Monday, June 30, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly, Challenge 2: Soups, Sauces, and Gravies

I missed the deadline on this one by two days, but largely because I just had a 15th of the month/30th of the month idea in my head. I had decided to stick with the same cookbook, The Improved Housewife: Or, Book of Receipts; with Engravings for Marketing and Carving by Mrs. A.L. Webster, a married lady. I also picked a recipe that sounded like I would have most of the ingredients, 

I had great plans to make this with cold smoked trout, which I love, but we have been travelling quite a bit and are only home for about 2 days, so I went with tuna, which I already had in my cupboard. I did a bit of double checking to see what size a mustard spoon was (pretty dang tiny) and decided on my own that a salad spoon was basically a tablespoon in size. I suspect it's actually smaller, but felt comfortable with the ratios.

Date/Year and Region: 1847, Hartford, CT

How did you make it?: I followed the recipe, with a little bit of approximation as to sizes and ratios. I knew the recipe would be like a very thin mayonnaise, which is essentially eggs and oil, with the vinegar acting to thin it. Because of the similarity to mayonnaise, I decided I really wanted to emulsify my eggs and oil, so I tossed all the ingredients in the blender. A three-minute egg is essentially a soft-boiled egg, barely above raw. Some people worry about raw eggs, but I don't mind.

Time to Complete: Prep time was about 5 minutes.

Total Cost: Out-of-pocket expenses were zero. I used 2 cans of tuna fish from the cupboard. Total cost for the dressing itself (and there's a ton left for future salads) is probably less than a buck.  

How Successful Was It?: Reasonably successful. Tasted on its own, the dressing is very vinegary, and complements salad greens well. I could easily imagine it on cold roast beef, ham, or chicken. I'm sure it would be great with the more delicately flavored trout, but the tuna taste was stronger than the dressing. My husband opted to add more salt, more pepper, and splash a bit more of the sauce on top of the tuna salad (I had mixed it in). He declared it "interesting" and then quickly added, "That's a compliment." It's tasty, and I do recommend this recipe if you are comfortable with raw eggs.

How Accurate Is It?:  Middling accurate. The eggs came from our own antebellum-breed, backyard chickens, which I think should count for bonus points. Tuna was not one of the fish mentioned in the cookbook itself. In fact because of its strong taste, tuna doesn't seem to be widely consumed in the United States until the very early 20th century. I used commercial, modern ketchup and an electric blender.


Stephanie Ann said...

Looks good!

Unknown said...

Very interesting. I have a small collection of historic recipe books, and cook from them with some regularity. As measurements are uncommon and vague, much is left to chef's intuition...a challenge which did not derail you. I will enjoy following these explorations gatronomique!