Monthly Archive for November, 2011

The Gallery: Brunch v. Blunch!

Brandon brought me this great article: an explanation for the word “Brunch,” from Punch, or The London Charivari, August 1, 1898.

Will I see you later for suckfast?  Or do you want to get together tomorrow for brupper?

Social Media Explosion

Just to let you know, I’m now keeping a TUMBLR here with short posts, quotes, and snapshots.

You can also like Four Pounds Flour on FACEBOOK here to keep up to date with all the goings on.

And, you can sign up for the MAILING LIST here for direct-to-your inbox info on upcoming events and big announcements.

The History Dish: Mrs. Lefferts’ Pumpkin Pudding


Pumpkin Pudding

Half a pound of stewed pumpkin Three Eggs A quarter of a pound of fresh butter or a pint of Cream A quarter of a pound of powdered white sugar Half a glass of wine and brandy mixed Half a glass of rosewater teaspoon full of mixed mixed spice nutmeg, mace, cinnamon. Stew some pumpkin with as little water as possible.  Drain it in a cullender and prep it till dry.  When cold, weigh half a pound and pass it through a sieve.  Prepare the spice.  Stir together the sugar and butter or Cream  till they are perfectly light.  Add to them gradually the spice and liquid.  Beat the eggs very light and stir them into the butter and sugar alternately with the pumpkin.  Cover a soup plate with puff paste and put in the mixture.  Bake it in a moderate oven about half an hour.

This recipe was written well over a hundred years ago, by a Maria Lefferts.  The Lefferts, one of the first families of Brooklyn, lived in the area that is now known as Prospect Park;  one of their homes still remains as a historic site.  Their papers reside in the collections of the Brooklyn Historical Society, which is where I came across this handwritten cookbook, and this recipe for Pumpkin Pudding.

Pumpkin Pudding is better known today as Pumpkin Pie.  I love cooking an American standard from a historic recipe because it often gives me a new perspective.  After looking at recipes from the late 18th century, I retronovated my yearly pumpkin pie recipe with a 1/4 cup of brandy and 1/3 cup of pure maple syrup.  And I seldom make an apple pie without a dash of rosewater and some white wine.

Mrs. Leffert’s recipe dates to about 1820; her instructions are refreshingly precise, almost modern.  In most cookbooks from that time, let alone handwritten cookbooks, recipes can be as verbose as a list of ingredients.

Pumpkin Pudding
From the handwritten cookbook of Maria Lefferts, c. 1820.

1/4 lb (1 stick)  butter or 1 pint cream
1/4 lb (1/2 cup) super fine sugar
1/4 cup a glass of wine and brandy (I used brandy only)
1/4 cup a glass rose water
1 tsp mixed nutmeg, mace and cinnamon (I used 1/4 tsp each nutmeg and mace, and 1/2 tsp cinnamon)
1/2 lb (1  cup) stewed pumpkin
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  With the mixer on low, add spices and then brandy and rosewater.   Beat eggs with a fork until light, then add them to the butter mixture, alternating with the pumpkin.

Press a puff paste into a pie pan, and fill with pumpkin mixture. Bake for one hour.  Allow to cool completely before serving.  Custard pies are always better the next day.

For the crust, I used a basic puff paste recipe from the book Puff.


I chose to use butter, instead of cream, because it is Leffert’s first suggestion, and it’s not an ingredient normally used in pumpkin pie.  I was curious how it would change the texture.  However, by the time the pie was mixed and ready for the oven, the butter had made it a lumpy mess.


I was also extremely apprehensive about how much rosewater was going into this pie.  “1/2 a glass,” based on the proportion of the brandy I was adding, I estimated at being a 1/4 of a cup.   As I measured the odorous liquid, I wondered if I shouldn’t cut it down to two tablespoons.  I looked at Roommate Jeff, who had creeped into the kitchen.  “Should I put less rosewater in or should I just stop being a pussy and follow the recipe?”

“Stop being a pussy.”

And in went the rosewater.   While I was making the pie, the entire kitchen stunk of rosewater.  While the pie was baking, a sickening-sweet rosewater smell drifted from the oven.  When it was finally time to cut the pie and try a taste, the only flavor that my taste buds could understand was rosewater.

Blech. While I don’t mind rosewater in appropriate quantities, that’s all I could taste in the recipe: the sweet, floral, citrus notes of distilled rose petals, in nauseating quantities.  Even if I reduced the quantity of rosewater, I’m not sure how I would feel about it paired with pumpkin.  I tend to enjoy it more is dishes that are slightly acidic, like apple pie.

More than that, the texture was very unappealing.  Oddly, it had a gritty mouth-feel.

At any rate, the 190-year-old Pumpkin Pudding is coming into work with me today, so we’ll see what the verdict is from my coworkers.  They’re nerds, so they’ll at least appreciate the history.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Mrs. Lefferts: I’ve had better.

NYHS: Unusual Meats

In our final installment of our exploration of the New York Historical Society’s culinary collection, we are taking a look at Unusual Meats, a pamphlet published in 1919.  Because frankly, who wouldn’t be intrigued by a pamphlet called Unusual Meats?

The meats in question are those sold by Swift’s Fancy Meats company, which are in fact not at all fancy, and are in fact offal.

Like brains.

And pork “plucks.”

and Beef melts.

And other suspiciously named body parts.  A “melt,” I found out, is actually the pancreas.  And I really wanted to try the Salisbury beef melts after pancreas meat was prominently featured in last week’s episodes of American Horror Story.  But butchers don’t seem to carry pancreas anymore, so all I could get my hands on was a veal heart.

When I purchased the heat, I had fully intended cooking it according to the recipe below.  But at the moment, the heart is just sitting in my refrigerator.  After the moose face…I’m just so tired.

NYHS: The Chinese Festive Board

I haven't decided if this image is racist or super racist.

“It would be well perhaps if we first altered some of our preconceived notions regarding the Chinese diet.  Many people think that the Chinese live entirely on rice; some believe that rats also occupy and important place on the daily menu.  Both ideas are mistaken and should be discarded.” – Corinne Lamb

In our ongoing look at the culinary holdings at the New York Historical Society, today we explore the The Chinese Festive Board published in 1935 by author Corinne Lamb.

Written by a woman who seems to have lived in China for a number of years, it’s one of the earliest books I’ve seen on Chinese cooking in China (as opposed to Chinese-American cuisine).  The first half is all about Chinese dinner customs and the second half is an extensive recipe book.   Lamb also includes helpful vocabulary for ordering in Chinese restaurants.

The tone of the book’s writing is bizarre: it simultaneously condescends to Chinese culture, while praising the deliciousness of its food.  The author straight-up uses ethnic slurs throughout the book.  Keep in mind, this is a time in our nation’s history when immigration was banned from China.

The book is a window into another era and we are definitely looking through the lens of an American perspective on Chinese life.  The recipes are interpreted to use ingredients readily available to an American housewife.  I decided to throw a 1930’s Chinese dinner party, following a sample menu from the book, as well as her description of a formal Chinese dinner party.

Below, a menu Lamb describes as a typical dinner in the home of a middle-class Chinese family:

Dinner parties, the author points out, were nearly always given in restaurants, and were nearly always for men alone; but since I wanted to cook and eat the recipes myself, I decided to bend the rules a little bit and have the party in my own home.  First, an invitation was necessary.  Lamb provide an example of one in her book, printed on an elegant piece of rice paper that had been gently pasted into one of the pages (see left).  Translated, it says: “The fifth month, the twenty-third day, one o’clock in the afternoon ‘the cups will be cleaned and your presence will be awaited’.  Mr. Ma Lien-liang respectfully writes: ‘The feast is arranged’ outside of Hataman Gate, Bean Curd Lane, No. 7.”

I should have mailed a beautiful rice paper square to my guests, but instead I just texted them.  They accepted: two friends from Brooklyn, Brandon and Madeline, the latter of whom spent a year living in China for work.

They came over on Friday evening, and while I finished prepping the food, I fed them peanuts and cups of green tea, which Lamb describes as the proper way to begin a feast.  Then, just before I began cooking the food, we sat down for a round of drinking games.

Lamb says drinking takes up only the earlier courses of the meal and is set aside once substantial foods come out.  The drink of choice is Chinese rice wine, which Lamb describes as being close to sherry, and Madeline describes as “gross.”  The liquor store didn’t have it, so I selected a nice bottle of sake, that I poured out in handsome shot-glasses, for lack of the appropriate vessels.

The game of choice in China is hua ch’uan, or “matching fingers”, a drinking game still played to this day.  It involves two people throwing fingers, similar to rock-paper-scissors, and each player “loudly shouts his estimate of the total number of fingers shown on both hands.”  If one player guess correctly, the other has to drain his glass.  Examples of hand positions are below:

It’s harder than it seems.

Madeline also mentioned that beer was now an equally acceptable drink in China, which Lamb mentions was gaining popularity in her time.  Madeline also said that drinking now seems to last through the entirety of the meal, accompanied by a tradition of toasting:  Madeline toasted me for having them over, and we both drank.  Madeline toasted Boyfriend Brian as well, and they both drank.  I toasted Madeline to thank her, and we both drank… and so on.  After we ran out of sake, and turned to beer, it begun to feel a little bit like a power hour.

Then, thankfully, it was time to eat.  Lamb describes her recipes as coming “…Mostly from well known restaurants in Peiping…”  known today as Beijing, in the north-east of China.  I got four pans going on my stove top, three melting lard, one with olive oil, and continued to play the drinking games while I cooked.  The recipes seemed so simple that they couldn’t possibly be delicious, let alone authentic.  But I was ready to find out.

Homestyle Chinese spread.

My menu was as follows, based on the recipes Lamb provided in her book.


I was nervous about this recipe, it being vastly different than the “one cup of rice to one and a half cups water” formula that I know of.  But I tried it, using my big Calphalan pot with the inset strainer.  And the rice turned out just as promised: not too wet or gooey, not too dry either.  Just perfect, with every grain an individual.  I was amazed.

Fried Pork Balls

I made these slightly differently, after looking at another of Lamb’s recipe for Pork Meat Balls.  I rolled them and then squashed them flat, which let me use less lard to cook them and allowed a greater surface area to get crispy.  These were hands-down my favorite.  Crispy on the outside, soft and tender in the middle; so savory with an appealing texture.  I ate the leftovers for the next two days and I would absolutely make them again.

Sauteed Leeks and Pork

String-Beans and Pork

The sauteed pork dishes were the favorites of my guests, who loved to combine them both in one bowl of rice.  The soy and ginger made a lovely sauce, and the string beans were cooked to perfection.

Eggs and Mushrooms

There wasn’t a recipe for this dish in Lamb’s book, so I created one based on the recipe she gives for “Scrambled Eggs with Shrimps.”

6 eggs
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
3 tsp Chinese Wine
2 tsp lard
1 pinch salt
1 pinch black pepper

With a pair of chopsticks, beat eggs thoroughly. Add salt, pepper and wine and beat again.  Heat the lard in a frying pan and sautee the mushrooms until tender, then add the egg mixture, and cook as you would scrambled eggs.

On Chinese wine, Lamb says “It will be noted that many of these recipes call for Huang Chiu. or Chinese wine.  Sherry is recommended as a substitute.  With the repeal of the 18th amendment it should not be long before Chinese wine will be available in every American city, and when that is so its use in in preparing Chinese food will be found preferable.”  It wasnt’ available at my local liquor store, so I used a Japanese plum wine that taste very much like sherry.  This, mixed with the eggs, was AWESOME.  I don’t even like eggs, and I hate  mushrooms,  but this dish was just as good as everything else on the table.  The wine was really a star when mixed with the eggs.  It was a surprise.

We ate in the way lamb suggests, Family-style, using only bowls and a pair of k’uia tzu, or “quick little boys,” or better known here as “chop sticks.”  We topped big piles of rice with the sauteed dishes, sometime two or more at once.  We ended in a very Chinese-American way with more tea and a few baked sweets: sugar cookies, lotus seed cakes, and “R-rated” fortune cookies; all of which were from Chinatown in Manhattan.

Madeline somehow found "R-rated" fortune cookies.

The food was delicious–really delicious.   But was it authentic?  I have no clue– but I’m looking in to it.

What do you think?

NYHS: Bridget’s Loaf Cake

The front cover of Mrs. Maria Sneckner-Lintz’s Receipt book, from the NYHS archives.

This post is the first in a series of three celebrating the re-opening of the New York Historical Society.  We’re going to focus on examples from the NYHS’s culinary holdings.

Today, we’re looking at a beautiful manuscript from 19th century New York; beautiful both for its physical appearance, and for the important information it gives us about daily life in the city 100 years ago.

The book is written by Mrs. Wilbur Lintz (nee Maria Sneckner), who was born in 1817 and passed in 1889.  During her life, she decided to record her favorite recipes and culinary knowledge.   Overall, this book gives us a peek into what was being cooked in a middle-class, New York kitchen.

“Recipe book of Maria (Sneckner) Lintz (Mrs. Wilbur Lintz) b. N.Y.C. March 14, 1817 d. ” Dec 27, 1889 at 135 w. 48″

Mrs. Lintz was a very organized woman; her cookbook is alphabetically indexed in a way that allowed her to add to her recipes over time.

Sneckner is an old Dutch name, and in that line, the manuscript features several traditional New Amsterdam-style recipes.  The recipe book includes three different recipes for New York Cakes, a cookie flavored with caraway.  In the Dutch tradition, these cakes were passed out to visitors on New Year’s Day; the practice of visiting on New Year’s was revived by the upper and middle classes of New York in the middle of the 19th century.

Additionally, this manuscript features recipes at the height of their fashion and modernity, like this one, at left, for Parker House Rolls.

These rolls were invented in the Parker House Hotel of Boston in the 1870s  and quickly became very fashionable.  “They are made by folding a butter-brushed round of dough in half; when baked, the roll has a pleasing abundance of crusty surface. Recipes for Parker House rolls first appeared in cookbooks during the 1880s.” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, 2004)

Parker House Rolls.–One quart of cold boiled milk, two quarts of flour. Make a hole in the middle of the flour, take one half cup of yeast, one half cup of sugar, add the milk, and pour into the flour, with a little salt; let it stand as it is until morning, then knead hard, and let it rise. Knead again at four o’clock in the afternoon, cut out ready to bake, and let them rise again. Bake twenty minutes.–Mass. Ploughman.
—“Parker House Rolls,” New Hampshire Sentinel, April 9, 1874 (p. 1) (sourced from The Food Timeline)

The Parker House still exists, and still serves its famous rolls, as well as its other great creation, The Boston Cream Pie.

The recipe I found the most interesting is this one, for “Bridget’s Loaf Cake”:

I recognized this recipe as the one that Mark Zanger, the author of The American History Cookbook, identifies as the firsts explicity Irish recipe to appear in print in an American book.  He cites it as coming from Mrs. Beecher’s domestic Receipt Book (1848), and sure enough, it is the same recipe as in Mrs. Lintz’s manuscript:

The 1840s were a decade of dramatic increase in immigration to America, due in part to the famine that hit Ireland, decimating the primary food source of potatoes.  The political situation was far more complicated than just that, but the results was the emigration of about 2 million Irish to points around the globe; 1.5 million landed in American; and by the 1860s, one in every four New Yorkers was born in Ireland.

Many single Irish women immigrated here to take positions in domestic service, as there was an incredible demand for servant labor in American household.  As a result, “Bridget” became the generic, ethnically-charged term for a servant.  Bridget learned American cooking from her Misses; and in turn, influenced the American kitchen with cuisine brought from home.

Mrs. Lintz’s Loaf Cake recipe isn’t just important because of the cultural trend it reflects; but because she took the time to copy it from Mrs. Beecher’s Receipt book, it illustrates that this recipe was actually popular and it was being made in family kitchens.

Bridget’s Bread Cake
From Mrs. Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book, by Catherine Beecher, 1848.

Bake time and temperature from The American History Cookbook by Mark Zanger

For the bread dough:
3 cups flour
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast (or one packet)
1 cup warm water

This is a basic bread recipe I received from a great breadmaking class at the Brooklyn Brainery.  Frozen bread dough can also be subsituted.

Place water in a clean, glass bowl; sprinkle yeast over surface.  Whisk gently with a fork. Set aside.

Combine dry ingredients and oil, mixing with a fork.  Add yeast water, stirring to combine.

As the dough comes together, form into a ball and place on a clean surface.  Knead for 3 minutes, adding more flour or water as necessary.  A wet dough works well for this recipe.

Place in a bowl and cover with a clean towel.  Allow to rise for one hour.

For the Bread Cake:

3 cups sugar (you can use 1/2 cup brown and 1 cup white)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 nutmeg, grated (approximately 2-3 teaspoons ground)
1 tsp baking powder
3 medium eggs (or 2 large)
1/2 cup raisins

Using a fork, cream together butter and sugar.  Add nutmeg and baking powder, then eggs.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Stir in raisins.

Add ball of bread dough to sugar mixture.  Combine thoroughly using your hands: first fold the dough into itself, incorporated the sugar mixture; then squeeze and mash the dough with you fingers until you have a dense, sticky batter.

Set aside and allow to raise for 20-30 minutes.  Butter two small loaf pans and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 15 minutes more.  Remove from oven and cool, in pan, on a wire rack.  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack, or serve immediately.


At these proportions, the Bread Cake came out super ooey gooey buttery sugary, to the point where it formed caramel on the bottom of the pan, like an upsidedown cake.  Overall, the texture was something like bread pudding.  I don’t think that was the intended result of this recipe, but I don’t think I care.  The texture is amazing and delicious.  Sadly, the caramel bottom stuck to the bottom of the pan, but I bet it would be even more awesome with it.

I wasn’t so fond of the flavor, though: heavy doses of nutmeg in my baked goods just make me think of the 19th century, but doesn’t hold any appeal to my modern taste buds.  If I were to make this again, I would use apples and cinnamon instead of nutmeg and raisins   I would line the loaf pan with parchment, so I could lift the whole thing out without losing the caramel, and I would serve it hot from the oven.  In fact, I think I might do just that.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Bridget’s Bread Cake – not particularly photogenic.

Events: The “New” New York Historical Society

Big News!  The New York Historical Society, which has been closed for renovation, will reopen tomorrow!  The reopening is from 11am-11pm on 11-11-11.  Kids under 13 are free all day, and adults get in free after 6pm.  There are special events, like a scavenger hunt, Big Quiz, and late night champagne party (swanky).  In addition, there’s the grand opening of the Dimenna Children’s Museum, and the new exhibit REVOLUTION! which has been recommended to me as a must see (the actual Stamp Act is there, for the first time outside of England !(thanks for the tip, Rachel!))

To celebrate the NYHS reopening, I’m going to celebrate their collections!  The library at the NYHS has immense culinary holdings, both in terms of a manscript collection and historic and vintage cookbooks.  And ANYONE can access them.  That’s the amazing and beautfiul thing about libraries: you can reqeust to look at a 200-year-old, handwritten manuscript, and they’ll BRING it to you, and you can TURN ITS PAGES.  It’s historic, yellowed, food-stained, love-worn pages.  Talk about a connection to the past.

Starting tomorrow, and continuing into next week, I’m going to feature a few gems from the NYHS collection: an historic New York manuscript, an ethnic cookbook from the turn of the 20th century, and a pamphlet entitled “Unusual Meats”.  I think I may have just summed up this blog in three books.

So join me in my mini-celebration, and learn more about the goings on at the NYHS here.

The History Dish: Moose Face

Moose Mouffle stew.

Ok, what? What am I talking about?  Here. Read this, from The Moose Book, published in 1916.

…A military chaplain (Rev. Joshua Fraser) writing of a dinner in an Indian camp on the upper Ottawa thus describes a dish of muffle ‘The crowning dish was that grandest of all dishes moose mouffle. This is the immense upper lip and nostrils of the animal, and I have no hesitation in pronouncing it one of the most toothsome and savoury of all the dishes within the range of the gastronomic art. It is white and tender as spring chicken, yet firm and substantial as fresh beef, with a flavor combining the excellencies of both. I eat to repletion, yet was not sensible of any of that uneasy heaviness which generally follows a too hearty meal.’

The edible portion of the muffle comprises the fibrous flesh of the cheek and the gelatinous prehensile upper lip. The cartilaginous nasal septum is, of course, not eaten… When I shot my first moose the guide who was something of an epicure and a skillful cook withal described stewed muffle in terms of extravagant praise. His mouth fairly watered at thoughts of royal banquets in the woods when simply a dish of muffle with pilot bread and tea had constituted the menu.

This is not even the first and only place I’ve read about moose mouffle, you can read more about it here.  It’s even mentioned in the Joy of Cooking.

When the idea of mouffle was first presented to me, my curiousity was peaked.  I placed a call to my friends in Alaska, who called thier friends, and an APB was put out: should someone take down a moose, please save the mouffle for Sarah Lohman.

A year passed.  Attempts were made, but a moose was never felled.  Then, one day, I was tramping through the wilds of South Dakota.  I was there for a wedding, in a spot far outside the realm of internet connections and cell phones.  On my first night there, I got a chance to check my email: I found a dozen desperate messages, facebook posts, and later, voicemails–they had got a moose.  They needed to send my the mouffle, NOW.

It wasn’t doable; I wouldn’t be back in New York for a week.  So we took the risk of freezing the mouffle, even thought it might affect the flavor, and it was shipped to me when I returned home.  It arrived via fed ex, and I opened the cooler to find a huge trashbag, just barely reaveling something large, bloody and hairy within.  I stuck it on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator, too terrified to look.  They also generously sent me a big, floppity, moose tongue as a bonus prize.

As part of the deal, my arctic providers require that I serve my cooking to at least one other person besides myself.  So I sent out a facebook invitation:

Let’s call it mystery meat. It’s large and from Alaska, and hopefully it will taste good. I’ll reveal the ingredients when you arrive. It’s not any kind of genitalia. Please come?

And to my great surprise, people did indeed come.  But I’m getting ahead of myself–the day of the feast, preparations began eight hours ahead of time.  Beware–there is some gruesome content below.

The tongue was easy part.  It was large, and bloody, but also looked less terrfying than beef.  It didn’t smell very good, and I had to trim some bristly hairs off of it.  To cook it, I used a historic recipe and a modern crookpot, which you can read about here.

Cooked moose tongue. It tasted better than it looks.

When I was brave enough to open the bag of thawed mouffle, I discovered literally half a moose face, hair and all.  I am not a skilled butcher, I have done very little breaking down of my own meat, let alone skinning half the head of a wild animal.

Moose face. What the shit do I do with this thing?

I knew I needed to start by removing the hair, so I googled up a plan to scald the moose head (here).  I set a huge pot of water on the stove, waiting until it was steaming, and dunked in my moose face.

Wet moose stinks.  And I didn’t scald it right: when I pulled out the moose face, the fur was still firmly attached, and the flesh was slighty cooked.  I fucked up.  The hair, which should scrape off easily, was immovable.  I tried hacking away at the skull to skin it, hair and all, with little result.  At this point, I was standing in my kitchen, wrestling half a moose head, in near tears.  The house stunk of boiled moose.  I realized I needed help.

I called the Meat Hook.

“You have a what?”

“A moose snout.  It’s supposed to be the most delicios part of the moose.  If I brought this in, could you skin and debone it for me?”

The Meat Hook is a trendy, back-to-the-land type butcher shop in Brooklyn, attached to a classroom space that teaches things like butchering and knife skills.  I figured if anyone could help me, it was them.

“You want us to… take the cheek meat out?”

“No, the mouffle.  It’s their prehensile upper lip.”

“Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and say we don’t do that.”


So I placed a call to Alaska, where I got skinning advice from a fisherman:  “Get you sharpest knife.  Find a place where the skin is already a little loose, and pull on it.  Cut underneath while pulling the skin away.”

It actually worked, although I was poorley equipped in the knife department.  It took me nearly two hours, but I ended up with a tidy pile of meat, and fur all over my kitchen.  A friend walked in halfway through this process and later commented: “I saw her with half an animal’s snout in her hand.  It was disturbing.”

Skinning the moose.

I discovered the the cheeks were tough to skin and contained very little meat; I should have just focused on the paydirt in the nose: “It’s all in the honker,” Boyfriend Brian commented.  The nose meat was plentiful, and  easy to skin and cut.  Although I don’t know if I could call it meat: more the texture of butter than fat, but more gelatinous than muscle.  It was was white and firm and appeared to be food.

That's about half a moose face.

The inside of a moose nose. I skinned the rest of this and cubed the flesh.

The resulting pile of moose meat.

I rinsed the mouffle meat and picked out the hairs as best I could, and followed the recipe from The Moose Book:

Stewed Muffle of Moose: Clean the muffle thoroughly by skinning, shaving off the skin of the nostrils with a sharp knife. Wash thoroughly and cut into two inch pieces. Put the meat into a stew pan, with a slice of clear fat salt pork cut into dice, and an onion cut up fine. Add cold water to cover and let it stew gently till tender four or five hours. Add water as it boils away being sure to have plenty of broth when done. Add sliced potato in season to cook. Thicken, season and serve.”

I used bacon instead of salt pork, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried herbs: thyme, parsley, and sage.  I thickened with a little cornstarch before I served it up.  Simple enough.

As the stew slowly simmered, the apartment began to smell better, but the soup retained some essense of the wet moose stank.  Shortly before dinnertime, Roommate Jeff came home.  “It smells like face in here,” he commented. Other friends soon arrived, a half dozen in all, ready to eat some face.

Contemplating the mouffle stew.


I served the tongue first: it was perfectly tender, as it always is with my slow-cooker recipe.  I sliced it and arranged it on a rustic plate. The response:

“It’s good!” “It’s SO good!” “So light!” “So Tender!”  “Can we have more?”  It was declared to taste like the most tender, most flavorful pot roast.  I wasn’t such a fan, but maybe that’s because I spent the whole day covered in moose gore.

Next, the mouffle stew.  Honest reactions?  The cheek meat was chewy; the white mouffle meat tender, but generally flavourless.  Some people ate it with gusto, others had to steel themselves before placing it in their mouths.  It really wasn’t bad–but it wasn’t good either.  It lacked any flavor other than the bacon and herbs from the soup itself.  It certainly wasn’t the great gastronomic delicacy that was promised.

I left most of my soup behind; other guests were members of the clean plate club.  We paused for a moment, regarding the results of the day’s efforts.  Then, I broke the silence: “So we’re ordering pizza, right?”

The History Dish: Sour Apple Compote

Sweet n’ Sour! Apple compote.

I always like to share a good apple recipe this time of year, so you can take advantage of the fall apple bounty, or use up a couple of fruits on the verge of going bad.  This is a really unique one from the Manual For Cooking and Baking.


The lovely lady pictured is Hinde Anchamnitzki (pronounce Hinn-dah Ahn-prwah-nit-ski), who published the first Yiddish cookbook in America.  The Lower East Side Tenement Museum is working on translating it, and is planning on building a larger program around her seminal work utilizing their new demo kitchen space.

Below is her recipe for “English Apple Compote” that plays with the sweet/sour flavors that traditionally appear in Jewish cooking.  I’ve tried it, and it’s fantastic.  It calls for “Sour Salts,” which is citric acid; I was able to find it at Williams Sonoma, of all places.  It gives the dish the mouthpuckering Sour Patch kids sensation one doesn’t normally associated with turn-of-the-century food.  Additionally, cooking the raisins in the sugar syrup teases the flavor out of the dried fruits, and give the dish a distinct raisin tang.

The original recipe is below; it was traslated for me by vice president of education at the Tenement Museum, Annie Polland; I modernized the recipe myself.

The original recipe.

European Apple Compote
From Manual For Cooking and Baking by Hinde Anchamnitzki, 1901.
1/2 lb Sugar
1/4 lb Raisins
1/2 tsp Sour Salts (Citric Acid)
1/4 c Sugar
6 medium baking apples
Combine sugar, raisins, sour salt and water in a large pot; cook over a medium heat until all of the sugar is dissolved. Peel and core apples, and cut them into 1/4 in. slices.  Cook in a large pan, covered, until the apple slices are tender when pierced with a fork.  Add to sugar syrup; allow to cool, and serve.


If you like, you can pair this compote with a pie crust, like this one made of Matzo meal.  The crust is tasty enough to serve any time of year, not just for Passover!