I occasionally see recipes in hundred-year-old cookbooks where the name of the recipe doesn’t seem quite right – and I think that either the spelling of the name has changed across the years, the recipe author didn’t know how to spell, or that there was a typo. This is one of the times. The recipe is for Rice Ressetto, but I think that it is really a tomato risotto recipe.
This dish contained rice, tomatoes, and green peppers. It turned out okay, but was much less spicy than similar recipes typically would be today.
I’m not sure how Spanish sweet pepper differs from green pepper, so I only used green pepper when I made the recipe. The ratio of rice to water is less than typical for cooking rice which means that the rice was still semi-firm when prepared. It was quite dry, and did not need to be drained. This semi-cooked rice then absorbed juice from the tomatoes and softened while baking.
Preheat oven to 350° F. Put water in a large saucepan; bring to boil. Stir in rice, butter, salt, and pepper, then put cover on pan and reduce heat to low. Cook for five minutes, then turn off heat. Let rice sit for at least 10 minutes. (The rice will still be somewhat firm.) In the meantime put the tomatoes and green pepper in another saucepan. Heat until hot and bubbly, then stir in the rice. Put into a casserole dish and cover. Heat in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove and serve.
Food preferences change across the years. Some foods increase in popularity over time, while other foods that were once common are now seldom made. As I work on this blog, I often think about food fads and trends over the past hundred years. Occasionally 1921 cookbooks and magazines provide a window into even earlier times. For example, in 1921 a reader of American Cookery asked for a recipe that she remembered from her childhood.
Gingered Rhubarb apparently was a food that was eaten in the late 1800’s in Scotland, but by 1921 it apparently was not part of the repertoire of cooks on the U.S. side of the Atlantic. Why had it become less popular? Was it already considered an old-fashioned dessert a hundred-years ago?
The query also contains a serving suggestion. The individual requesting the recipes states that she remembers eating Gingered Rhubarb on rice desserts (which I took to mean rice pudding).
In any case, I was intrigued and decided to make Gingered Rhubarb. I also made Rice Pudding to serve with the Gingered Rhubarb. The recipe I found was for a Baked Rice Pudding (rather than the type of Rice Pudding that is made in a saucepan on top of the stove).
The verdict: Gingered Rhubarb is a tart sauce embedded with sweetened chunks of rhubarb. It goes nicely with Baked Rice Pudding (which is drier and less sticky than many modern Rice Puddings). That said, you need to enjoy rhubarb and its intense flavor to like this recipe. My husband and I both liked the Gingered Rhubarb with Baked Rice Pudding. However, our daughter did not think it was edible. My conclusion- this recipe features rhubarb with its unique tart taste. If you really like that taste, you’ll enjoy this recipe. However, if you are lukewarm to rhubarb, this recipe is not for you.
Here are the original recipe for Gingered Rhubarb:
I put the rhubarb mixture in a large glass casserole bowl and let it sit overnight on my kitchen counter. The next day, I put the mixture in a stainless steel pan and cooked. it I used ground ginger when making the recipe.
I was pleased with how well the rhubarb pieces retained their shape when I cooked the Gingered Rhubarb. I think that allowing the rhubarb and sugar mixture sit overnight before cooking may have helped the pieces retain their shape. The sugar drew liquid out of the rhubarb.
The 1 1/2 hour cooking time seemed long to me, but I think that it allowed the flavors to concentrate as some of the liquid boils off. The rhubarb turned brownish as it is cooked (similarly to how apples turn brownish when cooked for a long time to make apple butter).
This is a very large recipe. When I made the recipe, I halved it.
Here is the original recipe for Baked (Plain) Rice Pudding:
Cooks many years ago would have made both the Gingered Rhubarb and the Baked Rice Pudding using a wood or coal stove. Both of these recipes have a long cook time – but that probably wasn’t considered an issue when the stoves operated constantly, and foods could be cooked for several hours with little attention from the cook.
Here’s the recipes for Gingered Rhubarb updated for modern cooks:
3 pounds rhubarb, cut into 1/2 pieces (about 6 cups of pieces) -Do not peel.
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon ground ginger
In a crock or large glass casserole bowl combine the sugar and ground ginger. Add the rhubarb pieces and stir to coat the rhubarb with the sugar mixture. Cover, and let sit overnight at room temperature.
The next morning put the rhubarb mixture in a stainless steel pan and bring to a boil using medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Gently stir several times while it is cooking.
Remove from heat. May be serve hot or cold. If desired serve with rice pudding, ice cream, or other dessert.
Preheat oven to 325° F. Wash the rice, and combine with all the other ingredients. Pour into a 2-quart buttered baking dish. Place in oven and bake for a total of three hours.
During the first hour, stir three times. Then reduce heat to 3oo° F. and continue baking. After another hour, stir again. Continue baking for an additional hour, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. If desired, when the rice pudding is set, the Rice Pudding can be put under the broiler for a short time to lightly brown the top. May be served hot or cold. Refrigerate, if not served immediately.
Sometimes the names of dishes in old cookbooks make me smile. The recipe I made for today is called “A Good Dish for the Meatless Meal.” It was one of several recipes in a section on Lenten recipes in an old newspaper recipe supplement.
The recipe made a delightful rice, tomato, and onion casserole topped with creamy melted cheese, and garnished with parsley and paprika. The recipe author was right. It was a good dish. The recipe is a keeper.
Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:
I assume that “drippings” refer to the fat created when cooking beef or pork – though I am a bit foggy why meat drippings would be called for in a recipe for a meatless dish. Maybe a hundred years ago “meatless” just meant that there were no chunks of meat. In any case I substituted olive oil for the drippings, but any oil or fat could be used.
Preheat oven to 375° F. Cook the rice according to package directions.
In the meantime, heat the olive oil in a skillet and then add the chopped onion. Using medium heat, sauté until the onion is transparent. Stir in the tomatoes and salt, then add the rice. Cook until hot and bubbly then transfer to a casserole dish. Top with the grated cheese. Place in oven and heat until the cheese is melted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the chopped parsley and paprika.
Creamy and sweet old-fashioned rice pudding is always a delight, so when I came across a hundred-old-recipe for rice pudding with a twist, I was intrigued. The recipe called for topping the pudding with a meringue topping.
The meringue turns a favorite comfort food, into a tasty, slightly showy dish that is sure to impress.
1 cup cold milk + 2 cups hot milk (I heated the milk in the microwave.)
1 cup warm cooked rice
1 teaspoon vanilla or orange extract ( I used vanilla.)
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the egg yolks in a small bowl, then add 3/4 cup of sugar. Stir until smooth. Set aside.
In a large saucepan (or double boiler, if available), stir the corn starch into the milk to make a smooth paste, then pour in the hot milk while stirring. Using medium heat, cook while stirring constantly until the mixture begins boil slowly and thicken. If a regular saucepan is used, be sure to carefully stir all the way to the bottom of the pan because this mixture will easily scorch.
Place a small amount (approximately 1 – 2 tablespoons) of the hot milk mixture into bowl with the egg and sugar, stir quickly. Then pour the egg mixture into the remaining hot milk mixture while stirring rapidly. Continue cooking for one additional minute. Remove from heat and stir in the rice and vanilla (or orange) extract. Put the pudding in an oven-proof serving bowl. (Cook’s note: The egg is first combined with a little of the hot milk mixture to prevent it from turning into scrambled eggs when introduced into the hot milk mixture.)
To prepare the meringue, put the egg whites into a mixing bowl. Beat until stiff peaks form, then beat in 1/4 cup sugar. Spoon the meringue onto the top of the pudding, and then swirl. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes or until the meringue is a light brown.
In 1917, food prices were rising rapidly in the U.S. because of World War I and the demand for food in Europe. Magazines were filled with articles about how to cope with the high food prices. One article encouraged readers to substitute rice for potatoes. Here’s a few excerpts:
Who Cares for Potatoes?
When there are cheaper foods that can take the place of Irish potatoes, why do we worry over their increasing cost? Besides, mankind has not always had potatoes to eat. The potato became widely popular only about one hundred years ago. It was the middle of the sixteenth century that the Spaniards found the potato in Peru and took it back to the Continent where it was cultivated as a curiosity.
In our own country we know the potato was cultivated in the temperate sections, for we have record of Sir Walter Raleigh’s taking it in 1585 from North Carolina to Ireland, to be cultivated on his estate near Cork. Its cultivation first became general in Ireland (whence its name) and not until a little more than a century ago did it come into widespread popular usage.
Certainly we are not wholly dependent upon the potato for a well-balanced dietary since our ancestors thrived without it. To be sure, the potato has justly soared its popularity because of its cheapness, its food-value, its palatability, the convenience with which it can be shipped and stored, and the ease with which it can be prepared in a surprisingly large variety of attractive ways.
It is true that men and women are largely creatures of habit, but the time has come when the women, as controllers of at least seventy-five percent of the incomes of the men of the nation, must look to our habits to see whether they are expensive and whether they need to be altered.
Starch is not the only necessary constituent of a substitute for potatoes. The potato is rich in vitamins. This property, however, is possessed by most fruits and vegetables, and by milk.
Rice would more than fit the bill, as it contains nearly three times as much energy-building material as the potato. If we substitute it for potatoes, me must have at the same meal vegetables or fruits that will supply the needed potassium and bulk. Such vegetables and fruits are: Cabbage, cauliflower, asparagus, cucumbers, beets, lettuce, celery, string beans, parsnips, rhubarb, rutabagas, spinach, tomatoes, turnips, bananas, apricots, lemons, oranges, peaches pineapple, strawberries.
In purchasing rice we have a chance to economize by buying the broken kernels, which sell for several cents a pound cheaper than the whole grain, and have exactly the same food value.
Not that we wish to taboo potatoes–far be it from that–but since their price is relatively high we can save money by using potato-less menus.
Food is expensive. Sometimes I’m shocked by how much I spend when making a recipe, so I was absolutely thrilled to see a page of recipes in the January, 1916 issue of Ladies Home Journal for dishes that could be made for 10 cents.
I tried not to get my hopes up too much, but the magazine promised that the recipes were not only inexpensive, but also nutritious and appetizing. I decided to try Rice Creole.
I was not disappointed. The Rice Creole was simple to prepare, and absolutely delicious. This is a lovely rice-pilaf type dish with a mild onion flavor. And, diced tomatoes with bits of green pepper and parsley interspersed in the rice create a colorful dish that is a perfect accompaniment to fish, meat, or other entrees.
Bottom line – Rice Creole is wonderful with a surprisingly modern look and taste. I plan to serve it in the very near future when I have friends over – and I fully expect they will to be amazed when I tell them it’s a hundred-year-old dish.
Cook rice following the directions on the package. In the meantime, melt bacon drippings in a skillet, then add onions and green pepper; sauté until tender. Stir in salt, parsley, and tomatoes, and heat until it begins to simmer. Stir in the cooked rice; heat until hot.
Since Rice Creole is supposed to be an inexpensive recipe, I decided to cost it out: 1 cup rice ($0.50), 1 onion ($0.50), 1/4 green pepper ($0.32), 1 can tomatoes ($1.29), salt/parsley/bacon drippings ($0.05) for a total of $2.66. It’s a little more than the 10 cents of days gone by, but considering that a dollar in 1916 is worth $22 today, it’s still an inexpensive dish.
Here’s the original recipe:
When I made this dish I used 1 teaspoon of salt (instead of the 2 teaspoons called for in the old recipe), and it turned out perfectly.
The old recipe calls for strained tomatoes. It’s unclear whether this means that the drained tomatoes or the strained liquid should be used in the recipe. I interpreted it to mean that drained tomatoes were combined with the other ingredients.