Asparagus and eggs pair beautifully, and hum of spring, so I was thrilled to come across a hundred-year-old recipe for Eggs, Grand Duc which is a delightful, surprisingly modern, egg and asparagus recipe.
Toast is topped with long, graceful spears of asparagus, which is immersed in a creamy cheese sauce. And, it all is topped with a perfectly poached egg.
The presentation is lovely, and would be perfect for a small Spring brunch.
Here’s the original recipe:
Here’s the recipe updated modern cooks. To make this dish more visually appealing, I used whole slices of toast instead of the toast squares called for in the original recipe. I also assembled the ingredients in a different order than called for in the original recipe.
Trim asparagus spears to remove the tough sections at the bottom of the stalks. Place asparagus in a pan with a steamer. Put water in the bottom of the steamer, and cover. Heat to a boil; then reduce heat until the water simmers. Steam for about 5 minutes or until the asparagus is tender. (If preferred the asparagus can be roasted instead of steamed.)
Poached Egg Directions
Bring 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water to a boil in a skillet, then reduce to a simmer. Break each egg into a small bowl or cup, then slip into the water. Cook for 5 minutes. Remove the poached eggs from the water using a slotted spatula, and drain on paper towels.
Cheese Sauce Directions
Using medium heat, melt butter in a saucepan; then stir in the flour and salt. Gradually add the milk while stirring constantly. Then add the cheese; continue stirring until the sauce thickens.
On the top of each slice of toast, arrange one-fourth of the cooked asparagus. Spoon cheese sauce on top of the asparagus, and top with a poached egg.
Carrots are one of the most nutrient-packed vegetables. They contain lots of vitamins A, K, and B6, as well as potassium and other minerals, so I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Flemish Carrots. This dish contains a mixture of carrots and onions that is served in a lovely beef-broth sauce which brought out the natural sweetness of the carrots.
I always find March to be a difficult month for cooking. I like to serve locally-grown, seasonally-appropriate food – yet I’m tiring of the same-old, same-old winter vegetable dishes. This recipe is a nice twist on sautéed carrots.
Using medium-low heat, melt butter in a skillet that has a lid. Add carrots, onion, and parsley; cover skillet. Stir occasionally and cook until tender (about 20 minutes). Add flour, salt, sugar, and pepper; stir gently until blended. Increase heat to medium. Gradually add beef broth while stirring constantly; heat until hot and bubbly. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
When I made this dish, I substituted butter for the Crisco shortening that was listed in the original recipe.
I’m always on the outlook for hundred-year-old snack and appetizer recipes. I recently found a recipe in a 1919 cookbook for Cheese and Rice Fritters. They were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a subtle cheese and tomato flavor. And, they were amazingly similar to an hors d’oeuvre that I recently had at a catered event.
Cook rice following package directions with the following substitution – replace half of the water called for on the package with tomato sauce. (Any remaining tomato sauce can be saved and used in another recipe.) Puree cooked rice. (Cook’s note: I’m not sure how the rice was pureed a hundred years ago. I used a blender to puree the rice – and that did not work very well. I think that a food processor might work better.)
In a mixing bowl, combine approximately 1 cup of pureed rice, salt, paprika, baking powder, and flour; stir until thoroughly mixed. (There may be extra rice that can be eaten or used in another recipe.) Add grated cheese and stir until the cheese is evenly distributed throughout the dough. If dough is too dry, add 1 – 2 tablespoons of water; if too moist, add 1 or tablespoons of additional flour.
Heat 1/2 inch of shortening or lard until hot in large frying pan. Drop heaping teaspoons of dough into hot shortening. Flip fritters and fry until golden brown on both sides. Remove from heat and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
I used more rice than called for in the original recipe because 1/4 cup did not seem like enough to end up with 1 cup of pureed rice.
Recipes from a hundred-years ago often contain minimal directions and can be difficult to interpret. And, I occasionally come across old recipes that call for ingredients that are no longer available. Today is one of those times. When I read a 1919 recipe for Sour Milk Waffles, I immediately knew that I was not going to be able to exactly replicate the recipe.
A hundred-years-ago many families still lived on farms; and, even in towns, much of the milk that was sold was not pasteurized. Back then, if the non-pasteurized milk was not used quickly, the “good” bacteria in the milk would turn it into a sour milk suitable for use in recipes. Today’s pasteurized milk can be turned into a sour milk by adding a little vinegar or lemon juice to create a slightly curdled acidic milk.
But this recipe calls for “thick sour milk.” The soured milk that I make with vinegar or lemon juice isn’t very thick. Then I remembered that milk in days gone by would have also contained cream that floated on the top. Perhaps the recipe is referring to the thickness of the soured cream. So, I substituted 1/4 cup sour cream, 3/4 cup milk, and 2 tablespoons vinegar for the thick sour milk.
The recipe also says that if the milk lacks richness, add additional shortening. I decided that the sour cream added sufficient richness, and that no extra shortening was needed.
I was pleased with how my updated version of Sour Milk Waffles turned out. If you are looking for a soft waffle recipe, this is the recipe for you. The waffles had an old-fashioned goodness, and were very tasty. They browned nicely, and were fluffy and soft – though they were not crispy like most modern waffles.
Today I often hear that fresh fruit and vegetables are best – and that canned vegetables aren’t as tasty. This differs from a hundred years ago when canned vegetables were considered a “modern” way of preserving food.
I recently came across a hundred-year-old recipe for Canned Corn Custard, Mexican Style that intrigued me, and – though knowing that canned corn is not trendy – decided to give it a try. Perhaps part of what intrigued me was the claim that this was an internationally-inspired recipe. Was it really Mexican style? – or did the recipe author just think that a humble dish seemed more enticing if it was billed as an internationally-inspired food?
I’m glad that I gave this recipe a chance. The Corn Custard was rich and silky, and brought back warm, fuzzy memories of family gatherings many years ago when a similar dish was served.
1 pint corn (15-ounce can corn) – I used creamed style corn.
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Preheat oven to 400° F. Melt butter in a skillet using medium heat. Put chopped onion and green pepper in skillet; saute until tender.
In the meantime, in a bowl, stir together eggs, milk, corn, salt, and paprika; pour mixture into the skillet with the onions and green peppers while stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture is hot and steamy. Remove from heat and pour into a well-greased 2-quart casserole dish.
Place a pan of hot water (the water should be about 1/2 inch deep) in the oven. (I used an old aluminum baking sheet with sides for the pan.) Then set the casserole dish with the corn mixture in the water. Bake until the corn custard is firm in the center and lightly browned. The length of time this dish needs to cook will vary depending upon the depth of the casserole dish. (When I made this recipe, it took about 45 minutes for corn custard to get firm.) Remove Corn Custard from oven. (I left the pan with the hot water in the oven until it cooled to avoid the risk of burning myself.)
I recently made a hundred-year-old recipe for Graham Pop-overs. The pop-overs did not rise as much as anticipated, but nevertheless they were a delightful bread that seemed more like a muffin than a pop-over. The Graham Pop-overs had a slightly nutty flavor, and were wonderful when served warm with butter or honey.
Graham flour is a coarsely ground whole wheat flour that contains the endosperm, the bran, and the wheat germ. Modern graham flours sometimes have most of the wheat germ removed to prolong shelf life and to help keep it from going rancid.
Year ago graham flour was considered a health food, and I regularly see recipes that call for it in hundred-year-old cookbooks.
Graham flour is named after its inventor Sylvester Graham. He began making graham flour in the 1830s, and promoted it as part of a health movement which encouraged eating vegetarian meals and unseasoned foods.
It might take a little effort to find graham flour. I had to look for the flour at three stores before I finally found it.
Preheat oven to 450° F. Beat eggs, then add milk. Beat in graham flour, all-purpose flour, sugar, salt, and shortening. Beat until just combined. Put batter into well-greased custard cups (ramekins) – or a muffin tin may be used. Fill each cup 1/2 full. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Do not open oven to help ensure the pop-overs rise completely. Reduce heat to 350° F. (The oven may now be opened to test for doneness.) Bake another 5 – 10 minutes or until the pop-overs are lightly browned and spring back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and immediately remove from custard cups/muffin tin.
The pop-overs baked more quickly than indicated in the original recipe, so I reduced the baking time.
The 18th amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibited the sale of intoxicating liquors. It was ratified on January 16, 1919, and prohibition went into effect a year later. The hundredth anniversary of this event is a good time to take a look at recipes for alcoholic beverages from the 1910s.
Bathtub gin, speakeasies, and flappers would be on the scene soon, but in 1919 people were celebrating the move toward temperance. At the time when the 18th Amendment was ratified, it was widely supported throughout much of the U.S. This amendment was the culmination of many temperance efforts by individuals and organization during the preceding decades.
Cookbooks published during the 1910s mirrored the trends of the times – and most contained no recipes for alcoholic beverages with the occasional exception of a recipe or two for egg nog for invalids – cooking for invalids was a common topic in cookbooks of that era – that called for adding a couple of tablespoons of whiskey or other liquor.
The one cookbook that I’ve found that contains numerous recipes for alcoholic beverages is a 1917 edition of a Kentucky cookbook called The Blue Grass Cook Book by Minnie C. Fox. The two recipes included in this post are from that cookbook.