Friday, August 31, 2012

Food Friday: Party Bean Glop from The Liggett Alumnae

The Liggett Alumnae Cook Book (1950) produced by the Liggett Associate Alumnae has some great 1950s recipes and advertising.

Presidential Medal of Freedom honoree  and automaker Henry Ford II wrote a foreword to the cookbook that proclaims:

"Not a man alive has walked through his kitchen without casually noticing some simple change that would vastly improve its operation. A few generations ago he wisely kept these dangerous thoughts to himself, fearing his life and limb if wife and cook should get wind of his subversive thoughts."

Continuing on his idea that men are better left out of the kitchen he concludes,

 "I hope that all women enjoy it thoroughly (the cookbook) and that wise men read no further."

Henry Ford II was the oldest grandson of Henry Ford and the son of Edsel Ford. At one point, the Fords helped the school move to a different location in 1928.

One of the great aspects of this cookbook is that the name of the recipe contributor and their graduation year is listed with each recipe. The women's name seem to also include both their maiden and married name.

Today's recipe is for Party Bean Glop (page 54) which is basically  mushrooms, mushroom soup, beans and butter soaked bread. The name reminded me of a dip but apparently this is a vegetable to be served with dinner.

The Table of Contents states for the vegetable section of the cookbook "Cook them this way and even your meat eating man will love'em."

But of course that's only after you've threatened their life and limb.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Food Friday: Scripture Cake

In some cases a recipe isn't a recipe for food. Sometimes "recipes" were meant to convey ideas for happier living or even to remind the reader what is most  important. They typically have names like "How to Cook a Husband" or in this example "Recipe for Housekeeping" and "Scripture Cake."

Community cookbooks have long featured non-food recipes including these two from the  1935 cookbook compiled by the Ladies' Auxiliary of the Illinois Rural Letter Carriers Association. (I have featured this cookbook previously in  Food Friday: Sandwich Spread. )

Scripture Cake is a recipe many will be familiar with. There are many different versions of this recipe, including one I found on the website Allrecipes and a version I found that was used by one of my favorite authors, Sharyn McCrumb for her book The Rosewood Casket.

I remember reading this recipe as a child. I didn't know anyone who actually made it, it was more about using it as  a way to encourage everyone to look up scriptures to solve the puzzle, or what the true ingredients  are for the cake.

Do you have memories of Scripture Cake?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Food Friday: Meat Loaf Salad

Yes, you read the title of this blog post correctly. I am sharing a recipe for Meat Loaf Salad.

This salad idea comes from the circa 1925 Chi Omega Cook Book edited by The North Shore Alumnae of Chi Omega for Xi Chapter House Fund. Northwestern University. Evanston, Ill.

The Preface states:

"In this day of the mounting cost of living, the problem is to so spend the dollar as to bring the best results. The complex demands of modern life are a challenge to the intelligence and foresight of the college-bred woman to use her budget so as to provide her family with the most adequate diet obtainable."

It goes on to declare "Thanks to scientific research, we have learned that calories alone do not build up energy, that unless certain properties known as vitamins are present in the food, force is lacking."

In the salad section there are all types of salad including the Meat Loaf Salad.

This salad reminds me of processed luncheon meat. Although I've ate a lot of luncheon meat in my life I think I would rather have the Stuffed Tomato Salad with Lobster in the last recipe.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Damned Torpedos, Huauzontle Ahead

Li-hing-rubbed torpedo with weird huauzontle and 
diced peppers

Torpedo with poached peaches on bulgur farrotto 
flavored with saffron and sage

Herb crusted torpedo with caramelized 
onion and fennel, on apple-onion risotto

One of my favorite ways to prepare sweet Italian sausage is as an oblong patty, locally known as a torpedo. Paulina Market sells beautiful torpedoes, so I usually get one one or two on every marketing trip. These trips usually include a swing by Andy's for vegetables, and it's there I discovered huauzontle*, branches of green buds that looked like a cross between broccoli and sticky nugs of boutique weed. One of the weirdest foods I've ever looked at, much less cooked.


There was only one bunch of huauzontle at Andy's, and the guy in the apron had no idea how to prepare it or eat it. Or in fact what it was called. All he knew was that it was "Mexican.**" Naturally I bought them (it?) and when I got home I Googled "weird looking Mexican vegetable like broccoli or marijuana buds" and got nowhere. Clicking the "images" link got me to epazote***, another plant eaten by Mexicans, then some sidebars got me to huauzontle****. I now knew what it was, but instructions on cooking it were limited to "use like spinach" and a few references to fried fritters made with the buds.

Since the torpedo of sausage can be imposing if it's presented as a briquet, I usually serve it in slices over something like rice, bulgur or greens, and if I could figure out how to cook them like spinach, as intimated on the internets, the bulbous green tufts of huauzontle seemed like they'd be a fine match. Or maybe poison, who knows.

I tried a nibble of a huauzontle***** raw and it was pretty dull. Like a chlorophyllic version of the little nub on the end of a shoelace. I decided to try cooking the florets on the stove with some liquid in a covered pan, just close my eyes and pretend it was spinach or kale and hope for the best.

I sliced some garlic and onions and wilted them in a saucepan with some olive oil and diced bacon, then added the huauzontle buds after stripping them from the stalks. The stalks seemed impossibly tough and woody so there seemed no point in trying to eat them. Perhaps if they're straight from the huauzontle patch (tree?) and haven't sat around a produce section for a while even the stalks would be edible, I don't know. In their present state they were kindling, not food. The buds didn't seem to be rendering any liquid, so I added a generous glug of white wine, and once the alcohol had boiled off I seasoned the pan with some salt and crushed dry birdseye chile, covered it and turned it down to a simmer.

The torpedo was pretty straightforward. I made a wet rub of li-hing powder, salt, black pepper, olive oil and mashed garlic, coated the torpedo with it and browned it in a hot skillet. When both sides had a healthy crust on them, I added a couple glugs of white wine and covered the skillet to braise the sausage. If cooked entirely by searing, the fat and juice tend to drain out of the torpedo******, leaving a more-or-less conventional sausage patty, curled into the unappealing shape of the cup of an athletic supporter. Braised in liquid, the torpedo stays juicy and swells itself into a plump little lozenge shape that is much easier to slice and has no unfortunate associations.

When plump and ready, I removed the torpedo to a plate to rest, and added the huauzontle to the skillet along with its pan juices. Since the huauzontle didn't generate any pot liquor of its own, the extra moisture of the braising liquid would be useful, and if the vegetable was as flavorless cooked as it was raw, the added flavor could save the dish. I left the pan on a high fire to reduce the liquid, and when most of it was absorbed into the greens I added some chopped scallions and mint, tossed everything together and put portions onto plates.

I sliced the torpedo slightly diagonally to make nice presentation slices and arranged them on the huauzontle, drizzling the collected juices over everything. The plate looked a little drab so I grated some home-made cheese over everything and diced a small red pepper from the alley as a garnish.

The torpedo came out well, the seared exterior had a sharp bite to it and the li-hing had penetrated to add both a nice pink color and a whiff of licorice that complimented the fennel in the sausage itself.

The huauazontle was fine if not remarkable. The flavor was mild and slightly musky, and the greens absorbed considerable flavor from the wine, garlic and braising liquid. The li-hing in particular added a welcome anise undertone that complimented the lean nature of the greens as well as it did the succulence of the sausage. After a total of about 20 minutes cooking, the buds weren't tough, though the stemmy bits were stick-like and stiff as matchsticks. Further cooking would probably be pointless, so I think the solution would be to be careful in stripping the buds off the stems.

On the whole, huauazontle is unremarkable to eat. Weird to look at and weird that anybody ever thought to eat a bunch of twigs with some buds on the end, but otherwise not special. Didn't smoke any.

*Pronounced "Wha-Wha-Zoontee-Lah" according to me, because of how I decided to say it.
**He was not Mexican. I know because I asked him. So I guess that was racist. Him saying huauzontle was Mexican is racist, not me asking him I mean. Was it rude to ask if he was Mexican? I mean how did he know?
***Pronounced "EP with non-LP B-side," 
****Google search also inexplicably got me to these:
*****Really, huauzontle? Is that the name? It sounds like a Jon Wurster character.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Food Friday:Taboulleh

Dining by Degrees: A Collection of Recipes by the California Polytechnic Women's Club (1984) provides readers with history, vintage photos, and of course recipes.

The Foreward states:

"With pride in Cal Poly, its past, present and future, the members of the Cal Poly Women's Club have endeavored to compile some of our favorite recipes and those of other campus contributors...Our contributing cooks represent a wide range of regional and international experiences as reflected in the recipes."

I love how this book provides historical info as well as copies of vintage photos. A true history/community cookbook.

This recipe is for a dish I love. Check out the quote underneath the recipe. Seems life hasn't changed much. I admit I did a double take on this quote.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Plowing, Seeding & Harrowing

Postcard mailed 1909. Plowing, Seeing & Harrowing 44 ft. Wide. California

Friday, August 3, 2012

Food Friday: Mock Terrapin

One of the types of recipes you see in older community cookbooks is the mock recipes. Now there are two types of mock recipes. There is the mock recipe that substitutes one ingredient for another and then there is a mock recipe that is a light-hearted look at such things as "furnishing a church" or "how to cook a husband."

For today we will be looking at a recipe that is a substitution. These types of recipes can be found in older cookbooks and were used because an ingredient became too expensive or scarce. I have seen them for ingredients like oysters and turtle. During the World War II years you would see more of these mock recipes as women had to get by with less and be  more creative with food.

Cook Book Compiled by the Ladies of Center Presbyterian Church. Crawfordsville, Indiana. Revised Christmas 1894 is one of the older cookbooks in my collection. It provides recipes as well as housekeeping tips. Like many other community cookbooks of this era, there are few details about the women except for their names. In this case not all of the names are mentioned, one recipe is attributed to "A Housekeeper."

Today's recipe is for mock terrapin. It may seem weird to substitute  beef  for terrapin (turtle) but I know in other books I have read calf's head, and according to this recipe calf's liver, taste remarkably similar to turtle.

I don't really see mock recipes, those substituting one ingredient for another, in cookbooks anymore. Do you have a mock recipe that you cook? Did your family have a favorite mock recipe?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Mission Indian Grill, Hotel Alexander, Los Angeles, California. 1908.