In the Kitchen: Spritzen (1788)

Dear Constant Reader,

Let us return to my kitchen for an 18th century treat. At this time the British monarchs were still basically German, so German cuisine had intergrated itself into English cookbooks. “Spritzen” is the German word for “splash”, “squirt”, or “spray”. These days it’s mostly used for a kind of cookie that is squeezed out of a press. I’m not sure how the name applies to these pastries.

From The Lady’s Complete Guide by Mary Cole (1788)

Mix two spoonfuls of fine flour with two eggs well beat, half a pint of cream or milk and two ounces of melted butter; stir it all well together, and add a little salt and nutmeg. Put them in tea-cups, or little deep tin moulds, half full, and bake them a quarter of an hour in a quick oven; but let it be hot enough to colour them and top and bottom. Turn them into a dish, and strew powder sugar over them.

As we learned from previous recipes, a good rule of thumb for pre-20th century recipes is to cut the number of eggs in half. Everything else seems pretty straight forward except the quantity of flour. How big was a spoonful? Karen Hess, in her excellently researched book Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery, suggests that a spoonful in the later 17th century was equivalent to two of our tablespoons. I decided that it was probably still the case by the time this recipe came around.

I beat the hell out of the egg, since that’s the only rising agent. Added the flour, cream (since I had some from a different cooking experiment), butter, salt, and grated in some nutmeg. I used a standard size muffin tin (I’m pretty sure I greased it) and filled 8 cups.

A “quick oven” is about 375-400F. I baked the spritzen for 22 minutes at 400F.

They puffed up beautifully in the oven, like popovers, but fell completely before I could get them out of the pan. I sprinkled them with a little granulated sugar. If I’d been really authentic I would gave ground it up in my mortar, since “powder sugar” was sugar that was ground fine. Modern powdered sugar isn’t the same and usually has cornstarch added.

Despite being nicely browned and crispy on top and bottom, they were quite custardy in the middle. And very delicious. I’m not sure how well they keep, because they were gone before they even had a chance to cool.

1 egg
1/4 cup flour
1 cup light cream or milk
4 Tablespoons butter, melted
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Beat egg very well and stir in flour. Mix in liquid ingredients and then seasonings. Pour batter into greased muffin tins, about 1/2 full. Bake at 400F until puffed and brown, 15-20 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with sugar and remove from tin. Serve hot.

Makes about 8.


Published in: on 5 October 2016 at 3:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Peach Ice Water (1885)

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s starting to cool off a bit, but we had some terribly muggy days this summer. I recommend this delightful Victorian ice recipe to counteract such misery. It’s made with (no surprise from the name) water rather than a cream base. I think it’s more refreshing than ice cream on a really hot & humid day.

From The Book of Ices by Agnes Marshall (1885):

Peach Ice Water
Peel 6 good peaches, and crack the stones, and remove the kernels, which must be pounded; put in a stewpan with 1 pint of water, 4 ounces of sugar, and juice of 1 lemon, cook the fruit for 15 minutes, then tammy, and add a wineglassful of noyeau and 1 glass of orange flower water, a little carmine. Freeze.


I assumed that Victorian peaches were smaller than modern ones and halved the amount. This turned out to make the right amount for my ice cream freezer, so hurrah for me. It was a bit of a challenge to acquire peaches in the first place as the crop in the northeast this year suffered badly from our weird winter and the farmers’ markets have been lacking.

The ground peach kernels are used to give the ice an almond flavor. Rather than playing games with cyanide (this small an amount is probably safe, but still…), I used a splash of almond extract instead.

I know the picture shows a fake plastic lemon, but that’s because I took it after the fact and I had used my stock of fresh lemons. Someday I’ll remember to take the ingredient picture first.

A tammy is a fine hair sieve that you would rub the cooked peaches through. Because I don’t have servants, I used an immersion blender and resigned myself to a less than perfectly silky smooth puree.

My research showed that a Victorian wineglass measure was about 2 fluid ounces. Noyeau is a almond-flavored liqueur; I used amaretto. Orange flower water, like its cousin rose water, is very potent. I recommend using very little.

Carmine is a red food coloring made from cochineal, an insect. I actually have some cochineal in its raw form, but that seemed excessively authentic. I considered adding a little red food coloring, but I was out (blue and green coloring, yes, but no red or yellow. Why?). Besides, the puree had a lovely peachy color in its natural state.

If you don’t have an ice cream freezer, there are ways to fake one. Or you can treat this like a granita and freeze for a couple of hours in a shallow pan, stirring every half hour to break up the ice crystals.

Peach Ice

Peach Ice Water
1 lb. peaches
2 cups water
1/2 heaping cup sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup amaretto
1 teaspoon orange flower water
A few drops of red food coloring (optional)

To peel the peaches, dunk them into boiling water for a few seconds and then into ice water. The skins will come right off. Halve the peaches and take out the pits.

Cook the peaches with the water, sugar, and lemon juice for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and puree.

Add almond extract, amaretto, and orange flower water. Let cool completely.

Pour into ice cream freezer and follow the instructions.


Published in: on 24 August 2016 at 12:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Jumbles (1597)

Dear Constant Reader,

In the previous historic recipe, I mentioned jumbles, a kind of Elizabethan cookie. Some think the name comes from the Latin word for “twin”, gemellus, which hints that they were shaped with two loops. Here’s how you make them.

From The second part of the good hus-wiues iewell by Thomas Dawson (1597).

To make Iombils a hundred
Take twenty Egges and put them in a pot, both the yolks & the white, beat them wel, then take a pound of beaten suger and put to them, and stirre them wel together, then put to it a quarter of a peck of flower, and make a hard paste thereof; and then with Aniseede moulde it well, and make it in little rowles, beeing long, and tye them in knots, and wet the ends in Rosewater, then put them in a pan of seething water, but euen in one waum, then take them out with a Skimmer and lay them in a cloth to drie, this being doon, lay them in a tart panne, the bottom beeing oyled, then put them into a temperat Ouen for one howre, turning them often in the Ouen.


I didn’t need a hundred jumbles, so I cut the recipe way down. The first thing to note is that until the 20th century eggs were on the small size, so a good rule of thumb is to cut the number of eggs in half if you’re using standard supermarket eggs. A quarter of a peck of flour is about 3 1/2 pounds. Despite the whole wheat flour in the picture, I used white flour — it was in a less photogenic container.

Beat the eggs very well — they’re the only leavening in the dough. Add the sugar, then the flour and the anise seed. When I first made these many years ago, I used anise, which a lot of people (like Scratch) really don’t like. This time I used caraway. Not as historically accurate, but more likely to be eaten.

Then divide the dough up — I split it into 8 parts — and make it into long snakes. Tie them into knot-like shapes. I’ve done actual knots, but this time I twisted them into circles. Pretzel shapes would be okay too. The recipe says to wet the ends with rosewater and I’ve done that. I find it adds no discernible flavor, so I skipped it this time.

Now the fun part. Drop your jumbles into a pot of simmering water, a couple at a time. You don’t want to crowd them. They’ll sink to the bottom. After a couple of minutes, poke them with a spoon, so they don’t stick to the bottom. When they float, they’re done. Scoop them out of the water with a slotted spoon or similar and place the jumbles on a clean towel on top of a cooling rack.

After they’ve dried for a few minutes, put them on a greased cookie sheet (I use a silicone baking mat — I love those things) and bake at 350F for 30 minutes, turning them over half way through.

Why not bake for an hour, like the recipe says? Elizabethan ovens worked with retained heat — you’d build a fire in the oven and when the bricks were hot enough, you’d pull all the coals and stuff out, swab the oven floor all down with water (you don’t want ash on your bread plus it makes steam which contributes to a really nice crust), and put in the stuff that baked at the highest heat first and as the oven cooled you’d swap in the things that needed a lower temperature. Trying to mimic the gradually falling temperatures is a pain, so I bake for less time at a constant temperature.

Let the jumbles cool on a rack. They will be hard on the outside (good for dipping!) and chewy on the inside, kind of like a tiny sweet bagel.

2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon anise (or caraway) seed
2 cups flour

Beat eggs very well. Blend in sugar. Add seeds and flour. You should have a stiff dough. Divide into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a rope and tie into knots or twist into rings.

Carefully place each jumble in a pot of simmering water. After a moment or two, nudge them with a spoon so they don’t stick to the bottom. When they float, remove with a slotted spoon and allow to dry on a towel.

Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350F for 30 minutes, turning each jumble over after 15 minutes. Let cool on a rack.


Published in: on 16 August 2016 at 1:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Wine Chocolate (1726)

Dear Constant Reader,

For this foray into historic cooking, here’s something with ingredients most of you love — chocolate and booze!

This recipe comes from The Cooks and Confectioners Dictionary: or, the Accomplish’d Housewives Companion by John Nott (1726).

To make Wine Chocolate
Take a pint of Sherry, or a pint and half of red Port, four Ounces and a half of Chocolate, six Ounces of fine Sugar, and half an Ounce of white Starch, or fine Flour; mix, dissolve, and boil all these as before [previous recipe for “To Make Chocolate with Water” which “will be done in ten or twelve Minutes”]. But, if your Chocolate be with Sugar, take double the Quantity of Chocolate, and half the Quantity of Sugar; and so in all.


After years of working with medieval recipes which are vague, to say the least, on quantities and cooking times, this recipe was positively simple! I cut all the ingredients down to one-third, which made two generous servings.

Just melt together port (or sherry, but I haven’t tried that version), unsweetened chocolate (you want a high-quality bar chocolate; cocoa powder is not the same thing), sugar, and rice flour (it incorporates better than wheat flour).

Reproduction chocolate pot from Colonial Williamsburg

In the 18th century, this drink would have been served in a special chocolate pot with a hole in the lid. A “mill” or wooden whisk would fit in the hole and the chocolate would be frothed before serving it by rubbing the mill between your palms. I don’t have a chocolate pot, but I do have a molinillo, which is used for making Mexican hot chocolate and is basically the same as a mill, just fancier. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t get the mixture to froth at all. Oh well.

The wine chocolate is very rich, but not terribly sweet, and the starch makes it very thick. I couldn’t finish my cup, so I stashed the leftovers in the fridge and had it a couple of days later over ice cream. So decadent!

And here’s my version.


Wine Chocolate a deux
1 cup ruby port (or about 2/3 cup of sherry)
1 1/2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, broken into pieces
2 oz. white sugar (about 1/4 cup)
1 1/2 teaspoons rice flour

Heat the port gently in a saucepan and add the chocolate and sugar. Stir until they dissolve. Stir in the rice flour and let the mixture simmer (not boil, despite what the original recipe says) for about 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Froth with a mill, molinillo or whisk and then quickly pour into cups.

Serves 2 generously.

The item on the saucer is an Elizabethan Jumble. Perhaps that will be the next historic cookery post.


Published in: on 10 August 2016 at 10:56 am  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Sekanjabin

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s mighty hot here in Boston. I haven’t been working in the Manor kitchen much lately, but I have a great recipe for days like this. It’s not mid-century, but much older.

Shrubs — a syrup made with vinegar, sugar, and fruit, then diluted — have become popular lately, especially for cocktails, but the concept goes way back. The ancient Greeks drank oxymel (literally “vinegar-honey” and exactly what you think). The sweet and sour makes for a very refreshing drink.

The vinegar-based shrub is an American beverage, dating back to colonial days. A contemporary is switchel — water with vinegar, sweetener (might be brown sugar or molasses), and ginger. European shrubs are made by steeping fruit in alcohol. They’re also very good, but not exactly thirst-quenching. Maybe I’ll delve into that sort later.

One of my favorite summertime beverages of this type is Sekanjabin, from Persia.


You need:
4 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups water
1 cup vinegar*
big handful of fresh mint**

Put the sugar and the water in a saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and add the vinegar. Simmer for about half an hour. Take it off the heat and add the mint. Let the syrup cool. Strain out the mint and pour syrup into a glass bottle. It will keep without refrigeration.

* You can use red or white wine vinegar or cider vinegar. I don’t recommend balsamic or distilled white vinegar.

** There’s only a token mint sprig in the picture because I already denuded my mint plant.

To serve, pour a splash of syrup into a glass, add ice water, and stir. Perhaps garnish with a little mint. Proportions are up to you, but generally about five parts water to one part syrup is good. I also like it made with hot water in the winter. It’s particularly soothing when one is suffering from a sore throat.


Published in: on 26 July 2016 at 3:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

In the Kitchen: Walnut Tea Cake

Dear Constant Reader,

For the last several years at The Expo I’ve been hosting a tea party on Sunday afternoon. I love it, except for the fact that the hotel has to do the catering. I decided it was time to throw a party at Stately Babydoll Manor where I could make all the goodies.

And so I did. We had:
4 kinds of tea: peach oolong, green, rooibos, and blooming
served with sugar cubes and molded flavored sugars (thanks, RuffleCon!), milk (regular or cashew), lemon.
3 sandwiches: pear-blue cheese-walnut, classic cucumber, tomato with basil
2 breads: vegan English muffins, sour cherry scones
served with sour cherry jam and butter
3 pastries: walnut tea cake, lemon cookies with fondant & piped icing, vegan chocolate mini-cupcakes with chocolate glaze

When I posted a picture of the walnut cake on Facebook, I was asked how it was, but I baked it Thursday and I didn’t taste it until Saturday. The answer, quite good. It’s a little plain, but moist, nutty, and just a little sweet. Goes very nicely with a cup of tea (and I assume coffee, but I never touch the stuff).

The recipe came from Ida Allen Bailey’s book Luscious Luncheons and Tasty Teas which was probably published sometime between 1920 and 1930. Mrs. Bailey was a prolific cookbook author and sort of the Martha Stewart of her day. The book is one of four gorgeous volumes* that were designed to hang, calendar style, on the wall. There are menus for each week of the year with a corresponding recipe or two.

Here’s the recipe for those who asked:

Nut Tea Cake
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1/3 teaspoon salt
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (I toasted them)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup granulated sugar

Cream butter & sugar, work in nuts, salt, egg, add milk. Sift together flour and baking powder, beat and transfer to medium-sized oiled dripping pan (I used a 9×9 glass baking pan). Sift 1/3 cup sugar mixed with cinnamon over. Bake at 375F for 30 minutes.

*Delicious Dinners, Satisfying Salads, and Dainty Desserts. I’m on a quest for the two I don’t own.

Published in: on 13 June 2016 at 2:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Ham Banana Rolls (1950)

Dear Constant Reader,

Back in November, I wrote of my quest to prove the vintage recipe testers at Buzzfeed wrong and of the results of my first experiment, Olive-Cheese “Porcupine”. At that very same party, I also made a ham and banana dish. I had to do this at a party, because I wanted the feedback from several palates but also because I hate bananas.

I didn’t actually use the same recipe as the Buzzfeed folks. I could tell that theirs was going to be disgusting no matter how good a cook I am, so I found one that was similar, to prove that the recipe was at fault, not the dish concept. I used the recipe for Ham Banana Rolls with Cheese Sauce from a Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book from 1950 while they made Ham and Bananas Hollandaise from the McCall’s Great American Recipe Card Collection from 1973. I’ll explain as I go how the two diverged.

Start with bananas, ham, mustard, butter, milk, flour, shredded cheese

Both recipes begin about the same. Take slices of boiled ham and spread with mustard. My recipe left the amount of mustard up to the cook, while theirs specified a teaspoon and a half per slice. I just covered each slice with a thin, even coating. Diverging from both recipes, I used baked ham instead of boiled, because I was going to be making my lunch out of the left-over meat and I don’t like boiled ham. Does anyone? Also, back when they probably used French’s yellow, but I used a brown deli mustard.

I wrapped the bananas in the mustard-smeared ham and then brushed the bare banana tips with melted butter. Their recipe says to sprinkle the bananas with lemon juice to keep them from browning (not so necessary I thought) before wrapping the bananas. In both cases the wrapped bananas go into a greased, shallow baking dish.

Now things get very different. Their bananas are baked at 400F for 10 minutes. I baked my bananas at 350F for 30 minutes, but first I had to pour cheese sauce over them.

The cheese sauce is really easy. Make a roux with butter and flour, then add milk. Then add grated cheese and cook until it’s all smooth and hot. I confess, I used sharp cheddar instead of the called-for sharp American because I already had a bag of shredded cheddar for the porcupine (and I like it better).

That’s it for my recipe, but theirs has one more step. You mix an envelope of hollandaise sauce mix with some water, cream, and lemon juice bring it to a boil. Pour over the bananas and bake 5 minutes more.

Here’s a gratuitous picture of the chef with the finished product. My taste-testers wrote “This is something I will get a craving for in the future. So great!” and “Awesome combo. Maybe need more salt or sharpness but this is one of those surprising flavor combos I’m glad I tried.” Those who liked bananas really liked the bananas. They were nice and creamy and had transformed from “hot banana” into something very tasty. Those who liked ham liked that too, especially the part that was above the cheese sauce, as it got crispy and brown. The part of the ham that was completely submerged in the sauce was not as good, since it never browned. The mustard flavor didn’t blend well with the ham & banana and was a touch assertive. The cheese sauce was a little bland.

If I were to make this again, I’d add some dry mustard to the cheese sauce (and salt & pepper), shred the ham and sprinkle it on top of the bananas, instead of wrapping it around. It doesn’t make for as nice, tidy, and midcentury a presentation, but it solves all the problems above while keeping the good parts.

I’m not surprised that the Buzzfeed version got low marks. To start I think they followed the recipe to the letter and used boiled ham and yellow mustard. Although their bananas cook at a higher temperature, it’s for half the time. They probably didn’t get creamy and slightly caramelized like mine did. Also, they were cooked without the sauce, just having been seasoned with lemon juice, which I think was totally unnecessary. I doubt the bananas were going to get oxidized in the short time from peel to pan. Perhaps the recipe was deliberately trying to amp the lemon flavor. Also, I think brushing the exposed banana bits with butter in my recipe improved the flavor and helped them brown.

Lastly, and most importantly, I think their hollandaise sauce was a loser from the get-go. Maybe it could have been okay with an actual freshly made hollandaise, but a mix was right out. I’m sure adding extra lemon juice to an already lemon-flavored sauce mix didn’t help. I’m not sure why the recipe creator thought ham, banana, and lemon was going to be delicious. I know hollandaise was pretty popular in the ’70s. I’m sure it was seen as more chic than a pedestrian cheese sauce.

It probably deserved the reviews of “It’s kind of like a banana split made a baby with a hot dog? Oh, it’s very sour!” and “Even the bits of banana that graciously don’t have slop on them have absorbed the scent of lemon and mustard in a very aggressive way.”

So don’t every try the 1973 version with hollandaise, but the 1950 version with cheese sauce is actually worth making.

banana rolls cooked
Here’s the original recipe, straight from Chiquita:

Ham Banana Rolls with Cheese Sauce
4 thin slices boiled ham
Prepared mustard
4 firm bananas (all yellow or slightly green-tipped)
1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter or margarine
Cheese Sauce

Spread each slice of ham lightly with mustard.

Peel bananas. Wrap a slice of prepared ham around each banana. Brush tips of bananas with butter or margarine.

Place Ham Banana Rolls into a greased shallow baking dish, and pour Cheese Sauce over them. Bake in a moderate oven (350°F) 30 minutes, or until bananas are tender… easily pierced with a fork.

Serve hot with the Cheese Sauce from the baking dish.

Serves 4

Cheese Sauce
1 1/2 Tablespoon butter or margarine
1 1/2 Tablespoons flour
3/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups grated sharp American cheese

Melt butter or margarine in saucepan; add flour and stir until smooth. Stir in milk slowly. Add cheese and cook, stirring constantly until sauce in smooth and thickened.
Makes about 1 cup sauce.

I’ll need to throw another party soon to try some of the other recipes.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 16 December 2015 at 3:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Olive-Cheese “Porcupine” (1963)

Dear Constant Reader,

Recently Eva (she played Blanche in The Wrathskellar) pointed me at a Buzzfeed article where the authors cooked and tasted some “vintage” recipes (ranging from 1955 to 1973) and found them disgusting. Knowing my love of the midcentury, Eva called on me to defend the honor of these maligned dishes. I’m going to do my best.

Since we were having a wrap party for The Wrathskellar, that seemed like a perfect opportunity to inflict serve some of these tempting treats. First up the Olive-Cheese “Porcupine”.

I’ve made cheese balls for parties before and I wasn’t quite sure how this could be bad, unless you used poor-quality cheese. Because the party was just cast and crew, I made a half-recipe. I probably could have made a quarter. It’s a generously sized cheese ball.

I gathered my ingredients: cream cheese, crumbled blue cheese, shredded sharp cheddar, onion (not pictured because I’m a dimwit), Worcestershire sauce, chopped walnuts, and parsley. The onion and parsley got chopped finely and the walnuts toasted (nuts are always better toasted). The cheese was allowed to come to room temperature. The recipe didn’t say how much parsley, so I added about a tablespoon. Everything was tossed in the mixing bowl and combined. I ended up smushing it together with my hands.

Then it was molded into a rough porcupine shape, wrapped in plastic (like Laura Palmer) and stuck in the fridge for a few hours.

Here’s the little darling in all his glory, sprinkled with paprika and adorned with olives. I used multicolored toothpicks for extra festivity and Spanish olives, as the recipe called for, and not those nasty black olives in a can like the Buzzfeeders.

My taste testers universally liked it and left comments like “tastes good”, “almost too cute to eat”, “stinky, but in a good way”, “so good!”, “de-lish”, and “Yummy! Would go well with almost anything – fruity, nutty, cheesy. What’s not to love?”

It was indeed tasty, if a bit bland, which I suspected was going to be the case, tasting most strongly of the blue cheese. If I were to make this again, I would stick with the ratio of cheeses, but up the quantities of the onion, Worcestershire sauce, and parsley. The walnuts were probably about right. Also, I might add a dash of Tabasco. The olives were only there because the recipe was trying to sell Imported Spanish Olives. I think they could be left off without any harm. Also, if it were a larger party, I think multiple small porcupines instead of one big one. It’s cuter.

What do I think of the report that started this all? Not much.

The description of the dish by the Buzzfeed people was “Underneath all those olives, it’s literally just cheese. Mostly blue cheese. Melted and molded lovingly by hand into an animal with a face.”

Well, it’s a cheese ball; of course it’s just cheese. Had they never encountered a cheese ball at a party before?

It’s not “mostly blue cheese”; blue is the least of the cheeses (1 part blue cheese to 2 parts cream cheese to 4 parts cheddar), although the most pungent of the three. I can see how this would not appeal if one didn’t like strongly-flavored moldy cheese. Most of the comments from their tasters bear this out: “Just a big ol’ fungus ball.” “I didn’t want to eat it because a) the smell…” “It’s fouler than foul: like a roadkill porcupine that has been roasting on hot tar for several hours.”

I’m also not sure why it says “melted”. The cheese should not be melted, just brought up to room temperature so everything can be combined, chilled to let the flavors mingle, and then brought up to room temperature before serving (most cheese should not be served cold). If they actually melted the cheese, I can see why the results would be unappealing

One person said: “How do you even ruin cheese?” How did they? This is a super-simple, if plainly flavored, cheese spread. My only guess is that none of them knows how to cook and that they used cheap crappy cheese. On a different dish they noted with pride that they used the cheapest imitation crab they could find instead of the shrimp the recipe called for.

I would consider Olive-Cheese “Porcupine” to be redeemed.

For those who want the recipe in easily readable form. This is as writ from the original:
Olive-Cheese “Porcupine”
4 oz. blue cheese
8 oz. cream cheese
1 lb. shredded sharp cheddar
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Spanish Green Olives

Allow cheese to soften at room temperature. Mix with parsley, onion, Worcestershire sauce, nuts. On waxed paper form mixture into oval shape. Refrigerate 2 hours. Roll “porcupine” in paprika. Let stand at room temperature 1/2 hour before serving. Garnish with Spanish Green Olives on wooden picks for “quills”. Serve with crisp crackers.

Lest you think the Olive-Cheese “Porcupine” was invented by the Spanish Olive Council, here’s a cheese porcupine from 1964, made of cream cheese and butter, flavored with beer, decorated with breadcrumbs and pretzel sticks for quills.

I’ve got one more recipe that I made at the party to report on and I’ll be trying even more as soon as I can find an occasion and an audience.

M2These writings and other creative projects are supported by my Patrons. Thank you so much! To become a Patron, go to my Patreon page. Or you can just tip me if you liked this.

Published in: on 10 November 2015 at 2:38 pm  Comments (1)  
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In the Kitchen: Zorita’s Knish

Dear Constant Reader,

It’s been a while since I got into the kitchen, since things have been so crazy with The Wrathskellar. The other day I was in need of a little comfort food, so I made knishes, which always make me think of Zorita.

Zorita used “knish” as a euphemism for a certain body part burlesque dancers weren’t supposed to show the audience, but often did. She famously said, when accused of “flashing” by the Toledo police, “And they said that they could see hair. I said, ‘That’s impossible, I haven’t had a hair on my knish in years.'”. This recipe is in honor of her.

Make the dough first. Take 2 eggs, salt, baking powder, oil and flour.

Beat the eggs with the salt, baking powder, and oil. Gradually add flour until the dough is soft and not sticky.

Knead for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Form into a ball and put into a bowl with a little oil. Roll the dough around until it’s covered with oil. Cover it and let it rest for an hour.

Meanwhile, make the filling.
Take potatoes, onions, an egg, parsley, oil (or schmaltz), and salt & pepper.

Boil the potatoes until they’re tender. Drain them, let them cool, and then peel. Really, let them cool. Don’t be dumb and keep burning your fingers. Trust me.

While the potatoes are cooling, chop the onions and cook them in some olive oil or chicken schmaltz until they’re nicely brown. If you’re a really bad Jew, use bacon fat. I won’t tell.

Mash the potatoes. Get out all your frustrations on the poor tubers.

Add the onions (let them cool a bit first), a beaten egg, chopped parsley, and some salt & pepper to taste.

Now comes the fun/tedious part: actually making the knishes. These are bite-sized cocktail party knishes, not big old deli-sized ones. That means you’re making a bunch of the little buggers. I didn’t take any pictures of this step because I was working too fast to pause.

Roll out about half the dough on a floured board. Keep the other half under wraps so it doesn’t dry out. Roll the dough as thin as you possibly can. Thinner than that. Use a 3″ biscuit cutter to cut a circle of dough. As soon as you lift the cutter, the circle will start to shrink in on itself, so roll it a couple more times.

Put a tablespoon of filling on half the round of dough. Brush the edges with cold water and seal. You want to smush things around so the knish is oval, with the sealed edge down the center, not the side like a potsticker.

Now you need to decide. Do you want a lady-like knish, appropriate for serving to refined company? Put the knish on the baking sheet, seam side down. Want a more vulvar knish, in honor of Zorita? Seam side up. It will probably open during baking exposing the delicious filling.

Repeat until you run out of dough or filling. I got 36 with some filling left over. I might have been able to squeeze a few more out of the dough scraps, but I was tired of it and 3 dozen is a round number. I put the leftover filling into a ramekin and baked it alongside the knishes. You could also make it into little cakes and fry them.

Brush the knishes with beaten egg yolk thinned with a little water and bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes.


Here’s the recipe!

Dough: Filling:
2 eggs 1 lb potatoes
1 tsp baking powder 3 Tbsp schmaltz or olive oil
1/2 tsp salt 2 onions, chopped
2 Tbsp oil 1/4 c parsley
1 2/3 c flour 1 egg, beaten
1 egg yolk beaten
w/ 1 tsp water
salt & pepper

Beat eggs with salt, baking powder, and oil. Gradually add flour, just enough to make a soft dough that is not sticky. Start with a fork then work by hand. Knead for about 10 minutes, until very smooth & elastic, sprinkling in a little flour if necessary.

Pour a little oil into the bowl and turn dough to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for an hour.

Boil potatoes until tender, about 25 minutes, then drain, cool, peel, & mash. Fry onions in fat until browned. Add to potatoes, add egg, add parsley, salt and lots of pepper.

Knead dough again and roll as thin as possible. Cut into 3” rounds.

Place 1 Tbsp filling on each round & seal with a little water. Shape them into ovals.

Brush with egg yolk and bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.


Published in: on 28 October 2015 at 2:20 am  Leave a Comment  

In the Kitchen with Mina: Peach Mousse (1950)

Dear Constant Reader,

I recently made dinner based on a menu in a little cookbook from 1950, Meals for Two Cookbook. True confession, I just used the menu as a guideline and made similar dishes from other vintage cookbooks in my collection.

The entree (Lamb en Brochette) was from an undated “postwar” butcher’s pamphlet, the vegetable (Épinard à l’italienne) was from a 1947 cookbook, and the bread (Sweet Potato Biscuits) came from a 1935 baking powder pamphlet. Dessert, however, did come from the original cookbook and that’s what I want to share with you.

Dessert was Peach Mousse and I was intrigued. Usually when I make mousse, it involves whipping heavy cream or egg whites (or both) and maybe a little gelatin to stabilize. This used evaporated milk, a substance I’d never had in my kitchen before, and it was a frozen dessert.

The ingredients are simple: peaches, sugar, evaporated milk, lemon juice, and a dash of salt (the salt box is hiding behind the other ingredients — I forgot to move it into the shot).

Peel the peaches and mash them to make 3/4 cup of puree. That was about a peach and a half in my case. Add some sugar and stir until it dissolves.

The recipe says to whisk the chilled milk until stiff. This is terribly amusing. I was using my trusty hand mixer and while the milk thickened, it was nowhere near stiff. After a little research I discovered that whipping evaporated milk needs a little special prep. Put the milk, bowl, and beaters into the freezer for half an hour. Then beat for only a few minutes. I did get soft peaks, but I’d never call it stiff. I couldn’t imagine this working with a whisk at all.

Fold in the peach puree, lemon juice, and salt and stick in the freezer. I put it in smaller, lidded container to freeze. That night it was in the freezer for maybe 5 hours and it was still soft at dessert time. A couple days later, it was very hard and probably wanted to spend a little time at room temperature before scooping.

I served it with fresh blueberries thus:

It’s more like ice cream than mousse, but so deliciously peachy that who cares. It’s easy to make, as long as you properly chill the milk. The actual preparation is pretty fast, although you’ve got to wait hours for it to harden up enough to serve.

Here’s the recipe:

Peach Mousse
2 large peaches
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Dash salt

Pour evaporated milk into a bowl (preferably metal) and put it and the mixer’s beaters in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Peel and stone the peaches and mash to get 3/4 cup puree. Add the sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Whip the milk for just about three minutes, until it resembles whipped cream. Fold in the peach mixture, lemon juice, and salt.

Cover and freeze for several hours, until firm.

Makes about 3 cups.

There’s a variation that uses bananas instead of peaches. I loathe bananas, but maybe I can find some brave taste-testers.


Published in: on 29 July 2015 at 2:09 pm  Leave a Comment  
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