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The Cookbook Journey travels back in time

It's been some time since I cooked my way through one of my cookbooks. I pared down my cookbook shelf to a manageable number. Although I do still use my cookbooks, it's usually to look up recipes that I have used before. Still, a few cookbooks remain on my shelf that I haven't yet tried.

The First Ladies Cookbook is from 1969. So "all the presidents" referenced in the subtitle are from Washington through Nixon. When I came across this cookbook a number of years ago, I thought the idea interesting, and looked forward to trying out historical recipes. But every time I looked at the cookbook, I was intimidated, and I didn't try any recipes.

My cookbook shelf is filling up, so I decided it's finally time... I had to try the recipes and figure out if this book is worth keeping.

First up was "boeuf á la mode," a supposed favorite of Thomas Jefferson.

His wife, Martha Jefferson, died before he became President. So, she was never First Lady. But the book did include a chapter about her and a few favorite recipes.

This dish is basically a pot roast. But the recipe I followed is quite different from the beef that Jefferson would have eaten. That recipe is included, but as is typical for the time, the original recipe is brief and missing details. The detailed recipe that I followed is perhaps more appealing to the era when the cookbook was published.

The beef is really good. It's flavored by bacon, brandy, and white wine. But one day I'll try the original recipe, which is flavored with lemons and wine.

I'm not going completely in order, so my next dish was "beggar's pudding," a favorite of John Adams.

This cake-like dessert is made of bread, sugar, and currants. It's not overly sweet and is very moist. I baked this dish with white bread, which kept it cake-like. However, I don't really like white bread, so it was annoying to use the remaining half-loaf for sandwiches and such. I wonder how this dish would turn out with whole grain bread.


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