Monthly Archive for March, 2009

Protose Takes the World by Storm!!

Ok, not really. But reader Lorenzo gave Kellogg’s famous meat substitute a shot; you can find the results here. He used fresh sage, and found the flavor to be quite satisfactory.

Additionally, Ellen (of Ellen’s Kitchen, one of the websites I consulted to concoct my version of the recipe) suggests using powdered seitan as opposed to fresh. Her original recipe also includes yeast flakes, soy flakes and tapioca, which I omitted from my attempt.

If any one else out there is trying Protose, or any of the other recipes that appear on this blog, please let me know! I’d love to hear about it.

History Dish Mondays: Dough Nuts

I just…didn’t get a good photo this time.

Donuts have a long history in America, having said to be brought here by Dutch settlers, who landed in New York in 1614.
This recipe uses a chemical leavener instead of yeast, making the taste and texture like a historic funnel cake.


Dough Nuts
Original Recipe from The Frugal Housewife, Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy. By Lydia Maria Francis Child Boston: Carter and Hendee, 1830.
Modern Recipe adapted from the Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook.
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Fat or oil for deep frying
1. Sift and measure flour; mix in baking powder and cinnamon.
2. Cream butter and sugar.
3. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each egg.
4. Slowly ass dry ingredients in three batches, mixing well at a low speed after each batch.
5. Preheat an electric fryer to 375 degrees.
6. Carefully spoon blobs of dough into the hot oil. Flip when the bottoms turn brown. The dough should fry between 90 seconds- 2 minutes.
7. Remove from oil and pile onto a plate covered with paper towels. While hot, sprinkle with sugar and additional cinnamon.

I used my boyfriend’s deep fryer, and heated the oil to a little above 375, since it cools when you drop the batter in. This was my first time making dough nuts from scratch, and also my first time using a deep fryer. I drop spoonfuls of batter into the hot oil, no bigger than an inch. They will poof up to three times their size, and if the balls are too big, they get dense and undercooked in the middle.

I sprinkled my hot Dough Nuts with granulated sugar and cinnamon, but I think powdered sugar would have been even better. This recipe makes about two dozen. They were delicious–but quite rich and heavy, so I would recommend either halving this recipe, or inviting over a bunch of friends

I found the taste and texture to be delightful, the outside crispy and the inside cake warm and tender. Not at all dense like most cakes from the time period. Between three people, we probably ate about a dozen.

I think it’s interesting that the recipe specifically calls for cinnamon, which was not commonly used in the first half of the 19th century. Perhaps it was considered a breakfast spice–I found another recipe that recommends it for pancakes, as well. I’d be interested to try a batch flavored with lemon brandy; A teaspoon of lemon extract would probably be a good substitution.

I also found a recipe for Dought Nuts levened with yeast from Directions For Cookery, In Its Various Branches (1830) by Miss Eliza Leslie. She has a few interesting notes on the receipt:

“They should be eaten quite fresh, as next day they will be tough and heavy; therefore it is best to make no more than you want for immediate use. The New York Oley Koeks are dough-nuts with currants and raisin in them.”

I’d like to try to make a traditional Oley Koek for a future HDM.

Rating: A.
A tasty, filling, sweet treat. Would be great for a party. Everyone loves fried food!

History Dish Mondays: The Blue Blazer

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The Blue Blazer was the signature drink of infamous mid-19th century bartender Jerry Thomas, author of The Bartender’s Guide. At a recent party I attempted the Blue Blazer, and it didn’t turn out too badly: I scalded myself only slightly, and the crowd sure was impressed.

I also caught wind of a guy who is mixing and drinking his way through The Bartender’s Guide. You can read his blog here.

197 Blue Blazer Use two large silver plated mugs with handles 1 wine glass of Scotch whiskey 1 do boiling water Put the whiskey and the boiling water in one mug ignite the liquid with fire and while blazing mix both ingredients by pouring them four or five times from one mug to the other as represented in the cut If well done this will have the appearance of a continued stream of liquid fire Sweeten with one teaspoonful of pulverized white sugar and serve in a small bar tumbler with a piece of lemon peel

Dinner on the Road to Wellville: Wrap-up!

Last Saturday I hosted the Dinner on the Road to Wellville Party, which was delightful. We talked about our bowel movements so much! Kellogg clearly would have been proud.

The Queen of Puddings was a hands-down favorite–I recommend everyone add it to their recipe books and try it at home. It’s delicious! This QoP was particularly special because I used hand made peach jam, sent to me by a friend in Alaska, as the fruit layer.

Other favorites were the Rice a la Carolina and the Eggs Baked in Cream; also, surprising, the toasted pine nuts (now considered extremely underrated by general society) and the radish appetizer: whole radishes smeared with butter and sprinkled with salt. It’s a delightful, and very French, way of chomping down on a radish.

I would say there was only one hitch in the food preparation, and it turned out well in the end. I had to go on a search for vegetarian gelatin for the Salpicon of Fruits, a gelled first course of orange and strawberry juices. This required a trip to Whole Foods, only the second in my lifetime, and I have vowed to never go again. I did fine the “Jel” which is advertised as “All natural! Gluten Free! Vegan! No artificial colors of flavors! Unsweetened! Sugar Free! Unflavored!” I bought three boxes, and when I opened the first, it was completely empty. I thought it was a joke–“oh I get it! It doesn’t exist.” However, the other two boxes were filled with a mysterious powder. I followed the contradictory directions on the back, and to my surprise, ended up with fifteen champagne glasses filled with Salpicon of Fruits. They weren’t too bad, either. They were compared to a cross between “Fruit leather and Jell-o.”

Below is the final menu and check out the photo set on Flickr. Please enjoy!

Salpicon of Fruits

Manhattan Soup

Hors D’oeuvres
Radishes with Butter Toasted Pine Nuts Olives

Eggs Baked in Cream

Rice a la Carolina
String Beans

Pineapple Sherbet

Asparagus Tips on Toast
Hollandaise Sauce

Apple and Celery Salad

The Queen of Puddings
Assorted Fruits

Neufchatel Cheese on Wafers

Bridget Murphy’s St. Patricks Day Celebration: Wrap Up

The event that I took part in at the Merchant’s House Museum was a great success: It was well attended, and the food well received. I served Jersey Cocktails and Green Tea Punch; and also Cider Cake and a Carrot Soup that proved so popular, I will share the recipe below.

I snapped a few photos…not very many. I think there are more somewhere, and perhaps some videos on You Tube of me pontificating about mid-century booze. I’ll share them as they come to light.


Carrot Soup
Original recipe from the manuscript of Rosa Ann Mason Grovsner, 1850s
Modern recipe adapted from The American History Cookbook, by Mark Zanger, 2003.

This is a simple, winter vegetable soup and can be made with any root vegetable.

1/2 stick salted butter
2 lbs carrots (I use bags of baby carrots; saves time and are tasty.)
1 1/2 qrts beef broth
1/4 tsp mace (this amount can be doubled or tripled for a spicier soup)
1 cup heavy cream

Melt butter in a large pot. Add carrots, mace, fresh pepper and half the stock. Cover pot and cook carrots over a low heat until tender. Push cooked carrots through a food mill, mash by hand, or use a blender. Return carrots to pot and mix with remainder of broth; taste and re-season with additional mace, salt or pepper, if desired. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and stir in cream.

History Dish Mondays: The Bone of the Potato

While doing research for the upcoming event at the Merchant’s house, I came across an interesting account of how Irish immigrants in the mid-century cooked potatoes:

“We have all wondered why our Irish servants persist in bringing half-boiled potatoes to the table, notwithstanding our repeated orders to the contrary. Dr. James Johnson, in his tour in Ireland, discovered that it was almost a universal custom among the poor of the country, to only half boil their potatoes, leaving the center so hard, that it is called the bone of the potato.” (Breakfast, Dinner and Tea, Viewed Classically, Poetically, and Practically, 1859)

“…I have since read further descriptions of ‘potatoes with a bone’ as early as 1812. The preference developed in hard times, for the undercooked potato was harder to digest, and seemed to stop hunger for a longer time.” (The American History Cookbook, Mark H. Zanger, 2003)

Essentially, the Irish way of making a potato is grossly under cook them. In addition to Zanger’s theory that the raw potatoes staved off hunger, it seems even more logical that by boiling the potatoes for half the time, they were also using half the fuel for their fires. It seems the Irish developed a taste for the half-raw potatoes, and brought the tradition with them to America. Irish women were often hired as cooks for American households; potatoes with the bone in did not go over well with their mistresses. The appropriate way of preparing vegetables in the 19th century was to boil them to a mush–up to three hours for fresh veggies.


Potatoes with the Bone In

Modern Recipe from The American History Cookbook by Mark Zanger

1. Peel potatoes.

2. Put whole potatoes in a pot with water to cover by one inch and one tablespoon salt.

3. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer with lid off or ajar.

4. After 15 minutes, begin testing by pushing a fork into the center of a potato. When it goes in halfway and meets a hard part, the “bone,” the potatoes are ready.


Zanger suggests this would have been eaten with a cup of milk; a meal I’m familiar with from my Tenement Diet days. A starch and some protein will fill you up.

Rating: D. It’s actually not as bad as I expected them to be; but it tastes pretty “green.” Like a raw potato.

Fear not, however. There will be plenty cooked food to eat tonight as well. I have four perfect cider cakes and a pot of spiced carrot soup for the event tonight, as well as some mid-19th century cocktails up my sleeve.

Goodbye Roquefort?

File under ridiculous: due to a high import tax slapped on by the Bush administration, Roquefort cheese will no longer be imported into the United States. I last served the cheese at my Devil in the White City Dinner Party, and it saddens me that I will no longer be able to nosh on a Victorian favorite.

Murray’s Cheese (the best cheese store in New York) is holding a farewell party. Read the full story here.

Try This At Home: Make Yeast Appear–OUT OF THIN AIR!

This week has taken on a bit of a bread theme; I don’t have much experience with bread, but I’ve always been fascinated by it. It seems magical, the way the dough puffs and doubles in size. The smell of yeast dough rising has always been appealing to me.
But there was a question that had always bugged me. Before packets of commercial yeast, where did yeast come from? How did a woman living on the frontier in the 19th century make bread, the most basic and essential of items?
The other day I got the unique opportunity to hang out behind-the-scenes at Orwarsher’s Bakery, an upper east-side institution for the last 100 years. I had more fun with bread than I ever thought possible, and I also found time to ask them my burning question: where does yeast come from?
The answer? From thin air.
They told me: if you set out a bowl of water, flour, and sugar; yeast will come and live in it. That’s called your starter. Over time, you scoop out what yeast you need, and add sugar, flour, and water back in to “feed” it. In this fashion, a yeast colony can be kept indefinitely. In Orwasher’s case, their starter has been around since the bakery started over 100 years ago. So if you go into Orwasher’s today, you are eating bread made from the great-great-great-(etc) grandchildrens of yeast that was floating around in the New York air in 1900.
Kinda weird? A little, maybe. But also kinda awesome!
Additionally, Orwashers is reviving a very old (see: medieval) technique of bread making which involves building a yeast culture from grapes being fermented for wine. The resulting bread is dark and crusty, and looks like a loaf of bread out of a medieval banquet. They have several varieties available, and are great adorned with a smear of soft cheese or soaked in a bowl of hearty soup.
I’m giving yeast growing a try at home. I referenced an 1845 recipe for yeast, and I’ve set out a bowel of flour, brown sugar, warm water, and a little salt . I’ll keep you updated, and let you know what happens!

P.S.: I hung out at Orwarsher’s while doing a video for The Feedbag. See the video here.

History Dish Mondays: Rusks

I had a packet of yeast leftover from when I made ginger beer, so I decided to mix up a batch of Rusks.
Rusks were a favorite when I worked at a living history museum. In the morning, toasted on the cast iron stove, they could not be beat. I would describe this recipe as “advanced,” especially if you don’t have much experience with yeasty breads.
Original recipe from American Cookery by Amelia Simmons
Modern Recipe from The Old Sturbridge Village Cookbook

1/4 pound butter
1 cup milk
7 eggs
6 tablespoons sugar
1 package yeast dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water
6-7 cups flour

I halved this recipe.
1. Melt butter and combine with milk.
2. Beat eggs until light; add sugar, yeast and eggs to milk and butter mixture.
3. Stir in 3 cups of flour and beat for 2-3 minutes. Cover the bowl and set in a warm place for an hour or more, or refrigerate overnight.
After the dough has finished rising, add the remaining flour, enough so that the dough is no longer sticky. At this point, you’re supposed to take it out, roll it into 2 logs and cut it into 12 slices. But this is what mine looked like:
Shrug. I heated up some butter in a skillet. I rubbed my hands with some flour, and tour off a slice of the dough. I dabbed it into a little more flour, and patted it between my hand until it vaguely resembled the shape of an English muffin. I tossed it in the hot skillet. Repeat until the skillet is filled.
When it gets crusty and brown, flip it, and push it down with you spatula. You want to make sure it get cooked all the way through! Watch them close–my first batch was a burned disaster. My next two tries came out acceptable.
While these turned out pretty good, they were not as tasty as when my mom makes them. They seemed a little dense, but the bread is sweet and yeasty. I think they’re better the next day, toasted and spread with butter and jam. Or try it as a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich!
Rating B+
I think my technique needs some work.

Come See Me LIVE at the Merchant’s House Museum

Don’t know what to do before you get trashed on St. Patrick’s day? Head on down to the Merchant’s House Museum!!! From 6-8, they’re hosting a special St. Patrick’s day event, featuring *ME*, live and in person, and the opportunity to taste a variety of food from the 1850s. From the Official Press Release:


Bridget Murphy Opens her Kitchen to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day

NEW YORK – Irish servant Bridget Murphy will open her kitchen on St Patrick’s Day for tastings of foods and drink from the 1850s — potatoes “on the bone,” and other traditional fare. You are invited to tour the servants’ quarters on the 4th floor, too, usually off limits to visitors. A bagpiper will play The Famine Song and other Celtic hits.

Food Historian and journalist Sarah Lohman of will curate the tasting. She’ll serve potatoes “on the bone,” “Bridget’s Bread Cake” (thought to be the first Irish-American recipe ever published), carrot soup, and cider cake. Featured drinks will be “Green” Tea Punch (hot rum and brandy with green tea and lemons) and Jersey Cocktails (cider – graciously provided by Original Sin Hard Cider – with bitters and lemon peel shaken over ice) from The Bon Vivant’s Companion, 1862. Other light refreshments will be served.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., $30, $15 Museum Members. Reservations Strongly Suggested; call 212-777-1089.


This is my first public gig as a historic gastronomist, so come out and show your support. And the Merchant’s House is around the corner from McSorley’s, the oldest bar in Manhattan. Abe Lincoln drank there! So finish up the night in the traditional fashion with a few pints.

The Merchant House Museum: Events

McSorely’s Old Ale House