250 Cookbooks: Knudsen Recipes

Cookbook #199: Knudsen Recipes, Knudsen, Knudsen Creamery Co. of California, 1955.

Knudsen RecipesThis is the second “Knudsen Recipes” cookbooklet that I have covered. I didn’t much like the recipes in the first one I covered, the 1953 version. In fact, I couldn’t find a single recipe to try in that version! This one is a lot better. I’ll give some examples below.

But first, a review. “Knudsen” is a California dairy product company, currently owned by Kraft Foods. Knudsen-brand products are still available in California and even in some of my local supermarkets here in Colorado. In 1955, they were quite proud of their high quality and modern research facilities. Note the illustration below. A chemist (male, of course) holding a round bottom flask with a claisen adaptor and a distillation apparatus.

inner coverFacing the page of the male chemist is a photo of the cook (female, of course) using a Knudsen product. Note: “For the young bride whose kitchen ‘know how’ begins and ends with frying an egg . . . “. And this is good too: “Here you will find colorful photographs showing how to make foods more appetizing and table settings more attractive.”

first page

Knudsen Recipes begins with recipes for appetizers. I kind of like” Smoked Salmon Spread”, with salmon, cream cheese, sour cream, and onion. It would be good with crackers or small toasts. My mother put a check by several recipes in this chapter – dips for parties and other get-togethers were quite popular in our home. Most of the Knudsen dips are made from cream cheese, sour cream, maybe cottage cheese, and then canned shrimp, tuna, crab, or bacon. Most sound “okay”. (Except the dip made with cottage cheese, Bleu cheese, sour cream, olives, and peanuts. I’d never make that one.)

Dessert recipes come next. I like the recipe for “Chocolate Cream Cookies” (with sour cream) and Cream-Orange Drops (with cream cheese).

page 9

There is a cup cake recipe with cottage cheese in the batter I might like to try. “Boston Brown Betty” is an apple-crisp type of dessert with cream cheese and graham crackers – sounds good. Mother tried the “Quick Raisin Pie”:

page 8

On to main dishes. “Liver Loaf” with liver, salt pork, bread crumbs, and cottage cheese doesn’t sound good to me, but it illustrates how popular organ meats used to be. The page below illustrates some of the main dishes: canned macaroni and cheese with milk, cottage cheese and hamburger;  stroganoff with cottage cheese and cream cheese rather than sour cream; a shrimp dish with canned shrimp.

page 23The “Crab and Shrimp Bake” (below) is made with cooked shrimp “cut in bits’ and crab meat, cottage cheese, sour cream, celery and onion and green pepper, and potato chips. I don’t know, does it sound good to you? I do think I’d probably like the “Chicken-Noodle Mix”.page 19

Below is another page of main dish recipes. Note the “Baked Potato” recipe. Haven’t seen this recipe for awhile – baked potatoes with sour cream and chives. That was always a standard at our house and was often offered at restaurants. In fact, when they’d ask if we wanted butter or sour cream and chives, we’d say “both”. I think we sometimes made a mix of butter, sour cream, cream cheese, and chives (or green onions) to put over baked potatoes.

page 34

In the middle of the book is a page of menus for the family and entertaining (typical 50s “the woman belongs in the home” slant). Next is a section on dieting:

page 42

The next page is “Menus for reducing”. Example, for lunch, you get 6 celery rings (celery with Bleu cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream), a small glass of buttermilk, one soda cracker, 1/2 teaspoon of butter, one cookie, and coffee with half-and-half. Egads! you could skip the silly single soda cracker and the sugary cookie and have something whole grain instead, and put skim milk in your coffee! Where is the protein, except in the milk products? And note the low-calorie recipes at the bottom of the page, with the 243 calorie peanut butter pudding (vanilla pudding mix, peanut butter, and cottage cheese).

page 43I like this excerpt below: “But first, you must learn the language of calories, a language anyone can pick up quickly.”

page 44

One more comment on this dieting section. I would have thought that yogurt would be in a dieting plan. But no recipes in the book include yogurt, although it is included with the Knudsen products on the back cover:

back cover

After the menu planning and dieting sections, Knudsen Recipes goes to salad recipes: molded salads with cream cheese and cottage cheese and fruit, avodados with cottage cheese, broccoli with cream cheese. Not many of these recipes interest me, other than as nostalgia.

I like the page below for two reasons. For one, I like the illustration of the housewife. For two, I like the table of “oven temperatures”. Many times I have run across a recipe in an older cookbook that says simply “cook in a hot oven” or the like. This table will help me convert old recipes to current oven settings.

page 62

If you would like to see more of this cookbook for yourself, I found a digitized copy of this book on the HathiTrust.org site: the record and the full digitized view.

I decide to make “Chocolate Cream Cookies” for this blog. The scan of the original recipe is above in this blog, page 9. Below is my updated version of this recipe.

Chocolate Cream Cookies
about 6 dozen

  • 1/2 cup butter (I used salted butter)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Cream the butter and the sugar on high speed. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well mixed. Add the chocolate, and then the sour cream; mix in on medium speed. Combine the dry ingredients and add slowly until all of the flour is incorporated. Add the nuts and mix in.

Drop dough from a teaspoon onto a baking sheet. (I used a sheet of parchment in my half-sheet pan.) Bake at 375˚ for 8-12 minutes.

Here are my cookies. I took them to share at my Lyons Garden Club meeting.

Chocolate Cream Cookies

These cookies are very good! Kind of a subtle chocolate-y flavor in a soft cookie. The sour cream does make these cookies stand out amongst all the other chocolate cookies I have made.

I baked the first batch as directed at 425˚ for 10 minutes. I could smell them burning and sure enough, the bottoms of this first batch were burned. I lowered the oven to 375˚ for 10 minutes for the rest of the cookies. I suggest peeking at the first batch at 8 minutes though, as all ovens vary a bit.

I made the dough for these and kept it in the refrigerator, making cookies “as needed”. As the original recipe states, you could probably freeze the dough with success.

250 Cookbooks: The Heinz Book of Meat Cookery

Cookbook #198: The Heinz Book of Meat Cookery, H. J. Heinz Company, Pitsburgh, Penna., 1937.

Heinz cookbookWow, this is another vintage booket! I didn’t have the publication date – 1937 – entered in my cookbook database so I thought it was one of my mother’s 50s-era booklets. And I thought it was missing the cover. But I found the publication date when I carefully searched the booklet, and by comparison with photos online, I find this booklet is not missing the cover. Here it is laid open, with both front and back covers showing:

HeinzCBcovers

Henry J. Heinz established the Heinz company in 1869. In 1937, 68 years later, this excerpt from The Heinz Book of Meat Cookery shows that the company is proud of its reputation:

Heinz company information

Note: “Heinz Foods are Pure. Where sweetening in any one of the entire 57 varieties is required, only pure granulated sugar is employed – no substituties. Absolutely no artificial preservatives, in fact, are used in any Heinz Product.”

Sounds like today’s natural food claims. Let’s see, does the bottle of Heinz ketchup (I always choose Heinz ketchup!)  in my cupboard still lives up to this claim? Judge for yourself – here is the list of ingredients for Heinz Tomato Ketchup (“grown not made”): tomato concentrate from red ripe tomatoes, distilled vinegar, high fructose corn syrup, salt, spice, onion powder, natural flavoring. No preservatives, but high fructose corn syrup instead of pure granulated sugar.

Heinz is one of the longest-running food companies in the US. (I’ve covered quite a few of the American brands because a large portion of my cookbook collection is manufacturer’s cookbooks.) Established in 1869, Heinz remained a company under that name until 2013, when it was purchased by Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital, resulting in the Kraft Heinz Company. Accoding to Wikpedia, this company is currently one of the 5 largest food companies in the world.

Heinz brand products have a “57” on the label – the Heinz “57 Varieties” slogan. Excerpted from Wikipedia, accessed 2017: “Henry J. Heinz introduced the marketing slogan ’57 Varieties’ in 1869 [although over 60 varieties were offered at that time]. He later claimed he was inspired by an advertisement he saw while riding an elevated train in New York City (a shoe store boasting ’21 styles’). The reason for ’57’ is unclear. Heinz said he chose ‘5’ because it was his lucky number and the number ‘7’ was his wife’s lucky number. However, Heinz also said the number ‘7’ was selected specifically because of the ‘psychological influence of that figure and of its enduring significance to people of all ages’.” Now, “57 varieties” is a general term for a mixed bunch, like a mutt dog.

The Heinz Book of Meat Cookery, 1937, lists these 57 varieties:

Heinz 57 varietiesA good proportion of the varieties are canned soups. The “cream of” varities are asparagus, celery, green pea, mushroom, oyster, spinach, and tomato soups. (I think their “cream of tomato” variety is what we now call canned “tomato soup”.) Other soups are chicken soups, clam chowder, turtle (!), onion, pepper pot, and vegatable beef. Only some of these soups are available today, and they are no longer Heinz brands.The above list also includes baked beans (several varieties), mincemeat, puddings, olives, cooked spaghetti and cooked macaroni, peanut butter, breakfast wheat, and jams. Most of items in the above list, except Heinz condiments: ketchup, chili sauce, steak sauce, mustard, and vinegar. (I only buy Heinz ketchup and chili sauce, and I keep them in my pantry at all times!)

Heinz ketchup and chili sauce

What to cook from this book? The recipes are not my style of cooking. Here are some typical examples (the notes on these are my grandmother’s writing):

Heinz recipesHeinz recipes

Note the “Left-Over Pork Roast with Spaghetti”. It calls for “Heinz cooked spaghetti in tomato sauce”. Even if I could find canned spaghetti, I would not make myself eat it.

Near the end of the book I find some sauce recipes:

Heinz sauce recipesI like the “Cocktail Sauce–No. 2”. This is how I usually make cocktail sauce, except I use lemon instead of vinegar (and I never measure anything!). I like to add a little Lea and Perkins Worcestershire sauce, a current Heinz brand, so I’ll add a few drops. I’m not sure “evaporated horseradish” is available; I’ll use prepared horseradish.

This is a good sauce for dipping shrimp. I don’t keep bottled cocktail sauce in my pantry, because it is so easy to make. In the below version, I’ve halved the above recipe, and it made enough to dip about 2 pounds of cooked shrimp.

Cocktail Sauce

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (or use lemon juice)
  • a few drops of hot sauce (like Tobasco) or some cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon horseradish
  • a few drops of Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients. Taste, and adjust seasonings if desired.

Cocktail Sauce

Yummy, as usual! Nice excuse to get some cooked shrimp from Whole Foods.

I’ll keep this cookbook, but this time I will shelve it with my other “vintage” cookbooks!

250 Cookbooks: Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide to Losing Weight

Cookbook #197: The Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide to Losing Weight, Kaye Foster-Powell, Jennie Brand-Miller, Stephen Colaguiuri, and Thomas M.S. Wolever, Marlowe and Company, NY, NY, 2000.

Glucose Revolution cookbookMy Whole Foods basket overflowing with fresh fruits and vegetables, I rolled towards a sample table last Thursday. The enthusiastic young man had laid out samples of yet another protein bar for the sports enthusiasts of Boulder. I was about to pass on by, but I heard the words “low glycemic index” . . . that stopped me.

A little bell rang in my head: “I have a book on my cookbook shelf on the glycemic index of foods. I’ll do that book next, and in the meantime, I’ll buy one of his protein bars!”

Vukoo barLittle did that young man know that he was the inspiration for this week’s blog post.

The Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide to Losing Weight is all about the “glycemic index” of foods. Why is the glycemic index important? Low glycemic index foods help stabilize blood glucose levels. Spikes in glucose are related to insulin levels, and thus to diabetes. For the dieter, low GI foods keep you feeling full longer. The Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide, page 9: “The glycemic index is a clinically proven tool in its applications to diabetes, appetite control and reducing the risk of heart disease.” One chapter gives sample diet plans, and another lists healthy snacking techniques. At the end of the book is a lengthy table of the glycemic index of many foods.

(I covered another cookbook for diabetics: The Calculating Cook. I’ve always found that while dieting, keeping a strict eye on carbohydrates is a must.)

How is the glycemic index of a food measured? The researchers recruit volunteers, feed them equivalent carbohydrate amounts of foods, then measure their glucose levels by sampling their blood over several few hours. All foods are compared with a reference food, pure glucose, which is arbitrarily assigned a value of 100.

Here are some sample glycemic index (GI) values (from this book):

  • peanuts, 1/2 cup: 14
  • barley, 1/2 cup: 25
  • milk, 1 cup: 27
  • kidney beans, 1/2 cup: 27
  • garbanzo beans, 1/2 cup: 33
  • apple, 1 medium: 38
  • spaghetti, whole wheat, 1 cup: 37
  • spaghetti, white, 1 cup: 41
  • bread, 100% wheat bread, 1 1/2 ounce: 53
  • sweet potato, 1/2 cup mashed: 54
  • banana: 55
  • potato, white, 1/2 cup mashed: 91
  • bread, white french baguette, 1 ounce: 95

From the above examples, you see that foods that are not classified as carbohydrates such as peanuts or milk naturally have a low glycemic index (GI) value. Fruits in general are low GI. Legumes like garbanzos and kidney beans are low. Whole wheat bread has a GI of 53, while white bread has a value of 95. Sweet potatoes have a value of 54, while white potatoes have a value of 91.

Kind of justifies the old “health food” adage that whole wheat bread is better for you than white wheat bread. Go for complex carbohydrates!

I found that I had downloaded and saved a 2002 journal article on the topic of glycemic index – this subject has interested me for quite a while:

  • International table of glycemic index and glycemic load values: 2002, Kaye Foster-Powell, Susanna HA Holt, and Janette C Brand-Miller, Am J Clin Nutr, 2002;76:5–56.

Note that the lead author of this journal article is Kaye Foster-Powell, the lead author of The Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide to Losing Weight. The 2002 journal article defines a related value, “glycemic load”, which is the glycemic index normalized to the amount of carbohydrate in a particular food:

glycemic load, or “GL” + (GI x the amount of carbohydrate) divided by 100.

Kaye Foster-Powell is a co-author of a 2008 article on glycemic index:

  • International Tables of Glycemic Index and Glycemic Load Values: 2008, Fiona S. Atkinson, Kaye Foster-Powell, and Jennie C. Brand-Miller, Diabetes Care, 2008 Dec; 31(12): 2281–2283.

Both of the above articles have tables of GI and GL values. You can also search for the GI or GL value for a food online:

I especially like the University of Sydney site because you can enter a food and find out both its GI and GL. It’s a comprehensive site that explains all that you might want to know about glycemic index.

The Great Courses on nutrition

I am a big fan of The Great Courses, audio university-level lectures on a multitude of topics. Years ago I purchased “Nutrition Made Clear” by Roberta H. Anding; I highly recommend it. Dr. Anding discussed glycemic index in lecture 6, “Not All Carbohydrates Are Created Equal”, and lecture 22, “Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes”. She also referenced the 2002 J. Clin. Nutrition article by Foster-Powell, K. et al.

What to cook for this blog?

Since there are no recipes in The Glucose Revolution Pocket Guide to Losing Weight, I decide to cook a low GI/GL food and use it . . . somehow! I found some dried garbanzo beans in my pantry. Also known as chickpeas, they have a GI of 31 and GL of 9. I cooked a big batch in my electric pressure cooker.

garbanzo beansI will put these pretty beans in green salads and main dish salads (I have a great recipe for a Mediterranean salad). I can use them for hummus (I’ve made it many times before). They freeze well, so I froze several containers for later use. Garbanzo beans should be a healthy addition to our diet.

And what of the Vukoo bar? “Glycemic index” is not noted on the bar’s label. But the three major ingredients, oats (GL of 11), almonds (not a carbohydrate), and whey (a protein) do have low GL. The young man giving us samples claimed that half a bar kept one of his friends hunger-free for several hours. I found that little pieces of this bar kept me full between meals – it took me a week to finish it.

Vukoo bar nutrition

250 Cookbooks: Borden’s Cooperative Housewives Recipes

Cookbook #196: Borden’s Cooperative Housewives Recipes, Borden’s Cooperative, NY,  circa 1925.

Borden Cooperative Housewives Cookbook

I pull a small book out of my “old book section”. Curiously, the cover and spine are blank. The cover is blue cloth over cardboard, like the clip-binders we used in junior high. I open to the first page:

first pageAs you can see, the pages are held in with a string tie. The front of each double-sided page is headed with “Borden’s Cooperative Housewives Recipes” and a color illustration. Several recipes follow, and then the bottom of the page has a can of Borden condensed milk on the left, a can of Borden’s evaporated milk on the left, and a saying, like “Every Menu Should Contain Milk or Milk Dishes”.

bottom banner

Note the white with blue trim double boiler in the illlustration? To this day, I have one of these vintage double boilers on a shelf in my basement.

double boiler

A couple other pages:

sponge cake pagelobster patties page

The last page of this book invites members to submit the name and address of friends to send to the Recipe Club:

last page

Maybe the mailing address was simply “The Borden Company, New York, N. Y.”?

I am pretty sure this book belonged to my maternal grandmother – she would have been a young mother at the time. There is some handwriting on the back page of the book that looks like hers. So I am almost positive it was her fingers that tied the bow in the string that keeps these pages together. I remember that she could tie perfect bows and that she made her own hats. Mother and I could never tie a good bow.

Memories.

I deduce that Grandma belonged to a “Recipe Club” sponsored by the Borden Company. Probably the company sent her pages on a regular basis, and she would add each page to the book. The pages are numbered with a letter and number, like “B-1”, “E-3”, “G-2”, etc.

There is no publication date in this book. I hit the internet to dig up some information. Michigan State University Libraries (MSU) has this entry for a book on their shelves:

Borden’s Cooperative Housewives Recipes
Publisher: N.Y. Condensed Milk Co. (New York, N.Y.)
1925 (ca.)
21.6 x 14.0 cm
Copyright: Permission is granted from the copyright owner/holder.

The above dimensions match my book. The cover photo is almost the same:

Borden's cookbookThe sticker on the MSU copy reads, “For delicious creamy coffee: Borden’s Eagle Brand Condensed Milk.” Perhaps the sticker on my copy fell off?

The book at MSU is part of the The Alan and Shirley Brocker Sliker Collection, housed with the library’s special collections. And, the entire book is available digitally on their website. Copyright permission is granted, so I feel free to share with you photos and scans of this very old book.

I find one more internet entry pertinent to my Borden’s Cooperative Housewives Recipes on the etsy.com site. A copy of a book that looks like mine was sold through the etsy site – they have photos of the cover and some of the pages. The description reads: “Way back when, Borden’s Evaporated Milk sponsored a recipe club. Each member received recipe installments, and these pages were inserted into a string binding by the Housewife”. They list the publication date as “circa 1920’s”. The pages in my book are in a different order than in either of the copies I viewed online (not surprising) but some are the same.

The Borden company

Gail Borden founded the Borden Company to produce evaporated milk in 1857. The company prospered during the Civil War by selling condensed milk to Union armies. In 1899, the name changed to the Borden Condensed Milk Company, and it became the Borden Company in 1919. It prospered for decades until it suffered significant losses in 1991-1993. In 1997, employees of Borden’s formed “Eagle Family Foods Inc.”, producing Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk (now a division of Smucker’s). The brand has been bought and sold several times by this point in time (2017).

History of evaporated and condensed milk

Canned evaporated milk was introduced to the American public in 1853 by Gail Borden. The wikipedia version of the story says that on a return trip from England, Borden was devastated by the deaths of several children who drank poor milk from shipboard cows. At that time, fresh milk could only be stored for a few hours before it spoiled – I think that’s why the cows were onboard. Anyway, Borden was inspired to find a way to store milk for long periods at room temperature. He applied a vacuum to fresh milk to pull off a lot of the water, leaving what he called “evaporated milk”.

How did he do this, this chemist asks? A “vacuum” is produced when the atmosphere (air) is removed from a sealed chamber. A vacuum chamber has a lower atmospheric pressure – and at lower pressure, a liquid boils at a lower temperature. In the case of milk, lowering the boiling point of the liquid (mostly water) causes the water to depart the system and leaves the other components of the milk unscathed (because they are not exposed to high temperature). (Rember the old PV=nRT equation you learned in school, where P is pressure and T is temperature? Lower the pressure, lower the boiling temperature. Note that in a pressure cooker the opposite happens: the pressure in increased, and the water boils at a higher temperature.) “Evaporated milk” is stable at room temperature, and when canned will last a long time on a pantry shelf.

How was the vacuum produced in 1857? On wikipedia, I find that methods for producing a vacuum in a chamber were discovered by the 13th century. By the 1800s, several types of vacuum pumps were in use. Borden was impressed and inspired by the vacuum method used by the Shakers to remove water from fruit juices. Likely it was a mechanical pump like the first photo on this page, but I could not find out for sure.

evaporated milkEvaporated and condensed milk as sold today

Each recipe in Borden’s Cooperative Housewives Recipes has evaporated or condensed milk as an ingredient. I know that “evaporated” milk is still sold as “evaporated milk” in a can so labeled. But what is “condensed” milk in today’s lingo? I know that “sweetened condensed milk”, a sugar-sweetened form of evaporated milk, is readily available, but is it the same as “condensed milk”? I need to know this before I cook a recipe calling for this ingredient in Borden’s Cooperative Housewives Recipes.

I go to Wikipedia and look up “condensed milk”. The entry states: “the two terms ‘condensed milk’ and ‘sweetened condensed milk’ are often used synonymously today.” My question is answered.

I do want to note that canned evaporated milk is still often used in cooking, in spite of the readily available fresh milks of today. In some recipes, it works better than fresh milk. I’ve tried fresh milk in pumpkin pie and the pies do not bake up as well as when made with evaporated milk. According to allrecipes.com, canned milk is “the cornerstone of many puddings, including flan, frosting and fudge. Pumpkin pie wouldn’t exist without it”. Canned sweetened condensed milk is a very thick, sweet product that lasts for years in my pantry and I keep it on hand for decadent desserts.

Okay, I feel read to cook a recipe from this book!

I decide to try “Sponge Cake”.Sponge Cake recipeThe photo of this cake (one of the photos earlier in this blog) show that it was baked in a bundt pan. I decide not to heat the evaporated milk to just below boiling (this is an unusual step in cake-baking). I guessed a slow oven to be 350˚ F.

Well, I made the cake, and took it out of the oven after 40 minutes. This is how it looked:

fallen sponge cakeI was so disappointed! This is my planned dessert, and we had company. I showed it to my husband and he sympathized with me.

Then I waited 10 minutes for the cake to cool. I inverted it onto a cooling rack and carefully urged it out of the pan. Lo and behold!

sponge cakeIt’s beautiful!

Why did the cake fall? I suspect the oven temperature. After the fact, I found from Wikipedia that a “slow oven” is 300-325˚ F. Or maybe the step that I skipped – heating the evaporated milk – is important for the outcome of the cake.

I served slices of this cake with sliced, lightly sugared strawberries and whipped cream. I thought the “crumb” of this cake was a little dense, but everyone else simply loved this dessert! If I try a sponge cake again, though, I will compare and contrast with modern recipes for this type of cake.

Flageolet beans

flageolet beansI found an (expensive) bag of heirloom flageolet beans at a little store called “Cured“. Aren’t they pretty? Some of them are creamy tan, and some pale green.

“Cured” is a curious shop tucked near a janitorial supply on about 18th and Pearl in Boulder. I discovered it a few years ago, and now stop to browse whenever I’m in the area. They have an exotic selection of cheese and sausage, and shelves of items like duck fat, olives, crackers, truffles – all sorts of exotic fare. Plus gorgeous loaves of bread. They have a sit-down area for coffee customers. The late morning we were there last week, the store was crowded to overflowing! (Don’t folks in Boulder have to work mornings?)

What to do with these flageolet beans? I went to the website of Rancho Gordo, the company that sells these beans. According to Rancho Gordo, If soaked overnight, flageolets need only about 45 minutes to cook. That’s not long, so I decide not to use the electric pressure cooker that I traditionally use for beans, and instead just let these simmer on the stove top.

Here is how they look just after I put them in a bowl and added water:

flageolet beans

(The photo at the top of this page is of the beans the next morning, after soaking.)

I did add a little salt before cooking, although the Rancho Gordo website advised against it. The cooking liquid from these beans has amazing flavor.

I pretty much followed the recipe for Grilled Shrimp with White Beans, Sausage & Arugula on the Rancho Gordo website. I added a bit of basil, and near the end of the cooking I added a couple fresh, peeled, chopped tomatoes marinated in about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar for about 30 minutes.

I served these to my bean-reluctant husband for a Saturday night dinner. Surprise! He liked them! And of course I did!

250 Cookbooks: Seal-A-Meal I

Cookbook #195: Seal-A-Meal I, Recipe and Instruction Book, Dazey Products Company, 1976.

Seal-A-Meal cookbook

I bought a “seal-a-meal” by Dazey sometime way back in the late 1970s or early 1980s. I still have it! And it still works. It’s an inexpensive little unit, with a heating bar and a way to hold and press bags over the bar.

seal a mealseal a mealNote the two pegs in the above photo, the white one on the left and the black one on the right. Special bags, or “pouches”, were sold that had holes along the side to latch on to the bags. I have a small roll of this type of this bag material – as you can see in the photo below. See the little round hole in the bottom right corner of the photo?

seal a meal

I searched and searched, but to my knowledge, this type of bag (with holes along the sides) is no longer sold. The Seal-a-Meal® brand now owned by Sunbeam Products (doing business as Jarden Consumer Solutions). The bag sealer units of today use vacuum to remove the air from the bag filled with food, and then heat seal them. Both approaches result in an air-tight, sealed bag, a bag that can be put in a freezer or in boiling water.

There are zillions of reasons to have food or other things in an air-tight bag, or pouch. “Ideas, ideas, ideas” on pages 12-15 of Seal-A-Meal I suggest pouch-sealing food such as tomatoes, vegetables, fruits, eggs, dough for rolls, coffee, even sandwiches. Sportsmen can seal survival kits and fishing gear. Mothers of babies and toddlers can freeze formula and baby foods, and put anything that children shouldn’t touch in seal-a-meal bags. Picknickers can mix up martinis, seal in pouches, and put in the cooler. Seamstresses can store delicate laces and sequins. Teenagers can make water pillows. One can store polished silver in sealed bags.

I contribute this idea: buy meat or fish on sale and seal in the seal-a-meal then freeze; this prevents freezer burn.

How have I used my seal-a-meal? Mostly for short backpacking or car camping trips. I’d make a batch of chile or spaghetti sauce, pouch-seal and freeze it. The meal would go into one of the adult backpacks, while we watched our kids scamper up the trail. The frozen meal acted like an ice block to keep items like cheese cool in the pack. After we reached our campground and set up camp, we’d heat the pouch of food over a camp stove. And enjoy a great meal, with the wind blowing softly in the pine trees, the stars coming out over the Rocky Mountains.

backpacking

My Seal-A-Meal I booklet includes a handful of recipes for cooking foods directly in the bag, like poached eggs and or “Fussless Fudge Sauce”. Another handful of recipes are for main dishes like stew, spaghetti sauce, and chile: you prepare ahead (or prepare a double recipe) and freeze in a seal-a-meal bag for later.

For this blog, I decide to cook a batch of stew meat to “demonstrate” the seal-a-meal process. For a change, I am not going to give you a formal recipe for my stew. Unlike this blog, much of my cooking is done sans recipe. Here goes:

Stew Meat Base

Cut up a chuck cross rib roast – one or two inch chunks – about 3 or 4 pounds of meat (or use pre-packaged stew meat). Toss away any big chunks of fat. Turn on an electric pressure cooker to “brown”, then add about half the meat. Oil in the pan is optional. I found that the first half of the meat I put in the pan browned well and most of the liquid evaporated –  I should have removed it and browned the other half, but I looked at the clock and was running late, so I just tossed in the rest of the meat. In a few minutes, the splattering pile of meat still had a lot of liquid in it, but what the heck, time is ticking. Add a roughly chopped onion and carrot, and maybe 4 chopped garlic cloves. And some salt and pepper. Open a bottle of red wine and pour in a good dollop. Add maybe a cup of water. Cover and seal the pressure cooker, set to “high pressure” for 22 minutes, then let the pressure come down on its own. Well, I let it come down until it was time to leave, when I released the pressure totally and unplugged the unit. I came back maybe 6 hours later. And it was perfect!

This made enough cooked stew meat for 3 meals for 2 people. I divided it in thirds, and put one portion in a pan on the stove top. I mushed up the cooked carrots and onions with a fork: they are there just for flavor. I added chopped carrots, celery, and potatoes, more water, and cooked until veggies were done. Then I thickened with a little cornstarch mixed in a bit of water. It was one of the best stews I have ever made!

I took the other two portions of stew meat base and pouch-sealed. I used two recently-purchased vacuum style seal-a-meal bags and filled each with stew. (I lost the EZ fill gadget that makes it easy to fill bags without getting food on the sides of the upper portion of the bag so there was a bit of food on the edge I wanted to seal – I forged ahead anyway.)

I heated the seal-a-meal unit for 3 minutes, placed the top of the bag on the hot bar, pressed out most of the air, closed the top, and said “one seal-a-meal, two seal-a-meal, three seal-a-meal, four seal-a-meal”, then it was sealed. It sizzled a bit because there was a bit of food in the sealing area, but it still formed an air-tight seal.

seal a meal stewThe filled bags are now in my freezer, ready for a couple quick meals.

Comments on food storage, 2017 style

As I used my seal-a-meal this week, I did find the it to be a good method to seal foods for storage. The frozen pouches take up little space in the freezer (compared to a plastic lidded container). The drawback is the time involved (maybe 5 minutes to find and heat the unit and to fill the bag) and the messiness of filling a bag with a wet food like a stew.

Since the advent of seal-a-meal units in the 1970s, plastic bags with nearly air-tight “zip” type seals entered the American marketplace (Hefty and Ziplock brands). Although I wouldn’t freeze something like stew in these bags, I do use them for fresh meats that I’ve bought in bulk; cooked hamburger and sausage; tomatoes, fruits, nuts . . . I use these ziplock-style bags all the time. The advantage over seal-a-meal is that they are quick and easy to fill. Also, I often re-use these bags by rinsing with water.

For leftovers like pasta sauce and chile, I use reuseable, lidded solid plastic containers like Tupperware® or Rubbermaid®. Most of my Tupperware is ancient (they don’t make it now as well as they used to!). Recently, Rubbermaid has come out with a line of “easy find lid” containers that I like a lot because many of the lids are interchangeable between container sizes and the lids are easy to find and the containers stackable. I like them too because they are reusable and thus better for the environment.

And nerdy me, I keep a list of what’s currently in my freezers in Evernote, accessible from my computer, iPhone, and iPad. I have two freezers, one with the refrigerator and one huge one down in the basement. We are 6 miles from the nearest town, and 20 miles from a big supermarket, and I hate to run out of something and have to drive out to a store. Plus I can take advantage of sales. Plus when I was working, I could cook for a whole week on Sundays and store the meals in the freezer.

250 Cookbooks: Mexican Cookery for American Homes

Cookbook #194: Mexican Cookery for American Homes, Gebhardt’s, San Antonio, 1935.

Mexican Cookery for American Homes cookbook

I am not sure how I acquired this cookbook, maybe it was Grandmother’s, or maybe it came from the Ruth C. Vandenhoudt house. One recipe – Chili Meat Loaf – has a handwritten note, but I’m not sure whose writing it is.

Mexican Cookery for American Homes was produced by the manufacturer of a chile powder: Gebhardt. Almost every recipe calls for either Gebhardt’s chili powder or Gebhardt’s canned chili.

An earlier version (c1923) of Mexican Cookery for American Homes is available in full text on the Hathi Trust web site. An even earlier version is now available as a reprint. The back cover of this 2005 reprint, compiled by Andrew F. Smith, a teacher of culinery history, reads:

“The Gebhardt Chili Powder Company was founded by William Gebhardt, a German, who migrated about 1885 to New Braunfels, Texas. Gebhardt opened a café, which served chilis imported from Mexico. To preserve them, he dried and crushed them into powder. He began bottling his powder, and in 1890, he opened a factory to San Antonio. Six years later he trademarked the name “Gebhardt’s Eagle Brand Chili Powder.” The powder became an important ingredient to such an extent that recipes in Texas cookbooks specifically recommended its use. When Gebhardt began marketing chili powder to a wider audience beyond Texas, he ran into a very serious problem-consumers not familiar with Tex-Mex cookery had little idea what to do with it. To help cooks understand Tex-Mex cookery, Gebhardt produced a small 32-page cookery pamphlet. This cookbooklet was originally published about 1908. As such, it was the first English-language booklet published in the United States that focused on Mexican-American cookery. It proved so successful that new editions of it were regularly published through the 1950s. In 1911, Gebhardt sold his company to his brothers-in-law, who expanded their product line to include beans and tamales. During the 1920s, they introduced to the tourist trade Gebhardt’s Original Mexican Dinner Package, consisting of cans of chili con carne, Mexican Style Beans, shuck-wrapped Tamales, Deviled Chili Meat, and a bottle of Chili Powder-all for one dollar. By the 1930s, Gebhardt products were sold throughout the United States and Mexico. The company survived until 1960 when it was purchased by Beatrice Foods, which in turn was acquired by ConAgra in 1990.” (From Amazon description accessed 2017.)

My 1935 edition of Mexican Cookery for American Homes reflects the culture of America at the time – women were the home cooks. I’ve addressed the issue of women-in-the-kitchen many times in this blog, most recently in this post. The foreword (below) to Mexican Cookery for American Homes states in the last paragraph: “Earlier editions of ‘Mexican Cookery for American Homes’ have been welcomed by countless thousands of women.”

MexCookery page 6

I found a post about Mexican Cookery for American Homes on a website by another affectionado of old cookbooks, Wendi. The blog is called “Resurrected Recipes, this is your grandma’s cooking“. Wendi has the same version of Mexican Cookery for American Homes that I do. I like her discussion of the recipes, recipes quite different from the Mexican foods we have today, or even the recipes in the 1950-60s era of cookbooks. She calls some of them silly! Like this recipe for “Gebhardt’s Tamales and Chili with Meat”:

MexCookery page 8

Yup, you put two cans – unopened – in boiling water for 20 minutes! Silly indeed.

I decide to make “Enchiladas, Mexican Style for this blog”. It’s the middle recipe in the scan below – I included the other recipes for curiousity’s sake.

MexCookery page 10

Note that the Mexican style of enchilada is served on flat – not rolled – tortillas. And, you put fried eggs on top. Another twist! I’ve put poached eggs on tortillas and beans to make Huevos Rancheros and we’ve always like them.

This enchilada recipe calls for Chili Sauce on page 36:

MexCookery page 36

I’ll make these pretty much as the recipe reads. Except, I do not want to fry the tortillas, instead I’ll soften them in the microwave. I don’t have Gebhardt’s chili powder, but I have some great chili powder from Savory Seasonings.

Enchiladas with Eggs
serves 2 for dinner

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1/4 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped tomaotes (fresh or canned)
  • 1 cup beef stock (or water)
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese (I used cheddar cheese)
  • a few diced onions, if desired
  • 1-2 eggs, fried or poached

To make the sauce, cook the diced onion, bell pepper, and garlic in a little oil until soft. Combine the flour, chili powder, and salt, then add to the cooked onion mixture and stir until smooth. Slowly stir in the tomatoes and beef stock (or water) and simmer about 20 minutes.

On each plate, layer 3 tortillas with a little sauce and cheese between each layer. Microwave on high until the cheese and sauce are bubbly – probably less than a minute. Top with fried egg(s) and serve.

Enchiladas with Eggs

I served these enchiladas with a little lettuce, rice, tomatoes in a balsamic vinaigrette, and chayote. (More on chayote below.) This meal was a success! I really enjoyed the mixture of egg, tortillas, cheese and seasonings – a different taste for dinner. Hubby said he’d prefer it with refried beans, more like traditional huevos rancheros. Maybe next time.

Chayote

Chayote is a member of the gourd (squash) family, as I learned when I read my 1928 Salads, Vegetables and the Market Basket. Chayote is common in Latin American cooking, but is not listed in Mexican Cookery for American Homes. Last week I was at my favorite Asian Seafood Market and found a chayote in the fresh produce area. I brought it home because it looked so interesting! I served it with a mixture of tomatoes and balsamic vinegar:

chayote and tomato vinaigretteHere’s the sliced, peeled chayote. It tastes like something between an apple and a pear, crunchy and interesting. cut chayoteMy tomato vinaigrette is a modification of a recipe for “Spicy Balsamic Tomato Salad” that I found on allrecipes.com.

  • 2 tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
  •  basil to taste, dried or fresh
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • salt to taste
  • chayote, peeled and sliced

Combine tomatoes and vinegar and seasonings. Let sit, stirring every 15, until flavors combine, about 1 hour. Combine with sliced chayote and serve.

250 Cookbooks: Salads, Vegetables and the Market Basket

Cookbook #193: Salads, Vegetables and the Market Basket, California Home Economics Association, Southern Section, 3rd ed., 1928.

Salads, Vegetables, and the Market Basket cookbook

This book was published in 1928! That means Salads, Vegetables and the Market Basket gives a glimpse into the kitchens of America when my own mother was not yet a teen. Here is the foreword:

foreword

This description of “vitamines” is interesting:

vitamines

A web search for Salads, Vegetables and the Market Basket only pulled up one relevant site, the bibliographic entry on the site “Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (AGRIS)”. I did find full text of a related book: The California Home Economics Association, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, 1921-1961 in the digital library of Hathi Trust. I spent a bit of time perusing this history of the California Home Economics Association (CHEA) and the introduction of courses in “Home Economics” to the curriculum of California schools. An excerpt from the forward (note that the century is the twentieth):

CHEA1

(I discussed home economics in when I covered my mother’s text, General Foods Cookbook. I brushed on the topic in The Fannie Farmer Cookbook and Rice – 200 Delightful ways to serve it.)

Secondary schools in California had home economic classes in secondary schools as in the early 1900s:

CHEA2

College courses in home economics were introduced by 1909:

CHEA3The following is the beginning of an appendix in The California Home Economics Association, yesterday, today, and tomorrow, 1921-1961. It dilineates the early introduction of home economics to California schools. Note the last entry on “hand and machine sewing”. I learned sewing (as well as cooking) in junior high in California in the 1950s.By the 1960s, American home kitchens are influenced by many changes: industrialization, urbanization, suburbanization, working mothers, a higher level of education, and automation.

CHEA4

(I puzzle over the phrase in the above excerpt: “Consider also, the family’s greater emphasis on consumption, less on production.”)

Salads, Vegetables and the Market Basket in my hands, I stand in my sunny kitchen and feel company with all the women who ever stood in their own kitchens, studying how to get the best food – the best health – for their children and spouses. And yes, I say women. I know that men are also cooks, but in the culture of my youth, the home was the where woman belonged. I am so thankful for my college education, and the chance to break some of womens’ bonds to the kitchen and engage in the scientific pursuit of chemistry, enjoying stretching my intellect, hobnobbing with Nobel laureats, studying in the lab where DNA was first synthesized and isolated, creating new experiments for organic chemistry students, creating web sites, and basically, enjoying the heck out of life. But I always come back to my kitchen for comfort.

What shall I cook from this book? The recipes are quite aged. Below are two pages of recipes for salad dressing. They do not include good directions for a true vinaigrette dressing. Cream cheese dressing made with cream cheese and a bit of vinegar does not entice me. Nor am I inclined to make a piquante salad dressing from cooked eggs, mustard, sugar, worcestershire, catsup, oil and vinegar – or potato, gelatin, and sylph mayonnaises (the last has mineral oil in it instead of vegetable oil).

Market BasketMarket BasketSome salads have fancy presentations, like Butterfly Salad, or Banana Canoes.Market Basket

Salads, Vegetables and the Market Basket includes many recipes for cooked vegetables, from broccoli to to collards to chayote to lentils to potatoes to tomatoes. Many times they are cooked in white or cheese sauces, butter and sugar, or baked covered with buttered bread crumbs. I can’t find anything I want to make!

Finally I come upon a recipe for Mint Glazed Carrots (second from the bottom in the scan below). If I cut down on the butter and sugar, these might be a good accompaniment for a meat and potatoes meal.

Mint Glazed Carrots recipeGlazed Carrots with Peas with Mint
serves two

  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut in half
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2-1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup cooked peas (about)

Parboil the carrots: put in boiling, salted water, then simmer 10-15 minutes, just until barely fork tender. Dice the parboiled carrots.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the sugar, stir until incorporated. Using medium heat, cook and stir until the carrots are tender and glazed (they do not need to brown). Add the mint.

Scoop the carrots and mint out of the pan and put over cooked peas. (This way, you can leave some of the butter/sugar/calories in the pan.)

Glazed Carrots with Mint and PeasI thought these were good – hubby was less impressed. I love the colors and the bright mint flavor. Yes, they were a bit sweet, but I thought it nice for a change.

Ruth C Vandenhoudt

This name is handwritten on the cover of my copy of Salads, Vegetables and the Market Basket. This tells me that I acquired this cookbook from the Ruth Vandenhoudt house, back when I was a teen. My paternal grandmother was related to Ruth Vandenhoudt, and on Ruth’s passing, relatives were invited to her house to take things from the estate. I found books and books and books – old books with brittle pages and faded covers. A couple were gorgeous, most were just curious and aged. I still have many of these books.

250 Cookbooks: Chinese Vegetarian Cooking

Cookbook #192: Chinese Vegetarian Cooking, Kenneth H. C. Lo, Pantheon Books, Random House, NY, 1974.

Chinese Vegetarian cookbook

“In spite of the widespread popularity of Chinese food, Chinese cooking is still rather new and strange to the average Western housewife. By concentrating each chapter on one method of cooking, the book should make it much easier for the Westerner to conduct an initial trial, after which the mystique still surrounding Chinese cooking should evaporate. One of the purposes of this book, apart from introducing Chinese vegetable and vegetarian cooking, is to help dispel some of the mystery that still pervades any subject connected with the Chinese.”

So reads the introduction to this 1974 book. By 2017, much of the mystery about Chinese cooking has been dispelled, and Americans have adopted many Chinese dishes: stir-fries, steamed and fried dumplings, egg rolls, hot and sour and egg drop soup, fried rice . . .  dishes part of our restaurant and home culinary fair.

Lo wrote over 40 books on Chinese cooking from the 1950s to the 1990s. According to the back cover of Chinese Vegetarian Cooking, he was also a news commentator for the BBC, a diplomat, a fine-arts publisher, a champion tennis player, and a food critic. He certainly knows a lot about Chinese cooking and culture! It’s evident in every page of Chinese Vegetarian Cooking.  I search the internet to see if had a web site, and perhaps recipes that are not 40 years old. No such site exists. I did find from a 2015 bibliography entry stating that he has passed away.

(Curious fact: One of his books, Oriental Cooking [1996] is listed for $1141.11 on Amazon in February 2017.)

I especially like reading about the unusual ingredients in Chinese Vegetarian Cooking. For instance, “red-in-snow”. I envision a pile of crushed ice with spots of red coloring in it. I search the index, but do not find a description of red-in-snow. But, I found a webpage explanation: “Basically any pickled green vegetables in the mustard family can be called ‘red in snow.’ The word ‘red’ in Chinese doesn’t literally mean the colour here. Red symbolises spring and livelihood. And because many types of mustard green can still thrive in cold winter with snows, this name was given to it.” (Accessed 2017.) And I found this on Google books:

red-in-snowI decide to look for red-in-snow at the Asian Seafood Market on 28th St. in Boulder. Nothing under that name in the store, but I did find pickled mustard greens:

red-in-snow

I was pretty proud of myself! I picked up a package just to see what it tastes like. Heck, it only cost 99 cents!

So what shall I make for this blog? As I page through Chinese Vegetarian Cooking, none of the recipes look familiar, and none are marked. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked any recipe from this cook book, although I’ve owned it for forty years. When I make pot stickers and dumplings and soups and egg rolls, I use recipes from other of my Chinese cookbooks. But I have to find something! After a lot of searching, I choose to make Chinese Salad.

Chinese Salad recipeI pick up some bean sprouts for this salad at the Asian Seafood Market. I really like that this market sells bean sprouts in bulk – most stores sell them in packages, and the two of us can never finish them before they go bad. I don’t find chives, but pick up a bunch of green onions; these too are always good a the Asian Seafood Market. I get some ginger, and a big baggie of peeled garlic ($1.50!). I decide to put some of the pickled mustard greens in the salad to see what they taste like. I don’t have and sherry, but decide to substitute with a little rice wine vinegar. It’s not in the salad, but I buy a big bag of bok choy (the storeowner always gives me grief when I just buy a couple bok choys).

Chinese Salad
serves 2

  • romaine, torn or chopped into bite size pieces; enough for 2 people, about 4 ounces
  • 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tomato, peeled and chopped in chunks
  • bean sprouts, about 1/2 cup
  • green tops of 1-2 green onions, chopped
  • 1/2 onion or 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 teaspoon fresh garlic, grated or chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar (or use sherry, but it will be a sweeter dressing)
  • sesame oil to taste (I used about 1/2 teaspoon)
  • red-in-snow for garnish (totally optional)
  • fried chow mein noodles (optional)

Place the romaine, carrots, tomato, bean sprouts, and green onion tops in a bowl.

Heat the oil in a pan, then add the onions, garlic, and ginger; stir fry 1 minute. Put the mixture in a small bowl and whisk in the water, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sesame oil. Toss the salad, then plate on two dishes. If you like, top each salad with a few crunchy chow mein noodles.

Here are the items I bought at the Asian Seafood Market. Note how fresh the bean sprouts are! I used the bok choy in a stir fry to go along with the salad.

Chinese salad ingredients

My Chinese Salads:

Chinese Salad

The salads were a success. The dressing is good – probably better than store-bought “Oriental salad dressing”. The dressing was also easy to put together and it was quick and convenient to make enough for just two people. Of course, vary the salad ingredients to whatever is on hand!

Although this recipe was a success, I will recyle this cook book. Can’t find any other recipe in it I’d like to try, and I have other proven references/recipes for Chinese ingredients and dishes.

250 Cookbooks: Electric Fondue Cook Book

Cookbook #191: Electric Fondue Cook Book, Oster Corporation, Milwaukee, WI, 1976.

Electric Fondue Cookbook cookbookThat lovely decade when my husband and I were in our twenties . . . many memories. Among those memories are certain yummy and often fattening foods. Like fondues. Our party friends with us, the fondue pot filled with a beer-cheese-spice mixture, big, slurpy, cheesy mouthfuls scooped up by homemade tortilla chips. Back in the day. It was fun.

That’s when the Electric Fondue Cook Book came into my collection. Our electric fondue pot – and we still have it! – was a gift from a friends-couple. The cover says the book cost $1.00, but actually it came with the appliance.

From the introduction:

fondue fun

I’ve made cheese fondues, and maybe Oriental hot pot fondues. I like dessert fondues, but only when other people make them (!). Beef fondue? Made it zillions of times. That’s the kind where diners cook their own beef cubes in hot oil in the fondue pot and dip the cooked meat in sauces. To this day, it’s still one of our favorite meals. It makes us take more time at dinner, eat slowly, enjoy the food and each others company.

The Electric Fondue Cook Book is short, but has useful, relevant instructions and recipes. The first chapter covers Classic Swiss fondue. Cheese fondue ingredients are garlic, white wine, kirsch, and Swiss cheese; dippers can be bread chunks, meats (ham, meat balls, shrimp), or vegetables (potato cubes, celery, green peppers, cherry tomatoes). Chili con queso, American, and pizza fondue recipes are variations on the cheese fondue theme.

Meat fondues “make cooking as much fun as eating”. The cooking liquid is either oil (Fondue Bourguignonne) or a broth (Fondue Orientale). Since hot oil presents special cautions, I appreciate re-reading the instructions in the Electric Fondue Cook Book. The cooking oil can be strained and saved for re-use; to clarify re-used oil, put a few pieces of raw, peeled potato into the heating oil. One of the most important things to remember with hot oil fondues is the safety of the guests, especially when serving directly on the dinner table. Since the pot is electric, there is a cord running to an outlet (and perhaps also an extension cord). We always wrap an extension cord around the leg of the table and even secure it under the leg, then attach the fondue pot. That way, if someone trips over the extension cord, it won’t also knock over the very hot oil in the pot. Gotta watch out for those rowdy little kids around the table.

The next chapter is “Sauces”, a good collection of dipping sauces for both hot oil and hot broth fondues. Dessert fondues include chocolate (bittersweeet, sweet, chocolate chip, mocha), butterscotch, and caramel-rum. Dippers can be fruits (pineapple, strawberries, apples, dates, etc.), marshmallows, angel food cake, cream puffs, doughnuts, or large types of nuts.

(I have a couple other books that also cover fondues: Encyclopedia of Cooking Vol. 5 and Encyclopedia of Cooking Vol. 3.)

I decide to make Bearnaise Sauce for beef fondue for this blog. I scanned in the whole page that has this recipe to show you how well-used it is!

fondue recipes

This recipe calls for “hollandaise sauce”. Most of us know that this is a classic sauce made by skillfully emusifying melted butter, egg yolks, and lemon juice. The problems are, the sauce has to be made just before use – it does not hold together long. For instance, you can’t make eggs benedict by preparing the sauce the night before. (I can make hollandaise – I became extra good at it when I took a class on “Sauces” at Escoffier Boulder.) The other problem is that recipes for hollandaise make a lot of sauce because you need enough hot butter to cook the egg yolks. I only need a small amount of hollandaise, as I only need enough bernaise sauce for two people.

Hollandaise sauce in a jar is available (as per a google search), but I could not find it in any of my local markets. So, I default to my old quick and easy (cheater’s?) recipe for “blender hollandaise” from the Joy of Cooking. The authors claim that this hollandaise can be held in the refrigerator or even frozen and then warmed up in a bowl of hot water just before use.

The bearnaise sauce calls for “tarragon vinegar”. In the past, I know I never looked for this specific vinegar in a market (and I’m not sure how available these oils were in the 1970s). Luckily, I learned how to make herbal vinegars when I covered Michael Chiarello’s Flavored Oils and Vinegars. Briefly, you put in a blender equal amounts of herb and vinegar, and then strain. It’s ready to use right away.

Results

I made this recipe (full recipe hollandaise, half recipe bearnaise) but it did not turn out good enough to re-copy into this blog.

Issues:

I made the tarragon vinegar, and while it’s a petty color, it really isn’t worth the extra effort when I only need 2 tablespoons for this recipe. Instead, I highly advise fresh tarragon in the onion mixture if you want to make bernaise sauce.

I used 1/2 onion for my half-recipe, but this is still too much onion. I advise a couple tablespoons of chopped onion, or use a shallot instead.

My hollandaise was okay, but I used unsalted butter and I should have added a lot more salt.

When I added the hollandaise to the onion mixture directly in the hot onion cooking pan, the eggs “cooked” and the sauce lost its velvetiness.

Suggestion: Next time I make bernaise sauce, I’ll use my tried and true bernaise sauce recipe instead of trying to shortcut! I doubt I’ll make it for fondue though (unless we have guests).

Note: For beef fondue, we usually dip our cooked beef chunks in a simple homemade sauce, like a red sauce (tomato sauce, horseradish, worcestershire) or a creamy sauce (sour cream, worcestershire, ketchup).

Photos

We did enjoy our meal, inspite of the less-than-perfect bernaise sauce. Here is our forty year old fondue pot:

fondue potHere is my chunky bernaise sauce:

sauce bernaise