Desserts

Constitution Week – Foods of Our Forefathers Part III

September 19, 2013

MayflowerConstitution Week – Foods of Our Forefathers Part III

The abundance of meat in America was a major change in the diet of the early settlers.  Rabbits and squirrels were available year-round nearly everywhere, plus deer and other large game in many regions.  As settlers moved west, buffalo gained importance in the diet.  Fish, shellfish and wild fowl became common food, and they were all essentially “free.”  The existence of these various forms of game was a literal life saver in times of uncertain crops and unbroken land.  The game gradually diminished, of course, as the population expanded and settlers pushed west, but it provided a large share of the diet in early and frontier days. 

Ham, of course, appeared on almost every settler’s table, rich or poor.  It might be the only meat served at a meal or it might appear in company with more exotic roasts and fowl, but it was always there – breakfast, dinner and supper. 

Corn was also a staple of the colonists, either fresh in summer, or as hominy or corn meal all year.  Corn was also put to another use by an early Virginian, Captain George Thorpe, who may have been the first food technologist in America as he invented Bourbon whiskey shortly before he was massacred by the Indians in 1622.

Meal patterns for working people in rural early America were very different from those common today.  Breakfast was usually early and light which consisted of bread, hominy grits, and sometimes fruit in season.  Coffee, which was a new beverage at the time, was popular that is if it was available.  A drink made from caramelized grain was sometimes substituted.  Chicory was popular in the South, either alone or used to stretch the coffee.  Tea was often made from local leaves such as sage, raspberry or dittany.  Alcohol in some form was often served. 

Breakfast in more elegant homes or large plantations might be later in the morning, and include thinly sliced roast and ham. 

Dinner was served somewhere between midday and midafternoon, depending on the family’s circumstances, and was the big meal of the day.  There was almost always ham, as well as greens (called sallat), cabbage and other vegetables.  In the proper season, special dainties would appear – fresh fruits and berries, or fresh meat at appropriate butchering times. 

Desserts could be simple such as a scooped out pumpkin, baked until done and then filled with milk, to be eaten right out of the shell.  Or dessert could be more complex such as ice cream or other fruit flavored frozen pudding or a blanc mange.  Blanc mange was prepared from milk and loaf sugar, flavored with a tablespoon or two of rosewater, thickened with a solution of isinglass (derived from fish bladder, soaked overnight in boiling water).  This mixture was boiled for 15 to 20 minutes, then poured into molds to set. 

If isinglass was not available (most was imported from England), homemade calves foot jelly could be substituted, but eh dessert was not as fine. 

Various alcoholic beverages, including wines, applejack, “perry” (hard cider made from pears), or beer were commonly consumed. 

In winter, peaches and other fruit disappeared from the dinner table, to be replaced by dishes made from stored apples and dried fruit of various sorts.  Soups or broths also took their place.  Milk grew scarce as cows “dried up” in the short days.  Vegetables gradually decreased in variety as stored crops wilted. 

Apples quickly became a staple in early America.  Orchards were easy to start, required a minimum of care, and apples stored well.  Housewives devised a multitude of “receipts,” including sauces and butters for off-season, as well as many using dried apples. 

Supper was late and a light bread and butter, some of the left-over roast from dinner, fruit (fresh if in season, pickled and spiced otherwise), and coffee or tea.  

To Be Continued…

 

Passover Menu Ideas

March 24, 2013

Passover Menu Ideas

March 25 to April 2

There can be something wonderfully reassuring about sitting down to a dinner so traditional that you will know exactly what to expect.  Each family has their own traditions and favorites.  They’ve stood the test of time and families look forward to them year after year.

Seder Plate:

Hard Boiled Egg

Shank Bone

Horseradish

Haroset

Parsley Bouquet

 

Matzoh

Apple & Walnut Haroset

Persian Haroset

Gefilte Fish With Horseradish

Traditional Gefilte Fish With Carrots & Aspic Served With Matzoh

Traditional Chopped Liver

Pickled Herring In Onion & Sour Cream Sauce

Smoked Whitefish Salad

Herring Salad

Crudité of Fresh Raw Vegetables With Dip

Imported Cheese Board Garnished With Fresh Fruit

Chicken Soup With Matzoh Balls

Roasted Salmon

Traditional Brisket With Gravy

Filet of Beef

Roasted Whole Capon With Rosemary & Shallots

Roast Chicken

Free Range Turkey

Whole Boneless Fresh Turkey Breast

Rolled Spit Roasted Turkey Breast

Smoked Fish Platters With Olives, Capers & Lemons

Smoked Salmon Platter

Whole Boneless Large Whitefish

Matzoh Stuffing With Mushrooms & Caramelized Onions

Tzimmes of Sweet Potatoes, Carrots & Butternut Squash

Potato Pancakes With Applesauce

Potato Kugel

Spinach Kugel

Steamed Spring Vegetables With Dill

Herb Roasted Beets

Sautéed Root Vegetables (Turnips, Parsnips, Carrots, Haricots Vert & Wild Mushrooms)

Steamed Asparagus

Glazed Brussels Sprouts & Pearl Onions

Green Beans With Roasted Garlic

Lemon Meringue Cake

Chocolate Torte

Chocolate Almond Cake

Chocolate Glazed Orange Cake

Walnut Date Torte

Cheesecake

Raspberry Filled Yellow Cake

Orange & Lemon Sponge Cake

Sliced Fruit Platter

Fruit Salad

French Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

Almond Macaroons

Meringue Clouds

Brownies

NOTE:  For Baking Desserts Use Almond Flour, Kosher Potato Starch, Matzo Cake Meal or Matzo Meal As Substitutions.  Check Recipes To Determine Which Are The Best Substitutions.

 

 

 

Butter Cookies

November 24, 2012

Butter Cookies

It’s time to start thinking about making Christmas cookies. 

1 1/2 Cups Softened Butter

1 1/2 Cups Sugar

2 Eggs Lightly Beaten

3 Cups Unbleached Flour

1/3 Teaspoon Kosher Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

1/4 Cup Sifted Powdered Sugar (Optional)

Cookie Press

Preheat your oven to 375° F.  In a large size bowl cream the butter and sugar together.  Add the beaten eggs.  In a separate bowl mix the flour and salt.  Gradually add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture.  Blend well and then add the vanilla.  Fill the cookie press with 1/4 of the cookie dough at a time.  Press the cookies onto a parchment paper covered cookie sheet 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for 10 minutes while still on the cookie sheet.  Transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.  Dust with the powdered sugar if you want to.  Makes 48 cookies. 

Packing A Picnic & Serving Food Outdoors

September 3, 2012

Packing A Picnic & Serving Food Outdoors

Packing A Picnic

*Pack lots of extra drinks in a cooler.  When it’s hot outside picnickers get thirsty.

*Pack sweet treats.  Bring fresh fruit such as berries and melon or cookies instead of ice cream.

*Keep prepared foods in the refrigerator until it is time to pack them up. 

*Bring a soccer ball, football, baseball & mitts or a Frisbee.  If you live close to the park either walk, rollerblade or ride your bikes. 

*Pack sunscreen!  Even when it is overcast or if you’re lying in the shade make sure to wear sunscreen.

Serving Food Outdoors

*When taking foods on a picnic make sure to keep perishables in the cooler with either ice or freezer packs until serving time.  Make sure that the food is cold BEFORE it goes into the cooler. 

*Pack just the right amount that you and your picnickers are going to eat.  You don’t want to bring leftovers back home.

*If you are driving to your picnic don’t put your cooler and picnic basket in the hot trunk.  Instead transport your picnic in the air-conditioned car.

*At you picnic site, keep the cooler and picnic basket in the shade.  Open the cooler as little as possible. 

*Never leave foods at room temperature for more than 2 hours.  If the temperature outside is over 90°F, perishable foods should be left out no longer than 1 hour.

*If you buy a lot of take-out foods, such as fried chicken or barbecued beef, make sure to eat the food within 2 hours of pickup.  Otherwise, buy the food in advance, refrigerate and reheat just before serving. 

*Keep desserts made with whipped cream, cream cheese or dairy products refrigerated until you are ready to serve.  Store any leftovers in a refrigerator or cooler. 

*When preparing food outdoors, away from home, make sure to bring a jug of water, soap and paper towels for hand washing.

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