The Royal Society of Chemistry didn’t publish the recipe they used, but there are gruel recipes here. Truthfully, it sounds a lot like the oatmeal porridge I’ve made for Jason in a slow-cooker. With the right added ingredients it could probably be good. But plain Oliver Twist workhouse-style gruel was probably never all that appetizing, though those in workhouses were hungry enough to eat it anyway.
Oh boy oh boy oh boy!Â I have wanted one of these for sooooo long!
I didn’t get to go home for Christmas this year. Weather was a big deterrent to most of us Beaconians (residents of Beacon Hill, Seattle) over the holidays.Â This last Friday, I had dinner with my parents before they headed to Belize with my brother and sister-in-law, and they brought along my Christmas presents.Â Woo hooo!Â I love prezzies… among them was *drum roll* the PINKKITCHEN AID STAND-UP MIXER!!Â I thought the package seemed a bit heavy for what I thought was going to be some pieces for my Pfaltzgraf Grapevine Dinnerware… boy, they sure fooled me!Â I don’t know when I ever actually mentioned this to my mom, but it must have been some random email ages ago.Â I can’t wait to mix something fabulous… a smooth butter-cream frosting… ohÂ my!Â Thank you Mom & Dad!
Recently Elizabeth emailed me a vintage recipe, saying: “Here is one of my mom’s favorite cocktail party recipes from the 1960s. People scoff at it, but when I put it out at a party it gets eaten fast!”
Since we currently don’t have a working kitchen stove, and last night I had to go to an event where bringing food was encouraged, it seemed like a great time to try this one out. Here’s the recipe:
Remove a block of cream cheese from the fridge and let it get a little soft, but not goopy.
Fill a dish with a good sized lip on it with lots of sesame seeds.
Press each side of the cream cheese into the seeds so that they really stick into the cheese.
Set the cream cheese on top of the remaining sesame seeds.
Pour liberal amounts of soy sauce on top of the cheese. you want enough sauce to accumulate in the dish to touch the bottom of the cheese, but not so much that the seeds float off the sides.
Place the dish in the fridge and turn the cheese a couple times.
When ready to serve, transfer to a clean dish and, if necessary,
sprinkle more sesame seeds on top.
Serve with Wheat Thins.
We served it last night and it was entirely consumed. People liked it a lot, though some people were unsure at first what the heck it really was. (And we didn’t know what to call it.) The recipe has a vintage vibe, but it’s pretty darn tasty to the modern palate, as well as being simple and not requiring any actual, you know, cooking. Thanks for the recipe, Elizabeth!
Jason opened up the oven tonight to try to fix it. As it turned out, there is a part in the stove that was fried pretty well. Fried enough that I am grateful that we did not have an electrical fire, because it seems possible that we could have. It might be possible to find a replacement part, but they are not all that cheap, and the stove is really pretty icky anyway. So we could maybe get a new one.
A new, shiny, 21st century sparkly modern stove, perhaps? Well, we could. But this weekend, instead, we may be going to look at one of these. Seriously. I have this idea to eventually restore the kitchen to its full 1911 splendor, and that would do the trick.
At any rate, I can’t bake anything until we have a working oven again.
(This is part 2 of the Welsh Rabbit story. See Part 1 for the background.)
Kristen and I gathered at the house tonight to make our Welsh Rabbit. Kristen brought Caesar salad to eat along with the “rabbit.” Jason was there to help eat the food.
The recipe we decided to use, as I mentioned earlier, was from the Good Housekeeping Womanâ€™s Home Cook Book, exactly 100 years ago in 1909. They claim that all the recipes in that book are triple-tested, so we are hoping that this well-tested recipe works for us. Here it is:
A Really Digestible Welsh Rarebit
Melt one tablespoon of butter, add one-fourth of a teaspoon of salt and paprika, half a teaspoon of dry mustard and one-third of a cup of ale or beer. Stir constantly, and when hot, put in half a pound of cheese cut into small pieces. As it gradually melts it may thicken, for no cheese is exactly alike in the amount of liquid it requires. If it seems too thick, add more beer. If the rarebit is preferred creamy instead of stringy, add one beaten egg just before serving. The paprika in this recipe makes the cheese mixture perfectly digestible. If the regulation toast is not at hand for serving rarebit, pour it over saltines.–I. G. C.
This is not too difficult a group of ingredients to assemble. For the cheese, we picked up some Coastal Rugged Mature English Cheddar Cheese at Costco, and it’s really tasty stuff. Yum. For the ale, we got Newcastle Brown Ale. For the toast, we had some rolls from the local bakery — probably not exactly what was intended, but they were fresh and seemed as if they’d make fine toast. I got all the ingredients together, sliced the rolls and put them on a baking sheet, turned on the oven to toast the rolls, and was ready to start cooking.
I melted the butter, and then added the spices and beer. So far, so good. I wanted to get the rolls toasting so they would be perfectly toasted right about the time the sauce was done. But first, I put the cheese in the pan. This was probably a miscalculation. As I stirred the cheese, Kristen opened the oven to put the rolls under the broiler, and… the oven was cold.
Broken, that is. The knob had been turned on correctly, but nothing happened. I continued stirring the cheese, and the sauce looked about perfect… but we had nothing yet to pour it on. Jason came in and twiddled with the oven and got it to come on. Then it turned itself off. Then Jason got it to go back on again. The rolls were finally toasting… and right before our eyes, the cheese sauce started to separate. We cooked it too long, I think.
We added the beaten egg as the recipe optionally calls for, but we still had an ugly-looking stringy mess. Smelled good, though.
Shortly after we poured it on the toasted rolls, sort of. The thickest parts sort of glopped on. Kristen said it was “unappetizing.” We dished up our salads and settled down to eat.
Wendi: Thought it was ugly, and obviously not what it was supposed to look like, but it actually tasted pretty good anyway. Kind of salty, though. Would be willing to try it again.
Kristen: Hated it. Would not try it again. Thought it was too salty.
Jason: Liked it and would definitely eat it again. Enjoyed the leftover brown ale with it, too.
If I try this again, and I probably will, I will probably just toast the bread in a toaster, and heat the sauce under much lower heat, so it would not cook as quickly. Since it was a chafing-dish meal in the first place, I really should have done that all along. (What was I thinking? This was pure cook’s error. I would have gotten away with it if not for those meddling kids if I’d taken the sauce off the burner as soon as it looked right, though.) Also, I would probably not add all the salt in the beginning, and would salt to taste a bit later, which might help with the saltiness Kristen and I noticed. The aged cheddar seemed particularly salty in flavor to start with. This may be something that varies with different cheeses, I think. Other recipes I’ve seen include a little flour; I wonder if that would make the sauce a bit more manageable.
Having anchovies in the Caesar salad with it did not help as far as saltiness is concerned! Something to balance out the salt would be nicer as a side dish. Maybe a sweeter salad dressing?
I think one of the reasons that this dish has fallen by the wayside in recent years is the fussiness of making the cheese sauce. The average American household, sadly, is probably more likely to open a can, or just have a toasted cheese sandwich when it comes down to it.
Welsh Rabbit, or Rarebit, isn’t quite as obsolete as some of the recipes we’re interested in trying. After all, you can still buy it from Stouffer’s. Alton Brown made it on Good Eats. And, while researching this post, I found that a recipe for it was printed on the New York Times website just a couple of weeks ago. It’s supposedly common British pub food. But here, in America’s Pacific Northwest, it’s rarely seen. I’ve certainly never seen it on a menu, whether in a restaurant or a pub. All I really knew about it was that it involved cheese somehow, and had a reputation for causing baddreams after eating it.
In the vintage cookbooks we’ve been exploring lately, Welsh Rabbit is ubiquitous (though usually called Rarebit), and several variations of the dish may be found. My grandma’s Kitchen Guide cookbook from the early 30s (maybe earlier — the book has no copyright date) has Welsh Rarebit, Spaghetti and Olive Rarebit, Mexican Rarebit, English Monkey (for the name alone, we are totally going to try this one), and Tomato Rarebit. Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cook-Book from 1896 adds Oyster Rarebit to the list. Mrs. Seely’s Cook Book from 1914 adds other recipes in the same genre: Golden Buck, Gherkin Buck, and Swiss Rarebit. These recipes, usually prepared in a chafing-dish, were commonly part of the “Sunday night” family meal, and were particularly valued during World War II, when meat was scarce. Though rarebit has not entirely disappeared from modern cookbooks, it is certainly less commonly eaten in the US than it once was.
This is a shame, since anything that basically consists of cheese and beer and toast is pretty much going to be a hit with a fairly large segment of the US population. What’s not to like, right?
We could go way, way back in history for this one, if we wanted to. Here’s an 1824 recipe from A New System of Domestic Cookery Formed Upon Principles of Economy and Adapted to the Use of Private Families, by Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell:
Toast a slice of bread on both sides, and butter it; toast a slice of Gloucester cheese on one side, and lay that next the bread, and toast the other with a salamander; rub mustard over, and serve very hot, and covered.
But, instead, we’re going back exactly 100 years, to resurrect a 1909 version of this recipe, from the Good Housekeeping Woman’s Home Cook Book. (Thanks to Karen for sending me a PDF copy of this cookbook!) We’ll try it this evening, so stay tuned for a follow-up post with the results.
The other day we were at my mom’s house, and mentioned that we were thinking of doing a blog about old recipes. I said “I wish I had more of my grandma’s recipes.” My mom said “Oh? You mean like the ones in her cookbook?” and went to the cupboard and pulled out a little blue book stuffed crazily with newspaper and magazine clippings.
I had no idea this book existed.
I talked her into letting me borrow it to scan, and found a mother lode of old recipes. The book was given from my grandfather to my grandmother in February 1934, when she was still 16 years old. (They married later that year, when she was 17.) It has a bunch of handwritten recipes in with the printed ones, and then there was the collection of clippings (not photographed here; I took them out of the book and stored them separately because their deterioration was damaging the book). It looks as if, for most of her married life, she kept recipes in this book one way or another.
We will be using this as a recipe source, but I thought you might enjoy a peek inside as well:
In the right menu of this page, you can see a list of some of the recipe ideas Kristen and I have been thinking about trying. On the top of the list is one that sounds wonderful: Malted Milk Cake. I am a huge fan of malt flavor, particularly chocolate malted milk, and I have a recipe all lined up for it.
But there’s a catch. I can’t find the chocolate malted milk anywhere in Seattle so far. I used to buy it occasionally at various local grocery stores, but now they only seem to carry the plain malt. Safeway and Albertson’s don’t even go that far. A search for “malted milk” on the Albertson’s website only brings up these.
The one grocery store that does have the product is Amazon Fresh. But they do not deliver to us. No one I know seems to use Amazon Fresh.
So alternatives must be found.
These are the alternatives I know of:
Ovaltine chocolate malt drink powder: I think this is probably too sweet and has too many extra ingredients, though maybe it would work
Milo chocolate malt drink powder: this should be available at Uwajimaya, I think, and might be similar, though I’ve never tried it
Making a homemade version from the plain Carnation Malted Milk
I’ve just done a little experimenting. The following recipe gives me a relatively decent chocolate malted milk mixture, not overly sweet. A bit more sugar could be added, I suppose, but I get the idea that the stuff was perhaps less sweet back in the day anyway:
2 parts Carnation Malted Milk (plain)
1 part unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 parts sugar
Hey Folks! Â This is actually my very first blogging experience and I can’t think of anything more fun than FOOD, glorious food! Â I’ve been cooking for as long as I can remember–from licking the beaters to cooking my very first Thanksgiving meal all by myself–and have long held a fascination for foods from the past that no longer appear in our day-to-day cooking habits. Â As a medieval history enthusiast, redacting recipes from the 13-1500’s is a very entertaining hobby as well. Â Occasionally, Wendi or I may wander into that territory to include it in our blog. Thanks for reading and check back often to see what we are up to.
Currently, I am thinking a bit about the food we ate when I was a little kid in the 70’s. Â I am excited to be poring over my mom’s and grandmother’s old cookbooks in the search for old recipes that might be made new again.