Now that the weather is getting hot – and strawberries are in season – I wanted to find a recipe for a tasty and refreshing strawberry dessert. I searched through my hundred-year-old cookbooks, and I think I found the perfect recipe. Strawberry Bavarian Cream is creamy and cool, and it made a beautiful presentation.
This recipe was in a 1905 church cookbook from Berwick, Pennsylvania published by “The Ladies of Directory No. 2 of the Aid Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.” I’m very curious how the cooks who made this recipe in the early 20th century chilled this dessert. Most won’t have had a refrigerator; perhaps they refrigerated the Strawberry Bavarian Cream in an ice box chilled with a block of ice, or maybe this recipe was often made during the winter months using strawberries that had been canned the previous summer.
Regardless of how cooks in 1905 kept the Strawberry Bavarian Cream cold, this silky, delectable dessert is a winner. I know that I’ll make it again in the near future.
2 envelopes (0.25 ounce each) of unflavored gelatin
1/3 cup cold water
1 cup boiling water
1 quart fresh strawberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup whipping cream
Place the cold water in a bowl; then sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Let sit for one-half hour.
In the meantime, slice strawberries into a bowl; add sugar and stir to combine. (Reserve several berries to garnish the molded dessert.) Let sit for at least 5 minutes or until the sliced berries begin to become juicy. Then thoroughly mash the sliced berries until no large pieces remain. (I used a potato masher to mash.)
Add boiling water to the gelatin mixture; stir until the gelatin is dissolved. Stir in the mashed strawberries. Chill just until the mixture is no longer warm.
In the meantime, beat the whipping cream until it is light and stiff peaks form. Then fold it into the strawberry and gelatin mixture. Pour into a 7-8 cup mold and chill until firm (at least 4 hours). (I used a 6-cup mold and had a little of the mixture left over after the mold was filled, which I put into a small bowl.)
To serve: Quickly dip the mold in hot water, then unmold unto serving plate.
Note: This recipe may also be made using 1/2 pint frozen or canned strawberries. If frozen or canned strawberries are used as a substitute for the fresh berries, do not add the 1 cup of sugar.
Scalloped Oysters are a classic holiday dish, so I was curious when I saw a hundred-year-old recipe for “new” Scalloped Oysters, that called for tomatoes and corn in addition to the usual bread or cracker crumbs.
The old, “new” twist adds interest to this traditional dish. “New” Scalloped Oysters were colorful, flavorful, and easy to make.
1 1/2 cups dried bread crumbs or cracker crumbs (I used bread crumbs.)
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 pint shucked oysters (drain-though it’s okay if there is still some liquid clinging to the oysters.)
1/2 cup stewed or canned tomatoes
2/3 cup corn (if using frozen corn, cook and drain)
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter 1-quart casserole dish. Put 1/3 of crumbs in bottom of dish. Lay 1/2 of the oysters on crumbs, sprinkle with salt and pepper and dot with small pieces of 1 tablespoon of butter. Add layers of tomatoes and corn, using 1/2 of each. Repeat with layers of bread crumbs, oysters (sprinkled with salt and pepper and dotted with 1 tablespoon of butter), tomatoes, and corn.
In the meantime, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a small skillet. Gently stir in the remaining 1/2 cup crumbs; continue gently stirring until the bread crumbs are coated with melted butter. Remove from heat. Put the buttered crumbs on top of the previously assembled layers in the casserole dish. Bake for approximately 45 minutes or until hot and bubbly.
Today summer squash is often streamed or grilled, but once or twice each summer I fry it. So I was thrilled to find a hundred-year-old recipe for Fried Summer Squash.
When I make fried squash, I generally “bread” it with flour. The old recipe called for actual bread crumbs. The bread crumbs are a nice twist to this classic comfort food.
Here is the hundred-year-old recipe:
Yellow summer squash or zucchini could be used in this recipe. I used yellow straightneck squash to more authentically replicate the hundred-year-old recipe. According to Wikipedia, “the first records of zucchini in the United States date to the early 1920s.” Since this cookbook was published in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1917, the cookbook author won’t have used zucchini.
Wash and cut the squash into 1/2-inch slices. Sprinkle slices with salt and pepper, dip in the beaten eggs, and coat with bread crumbs. Set aside.
In the meantime, heat 1/2 inch of shortening or oil in a large frying skillet. When hot, carefully place the breaded squash slices in the skillet in a single layer. Depending upon pan size, the squash slices may need to be cooked in several batches. Fry for about a minute or until the bottom side of each slice is lightly browned, then gently turn and fry until the other side is browned. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately.
Cook’s note: Some of the breading will fall off the squash during cooking. This is okay, the remaining breading is enough to make an attractive and tasty dish.
The old recipe calls for coating the squash slices with bread crumbs, both before and after dipping in egg. When I made this recipe very few bread crumbs clung to the squash slices prior to dipping it in the egg – so I skipped this step when updated the recipe. It works fine to only coat with bread crumbs after dipping in the eggs.
String Beans with Bacon (and onions) are delicious, and they are quick and easy to make. This hundred-year-old recipe brings back vague memories of string bean dishes from my childhood.
The recipe calls for cooking the beans until they are tender – and I cooked them for about 20 minutes. They weren’t crisp like the beans often prepared using modern recipes – but I found them to be a refreshing change, and enjoyed this dish’s old-fashioned goodness. The recipe is definitely a keeper.
1 pound string beans (use either yellow or green beans)
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 slice bacon, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
dash cayenne (red) pepper
Clean string beans, remove tips, and snap into 1-inch pieces. Place in a saucepan. Add the sliced onions and chopped bacon; then just barely cover with water, and add the salt and cayenne pepper. Place on the stove and bring to a boil using high heat; then reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, then remove from heat, drain any excess liquid (a little is okay), and serve.
When browsing through hundred-year-old magazines, I’m sometimes surprised by the recipes I find. This is one of those times. I was amazed to find a recipe for Lamb Curry with Rice (East Indian) in the April, 1917 issue of Good Housekeeping that had been submitted by a reader.
This recipe makes a very credible Lamb Curry. I’m not an expert on Indian foods (and feel free to disagree), but to me, it tasted similar to some of the milder lamb curries that I’ve eaten in restaurants over the years. Which led me to wonder, who was the woman who submitted this recipe to the magazine? Did she have friends from India? Had she visited India?
Place the lamb in a dutch oven or large saucepan and cover with water; add salt. Cover, and bring to a boil using high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 1 1/2 hours or until the lamb is tender. Remove from heat. Cut the lamb into small pieces, removing any fat, bones, or gristle, then set aside. Reserve 2 cups of broth, and skim excess fat from the top of the broth. (The broth may be chilled to make it easier to remove the fat.)
Melt the butter in a skillet using medium heat, and stir in the onion and garlic. Cook until the onion and garlic are soft; then add the cooked lamb. Stir in the flour, pepper, curry powder, cloves, and allspice. Slowly add the lamb broth while stirring constantly; bring to a boil. Add the coconut and lemon juice. Then reduce heat and simmer until the sauce has a thick gravy-like consistency. Remove from heat and serve with rice.
I’m always on the outlook for hundred-year-old winter vegetable recipes, so I was thrilled to find a recipe for Spiced Sweet Potato Balls.
The outside of the Spiced Sweet Potato balls were crisp and browned, while the inside was nutty, rich, and spicy with the warm blend of nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. The balls contained ground nuts, which added a nice texture and flavor dimension when combined with sweet potatoes.
3 large sweet potatoes (approximately 3 1/2 cups mashed)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup nuts, ground (I used walnuts.)
Place whole sweet potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with water and bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender (30-45 minutes). Remove from heat and drain. Remove the skins from the potatoes then mash until smooth; mix in butter, nutmeg, allspice, and cinnamon. Add ground nuts, and stir to combine. Shape into 1-inch balls, then gently roll in flour.
Melt 1/2 inch of shortening in a large skillet. Slip the sweet potato 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.
Cook’s note: The mashed sweet potato mixture is very sticky. The key to success with this recipe is shaping the balls, and then gently rolling the balls in the flour while continuing to shape.
Each Fall my husband and I drive out into the country to see the leaves – and to buy pumpkins and winter squash. There’s a farmer who sells incredible produce directly from a farm wagon – and each year we worry that his tiny roadside market will be gone.
But this year (like every year), just when we were sure we won’t find his wagon, we went around a bend and there it was–and the selection of pumpkins and squash was the best it’s ever been. We stocked up on lots of Fall produce. Right now most of the squash are on our front porch with the pumpkins, but I decided to use an acorn squash immediately – which leads me to the point of this post. I needed to find a hundred-year-old recipe for acorn squash.
I browsed through my old cookbooks and found a delightful recipe for baked squash which called for molasses.
The recipe worked perfectly with my acorn squash. The savory nuttiness of the squash is enhanced by the rustic sweetness of the molasses.
Preheat oven to 400° F. Depending upon squash size, halve or quarter the acorn squash to create serving-sized pieces. Remove seeds and the stringy portion. Place on a baking sheet that has been lined with aluminum foil to make clean-up easier. Brush with molasses, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place in oven and bake until the squash is tender when poked with a fork. While baking, baste 2 or 3 times with additional molasses. After the squash is removed from the oven put a small dab on butter in the middle of each squash piece.