Thursday, October 29, 2009

Recipes from the Past

Many of us enjoy remembering the dietary delights of our youth. A favorite casserole mom used to make for dinner or a luscious cake grandma made every time we came to visit. Antique cookbooks are a great place to find these recipes from the past.

Perhaps you have always wanted to cook a classic French dish such as Coq au Vin. Pick up a copy of” Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by the great Julia Child. Do not feel like preparing a gourmet French meal? Try a simple old-fashioned dessert. The Chicago Culinary Institutes 1940 cookbook “250 Delectable Desserts” swears to “end each meal in triumph! “ The seasonal recipe for New England Pumpkin Pudding is a great recipe for anyone on a gluten-free diet.

Many recipes from the past used fresh local ingredients in season. Just last week my husband, daughter and mother- in- law visited a local orchard to pick apples. The fruits of their labor yielded the best “Paper Bag Apple Pie” I ever had. A vintage recipe from the cookbook “Real, Old-Time Yankee Apple Cooking” insures a “perfect bake every time”.

Not much of a cook? How about a fun retro drink recipe for a swanky cocktail party or a traditional punch for the holidays? A 1933 book “Quiet Drinking “ would serve as a reliable guide for classic cocktails .This book must have earned its title due to being published the same year prohibition was repealed. If you have more formal entertaining to do, many antique cookbooks also included guides on the proper etiquette of entertaining. Since I have the memory similar to a strainer, I am constantly checking these books to see what side of the plate I place the fork, spoon and knife.

Whether you are searching for a casserole like Mom used to make, or a menu for an elegant dinner party, recipes of the past are sure to please the palate and nourish the soul.

Coq Au Vin, a recipe from the cookbook " Mastering the Art of French Cooking " by Julia Child.

2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken, skin on and thoroughly dried (I used skinless boneless breasts and thighs instead)*
4 ounces lean thick-cut bacon
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup cognac
2 cups red wine (Pinot Noir, Burgundy, Beaujolais or Chianti)
Avoid bold, heavily oaked red wine varietals like Cabernet.
2 cup homemade chicken stock or low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, mashed or minced
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon thyme
Brown-Braised Onions (see recipe below)
Mushrooms (see recipe below)
3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter, softened
Parsley sprigs

Dry chicken thoroughly in a towel. Season chicken with salt and pepper; set aside.

Remove any rind off the bacon and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4-inch across and 1-inch long). In a saucepan, simmer the bacon sticks in 2 quarts of water for 10 minutes; remove from heat, drain, rinse in cold water, and pat dry.

In a large heavy frying pan, casserole dish, or electric skillet over medium heat, heat olive oil until moderately hot. Add the bacon and saute slowly until they are lightly browned. Remove bacon to a side dish. Place chicken pieces into the hot oil (not crowding pan), and brown on all sides. Return bacon to the pan, cover pan, and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning chicken once.

After browning the chicken, uncover pan, pour in the cognac. Flambé by igniting with a lighted match. Let flame a minute, swirling pan by its handle to burn off alcohol; extinguish with pan cover.

Pour the red wine into the pan and add just enough chicken broth to completely cover the chicken pieces. Stir in tomato paste, garlic, bay leaf, and thyme. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then cover pan, and simmer slowly for about 30 minutes or until the chicken meat is tender when pierced with a fork or an instant-read Cooking Thermometer registers 165 degrees F.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Brown-Braised Onions and the Mushrooms.

When the chicken is done cooking, remove from the pan to a platter, leaving the cooking liquid in the pan. Increase heat to high and boil the cooking liquid rapidly until approximately 2 cups of liquid remains.

While the liquid is boiling, in a small bowl, blend the 3 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons softened butter into a smooth paste; beat the flour/butter mixture into the approximately 2 cups hot cooking liquid with a whisk. Simmer and stir for a minute or two until the sauce has thickened (the result will be a sauce thick enough to lightly coat a spoon - just thick enough to coat the chicken and vegetables lightly). If sauce is too thin, boil down rapidly to concentrate; if sauce is too thick, thin out with additional spoonfuls of chicken stock. Taste the final sauce, adding more salt and pepper if necessary.

Before serving, reheat the onions and mushrooms (if necessary).

Storing: Chicken is now ready for final reheating, but can be set aside in the sauce until cool, then covered and refrigerated for 1 to 2 days. To reheat, simmer slowly, covered, over low heat. Baste and turn chicken every 2 minutes until thoroughly warmed through (6 to 8 minutes). NOTE: Do not overcook chicken at this point.

To serve immediately: Shortly before serving, bring the sauce and the cooked chicken to a simmer, cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until chicken is hot through. NOTE: Do not overcook chicken at this point.

To serve: Either serve from the casserole dish or arrange the chicken on a large platter. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Arrange the Brown-Braised Onions on one side of the chicken and the Mushrooms on the other side. Decorate with sprigs of parsley.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Brown-Braised Onions:
12 to 24 small white onions, peeled (or double the amount if you want to use tiny frozen peeled raw onions)*
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste

While chicken is cooking, drop onions into boiling water, bring water back to the boil, and let boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and drain. Cool onions in ice water. Shave off the two ends (root and stem ends) of each onion, peel carefully, and pierce a deep cross in the root end with a small knife (to keep onions whole during cooking).

In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add parboiled onions, and toss for several minutes until lightly browned (this will be a patchy brown). Add water to halfway up onions and add 1/4 to1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover pan and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes or until onions are tender when pierce with a knife.

NOTE: Onions may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Prepare mushrooms. In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat butter and olive oil; when bubbling hot, toss in mushrooms and saute over high heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from heat.

NOTE: Mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

New England Pumpkin Pudding

Butter a 1 1/2 qt. casserole dish.

Mix well
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cloves
Blend thoroughly into
2 cups (1 lb can) canned pumpkin
Add and stir in a mixture of
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup milk
Pour pumpkin mixture into casserole.

Bake at 350 F about 1 hour , or until a silver knife comes out clean when inserted halfway between center and edge of pie. Cool slightly.

Decorate top of pudding with Whipped Cream.

Paper-Bag Apple Pie
6 to 7 cups peeled, sliced apples
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour + 2 Tbs.
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
unbaked 9-inch pie shell
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 cup softened butter

Combine apple slices, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and 2 tablespoons of the flour;add nutmeg and toss well into mix. Turn into the pie shell and sprinkle with lemon juice. Combine remaining 1/2 cup sugar with the remaining 1/2 cup flour, rub in the butter, and sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples. Place pie in large, heavy paper bag. Fold end over twice and fasten with paper clips. Place bag on cookie sheet. Bake in 425 oven for 1 hour. Split bag open and remove pie to cool.

Serves 6 to 8

This is a delectable pie. The apples will be very tender, the top golden. And somehow the paper bag insures a perfect bake every time.

Try one of these drinks for your next Cocktail Party

Traditional Swedish Christmas Glug
-This will impress your guests and make your house smell wonderful.

16 oz Brandy
16 oz Red Wine (Burgundy or Claret)
16 oz Port Wine
1 Tablespoon finely chopped Orange or Lemon Peel
1/4 pound Cube Sugar
1/4 Pound seedless Raisins
5 Cardamon Seeds
1 Cinnamon Stick
5 Cloves
1/4 Pound Blanched Almonds

Combine the Red wine and Port in saucepan over low heat. Place orange peel, cardamon seeds, cinnamon and cloves in cheesecloth. Tie cheesecloth securely. Place in wine mixture. Simmer for 20 minutes, then remove. Place cubes of sugar in metal strainer. Rest on top of the saucepan. Set Brandy aflame and pour slowly over sugar. As lighted Brandy is poured over sugar, it will carmalize. As an alternative, 1/2 cup of granulated sugar may be dissolved in Wine. Brandy is set aflame and poured into Wine. Serve in heated mugs.

Moscow Mule
This is one of my favorites. The first time I was served this cocktail was in Calumet, MI located in the heart of Copper Country.

1 1/2 Part Vodka
Ginger Beer
1 slice lime

Serve over ice in a chilled copper mug.

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