Making a Sunday Dinner from c. 1913 Recipes

Hello everyone, it’s been a while but I’m back with something new! Not only a new post – a completely new type of content for this blog. Today I’m stepping away from my sewing room and into the kitchen!

This was inspired by some women’s magazines that I recently purchased. I bought them with the intention of using them for fashion reference – and though they did have a lot of neat information about daily women’s wear from the mid nineteens, I found myself far more interested in the recipes.

I thought it would be fun to try some of them…then the idea morphed into trying some of them while dressed from the same period as the recipes! I thought this must have been done before, but I couldn’t find anything on youtube. Which meant I had to make it.

So three days later, after preparing a menu of ten recipes and spending sixty dollars on ingredients, I found myself spending six hours in the kitchen wearing a mid nineteens house dress.

The video showing that whole process can be found here, if you are interested! It’s a really long one, and shows the chaos that is me trying to multitask while cooking. I don’t think I’m a bad cook when it comes to following one recipe at a time…but tackling ten while capturing it on camera? With minimal instructions? That was a lot! And it didn’t go very well!

All the recipes I followed are from the book “Fifty-Two Sunday Dinners” by Elizabeth O.Hiller. The ebook version of this is avalible here, courtesy of project gutenberg.

cover

I looked at *so* many books before deciding on this one. I like how it is organized into menus, so you get an idea of a full meal rather than random recipes. Plus, Sunday dinner seemed very appropriate for Easter!

However a specific menu didn’t really appeal to me, so I made my own.

menu

Here are the instructions (and my thoughts) on each one.

NOVA SCOTIA CANAPÉS

Cut white bread in one-third inch slices; stamp out with heart-shaped cutter; spread both sides thinly with butter, brown them delicately in the oven. Mince Nova Scotia smoked salmon and moisten with Mayonnaise or Boiled Salad Dressing. Spread each heart with mixture, dispose a dainty border of finely chopped white of egg around each and tip it off with a sprinkle of the yolk pressed through a sieve. Do not cover the salmon entirely with the egg. Arrange canapés on small plates covered with a lace paper doily; garnish each with a spray of parsley and serve as first course.

I used a heart cookie cutter to shape the bread, and replaced the salmon with smoked ham since I don’t like fish. Though the book does have a mayonnaise recipe I used store bought to avoid the hazard of raw eggs. Overall the texture was a little weird, but these tasted nice!

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CABBAGE RELISH

Chop crisp, white cabbage very fine (there should be two cups). Chop one green pepper and one medium-sized Bermuda onion the same. Mix well and season with one teaspoon salt, one-eighth teaspoon black pepper, one teaspoon celery seed and three tablespoons sugar. Dilute one-fourth cup vinegar with two tablespoons cold water; add to relish. Chill and serve in crisp lettuce leaves.

This was good, my favorite of the lot by far! It tasted really fresh with the celery seed and had a great crunchy texture from the raw vegetables. It wasn’t as good the following day, since the juices had seeped from the other vegetables and made it taste a bit watery on its own. So I’ve been adding it to salads and sandwiches too boost the flavor and really enjoying it!

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CAULIFLOWER À LA BÉCHAMEL

Select a firm, white cauliflower, remove leaves and cut off the stalk. Soak (head down) in cold salt water to cover. Drain and cook (head up) in boiling salted water to cover until tender but not broken apart. Drain well and dispose on shallow serving dish. Pour over one and one-half cups Béchamel Sauce. Sprinkle with finely chopped parsley.

BÉCHAMEL SAUCE
4 tablespoons butter.
4 tablespoons flour.
1½ cups highly seasoned chicken stock.
½ cup hot thin cream.
Yolk 2 eggs.
Salt, pepper, few grains nutmeg.

Process: Melt butter in a saucepan, add flour, stir to a smooth paste; add stock slowly, stirring constantly; add cream and continue stirring. Bring to boiling point, remove from range and add egg yolk slightly beaten. Add seasonings. Beat until smooth and glossy. Keep hot over hot water. Do not allow sauce to boil after adding yolk of egg.

This was good too! The sauce would be *amazing* on pasta, it has the texture of alfredo sauce, just with more flavor.  I used a store bought chicken broth and seasoned it with onion powder, garlic powder, and a bit of colliander seed.  However the sauce did end up quite salty, it definitely doesn’t need  salt added if you are using modern chicken broth.

I don’t love cauliflower, and found it still overwhelmed the flavor of the sauce but it was good.

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CARLSBAD POTATOES

Wash and pare one dozen small, uniform-sized potatoes; soak one hour in cold water to cover. Drain, put in stew-pan and cover with one quart of boiling water. Add two tablespoons butter and two teaspoons salt. Cook until soft (but not broken), then drain. Return to stew-pan. Add one-third cup butter, one and one-half tablespoons lemon juice, and one-eighth teaspoon paprika. Cook four or five minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Place in hot serving dish and sprinkle with one tablespoon chopped parsley.

These were just okay. Definitely edible! But pretty bland and watery tasting. The texture reminded me of potatoes made around a roast, but they didn’t have the flavor from the beef. I think using bacon fat instead of butter would have helped.

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PAN BROILED FILLETS OF BEEF

Have fillets of beef cut one and one-half inches thick; shape in circular forms. Broil ten minutes in a hissing, well-buttered frying pan, turning every ten seconds for the first two minutes, that the surface may be seared thoroughly, thus preventing the loss of juices. Turn occasionally afterward. When half done season with salt, pepper, reduce heat and finish cooking. Arrange on hot serving platter and spread generously with soft butter. Pour over Sultana Sauce.

I’ve never cooked steak before, so this didn’t go very well. The outside browned (and threatened to burn!) within the first two minutes and I wasn’t sure what to do since they were no where near cooked through. They tasted okay, though.

SULTANA SAUCE
¾ cup Sultana raisins.
2-¾ cups boiling water.
1 cup sugar.
1 tablespoon butter.
Few grains salt.
¼ cup Sherry wine.
2 tablespoons lemon juice.
1 tablespoon cornstarch or two teaspoons Arrowroot.

Pick over raisins, cover them with water and cook until raisins are tender. Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt, add slowly to raisins and water, stirring constantly. Cook slowly twenty minutes; add butter, lemon juice and wine. Reheat and serve.

This was my “out there” recipe, since I found the thought of raisins on steak so very odd. This sauce is also paired with deserts later in the book, which made me even more intrigued!
I didn’t like this at all. The sweetness was okay, but I found the raisins to have an almost metallic taste and the way they burst while eating the steak was…gross. At least to me. But my dad liked it and isn’t even a raisin fan, so you might like it!
If you do follow this recipe, I would suggest using a smaller amount of water. I suspect early 20th century raisins were drier than modern ones, and would have soaked up more of the water, leading to a thicker sauce. My sauce ended up really thin, and I think this is why.
(But I used golden raisins instead of sultanas, which could have been the problem. Or maybe I didn’t get the sugar up to a high enough temperature.)
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LEMON PIE
¾ cup sugar.
1 cup boiling water.
2 tablespoons cornstarch.
2 tablespoons flour.
2 egg yolks slightly beaten.
4 tablespoons lemon juice.
Grated rind one lemon.
1 teaspoon butter.
Few grains salt.

Process: Mix sugar, cornstarch, flour and salt, add boiling water gradually, stirring constantly. Cook over hot water until mixture thickens; continue stirring. Add lemon juice, rind, butter,[21] and egg yolks. Line a pie pan with Rich Paste, wet edges, and lay around a rim of pastry one inch wide; flute edge. Cool mixture and turn in lined pan. Bake in a moderate oven until crust is well browned. Remove from oven, cool slightly, spread with meringue, return to oven to bake and brown meringue.

MERINGUE
Whites 2 eggs.
2 tablespoons powdered sugar.
¼ teaspoon lemon or orange extract.

Process: Beat whites until stiff and dry; add sugar by the teaspoonful; continue beating. Add flavoring, drop by drop. Spread unevenly over pie and bake fifteen minutes in a slow oven; brown the last five minutes of baking.

RICH PASTE
1½ cups flour.
1/3 cup Cottolene.
¾ teaspoon salt.
½ teaspoon baking powder.
Ice water.

Process: Mix salt with flour, cut in Cottolene (except one tablespoon) with a knife, moisten with cold water. Turn on a floured board, pat and roll out, spread with tablespoon of Cottolene and dredge lightly with flour, then roll sheet like a jelly roll; divide in two equal parts. Roll out a trifle larger than pie tin.

I really like the filling for this, it was amazing. I want to make it again and put it on ice cream. But it didn’t make a lot of filling. I’m not sure if lemon pies were intended to be flatter back then, or if my shell was too big. But I could have doubled this recipe and still not come close to filling the shell.

The meringue was just okay, I didn’t think it added a lot to the pie but I could have done something wrong. Again there wasn’t a lot of it, definitely not enough to make it domed towards the center. It also turned to a thick dry marshmallow texture in the fridge, so it’s barely edible at this point.

I made the rich paste from gluten free flour, and replaced cottolene with crisco. It was flaky and held its shape well, but had a slightly floury after taste. I definitely prefer my normal recipe of half cold butter half crisco.

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CAFÉ NOIR (AFTER-DINNER COFFEE)

To prepare after-dinner coffee, use twice the quantity of coffee or half the quantity of water, given in recipe for Boiled Coffee. This coffee may be prepared in the Percolator, following the directions given in the foregoing. Milk or cream is not served with black coffee. Serve in hot after-dinner coffee cups, with or without cut loaf sugar.

BOILED COFFEE
1 cup medium ground coffee.
White 1 egg.
6 cups boiling water.
1 cup cold water.

Process: Scald a granite-ware coffeepot. Beat egg slightly and dilute with one-half cup cold water, add to coffee and mix thoroughly. Turn into coffeepot and add boiling water, stir well. Place on range; let boil five minutes. If not boiled sufficiently, coffee will not be clear; if boiled too long, the tannic acid will be extracted, causing serious gastric trouble. Stuff the spout of pot with soft paper to prevent the escape of aroma. Stir down, pour off one cup to clear the spout of grounds, return to pot. Add remaining half-cup cold water to complete the clearing process. Place pot on back of range for ten minutes, where coffee will not boil. Serve immediately. If coffee must be kept longer, drain from the grounds and keep just below boiling point.

This was gross. Granted, I tried to make it in a normal pot and had a disaster when straining it. But I did follow their measurements and cook times, so I think it turned out similar to what they explain. It just tasted awful. You know when people say ‘This coffee tastes like tar’? I feel like I understand that all too well after trying this.

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And that is it! Though there were some mishaps along the way, it was fun to take on some vintage recipes. They all ended up being edible and enjoyed (except for the coffee, that was awful).

I hope everyones Sunday dinner is better than the one I made, and that you have a nice Easter if you celebrate.

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Thanks for reading!

 

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11 thoughts on “Making a Sunday Dinner from c. 1913 Recipes

  1. Ren says:

    Happy Easter! What a fun idea! I thought this was going to be an April Fool’s joke at first, but was pleasantly surprised. 🙂

  2. Sharon Redgrave says:

    Ah, my dear you are a brave soul! Good on you! I hope your Dad enjoyed it all and that your dress did not suffer any long-lasting calamities. This was quite the bright spot in the midst of a busy day, and as a professional cook, it sounds like you did a fine job. Happy Spring–thanks!!

  3. Susan Krzywicki says:

    Wonderful idea – thanks for doing this. But did you actually wear your outfit during the cooking? Yikes. What sort of apron did you wear?

  4. Christine Duchene says:

    Angela,
    I have some things you might be interested in. I am now a retired artist but also made costumes and designed sets. I have recently downsized and want to give some of my things to others interested in costuming. Do you have a PO box or something that I can send stuff ,patterns, fabric, vintage bead work, and so on, to (as I unpack them)?
    Thanks
    Christine

  5. MelM says:

    I make an almost identical raisin sauce for my father every Easter. It was something his grandmother made for him and she would have been a young housewife in this period. My mother won’t make it for him because we both think it’s gross. Great grandmother’s recipe doesn’t have the butter and uses cider vinegar instead of sherry, which I would think would cut some of the super-sweetness.

  6. Pam J says:

    You are so talented and beautiful! What a project for youvto take on! I am inspired to try some old recipes too. This is the 3rd Video of yours i have watched and i look forward to many more.

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