Sunday, August 31, 2014

Trying out forgotten handwritten recipes: Orange Pie

A few years ago, I discovered this website. Apparently Michigan State has a lot of antique cookbooks and made a project of digitizing them and putting them online. I've read a lot of the books transcribed there and made a few of the things I've found. I've really liked to look through Aunt Babette's Cook Book, which looks like a lot of really practical recipes that mostly look really tasty. I regularly make the recipe for molasses cookies. Today, we are going to Marcus' kitchen to present a recipe someone wrote in the copy the library scanned for the project:

Orange Pie
1 tbsp. butter
1 c sugar
3 egg yolks*
Juice of 3 oranges
Sugar to taste
1 baked pie crust

Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg yolks. Cook in double boiler until somewhat thickened. Pour into pie crust and freeze.

*The original recipe says to save the egg whites and put a meringue on top. We skipped this since the pie never set.

Looks easy and tasty, doesn't it?
We present the Mt. St. Helens whaleback recreated with sugar, butter, and frying pan.

I've already gone on about how much I love digging up recipes like this, so I needn't repeat myself. This one just sounded really good, so I guessed at the instructions and figured it was more or less one of those pies where you cook the filling on the stovetop until it's set.

I guess we're making a lemon pie?

Marcus juiced the oranges, and I gotta say I'm really envious of the juicer his mom gave him.
"Do you think I got enough out of it?"

Look at how much it got out of 3 oranges! If you ever see one of those juicers that kind of looks like pliers for sale, you should totally get it.

Granted, we could have gotten out a bottle of orange juice, but we wouldn't have gotten to eat orange fetuses.

So, here's where we first put it all together in out awesome double boiler made of a frying pan on top of a pot!

And wait... and stir... and wait... and finally, mutter that it's been an hour and this is as thick as it's going to get. Midway through the cooking, we decided to put on some music and put on Portsmouth Sinfonia. If you've never heard of them, I'm very sorry for you, but that's all right because you're about to discover one of the best things ever to happen to classical music. I'm just going to let Wikipedia do the talking on this one...
"The Sinfonia had an unusual entrance requirement, in that players had to either be non-musicians, or if a musician, play an instrument that was entirely new to them.
The early repertoire of the Sinfonia was drawn from standard classical repertoire (such as "The Blue Danube" waltz and "Also sprach Zarathustra"), so that most orchestra members had a rough idea of what the piece, or at least famous parts of it, should sound like; even if they could not play their chosen instrument accurately, they would at least have an idea that they should be going higher at one part then lower at another, and so on."
They actually played Royal Albert Hall. That's right, an orchestra of people who couldn't play their own instruments played here. Just for your listening pleasure as you read this, here they are! Please, as you're letting the sublime sounds wash over you, keep in mind they played one of the biggest concert halls in London.

While I was stirring a frying pan of pie filling, someone was really excited to pulverize the graham cracker crust.
He's not mugging for the camera.

And that was a thorough pounding.
After a while, it became obvious that this was going to stay runny right up to when it boiled dry. Not quite willing to let this go to waste, we decided to freeze it. A long time stood between us and pie. But the interminable wait was no bother, for while we were getting groceries, we espied something lovely in the discount bin!
Squeezy garlic!

It being 3AM or so, we couldn't help noticing that not only is the brand on the squeezy garlic the name of the Spice Girls movie, but the logos look oddly similar...

However, Marcus was leery about being as generous as I would have been with the squeezy garlic after opening the bottle and smelling it.
It was very moving.

And so, we set out to make pie and ended up making cheesy garlic bread and looking at The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks while we waited instead.
Three AM garlic bread is one of the best things on Earth.

As for the pie which we had the next day, it set to a custard in the freezer. There were no ice crystals or anything. However, it was almost unnaturally yellow.
Lookie how well it sliced!

It tasted like orange juice concentrate. By the time we were done boiling it, it probably was. It was tasty, but it is pretty much orange juice concentrate.
It's not runny, it just slid on the plate a bit.

So thank you, whoever wrote in a copy of Aunt Babette's Cook Book that later ended up in Michigan State's library! Your recipe didn't work, but it was still tasty.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Hump-Day Quickie with Extra Cheese: Baked Macaroni and Cheese!

It's been a while since we've had a hump-day quickie, and today we're making up for it with... cheese!

Fricken delicious cheese.
And some noodles in it as well. But mostly, it's cheese.

Baked Macaroni
Noodles (I like egg noodles the best- they hold the cheese better than anything else)
Shredded cheese

Cook the noodles softer than you usually like them to make up for the drying they'll get in the oven. When they're done, don't coat them in oil, butter, etc- if you do, the cheese won't stick but sink to the bottom of the pan.
Heat oven to 350°. Grease a baking dish* really well. 
Scatter a thin layer of noodles into the pan. Sprinkle some cheese on top. Repeat until you've put everything in.
 Make the cheese layers thicker as you get toward the top to compensate for how some of it will sink down as it melts, and put a really thick layer of cheese on top so the top noodles don't dry out.
Bake until it's hot and bubbly- I usually do 20 minutes. It'll be easier to lift out neatly if you let it sit out for a bit when it's done.

*It really doesn't matter what you use- if you like it with lots of crispy brown cheese on top, you can get out a broad shallow pan. If you like it really soft, you can use one where you'll have it stacked more deeply. You can use one of those small glass food storage containers and make them individual, or you can make a massive pan, or...

Well, the instructions ended up longer than I thought they'd be, but as you can see, this is really fricken easy. And everyone I know likes it a lot-- because, duh, macaroni and cheese! For last year's Thanksgiving potluck at the dorm, I asked my friend working the desk what she'd like me to bring as I was putting my name on the signup sheet taped to the counter- she immediately said "Baked macaroni and cheese!" And the pan was emptied really quick.
Plus, like a lot of the hump-day quickies, there aren't even measurements. Behold, the ingredients!
I think for this one my camera went past lousy and straight to artistic.

Yep, that pot of slightly overdone noodles and shredded cheese is all that's going into this. Obviously, you can add a lot of other things to this as well- I often add paprika to each layer. Or cut-up leftover meat. Or--- you get the idea.
And if you're just sticking to noodles and cheese, you can still put in whatever types of cheeses you like. I'm using some cheddar and pepper jack I found in the fridge for this one. If your cheese is sliced, then this will be even easier since all you have to do is lay slices down on top of each layer of noodles.
I'm posting this because a few people I know think a baked macaroni is really hard and if they didn't have the boxed kits, macaroni and cheese would be beyond them. I've seen recipes that involve making cream sauces in double boilers, making a roux, or other things that run from tricky to bothersome. While I'm sure those recipes are nice, if you can do this:

And then this:

And just keep repeating it until you run out of noodles:

Then you can make a baked macaroni and cheese!
Yes, I baked it in a pot. It was just the right size.

And now, doing my low-budget attempt at imitating those fancy day-lit food porn photos, here it is!
I even got out the patterned china.

Monday, August 11, 2014

I Don't Understand the Parisians, or Why don't people put cucumbers into ice cream anymore?

Today, on A Book of Cookrye, we present... ice cream with vegetables in it!
Have you ever heard of Agnes Marshall? No? Neither had I, but for those who don't want to read the Wikipedia page, she was a famous cook/businesswoman in the late 1800s and early 1900s who specialized in ice cream. One of my favorite things I've seen in her cookbooks is the suggestion that you could make ice cream at table by stirring liquid nitrogen into everyone's bowls.
  She also had a business selling kitchen supplies, cooking classes, a kitchen staff agency, and so on. And, more importantly to us today, she invented an ice cream maker that could freeze ice cream in 5 minutes! Inexplicably, this design is not made today.
Also, she took one hell of a photograph pencil sketch.

Anyway, two of her four cookbooks were only about ice cream and ices, and have a lot more variety of ideas than I've seen anywhere.
Here, better than anywhere else, is Marcus' and my different attitudes to cooking explained. Marcus takes cucumbers and makes sushi of them. I make... this.


We did leave out a few ingredients. Marcus doesn't particularly like the taste of alcohol so that stayed out. I never really liked nuts in the ice cream- they go soggy (sprinkled on top, however...). So those went out. And candied angelica is a special-order item these days. I looked online and I'd have had to get it shipped across the Atlantic. I may have been willing to a Teasmade shipped over the sea (expensive, but as I am now immune to alarm clocks it literally saved my grades in my early morning classes), but I am not going to order candied flower stems for $6 plus $50 shipping.
We at A Book of Cookrye are too classy to comment on what this looks like.
I sent this recipe to Marcus asking if he wanted to use a borrowed ice cream maker and make it. His response was... about what you'd expect from someone faced with cucumbers in ice cream. I promised we'd make lemon ice cream as well in case this was bad, so he went along it.
This required three trips to the store before we had everything. Since we generally don't even start making anything until about the time the store closes, that's three nights of waiting. The first time, we got everything listed in the recipe but didn't actually get any ice and salt. Nothing was made that night. The second time, we got the ice, but I'd thought this recipe only called for the lemon rind and used the juice to make the compensatory lemon ice cream. I had it mixed and in the freezer before I realized that later on in the cucumber ice cream I'm supposed to dump in the juice as well. To prevent wasting the rind, I made this which totally made up for the lack of cucumber ice cream that night. And so, the third time we went to the store and got even more lemons.

This is only one recipe's worth of lemons.

I've had a thing for trying out a lot of recipes that look like they'd be really good in their own weird way, partially to make up for being really picky when I was little. Although in my defense, peas and carrots still taste terrible. While I have discovered all manner of unexpectedly delicious things (see here, here, here, and here), there's always an unnerving moment when I ask "Why am I doing this?". You know, like when faced with a pot of cucumbers and sugar.
A close up of my self-doubt.

If you don't fret over what's in it, it's rather pretty.

But Marcus and I proceeded with the recipe anyway. The recipe said to let it cool before adding the lemon juice. Impatience suggested we dump the cucumber-lemon rind syrup stuff into a big pan and save a few hours.
"It smells like Gatorade."

You know your recipe's old when you have to look up words in Oxford English Dictionary. It turns out a "tammy" is just a strainer. However, we at A Book of Cookrye don't have a strainer.
But we did borrow a blender.

We had everything but the cream in there, and it was a kind of pretty shade of green. In order to let the lovely natural colors of the ice cream shine through, and also to make up for not forgetting to buy food coloring (we were not going to the store a fourth time), I decided to let the natural colors of the lovely ingredients shine through.
Suddenly I want a sour-apple Slurpee.

Unfortunately, the cream made it look more like the paint they use in the DMV.

At this point I have to credit my utter inability to plan anything ahead. Had I any foresight, I'd have realized Marcus' apartment has no balcony, patio, or even a window ledge outside to set an ice cream maker on and decided to call off this whole adventure. We'd never have savored cucumber ice cream. Instead, with apologies to Mom, I must show us using an ice cream maker... inside the house!
Since Marcus had to get a picture of me packing down the ice, here it is.

We may not have had a Marshall's Patent Freezer to freeze this in five minutes, but we did have Blazing Saddles on the computer while the ice cream freezer took about 30. This is one of the movies that formed my childhood. In an attempt to make us culturally well-rounded, my parents introduced us to Mel Brooks when we were wee tots and regretted this when I was in high school. A close friend and I took to singing the Lili von Schtupp song repeatedly and everywhere. Once, my older brother was watching Blazing Saddles with his girlfriend in the living room. The Teutonic Titwillow was coming out onstage as we passed through and thus we stood right behind them and had a Lili von Schtupp sing-along.
 And here is a bowl of the ice cream! Devoid of the food coloring, it's just slightly green enough to suggest there's something... er... unusual about it.

How unusual, you may ask?
It's good, but I'm very puzzled.

As for Marcus whose kitchen had to endure this:
I think he's wondering why he let us make this in his house and then agreed to try it.

Sniffing, leery of the cucumbers.

"It's really gritty."

I liked it a lot more than Marcus did. But first, you have to get your head around the idea that this is not a dessert-- or at least, it isn't to us modern people. That said, I really liked it. The cucumber added this interesting bitter kick to the ice cream. In the same way a lot of people like a glass of un- or barely- sweetened iced tea in the summer, I think this would hit the spot when it's really hot outside. I wouldn't have used the juice of all six lemons (I think four would have done it), but it went well with the cucumber. The only problem (and I think this is more my fault than the recipe's) is that there were teeny little cucumber pieces suspended throughout the ice cream which, when frozen, made it kind of gritty. It seems they have to be very thoroughly liquefied for this to really be good.
And honestly, yes, I'd make it again.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Citrus-Almond cake involves a lot of grating

Today on A Book of Cookrye, we present what to do when you've had to juice a lot of lemons (or any citrus fruit) but still have, you know, the rest of the lemon. "What rest of the lemon?" I hear you say. Well, after squeezing the heck out of them, you still have the peels! You know, this:

Citrus-Almond Cake
½ c. butter
1 c. sugar
Grated citrus rind*
⅓ c. vanilla almond milk
1 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
1½ c flour

Heat oven to 350°. Grease a round cake pan.
Rub the sugar and rind together with your fingers until the sugar is well-colored. This releases the rind oils. Cream the sugar with the butter. Beat in the eggs. Add ½ c flour and the baking powder, and when mixed add the almond milk. Mix well. Add the rest of the flour.
Pour/spread into the pan and bake 30 minutes.

*Any fruit will do- just grate it off of any you were going to eat or juice before cutting the fruit open.

Like another recipe I've posted, this is a perversion of this ridiculously easy cake. Today's recipe comes around by accident, though. We were going to make two ice cream recipes, one of which looked good and one was weird-but-possibly-good. And yes, those are coming up later. Anyway, I didn't realize how much lemon juice I needed until after I'd grated the rind off of six lemons. Not being one to waste, I decided to compensate for the lack of ice cream.

We had no counterspace at all, so enjoy the artistic still-life results!

We had almond milk in the fridge, which is tasty so I dumped some in.

It's a shame to bake it, it just looks so darn pretty.
Also, it's cake batter. Cake batter is delicious. Why do we keep baking cakes when we could have cake batter?

But we baked it anyway. As I've mentioned before, Marcus' oven keeps burning what we put in it. We put an oven thermometer in there to figure out just how off the thermostat is. This mark represents about an hour of guessing, checking, and adjusting the temperature knob.

We got marzipan on sale and briefly considered putting it on top.
Tada! It has a lovely crispy top and is divoon.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Kykeon, or It's not breakfast without wine

You know what? It's been a while since we brought out the recipes from the days when you could have naked people all over the town temple. Therefore, we at A Book of Cookrye are going to once again use a lot of wine and present... kykeon!
What's that? You've never heard of kykeon? I got a copy of The Classical Cookbook from the library, which has an extended history with each recipe, so prepare to learn more than you thought you wanted to know about it. Hey, it's described in the Iliad, so if it's good enough to march all those soldiers into an English class 3,000 years later, it's good enough for us!

The Classical Cookbook, Andrew Dalby & Sally Grainger, 1996

I'm sure Cato's recipe is good (most of the recipes I've done from this book are), but I wanted to taste what they were having in the Iliad. You know, wine and barley and all that. Therefore, let's open another bottle of wine because it's time to start the day!
The holy barley meal.

Enough wine to moisten it... I think.

Once again, since no one makes this anymore, there's no one to ask if I'm doing it right.
I had to add a lot of wine to get it to stop cooking onto the bottom of the pot.

And now, the cheese!
Behold, goat cheese. It took a lot of stirring to melt.

And as they said, the melted cheese thickened it a lot.
A lot.

So the porridge had turned into dough. Everyone messes up every now and then. I nevertheless tried it and... This stuff is good. I don't particularly like wine, I'm not all that into cheeses, and I don't care for porridge-stuff at all. But somehow putting together all of them added up to something amazing. And I have to add that I was full for hours.
The next day, I took out the rest of it to reheat. Since it looked like dough anyway, I decided now was as good a time as any to jump forward a few centuries in the history of bread. We're going from when people first discovered that grains are edible after boiling them soft to when they discovered you can turn your mush into flatbread! (However, because I cannot turn a pancake, we're also going to jump forward to when the oven came into being.)
All right, we're jumping forward thousands of years to the toaster oven.

Baked until crispy, we had this:
Not every attempt at bread ends up looking like misshapen raw hamburger patties.

And you know what? Cheese-wine flatbread is also amazing. It totally made up for making the kykeon way too thick to begin with. I would raise a toast to ancient cooks, but I used up all the wine making this.