Steamed Ginger Pudding with Vanilla Sauce

Slice of Steamed Ginger Pudding on Plaste

Steamed puddings and small holiday gatherings just seem to go together. So each year, as the holidays approach, I look at the steamed pudding recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks and find one to try. Steamed puddings served with a sweet sauce were much more popular back then than they are now.

Steamed puddings typically require several hours of steaming – and often are considered too time consuming (and energy consuming) to be worth making. But back in the days when homes had wood or coal cook stoves that were always lit, steamed pudding were considered easy. The large pot with water that the molded pudding was put into could be put on the back burner of the stove. The cook could then move on to other activities, and come back several hours later and the pudding would be done.

This year the steamed pudding recipe that intrigued me was one for Ginger Pudding, so I decided to give it a try. It was lovely when served warm with Vanilla Sauce. The pudding texture was lovely, and the sweet warmth of the ginger created a taste treat.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Ginger Pudding
Source: Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921 Edition)

Here’s the recipe for the Vanilla Sauce:

Recipe for Vanilla Sauce
Source: Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921 Edition)

And, here’s the Lemon Sauce II recipe (and not the Lemon Sauce I or the Lemon Sauce III recipe) that the Vanilla Sauce recipe refers to:

Recipe for Lemon Sauce
Source: Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1921 Edition)

It always seems a little odd how old cookbooks often refer cooks to multiple recipes scattered throughout the cookbook rather than just placing the entire recipe in the correct format in one spot – but I guess that it saved a little space (though, in my opinion, it tends to make the original recipe that I was trying to make a bit more confusing).

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Steamed Ginger Pudding

  • Servings: 5 - 7
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Steamed Ginger Pudding

1/3 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup sugar

1egg

1 cup milk

3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons powdered ginger

2 1/4 cups flour

Put the butter in a bowl and then cream; gradually add the sugar while continuing to beat. Add egg and beat; then add the milk, baking powder, salt, ginger, and flour. Beat until smooth. Pour the batter into a greased pudding mold, cover, and steam for two hours. Remove from the steaming water, wait a few minutes, then remove from mold. Serve warm with Vanilla Sauce. (This pudding is also excellent cold without the Vanilla Sauce.)

*Notes: I used a 2 liter mold, but had some extra space at the top. One slightly smaller could be used. Historically coffee cans were often used as molds.  Cooks Info describes how to steam a pudding (or follow the directions that come with the mold).

Vanilla Sauce

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon cornstarch or 1 1/2 tablespoons flour

2 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

Dash salt

Mix the sugar and cornstarch in a sauce pan; add the water gradually while stirring constantly using medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, and salt. Serve warm; may be reheated.

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Old-fashioned Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a holiday classic, so I was pleased to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Glazed Sweet Potatoes. The sweet potatoes are glazed with a sugar sauce and baked until tender. The glaze is made with white sugar (not the brown sugar or maple syrup that is more typically used today). The Glazed Sweet Potatoes were tender and sweet, but they were not immersed in a thick sauce – rather (as the recipe title says) they had a sugar glaze.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Source: The New Cookery (1921) by Lenna Frances Cooper

The old recipe called for boiling the sweet potatoes for 10 minutes to make it easy to slip the skins off them, however, the skins  didn’t come off very easily. I don’t think that they were boiled for quite long enough, so when I updated the recipe, I indicated that they should be boiled by 15 minutes.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Glazed Sweet Potatoes

  • Servings: 9 - 12
  • Difficulty: moderate
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6 medium sweet potatoes

1 teaspoon salt

water

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

Wash sweet potatoes and then place in a Dutch oven or other large pan. Cover with water and add the salt to the water; bring to a boil using high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool enough to handle. Remove skins from the sweet potatoes. They should slip off easily. Then cut the sweet potatoes in half lengthwise and arrange in a large rectangular casserole dish.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 375° F.  And, make the sauce that will be used to glaze the sweet potatoes by putting the sugar and water in a saucepan; stir. Using medium heat, bring to a boil while continuing to stir. Boil for 3 minutes then remove from heat and stir butter into the sauce.

Using a basting brush, spread sugar syrup on the arranged sweet potato halves. Put in oven and bake until tender and the syrup begins to brown (about 30 – 40 minutes). While baking, baste several times with the syrup.

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Chicken à la Crème

Chicken a la Creme on Toast

As the days get shorter and the evenings cooler, I find that I crave comfort foods. So when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for Chicken à la Crème, I decided to give it a try. Chicken, sliced mushrooms, and chopped red pepper are embedded in a rich, creamy sauce that is served over toast.

This recipe is a keeper. I’ll definitely make Chicken à la Crème again. It is quick and easy to make, and very tasty.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Chicken a la Creme
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (1921 Edition)

Is Chicken à la Crème another name for Chicken à la King? A few years ago I made a recipe for Chicken à la King that was similar to this one. Both recipes called for chicken and mushrooms. This recipe called for red pepper; Chicken à la King called for green pepper as well as for a small amount of onion. For this recipe, the sauce was a white sauce; the sauce for Chicken à la King was made using cream, chicken broth, and lemon juice.

Here’s the Chicken à la Crème recipe updated for modern cooks:

Chicken a la Creme

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1 red pepper, finely chopped

2 cup milk

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir the flour into the butter; stir in salt and pepper. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in milk and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir in the chicken, mushrooms, and red pepper. Bring back to a boil; remove from heat. Serve over toast.

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Potato Tarts a la Gratin

Potato Tarts a la Gratin on plate

Au Gratin potatoes are a nice comfort food, but they can get boring, so I was intrigued by a hundred-year-old recipe for Potato Tarts a la Gratin.  A muffin tin is lined with pastry dough, then filled with diced au gratin potatoes. The resulting tarts were tasty, visually appealing, and a nice change of pace. They reminded me a bit of the savory hors d’oeuvres served by hotels at events – though they were tastier than many of those hors d’oeuvres.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Potato Tarts a la Gratin
Source: American Cookery (November, 1921)

I substituted butter for the lard when I made this recipe. Rather than using left-over cold potatoes, I made boiled diced potatoes which I immediately used in the recipe.

When I made the sauce, it seemed rather thin for a tart filling, so I coarsely mashed a few of the diced potatoes and stirred them into the sauce to make it thicker before adding the remainder of the diced potatoes. This worked well.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Potato Tarts a la Gratin

  • Servings: approximately `10 - 12 tarts
  • Difficulty: moderate
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3 – 4  medium potatoes, diced into 3/4 inch pieces (about 2 cups diced potatoes)

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1/2 cup shredded cheese + additional cheese to sprinkle on the top (I used cheddar cheese.)

pastry dough (enough for 1 2-crust pie, or use approximately 4 pre-rolled sheets)

Preheat oven to 425° F. Roll pastry dough and cut into circles. Line the space for each muffin in a muffin pan with the circles of pastry dough. Fit each circle, trim, and flute edges.

Put the diced potatoes in a sauce pan and cover with water. Put on the stove and bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (about 10 minutes). Drain potatoes. Remove about 1/3 cup of the potatoes from the sauce pan; put in a bowl and coarsely mash using a fork. Set aside both the mashed and diced potatoes

Melt the butter in another sauce pan, then stir the flour and salt into the butter. While stirring constantly, slowly pour in the milk and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir in the mashed potatoes and 1/2 cup shredded cheese, continue heating until the cheese melts. Add the diced potatoes. Stir to combine.

Spoon into the pastry shells, and sprinkle additional shredded cheese on top. Bake until hot and bubbly, and the top begins to brown (about 30 minutes).

Old-fashioned Spinach Soup

bowl of spinach soup

I have warm memories of Popeye the Sailor Man eating spinach to grow strong. Spinach is chockful of nutrients, and is an excellent source of potassium, magnesium, vitamin K, vitamin A, manganese, folate, copper, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and vitamin C, as well as being one of the best sources of plant-based iron. What’s not to like?

As a result, I’m always on the lookout for good spinach recipes. So when I came across a hundred-year-old for Spinach Soup, I decided to give it a try.

The creamy Spinach Soup was delicious with a slight peppery undertone which added interest.

Here’s the original recipe:

Spinach Soup Recipe
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book (Revised Edition, 1921)

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Spinach Soup

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 quarts spinach (I used a 10 ounce package of spinach.)

6 cups water

1/2 bay leaf

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

1 clove garlic or 2 tablespoons chopped onion (I used the chopped onion.)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper

1/4 teaspoon celery salt

1/2 cup cream, if desired

Put spinach and water into a large pan, and bring to a boil using high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Removed from heat, and puree or press through a sieve. (I used a Foley mill.)

In the meantime, put milk, garlic or onion, and bay leaf in a saucepan. Using medium heat, scald the milk, while stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and strain. (Discard the garlic or onion and bay leaf.)

Put butter in large pan or dutch oven. Melt using low heat; then stir in the flour. Slowly add scalded milk while stirring constantly. Then stir in the spinach mixture, salt, cayenne pepper, and celery salt. Heat until steamy, then serve.

If desired whip the cream, and put a dollop of the whipped cream on top of each bowl of soup.

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Old-fashioned Coconut Pie

slice of coconut pie on plateSometimes I crave classic old-fashioned cream pies.  I recently came across a lovely recipe for Coconut Pie in a hundred-year-old cookbook. This pie differs from many modern coconut pies because, in addition to the usual milk, egg yolks, and coconut, the recipe calls for grated lemon rind and lemon juice. The lemon adds a lovely sunny note to this rich creamy pie.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Coconut Pie
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book, Revised Edition (1921)

When I updated the recipe I updated the spelling of coconut. “Cocoanut” is an archaic way of spelling coconut that I sometimes see in old recipes and cookbooks.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Coconut Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
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2 cups milk

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter melted

grated rind and juice from 1 lemon

1 cup grated coconut

1 10-inch pie shell

Preheat oven to 425° F. Put milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, salt, butter, and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Beat until smooth. Stir in grated lemon rind and coconut. Pour into pie shell.  Bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° F.. Bake additional 60 minutes or until knife inserted into center of pie comes out clean.

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Fried Bananas with Crumbs and Lemon Sauce

Fried Bananas on plate

I was recently browsing through a hundred-year-old cookbook, and came across a recipe for Fried Bananas with Crumbs, and decided to give it with a try. The recipe said that the Fried Bananas could be served with Lemon Sauce, so I also made the sauce.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the Fried Bananas with Crumbs and Lemon Sauce were surprisingly tasty. The Fried Bananas were crispy on the outside, and the Lemon Sauce added a bright, sunny, sweet-sour flavor.

Here’s the original recipe:

Recipe for Fried Bananas with Crumbs
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book, Revised Edition, 1921

Six bananas seemed like a lot, so I divided the recipe in half when I made it.

I garnished the Fried Bananas with lemon slices, but I just couldn’t bring myself to follow the directions in the old cookbook and also garnish them with parsley. But, who knows, maybe the bananas would have looked better if I’d also used parsley.

Both Sherry Sauce and Lemon Sauce sounded good. Unfortunately, Lowney’s Cook Book, the cookbook that I got the Fried Bananas recipe out of, did not have a recipe for Sherry Sauce; but it did contain a recipe for Lemon Sauce, so the decision about which sauce to make was easy. I made Lemon Sauce.

Recipe for Lemon Sauce
Source: Lowney’s Cook Book, Revised Edition, 1921

The Lemon Sauce recipe also looked like it would make a lot of sauce, so I divided it into half.

Here are the recipes updated for modern cooks:

Fried Bananas with Crumbs and Lemon Sauce

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Fried Bananas in Crumbs

3 bananas

salt and pepper

juice of 1/2 lemon

1/2 cup flour

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup fine plain breadcrumbs (I put 1 bread slice, that I tore into several pieces, into the blender to make the breadcrumbs.)

shortening or vegetable oil

lemon pieces or slices (for garnish, if desired)

parsley (for garnish, if desired)

Place flour on a plate or in a small bowl, and  place the bread crumbs on another plate or small bowl. Put the beaten egg in a small bowl.

Peel bananas; cut into half both lengthwise and crosswise. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and lemon juice. Roll in the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the bread crumbs.

Heat about 1/2 inch of shortening or vegetable oil in a skillet, then put the breaded banana pieces in the hot shortening or oil. Fry until lightly browned on the bottom, then gently turn to brown the other side. When browned, remove bananas from the skillet. Drain on paper towels, then serve with Lemon Sauce. If desired, garnish with lemon pieces or slices and parsley.

Lemon Sauce

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup water

juice of 1/2 lemon

grated rind of 1/2 lemon

3/4 tablespoon butter

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan. Stir in the water, and heat using medium heat until the mixture boils. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture thickens (about 10-20 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, grated lemon rind, and butter. Serve hot.

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