Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Coming Attractions

Here's a quick look at the first two contest recipes!  The contest starts January 1st!



Also, to get in the mood for our Viennese Pastry Challenge, watch "From Vienna: The New Year's Celebration 2011" on Great Performances Saturday evening on PBS.

Until Saturday!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Way to a Man's Heart...

So, back in July I announced I was going to be cooking from A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband to explore what prescriptive literature was telling Americans to eat when our domicile was built.  Here's what I made before I decided to eat less calories (for, like, a month) because my annual thyroid exam was coming up, which is kind of like not brushing your teeth for a year and then brushing, flossing and mouthwashing for the month leading up to a dentist's appointment.

Chapter XXX (August) - A Cool Summer Day
Pork Chops
Escalloped Potatoes
Baked Apples

Chapter XXXII (August) - Bettina Attends a Morning Wedding
Fried Chicken
New Potatoes
Creamed Peas

Chapter XLI (August) - Bettina Entertains State Fair Visitors
Cold Fried Chicken
Corn on the Cob
Chocolate Cookies (pictured below)

I'm in a bit of a rush because I have to go prepare tonight's dinner, but if you are interested in any of the recipes, just let me know!  This is probably my last post before Christmas, so I hope everyone has a wonderful vacation.  Don't forget: the contest starts soon!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Trifling Matter

Any day I get to use my estate-sale champagne coupes is a good day. You'll remember, I had a Boston Cream Pie near-disaster a while ago.  Thankfully, I'm the kind of person who knows just what to do with cake crumbs!  These aren't really trifles, because they're missing the required fruit and/or jam layer.  They're actually a Southern dessert (my recipe is inspired by The Williamsburg Cookbook) called "Tipsy Parson" or "Tipsy Squire."  Naturally enough, Paul and I have christened this dessert "Squire Western."  ("Rouse yourself from this pastoral torpor, sir!" is one of our hands-down favorite quotations.)  Bonus: this is super-simple to make.

This amounts in this recipe are for an entire cake and entire recipe of custard and will serve 12-16 people and fill a trifle dish nicely.  Just halve the recipe if you are in the situation I was in!

Squire Western
Two 8"-round cake layers or one 8x8" cake (I used the One-Egg Cake recipe here.)*
1 recipe Custard Filling, completely cooled
1/2 cup cream sherry (I use Harvey's Bristol Cream because it's cheap and has a royal warrant.)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup slivered almonds

First, place the slivered almonds on a baking sheet and toast under the broiler until lightly browned (keep an eye on it.) Set aside.

Crumble the cake into the bottom of a trifle dish or into the bottom of individual dessert dishes.  Set aside.

Using a whisk, aggressively beat the custard filling while you pour in the obscene amount of sherry.  Pour this lusciousness over the crumbled cake, cover and place in the fridge.  You can do all of this several hours to a few days in advance.  Wait at least the several hours to let the sherry custard soak into the cake.

Just before serving, beat the heavy cream to not-quite-soft-peak territory.  It should be thickened but not too stiff.  Pour it on top of the sherry custard-soaked cake and, if you're using the trifle dish, spread it around evenly.  Top with the toasted almonds.  Enjoy!

*It's best if the cake is a little stale, so leave it wrapped and on the counter for a couple days or freeze for use later.  Stale cake will soak up the boozy custard better than fresh cake, which is very important.


Recommendation for a double feature:

Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes (1938)
Carol Reed's Night Train to Munich (1940)

Margaret Lockwood stars in both films.  In The Lady Vanishes, she witnesses the disappearance of a fellow train passenger and enlists Michael Redgrave in the search.  In Night Train to Munich, Lockwood escapes from a concentration camp with Paul Henreid, but needs the help of Rex Harrison to escape the Gestapo.  Keep an eye out for Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne, who play Charters and Caldicott, a pair of cricket-obsessed Englishmen, in both films.

These films would be great for a family movie night over the holidays.  They're kid- and grandparent-appropriate and thoroughly enjoyable for everyone.  Both movies are available on DVD from the Criterion Collection and The Lady Vanishes is available on Netflix Watch Instantly and from The Internet Archive.


In case you missed yesterday's post, be sure to read about my brand-spanking-new contest!

Tipsy Squire on FoodistaTipsy Squire

Sunday, December 19, 2010

An invitation to join me in my kitchen adventures...

The holiday season is probably the only time most people even think about Austria--The Sound of Music is usually on TV around Christmas and then PBS airs the annual Vienna Philharmonic New Year's Day Concert.  I, however, have an obsession with Viennese coffeehouses (Kaffeehäuser) and all things Alpine (I blame The Lawrence Welk Show* and, of course, The Sound of Music).  My first Foods of the World purchase was The Cooking of Vienna's Empire, I have a copy of Lilly Joss Reich's sadly-out-of-print The Viennese Pastry Cookbook on order from Amazon and I've checked out  Kaffeehaus and The Classic Art of Viennese Pastry from the library.  On Friday, I bought a springform cake tin.  I'm ready to go!


After Christmas, I'm going to start baking my way through The Viennese Pastry Cookbook.  I hope you'll join me!  If you do decide to make one of the recipes, leave a comment on the post for the recipe you chose (and tell me why you chose that particular recipe) and how it turned out (and why).  If you take a photo or write a blog entry, be sure to include a link.  You can sign up for one of the photo-sharing websites for free.  At the end of each month (starting with January), I'll randomly select a "hey-I-tried-that" comment from that month's posts and the person who wrote the selected comment will receive a Viennese-baking-related prize.  The more recipes you try, the more chances to win!  You don't have to have an account to comment, either, just be sure to leave your name!  I don't generally get many comments, so there's a good statistical chance of winning.

Stay tuned for the first baking assignment!


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Collection of Cakes

How awesome is it that one (economical) cake recipe can do so many things?  In a previous post, I made Creole Cake (Recipe is here.  It's the same cake baked in a square pan and topped with chocolate/coffee frosting.), three weeks ago I made Layer Cake with Pink Frosting (see below) and yesterday I made Boston Cream Pie.  Unfortunately, I only made half of a Boston Cream Pie, because my layers stuck to their pans and I was only able to salvage one of them.  No worries, though--we'll cover the other in custard and lots of sherry, call it a trifle and everything will be all right.  You wouldn't even know except that I just told you.  Besides, I don't believe in pretending that everything always turns out exactly as I intend!

One Egg Cake:
 Serves 12

1/4 cup butter (4 tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

  • Either preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8" square cake tin or preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease two 8" round cake tins.
  • In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
  • Beat in egg, then vanilla, combining thoroughly.
  • Beat in flour (1/2 cup at a time) and milk (1/4 cup at a time) alternately, beating after each addition.  With the last 1/2 cup of flour, add the salt and baking powder.
  • If making a square cake, pour batter into tin, smooth out with a spatula and bake 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • If making two round layers, divide batter evenly between tins, smooth out with a spatula and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  • Leave cake tin(s) to cool on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely.   
Adapted from "Calumet One-egg Cake," All About Home Baking (New York: General Foods Corporation, 1933), 32.

Layer Cake with Pink Frosting

Serves 12

Bake One Egg Cake in two 8"-round cake tins (375 degrees, 20-25 minutes).  Cool completely and set aside.

1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
gel food coloring (optional, can be any color but I used pink)
approximately 3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
dash of salt (less than a pinch)

  • In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter.  Add sugar gradually, beating after each addition.
  • If you are using food coloring, beat it into the frosting now.
  • Beat in milk, a little at a time, until frosting is a good consistency for spreading (you may not need all the milk).
  • Stir in vanilla and salt.
  • Frost the top of the first layer and place the second layer on top of it.  Frost the top of the second layer, as well.
Adapted from "Butter Frosting," All About Home Baking (New York: General Foods Corporation, 1933,), 107.

Boston Cream Pie

Serves 12

Bake One Egg Cake in two 8"-round cake tins (375 degrees, 20-25 minutes).  Cool completely and set aside.

Custard Filling:
3 tablespoons cake flour
1/3 cup sugar
Dash of salt
1 cup milk
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

  • Put all the ingredients, except vanilla, in the top of a double boiler.
  • Whisk continuously over high heat for about 10 minutes, or until mixture has thickened.
  • Cool slightly then stir in vanilla.
  • Cover with plastic wrap (directly on the custard to prevent a skin from forming) and chill until needed.  Custard should be completely cooled before using.

Chocolate icing:
3 tablespoons chocolate chips
1 teaspoon butter
2 tablespoons hot water
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted

  • Put the chocolate chips, butter and water into a small saucepan. 
  • Stir over lowest heat until just melted.
  • Remove from heat and stir in powdered sugar.  Stir until cooled and thickened.
To assemble: Spread custard filling on top of one layer and top with second layer.  Spread chocolate icing on top of second layer.  Chill cake for at least half an hour before serving.

Adapted from "Custard Cream Filling," All About Home Baking (New York: General Foods Corporation, 1933), 74 and "Thin Chocolate Icing," Betty Crocker's New Dinner For Two Cookbook (New York: Golden Press, 1964), 68.

Creole Cake recipe here.  It's the same cake baked in a square pan and topped with chocolate/coffee frosting.


Some music to go with the recipes (1933 for All About Home Baking and 1964 for Betty Crocker's New Dinner for Two):

1933: Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadians featuring Bing Crosby- "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me"

1964: Dean Martin- "Everybody Loves Somebody" (Yes, in a year full of Beatles singles I picked a Dean Martin song, but none of you dear readers are surprised.)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Another Use for "Wonder Dough"

Stollen goes really well with coffee
May I suggest baking Stollen for your Christmas celebrations?  Or, really, any time of year?  Stollen is a traditional German Christmas bread that always shows up this time of year at the imported foods store.  However, I think it's better to bake your own, even if it's a bastardized 1950s Betty Crocker interpretation of stollen.  Let's say it's stollen-inspired or something like that.  I also have to admit to changing the Betty Crocker recipe because no one in this house is a fan of glacé cherries.  Also, turns out I inadvertently skipped the kneading the fruit into the dough bit, so it's just a filling.  Feel free to knead if you try this at home.  Anyhow, my stollen is really tasty and that's all you need to know.

Super-messy counter after glazing
Download a PDF of this recipe here.


1/2 Sweet Dough recipe
1/2 cup blanched almonds, finely chopped
1/4 cup candied lemon peel, finely chopped
1/4 cup raisins
1 cup golden raisins
2 teaspoons butter, melted

1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 to 2 tablespoons cream

After second rising, flatten dough on a lightly floured surface and top with the almonds, peel and raisins. Knead into the dough and then press dough into an oval (approx. 8" x 12").

Fold the oval in half lengthwise ("hot dog") in order to form a crescent.  Press the edges together and transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet.

Let stollen rise at room temperature 35 to 45 minutes, or until doubled or let it rise overnight in the fridge and take it out while the oven is coming up to temperature.

Brush butter over the top of the stollen and bake at 375 degrees for around 30 minutes, or until golden.  Place on a cooling rack and make the glaze.

Put the powdered sugar in a small mixing bowl and stir in the lemon juice and enough of the cream to make a glaze.  Be sure to add cream slowly, because you don't want your glaze to be too runny!  Spread glaze over top of stollen (you don't need to wait for stollen to cool).  Enjoy!

Adapted from "Stollen," Betty Crocker's Picture Cook Book (Minneapolis: Macmillan USA and General Mills, Inc., 1950), 102 and "Confectioner's Sugar Icing," Ibid, 111.

P.S. My "Missus C" mug is available from Anthropologie.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Poldark and Pasties: Cinematic and Culinary Cornwall

Today, it finally feels as though the weather has changed--the air is cool, the lawn is covered in orange leaves and it's fifteen 'til five and gray and dreary and wonderful. I'm absolutely delighted. The best things happen in autumn and winter.

One of those things is curling up and watching a BBC miniseries, like Poldark.  Made in 1975, Poldark is the story of a man (Ross Poldark) who returns from fighting in the American Revolution to discover that his estate in Cornwall has gone to rack and ruin.  I couldn't wait for each disc to arrive and I usually watched all the episodes on a single disc the day it arrived from Netflix.  Yes, it's soapy and it was obviously taped rather than filmed, but Poldark is an entertaining and enjoyable 821 minutes (and it moves a lot faster than The Pallisers).  Note: this is only a review of series 1.  Series 2 comes out on DVD next Tuesday, so I haven't seen it yet!

While you're devoting almost 14 hours of your life to Poldark, you might get hungry.  How about a Cornish pasty?

Download a PDF of this recipe here.


Makes 8

Shortcrust Pastry x 1.5 (go ahead and make a double batch...stay tuned) (recipe here or download here)
1 lb steak (a cheap cut), trimmed of fat and cut into small pieces (1/2"x1/2")
1/2 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1/4 lb rutabaga or turnip, peeled and cut into smaller-than-1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, diced
mixture of dried thyme, marjoram, savoury and rosemary (or use Herbes de Provence)
salt and pepper

Divide the pastry into 8 individual discs and refrigerate until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a mixing bowl, combine the steak, potatoes, rutabaga, onion, herbs and salt and pepper.  Stir to combine and set aside.

Roll out each disc of pastry to about 1/8" thickness.  Place 1/8 of steak mixture in the middle of the pastry round, bring two ends of the circle together, seal and flute the edges.  Place on a baking sheet and keep in the refrigerator until all of the pasties are prepared.  Repeat for the remaining seven pasties.  You'll need two baking sheets.

Bake pasties for 20 minutes at 425, then turn the heat down to 350 and bake another 45 minutes.  Cover the pasties with tin foil if they start to get too brown.

Adapted from Paul Richardson's Cornucopia: A Gastronomic Tour of BritainFavourite Dorset Recipes and Tea & Sympathy.

And now, an idea for the leftover 1/2 recipe of shortcrust pastry...

Yes, you most certainly are allowed to make a one-crust pie with it.  May I suggest my Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie; Artichoke, Bacon and Cheddar Quiche or Blackberry-and-Apple Pie?

However, if you'd like something new, I have just made my first batch of Jam Tarts (adapted from The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket).

There's no recipe, just a few instructions.  Each batch of shortcrust pastry will make approximately 32 tarts, but you can use however much dough you have.  (The 1/2 batch of dough you have left over from the pasties will make 16 tarts in a standard-sized muffin tin.)

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Roll the pastry dough out to 1/8" thickness.
  • Cut out rounds of pastry with a 3 1/4" diameter circle cookie cutter.
  • Place rounds in the wells of a standard muffin tin.
  • Fill each tart with 1 teaspoon jam (any kind, I happened to have strawberry preserves).
  • Bake 12-15 minutes, or until pastry has browned slightly.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Malt Whisky Ginger Cake

Autumn's Bounty

So, we have about half a bottle of Johnnie Walker Red Label that I bought for Burns Night earlier this year that is just gathering dust. Paul loathes any Scotch whisky (he's a "bourbon man") and I'm really not much of a drinker, even though I actually like Scotch. I am, however, a bit of a Philistine when it comes to whisky. I bought the Johnnie Walker simply because it had a royal warrant and, to be honest, I can't say that the single malts I've had were really any better. That's evidently why I have a food blog and not a liquor blog. Besides, to make up for it, I'm a total snob about plenty of other things.

Anyway, when I saw this recipe in The Guardian, I knew I had to try it at home. Mostly, I've just adapted the ingredients for the way Americans bake (Imperial units, volume rather than weight, etc.), but I did lower the oven temperature because I was using a larger pan and I reduced the amount of crystallized ginger and added some extra ground ginger. That's because when I bought the crystallized ginger I thought (silly me!) that an entire jar would be more than enough.

Malt Whisky Ginger Cake

Yields 1 loaf cake
Serves 10

¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup black treacle
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
¼ cup Scotch whisky
2.6-oz. jar crystallized ginger (about 2/3 to ¾ cup)
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon mixed spice
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 ½” x 4 ½” x 2 ½” loaf pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. As soon as the butter is melted, remove the saucepan from the heat and whisk in the treacle and sugar until smooth. Whisk in the eggs then the oil and whisky.

Using a rubber spatula, stir in the crystallized ginger. Next, add the flour one-half-cup at a time, stirring after each addition until combined. Stir in the baking soda, ground ginger and mixed spice.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out on a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake is totally cool, mix the powdered sugar with enough water to make an icing (it takes a lot less water than one would think) and then spread it over the top of the cake.
For Mika and anyone else who was wondering about PDF hosting--
I just save my Word documents as PDFs (with my Mac, the option is in the print window) and then upload them to Really couldn't be easier, even for tech-incompetent me.


Paul poses with his doppelgänger, Simon the Chipmunk.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hello, Autumn!

It's finally sweater weather and I couldn't be happier. Plus, there are wonderful things like pears and plums to be eaten.

Speaking of plums, I just had to make a Three Plum Pie. I watched both seasons of Pushing Daisies on Netflix and loved it even though every episode made me hungry! If you like food or the movie Amélie or Tim Burton movies, you'll probably like Pushing Daisies. I highly recommend it.

Exciting news! I've found a way to offer my recipes as PDF downloads! Click here for Three Plum Pie and here for Shortcrust Pastry.

Three Plum Pie


9” Double-crust pie shell (See my Shortcrust Pastry recipe.)


½ lb red plums

½ lb black plums

¼ lb damsons (Italian prune plums)

zest from ½ an orange

¼ cup sugar

1 tablespoon flour

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon milk

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

For each plum, cut in half and remove the pit. Slice into approximately ¼” wedges. Place the wedges into a large mixing bowl. Grate the orange zest over the bowl and stir to combine. Next, add the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla. Stir to combine and set aside.

Roll out the bottom crust of your pastry and fit to your pie plate. Pour in the plum filling and then roll out the top crust and fit over the filling, crimping the edges. Make six 1” slashes in the top of the crust.

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet and then brush the top of the pie with the milk. Bake for 12 minutes at 450 and then turn the temperature down to 325 and bake a further 40 minutes, or until the crust in nicely browned.

You should definitely have a slice while the pie is hot, but any leftovers can be refrigerated and eaten later.

Adapted from this recipe and this recipe.

Shortcrust Pastry

Adapted from All About Home Baking*

Yields two 9” pie shells (enough for one double-crust pie or two single-crust pies)

1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon table salt

11 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes

1/3 cup (approximately) cold water

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt.

Next, rub in the butter with fingertips or a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Incorporate a bit of the water at a time until the dough starts to come together. You may not need all the water.

Divide the dough into two equally sized discs. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least half an hour. If you don’t plan to use the dough within 24 hours, you can freeze it for up to a month.

After the dough has chilled, you can either roll the dough out between two pieces of plastic wrap (adjusting the wrap often enough to prevent it from tearing) or flour your counter and rolling pin and roll the dough out directly on the counter.


In movie news, on October 12th Turner Classic Movies is broadcasting a Simon Templar (a.k.a. The Saint) marathon. George Sanders played Simon Templar five times (his films are on from 10:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CST), but none of the films are available on DVD. Thought I'd give you a heads up in case you were interested. By the way, don't call me between 10:15 and 4:30.

* General Foods Corporation, “Calumet Pie Crust,” All About Home Baking (New York: 1933), 101.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The 1925 Project: Wonder Dough

Back: Käse Kuchen, front: Streusel Coffee Cake

This is supposed to be a project for interwar recipes, but I'm going to fudge it a bit because my hot roll recipe comes from the 1950 edition of Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook. However, there are very similar recipes in my older cookbooks. I just prefer the layout and instructions in my copy of Betty Crocker.

This recipe really is for a wonder dough. You can, naturally, make hot rolls, but you can also make coffee cakes, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, Stollen, Hot Cross Buns and more from the exact same recipe. This week I used 1/2 of the recipe to make 2 dozen rolls, 1/4 of the recipe to make a Streusel Coffee Cake and the remaining 1/4 for a Käse Kuchen, which is like a big cheese Danish. It's as much work to make half recipes as whole recipes, so I like to get a good return on my investment.

I make my Sweet Dough in the bread machine, but I've provided instructions for those of you without one.

Sweet Dough

1/2 cup water, around 100º Fahrenheit
4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packets)
1 1/2 cups milk, around 100º Fahrenheit
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (approx.)

Bloom the yeast in the warm water for about 5 minutes, then pour into a large mixing bowl with the milk, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Mix in the eggs and butter then add the flour, in two parts, stirring after each addition.

Turn out the dough and knead (adding flour if needed) until the dough feels like a baby's bottom (the best indicator--no kidding). Place in a greased bowl and cover until doubled (usually at least 1 1/2 hours).

After the dough has doubled, punch down the dough and let it rise, covered, until almost doubled again (about 30 to 45 minutes).

Hot Rolls
for 2 dozen

1/2 recipe Sweet Dough
approx. 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

After second rising, evenly divide the dough into 24 balls. Roll each ball in the flour to lightly coat. Fill two standard-sized, greased muffin tins with the dough and leave to rest, covered, around 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 425º. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until rolls are nicely browned.

For a photo, please stay tuned for my next post, where I'll discuss two fried-chicken supper menus.

Streusel Coffee Cake
makes 8 slices

1/4 recipe Sweet Dough
1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1/2 cup chopped pecans

After the second rising, mix the raisins (if using) into the dough. Press the dough into a well-greased 8" circular cake tin. Set aside.

In a small mixing bowl, stir together the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Cut in the butter as you would to make a pie crust then stir in the pecans. Sprinkle this mixture on top of the dough, cover and let rest about 25 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400º. Bake approximately 25 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Cool in the tin on a rack for about 10 minutes, then cool directly on the rack.

Käse Kuchen
makes 8 slices

1/4 recipe Sweet Dough
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup farmers cheese, neufchâtel, drained cottage cheese or ricotta (or other soft, unripened cheese)
1 cup prunes, soaked in boiling water then chopped
1/4 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

After the second rising, press the dough into a well-greased 8" cake tin. Set aside.

Stir together the 1/3 cup sugar, flour, farmers cheese, prunes and pecans. Make an indention in the dough (leaving a border) and spread the mixture into it. Combine the 2 tablespoons sugar and the cinnamon then sprinkle over the top. Cover and rest around 25 minutes. Preheat the oven to 400º. Bake approximately 25 minutes, or until nicely browned.

Cool in the tin on a rack for about 10 minutes, then cool directly on the rack.
More 1925 music:
"Say Arabella (What's a Fella to Do)" by George Olsen & His Orchestra with Billy Murray

Available at The Internet Archive

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Baking When You're Not "in the Money"

In this recipe (frosting included!) from 1933, I only used one egg and 5 1/2 tablespoons of butter. Because I buy organic butter and organic free-range eggs, this helps with my grocery bills!

Creole Cake

adapted from All About Home Baking (General Foods Corporation, 1933)

serves 12

1/4 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cups cake flour*
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon hot cocoa mix**
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
about 3 1/2 tablespoons strong brewed coffee (I just refrigerate the coffee that's left after breakfast.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8x8x2 cake tin with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar, then add the egg and mix well. Alternate adding the flour and milk, beating after each addition. Add about 1/3 of each at a time. You can add the baking powder and salt with the flour and the vanilla with the milk. Pour batter into the cake tin and level out with a spatula. Bake 45 to 50 minutes in the middle of the oven until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan for approximately 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake is absolutely completely cool, mix up the frosting by creaming the butter and slowly adding the powdered sugar. Add the hot cocoa mix and salt and beat. Next, add the vanilla and beat again. Add coffee until the frosting is a good spreading consistency. Using your offset spatula, spread frosting over the top of the cake. Enjoy!

*This is the scoop method. The original recipe asks for 2 cups sifted cake flour. For more information, please refer to this previous post.

**Use a quality cocoa mix (like Ghirardelli or Godiva). Even though there is only a tablespoon of it in the frosting, it will be very noticeable!

Also from 1933, when many in America believed the economy was returning to a pre-Depression "normal":

Monday, July 26, 2010

Coming in August: "1925 House"

Our 1925 duplex

No, not another of those PBS "reality" shows. It's just that I've decided to put my cookbooks from the twenties and thirties to good use. Primarily, I'll be cooking from The Boston Cooking School Cookbook and A Thousand Ways to Please a Husband with Bettina's Best Recipes: The Romance of Cookery and Housekeeping, which is a very useful (if rather ridiculous) cookbook that gives several dinner menus for each month of the year and has a little story to go along with each about the first year of Bob and Bettina's marriage.

Here's a sneak peak at the meals I'll be preparing. This is "A Quick Breakfast" from The Boston Cooking School Cookbook:

Mackay's Dundee Orange Marmalade; Ruby Red Grapefruit Sections; World Market Breakfast Blend Coffee; English White Bread (from the bread machine), toasted, with organic butter; two organic, free-range eggs, poached

It only took 20 minutes to prepare, so I guess that is pretty quick. It was tasty, too! Plus (the best part), it's already after 12 and I'm just now getting hungry.
A bit about life in the '20s:
  • According to my Condé Nast housekeeping guide (1928), a family of four should spend no more than $75 per month on food--that's $930.73 in 2009 dollars.
  • For our household income (in 1925 money), we could afford to spend $2472.02 on a car. In 1925, a Hudson Super Eight cost $1250 (Al Capone had a 1928 model), a Packard Touring Sedan cost $2585, and a Rolls Royce Phantom cost $13,450.
  • Wichita had a trolley line until 1934
  • Paul Whiteman & His Orchestra recorded "The Charleston" in May of 1925:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 37: Making Do

Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings really is a cool-weather dish. However, and I'm about to go on a tangent here, I had a large roast that was absolutely unsuitable for roasting. Evidently here in Kansas, a roast isn't a piece of meat that is roasted in the oven but a piece of meat that is pot-roasted. If you remember, my friend Jessica's neighbor asked her and her husband to go in on a side of beef. Paul and I then shared Jessica's take. We then all decided that her neighbors were obviously idiots when it came to ordering cuts of meat (20 pounds of ground beef? Icky minute steaks? A measly two sirloin steaks?!), plus Jessica got stuck with practically all the offal. Also, I am refusing to buy anything else from Yoder meats (which happens to be basically the only processor around here) because their butchering work is crap. We didn't have a single cut of meat that didn't have fat and tendons running through it-- not pleasant to eat medium-rare. So, we made our last roast Friday night and we boiled it until the tendons were no longer a problem. My Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings recipe also took care of some carrots that no one would eat raw (I hate not actually being able to see the carrots in the bag!). Plus, I never posted a good photo back in October, so here's Friday's Boiled Beef with Carrots and Dumplings:

P.S. It's not really that horrible to make in warm weather. The only slaving over the stove you have to do is skimming the stock as it comes to a boil the first time.
While we're on the subject of making do, it seems that Barbara Pym's spinsters spend a lot of time doing just that. I've recently read both Excellent Women and Less than Angels and throughly enjoyed them both with their teas and church jumble sales and anthropology lectures. I plan to read the rest of Pym's novels sometime in the near future.

I've always felt an affinity for novels about spinsters, because I used to feel there was a good chance that I'd end up as one. I can't believe I found someone who puts up with all my eccentricities. Not that Paul is a saint and I prefer it that way. Anyhow, if you're feeling your own affinity toward spinsters, you might check out the Marple page at Right now, The Secret of Chimneys and The Blue Geranium are available online, which is awesome because it means that I don't have worry about being finished with dinner before 8 p.m. on Sundays and sometimes it's nice to watch a movie with breakfast!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 36: Another Quick Dinner

You might have noticed that we eat a lot of pork. It's Paul's favorite and is also extremely common in British cooking. I believe it's because pigs were cheaper and easier to care for than sheep or cattle and required less space, which was greatly in their favor after the enclosure movement.* Disclaimer: I don't know whether I just inferred all of this or I read it somewhere. I tried to find the information in my notes and wasn't successful! Anyhow, the main point is that various pig-based comestibles are often in British recipes and often on my table.

This tasty recipe uses the ubiquitous boneless pork loin chop. It's quick and tasty. A note for all you raisin-haters out there--this recipe totally transforms the raisins into something you'll want to eat. Our conversation at the table:

Me: You wouldn't even know there are raisins in this.
Paul: There are raisins in this?

Lemon Pork

serves 4

2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 4-ounce boneless pork tenderloin chops
1 cup chicken stock
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with a bit of water to make a liquid)
6 scallions, trimmed and sliced

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. If the onion starts to brown, turn down the heat.

Next, season the pork chops and sear them for a couple of minutes on each side. Add in the stock, lemon zest and juice, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce and raisins. Bring to the boil and then simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes.

Remove the lid, stir in the cornstarch mixture and the scallions. Bring back to a boil and cook another 5 minutes. Serve the raisin/onion mixture on top of the pork chops.

Adapted from Favourite Dorset Recipes.

Goes really well with:

Lemon Butter Green Beans

serves 4

2 lbs green beans, trimmed and washed
4 tablespoons butter
lemon juice (around 2 teaspoons or so)
1 tablespoon minced parsley

Steam the green beans for 5 minutes and drain.

In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat, season with salt and pepper and stir in the lemon juice. Add the green beans and parsley and stir to combine.

Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.


I finished Paul's birthday present last month. The pattern is "St. Enda" from Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting. Thought you might like to see it.

*You can find out more than you ever wanted to know about enclosure by consulting G.R. Elton's England under the Tudors or Barry Coward's The Stuart Age. (See? I'm using my university education.)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 35: Fast Food/Slow Food

Lamb Lickety-split

I know this blog isn't exactly 30 Minute Meals, but I do occasionally make things that don't take two hours and thirty pans. This is a super-fast main dish that only takes about 15 minutes total after you've marinated it. This recipe originally used redcurrant jam (but I couldn't find any here in middle America) and is adapted from Favourite Dorset Recipes.

Lamb Chops with Blackcurrant Sauce

serves 2

2 lamb chops (about an inch thick)
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
Several sprigs of rosemary
Handful of peppercorns
1/4 cup dry red wine

2 tablespoons blackcurrant jam

Place the lamb chops in a single layer in a shallow dish. Drizzle over olive oil and add the onion, rosemary and peppercorns. Pour the wine over. Cover and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours.

Take the lamb out of the fridge and place a skillet over medium-high heat. Add a glug (scientific measurement!) of olive oil. When the oil gets nice and hot, add the lamb chops to the pan and season with kosher salt. Cook for 3 minutes on each side and remove to plates to rest.

Pour out any oil and fat from the pan, place it back on the heat and deglaze with the strained marinating liquid. Stir in the blackcurrant jam and reduce as desired. Pour over the lamb chops and serve immediately.

Goes really well with this asparagus recipe.

Beautiful lamb in marinade:

A Pie Requiring Patience

It's a lot of work in one go, but it serves eight (lots of leftovers!) and there's no worry about reheating it, because it's meant to be served cold. This was my first time to make hot water pastry and I was a bit terrified. I haven't quite figured it out, though, because the whole shell had to be pretty much pieced together. Maybe it gets easier with practice. I used this recipe and only changed a couple of things. First, I used a Kaiser 12 1/2" x 5" Springform Loaf pan (much much cheaper than a raised pie pan) which left no room for the jellied stock, I used bacon, and I didn't have any allspice, so I went in a totally different direction and used Old Bay Seasoning instead. Don't ask me why, but it did turn out well. Oh and, in case you were wondering, 3 ounces of butter are 6 tablespoons and 4 ounces of lard are 8 tablespoons. I might write out my own version of the recipe once I've really figured out what I'm doing with the hot water pastry.

Thankfully, the pie was awesome, because it took most of the day to make. I served it with frozen peas & carrots because I totally neglected to buy any vegetables at the grocery store and happened to find the bag of them when I was rummaging around in the freezer. They're actually not nearly as retirement-home-cuisine as they appear--as long as you a) don't overcook them, b) salt & pepper them, c) add some butter and d) add a bit of sugar.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 34: June is Bustin' Out All Over*

Well, warm weather has finally settled in for good (at least until October). I suppose I should feel glad after the winter we had, but I wish we'd had more spring weather. I was looking forward to highs in the upper-60s, low-70s, but those days didn't last very long! I'll just have to look for culinary compensation. Believe me, I am looking forward to berries and stone fruits.

Paul and I went to Dillon's Sunday morning and there was already a display of peaches out. Peaches that were as hard as rocks and will never ripen, most likely! However, there were also nectarines, which have an earlier season than peaches and they're perfect for the following recipe, which is simple and quick and doesn't require a lot of dishes.

Broiled Pork Chops and Stone Fruits
adapted from this recipe

serves 2

2 bone-in pork chops, around 1/2" to 3/4" in thickness
Olive oil
4 ripe-ish stone fruits (nectarines, peaches, apricots, plums, whatever is in season), halved and pitted
pinch dried red pepper flakes (the kind that go on pizza)
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Place your oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat your broiler.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the pork chops and halved fruit (cut side up) on the sheet. Brush the pork chops with a light coating of olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle the pepper flakes and the brown sugar on the fruit then top with the butter.

Place the baking sheet in the oven and broil for 8 minutes. Turn the pork chops over and broil another 8 minutes. The fruit may need to be removed earlier; it should be nicely caramelized, but not falling apart. The pork chops should be browned and cooked through. Serve with a green vegetable, such as:

Steamed Asparagus with Lemon Butter

serves 2

1/2 lb asparagus, tough ends removed
1 tablespoon butter
juice from 1/2 lemon

Steam the asparagus 5 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl, add the butter and lemon, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine (and melt the butter). Divide between two plates and serve immediately.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 33: First Anniversary

It's been a little over a year since my first "Traditional British Food" post and I'd like to celebrate with an extremely British meal: Toad-in-the-Hole with Buttery Cabbage.

Funny name for sausages baked in Yorkshire pudding batter and then covered in oniony gravy

serves 4

12 ounces breakfast sausage links (try to get some that are nice and sage-y)
about a dozen fresh sage leaves, chiffonade
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk

1/2 small onion caramelized using 1/2 tablespoon olive oil or
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup beef stock
1/2 cup dry red wine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and place a 1-quart casserole in the oven.

If you are caramelizing your onions, do so while the oven preheats. Feel free to make as much as you'd like, because caramelized onions are really tasty in other things, as well. Instructions here.

When the oven has almost come to temperature, heat a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat. When heated, add the sausages and sear on all sides. Turn the heat down to low and cook the sausages, turning occasionally, while you prepare the Yorkshire pudding batter.

In a mixing bowl, add the flour and salt and make a well in the center. Add the egg and a bit of the milk. Whisk well, adding milk gradually, until batter is smooth. Stir in the sage.

When the oven comes up to temperature, pour the sausages into the pre-heated casserole along with any fat they've yielded. Set the skillet aside. Cover the sausages with the Yorkshire pudding batter and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until batter is puffed and lightly browned. Don't open the oven door!

To make the gravy: place the sausage skillet back on the hob over high heat. When it has gotten hot, pour in the stock and wine and deglaze the pan. Reduce as desired and turn down heat to low. Stir in the 1/4 cup of caramelized onions.

Serve Toad-in-the-Hole immediately (leftovers won't do so well) covered in gravy (or maple syrup, Paul's favorite).

Buttery Cabbage
Try this even if you "don't like" cabbage. It's too buttery and lemony to be icky.

serves 4

1 head green cabbage, outer leaves discarded
4 tablespoons butter
juice from 1 lemon
salt and pepper

Add water to your steamer pot and put on the stove over high heat. Quarter the cabbage and place it in the steamer basket. When the water in the pot has come to a boil, place the basket over the pot, cover and steam for about 8 minutes, or until cabbage can be pierced with a fork but isn't falling apart.

Meanwhile, melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan. Add salt and pepper to taste. When the cabbage is done, place each quarter on a plate (like a wedge salad), stir the lemon juice into the butter, and pour over the cabbage.

Reading/watching recommendations:
  • Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene- wryly humorous yet suspenseful; smart escapist reading
  • Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949)- rather sympathetic portrayal of man who bumps off inconvenient aunts, uncles and cousins who stand between him and a dukedom
  • The Country Wife (Donald McWhinnie, 1977)- stars Helen Mirren and Anthony Andrews, well-done adaptation; you know, it's really difficult to find Restoration comedies on DVD, so you should take advantage of this one, which is part of the Helen Mirren at the BBC DVD collection

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 32: Two Georges

First up, we have St. George, the patron saint of England. St. George's Day was Friday, April 23rd, so I made a Treacle Tart to celebrate. Honestly, any holy day is a good excuse for a tart. This recipe is derived from The Cooking of the British Isles, Harvest Traditional British Cooking, and my own imagination.

Paul is constantly teasing me about how cheap I am, but if I hadn't saved my breadcrumbs, I couldn't have made this tart. It's really important to use breadcrumbs from actual bread rather than the breadcrumbs that come ready-made from the grocery store for this recipe, because the grocery store breadcrumbs are too dry.

Treacle Tart

serves 8

Short crust pastry:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons milk
Cold water, as needed

1 1/2 cups golden syrup
1 1/2 cups white breadcrumbs
juice from 1/2 small lemon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the crust:
In a large bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add the butter and cut it in until the mixture resembles coarse sand. Add the milk and enough water so that the mixture forms a ball. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for half an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease a 10" fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Place it on a baking sheet and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to 1/8" thickness. Roll it over the rolling pin and place on top of the tart pan. Picking up the dough as you work around the pan, lightly press (don't tear the dough!) the dough into the tart pan. Use the rolling pin to roll over the top of the pan, removing excess dough. Set remaining dough aside.

In a bowl, combine the filling ingredients. Then, pour the filling into the tart pan. Use the leftover dough to decorate the top of the tart. You can cut it in strips for a lattice design, or use a cookie cutter to make decorative shapes.

Bake the tart (leave the tart pan on the baking sheet) in the middle of the oven for 3o minutes, or until filling is set and has puffed up a bit (it will fall back down when you cool it).

When the tart is ready, remove the outer ring and place the tart on a cooling rack. Cool for a few minutes and then serve. Leftovers can be kept, covered, in the fridge.


Our second George is George Sanders, the actor. I enjoyed what I have inaugurated the First Annual George Sanders Film Festival this weekend. (Yes, I did watch a lot of movies. However, I was knitting most of the time, so that makes it OK.)
  • Foreign Correspondent (Alfred Hitchcock, 1940)- Sanders plays newspaper reporter Scott ffolliott ("both small 'F's"), who helps Joel McCrea uncover a sinister plot to drive Europe to the brink of war; Hitchcock's plea for American support; great film that foreshadows Hitchcock's later work with James Stewart and Cary Grant
  • Sundown (Henry Hathaway, 1941)- another propaganda film about British army officers who discover a German plot to arm tribes in Africa
  • The Lodger (John Brahm, 1944)- Sanders, as Inspector John Warwick, sets out to capture Jack the Ripper and the heart of Merle Oberon (who didn't annoy the crap out of me for once); this film was a nice surprise--it doesn't fall into the trap of hokeyness, the cinematography is perfect, and Laird Cregar, who plays titular character, does a fantastic job
  • A Scandal in Paris (Douglas Sirk, 1946)- Geroge Sanders--thief, lover, police chief?; fun popcorn movie; perfect for St. George's Day, because escaped convicts Vidocq (Sanders) and Vernet (Akim Tamiroff) pose for a painting of St. George and the dragon and abscond with the painter's horse!
  • The Strange Woman (1946)- George Sanders as a lumberjack?!
  • All About Eve (1950)- the only film I watched this weekend where Sanders actually plays a rotter (to perfection) in his Oscar-winning turn as Addison DeWitt, theatre critic and all-around stinker
All are available on DVD.

Link to Sundown (entire film) at Internet Archive
Link to The Strange Woman (entire film) at Internet Archive

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Traditional British Food, Part 31: Soup Kitchen

Since we might have a few days left of rainy, not-too-hot weather, I thought it would be a good time to post my favorite (British) soups that aren't overly wintry. If Tomato Soup doesn't sound like comfort food to you, you're probably an alien. Or a cyborg. Or both. Or something equally unpleasant.

(Cream of) Tomato Soup

serves 8

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2-28 oz. cans tomato puree (or diced tomatoes, if you like a chunkier soup)
2 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup heavy cream, optional, but it makes everything better!

Soften the onion in butter over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent, but not browned.

Add the remainder of the ingredients, except the cream, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer one hour.

Stir in one tablespoon of cream into each bowl of soup just before serving. (You could also use sour cream.)

I prefer this recipe to Potage Parmentier, because I don't have to put it though the food processor. Smooth soups are overrated. However, what is not overrated is heavy cream, which you could also add to this soup.

Leek and Potato Soup

serves 6

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3 large leeks, finely sliced
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 lbs potatoes, peeled and chopped
5 cups chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
salt and pepper

Over medium heat, cook the leeks and onions in the butter until softened and translucent but not browned.

Add the potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the chicken stock and wine. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30-35 minutes. Season to taste.

Adapted from Traditional British Cooking.


Two old Brit mysteries I've read recently and were great crappy weather reading and would go really well with soup (or tea, for that matter):

Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey- it's unconventional in that no crime occurs in the book and the detective is hospital-bound and attempting to solve the mystery of Richard III and the "Princes in the Tower"

The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin- Oxford professor solves theatre-world murder; overall too much pompous use of phrases in French and Latin (even for snobbish moi) but has some great humorous moments and is a pleasant read