Today I’m at my parents place two hours away from Kitchener. It has been pouring rain all day so it seemed like a soup day. Later today, I’ll be attending a small gathering of relatives and I wanted to bring a little something. So I made Clam Puree for lunch and I’m making Ginger Bread to take tonight. Both recipes are from the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. The clam puree recipe was contributed by Mrs. W. H. Boullee of New Hamburg. Mrs. H. D. McKellar submitted the recipe for Ginger Bread.
I don’t like shellfish so I try to make this type of recipe when there are people around who like such things. My parents enjoy seafood and are willing tasters for such recipes. I imagine Mrs. Boullee used fresh clams when she made this soup but I only had a can of baby clams. It contained one cup of clams so I made half the recipe. I drained the liquid (salt water) and started chopping. There were dark bits but they were so small I stopped trying to remove them and kept chopping.
When the clams were ready, I started making the roux. I melted the 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan on low heat and added the tablespoon of flour. When that was well mixed I slowly added the cup of milk and kept stirring. Next I added some pepper and just a pinch of salt since the clams were canned in salty liquid. Once the soup base (essentially a white sauce) was thickening I added the finely chopped clams. I let it cook just until hot and then started serving the clam puree. I was supposed to sieve the soup but it seemed so wasteful since much of the clam meat would be removed. I opted to serve my parents a chunky soup.
After lunch I started making the Ginger Bread. I found the recipe a little confusing initially. How much butter? How much lard? A closer reading showed it is likely 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 cup of lard. I put all three of those ingredients into a saucepan with the 1 cup of molasses. Once it was melted and starting to bubble I poured it all into a mixing bowl. I made sour milk by adding a teaspoon of lemon juice to my regular 1% milk. I also added an egg to the cup of milk and stirred well. I added two cups of flour to the mixing bowl and stirred well. Next I added the milk mixture and the baking soda and spices. Once everything was blended I added another two cups of flour. I decided to bake the ginger bread in two square cake pans. I greased the pans and spooned the dough in before smoothing the tops. I baked it for 30 minutes at 325 degrees F. Once done I set the cakes out to cool before cutting and sampling.
Mrs. W. H. Boullee and Mrs. H. D. McKellar contributed other recipes to the Berlin Cook Book and I’ve tried several of their recipes.
My tasters really enjoyed the soup. They liked the bits of clam and thought seiving the soup would only be necessary for someone who was sick or for a small child. I suppose it would make it more elegant too. This was my first time trying clams. I had a couple of spoonfuls but clams join the list of icky things for me. I just don’t enjoy eating shellfish including mollusks such as clams. There was nothing wrong with the soup although a modern cook might want to add some herbs but it was fine alone. The flavour of the clams was noticeable and might disappear if too many other ingredients were added. My father also tried the soup as a sauce for his vegetables and enjoyed his plain broccoli much better that way. Yes, I come from a family of adventurous but picky eaters. We don’t all share the same aversions which means there is usually someone who will try my cooking!
I had a wonderful visit with my relatives and quite a few tried the ginger bread. It came in second to ice cream and carrot cake but it was good. My sister liked the mild flavour and really liked the texture. She was lucky as she was sampling it while it was still warm. My cousin thought it was a bit dry so I might have over baked it. Others said it was good but could use a bit more spice. I too thought it was a bit bland. I’m used to spicier gingerbread. A modern cook might want to serve the cake warm or bake it for just 20 to 25 minutes.
It is nice to see that food made with 1906 recipes can still appeal to some people today.
Mrs. W. H. Boullee, New Hamburg
1 pint of clams, 1 pint hot milk, 2 tablespoons flour, 3 tablespoons butter, salt and pepper. Remove dark substance from the soft art of the clams, chop the hard part very fine, melt butter, add pepper, salt and flour, add milk gradually, add the clam when hot, strain and serve. If puree is too thick dd juice or milk.
Mrs. H. D. McKellar
1 egg, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, butter and lard melted with 1 cup of molasses, add 1 cup sour milk with teaspoon of sod, if no sour milk use some of sweet milk with 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tarter [sic], 1 teaspoon each of cloves, ginger, cinnamon, pinch of salt and flour enough to stiffen. Bake in light oven.