Archive for the 'vegetables' Category

The Historic Ingredient: Verjus

verjuice2Long Island’s Wolffer Estate Verjus, a tart coking ingredient made from the juice of unripe grapes.

This is the third is a series of posts I’m doing about Medieval cooking; I’ve already eaten dishes from the earliest known English cooking manuscript; and dabbled in Martha Washington’s historic recipes; now, I want to focus on an interesting medieval ingredient: verjus, verjuice, or literally “green juice.”

The History

A byproduct of the wine industry, grape vines are thinned midway through the season, producing a haul of unripe grapes which can be pressed for their juice. Before lemons were imported into Northern Europe after the crusades, verjus added sour and acid flavors into food. Tartaric acid, better known as cream of tartar when used in baked goods, is responsible for its flavor; poured over ice and drunk straight, verjus is a refreshingly tart grape juice. I’ve read it can also be pressed from windfall apples and other unripe fruits and can be bottled and kept for up to a year.

Winemakers are trying to reintroduce verjus to a contemporary market; I found my bottle in a cheese shop, Formaggio Essex, on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The New York Times wrote about verjus in 2010, suggesting it as ideal for saucing up a chicken (also a very traditional use) and replacing the lemon in “lemon bars” with verjus, for a dessert.

I scoured the internets for period-appropriate verjus recipes, and cooked up a dinner party to taste test the results!

The Recipes

I hosted my dinner on a Friday night, so I decided to a go a little Medieval-Catholic-ee and observe a “fast day,” meaning no meat. All my offerings were veg, starting with a squash soup from Libro de Arte Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking) written c. 1465 by Martino da Como.

verjuiceA Squash or Pumpkin Soup, 1465.

The translated recipe for this dish can be found in The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy. I used two butternut squash, sliced and cooked in a homemade vegetable stock that was heavy on the onion. I pureed to softened squash, and blended it with egg yolks, grated asiago cheese, and saffron. I plated each serving with a tablespoon of verjuice, and topped it with two kinds of black pepper, cloves, fresh grated nutmeg, and a dash of cinnamon. My diners were pleased with the recipe: they loved that the results were lighter and less sweet than a typical, contemporary squash soup. Get the full recipe here.

On the side, I served Green Poree for Days of Abstinence, a medieval French recipe of chard cooked with verjuice and finished with butter. I had picked this recipe to round out my menu, but this simple dish ended up being the favorite of the night. The verjus made the slow-braised Swiss chard sweet and bright. Everyone agreed it was not only the best Swiss chard they had ever eaten, but it was also a pleasure to eat: even my husband cleaned his plate.

verjus4Swiss Chard with Verjuice: The Best!

Swiss Chard Braised with Verjus
Adpated from The Medieval Kitchen: Recipes from France and Italy

This recipe is enough for one head of swiss chard, which would feed 1-2 people. I recommend preparing one head of chard per person; it cooks down substantially.

1 head Swiss chard, washed, dried, and tough stems removed.
1/4 cup verjuice
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons butter (or to taste)
Salt (to taste)

In a large pot, add chard, stock, salt and verjuice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer 20-30 minutes until tender. Stir in butter and serve with toasted bread.

 verjuice3Verjuice dessert bar.

For dessert, I took the New York Times’ suggestion and baked Ina Garten’s Lemon Bar recipe, replacing the lemon juice with verjuice. I wasn’t sure if I should still add the lemon zest, however. I didn’t and I found the results to be too subtle and flavorless. Most of of diners enjoyed the slightly tart taste of the custardy bars; I took the leftovers to a party, and everyone gorged themselves. By the way, when making this recipe, I realized I didn’t own a 9×13 pan, so I dumped the batter in a much smaller pan and told myself it would be fine. As a result, the extra thick verjus bars didn’t set properly in the middle, and were a bit runny when I sliced into them. But thems the breaks, and no one seemed it mind.

The Results

Verjuice is awesome. I would buy it and try it again; I would even attempt to make it myself after I move out of New York have some outdoor work space. I think it’s a great thing to keep in the kitchen and I’m really curious to try it to deglaze pans and make sauces for meat. I’d love to use it with more cooked vegetables; I think the flavor complements greens better than lemon juice. And one of my dinner guests pointed out it would be a great mixer for drinks; she envisioned gin, which would make an excellent summer cocktail.

If you’re interested in giving verjus a try, there is an entire cookbook devoted to Cooking with Verjuice. You can also buy it online if you haven’t seen it in any nearby stores.

The possibilities are endless. The flavor is incredible (even if you hate grape juice, like I do!). Try it.

Going Vegan Day 5: A Vegan Feast!

Nut Roast!

I kept breakfast and lunch simple today: oatmeal with soy milk in the morning;  almond butter on coconut bread with banana slices for lunch.  The coconut bread was really tasty, and also a throwback to the 1910 cookbook.

Cocoanut Bread – 1 lb. whole wheat flour, 1 lb. white flour, ½ lb. cocoanut meal, some cane sugar.
I used 1 cup of cane sugar for this recipe, and the coconut shreds I used were also sweetened.  I also added 1 tsp of baking powder.  The bread was delicious!

In the evening, I opened my doors to 13 guests ready to given veganism a try.  Some were seasoned vegan veterans, some were hardened omnivores.  The Menu:


First Course
Autumn Salad
Shaved Cabbage, Grated Beets and Apples, Mint, Lemon Juice and Toasted Walnuts.

Second Course
Semolina Soup
with Mizuna greens

Third Course
Pine Nut Roast
with Sauteed Spinach and Spaghetti Squash

Fourth Course
Continental Tart
Coconut Bread with Homemade Blackberry and Blueberry Lime Jam
or Malt Syrup


The first course was another salad recommended in Henderson’s 1945 book.  It was light, refreshing, and delicious.  The second course was the Semolina Soup I made earlier this week, flavored with Marmite.  Everyone was bowled over by the soup, and wanted the recipe to make it at home.  I passed around the Marmite jar for everyone to ogle.

The third course was Nut Roast, adapted from the 1910 recipe I made earlier this week, with some adjustments according to Henderson’s 1945 recipe.  Henderson gives several suggestions as to how her basic recipe can be served; I roasted mine in individual portions, and served it on top of spinach and spaghetti squash.

When I mixed this recipe, I simply put a bowl on top of my kitchen scale. I dumped the ingredients in one at a time and weighed as I went along.  Below, is my adapted version of the recipe.  I used dried herbs from my mother’s garden.

Nut Roast

8 oz pine nuts, coarsely chopped if large.
8 oz bread crumbs
1 large onion, chopped
4 medium tomatoes, skinned and pulverized.
2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 tsp sage
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp fresh ground pepper

1. Use hands to mix all ingredients, added a little water or vegetable stock if there is not enough liquid.  Press into a pie plate or individual ramekins.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes, or until the top is browned.


The nut roasts, cooked in individual star-shaped ramekins, delighted my guests.  For the vegans, it was the first time they had ever had a nut roast, and were excited to try it.  One guest, who went to school in Scotland, informed us that nut roasts are still a common vegetarian option, at least in her school cafeteria.

And for dessert, I served an apple Continental Tart, also from Henderson’s book.

Continental Tart!


Continental Tart

For the Crust:

5 oz. whole wheat flour
5 oz. breadcrumbs
5 oz Soy baking butter substitute
5 oz brown sugar
2 oz ground almonds (I ran almonds in my food processor until coarsely ground)
Lemon Juice

For the Filling:

6 medium baking apples
1/2 cup mixed, dried fruit
1/2 cup apple cider
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg.

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, adding enough lemon juice to make a dough.  Leave overnight in the refrigerator, then press into the bottom and sides of a round cake or pie pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until crust is puffy and brown.

2. In the meantime, pare and core apples, and slice them into 1/4 wide slices.  Cook, covered, over medium heat with spices, fruit and cider until tender.  Pour into baked crust and set aside.

3. 15 minutes before serving, place tart in the oven at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool 5 minutes; cut and serve.


The tart was also a big hit, provoking inquiries about the contents of the crust.  Margarine, I discovered, is not vegan!  It has whey in it!  So be sure to use a soy spread (or butter, if it doesn’t matter to you.)

We had a second dessert of slices of coconut bread, spread with some of my mother’s homemade jam (Blueberry Lime and Blackberry) or dribbles of malt syrup, which the vegans had never heard of before and were very enthusiastic about.

Our dinner table conversation turned to the origins of veganism, as well as why people do or don’t go vegan today.  “It’s not cheap,” a vegan friend admitted.  “It can be very expensive to choose vegan products.”  We went on the discuss that a lot of the methods that allow the cheap production of food are also the methods that can be deemed unethical, like caged hen production of eggs.  I pointed out that perhaps it was a policy change that was needed: “We’d all like to be buying cruelty free, hormone free milk, but I don’t think anyone in my neighborhood could afford it.”

“We don’t need to drink as much milk as we consume,” he answered.  He suggested consuming less of a better quality, but that “…It can be different if we’re talking about trying to feed your family of four.”

The conversation danced around a variety of topics, but focused on the food, and ideals, at hand.  There was a discussion about the “preachiness” and “pushiness” associated with veganism.   A dear friend and long-time vegan attended, who was the inspiration for the entire experiment.  He piqued my interest in vegan cuisine without ever pressing upon me the ideals behind veganism; he let me start asking those questions myself, and I admire him for it.  He amicable joked about the outspokenness of the vegan movement : “How do you know the vegan at a dinner party?  Don’t worry, he’ll tell you.”

We talked about the difficulties of finding vegan products:  for example, learned that filtered wine is not vegan; it uses isinglass, an extract from the swim bladders of fishes.  Animal products appear in the most unlikely of places.

And most of all, we talked about how delicious the food was.  Everyone who attended, vegan, vegetarian, or omnivore all agreed the dishes were excellent, and asked for recipes for each one.  All said they would make these foods again, just for the pleasure of them.  And then my friend Emily rose to give a toast:

“Lohman,” she said, raising a glass of vegan wine high, “Every time I get invited over for dinner, I’m always worried.  It’s always like, ‘come eat my beaver’ or my bear or my vegan food or whatever.  And I always think ‘Eeee…Well, at least the company will be good.’  But then I come, and the food is always, always delicious.  You have an amazing talent for making bizarre foods taste amazing.”

We cheersed, and spent the rest of the evening guzzling bottles of wine.  The next day, my boyfriend and I broke our vegan fast in the evening with sloppy joes and chocolate chip cookies.

There is a lot of debate, and  a lot of passion, surrounding the topic of veganism.  I’ve enjoyed this past week,  but I would not adopt veganism forever.  My line of work is food and I feel I would never want to limit myself in regards to what I can and cannot eat.  Additionally, I do believe an ethical, omnivorous diet is possible.  I will continue to respect and admire my vegan friends, and this project has inspired other to try out veganism:  my friends Sharon and Kathy are going vegan this week, you can follow their adventures here.

I think I’m going to leave it at that, but I’m really curious to hear from you, dear readers: What do you think of veganism?

Going Vegan Day 4: Why Have I Never had a Soy Chai Latte Before?

Oatmeal with cinnamon, raw sugar, and grated apple.

In the morning, I decided to give this oatmeal thing another shot.  But no more muesli–I cooked rolled oats in Apple Broth, with a little brown sugar and cinnamon.  Then, when it was all hot and steamy, I topped it off with a grated apple.  This. Was awesome.  The softness of the oatmeal with the textural crunch of the apple was perfect; I would definitely make it a part of my normal breakfast routine.

I had another day of running around in Manhattan ahead of me, and after a morning meeting, I felt my blood sugar crashing.  I decided I needed a Starbucks, not just for the chai, but for the bathroom.  I know I talk about my bowels a lot on this blog.  But what goes in is linked to what comes out.  During this week, my boyfriend and I have both experienced a demanding and urgent regularity in the movement of our bowels.  Now you know.

After taking care of business, I ordered up a chai with soy milk, which I would have never had gotten if not for this experiment.  And it was utterly delicious.  The soy milk added a nuttiness that married well with the chai spices.  I remember ages ago someone told me to try a chai with soy milk, and I poo-pooed them.  “Soy!?” I thought, “Blech! I only drink cows.”  But I was wrong:  my soy chai may have been the best chai I’ve ever had.

When I returned home in the late afternoon, I mixed myself up a gorgeous, late summer salad.  Henderson gives charming advice on salad building, offering suggestions for Foundation (lettuces and other greens), Interest (tomatoes, carrots, edible flowers, fruits), and Piquancy (horseradish, fresh mustard, and  garlic “if appreciated.”).  I did a variation on her “Summer Salad,” with blackberries and dill.  By the way, most of my veggies for this week came direct from a farmer upstate, via the Long Island City CSA.

Summer salad, with mixed greens, tomato, leek, blackberries, dill and olive oil vinaigrette.

Dinner was “gnocchi,” which was unlike any gnocchi I’ve ever had before:

I loaded them up with dried herbs from my mother’s garden and served them fried with sauteed spinach and onions.  I made a quick soup with a small squash and carrot, and my boyfriend picked up some pumpkin ale on his way home with work.  So Fall!  Dinner was good, but at the same time, I began to grow tired of all of my meals centering around one or another type of moosh.

“Gnocchi,” with squash soup and a pumpkin ale.

I also baked up a Malt Cake, which use malt syrup as a sweetener.  It tastes like malted milk and molasses had a baby.  But the cake was a bit of a fail.  Henderson promises “Although this cake contains no sugar, it is sweet from the fruit and the syrup,” my boyfriend took one bite and said “Oh no. No, that has nothing to do with sweet.”

My boyfriend and I spent some time reflecting on the past few days; the next day would be our last as vegans.

“I think this project has expanded my knowledge of delicious things,” he told me.  “It’s all pretty good–but at the same time, it’s day after day of things that are not meat ground up and stuck back together to vaguely resemble meat.”

Agreed.  One more day left, and I’m throwing a special dinner party for some Real Vegans.

Going Vegan Day 3: I am a Terrible Vegan

Muesli. Ewwsli.

Today I moved from 1910 to 1945, the year that the first cookbook to use the word “vegan” was published: Vegan Recipes.  This book is tremendously hard to find; in the day and age of the Internet, one thinks anything can be found online.  Google books: nothing.  New York Public Library archives: the books was stolen in 1952. Vegan Recipes to not seem to exists in a hard copy or otherwise anywhere in America.  Eventually, I had to write London, where the book was originally published, and after some rigmarole I tracked down a copy.  I’m hoping that one day soon the book will be available online, as it is such an important work in terms of culinary history.

The author, Ms. Fay K. Henderson, write an introduction to veganism that focuses less on the threat of disease and more about “being healthy.”  She moves to the more familiar ground of moral and ethical considerations, and uses a lot of words like “wholesome,” when describing what she calls “The Vegan Way of Life.”  I had been looking forward to cooking from her book; the recipes seemed more like real dishes, with layers of flavor.  Breakfast, however, was a disaster.

I decided to make muesli. According to Henderson, “This raw diet dish originated by Dr. Bircher-Benner and recommended for breakfast use.  It consists of whole cereals (crushed or flaked) which have been soaked fro 12 hours in water to which has been added some sweetening and a little lemon juice, when available.”  I used something slightly better than water, that Henderson recommended, called Apple Broth: the peels and cores of apples, simmered gently in water.  The result is a pale pink, slightly sweet broth with a distinct apple taste.  Interesting idea.

I soaked some rolled outs, added some dried fruit, and shoved a heaping spoonful into my maw.  Disgusting. Cold. Gooshy. Miserable.   A fairly sad way to start my day.  I ate out the fruit and dumped the rest.

I spent most of Thursday running: work in the morning, a meeting  in the afternoon, a lecture in the evening.  In between, I ducked into a coffee shop to finish writing my talk, and I realized I needed to eat something.  I perused the cafe’s sandwich list and approached the register.

“Okay, give me an ice tea and a veggies sandwich.”  The barista typed in my order.

“No! Wait…it’s got cream cheese.  Okay, give me a peanut butter, banana, and honey sandwich.”  Type, type, type.

“No! Wait! No Honey!  Can I get it with no honey? No Honey! ,I uuuh…forgot I was vegan.”

She must have thought I was crazy.  I apologized profusely, and ended up with a peanut butter and banana sandwich with blueberry compote.  Really tasty.

Afterwards, I swung by home to make some cookies for the lecture I was giving in the evening, a talk at the Brooklyn Historical Society about using historic recipes to inspire contemporary cooking.  The cookies were a new recipe I was testing, and they were packed full of butter.  But I needed to try one to make sure it tasted right.  Butter, right into my mouth.

Post lecture I needed a quick, hot meal–I was starving.  And I also needed to feel better about myself and all my vegan failings.  I pulled up Henderson’s recipes for Bachelor Dish:

Here’s how I made it:

Bachelor Dish

4 medium potatoes
4 medium carrots
1 leek
Or any other assortment of root vegetable, chopped.

1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
1 tablespoon Unsweetened Peanut Butter
Fresh parsley, to taste
Salt & Pepper, to taste.

1.  Fill a pot with two cups of water and a little salt.  Add vegetables, cover, and boil about 10 minutes or until tender.

2.  Drain liquid and add soy sauce, pepper, and parsley.  Still until parsley is just wilted.   Add peanut butter; stir until peanut butter is melted and vegetables are evenly covered with sauce.  Serve with fake meat and more soy sauce, if desired.


The original recipe calls for “Vessop,” which after some googling, I found was often used as a substitute for soy sauce.  “Tinned nut meat” could have been Protose or Nuttolene, Dr. Kellogg creations sold by Kraft, or any number of their veggie meat product spin-offs.  I chose the modern version, soy-based “cutlets.”

Dinner was excellent.  Smelled amazing while it cooked, tasted even better on my plate.  It was super quick to prepare and the simple, peanut and soy sauce was perfect.  Exactly what I wanted at the end of a long day.  My boyfriend and I both agreed we would make it again–although probably with real chicken

Bachelor Dish – quick boiled veggies in a peanut sauce with a bit of “tinned nut meat.”  A wonderful dinner!

Today was hard; this has been the most difficult diet to stick to.  Not out of hunger, or out of a craving for other foods, but it is incredibly difficult to seek out foods that don’t have animal products in them.  I’m developing a sympathy for people who have chosen this way of life; it’s exceptionally hard to maintain.

The History Dish: Gazpacho and the Red Snapper

The first “gaspacho” recipe, from 1824.

Yesterday I appeared on Heritage Radio Network’s We Dig Plants, the bawdiest horticulture show on the web.  This past Sunday’s show was all about tomatoes, and I popped on as a special guest to share some historic tomato recipes. You can listen to the whole show here.

I brought along a few tubs of gazpacho I made from an 1824 recipes.  They were crazy delicious (I saved the leftover for my lunch today).  Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife, published in 1824, has some of the earliest tomato recipes in print, and the first gazpacho recipe printed EVER on the planet.  At least that we know of.  The directions are pretty self explanatory, so here is the original recipe.

I did not stew and make my own tomato juice, I found this great, strained, tomato puree in a box at the store.  The gazpacho was more like a cold, fresh salad, and was really wonderful.  Carmen, one of the show’s hosts, even took some home to her tomato-hating husband in hopes that it would turn him into a tomato lover.

I also showed up with Bloody Marys–or, more accurately, Red Snappers, as they were originally known.  When the drink was created in the 1920s, vodka wasn’t yet widely available in the United States; the liquor of choice was gin!  The recipe for the Red Snapper, from the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis hotel in New York, is below. I actually prefer the gin over vodka; I would recommend Hendrick’s gin; the cucumber notes compliment the tomatoes beautifully.

The Red Snapper
From the St. Regis Bar, 1920s

1 1/2 oz Gin
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
4 ounces tomato juice

Combine all ingredients in a glass and shake or stir to mix.  Serve chilled.


Both of these recipes are great if you need to use up a tomato surplus; For more history on both of these recipes, listen to the entire radio show here!

And on a somewhat unrelated note, I attended my first “crawfish boil” yesterday at the Brooklyn Brainery’s Summer Explosion.  I was all geared up to eat my first crayfish, but the sight of their yellow guts spilling out of their exoskeletons turned me off.  I don’t do well with invertebrates.  Instead, I stuffed my face with peach cobbler.

How to Cook a Wolf Week: Day 2, “Soup…is good.”

My groceries for a week.

A day of Sludge done with, I was relieved to get into more hearty dishes.  Above, my groceries for the week:, at a cost of $35 in total; including $10 worth of vegetables from my CSA, $5 for some un-homogenized milk from Ronnybrook farms, and the rest spent on bread, cheese, etc.

For breakfast, I had (in Fisher’s words): “…piles of toast, generously buttered, and a bowl of honey or jam, and milk…You can be lavish because the meal is so inexpensive.  You can have fun, because there is no trotting around with fried eggs and mussy dishes and grease in the pan and a lingeringly unpleasant smell in the air.”  Toast it was! Deep, brown, whole wheat bread, fresh from my local bakery.  Buttered, with a schmear of honey, and a glass of milk.  Done.

For lunch, I consulted the chapter “How to Boil Water” for Fisher’s lunch recommendation: “a heartening, ample soup.”  With a drawer full of vegetables, I decided to make “A Basic Minestrone.”  I was interested in Fisher’s interpretation of the classic Italian dish. “Probably the most satisfying soup in the world,” she says, ” for people who are hungry, as well as for those who are tired or worried or cross or in debt or in a moderate amount of pain or in love, or in robust health, or in any kind of business hugmuggery, is minestrone.”  Sounds reassuring, doesn’t it?

A Basic Minestrone
From How to Cook a Wolf by MFK Fisher (1942).

1/4 bacon or salt pork or fat ham.
1 small onion
1 stalk celery
1 handful fresh, chopped parsley
2 cups tomatoes, peeled
1 tsp each oregano and basil

Any other vegetables you have on hand

1 cup of dry pasta

Salt and pepper

I cut the fattiest pieces off a ham steak I bought for dinner later this week.  I put this fat in a large soup pot, and let it render before I added the onion to soften.  Ham fat as a soup base?  Delicious.  Then in went the celery, parsley, and herbs, and left to soften for 10 minutes.  Last, the tomato (I used canned), stirred constantly until heated through.  Then, I added two quarts of water.

At this point, Fisher recommends adding whatever vegetable you have on hand (but never beets!); I added 1/2 a small, green cabbage; 1 potato; 2 cloves garlic; 1/2 an acorn squash; 2 carrots; 2 stalks celery; and a handful of kale.  Fisher recommends chopping these fine; then mashing them with a potato masher…While I can’t explain Fisher’s obsession with smooshed food, I decided to simply leave the veggies finely chopped.

I brought the soup pot to a boil, then turned it down to a simmer, and let it cook until the vegetables were tender, about an hour.

When deprived of seasoning for a time, one forgets the richness it adds to a dish.  As the soup simmered, it smelled like sweet summer days and freshly cut lawns: green and spicy.

20 minutes before serving, I added a cup of dried macaronis.  Then,  just before ladling it into bowls, Fisher says to “Churn the soup ferociously, and serve over thin toasted bread or not, but always with a good ample bowl of grated dry cheese to sprinkle upon each serving, as the pleased human who eats it may desire.”  I adorned my soup with grated Romano.

The soup, it turns out, was o.k.  I’ve had better; I feel my addition of kale instead of spinach wasn’t such a good choice.  It made the soup olive green and a little stinky.

But the soup wasn’t bad, either. It was warm and filling, and I felt ready for the rest of my day.

Tonight, we’ll continue with our Italian theme for the day, with a vegetable Frittata.

Events: Revolutionary Thanksgiving Recipe Extravaganza!

Preparing Four Pounds Flour “signature” apple tart.

The event yesterday at Old Stone House was a huge success: all the food was cooked and delicious!  We had a big turnout, thanks in part to some great press leading up to the event, including a listing on Grub Street, an article in the Village Voice and, my favorite, a wonderful feature on Brokelyn.  I’m going to be posting photos from the event photos soon!

Thanks to everyone who came out; also a big thanks to D’Artagnan for donating the wild turkey and the venison; and to Red Jacket Orchards who donated historic baking apples, the Newtown Pippin.

Many of those who attended requested my recipes, so I thought I’d share them with you here.  They are all incredibly simple and delicious, and perfect for your Thanksgiving table.

All three of these receipts were adapted from the first American cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons.  A hearth is not necessary to prepare them; you’ll do just fine in a modern kitchen.

Stuffing for a Turkey

This recipe makes enough for one stuffed bird. If you plan to serve it as a side; bake it in a casserole at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

1 loaf bread or cornbread
1 stick butter
1/4 lb salt pork or fat back; or 4 slices bacon.
2 eggs
1 tsp savory
1 tsp marjoram
1 handful fresh parsley, torn
10 leaves fresh sage, torn
1 tsp each Salt and pepper, or to taste.

1. Tear bread into small pieces and put in a large bowl.

2. Melt butter and pour over bread.

3. Finely chop pork and add it to the bread mixture.

4. Add remaining ingredients.  If the mixture seems too dry, add another egg.

5. Stuff into a turkey.

Squash Pudding

This recipe is a bit labor intensive.

2 small or one large squash. (I used 2 butternut squashes)
3 baking apples
Juice of 1/2 an orange
1/2 cup sugar
2 slices bread or 3 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon rosewater
1/3 cup wine
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon flower

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and core apples.  Slice into 1/2 in – 1 inch chunks.  Add orange juice to prevent apples from browning.  Add to a skillet with  1/4 cup sugar.  Cook on a high heat until apples bubble and steam; turn heat down to medium, and stew for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. Cut squash into quarters; peel and cut into one inch cubes.  Boil in a large stock pot, in lightly salted water, until tender.

4. Strain squash and add to a large mixing bowl. Mash to desired consistency with a potato masher, wine bottle, or other heavy implement.

5. Combine with remaining ingredients.

6. Bake from 45 minutes- 1 hour, until mixture is hot and bubbly around the edges.

Pumpkin Pie

2 cups pumpkin (canned or fresh)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup real maple syrup (fresh pumpkin may need an additional 1/3 cup of maple sugar.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, well beaten
¼ cup brandy
1. Preheat oven to 325.  Combine pumpkin, sugar, maple syrup, salt and spices in a mixing bowl.
2. Beat together milk, eggs, cream and brandy.  Add to pumpkin mixture.
3. Pour into an unbaked pastry shell and bake for 1 hour.

Origin of a Dish: Green Bean Casserole

I want to stick my face in it.

The most recent issue of Martha Stewart’s Food magazine contains an abomination: a recipe for Green Bean Casserole in which all of the components are made from scratch. Shallots are hand-breaded and pan-fried. Mushrooms are seasoned and sauteed in cream. Ridiculous!

My mom and I got into a heated debate over the legitimacy of this recipe. Mom thought it might be good; I conceded that it might. However, this recipe takes a dish that was designed to be extraordinarily simple and makes it incredibly complicated!

I say don’t fix what ain’t broke. Green Bean Casserole was created in the 1950’s during an era of canned convenience food. It has survived as a traditional Thanksgiving side dish not only because of its simplicity, but because it happens to be delicious.

From the Campbell’s Kitchen webpage:

“Deemed the ‘mother of comfort food,’Dorcas Reilly led the team that created the Green Bean Casserole in 1955, while working as a staff member in the Home Economics department of the Campbell Soup Company.

…She says the inspiration for the Green Bean Casserole was to create a quick and easy recipe around two things most Americans always had on hand in the 1950s: green beans and Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Like all great recipes, the casserole requires minimal number of ingredients (just five), doesn’t take much time, and can be customized to fit a wide range of tastes.

In 2002, Mrs. Reilly appeared at the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame to donate the original copy of the recipe to the museum. The now-yellowed 8 x 11 recipe card takes its place alongside Enrico Fermi’s invention of the first controlled nuclear reactor and Thomas Alva Edison’s two greatest hits: the light bulb and the phonograph.”

Dorcas Reilly scooping out casserole at the Inventors’ Hall of Fame.

This Thanksgiving, reenact a tiny bit of American history, and make the classic Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole.

Classic Green Bean Casserole
from Campbell’s Kitchen

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell’s® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular 98% Fat Free)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Dash ground black pepper
4 cups cooked cut green beans
1 1/3 cups French’s® French Fried Onions

1. Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and 2/3 cup onions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.
2. Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.
3. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.


Update 12-18-2013: a few updates! Dorcas Reilly’s Alma Mater has created a scholarship in her name. Campbells Soup sells approximately $20 million dollars worth of Cream of Mushroom soup during the holidays. Reilly “… always keeps the ingredients for the casserole on hand in her Haddonfield home just in case someone asks her to whip one up. This Thanksgiving, her family will get a new version — with carrots.” (source)