Monday, January 18, 2016

Chocolate Charlotte Russe

Chocolate Charlotte Russe, c. 1912

About the Recipe 
I found these recipes from a recent acquisition of mine, a 1912 revised edition of Lowney's Cook Book, Illustrated in Colors by Maria Willett Howard. This book was published in Boston by the Walter M. Lowney Company which started creating chocolate in Boston in 1883. In 1903, the company moved to Mansfield, Massachusetts. I love this particular cookbook because the company's motto is "Gateway to the Good Graces of Those Who Love the Good Things of Life"!

Here are the recipes and an illustration of the 
dessert from a color plate in the book:

Making the Recipe

I followed the recipes as written in the cookbook. However, here are some things to note:

  • The original recipe for the Lady Fingers lists lemon juice but doesn't say when to add it. I added it with the yolks and rind.
  • The original recipe for the Lady Fingers doesn't give you a cooking temperature. I used 375º F. Just be sure to watch cooking times as they can vary depending on the size of the lady fingers.
  • I used an actual Naples Biscuit pan I have to make the Lady Fingers. Here it is:

  • Here is the Jelly Mould I Chose:

  • Here are the Lady Fingers Lining the Jelly Mould:

  • The original recipe said to let the charlotte set in the fridge for at least one hour. However, I found that it took several hours for it to set up enough to be firm enough to stand on its own. However, even after several hours the filling was still a bit loose, therefore, next time, I would add some gelatin to the recipe to make it stiffer.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Meat and Potato Pie from 1904

About the Recipe:
This recipe is from Consolidated Library of Modern Cooking and Household Recipes, Volume 3: Soups, Chowders & Fish, Meats, Poultry & Game by Christine Terhune Herrick and Marion Harland, eds. (New York, 1904):

The great thing about this recipe is that you can make it using leftover meat, potatoes, gravy, and even rice.  I chose to make the recipe without the addition of the optional rice.

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Meat and Potato Pie
Yield: 6 Servings

The Potatoes:

2 Pounds Russet Potatoes, Peeled and Cubed
8 Tablespoons (1 stick) Butter
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Teaspoon Salt

  1. Place the potatoes in a medium stock pot and cover with cold water.
  2. Bring the potatoes and water to a boil and then reduce heat to low and simmer until soft enough to mash.
  3. While potatoes are cooking, heat the butter, milk, and salt together in a small saucepan until the butter is melted. Be careful not to scorch the milk. Set aside.
  4. When the potatoes are cooked, strain them from the water and return to the cooking pot. Mash with a potato masher or fork. Then, add the melted butter and milk. Stir and set aside.

The Gravy:
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons All-Purpose Flour
1 Cup Beef Stock
1/4 Cup Stewed Tomatoes in Juice
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
Pinch Ground Black Pepper
Fresh Herbs (Thyme, Parsley, Rosemary) to Taste

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter.
  2. Whisk the flour into the melted butter and cook on low until the flour is cooked. Then, whisk in the beef stock and stir until the flour/butter roux is smooth.
  3. Add the stewed tomatoes and juice. Then, add the salt and pepper. Stir until well blended.
  4. Add the fresh herbs on the stem (you will remove them later) and simmer the gravy for about 15 minutes on medium-low heat.
  5. Remove the gravy from the heat and take out the herbs.
  6. Optional: If you have an immersion blender, you can use it blend the tomatoes into the gravy. (I did!)
  7. Set the gravy aside.
Whole Fresh Herbs in Gravy

Prepare the Meat:
  1. Use 1.25 pounds of whatever leftover meat you have available. I used ham and roast beef. Cut up the meat into bite-sized chunks.
  2. Add the meat chunks to the gravy.
  3. Set aside.

Assemble the Pie:
  1. Heat the oven to 400º F.
  2. Butter a deep dish pie plate and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  3. Spread about half of the mashed potatoes onto the bottom and sides of the pie plate.
  4. Place the meat and gravy on top of the potatoes.
  5. Add a well-beaten egg to the remainder of the mashed potatoes. Then, top the meat and gravy with the mashed potato/egg mixture.
  6. Dot the top of the potatoes with 2 tablespoons of cubed butter.
  7. Place in the oven and cook for about 20-30 minutes.
  8. Serve hot from the oven.

Meat and Potato Pie Fresh From the Oven!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Victoria Sandwich: A Cake Fit For a Queen

Mini Version of the Victoria Sandwich

While the concept of a Victoria Sandwich (also called Victoria Sponge) cake is not popular in the United States, I have seen these delectable cakes offered for sale at coffee shops, tea rooms, bakeries, and restaurants throughout the UK. After trying one and finding it tasty and moist, I decided I needed to learn about their history and, of course, how to make one! 

History of the Victoria Sandwich: Type of Cake
The first thing I learned is that despite that this cake is sometimes called Victoria Sponge, it is not actually a sponge cake. It is made with the cream cake-making method. So what is the difference? Sponge cakes are made by the whisking method where lengthy whisking of eggs and sugar is used to incorporate lots of tiny air bubbles into the batter. Victoria Sandwich is not made in this way, but Savoy or Genoise sponge cakes are indeed true sponge cakes. Instead, Victoria Sandwich is made with a creaming method. With this method, sugar is mixed (creamed together) with the fat (butter in this case) to create a light and fluffy aerated mixture. Eggs are then beaten into the batter one at a time. Finally, flour and baking powder are folded in. Variations of this method can also be used.

So Why is This Cake Named for Queen Victoria?:
There is no definitive answer to this question. I have read that as an adult, Queen Victoria became a big fan of cakes because she was denied them throughout her childhood. I have also read that these types of light and airy cakes were popular with children in the nursery long before Queen Victoria took a fancy to them because they were made without the choking hazards of seeds, nuts and fruits, which were very popular with adult cake eaters. While an inventory of cake recipes in the 18th and 19th centuries does, indeed, confirm that cakes were universally filled with these choking hazards, there is not absolute proof for this theory.

The earliest recipe for this type of cake using the royal moniker "Victoria Sandwiches" was published  in 1861 by Isabella Beeton in Mrs. Beeton's Household Management (London). Here is an image of that recipe:

From Isabella Beeton's, Mrs. Beeton's Household Management (London, 1861)

I would like to know more about the history of this cake's name and will keep searching for answers . . . but until I find them you can enjoy a slice of this historic recipe by using a recipe for Victoria Sandwich by Britain's Queen of Cakes, Mary Berry. Or, click here for a version that makes beautiful mini cakes.

Note:  I made a gluten free variation of Mary Berry's recipe and filled half with lemon curd and half with strawberry jam. 

Gluten Free Modifications:

  • Use Your Own Gluten Free Self-Raising (Rising) Flour to Replace the Wheat Self Raising Flour.  
  • Make this flour by mixing together the following:
    • 7.75 Ounces All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour
    • 3/4 Teaspoon salt
    • 2 1/4 Teaspoons Baking Powder
    • 1 1/2 Teaspoons Xanthan Gum (add this even if there is xanthan gum in the flour) 

  • The Penguin Companion to Food by Alan Davidson, New York, 2002.
  • The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, edited by Darra Goldstein, New York, 2015
  • Larousse Gastronomique, Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York, 2001.

Victoria Sandwich
This version is gluten free and was absolutely delicious with
strawberry jam and lemon curd!