Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Food: Recipes, cookbook reviews, food notes, and restaurant reviews. Unless otherwise noted, I have personally tried each recipe that gets its own page, but not necessarily recipes listed as part of a cookbook review.

Paprikás Burgonya (Potato Paprika Stew)—Wednesday, August 17th, 2022
Potato Paprika Stew

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt.

Clearly, paprika is an ingredient that has to be well understood for best results… Pseudo-knowledge is widespread and increases with the distance from Budapest. — Joseph Wechsberg (The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire)

The Cooking of Vienna’s Empire is the first of the Time-Life Foods of the World cookbooks I discovered. That was back in 1999, at the San Diego (Adams Avenue) Book Fair, for $0.25. It was a beat-up copy. I ended up buying a lot more books from this series than I should have, because Joseph Wechsberg’s writing about Vienna, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia are so interesting, the photos are wonderful, and the recipes are great. This is one of the better books in the series; many don’t live up to this one.

The very first recipe I tried from his book was Paprikás Burgonya. It is a great recipe for a Friday-falling National Potato Day. Start it in the morning in the crock-pot and eat it at night. Or whip it up quickly on the stove-top.

One of the things that made this stew so good when I first made it is that a friend of mine had brought me some “pimentón de la vera” from Spain. I had no idea what that meant, other than that it was paprika. But it was so much better than normal paprika I despaired of ever making any paprika-based dishes after this ran out. Eventually, with the onset of Internet search engines, I discovered that “pimentón de la vera” is a smoked paprika, and is easily, if not universally, available at grocery stores in the United States as smoked paprika. It may not be up to the level of smoked paprika from Spain, but it still vastly improves just about any dish that calls for paprika.

If you don’t have smoked paprika, just use sweet paprika—it’s what the original calls for, though of course the original calls for Hungarian sweet paprika.

Franklin Golden Syrup Recipes—Wednesday, July 27th, 2022
Chocolate oat cakes and walnut creams

The chocolate oat cakes are a cross between baked oatmeal cookies and unbaked oatmeal candies.

I recently bought an old Franklin Golden Sugar Refining Company cookbook—a pamphlet, really—from about 1910. The Franklin Sugar Refining Company of Philadelphia was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, sugar refineries in the United States—and probably the world. They don’t exist today; they’re just a side-note to a company that itself doesn’t exist. Their cane syrup doesn’t exist either. Today, most syrup for baking is made from corn instead of cane.

I didn’t realize when I bought this book that golden syrup was cane syrup. I especially didn’t know that golden syrup was a special kind of cane syrup, one that’s difficult to find nowadays except in specialty stores and through mail order. But I decided to go all the way—so many of the recipes mention the unique flavor of golden syrup that I decided to test them using it. I bought Lyle’s Golden Syrup as a substitute for Franklin’s.

Golden syrup has a wonderful caramel flavor. If this is what golden syrup used to be—and from the description of some of the recipes, I’m pretty sure it is—it’s sad that it isn’t more available. It has a wonderful creamy caramel flavor great not just for baking but also for pancakes and waffles.

There are surprisingly few histories of golden syrup online. As I write this, the Wikipedia entry is barely more than a stub. The Lyle’s page and most British pages about golden syrup focus on Lyle’s, not on the syrup itself.

Franklin Golden Syrup Recipes (ePub ebook file, 9.2 MB) is a very short collection of recipes. Unlike other branded syrup recipe books I’ve seen, it focuses exclusively on baked goods and candies. There’s nothing here about using the syrup on hams or in casseroles. I’ve also made it available as a paperback flipbook.

Ice cream from your home freezer—Wednesday, June 22nd, 2022

One of the amazing things about reading old cookbooks is learning completely different recipes for making common foods. I used to think ice cream either required going to the store, or buying yet another single-purpose appliance to do the churning. I grew up in the seventies, and when we made ice cream it was with a time-consuming hand-churned ice cream maker, filled with salty ice. We had to crank it outside, because the salty ice turned to water and was released through a drain hole about, as I recall, halfway up the side.

But as I wrote in Revolutionary Refrigeration, recipes immediately after the introduction of the home freezer make ice cream by just sticking it in the freezer and letting it freeze. Maybe taking it out once to whip it. A lot of these recipes show up under different names in other cookbooks. Many a mousse or parfait is indistinguishable from ice cream once it’s been frozen.

I’ve divided these recipes up into those that use whole eggs, those that use egg yolks, those that use egg whites, and those that use gelatin. The basic idea is the same in each case: make a syrup-like mixture, either a custard or a meringue or a gelatin, and fold in whipped cream. Add flavoring to either the sugar mixture or fold the flavoring in with the cream. And freeze it.

These are all very good ice creams. If you’re looking for something quick, look at the toasted ice cream made with egg whites. If you’re looking for something rich, look at the egg yolk recipes.

A full three of these recipes come from the Southern Living Desserts Cookbook. The entire Southern Living Library is a great collection, and the Desserts book is one of the best. That may be partially because I have a sweet tooth, but I definitely recommend this book, and, in fact, all of the books I stole these ice creams from.

Whole eggs

This maple ice cream from the 1942 Montgomery Ward Cold Cooking cookbook is one of the easiest of the egg-based recipes. There’s no separating the eggs or even folding the cream into the syrup or eggs.

A Decade of Jell-O Joys: 1963-1973—Wednesday, May 18th, 2022
Cranberry Squares

These gelatin—whipped cream squares are a better-than-cheesecake cheesecake.

One of the joys of old cookbooks is watching food change over the years. At the October New Braunfels Library Book Sale, I found a copy of the 1973 New Joys of Jell-O; on a quick browse it did not appear to be merely a copy of the old, circa 1963, Joys of Jell-O so I bought it.

As it turns out, I was wrong. There are many duplicate recipes; what changed were how they were presented and even their names. The Peach and Banana Mold has become the Peach-Banana Dessert. Everything is the same except it uses twice as much peach and it’s not a mold: it’s put in dessert cups.

Molds are still used in some recipes, but they’re not as universal in 1973 as they were in 1963.

The Under-the-Sea Pear Salad is displayed as a simple loaf instead of an ornate 1-quart mold. The recipe itself hasn’t changed, only the shape, and even that not much: while the first shape suggested is an 8x4 loaf pan, the second is a 4-cup mold. I chose to split the difference and make it in a less towering ring mold.

There’s more of an emphasis on convenience in the new book. If I had made it as a loaf, it would have tasted the same but would have been styled differently. It would also have been easier to unfold. The new Peach-Banana Dessert doesn’t even need to be unmolded—it’s eaten from the dessert cup it’s made in. You can take servings from the refrigerator as needed.

The Missing Index for the Southern Living Cookbook Library—Wednesday, March 30th, 2022

The very nicest gifts are those we prepare ourself.

That’s in the Holiday volume of the Southern Living Cookbook Library. Well. Here is my Springtime gift to you: a combined index of the twenty-two volumes of the Southern Living Cookbook Library. I made this index for myself, but hope that other people find it useful, too.

There are no recipes in the index, just recipe titles and contributor names for searching. As the seventies move into vintagehood, some of the recipes will appear on The Padgett Sunday Supper Club.

I indexed both the recipes and, where available, the contributors. Only some of the recipes list the contributor, except in the Soups and Stews volume and the Party Snacks volume where none do. When listed, every byline includes both the contributor’s name and the city and state they submitted from. This made it possible to create an index by state and city as well.

It’s available as a PDF (PDF File, 2.5 MB), so that you can search it on your computer or portable device, and it’s available in print in case, like me, you enjoy browsing through books. It’s already become very useful for looking up similar recipes, and while I haven’t used the city or state lists yet I have enjoyed imagining a San Antonio-style meal, or a Charlotte, Shreveport, or Raleigh-style meal.

Bicentennial Pie for Pi Day—Wednesday, March 9th, 2022
Pi Day 2022 banner

Are you ready for Pi Day? If not, here’s a great idea for a gelatin-whipped cream pie in a coconut crust. I’m calling it “bicentennial pie” because I pulled both parts from separate bicentennial cookbooks. It might more appropriately but less imaginatively be called creamy orange pie with macadamia nuts, or Hawaiian pie.

I picked up a couple of neat community cookbooks last year, dedicated to the bicentennial in 1976. The first is the Fruitport (Michigan) Bicentennial Cook Book from the Ladies Auxiliary of the Fruitport, Michigan, VFW and the second is the Garvin County (Oklahoma) Extension Homemakers Bicentennial Recipe Book. They’re both really nice cookbooks. I’m especially fond of the bread-and-butter pickles from the Fruitport book and the herb crackers from the Garvin County book.

Pickles, however, despite the first two letters of their name, are not the subject of Pi Day. Pie is the subject, and I combined two very simple recipes in these books to make a great orange-coconut-macadamia pie. It takes a coconut pie crust from Garvin County, a fluffy orange “salad” from Fruitport, with macadamia nuts sprinkled over the top. I featured this pie in my 2021 Year in Food. It was one of the highlights—food-wise—of the year. I’m a sucker for light, whipped pie fillings.

Creamy Orange Salad

“Creamy Orange” describes this dish very well. “Salad” not so much, but I’m not complaining.

The crust is from Mrs. Ray Duncan of Erin Springs, Oklahoma. The creamy orange filling is from Jean Anderson of Coopersville, Michigan. It’s not meant as a filling, but as a “creamy orange salad”. My guess is that the salad is meant to be eaten with other fresh fruit. It’s certainly wonderful with strawberries, but it’s also wonderful, if decadent, on its own.

It was very much a recipe I wanted to make again, and soon. When I saw the very simple recipe for making a coconut pie crust in the Garvin County book, that was my excuse for making the recipe a second time. It seemed to me that a fluffy orange filling inside a coconut crust would make a great pie. That I had an opened bag of chopped macadamia nuts lying around was the literal topping on the idea.

My Year in Food: 2021—Wednesday, February 9th, 2022
2021: A Year in Food

This post is a little late for very good reasons: I had a great year in food. The hardest part of any writing is what gets cut, and it was difficult to cut everything down to fit a blog post. I considered breaking travel out from cooking, but that’s too many year in… posts. While I use personal experiences regularly to inform and inspire my blog posts, this is not a blog of personal experiences. It’s meant to be useful.

In truth, what is enticingly set before you is nothing other than ingredients and a recipe. And at one point in his life, the chap who cooked it for you could not have boiled an egg. — John Varnom (French Bistro Cooking)

I started my year with Amaretto Cheesecake. That’s a great way to start the year. Even better, it was a great way to get my New Year’s resolutions started. My first resolution was to make the Enchanted Broccoli Forest amaretto cheesecake for New Year’s Day. The more I use this book, the more I like it. I promise to bring you another recipe from it on Hallowe’en.

Almost immediately after my New Year’s Day cheesecake, I flew to Washington DC1, wandering from bookstore to restaurant. I didn’t find much in the way of books2 because many bookstores were long boarded up against the summer riots and shutdowns.

I did have some great food, however, starting with Atlantic oysters at King Street Oysters and ending with great Laotian food at Laos in Town.

King Street Oyster Bar

Oysters in DC.

Ladurée salmon croissant

A salmon croissant really takes the edge off of walking ten miles.

Tomato relish and tuna salad—Wednesday, November 3rd, 2021
Tomato relish

The relish is good spooned over just about anything that could use salsa or relish.

Today is National Sandwich Day. I’ve had sandwich day posts about bread and about the meat that goes in the bread for four years now. Today, I’d like to travel to Australia for a look at the relish that goes between the meat and the bread.

Every once in a while, I run into something unique at an antique store. I often wonder how they got there. How did this typewritten cookbook of the Royal Australian Air Force Women’s Association end up in an antique store in Fort Worth, Texas?

However it happened, I’m glad it did. One of the more intriguing recipes in it is today’s tomato relish. Whenever I buy a new cookbook, I make several test recipes before I decide if I’m going to keep the book. Often I’ll choose a recipe I wouldn’t normally make, and for this cookbook that was the tomato relish. I’m a big fan of dill relish; not so much of other kinds.

Because this is an Australian recipe, the tomatoes, onion, and sugar are all measured by weight, not volume. I’ve put approximations of what the volume should be after each of those ingredients, and there’s a lot of leeway anyway; you should be able to adjust the ingredients according to your own taste. That said, a kitchen scale is an invaluable cooking and baking tool, and decent digital ones are relatively inexpensive.

Older posts