Old-fashioned Boiled Cider Pie is a delightful Fall treat. This pie has a smooth and delicate filling with a mild apple flavor and (even though it contains no milk) a lovely custard-like texture.
This recipe is from a 1905 cookbook published by a church in Berwick, Pennsylvania. I found the cookbook last summer when I was visiting the area in Central Pennsylvania where I had lived as a child. My husband and I were to meet someone for lunch – but we finished a visit with another friend earlier than anticipated. So when we saw that a tiny country church was holding a rummage sale, we decided to stop in to fill the time.
There was a sign which said, “Donate whatever you think the items you select are worth.” I was immediately drawn to the book table. There were lots of colorful cookbooks from the 1960s and 70s on the tabke. But then I noticed an a small dog-eared cookbook with pages browned by age. I gently flipped through the book. Several pages were missing. But I could tell that it was old, really old; and that it was a church cookbook compiled by women in the nearby by town of Berwick. My heart beat a little faster. I really wanted this book.
But there was no price. I was to donate whatever I thought it was worth. I dug into my wallet, and pulled out a $1 bill, a $5 bill, and a couple 20’s.
I picked up the 1905 Berwick cookbook, and another small pamphlet from the 1930s that contained recipes. I handed the church member serving as cashier $6 for the two items. She said, “Some of the other cookbooks are nicer, are you sure you want these?”
I said, “I like old cookbooks” and walked out to the car. The woman obviously felt like I paid more than enough for the items I bought. Yet I’ve felt a little guilty ever since. To me, the hundred-year-old cookbook was a find worth much more than what I paid. Should I have made a larger donation?
2 8-inch (small) pie shells or 1 9-inch deep-dish pie shell
Put the cider in a saucepan, and bring to a boil using medium heat. Reduce heat and boil gently until it is reduced to approximately 1/2 cup (about 45 minutes). Stir frequently. Remove from heat. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put egg in mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add sugar and flour; stir until combined. Then stir in the water and boiled cider. Put in pic shell and place in oven. Bake until the top is lightly browned, and the filling does not move in waves. (This pie takes a long time to bake. Start checking it after 45 minutes, but don’t be surprised it it takes more than 1 1/2 hours for the filling to thicken.) Remove from oven. Cool pie before serving.
6 apples (Use an apple variety that keeps its shape when cooked – Rome, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, Braeburn, etc.)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg. beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350° F. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar. Set aside.
Core apples, and place in a baking dish. (The baking dish will be easier to clean if it is lined with foil.) Spoon sugar and cinnamon mixture into the center of the apples. (Depending upon the size of the apples, there may be some left-over cinnamon and sugar.) Drizzle a small amount of water over each apple. Place in oven and bake until tender (about 35 – 45 minutes).
In the meantime, make the sauce by putting the sugar and corn starch in a saucepan; stir to combine. Slowly stir in the milk, then put on the stove and bring to a boil using medium heat. Remove from heat and place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of hot mixture into dish with the beaten egg, stir quickly. Add the egg mixture to the hot liquid in the saucepan and return to heat. Cook for 1 minute while constantly stirring. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
To serve, spoon sauce over the baked apples. Serve warm.
Sweet potatoes are the perfect Fall vegetable – they’re both delicious and nutritious. They are a rich source of vitamins A and C, and contain substantial amounts of calcium and potassium. So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Stuffed Sweet Potatoes, I had to give it a try.
The recipe was a winner. It was easy-to-make, visually appealing, and most important, tasty. Here’s the original recipe:
And, here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks (I halved the original recipe.):
Preheat oven to 400° F. Prick each sweet potato several times with the tines of a fork. Place of a foil-lined baking sheet and bake until tender (about 45 minutes – 1 hour, depending upon size). Take out of oven, and cut each sweet potato in half. Gently scoop out pulp, and put into a bowl. Mash; then add butter, salt, pepper, and parsley. Mix thoroughly, then refill the skins. (The mixture should be heaped and nicely rounded–which means that not all the potato skins will be needed. ) Brush with beaten egg white. Put under the broiler until the top is lightly browned.
I used less salt than called for in the original recipe because it seemed excessive for my taste.
Food for week-end breakfasts and brunches should be special – yet I also want convenience. I found a hundred-year-old recipe that fits the bill.
Spanish Scrambled eggs are colorful, tasty, and easy to make. These savory scrambled eggs have flecks of green pepper, pimento, and onion that delight both the eye and the taste buds. This recipe is a keeper.
Whisk the eggs together in a bowl, then stir in the milk, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
In the meantime, melt the butter in a skillet, add the onion and green pepper and saute until tender. Add the egg mixture and the pimento. As the mixture begins to thicken, use a spatula to lift and fold the curds. Continue cooking and folding until no liquid remains. Remove from heat. If desired, may be served with toast.
Cook’s note: The old recipe called for 1 teaspoon salt. This seemed excessive to me, so I reduced it to 1/2 teaspoon when I updated the recipe.
Sometimes simple foods are the best. Toast toppers are a favorite of mine for lunch or a light dinner, so when I saw a recipe for Onion Toast in a hundred-year-old magazine, I had to give it a try.
Mild, sweet onion slices embedded in a rich, creamy sauce are served over a classic French toast. The bread was soaked in beaten eggs, and then grilled to create a delightful French toast that added an unexpected, but delightful, dimension to this dish.
In days gone by, this simple dish was probably seen as a way to stretch budgets when money was tight – but I would put this dish in the category of gourmet comfort food. This recipe is a keeper, and will become part of my repertoire of recipes that I regularly make.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made this recipe I wasn’t exactly sure what a Bermuda onion was, so I googled it and determined that it was a large, mild onion. But I was surprised to discover that in the late 1800s and early 1900s that large quantities of onions actually were imported into the U.S. from Bermuda. According to the Bermuda 4U website, after Mark Twain visited Bermuda, he wrote about its wonderful onions in Rambling Notes of an Idle Excursion:
The onion is the pride and joy of Bermuda. It is her jewel, her gem of gems. In her conversation, her pulpit, her literature, it is her most frequent and eloquent figure. In Bermuda metaphor it stands for perfection — perfection absolute.
Onion Sauce: Melt butter in a skillet using medium-low heat, then add the onion slices and saute until the onions become soft and translucent. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly add the milk while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve over the French Toast.
French Toast: Beat eggs with a fork, then stir in salt and a dash of pepper. Dip the bread slices in the egg mixture then place on a hot griddle that has been generously greased with butter. Using medium heat, grill until the bottom side of the bread is browned, then flip and cook the other side.
Cook’s notes: The original recipe called for 6 slices of bread, but I used 4 slices. I only had enough of the beaten eggs to coat 4 slices – and the amount of onion sauce seemed about right for 4 slices. I also did not scald the milk prior to stirring it into the onion mixture.
The apples on my tree are ripe. It’s time to dig out the apple recipes, which for me means searching for apple recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks. I found a recipe with an unusual name, Apple John. Intrigued, I decided to give it a try.
I think I found a winner. The Apple John is kind of like an upside-down cobbler made with shortcake dough. It was tasty, attractive, and easy to make.
To make stewed apples, place the sliced apples in a large saucepan, then add sugar, cinnamon, and water. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat. Continue to simmer gently until the apples are soft (approximately 10-15 minutes). If needed, add additional water. Remove from heat and put the stewed apples in a 9″ X 9″ X 3″ or similar-sized greased baking dish or pan.
In the meantime, preheat oven to 425° F. Put flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a mixing bowl; stir to combine. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture Add milk and stir just enough to combine using a fork.
Drop spoonfuls of the shortcake dough on top of the stewed apples to cover them. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until the top is lightly browned. Remove from oven and invert on serving plate.
It’s always fun to find a “new” way of serving a classic in a hundred-year-old cookbook. I recently was browsing through an old cookbook and found a recipe for Green Peppers Stuffed with Fish. Of course, I had to give it a try.
The Green Peppers Stuffed with Fish were delightful. The tender and flavorful peppers balanced nicely with the mild, delicate taste of the fish. (I used flounder.)
3-4 medium peppers (The number of peppers needed will vary depending upon size. Green peppers must have been very small a hundred years ago. The amount of stuffing would not come even close to stuffing 8 modern “good-sized” peppers.)
2 cups cooked halibut or other white fish, flaked (I bought 1 pound of frozen flounder, baked it, and then flaked it. It made approximately 2 cups.)
1 1/2 tablespoons butter + approximately 1 teaspoon butter for bread crumb topping
1 tablespoon flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup milk
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut thin slice from stem end of each pepper. Remove all seeds and membranes. Wash inside and out. Put peppers in a large sauce pan; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook peppers for 5 minutes; drain.
In meantime, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan. Stir flour, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce into melted butter. Slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly. Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot white sauce mixture into dish with beaten egg, stir quickly. Then add egg mixture to the remaining white sauce, and cook for two minutes using medium heat. Stir in the flaked fish and continue cooking until the mixture is hot.
Lightly stuff each pepper with the fish mixture. Stand peppers upright in ungreased baking dish. Top the fish mixture with bread crumbs and small dabs of butter. Cook until the bread crumbs are lightly browned and the stuffing is very hot (20-30 minutes).