The Huevos con Queso experiment

Such a terrible blogger I am. In May, I ended my last post with “We had some leftover chili sauce and onions, and used that to resurrect another recipe on the next day. Stay tuned for a post about that one.” And you are still waiting. I apologize.

I didn’t waste all the time in the meantime, though. I spent part of it doing two more Master’s thesis drafts as well as a couple of research projects (one food-related, yes indeed). The thesis is now done (done! really!), so I hope I can get back to the business of recipe resurrecting.

I’ll start with a brief one I promised back in May. The last recipe I posted about was “Enchiladas, Mexican Style” from Gebhardt’s 1936 cookbook, Mexican Cookery for American Homes. This book, however, was not Gebhardt’s first cookbook for the American kitchen—that would be Mexican Cooking, published in about 1908. (Unfortunately, Google Books doesn’t have it freely available online even though it is in the public domain. It has been reprinted, though, and you can buy it here.)

This book is probably the first ever Mexican-American cookbook, and includes recipes such as “Tostadas de Queso—Cheese Toast (A Sunday-Night Supper)” and “Quesadilla Mexicana—Mexican Rarebit,” all featuring Gebhardt’s Eagle Chili Powder. It also has Enchiladas, but they are different from the flat stacked enchiladas in the 1937 cookbook. They are rolled, include homemade tortillas (called only “thin cakes” in this recipe, not tortillas), and it is suggested that “sardines cut into fine pieces are sometimes added.”

In the introduction, “To the American Housekeeper,” the book promises that:

“…We have spared neither labor nor expense in our efforts to give dishes that are pleasing, novel, and easily prepared.

While of the most simple nature, these recipes are those used by some of the most famous chefs of Old Mexico, and a careful reading of the following pages will enable you to surprise and please your friends and family with dishes that have graced the table of President Diaz and have made Mexican cooks as famous as those of France.”

Well, then. Let’s try some presidential cuisine. Page 31 features this recipe:

Huevos Con Queso—Eggs with Cheese

To six eggs use three tablespoonsful of grated mild cheese, one large tablespoonful of butter, one teaspoonful of onion juice or a small chopped onion; one half-teaspoonful of Gebhardt’s Eagle Chili Powder and salt to taste. Mix the cheese, butter, onion, chili powder and salt in a hot pan and stir until cheese is melted. Break the eggs into a bowl, adding the cheese and cook slowly, stirring until done, and then stir in chopped parsley and serve hot.

This is pretty straightforward despite being 102 years old. We had almost every ingredient available either from leftovers from the previous night’s enchilada experiment (such as the onions, cheese, chili powder, etc.) or because we had it on hand anyway (the eggs). The only ingredient we didn’t have was the chopped parsley, and I decided I could easily live without it.

Following the directions, I mixed the cheese, butter, leftover onion, Penzey’s chili powder, and salt in the pan. I beat the eggs and then stirred them into the cheese mixture. (I think the recipe may be missing a word when it says “Break the eggs into a bowl, adding the cheese and cook slowly.” Perhaps “adding to the cheese” is what was meant. But that part could certainly be phrased more clearly.)

More vintage cookin': Huevos con Queso

The recipe just says “serve hot.” When looking at modern versions, though, I saw that the dish is often served on tortilla strips. I cheated and used tortilla chips I had on hand. I piled huevos on the chips, then put a dollop of chili sauce (made for the previous night’s enchiladas) and a smaller dollop of sour cream on the top, and a tiny sprinkle of grated cheese. I ate it with a side of beans and spicy sauce.


It was good. It was not as spicy as I would have liked it, so if I make it again, I may experiment with more spice. Considering that the recipe is from 1908 and was written for an audience that may not have been as comfortable with hot and spicy foods as we are, I’m not surprised that it was a little mild. It was still tasty and I would certainly cook it again.

It was not, however, as good as the enchiladas from the previous night, which were tremendous.

More vintage cookin': Huevos con Queso
Yum. Looks pretty tasty, hmm?

The Enchiladas, Mexican Style experiment

When flipping through Mexican Cookery for American Homes (1936) last week looking for a recipe to try that we would also be willing to eat for dinner, I saw a recipe for Enchiladas, Mexican Style. “Sounds good,” said Jason. “Make that.”

Here is the recipe as it is in the book:

ENCHILADAS, Mexican Style

18 tortillas 1 c. grated cheese
1/2 c. fat 1 c. chopped onion
Chili Sauce (recipe p. 36) 6 eggs, fried
Salt to taste

If tortillas are cold, heat in hot fat until they are softened and are golden brown in color. In a saucepan, heat the chili sauce. Dip the hot tortillas in the hot chili sauce and remove to plate; sprinkle each with cheese and finely chopped onion. Serve in stacks of three, topped with a fried egg and two or three tablespoons of Chili Sauce.

Wait, what? Stacked, flat enchiladas? I had never heard of such a thing. When I’ve made enchiladas before, they have always been filled, rolled, and baked in chili sauce. (Yum, I might add.) This odd “flat enchilada” piqued my interest.

As it turns out, is not exactly a resurrected recipe—flat enchiladas are still commonly made in New Mexico, Sonora, and a few other places. In New Mexico, it’s considered a local specialty. Up here in the Seattle area, though, enchiladas are usually rolled, at least in the restaurants I’ve visited.

Barry Popik’s website, The Big Apple, discusses the history of the flat or stacked enchilada, giving several recipes including a recent one by Bobby Flay that is fairly similar to our 1936 recipe, and one dating back to 1950.

The flat enchilada can be found earlier than 1950, however. Here it is in “A New Mexico Supper,” American Cookery, October, 1921:

Las Enchiladas, for instance, are unlike anything else under the sun. You may follow, if you like, the fascinating process of concoction of this piece de resistance of your meal. The senora is frying tortillas, the corn pancake which is the foundation of the enchilada.

“From a snowy mass of corn meal dough she pinches a ball which she spins and pats between her plump hands into a thin wafer about six inches in diameter. She browns this on top of the stove, rotating and turning it with her moistened palm. When three tortillas have been beautifully browned they are next dropped into a kettle of boiling fat where they bubble and turn until the real building process begins.

“First a tortilla in the center of a plate. Then a flood of rich red chile sauce from a near-by kettle, a layer of grated cheese, another tortilla, more chile and more cheese sprinkled between in layer-cake fashion, and the whole topped with a high crown of chopped onions in which nestles an egg, which has been broken for a minute into the hot lard. An artistic and cooling garnish of lettuce—and behold an enchilada!”

The flat “Mexican Style” enchilada recipe in Mexican Cookery for American Homes is on the same page as a recipe labeled “American Style.” The “American” version is the rolled style: tortillas stuffed with hot chili from a can and then covered with chili as well, then sprinkled with grated cheese and placed in the oven just long enough to melt the cheese.

The “Mexican Style” sounds much more appealing, so I went with that. The first step was to turn to the Chili Sauce recipe on page 36.

(Chili Sauce)

2 T. butter 2 T. flour
1 onion, chopped 1/2 t. salt
1 green pepper, chopped 1 T. Gebhardt’s Chili Powder
1 clove of garlic, minced 1 c. tomatoes
1 c. meat stock or water

Cook onion, green pepper and garlic in the butter until soft; add flour, salt and Gebhardt’s Chili Powder and stir until smooth. Add tomatoes and meat stock or water. Cook until thickened and smooth. Strain if desired.

Cooking enchiladas from a 1936 recipe

This is reasonably straightforward. The only changes I made to the recipe were using chili powder from Penzeys (their Medium Hot) instead of Gebhardt’s, and using vegetable stock instead of beef stock or water. I made the full recipe.

Chile sauce

The chili sauce ready to go, it was time to make the enchiladas. I was only making one stack because Jason is currently not eating tortillas — he was going to use the chili sauce to make himself some huevos rancheros instead. The original recipe serves six, so I reduced the quantities as appropriate.

I heated up olive oil in a pan, and when it was hot, dipped each tortilla in the oil for about 5 seconds on each side, then dipped it in the sauce, then laid it out on the plate. The one problem I tended to have here was that I couldn’t stack neatly, since the tortillas kept wanting to fold in on themselves while I was trying to get them on the plate.

Neatly or not, I got each tortilla, now coated in saucy goodness, onto the plate, where Jason sprinkled cheese and onions on top of each layer.

Enchiladas from a 1936 recipe

I quickly fried an egg sunny-side up, and placed it on top of the stack, then sprinkled on some more cheese, onions, and a few spoonfuls of chili sauce, and a dab of sour cream. (Unfortunately, I don’t have a good photo of the finished eggy version.)


This was excellent. I don’t think it is necessarily the healthiest thing I’ve ever cooked, what with the quick-fried tortillas and the egg and the cheese, but darned if it wasn’t one of the tastiest. I would cook and eat this again any time.

The chili sauce had a lot to do with the success of this recipe. I did let it thicken and reduce just a bit more than I should have, I think, but it was delicious. I chose not to strain it, so it was a bit chunky, but that wasn’t a problem at all. It wasn’t outrageously hot chili sauce, but it wasn’t exactly tame, either — you would take a taste and think “this isn’t hot at all, just flavorful,” and then a minute later the burn would hit you. And it was a good burn, not the kind of macho “more pain than flavor” burn you get from a lot of spicy foods these days. Of course, it might just be that the chili powder we used is really tasty.

We both felt that the sauce needed a bit of salt, but that wasn’t a big deal. Some of the information I found online about Gebhardt’s chili powder indicated that it might be as much as 40% salt, which would explain why our version that didn’t use Gebhardt’s needed some salt — the Penzeys powder we used contains only Ancho chili pepper, red pepper, cumin, garlic and oregano, but not any salt.

I can’t speak for authenticity or whether this really is “Mexican Style.” What I do know is that it’s pretty good, and I think I’ll introduce it to a few Seattle friends who may never have enjoyed a stacked enchilada before.

We had some leftover chili sauce and onions, and used that to resurrect another recipe on the next day. Stay tuned for a post about that one.

Mexican Cookery for American Homes

Last week I acquired a copy of a small cookbook, Mexican Cookery for American Homes, published in 1936 by the Gebhardt Chili Powder Company of San Antonio, Texas. This was an updated version of a 1923 cookbook also published by Gebhardt. (In 1908, Gebhardt published another book called Mexican Cooking; there’s a reprint now available.)

In the early 20th century, Mexican food has become a staple of the American diet, though it’s been Americanized to some extent. It’s no longer exotic in any way. We all know enchiladas, tacos, and tamales. In 1936, however, Mexican food could still be a bit more of an unusual treat unless you lived in areas such as the Southwest U.S.. The cookbook’s foreword alludes to this when it says “Mexican foods are as interesting and appetizing as they are exotic” and stresses that “Americanized recipes are also included.”

Indeed they are. Along with the enchiladas and tacos, the book includes Sopa a la Creole (Creole Gumbo), Torta de Carne Enchilada (Chili Meat Loaf), Rarebit a la Mexicana (three versions of Mexican Rarebit — basically, Welsh Rabbit with with such additions as chili powder, corn, and Gebhardt’s Deviled Sandwich Spread), Huevos Endiablados en Aspic (Deviled Eggs in Aspic) and Chili Scrapple.

My favorite recipe, for its sheer silliness, is the recipe for Gebhardt’s Chili con Carne:

(Gebhardt’s Chili with Meat)

No. 2 can Gebhardt’s Chili con Carne

Place the can of Gebhardt’s Chili con Carne, either plain or with beans, in a saucepan and cover with hot water. Allow to boil gently for 20 minutes. Turn into hot bowls and serve at once.

Yes, you read that correctly. This recipe is telling you to heat up a can of chili. If that’s not enough, it’s telling you to boil it unopened. That’s not something we see much in modern cookbooks, is it? (Though I admit to making dulce de leche that way once or twice — you boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for 3 hours. Problem is, if the pan runs dry, your can explodes.)

Many of the other recipes are a bit more complex and don’t require products out of a Gebhardt can, though most of them do require Gebhardt chili powder, which makes sense since that was the company’s flagship product. This week, I made Enchiladas, Mexican Style and Salsa de Chili from this cookbook. I’ll report how those recipes turned out in my next post. In the meantime, however, you might enjoy Gebhardt’s recipe for tacos.


Place slices of cooked meat of chicken on a tortilla, spread with pickle relish and fold over, fastening each tacos with two toothpicks so as to hold together. Fry in deep hot fat (390 F.) or toast on a hot griddle, until throughly (sic.) heated and a golden brown in color.

Have ready a salad of shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes dressed with Gebhardt’s Salad Dressing (page 39). Top each hot tacos with the salad and serve at once.

Note: Tacos is the Mexican’s Sandwich. It is generally thought of as made of roast meat of chicken, either sliced or minced but cheese and sweet fillings are rapidly gaining in popularity. The Mexican enjoys his Tacos and Hot Chocolate as does the American his Doughnuts and Coffee.

An interesting thing about the Gebhardt recipe is how the text uses the word “tacos” — it uses it as a singular noun: “Top each hot tacos with the salad.” Other old cookbooks and magazines from before this time don’t do this. For example, Table Talk, “The American Authority upon Culinary Topics and Fashions of the Table,” discussed Mexican cooking in October, 1913 in the article “Mexican Kitchens and Cooks,” and said: “A taco is the Mexican sandwich; it is a tortilla in which are rolled meat, frijoles, salsa, or nata (curd of boiled milk).”

As a bonus, here’s one more early 20th century recipe for tacos, this one from the Castelar Créche Cook Book, published in Los Angeles in 1922:


Put the tortillas in boiling lard and put in tomatoes mashed with onion and bits of garlic, cheese, cooked pork meat, alligator pear, salt and strips of peeled chiles. Roll and cover with a clean tortilla, hold together with toothpick and fry in very little lard, in fact, just enough not to burn. To eat, take off the first tortilla.—Carlota L. Algara.

Next post — The Enchiladas, Mexican Style experiment. Stay tuned.

Mexican Cookery for American Homes

Surprise! More asparagus on toast

I just stumbled on this 1957 advertisement and recipe from Good Housekeeping while browsing clotho98’s wonderful photostream on Flickr. Instead of tartar sauce as in the recipe I posted the other day, it has cheese sauce, and there’s deviled ham on the toast. If anyone tries this version, I’d love to hear what you think of it!

(I must confess that I once loved deviled ham. Haven't had it in years.)

The Asparagus on Toast experiment

Grandma's cookbook: inside the cover (I apologize for the lengthy gap in posts. Real world stuff for the last couple of months has made it very difficult to find time for the cooking, researching, and posting this site deserves. I do have several topics lined up, though, so stay tuned and they’ll be here eventually. Here’s a quick post for the meantime.)

I was going through my grandma’s cookbook from the 1930s, looking for something that would be good with dinner, when the word “asparagus” caught my eye. It’s asparagus season, isn’t it? No better time to experiment with an old recipe that uses it.

Here’s the recipe, with possibly the first time I’ve ever seen the phrase “asparagus water”:


Cut off tough ends of stalks, wash, and cut in inch pieces, keeping tips by themselves. Boil tougher portions in salted water twenty minutes or until tender. Add tips when tougher portions are partly cooked. Drain, pile lightly on buttered toast, which has been moistened with asparagus water, and pour over melted butter, or cover with thin white sauce or tartar sauce.


1/2 cup stiff mayonnaise
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped pickle relish
1 teaspoon finely chopped onion
1/8 teaspoon salt

Mix and chill the ingredients and serve with the asparagus.

Though the recipe is another one of the X on toast recipes that seemed more common then than now, the recipe isn’t all that strange, I suppose. I was, however, a bit concerned about the boiled asparagus. Most of the time when I eat asparagus now, it’s steamed, or stir-fried. When I was a kid, I grew up eating canned asparagus, which is kind of mushy. (I liked it anyway, having never had the non-canned version.) I expected boiled asparagus would be closer to the canned texture, and I was not too thrilled about that. But you don’t know until you try, so it was off to the kitchen!

Recipe in progress: tartar sauce

I started with the tartar sauce. I love tartar sauce. As a kid, whenever we went to local burger joints like Dick’s Drive-In or Dag’s, I would always get tartar for my fries. McDonald’s didn’t have tartar, but they were wrong.

As I got older, and more national fast food chains moved into the Seattle-area, the newcomers didn’t offer tartar sauce. Ketchup was everywhere, but it got more and more difficult to find simple tartar sauce for your fries. I have heard that tartar sauce with fries is a “Pacific Northwest thing.” I don’t know. It’s not as common as it used to be, though.

Though I love the stuff, I’ve never actually tried to make it. It’s always been out of a jar. I wasn’t even sure what it was made of. (Or why the tartar sauce from Dick’s is yellow/green.) So I was looking forward to making my own.

The mayonnaise and relish were an issue. The best possible way to make this would be to make homemade mayo and relish to start. I didn’t really have the time or motivation to do that. Also, in the 1930s and earlier, packaged mayo and relish were available, so it would be authentic to use these. Somehow I don’t think my grandma was always making her own mayonnaise. (I used Best Foods mayo, a very old brand.)


I hate sweet relish, but the store had dill relish, so I used that. I added the lemon juice and the salt, and a tiny sprinkle of garlic powder to make up for the onion that I forgot to buy. Then I stirred the mixture, tasted it, and… yum! Even though I didn’t make my own mayo or relish, this tartar sauce was still tastier than the usual jarred tartar sauce. Excellent. I set it aside in the fridge to chill and blend the flavors for a while.

Next, the asparagus. Nothing difficult about this bit—I followed the directions exactly, boiling it in salted water. I boiled the tougher parts for 10 minutes, then added the tips for the rest of the boiling time. The asparagus boiled for maybe 18 minutes total instead of 20, as it seemed perfectly tender at that point. And not mushy.

I buttered toast and moistened it with some of the asparagus water as directed, then spooned on the asparagus and topped it with tartar sauce. (Perhaps a bit more than it needed.) It was tasting time.


Hey! It’s good! The asparagus is cooked but not too soft and not mushy in any way. It has a good asparagus flavor. The bread balances it out nicely both in texture and in flavor. The tartar sauce is bright and vinegary on the tongue with a nice bit of dill flavor from the dill relish. (The flavor did intensify after a couple of hours in the fridge, incidentally.)

The combination was really good, and definitely a surprise. I was expecting something edible but not particularly good or interesting, but this was both. It’s also really easy to make. I will make it again.

I still have a bunch of tartar sauce left—I might have to go to Dick’s for some fries…

Teriyaki salmon, asparagus on toast, rice
(Here the asparagus dish is served with some teriyaki salmon and a bit of rice. Unfortunately it got dark before dinnertime, so the lighting wasn’t very good, unlike the dinner, which was excellent.)

A “Japanese” salad from a Russian princess

This 1932 issue of Liberty magazine contained a recipe for a Japanese salad.

Real life stuff has kept me from doing the fun cooking and researching that I want to do. I have a few topics in line but no time to put them together or try the recipes! Augh!

But, have no fear — I do at least have an old recipe for you to enjoy today. This is from the August 27, 1932 issue of Liberty magazine, page 50, in the “To the Ladies!” column by Princess Alexandra Kropotkin (“linguist, traveler, lecturer, and authority on fashion” — she was the London-born daughter of the famous Russian anarchist Peter Alexeyevich Kropotkin).

The column begins with a blurb about actress Anna May Wong, and, after some jokes, anecdotes, and a plug for the book Blonde Interlude by Bourke Lee, ends with a recipe:

“With extreme daredeviltry I give you a Japanese salad on the same page with a Chinese movie star. I may be starting another war, but here goes:

“To begin making this Japanese salad you first peel some potatoes and cook them in meat bouillon with a bay leaf. Dice the potatoes while warm. With every two cups of diced potatoes use one cup of cut-up shrimps, half a cup of diced tongue, and two tablespoons of chopped chives.

“For the dressing use one tablespoon of the hot bouillon in which the potatoes were cooked, one tablespoon of vinegar, two of salad oil, a scant tablespoon of sugar, half a teaspoon of soy sauce, pepper, and a speck of ground mace. Chill well.

“Make a border of the Japanese mixture and fill the center with lettuce leaves sprinkled with French dressing. Decorate with little mounds of chopped beets.”

I am pretty certain I won’t be making this one. It contains two things that are Kryptonite to me: tongue and beets. I once had a traumatic experience when I was invited to dinner with a boyfriend’s parents, and the dinner consisted of boiled, unseasoned tongue sliced in cross-section (the father could not have salt and apparently anything else that makes food taste interesting was off-limits, too) and canned string beans. (The only drink offered was water, which might have been all right if the food was edible, but it was not. I imagine the average prison food is better. It certainly is likely to have more flavor.) So tongue was off the menu for me after that, even when I did still eat beef.

I don’t know how “Japanese” this salad actually is. It strikes me as pretty western, despite the half teaspoon of soy sauce. If this actually is Japanese, I would love to know.

The long-lost Golden Rod Cake

I was looking through a 1914 issue of The Boston Cooking School Magazine when this ad caught my eye:

A couple of interesting gadgets, there. That Roberts Lightning Mixer looks useful, and the mayonnaise mixer… well, you’d have to make a lot of mayonnaise to make that one worth taking up space in the kitchen, but if you do make a lot of mayo, I can see that it could be helpful.

But the one that mainly caught my attention is the one at the bottom of the page: “Golden Rod Cake Pan,” an oddly-shaped pan that appears to make triangular cakes. Since the inspiration for this blog, a year ago, was the similarly-named “Gold-n-Sno Cake,” I was particularly curious. What was the Golden Rod Cake?

A quick Google search turned up this post by the Old Foodie, who looked into the topic last year, complete with three interesting recipes.

Here are a couple more recipes for the Golden Rod Cake.

First, a very sparse recipe from A Collection of Delectable Recipes: Tried and True, 1898:


Eighteen ounces powdered sugar, nine ounces butter, sixteen ounces eggs, one tablespoonful vanilla, one pennyweight soda, two pennyweights cream tartar, eighteen ounces pastry flour.

No instructions whatsoever. No reference to the icing that many of the other recipes have. And no orange. Is this a related cake or something different?

Here’s a pair of recipes from Perfection in Baking, 1899. The first recipe is very close to Mrs. Chandler’s recipe, above. Perhaps we can assume that Mrs. Chandler just didn’t mention the orange icing because it was assumed that any reader would know that Golden Rod cakes would have orange icing.

Golden Rod Cake.

Cream together one pound of fine sugar with ten ounces of butter and one and a half pints eggs, one pennyweight of soda, one teaspoonful of vanilla, twenty ounces of cake flour, two pennyweights of cream of tartar. When baked, ice the sides with orange water icing.

Golden Rod Cake.

With one pound of butter and lard cream one and one half pounds of sugar, ten eggs, two thirds of a pint of milk, juice and grating of two oranges, two pounds of cake flour, one ounce of baking powder. Mix and bake like above. Ice some with orange, some strawberry, some chocolate. On one side ornament the name “Golden Rod” in different colors; that is, if cakes are frosted chocolate, ornament in yellow; if iced yellow, ornament in pink or white, etc.

(Further down on the same page, there is a recipe for Orange Slices cakes baked in a particular mold, and Orange Slice Cake is mentioned in the ad for the Golden Rod Cake Pan. Is this Orange Slices recipe what was meant?)

The Boston Cooking School offered the Golden Rod Cake Pan in the pages of their magazine, so it is no surprise that they had a recipe or two for it themselves. In 1904-1905, they gave us these two slightly different variations:

Goldenrod Cake for Charlotte Russe Moulds and Waldorf Triangles

Beat the yolks of six eggs very light. Gradually beat into these half a cup of sugar, then two tablespoonfuls of milk or orange juice, and, lastly, half a cup of sifted flour, sifted again with a level teaspoonful of baking powder and a few grains of salt. Fill the moulds or pans with a teaspoon, tapping the moulds on the table, to cause the mixture to settle to the bottom of the moulds. Bake in an oven a little hotter than for ordinary sponge cake, and turn the cake from the tins as soon as it is removed from the oven. Flavor with a grating of orange rind, or half a teaspoonful of vanilla extract. The recipe will make twelve triangles or charlotte russe cases. The mixture is finer-grained and more tender than the usual sponge cake. Cover the triangles with boiled frosting, and sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts.

Goldenrod Cake for Charlotte Russe Moulds and Waldorf Triangles

Beat the yolks of six eggs very light. Gradually beat in half a cup of fine granulated sugar, then two tablespoonfuls of milk or orange juice (lemon juice will not do) and, lastly, half a cup and one tablespoonful (for difference in flour) of sifted flour, sifted again with a level teaspoonful of baking powder and a few grains of salt. Bake in an oven a little hotter than for ordinary sponge cake. Flavor with half a teaspoonful of vanilla extract or a grating of yellow orange rind.

Putting all this together, what we have is a fairly fine sponge cake, frequently with orange flavoring, shaped something like triangular ladyfingers, and sometimes used the same way (which might explain the lack of icing in Mrs. Chandler’s recipe—if you were making these for a Charlotte Russe, you wouldn’t need the icing).

I still don’t know the origin of the name, and I would really like to see how the Golden Rod cake was supposed to look. It would be fun to try to make them in the proper shape — does anyone know if pans like that still exist? I haven’t been able to find one.

Loseyns: Medieval cheese and pasta
In erthen pot put brothe for hast;
Take floure of payndemayn, and make þy past
With water, þer of þy fele þou make
With a roller, and drye hit, I undurtake
Aȝayne þo sonne þat hit be harde;
Kast þerin brothe and make rewarde;
To sethe hom take rawe chese anone
And grate hit in disshes mony on
With powder dowce; and lay þer in
þy loseyns abofe þe chese with wynne,
And powder on last spryngil hit þou may;
þose loysyns er harde to make in fay.

This rhyming recipe was written in Middle English, around 1420-1440, in the Liber cure Cocorum. You can see a 19th-century transcription of it here at Google Books, and here at Greg Lindahl’s website. The latter site also has a modern translation by Cindy Renfrow.

Basically, the recipe in the Liber cure Cocorum is this: Make dried pasta. Cook the dried pasta in broth. Grate cheese into a dish, add powder douce (a common medieval spice mixture), layer cooked pasta on the cheese/spice mixture, top with powder douce. The recipe ends by saying, essentially, “these loysyns are hard to make, really.”

And yet, they don’t really seem to be. I’ve cooked it twice so far, and both times the results have been really tasty. This is the recipe that is often called “medieval lasagne,” and a few years ago there was some fuss about whether this indicated that lasagne was of British origin. (Not particularly. But the dish is certainly similar.)

Loseyns are also found in The Forme of Cury, a 1390 cookbook by the cooks of King Richard II’s household. With no need to make their recipes rhyme, the loseyns recipe in this book has a few more details:

“Take gode broth and do in an erthen pot, take flour of payndemayn and make þereof past with water. and make þereof thynne foyles as paper with a roller, drye it harde and seeþ it in broth take Chese ruayn grated and lay it in disshes with powdour douce. and lay þeron loseyns isode as hoole as þou mizt. and above powdour and chese, and so twyse or thryse, & serve it forth.”

Here it is as I would put it in Modern English:

“Put good broth in an earthen pot. Take white bread flour and water, and make thin sheets of pasta with a roller. Dry the pasta. Then cook it in broth. Grate mild cheese, and put it in a dish with powder douce. Lay pasta on the cheese, cooked as much as you like. Layer cheese and powder above that, and repeat this two or three times. Then serve it.”

(Notice it doesn’t tell you to bake it. If you work really quickly, with very hot pasta, the pasta melts the cheese somewhat and it’s actually pretty good without baking! But I find it easier just to go ahead and bake it. Perhaps the hard part referred to by the author of the Liber cure Cocorum was getting the whole thing put together before the pasta cooled.)

Here’s a rough version adapted from the Forme of Cury version. Unfortunately, in a fine medieval style, I haven’t really measured my ingredients when I’ve made this, so the quantities are a little vague:

A page from The Forme of Cury, with part of the Loseyns recipe.


  • Lasagna noodles, enough to layer several times in your baking dish (I don’t recommend “oven-ready” noodles — when I tried them, they failed because there wasn’t quite enough moisture in the recipe. The noodles were crunchy in the center of the pan, though they cooked well on the edges.)
  • Plenty of mild cheese (I have used a medium cheddar with good results)
  • Broth (chicken broth would be fine. I use good vegetarian broth with a touch of garlic.)
  • Powder douce (mine is a mixture of cinnamon, ginger, sugar, cloves, and nutmeg. I make the mixture myself.)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grate cheese. Cook lasagne noodles in broth, then drain. Put some grated cheese in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle on some powder douce to taste. Layer cooked lasagne noodles over the cheese. Repeat about three times, alternating cheese/powder douce with noodles. Finish with a layer of cheese and powder douce. Bake at 350F for 30-40 minutes or until it is bubbly and nicely golden brown on top.

The powder douce is a combination of flavors we think of in very sweet foods — it makes a killer cinnamon toast — and so the first time I made this, I thought that it might not taste good with the cheese. But it’s wonderful. And despite the complaint by the author of the Liber cure Cocorum, it’s not difficult. Boil pasta, grate cheese, layer the two, bake. You can’t get much simpler.

Cooking loseyns ("medieval lasagne")
Ready to go in the oven.

Cooking loseyns ("medieval lasagne")
Cooked and ready to eat! Unfortunately I don’t have a good picture of the loseyns nicely arranged on a dinner plate. But it was good and tasty.

“A Candy Receipt”: Cocoanut Cream Bars

I have a new recipe resurrection to post soon, but in the meantime, I want to link to a relevant post at The Ugly Woman’s Guide to Internet Dating (which, despite the title, has some lovely posts about old houses and kitchen topics, including one on the Monitor Top fridge, a topic of particular interest to me).

The blog author, Rose Thornton, recently posted a great 1903 ad for Dunham’s Cocoanut, with swoopy Art Nouveau lines surrounding a picture of “Cocoanut Cream Bars,” and the “Candy Receipt” that would produce the delectable desserts.

Browsing around Google Books for some more Dunham’s ads, I came across the same recipe from 1901, in a much less exuberant design—not a hint of Art Nouveau in it. This one has more text and so the instructions are fleshed out a bit more. It’s also credited to the (then) very famous Mrs. Rorer, who compiled a recipe booklet or two for Dunham’s. (Unfortunately, the ad is a bit blurry, but at least it’s still readable.)

Interestingly, while the 1903 ad uses the old-fashioned term “receipt,” the 1901 ad just says “recipe.” (Speaking of language/spelling changes, I wonder why “cocoanut” became “coconut” sometime during the 20th century.)

The recipe itself is pretty straightforward; boil a sugar syrup until it “will form into a ball when dropped in cold water”—soft ball stage, 235° F–240° F. Then remove it from the heat, let it stand briefly, and then stir it against the side of the pan with a spoon, which should give you some crystallization. Then stir it all together and mix in the coconut quickly. (Judging from some of my previous experiences making a very similar old-fashioned fudge recipe, they aren’t kidding when they tell you to work quickly here. The stuff can thicken up fast.) It should be tasty, if tooth-achingly sweet.

Christmas might be a good time to try this one. If you do, please share how it went.

“None need go without a Christmas day”: Plum Pudding, Old Style

Click on this image to see a larger copy of this 1930s plum pudding recipe. Scan by Daily Bungalow.

Click on this image, then click All Sizes, to see a larger copy of this 1930s plum pudding recipe. Scan by Daily Bungalow.

Christmastime is the perfect time to investigate old-timey recipes. Finding time to cook them is another story, however. But I can still look for ideas.

I’ve never actually had a plum pudding. I know that they aren’t common in the United States, or at least, not in the Pacific Northwest, where I live. Is it that the recipe is old-fashioned, or is it just that it was never popular in this country?

Looking for something Christmasy, I stumbled on a book with the substantial title: Dr. Chase’s Third, Last and Complete Receipt Book and Household Physician, Or Practical Knowledge for the People: From the Life-Long Observations of the Author, embracing the Choicest, Most Valuable and Entirely New Receipts in Every Department of Medicine, Mechanics, and Household Economy; including a Treatise on the Diseases of Women And Children. In Fact, The Book for the Million. With Remarks and Explanations which adapt it to the Every-day Wants of the People, Arranged in Departments and most Copiously Indexed, by A. W. Chase, M. D., the “Memorial Edition” published in 1891, after Dr. Chase’s death.

Dr. Chase includes six different “receipts” (recipes) for plum pudding, and devotes space to many other different puddings, too. A whole chapter in the book is devoted to puddings, including such odd concoctions to our eyes as Pop-Corn Pudding, Salt Pork Pudding, and “Hunter’s Pudding, Boiled—Will Keep for Months.” There is much Resurrected Recipes fodder to be found here, though I imagine we will stay away from the Salt Pork Pudding.

One of the plum pudding recipes is written, charmingly, in verse:

Plum Pudding to Englishmen’s Taste, No. 3, In Rhyme.—
To make plum-pudding to Englishmen’s taste,
So all may be eaten and nothing to waste,
Take of raisins, and currants, and bread-crumbs all round;
Also suet from oxen, and flour a pound,
Of citron well candied, or lemon as good,
With molasses and sugar, eight ounces, I would,
Into this first compound, next must be hasted
A nutmeg well grated, ground ginger well tasted,
With salt to preserve it, of such a teaspoonful;
Then of milk half a pint, and of fresh eggs take six;
Be sure after this that you properly mix.
Next tie up in a bag, just as round as you can,
Put into a capacious and suitable pan,
Then boil for eight hours just as hard as you can.

Here is the recipe that Dr. Chase specifically mentions for Christmas:

Christmas Plum-Pudding, No. 6, Old Style.—Stone 1 1/2 lbs. of raisins, wash, pick and dry 1/2 lb. of currants, mince fine 3/4 lb. of suet, cut into thin slices 1/2 lb. of mixed peel (orange and lemon), and grate fine 3/4 lb. of bread-crumbs. When all these dry ingredients are prepared; mix them well together, then moisten the mixture with 8 eggs, well beaten, and one wine-glass of brandy; stir well, that everything may be thoroughly blended, and press the pudding into a buttered mould; tie it down tightly with a floured cloth, and boil 6 hours. On Christmas day a sprig of holly is usually placed in the middle of the pudding, and about a wine-glass of brandy poured round it, which, at the moment of serving, is lighted, and the pudding thus brought to the table encircled in flames.

Remarks.—With half-a-dozen plum-puddings none need go without a Christmas day, certainly. The only point that seems to me unreasonable is the long boiling, 8, or even 6 hours, which appears to be more than is needed. A circle of three ladies, to whom I referred the matter, gave it as their judgment that 3 hours would be sufficient. Let English people stick to the old custom, but Americans will find that from 3 to 4 hours will cook them perfectly. [See the Paradise Pudding below, which is only to be boiled 2 hours.] A wine-glass, at least, of brandy is almost universally put into the sauce upon Christmas occasions.

I probably won’t make these, as suet is one of those things that I don’t eat. (Maybe we can talk Kristen into it…) I challenge you all to try one of these recipes, and let us know how they turn out.

Published Monday, January 1, 1900 in the San Francisco Call. Courtesy of Indiamos.

Published Monday, January 1, 1900 in the San Francisco Call. Courtesy of Indiamos.




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  • profileWendi is a history geek and loves to bake, particularly recipes from her grandmother's collection. Kristen has been cooking her whole life. She has a BS in Family & Consumer Science and enjoys comfort foods and creating new recipes.


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