Today’s recipes are very simple and involve some leftovers. Some of the recipes in the Berlin Cook Book provide amounts suitable for large families which means I have leftovers. The recipe for Potato Puff uses up leftover mashed potatoes, while the Parsnip recipe could use leftover cooked parsnips. I plan to use today’s Beef Fricassee for another dish tomorrow. Despite its fancy name the beef fricassee would be a good everyday type of meal although it provides a small number of servings and the parsnips would be suitable for any 1906 dinner table. The Potato Puff seems to be more suited to a ladies luncheon or a middle class family. It seems a bit light for anyone doing manual labour.
I began with the Fricassee of Beef since it requires 2 1/2 hours of cooking. It was submitted by Hilda Rumpel (p. 49) and it is interesting to note that her first name is used. Most names in the cook book begin with Miss. or Mrs. I wonder if she was related to the local Berlin business of Rumpel Felt? This simmered beef would be a great winter dish in 1906 since it could sit on the back of the wood or coal-fired stove. In fact today I really wished I had a cook stove as simple tasks like melting butter for the Potato Puff were a little more challenging without my microwave. I had to take out a pot and turn on the stove burner. It is easy to melt butter with a cook stove since the entire surface gets hot and if it has a pot warmer or warming oven it becomes even easier to soften or melt things like butter or chocolate.
Fricassee of Beef was simple to make and didn’t require much attention while cooking. I simply stirred it occasionally. It was delicious and I will make this again. I was surprised that such a small quantity of water was needed and learned a few things I’ll apply when I make my beef stew.
The Potato Puff recipe was one of two recipes with the same title. I used the one submitted by Mrs. J. A. Ross (p. 66) since it was baked rather than fried. The mixture did not look appealing as it went into the 375 degree F. oven. I had two decisions to make. What is a deep dish? How long will it take to bake? I opted for a casserole dish and started checking it after 20 minutes. One advantage of a modern oven is the glass window which allowed me to peek without opening the door. I had a sense that this recipe was going to result in something a bit like a souffle so I didn’t want to chance “deflating” it. In the end it wasn’t really like a souffle, it was simply okay and not really worth the extra calories. It took about an hour to bake. I would not make it again unless I had potatoes, eggs and milk to use up and the oven was already in use. As a modern cook I would add some herbs or other flavourings.
I happen to like parsnips and often use them in beef stew. I wanted to try one of the two parsnip recipes in the Berlin Cook Book. I selected the first one as it would be easy to start frying when the potatoes were almost ready. The recipe submitted by Mrs. Welker is simply called Parsnips (p. 74). The cooked parsnips are dipped in beaten egg and fried. I am not fond of eggs so this version isn’t for me as there was a strong egg flavour to the parsnips. I decided to try a taste test using a technique I picked up from another historic cookbook. Simply roll the parsnips in flour and fry. This is a cheaper and easier way and I like the resulting nutty flavour.
FRICASSEE OF BEEF
1 pound beef, 1 cup cold water, 2 tablespoons flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1 small onion, 1/3 teaspoon pepper, cut the fat of the meat and put in a stew pan to try out. Cut the meat into pieces about 2 inches square and roll in the flour. Put it in the hot fat and stir it over the fire until nicely browned. Add the water, cover closely and simmer. Peel the onion and cut into the slices. Add it with the salt and pepper to the stew and simmer 2 1/2 hours. Serve on a hot platter.
Take 2 cups of cold boiled mashed potatoes, 2 eggs, butter, cream or milk, stir into potatoes 2 tablespoons melted butter, beat into a white cream before adding anything else, add eggs beaten very light, 1 teacup of milk, salt to taste, beat all well, pour into a deep dish, bake in quick oven until nicely brown.
Boil until tender in a little salted water, then take up, skin them, cut in strips, dip in beaten egg and fry in melted butter or hot lard.