I have always maintained that pies test my patience, and this year, just after the 1-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, they definitely did. The crusts took 3 tries to get out of the oven in a usable state. I needed to call in my sous-chef (husband) multiple times because I wasn’t ready for some of the multi-tasking that needed to happen. And yet – it was a successful pie day. Here’s what we made:
A Recipe from Ida Bailey Allen’s Time-Saving Cook Book (1940)
About the Recipe
I love a recipe that looks super fancy but was a snap to put together – and thankfully this is one! Full disclosure, I’ve never made proper Russian dressing before. My only exposure to Russian dressing was some mystery, chunky dressing that smelled a little funny and made squishy noises coming out of a bottle… so not great. This Russian dressing is divine. Not only is it perfect for mixing with any kind of flaked fish for a quick salad, but it jazzes up any salad that you’d like to put it on. Definitely a winner!
About the Book
For those not familiar (I wasn’t), Ida Bailey Allen is an “author, lecturer, broadcaster, and one of America’s leading authorities on foods and cookery.” She was a food editor at Good Housekeeping magazine, and instituted the standard tested recipe in 1916 – thank you, Mrs. Allen!
There are so many things to love about this book, but I’ll undoubtedly cook from it again so I’ll try to focus on just one thing this time around. Mrs. Allen starts the book with The Time Saving Kitchen – tips and tricks on how to set up your kitchen for efficiency! Here are some of my favorite gems from this section:
- Don’t crowd your kitchen; make it modern, cheerful, gay
- Have some asbestos mats – saves dishwashing time.
- A good puree sieve is essential.
- Stop being a Table Hopper!
- Accurate measuring utensils are more essential than a new parlor suite. Yet they cost only about half a dollar!
This book is just so delightful in so many ways. I can’t wait to cook from it again!
2 medium-sized avocados
1 cup chilled flaked crabmeat
Russian Dressing (see below)
1 cup mayonnaise
3 T chili sauce
1 T minced green pepper
1 T minced pimiento
1/2 t paprika
Few drops onion juice
1 chopped hard cooked egg
2 shredded sardines or anchovies (optional)
All the ingredients should be very cold. Mix the crabmeat with the Russian Dressing. Cut the avocados in halves lengthwise, peel, and remove the seeds. Fill the centers with the crabmeat mixture and arrange for service on the lettuce.
Combine the ingredients and use in preparing a salad bowl containing lettuce and fish, or lettuce, tongue, and chicken; or serve on hears of lettuce, romaine, or French endive.
A Recipe from 250 Ways to Prepare Poultry and Game Birds (1940)
About the Recipe
This recipe is super basic. Neither Becky nor I had ever had chicken and dumplings, so this was a little bit of a crap shoot, and we weren’t totally sure what we were aiming for, aside from this black and white photo.
You can see from our photo, we did take just a little bit of liberty to add some carrot into the mix for the broth. Next time I give this a go, I would put a lot more love into the broth – some more root vegetables, throw in some dill, other herbs, some garlic – there’s a lot of room to grow from this recipe. The good news is, it’s really easy and so perfect to just throw on the stove and go on a busy workday. Definitely a winner as a basic recipe.
For more recipes from my Weekend at Becky’s click here!
About the book
This was another book from the big box from Becky and her mom. It’s a Culinary Arts Institute book, which means it’s going to be good. I have a few booklets like this one at home, and I’m really excited to add it to the collection. In addition to having some great recipes, it’s also a primer on how to cut / debone / split / truss / roast EVERYTHING that’s a bird and that you can eat. If you’re a fan of eating birds, this is a great book to have on your shelf.
1 stewing chicken
1 small onion
1 cup sifted flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
Sprig parsley, minced
1/2 c milk
Clean chicken and cut into serving portions; place in kettle and partly cover with water. Add onion, salt and pepper and cook until tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
Mix flour, baking powder, salt, minced parsley, and milk to a thick batter and drop from spoon into boiling chicken broth, cover tightly and cook for 20 minutes without raising lid. Place chicken on platter and surround with dumplings.
A Recipe from Wilson’s Meat Cookery (1941)
About the Recipe
At the start of the quarantine, my husband and I were stocking up at the grocery store, and I said “I’m going to try to cook duck!” Because – why not? It was a long road ahead and duck is something that we usually only get now and then in China-town. So I grabbed two duck breasts and started getting excited.
But then I discovered – there aren’t a ton of duck recipes. Modern or vintage, there are really only a handful of ways to cook a duck, and the easiest and tastiest is just to sear it. Score the skin side of the breast, and then put it skin side down in a hot pan over medium flame. Let the fat render and drain it off as it starts to spatter. Once the fat’s rendered and the skin is crispy (5-7 minutes) flip it over and sear the other side. And that’s it! Done!
So how do we make it vintage – with the sauce! This light, citrus-y sauce is the perfect accompaniment to the seared duck. I poured it over and let it soak briefly. Perfection.
There was plenty left over, so it’s saved to try some other ways. It should make a great dressing for a spinach salad, and I’m actually betting that it’s pretty good swirled in some yogurt or over vanilla ice cream.
About the book
This book came in the mail today and it was total kismet. The duck breasts were sitting, thawing on the counter and I opened the book right to the sauce. It came as part of a box from Bonnie Slotnick’s Cookbooks, a small cookbook shop in NYC’s East Village. If you’re ever in town, I highly recommend checking it out. Bonnie is delightful and her cookbook knowledge is encyclopedic. I can’t wait to dig into this book for more meat dishes in the future!
About the glassware
I love pulling out this Butterfly Gold Corelle platter. It was a gift from a friend who would have enjoyed this duck very much. It’s not super old, but it makes me smile.
3 T red currant jelly
2 T port wine
2 T orange juice
1 T lemon juice
1 t mixed mustard
1 t paprika
1/2 t ground ginger
3 T orange rind, finely shredded
Melt jelly over low fire until liquid. Cool, add port wine, orange juice, lemon juice and spices. Cover orange rind with cold water, bring to boil and drain. Add blanched orange rind to first mixture and serve.