One of the things I enjoy about reading historical fiction is the food. I don’t always want to eat it, but I’m curious. What did people enjoy back then? Here are the answers from my novel, Annie’s Stories.
Stephen Adams frequents his friend’s diner where his wife makes one of Stephen’s favorite dishes. It’s so popular, it is often sold out. I believe it must have been early 20th century comfort food.
2 cups cabbage, minced, boiled until tender and drained
• 1 cup hot milk
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 1 teaspoon flour
• ½ teaspoon each of salt and pepper
• 1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
• Generous dash of sweet paprika
Return the cooked cabbage to the pan. Cream together butter and flour. Add the milk, butter-flour mixture, salt and pepper, parsley and paprika to the cabbage and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring to keep from burning. Serve over toast.
Annie did her share of cooking at Hawkins House. Her favorite dish was one Mrs. Hawkins taught her, a British speciality. It was time consuming, but in Annie’s opinion, well worth the trouble.
Peas Porridge, sometimes called Pease Pudding
This recipe comes from an 1898 cookbook titled: Mrs. Roundell’s Practical Cookery Book: With Many Family Recipes Hitherto Unpublished
I imagine this was comfort food as well, at least it was for Annie, and a nice contrast to all those sweets she is so fond of.
Speaking of sweets, in one scene Annie and her cousin Aileen are making a Brown Betty. They would have learned this from living in America. The dish first appears in the middle of the 19th century. Maybe I shouldn’t say it, but…surely this is comfort food as well. I wonder what my mood must have been while writing this novel. 😉
It’s a fairly simple recipe. I read that it was one of the Reagans’ favorites while they were in the White House.
Apple Brown Betty
2 c. finely chopped apples
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1/2 c. chopped nuts
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 tbsp. butter
Place a layer of apples in a greased baking dish. Mix dry ingredients together. Sprinkle apples with the mixture. Alternate layers until all is used, ending with the crumbs on top. Dot with butter. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Uncover to brown. Serve warm or cold with cream.
Annie has a sweet tooth, something Stephen discovers and takes advantage of. His neighbor bakes for several shops and she invites him to come by and taste something she is preparing called rugelach. It’s a Jewish pastry/cookie to die for traditionally made for Hanukkah.
I imagine Mrs. Jacobs’s looked similar to these from Zabar’s in Manhattan. You can even order these online and have them shipped to your house!
3 cups unbleached flour
2 egg yolks
2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 pound cream cheese
1/2 pound softened butter or margarine
1 tablespoon vanilla
For the filling:
12 heaping tablespoons canned whole cranberry sauce
2 cups sugar
2 cups chopped walnuts
2 cups raisins
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3 tablespoons sugar, mixed
Blend all pastry ingredients and divide dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape into balls, cover, and refrigerate until chilled.
Sprinkle a little flour on a flat surface. Take each ball and roll out into a 12-inch circle, dusting with flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of cranberry sauce on each pastry round, covering a 6-inch circle at the center of it.
Combine all other filling ingredients and spoon one cup of it on each round, spreading evenly to an inch of the edge.
Using a pizza cutter or sharp knife, cut into 16 triangles, slicing the dough like a pie.
Starting at the outer edge, roll each triangle toward the center and place on a greased cookie sheet with the small end of the triangle on the bottom.
When all the triangles are rolled, dust the tops with the cinnamon-sugar mixture and bake in a 325°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until tops are golden-brown.
Are you hungry yet? If you have a recipe you’d like to share, let me know in the comments.