer. I was surprised when I saw a recipe in a hundred-year-old church cookbook for Fried Asparagus. It apparently has been around for a long time.

The crisp lightly-browned breading on the asparagus creates an enchanting appetizer or side dish.

The original recipe says, “This is nice and easy to prepare.” I concur. This is a fun and easy recipe.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Fried Asparagus

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 pound asparagus

1/2 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup milk

shortening or oil

Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan. Meanwhile wash and trim the asparagus spears,  then blanch them by  adding to the boiling water. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until al dente. Remove the asparagus from the water and immediately put the spears in ice water to stop the cooking.

Prepare a batter by combining the flour, salt, eggs, and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat until combined. Roll the blanched asparagus in the breading batter.

Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying pan. Carefully place the breaded asparagus spears in the pan in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the spears may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of the asparagus is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain the asparagus on paper towels. Serve immediately.

And, here is the original recipe:

Fried Asparagus Recipe 2
Source: Tried and True Cook Book, compiled and published by the Willing Workers of the Minneapolis Incarnation Parish (1910)

The original recipe is lacking in details. It tells the cook to dip the asparagus in batter, but fails to tell them how to prepare the batter. Apparently the recipe author assumed that every cook already knew how to prepare batter. Since I didn’t know how off the top of my head, I decided to adapt an old recipe that I’d previously used to make fritters to make a batter that would work with the asparagus.

German Spinach Recipe

German spinach 2

As the seasons transition from winter to spring, the foods are ever evolving. Spinach, green onions, and eggs are wonderful quintessential Spring foods. I was thrilled to find a recipe for German Spinach in the April, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping that calls for all three. The spinach and green onions, combined with bacon and a lovely chopped egg garnish, creates a stunning seasonal dish.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

German Spinach

  • Servings: 4-5
  • Time: 25 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 quarts baby spinach (1 10-ounce package)

2 bunches (approximately 20) green onions (scallions)

4 slices bacon, chopped

1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon fine breadcrumbs

dash of nutmeg

1 hard-boiled egg, chopped

Wash spinach, then put into a large saucepan with just the water that is clinging to the leaves. Using medium heat, cook spinach until wilted while stirring occasionally.

In the meantime, chop the white and green parts of the green onions.  Put the bacon in a skillet and using medium heat, cook the bacon for several minutes. Add green onions, and continue frying until the green onions are wilted. Stir in the flour, bread crumbs, and nutmeg; then add the cooked spinach.

Put into serving dish and garnish with the egg. If desired, sprinkle a little nutmeg on top.

Here’s the original recipe:

German Spinach GH 4 1916
Good Housekeeping (April, 1916)

The old recipe called for adding water to the spinach and bacon mixture, then cooking until the water is “boiled up.” When I made this recipoe, I didn’t add any additional water since it didn’t seem needed. Without the added water, the dish was ready to put in a serving bowl as soon as the bacon mixture and the spinach were combined.