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.

Clover-Leaf Rolls (Sweet Rolls)

Clover-leaf Rolls 6

There’s nothing like fresh-baked rolls to make a meal really special. When I saw a picture of Clover-leaf Rolls in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping, I knew that I had to try making them.

clover leaf rolls 2
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1916)

The picture in the old magazine brought back warm fuzzy memories of making Clover-leaf Rolls with my mother when I was a child. I remembered how much fun it was to roll small balls of bread dough between my fingers and put them into muffin tins — 3 balls in each cup. And, I could remember how much fun they were to eat after they were baked. Clover-leaf Rolls pull apart beautifully and are delectable with a little butter or marmalade.

The recipe did not disappoint. The rolls were easy to make and my kitchen was filled with the lovely aroma of baking bread. And, when I took the rolls out of they oven, they were light and heavenly with a hint of cinnamon.

The original recipe was for Sweet Rolls, and said that it could be formed into a variety of shapes, including Clover-leaf. It called for a compressed yeast cake and 8 cups of flour. I knew I didn’t need that many rolls, so I made 2/3’s of the recipe, and substituted instant yeast for the compressed yeast.

clover leaf rolls 3

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Clover-leaf Rolls

  • Servings: 36 rolls
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: moderate
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1 1/3 cups milk

2 packets instant dry yeast

1 1/3 tablespoons butter, softened

1 1/3 tablespoons shortening or lard

4 tablespoons sugar

3 egg yolks

2/3 teaspoon salt

2/3 teaspoon cinnamon

approximately 5 1/3 cups bread flour

Put milk in saucepan and scald; then cool until lukewarm (110 – 115° F.). Dissolve the yeast in the milk. Then in a large bowl combine the dissolved yeast mixture, butter, shortening, sugar, egg yolks, salt, cinnamon, and 3 cups flour. Add additional flour until the dough is easy to handle.

Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes). Place in a greased bowl, cover and put in a warm spot. Let rise until doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).

Grease muffin pans. Punch down dough, then pinch off pieces of dough and shape into 1-inch balls. Placed 3 balls in each muffin cup, and brush with butter. Let rise until double (about 30 minutes), then place in preheated 375 ° F oven.  Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Clover-leaf rolls 5

Here’s the original recipe:

Sweet rolls recipe 2 1916 Good Housekeeping
Source: Good Housekeeping (February, 1916)

Browned Whole Onions Recipe

Browned Onions

I found a hundred-year-old recipe for Browned Whole Onions that is lovely with a hearty pot roast, game, or other flavorful meat. The onions’ robust flavor nicely complements the meat.

These onions are firmer than the sliced browned onions that are often served today–and they are not at all like the breaded onion “flowers” that restaurants sometimes serve. Instead they have a delicate outer browned layer, and firmer but delicious inner layers.

Here’s my modern adaptation of the old recipe:

Browned Whole Onions

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: moderate
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8 medium onions

1 teaspoon salt + 1/8 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons bacon drippings or olive oil

1/2 cup water + 1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 400° F.  Peel onions, place in a large saucepan, cover with water, then add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain onions.

In the meantime combine the flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Dust the onions with the flour mixture.

Place the bacon drippings or olive oil in an oven-proof skillet, then add onions.  Pour 1/2 cup water into the pan along the edge. Place pan in oven and bake for  approximately 25 minutes. Remove from oven, and gently turn and roll the onions in the dripping in the bottom of the pan. If needed, add additional water. Return to oven and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until lightly browned.  (The amount of time is dependent upon onion size. Larger onions may need to be rolled in the drippings a second time and cooked a little longer.) Remove from oven, and place browned onions in serving dish.

Add 1/2 cup water to the drippings in the skillet, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen any flour or cooked pieces of onion. Place on a burner, and bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook a few minutes until the mixture has thickened slightly. Spoon the “gravy” over the onions and serve.

Here is the original hundred-year-old recipe:

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

Old-Time Asparagus Omelet Recipe

asparagus omelet h

I have a short list of brunch dishes that I regularly make. I recently found a recipe in a hundred-year-old issue of Good Housekeeping  for Asparagus Omelet that I’m adding to my repertoire of go-to brunch recipes. It makes a stunning presentation, and has a wonderful texture and taste.

Often omelets are a little heavy, but Asparagus Omelet is not like the typical modern omelet. The recipe calls for beating egg whites into stiff peaks, and then folding the remainder of the ingredients into them.  This omelet incredibly light and airy with embedded pieces of asparagus.

The omelet was so thick that I didn’t even try to fold it over like the typical omelet, and instead just turned the unfolded omelet onto a plate (actually I turned it onto a baking sheet) and cut into wedges.

Asparagus Omelet d

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Asparagus Omelet

  • Servings: 3-5
  • Time: 1/2 hour
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

1 cup milk

6 eggs, separated

3/4 cup cooked  asparagus (1-inch pieces)

cooked asparagus tips for garnishing

Preheat oven to 350° F. Make a white sauce by melting the butter in small saucepan, then stir in the flour, salt, and pepper. Add a small amount of milk and make a paste. Gradually add remaining milk while stirring rapidly and continuing to heat. Continue stirring until thickens. Then remove from heat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.

In another bowl, beat the egg yolks until lemon colored. Stir in the white sauce and asparagus pieces; then fold into the beaten egg whites.

Heat a large oven-proof skillet on the top of the stove using medium-low heat. (If needed to prevent sticking, liberally grease the skillet before heating.) Pour the egg and asparagus mixture into the hot skillet, and gently cook for 1 minute. Move the skillet to the oven, and bake for about 10 minutes or until the egg mixture is set.

Remove from oven, and loosen the edges of the omelet from the skillet with a knife or spatula, then turn onto a plate. Garnish with asparagus tips and cut into wedges.

Asparagus Omelet e

Here’s the original recipe:

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

Parsnip Balls

Parsnip Balls 2

Winter farmers’ markets in the small suburb where I live are always a bit of an adventure, and I’m never quite sure what will be available. I recently was thrilled to find some lovely parsnips, but then I had a challenge: Could I find an interesting hundred-year-old recipe that called for parsnips?

I browsed through a couple 1916 issues of Good Housekeeping magazine and came across an intriguing recipe for Parsnip Balls, and decided to give it a try.

The Parsnip Balls only had a few ingredients and were surprisingly easy to make. They turned out awesomely. The balls were coated with ground walnuts which added a bit of crunch to the earthy, sweetness of the parsnips. This recipe is a keeper.

Here’s the recipe adapted for modern cooks:

Parsnip Balls

  • Servings: 3 - 4
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: medium
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3-4 medium parsnips (1 cup, mashed)

15 saltine crackers (1/2 cup  cracker crumbs)

1 egg yolk

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup ground walnuts

1/2 cup shortening or lard

Peel parsnips and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubed parsnips in a medium saucepan and cover with water. Using high heat bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until parsnips are tender. Drain parsnips, and then mash. In the meantime, crush the saltine crackers to make crumbs.

Combine mashed parsnip, cracker crumbs, egg yolk, and salt in a bowl. Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls; then roll in ground walnuts. Place the shortening into a frying pan, and heat until hot.  Drop balls into the hot shortening, then gently roll the balls with a fork until all sides are a light brown. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels.

And, here is the original recipe:

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

Old-fashioned Butterscotch Pie with Meringue Topping

butterscotch pie 3

People knew how to make lovely pies a hundred years ago. An old-time winter favorite was Butterscotch Pie with Meringue Topping. I found this classic recipe in the February, 1916 issue of Good Housekeeping.

The Butterscotch Pie is irresistible with a smooth, buttery pudding and a light, delightful meringue. Here’s my adaptation of the recipe for modern cooks:

Butterscotch Pie with Meringue Topping

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Time: 35 minutes
  • Difficulty: medium
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1 cup brown sugar

1 cup hot water

2 tablespoons flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoons cold water

3 egg yolks, beaten

1 tablespoon butter

1 8-inch (small) baked pie shell

3 egg whites

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325° F. Combine brown sugar and hot water in a saucepan, bring to a boil. In the meantime, in a small bowl combine the flour and salt. Gradually stir the cold water into the flour mixture to create a smooth paste; then stir in the beaten egg yolks. Add one tablespoon of the hot sugar liquid to flour and egg yolk mixture and stir to combine; then add several additional tablespoons of the hot sugar liquid while stirring constantly. When enough liquid has been added to make a thin paste,  stir the flour and egg yolk mixture into the remaining hot sugar mixture in the saucepan. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while stirring constantly; reduce heat and simmer  while continuing to stir until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. When the butter is melted, pour into the pie shell.

To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until peaks form, then beat in the granulated sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of  the pie, and then swirl. Use care to get the meringue spread all the way to the edge of the pie. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.

Here is the original recipe:

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