With a Chafing Dish

This is the second article in March of the School for Housewives 1909 series published on March 14, 1909, and is an article on the chafing dish for Lenten cooking.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of the The Buffalo Sunday Morning News.

With a Chafing Dish

“DO NOT leave Paris without visiting M. Frederic Delair. To watch him as he prepares, on half a dozen chafing dishes, the pressed duck to which he has given an international reputation, is an experience you cannot afford to miss. And to eat it after he has cooked it is a gastronomic event.”

With the admonition in our minds, we left our hotel one August evening after a wearying round of last sightseeing that disposed us for rest rather than for new “experiences” of any kind. Had we not been hungry as well as tired, I doubt if even the fear of losing the spectacle of M. Frederic and the international gastronomic exploit would have tempted us forth.

We took a couple of motor cars for the party. The absurdly low rates at which the tourist may ride through foreign city and country are a lure to the expenditure of all one’s loose cash in riotous motoring; one is ashamed to recall after one returns to his native land and home cab and hack fares. In ten minutes after leaving the Normandie we alighted, cooled by the rapid spin through street and boulevard, at a modest restaurant in a quiet corner that did not look “fashionable.”

“Frederic Delair, Sr.,” was on the sign above the door. Generations of seniors and juniors may have served the public and filled their own pockets at the same “old stand.” The sensible Parisian does not move uptown as soon as he has made his fortune in a particular locality.

The interior of the famous eating house was no more pretentious than the façade. Several long, low-browed rooms opening out of one another were neatly furnished with tables set with the exquisite taste that belongs to the humblest French café. The linen was glossy, the silver shone and the glass sparkled. Flowers graced every broad and filled jardinieres were set in the windows. Early as it was, but one table capable of accommodating our company of five was unoccupied. Groups of well-dressed, well-mannered guests had taken possession of every room, and we were at once struck by the general air of expectancy that pervaded the assembly. It was no ordinary and conventional bite and sup that had drawn us hither.

The August Chef.

Down the middle of each room was a row of service tables, presided over by “garcons,” spick and span in attire, irreproachable in clean-shaven faces and in coiffure. We had hardly settled ourselves to our satisfaction when a man walked slowly down the length of the suite of rooms in the aisle next the service tables. His movements were so deliberate that we had time to comment in idle amusement upon the incongruity of his appearance with the smartly dressed officials before we noted that he addressed some remark in passing to the occupants of the various tables. He may have been 55 years of age; a full beard, which left his upper lip bare, was lightly grizzled; he wore a long frock coat, sagging open from eh waist down; a wisp of cravat was white; his build was stocky, and he stooped very slightly in walking. He might have posed as Edward Eggleston’s Hoosier Schoolmaster, or he might have been the Parson Poundtext of 50 years agone, just off the circuit of a dozen Tennessee counties. Not until he halted at our corner table and “hoped that mesdames and messieurs would enjoy the dinner that would presently be served to them,” enunciating the formula in gentle, persuasive tones in French that had a plaintive cadence, did it down upon us that he was connected with the café. A major-domo, perhaps, or a superannuated head butler, kept for form’s sake, we concluded among ourselves.

Amused curiosity gave way to amazement, as, with the mien of a master, he took his stand by the central service table and accepted the glittering carver handed to him by an obsequious waiter. At the same instant six men appeared in the kitchen door, bearing as many lordly platters, each containing a pair of roast ducks, plump, smoking hot and savory. In a trice these were set beside six chafing dishes we had not observed before. Each chafing dish was flanked by an odd construction of bright metal surmounted by a wheel. Five assistants seized carvers, and with the precision of machines, the ducks were stripped down to the carcasses. I never saw such swift carvers elsewhere. The sliced breasts and the disjointed wings and legs were laid upon hot dishes; all that remained—bones and stuffing—went into the hoppers of the queer machines, and the shining wheels revolved as if moved by one man’s hand and will. From the tunnels at the bottom of the presses began to flow into vessels set to receive it a rich, ruddy liquid—the very essence of the juicy, flavorous meat. This was turned into the deep “blazers” of the chafing dishes, seasoned, and thickened with the same marvelous speed and dexterity that had characterized the preceding maneuvers, and the double burners below the dishes were lighted. Between the lazing lamps and the door were glass screens hinged to protect the flame from chance draughts. When the bubble began, the sliced meat was laid in the unctuous gravy; a few minutes sufficed to heat it through, and pressed duck was served and distributed to the waiting and watching crowd.

As soon as the ceremony began, every man and woman there had turned about to face the high priest and his satellites. It fell out that the portion assigned to us in the corner was that prepared by the hands of the august chef. To say that e partook of it reverently would hardly be an exaggeration. Not a word had been spoken by him or his lieutenants while the swift work went forward to complete perfection.

Anywhere else the performance might have been ridiculous. Scene, actors and accessories made it almost solemn.

The French cook is an artist born. To Frederic Delair, Sr., the task laid to his skilled hands was as important as the rendition of a great musical opus to the maestro who plays upon men’s heart-strings as upon a well-tuned harp. If I had never comprehended until that night what has made his nation the banner cooks of the world, I would have learned the secret through the pantomime enacted in our sight.

The Lenten Chafing Dish.

As I have written once and again, we take cookery too lightly. If we do what is set before us, with our might, it is muscle and not spirit that performs the work. One and all, we might become humble learners in the Academy of the Fine Arts presided over by the grey-bearded genius who looked like a frontier circuit-rider, and felt himself to be a king among men.

An American author who has gained for herself an enviable reputation as a past-mistress in the manipulation of the utensils she praises, writes of the chafing dish:

“There are still a few people who have so little appreciation of cookery as a fine art that they are bored by the sight of the workings of this utensil. These persons are, happily, in a small minority. Nearly every one feels a keen interest in watching the preparation of the dish that is soon to gratify his palate, and the hostess who presides over the chafing dish is usually flattered (or fluttered) by finding herself the center of observation.”

In another chapter of the valuable little handbook of the chafing dish from which I take these hints she goes on to say:

“The housekeeper of either sex who cooks on a chafing dish should be careful to have all the ingredients at hand before beginning operations. Many a good dish has been injured, if not actually spoiled, because the cook has had to wait at the last moment while some one hunted for the pepper, or measured the milk, or rushed for the lemon squeezer. Most of the measuring should be done in advance, and each ingredient should be put in place by the hand of the one who is to do the cooking.”

I congratulate the members of the Exchange in advance upon the fact that the few recipes, which are all I have room for here, are extracted by special permission of the author from the dainty and practical handbook to which I have referred just now. I purposely select dishes suitable for Lenten luncheons and suppers.

Fresh Cod with Anchovy.

Flake cold boiled cod, and to two cups of this allow two hard-boiled eggs, minced fine, a tablespoonful of anchovy paste and a cupful of white sauce. When this last is cooked smooth and thick stir in the anchovy and the eggs, and then the fish. Toss up from the bottom, that the taste of the anchovy may get all through the fish.

Shad Roes, Sautes.

Prepare the roes by boiling ten minutes in salted water to which has been added a teaspoonful of vinegar. This may be done in the lower compartment of the chafing dish. When the roes are done lay them in cold water for five or ten minutes to blanch them; then dip them in flour. Put two tablespoonfuls of butter into the blazer and lay in the roes. They will cook more evenly and quickly if you will cut each into two or three pieces.

When they are done, take them out, melt a little more butter in the blazer, and serve this with each portion of the roes. Pass sliced lemon with this dish.

Panned Oysters.

Melt two tablespoonfuls of butter in the blazer, and when it hisses lay in it twenty good-sized oysters which have been drained and dried between two towels. As soon as the edges curl, dust with pepper and salt and serve at once on toast.

Oysters a la Poulette.

Thirty oysters, one pint of cream, one tablespoonful of butter, one tablespoonful of flour, one-half teaspoonful of salt, saltspoonful of white pepper, three grates of nutmeg.

Put in the butter, and when it simmers, add the four; stir smooth, and mix in the cream, stirring constantly. Boil up once and put in the oysters. Cook about four minutes. Hen they plump nicely, season and serve on buttered toast or on toasted and buttered crackers.

Panned Oysters a la Newburg.

Cook the oysters as directed in the last recipe, and when they “ruffle” or “curl” stir in two tablespoonfuls of sherry in two tablespoonfuls of sherry or madeira. Cook one minute longer and serve on toast.

Little Pigs in Blankets.

Drain large, plump oysters and wrap about each a very thin slice of corned pork or fat bacon, skewering them together with a stout straw or a wooden toothpick. Lay in the heated blazer and cook until the pork heated blazer and cook until the pork or bacon is clear and crisped.

Eggs with Black Butter.

Three tablespoonfuls of butter, half a teaspoonful of vinegar, salt and pepper to taste; three or four eggs as you have room for them in the blazer.

Cook the butter in the blazer until it is a dark brown—almost black. Break in the eggs then, one at a time, and carefully, lest they should run. Baste with the butter until they are done, adding the vinegar just before you take them up, and sprinkle with pepper and salt.

Marion Harland

Family Meals for a Week
The Housemothers’ Exchange

Some Delicious Lenten Entrees

This is the first article in March of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on March 3, 1907, and is a discussion on the entree. It is interesting to note that the entree was once identified as “a made dish introduced between the principal courses of a dinner.” Over one hundred years ago today an entree was a dish eaten prior to one of the main dishes, whereas, today the entree is known as the or one of many main dishes in a meal.

Also discussed in this article are sweetbreads. Like the chafing dish, sweetbreads are something that have gone out of fashion based on my knowledge. In fact, on first glance I assumed sweetbreads would be confectionery considering sweet is in the word. Imagine my surprise when I Googled that sweetbreads are actually the thymus or pancreas of a calf and lamb and that sweet refers to the flavour of the meat.

Another item on the menu is the calf’s head which is another item that isn’t exactly easily accessible to people today.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of The Boston Sunday Post.

Some Delicious Lenten Entrees

Who sets the fashions? The question never has been, and it never will been answered satisfactorily. About 800 years before the birth of the Christian era somebody or something ordained that the daughters of Zion should wear changeable suits of apparel, round tires (tiaras) like the moon, mantles, wimples and crisping pins. The inventory is too long to be copied out in full here. So circumstantial it is, one suspects that the indignant prophet called upon the womenkind of his household for help in making it out.

St. Paul, writing in the second half of the first century, A.D., is more general in condemnation of the ultra-fashionist whose taste ran to embroidery and jewelry. In the fiftieth century, the mysterious arbiter of customs had so led away wise as well as silly women that the heap of finery cremated in the public square at Savonarola’s command to his converts made a smoke that darkened the heavens at midday.

Who first abolished the hoop and towering headdress of Queen Anne’s reign, and who brought them in again in the middle of Queen Victoria’s? Who forbade the sweeping curtsey of our grandmothers, and is now drilling our grandchildren in the very same motion?


Who ordained the good man’s tables must no longer groan under the weight of a dozen dishes, but be decorated with flowers, and tricked out with chef d’oeuvres, and that all which builds up and solaces the inner man shall be served from kitchen and “service table”? Who dictated that dish is not to be touched with the knife and ice cream must be eaten with a fork in preference to the honest and convenient spoon?

Who banished the “side dish” from the main board and taught us to call it an entree?

We, who cling to English speech—sometimes at the expense of grammar and oftener by the sacrifice of elegance—persisted in naming them as “made dishes” until chefs and butlers put us to open shame and forced the foreign phrase between our teeth. We all say “entree” meekly now, and we have ceased to torment ourselves with speculations as to the identity of the Tyrant to whom man and woman kind have done homage for all these thousands of years. In the days of the Empress Eugenie we said with glib complacency that she “gave fashions to the world.” She sank out of sight, and the nameless Despot of whose abiding place no man knoweth unto this day still tells us, though his thousands of myrmidons, what we shall wear, and when; what we shall eat, and how and where.


This is not a growl, dear reader! The Dictator is not consistently unkind. We eat, drink and live, generally, more sensibly than our fathers dreamed of doing. But one can’t help wondering how it happens that we do! When did you, dear housemother, who lay no claim to the reputation of a fashionable woman, discover that it is no longer “the thing” to have a hot roast at the foot of the table to be carved by John, a secondary roast at the head, a couple of side dishes and faithful flankings of vegetables up on side of the board and down the other? This was entirely en regle for the second course of a dinner party forty years ago. Soup preceded it. When we wished to be in very fine feather, we had a fish and a salad course. Can you cast your thoughts backward and tell us, with any degree of accuracy, how you arrived at the conclusion that your present mode of serving and eating was the better way—in fact, the one and only way for “nice people? To adopt? Go a step further. How did it come to pass that, without any concert of action, all your neighbors also took to the altered fashion of “diners a la Russe,” and the accompaniments of service table and a dozen etceteras to which your children have been used for the major part of their lives? We spoke with bated breath of giving what the consulting caterer called “a course dinner” when those young folks were in the nursery. We sit down to “course dinners” seven days in the week, nowadays. We have not grown much richer. Our position in society is an inheritance from parents who were of gentle blood and breeding. Yet we do not live as they lived. Who sounded the order for the change of base?

“Entree” is defined in my small manual of “Kitchen French” as “a made dish introduced between the principal courses of a dinner.” The definition is food—as I once heard a circuit rider say encouragingly to a brother who stammered to a hopeless breakdown in the middle of a prayer—“very good, so far as it goes!” But “made dishes” is a term so constantly applied to “rechauffes,” or warmed-up meats, that we have come to associate it exclusively with “left-overs.” And all entrees are not second thoughts, an effort more or less successful, to evolve savoriness out of insipidity. For example, sweetbreads, kidneys, mushrooms, asparagus—in some of the ways I have written of lately—macaroni in divers shapes, sweet core on the ear or as a pudding, stuffed eggplant—and half a score of other “first hand” edibles—are entrees. I do not undertake to supply one word which will aptly define what has superseded the obsolete side dish; the intermediate course of the company dinner, and which serves excellently well as the principal dish of the family luncheon when the base is meat. As a matter of necessity and custom, we fall back upon “kitchen French” and cover the long list—growing with the increasing luxuries of our civilization—with the ambiguous, elastic ENTREE.


I am thus minute in explanation, because I know of no other culinary phrase which is more misused and abused. Your “made dish” may be an entree, but, as we have seen, all entrees are not left-overs. It is a joy, too, in these days of individual ramekins, casseroles and casserole chafing dishes to make toothsome and savory entrees.

The chafing dish pictured for instance, is a product of modern arts and crafts workmanship, and a most useful one. The tray itself is of mission wood, and the stand copper, with brass trimmings. The head is inclosed so the whole dish gets the benefit, and there is a quaint door effect like and old-fashioned oven. The cover is of copper, and has a mission wood handle, in keeping with the tray. In fact, it is quite unlike the silver and aluminum chafing dish of other days.

Bake Sweetbreads

Wash the sweetbreads carefully, freeing them from skin and strings. This done, drop them into boiling water, slightly salted, and cook for ten minutes. Turn off the water and cover the sweetbreads (in a cold vessel) with iced water. In five minutes drain and cover with more iced water. Leave them in this for one hour. Take out and wipe dry.

This process is known as “blanching.” It is necessary to the right preparation of sweetbreads, making firm and white what would else be flabby and dull-red.

Cut fat salt pork into thin strips (lardoons) and make incisions in the sweetbreads with a narrow, keen blade. Thrust the lardoons into these. They should project half an inch on each side of the sweetbread. Arrange the larded sweetbreads in a deep bakedish; pour a cupful of well-seasoned stock about them, cover and bake for twenty minutes. Several times during the cooking lift the cover and baste the sweetbreads copiously with the gravy.

Remove the sweetbreads to a hot dish; stir into the gravy left in the dish a roux made by cooking a tablespoonful of butter with one of browned flour. Add a teaspoonful of onion juice and three olives, minced fine. Cook one minute, add a glass of brown sherry and pour the gravy over the sweetbreads.

An Easter Entree of Sweetbreads

Blanch, lard and bake the sweetbreads as directed in the last recipe. Set in a closely covered dish over a pan of boiling water while you prepare the “nest” which is to receive them. Cut into long shreds some cold meat. Chicken or turkey or veal is best for the purpose. The meat should be white. Mix with a generous cupful of boiled spaghetti, drained and clipped into length. Make a ring of the mixture upon a hot platter, wet well with a cupful of rich, hot gravy, set in the over for five minutes, or until heated through, lay the sweetbreads within the garnish around with the dish.

A pleasing variation of this handsome dish may be made by pouring tomato sauce, made rich with butter, thickened with browned flour and seasoned with salt, pepper and onion juice, over the nest and content after they are dished.

Sweetbread Pates

Wash and blanch the sweetbreads. Cut into neat dice and mix with an equal quantity of canned mushrooms (champignons), cut into pieces of corresponding size. Blanch a dozen almonds and shred into tiny bits. Have ready a cupful of good drawn butter, rather highly seasoned. Stir sweetbreads and almonds into this and set over the fire in a double boiler. Heat a dozen shells of pastry in the oven and when the mixture in the inner boiler is very hot fill them with it.

A Casserole of Liver

Wash a lamb’s liver and lay in cold water for an hour. Take it out, wipe, and slice. Fry together half a dozen slices of fat pork and a sliced union until the fat is crisped. Strain off the fat and return to the fire. Lay the liver in it, and fry quickly, first on one side, then the other, until it is slightly browned. Scald the casserole and lay the sliced livery in it. Between the slices put a dozen potato marbles, cut out with a gouge and parboiled, and half a dozen boiled green peas, left from yesterday, or a few champignons, may be added. Fill up the dish with soup-stock or gravy, thickened with browned flour. Fit on a close cover and cook for an hour and a half. This is a cheap and most savory entree that will not be unwelcome as the mainstay of a family dinner.

Send to table in the casserole. If the cover does not fit tightly, fill the space between it and the casserole with a thick paste of flour and water. The chief advantage of the casserole is that it keeps in all the flavor and juices.

Calf’s Head en Casserole

Boil a calf’s head until the flesh leaves the bones of its own weight. Leave it in the liquor until perfectly cold. Cut into pieces an inch long and half as wide. Thicken two cupfuls of the pot liquor with a roux made by cooking together two tablespoonfuls of lemon juice.

Add the meat to this and turn into the casserole. The tongue, cut into dice, should go in with the rest of the head. Lay on the top two hard-boiled eggs, sliced, then sift over all very fine bread crumbs to form a light crust. Stick dots of butter in the crumbs; fit on the cover and bake for forty minutes.

Send to table, covered, in the casserole.

Savory Macaroni

Cook half a pound of macaroni for twenty minutes in salted, boiling water. Into another saucepan put two cupfuls of beef stock; thicken with a brown “roux” made as I have directed in former recipes. Cook for five minutes, stirring it smooth; add four tablespoonfuls of tomato catsup, a teaspoonful of kitchen bouquet, the same of inion juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Drain the cooked macaroni and add it to this gravy. Pour all into a bakedish; sift a mixture of fine crumbs and double the quantity of Parmesan cheese over the surface, stick bits of butter here and there; add the tiniest dust of cayenne, and bake, covered half an hour, then brown lightly.

Marion Harland

The Housemother’s Exchange

Savory and Nourishing Lenten Fare

This is the final article in February of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on February 17, 1907, and is a discussion on Lenten fare such as mushrooms.

Personally I love mushrooms but I am hesitant towards Dandelions.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of Boston Sunday Post.

Savory and Nourishing Lenten Fare

IT IS hardly thirty years since I wrote, prefatory to a chapter on mushrooms:

“Not being ambitious of martyrdom, even in the cause of gastronomical enterprise, I never eat native mushrooms; but I learned, years ago, in hillside rambles, how to distinguish the real from the spurious.”

All the mushrooms sold in our markets at that and anterior dates were gathered in such rambles. August and September were harvest months. Then, parties of young folk, baskets in hand, repaired to sunny uplands early in the summer day before the freshness of the dew was dried by the climbing sun. The younger the mushroom the more wholesome it was, provided it were fairly above-ground and fully formed. The foraging party was led and officered by one learned in the characteristics that set aside the edible fungi from his prettier and poisonous brother.


“Would you mistake a peach for a potato?” demanded one to whom I lamented my ignorance and consequent dread of mushrooms. All the same, when we got our spoils home, we applied to them all the tests known to our grandmothers and to the generation following. We inspected the root for signs of the poison “cup”; the stem for trace of the ominous “hood”; we stirred the mushrooms with a silver spoon while cooking them, and dropped a silver-skinned onion into the pot. And, after the savory mess was pronounced “Not guilty,” the most wary of us declined to eat of it, “for fear all signs might have failed.”

It is not ten years since the younger member of our family went wild over a new mushroom manual just published. Quoting to the bewildered cook the lament, and failing to convert her into the belief that “whole hundredweights of rich, wholesome diet was rotting under the trees, and that a plenteous harvest of delicious feasting annually goes begging in our woods and fields,” the explorers brought home to me “specimens” they were sure were rich and wholesome, or would be when properly cooked. One dark-red fungus complied with every requisition of the “beefsteak mushroom.” lauded by the fascinating mushroom author.


“It cannot be poisonous, even if it is not a real steak,” argued the ringleader of the experiment party, “for it grew upon a stump, and the wrong kind never grow on wood.”

As a compromise between the elders who hesitated and the juniors who urged, it was finally decided to “try it on the dog” literally, and “Mops,” described by his small master as a “pure mongrel,” was chosen as the victim. The steak was cooked, also a fine specimen of the “oyster mushroom,” which grew on a tree trunk, and poor Mops swallowed a few inches of each. This was at breakfast time, and as he was alive and jumping at 1 o’clock, the boys ate the rest of the “rich, wholesome diet” for luncheon. It was a successful experiment, as all agreed. That is, neither dog nor boy was the worse for it. If the cook and I noted, with silent satisfaction, that beefsteaks and oysters were left to grow and perish on the logs for the rest of the season, we refrained from raillery.


The facile French tongue has a way of disposing of a dead and introducing a live era in a single phrase—“Nous avons change tout cela!”

The product of latter-day mushroom culture is absolutely safe. The edible springs from “spawn” harvested by the intelligent horticulturist. He has greenhouses, hotbeds and cellars built expressly for the work. His supply is not dependent upon summer suns and September dews. By judicious management, he has a goodly crop on hand to meet the epicure’s demand for tempting variation of Lenten fare as the penitential weeks tax the housewife’s resources.

Nor need the demand be confined to the rich and epicurean. Mushrooms are the Lenten substitute for meat. In certain portions of the city they may be bought for 50 cents per pound, while in fashionable quarters they bring 95. Study your markets. It is well known, for example, that in New York the same quality of meat, poultry and vegetables may be bought from one-quarter to one-third cheaper in the large markets near the wharves than in the upper districts where wealth and fashion dwell. The same difference is to be found in all large cities. Buy mushrooms in the lower markets. Buy them, too, from responsible dealers who will not impose those that are stale to rottenness upon you for fresh, or raise them yourself if you have a good cellar space.


They are a native and not a patrician “greens.” In the country they are highly and justly esteemed as wholesome, and the eaters who relish turnip tops the more for the bitter “tang” which sets nicer tastes against them reckon dandelions as suave by comparison.

They, too, have their bitter stage. It does not begin until the flower forms. The greens should be gathered in advance of the appearance of the “harmless gold.”

Mushroom and Dandelion Recipes

Broiled Mushrooms.

Wash and strip off the skins. If large, cut each in half; if small, leave them whole. Lay upon a buttered broiler, and cook over a clear fire, turning at the end of three minutes, to broil the other side. Have arranged on a hot-water dish rounds of thin bread, delicately toasted. Butter, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper; lay a mushroom on each and serve.

Grilled Mushrooms.

Wash and peel, cutting off the stems. Lay all in a platter and cover with melted butter, with which you have mixed the juice of half a lemon.

Leave the mushrooms in this for fifteen minutes before transferring them to a buttered broiler. Brown lightly on both sides. Lay upon buttered toast (cut very thin), cover, and keep hot while you broil the stems, and when they are done garnish the dish with them.

Baked Mushrooms.

Peel and cut off the stems. Put a layer of the mushrooms in the bottom of a well buttered bakedish, the gills downward. Pour upon them a few spoonfuls of melted butter, mixed with a little lemon juice, salt and pepper. Next, put in a layer of the stems and treat in the same way. Cover with mushrooms and set in a brisk oven, fit on a close top and bake, covered, for ten minutes: remove the top, pour hot butter over the mushrooms; leave in the oven for ten minutes more and serve.

Creamed Mushrooms.

Peel, scraping the stems, without cutting them off. Turn into a saucepan, cover deep with hot water, slightly salted, and simmer for ten minutes. Meanwhile, heat in another vessel a cupful of milk, adding a tiny pinch of soda; rub a heaping tablespoonful of flour into a heaping tablespoonful of butter; stir in the milk and bring to a boil, stirring all the while. Drain the salted water from the mushrooms, season with pepper and add the hot, thickened milk. Set the saucepan in a pan of boiling water over the fire for five minutes and turn the contents into a heated dish.

Mushrooms and Lobster.

To two cupfuls of picked lobster meat allow half a pound of mushrooms. Peel, skin them, and cut into dice of uniform size. Heat two tablespoonfuls of butter in a saucepan, and stir into it one of flour. With a silver fork ??? and mix the lobster and mushrooms together, add to the hot “roux”; set over the fire and simmer for five minutes; take from the range, add half a cupful of cream, which has been scalded (with a bit of soda). Now return to the fire, setting the saucepan in an outer boiler of hot water. Simmer for three minutes more; stir in a glass of sherry and serve.

Mushrooms Stewed With Oysters.

Select twenty-five fine oysters; drain off the liquor and dry them between two towels. Put two tablespoonfuls of butter into a saucepan, and when it hisses add the oysters and stir until they “ruffle” and are smoking hot. In another vessel heat the oyster liquor; season with salt and pepper. Turn into this a cupful of milk heated and thickened with a tablespoonful of flour wet up with cold milk. Heat these together for three minutes. Have ready a cupful of mushrooms, peeled and cut small, stems and all. Turn these into the white sauce you have just made and simmer five minutes. Cook slowly and steadily, stirring often; season with salt, pepper and a tablespoonful of butter. Heat again, stir in the hot oysters, cook for one minute, and add the beaten yolks of two eggs. As soon as they are fairly mixed with the other ingredients turn out and serve.

If properly made, this is a delicious dish.

Dandelion “Greens.”

Pick the leaves from the stems, wash and drop into cold water. Boil as I have directed you to cook spinach—in the inner vessel of a double kettle—adding no water to the vegetable except what clings to the leaves. Fill the outer saucepan with boiling water and cook, covered until the greens are soft. Rub then through the vegetable press into a saucepan; beat into them a teaspoonful of sugar and one of lemon juice, salt and pepper, a tablespoonful of butter and one of cream. Don’t forget a pinch of soda in the cream. Beat light and smooth. bring to the final boil and serve.

Creamed Dandelions.

Cook the leaves as directed in last recipe. While they are boiling make a good drawn butter with two cupfuls of milk, two tablespoonfuls of butter, one of flour, a little salt and pepper. Add the pinch of soda to the milk. Drain the dandelions, pressing out all the water; mince finely, stir into the sauce, cook for a minute after the boil is reached, and, just before serving, beat in slowly a well-whipped egg. Take immediately from the fire and pour into a deep, covered dish.

Marion Harland

The Care of the Bathroom
The Housemother’s Exchange

Savory and Nourishing Lenten Fare

This is the second article in February of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on February 10, 1907, and is a discussion on spinach.

I absolutely love spinach and use it every chance I get in my cooking.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of The Washington Times.

Savory and Nourishing Lenten Fare

Spinach the Broom of the Stomach

I WAS not the first to call it that! I wish I had been! In my opinion it outranks all other spring vegetables in virtue as a gentle and agreeable alterative of unhealthy conditions incident upon winter weather and the abrupt change from winter to spring. Dandelion greens have their merits, as we shall see by and by. But they are coarse in quality, and less palatable than spinach. Their chief recommendation, beyond their medicinal properties, is that they are cheaper than the more aristocratic spinach, which, let me remark in passing, is held at exorbitant prices by some marketmen, unmindful of the gracious possibilities wrapped up in the lush, dark-green leaves.

Spinach, when sold by the least conscientious of greengrocers, is cheaper by far than medicine, if only because, in its action, it adds no sorrow therewith. “I would not owe my health to a disease!” says a scornful satirist. Spring medicines of man’s devising poison before they cure. Juicy fruits, succulent salads, dandelions, asparagus and spinach taste good and act pleasantly upon liver and blood, the beneficiary, meantime, blissfully unconscious that he is “under treatment.” Meat heats and clogs the sewerage of the human system. Green vegetables are assuasive and cleansing.

Spinach shrinks so much in the cooking that our caterer must make allowance for this failing in purchasing. A quart will make a family soup, but two quarts are not too much for a dish of spinach a la creme, or spinach boiled plain.


It ought not to cost over 15 cents a quart. Should the grasping huckster demand 20, or even 25, reflect that you are treating your household with “kitchen physic,” and be complacent in the superiority of your regimen over the sulphur-and-molasses administered by our granddames in the times of ignorance in which our children can hardly believe.

They loved us as well as we love our bairns—those resolute dames of yore. It was principle, and sincere regard for our best interests, that made them line us up on balmy spring mornings, and, beginning with the baby in arms, pour a great spoonful of treacle and brimstone, beaten to a baleful mess, down our protestant throats. It was done before breakfast (also upon principle) and three days “handrunning,” after which came “three days off,” and then three more of the “spring sweetening” purgatory. It was supposed to act directly on the blood. Of the effect upon stomach and temper nothing was said—or thought.


As soon as spinach comes home from market, lay it in very cold water if it is to be used that day. It will revive and plump up, growing crisp and comely, just as your cut flowers respond to the scent of water.

When ready to prepare it for cooking pick the leaves from the stalks. The stalks, if tender, may be utilized in the soup, but strip them of the leaves. Wash all carefully in two waters to rid the leaves from grit and insects.

Spinach Cream Soup.

Put your spinach, prepared as above, into a saucepan, with a cupful of cold water, and bring to a fast boil. Keep this up until the spinach is tender and broken to pieces. Turn into a chopping tray, straining off the water in which it was cooked, but not draining the vegetable. It must be quite moist. Chop very fine and run through the vegetable press. It should be a soft paste. Have ready a scant quart of boiling milk in a farina kettle. Never forget to drop a pinch of soda into milk when you boil it. In a frying pan melt two tablespoonfuls of butter, and stir into it a tablespoonful of flour. Cook and stir smooth, add to the spinach paste. Let the whole simmer for a minute. Pour in the hot milk, stirring all the time; take from the fire, season to taste with salt, pepper, a little sugar and a dash of nutmeg, and pour out. Strew sippets of fried bread on the surface of each plateful.

Spinach a la Creme.

Freshen and crisp the spinach as directed in the preceding recipe. Cook the leaves, dripping with water, in the inner vessel of a double boiler. Do not add water. Enough juice will exude in cooking for all purposes. Cover the kettle, and keep the water the outer at a hard boil until the leaves are broken and tender. Stir and beat up from the bottom several times. Press out the moisture in a colander, turn the drained spinach into a wooden bowl and chop as fine as possible.

Make a “roux” in a saucepan of two tablespoonfuls of butter and one of flour; cook for a minute and add the spinach, beating it well as you do this. In a separate vessel have half a cupful of cream heated with a bit of soda as large as a kidney bean. Turn this into the smoking-hot spinach, beating diligently to get the mixture smooth. Season with salt pepper, a little sugar, to correct the crude acid of the spinach; add a dash of nutmeg. Beat and cook for three minutes and serve. Garnish with triangles of fried bread laid about the edges of the dish.

There is no more delicious preparation of spinach than this. It is too little known in America. Some French cooks add lemon juice.

Boiled Spinach (American Style).

Prepare the spinach as already directed. Put over the fire in the inner vessel of a rice boiler, with no water except that on the wet leaves. Cover closely; fill the outer boiler with hot water and cook the leaves tender. Drain off the water and chop fine in a wooden bowl. Put back over the fire, and stir into it two tablespoonfuls of butter with a little sugar, and pepper and salt to your taste.

Mound on a hot platter and garnish with hard-boiled eggs cut in slices. A prettier garnish is the yolks of hard-boiled eggs rubbed to a line powder through a sieve, and strewed thickly over the mound. Shred the whites fine and lay about the base.

A Spinach Souffle.

This is a nice way of using left-over spinach. If it was creamed at its first appearance on your board, it will need no more chopping or beating. Add to it the beaten yolks of two eggs if there is a cupful of spinach, increasing the number of yolks proportionately if you have more of the “leftover”; a tablespoonful of melted butter and salt and pepper to your liking. Stir a pinch of soda into a cupful of sweet cream, mix with the other ingredients, and, this done, dip in the whites of the eggs beaten to a standing froth. Turn into a buttered dish and set at once into a brisk oven. Bake to a light brown and serve immediately.

Spinach Daisies.

Prepare and boil the spinach as for spinach a la creme or “in American style.” Press out all the water that will come away through a colander. Chop very fine while hot and mix into it a “roux” made by cooking together two tablespoonfuls of butter and the same quantity of flour. Season with pepper, salt, a little sugar and a suspicion of powdered mace. Cook all together for three minutes, keeping the spoon busy all the time. Have ready some scalloped pate pans. The more sharply scalloped they are the better will be the shape of the “daisies.” Butter them lavishly and press the cooked spinach firmly into them. Set in a shallow pan containing enough boiling water to keep the spinach very hot while you make a white sauce by “drawing” a tablespoonful of butter rolled in cornstarch in a cupful of milk. It should be really white and thick enough to mask the green when poured upon it.

Now turn out the forms of spinach upon a hot platter and pour a large spoonful of sauce over each. Lay rounds of cold hard-boiled eggs on the shapes and you have a pretty dish.


The favorite vegetable of all classes, rich or poor, and one of the earliest in the spring market, is slightly medicinal. The mildly aperient qualities that make fresh asparagus desirable diet are not found in the canned stalks and tips. Moreover, the stronger chemical agents used as “preservatives” destroy much of the nutritive values of the succulent plant. The slightly bitter flavor characterizing the green vegetable is lacking from the pale, straw-colored spikes standing erect and close in the jars that crowd the grocer’s window as the days grow long and the new crop threatens to push out the old stock on hand.

The faint bitter is the wholesomest trait of our patrician asparagus. Robbed of it, and cooked and canned, it is as nutritious as so much wet cotton and well-nigh as insipid.

Asparagus a la Vinaigrette.

The salad whose popular name stands at the head of this recipe makes a delicious entree in the course of a Lenten dinner where fish has played the leading part.

Cut off the thickest and toughest portions of the stalks. (N. B.—Put them away carefully, with an eye to a vegetable soup to be served at the family dinner next day.)

Lay the edible tips attached to the upper parts of the stalks in cold water for an hour. Tie them then into loose branches with soft strings. Put these into a broad saucepan where they will not be crowded; cover with cold water, slightly salted, and cook gently for twenty-five minutes—for a shorter time if they are very young and slender. Make a dressing of two tablespoonfuls of vinegar, two tablespoonfuls of French mustard, half a teaspoonful of sugar, a saltspoonful of salt and half as much white pepper. Rub all these condiments together in a bowl until you have a smooth emulsion. Then begin to beat in oil and keep at it until you have incorporated six tablespoonfuls with the “emulsion.”

Set the vessel containing the dressing in a pan of boiling water, stirring frequently. When it is smoking hot, leave in the water while you drain the asparagus, remove the strings and lay in a deep dish. Pour the hot dressing over it, cover closely to keep in the strength of the vinegar and set away to get cold. When it is cool, set in ice until you are ready to serve it. Pass crackers and cream cheese with it.

Baked Asparagus.

Scrape the upper halves of the stalks down “to the quick,” as it. That is, get off all the hard, horny skins.

Let me say that asparagus, cooked in any way, is much more tender and digestible if the stalks be thus freed from the outer casing.

Boll in hot salted water until tender. Drain off the water and chop the asparagus —not so fine as to make it mushy. Make in a saucepan a “roux” of two tablespoonfuls of butter and the same of flour, and add to it, when it has cooked for a minute, two cupfuls of milk, heated, with a bit of soda dropped into it. Stir over the fire to a cream; add the minced asparagus when you have seasoned it with salt and pepper, and set it aside to get cold. Then beat into it three eggs whipped light and two tablespoonfuls of cream. Pour into a well-buttered dish and bake in a quick oven. Cover with paper for twenty minutes. Remove the paper and brown. Serve at once.

Asparagus a la Tom Thumb.

The tips alone are used for this dish. Scrape the stalks and lay them in cold water. They will work well into a cream-of-asparagus soup.

Cook the tips—none of them more than two inches long—in boiling water slightly salted. Meantime, make a rich white sauce by stirring into two tablespoonfuls of butter one of flour and, when it is smooth, a generous cupful of milk. Season with white pepper and salt; add the hot asparagus tips; cook for one minute and serve upon rounds of toast, laying six tips, side by side, upon each round.


Italian artichokes look more like a flower than a vegetable. The taste for them, like a fondness for olives, is believed to be a matter of education. I cannot recall the time when I did not like the odd-looking things. They are as peculiar in taste as in appearance, and the slightly acrid, aromatic “bite” they give the tongue is disagreeable to some eaters. In Italy they are cheap. In the United States they are absurdly dear at certain seasons. I never eat them without the association, mingling with the aforesaid “bite,” of a whisper launched at me by the mother of a rich and fashionable hostess at whose table I was lunching with eleven other women:

“I do hope you are fond of artichokes!” said the handsome dowager, leaning well toward me. “My daughter would have an artichoke course. She says it is so ‘chic’—don’t you know? I think it awfully extravagant. For, would you believe it, she paid 50 cents apiece for them! I shouldn’t have the heart to eat them, even If I loved the bristly things. And I don’t!”

I was “fond” of the “bristly things,” and I swallowed the half dollar’s worth apportioned to me the more zestfully for the sauce of the naive comment.

Boiled Italian Artichokes.

Don’t pay 50 cents apiece for them. Watch the markets and you can get them for less than a quarter of the sum. Especially if you know where to find an Italian huckster, who never fails to have them when Lent is on. If they are large, one will do for two portions.

Cut the stems close to the body of each “flower” and lay all in cold water. Leave them there for half an hour, watching to see if any drowned insects rise to the surface, and removing them.

Cook in boiling salted water for another half hour, drain and, with a sharp knife, cut each neatly in half, from crown to stem. Put into a hot root-dish and pour over them this sauce:

Into six tablespoonfuls of melted butter beat a tablespoonful of lemon juice, half as much onion juice, a half teaspoonful of French mustard, a pinch of salt and of paprika, last, a teaspoonful of salad oil. Stir to scalding over the fire, remove the saucepan to the table and add, carefully, a beaten egg. Beat for a minute and pour over the artichokes; or,

You may serve with them a simpler bearnaise sauce, letting each guest help himself to it.

Bearnaise Sauce.

Put the beaten yolks of two eggs into a saucepan and set into another pan of boiling water. Add, drop by drop, three tablespoonfuls of salad oil; next, as slowly, three tablespoonfuls of boiling water; then the juice of half a lemon, a dash of cayenne and a little salt.

Serve hot.

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Savory and Nourishing Lenten Fare

This is the first article in February of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on February 3, 1907, and is the first in a series of talks on Lenten food which a specific look at fish.

Transcribed from the Sunday edition of Boston Sunday Post.

Savory and Nourishing Lenten Fare

AN EMINENT metropolitan divine has put upon record as his opinion that, were it not for the intervention of Lent between the fashionable winter season and the almost as gay summer campaign, the women who compose the major proportion of his cure of souls would never remember that there is any other life than this.

“In Lent it is the fashion to go to church,” he said, “and women must, perforce, get some idea of the reason for holding church services.”

A learned Judge who belonged to a communion which does not enjoin church services during the forty days observed as a penitential period by other sects took another view of the expediency of abstaining from flesh-foods in the late winter and early spring. Chancing to go into his coachman’s house, and finding the family at dinner, he noted that there was no meat on the table.

“Ah, it is Lent!” he remarked. “And a very sensible thing it is to abstain from meat on three or four days a week in the spring! We should all be better off for following your example. We eat too much flesh-food.”

“You mean better for the body, sir,” rejoined the man, respectfully. “We think fasting good for the soul’s sake!”


This is not the place for a dissertation upon the spiritual benefit to be gained from denial of the grosser dispositions of the body, nor for a computation of the influence of a purified body upon religious experience. For the present I range myself with the jurist who claimed that we should all be in better condition physically if meat were stricken from the family bill-of-fare for three days in each week as a relief from the congestion wrought by winter diet and habits and in preparation for summer heats.

The national appetite for flesh- foods may be called a passion with certain classes. Conspicuous among these are adopted citizens of our lavish land. It would be a curious and a melancholy study—the comparison of statistics as to the quantity of flesh per capita, eaten by the transplanted immigrant and that eaten by the brother or sister left in the old country. As curious and more melancholy would be the difference between the doctor’s bills and the death rates of the two.

It is not to be denied that we need carbon in winter and that meat supplies more carbon than vegetables. It is as undeniable that continuous consumption of meat and a scanty use of esculents begets bile and uric acid. A third and consecutive truth is that to these two evil agents may be traced at least one-half of the maladies from which residents of the United States suffer and die.


Let us begin a much-needed reform by inquiring how the national menu may be modified without making it less attractive; in other phrase, add to our culinary repertoire Lenten dishes that will commend themselves to the popular palate. The average eater does not take kindly to fare the chief recommendation of which is wholesomeness. He wants what “tastes good.” Savoriness is a prime essential. And savoriness is a natural characteristic of meat. Having once eaten thereof, and frequently, the sophisticated palate accounts all else insipid. As my oft-quoted Hibernian maid—“three years in the coontry”—complained when eggs were put before her at breakfast—“I moight ate six, and rise hoongry! The mate corner must be filled!”

She is a wise caterer who contrives to fill the meat corner with food that is at once nourishing, acceptable to the taste and, at this time of the year, gently alterative.

The object of this and the next paper will be to direct the housemother’s efforts into channels that may lead to these desirable ends.

If in dealing with Lenten fare I seem to make less than might be expected of these, the usual main stays of cook and caterer who exclude animal food from their daily menus while Lent holds on, it is because so much has already been written of the multifarious ways of cooking eggs—and with respect to a fish diet in winter I have grave misgivings. Fresh fish is wholesome—to some digestions. Others cannot assimilate it. Stale fish is poison. And fish that has been laid up in cold storage for weeks and months is as stale as if it were not advertised as “fresh.”


Have you ever paused to consider how many more cases of ptomaine poisoning occur in the winter than in summer? I have been led to look into the subject by several severe and two fatal cases that have come under my immediate observation. In each instance the fish—cod, salmon, halibut and shad—was purchased from a reputable dealer at a high price. It lay buried in ice on the stall, and the buyer assured that it had been drawn from cold storage within a few hours. A majority of women marketers do not ask themselves questions as to the age of fish thus glibly recommended. They know that salmon are not caught in ice-locked rivers and that the shad season in the Northern States is not January and February. They accept the fishmongers’ word for the wholesomeness of their wares, and take no further thought in the matter.

Cold storage is a blessing when the antiseptic process is complete. Because it is faulty sometimes, and the vender’s conscience is elastic, I drop a word of caution to my fellow-housewife touching fish caught in the autumn and kept over for Lent. Southern shad are brought into Northern markets before the Hudson and Connecticut rivers are free of ice. Unless you are wise in determining the age of finny creatures, coax the fisherman of your family into doing this part of your purchasing for you (I do!).


He may tell you, as my especial John has told me, times without number, what are the hall-marks of really fresh, therefore safe, fish. All the same, join him in his walk downtown—or get on the same car with him, and beguile him into looking into the market with you. The subtle flattery of your confiding appeal to his superior wisdom will do the work—if he be a real fisherman.

As to eggs, I have fifty ways, all told, of preparing them for the table, and I prefer giving the space these would occupy to recipes that have to do with the kindly fruits of the earth.

If eggs are used, however, as they will be by thousands of devotees, be sure to use only those that are fresh. A simple test, and one which is well known, should be given by the housewife if she is not sure of her grocer. Hold the egg before a lighted candle with both hands and scrutinize it between the thumbs. The reflection of the candle light will tell the story. If the shell is clear and opaque, the egg is good; if it appears dark and mottled, throw it aside.

It is my intention more particularly in this paper to talk of a branch of the culinary art which is sorely neglected by our native cooks. I mean the making of meatless soups, known in the inventory of the French chef as “soupes maigres.”

Spinach Soup.

Wash and pick over a half peck of spinach and, while still dripping wet, put it into the inner vessel of a double boiler, and fill the outer with boiling water. Fit a close top on the inner vessel and cook steadily until the spinach is soft and broken. Turn it into a bowl with the water that has oozed from it, and mince very line. When run it through a vegetable press. Return to the double boiler with boiling water in the outer kettle. Season with Hungarian sweet pepper (paprika), salt, a teaspoonful of white sugar and a teaspoonful of onion juice. While it simmers, heat in another boiler a quart of milk, putting in a good pinch of soda to prevent curdling. The richer the milk the better the soup. Put two heaping tablespoonfuls of butter into a frying pan, and when it hisses, stir in a tablespoonful of flour. Cook, stirring all the time until you have a smooth “roux.” When the milk is scalding hot, add the roux, cook two minutes, and pour, keeping the spoon going all the time, into the spinach broth. Boil up once, stirring faithfully, and serve. Scatter croutons of fried bread on the top.

An excellent “soupe maigre,” if properly made.

Tomato Soup.

Stew a quart can of tomatoes soft and rub them through a colander or a vegetable press. Return to the fire, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, two teaspoonfuls of white sugar, the same of onion juice and a tablespoonful of butter. Meanwhile, scald a pint of milk in a double boiler, adding an even teaspoonful of baking soda. Make a “roux” – as directed in the last recipe—of two tablespoonfuls of butter and one of flour, stir into the milk, boil one minute and add the boiling tomato soup. It will foam up furiously. Pour out and serve.

This may be made into a perfect company soup by laying a tablespoonful of whipped cream upon the surface of each plateful when served.

Tomato Bisque.

Cook a can of tomatoes soft, run through the vegetable press and return to the fire. In another farina kettle scald two quarts of milk with an even teaspoonful of baking soda. When it is hot add three tablespoonfuls of butter, and, simmer gently. Season the tomatoes with pepper and salt and a heaping teaspoonful of white sugar, also one of onion juice and, if you can get it, one of Hungarian catsup. Cook for three minutes after the seasoning goes in and add an even cupful of finely rolled cracker crumbs. Simmer for two minutes, add the milk and stir smooth. Then pour into the tureen or plates at once.

Browned Potato Soup,

Pare and cut into thick slices ten large potatoes, and leave them in cold water for an hour. Dry them between two towels and brown in butter, cottolene or in oil. They should be nicely browned, but not crisped. Fry with them a sliced onion. The frying should be done in a deep saucepan and not in a frying pan. Pour upon the browned potatoes the onion and the fat in which they were cooked two quarts of boiling water, cover the pot and cook until the potatoes are boiled soft. Add a tablespoonful of browned flour rolled in butter. Rub through a colander, return all to the kettle, season with pepper and salt and a tablespoonful of minced parsley.

Have ready in another vessel a cupful of scalding milk, add a pinch of soda and, a minute later, two well-beaten eggs. Pour the potato broth into a tureen or bowl, stir in the milk and eggs and serve.

A most palatable puree. Some cooks omit the browned flour, but it gives a richer color to the soup and prevents wateriness.

White Potato Soup.

Pare, boil and mash ten fine potatoes. Heat a quart of milk in a double boiler with a pinch of soda, and when it is scalding add an onion that has been parboiled, then chopped. Simmer for three minutes, and rub through a colander to get rid of the onion. Make a roux of two tablespoonfuls of butter and one of flour, stir into the milk and set in boiling water while you beat into the hot mashed potato, pepper and salt to taste and a tablespoonful of minced parsley. Stir the boiling milk into this, set over the fire and add two beaten eggs swiftly and with deft whirls of the eggbeater. The instant they are fairly mixed with the soup pour out the latter and serve.

Marion Harland

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