Current Editor: Cynthia D. Bertelsen
|Issue 4||Spring 2003|
As we look forward to spring and the planting of vegetable gardens or purchasing fresh vegetable at the local farmer's markets, let us look at how greens were prepared as reflected in several early cook books.
People have been eating salads since the time of classical Greece. Tudor salads were edible art, with primroses, violets, and marigolds in among the greens. When William Byrd promoted the Virginia colony, he listed salad makings as three kinds of lettuce, two of garlic, several of cabbage and cucumbers, radishes, and many; suitable herbs.
Many salad ingredients were thought to have healing properties. Herbalists promoted the medicinal qualities of raw salad vegetables and herbs - "Whole nations of meat eaters had become heavy, dull, unactive, and much more Stupid than plant eaters who were more Acute, Subtil, and of deeper Penetration." Thomas Jefferson was avid about salads preferring them to most other foods. He grew many of the necessary ingredients in his Monticello gardens. He recommended endive for winter use, and also celery and spinach.
Greens recommended for the family:
Tops of Beets
Ideas for Serving Greens:
- Serve with butter, salt, pepper or a dash of vinegar or lemon juice and a lemon slice.
- Minced onion or garlic, grated nutmeg, prepared mustard, or horse-radish may be added during cooking, together with oil, butter, or bacon drippings.
- Add bacon or salt pork to dandelion and turnip greens. To serve, add a little brown sugar and vinegar. Garnish with hard-cooked egg slices.
- To collard greens, add a clove of garlic, celery salt, pepper, sugar, red pepper.
- Boil broccoli like asparagus. Lay in your dish, beat up with oil, vinegar, little salt. Garnish with nasturtium buds.
Books of Interest with Comments
- Weigley, E.S. (1977) Sarah Tyson Rorer: The Nation's Instructress in Dietetics and Cookery. Philadelphia, American Philosophical Society. (This book is available at the VT University Libraries: Q11 P612 v. 119)
- Mrs. Rorer was a champion of salads, advising that salad appear on the table of every well-regulated household 365 times a year. "Salad greens were nature's lubricant that purified the blood and cleaned the complexion. People who did not eat salads had pimples, blotches, liver marks, headaches, and biliousness. Most succulent vegetables are anti-scorbutic, especially cress, spinach, lettuce, chicory, cauliflower, endive and kale." (1915)
- Home Comfort Cook Book, (1946).
- If vegetables are wilted, soak for a few minutes in tepid water; wrapped them in a cloth, and store where they will be cold.
- Bryan, L. (1992, 1839). Kentucky Housewife. Columbia, SC, University of South Carolina Press.
- Poke Tops: "Poke tops or sprouts that put forth in the spring of the year are considered fine sallad by many people. Gather them when very young and tender, pick them carefully, pour boiling water on, and let them stand for an hour or two, to draw out the strong taste. Having ready a pot of boiling water in which a piece of bacon has been boiled till nearly done, put the poke in, and let it boil with the meat till it is tender. It will take but a short time to boil it sufficiently, as it is not good when boiled very soft. Serve it with the meat, drain it well, and have salt, pepper and vinegar to season it at table."
Turnip Sallad: "Cut the young, tender tops that shoot forth from the turnips in the spring, pick them carefully, as the under leaves are apt to have little roots and dry leaves sticking to them. Wash them clean in at least two waters, and if they have been gathered more than a few hours, soak them for an hour or two in fresh water, which will make them fresh and lively, and boil tender with greater facility. They should always be boiled with bacon, it being the only good way they can be prepared. Let your bacon be more than half done; have a good quantity of water; if they are boiled in a small quantity, they will be tough and yellow, and to put them in the water when it is cold, has the same effect. Having skimmed the pot, raise the bacon with a fork, put in the tops, lay the bacon on, and boil them till they will mash easily; then drain off the liquor, make them smooth in the dish, skin the bacon, lay it on the sallad, and send it up warm. Have salt, pepper and vinegar to season it at the table. It is a plain dish, but when well prepared, it is a very good one."
Dressing a Salad
In 1669, John Evelyn's receipt for salad dressing said to mash oil, vinegar, pepper, and mustard seed with a cannonball and add "squashed" hard-boiled egg yolks. Boiled dressings are considered more economical than gastronomical, but both of the ones in the Lee notebook, tangy with mustard and vinegar and with no filler, are a treat. Richard Hellmann bottled and sold the first commercial mayonnaise in the US in 1912.
- Randolph, M. (1846). Virginia Housewife: or Methodical Cook.Philadelphia, E. H. Butler.
(This book is available at the VT University Libraries: TX 715 R215 1846 &endash; Special Collections)
- To Dress Salad: To have this delicate dish in perfection, the lettuce, pepper grass, chervil, cress, &c. should be gathered early in the morning, nicely picked, washed, and laid in cold water, which will be improved by adding ice; just before dinner is ready to be served, drain the water from your salad, cut it into a bowl, giving the proper proportions of each plant; prepare the following mixture to pour over it: boil two fresh eggs ten minutes, put them in water to cool, then take the yelks in a soup plate, pour on them a table spoonful of cold water, rub them with a wooden spoon until they are perfectly dissolved; then add two spoonsful of oil: when well mixed, put in a teaspoonful of salt, one of powdered sugar, and one of made mustard; when all these are united and quite smooth, stir in two table spoonsful of common, and two of tarragon vinegar; put it over the salad, and garnish the top with the whites of the eggs cut into rings, and lay around the edge of the bowl young scallions, they being the most delicate of the onion tribe.
- Parloa, M. (1880). Miss Parloa's New Cook Book, a Guide to Marketing and Cooking. Boston, Estes.
(This book is available at the VT University Libraries: TX 715 P269 1880 &endash; Special Collections)
- Mayonnaise Dressing: A table-spoonful of mustard, one of sugar, one tenth of a teaspoonful of cayenne, one teaspoonful of salt, the yolks of three uncooked eggs, the juice of a half a lemon, a quarter of a cupful of vinegar, a pint of oil, and a cupful of whipped cream. Beat the yolks and dry ingredients, until they are very light and thick, with either a silver or wooden spoon, - or better still, with a Dover beater of second size. The bowl in which the dressing is made should be set in a pan of ice water during the beating. Add a few drops of oil at a time, until the dressing becomes very thick and very hard. After it has reached this stage, the oil can be added more rapidly. When it gets so thick that the beater turns hard, add a little vinegar. When the last of the oil and vinegar has been added, it should be very thick. Now add the lemon juice and whipped cream, and place on ice for a few hours, unless you are ready to use it. The cream may be omitted without injury.
Green Mayonnaise Dressing: Mix enough spinach green with mayonnaise sauce to give it a bright green color. A little finely chopped parsley can be added.
- Glasse, H. (1971). The Art of cookery made plain and simple (reprint of 1796 ed). Hamden, Conn., Archon Books.
(This book is available at the VT University Libraries: TX 645 G55 &endash; Newman stacks)
- Directions concerning Garden Things: Most people spoil garden things by over-boiling them. All things green should have a little crispness, for if they are over-boiled, they neither have any sweetness or beauty. (Glasse, p 35)
To dress Spinach: Pick it very clean and wash it in five or six waters; put it in a sauce-pan that will just hold it, throw a little salt over it, and cover the pan close. Do not put any water in, but shake the pan often. You must put your sauce-pan on a clear quick fire, As soon as you find the greens are shrunk and fallen on the bottom, and that the liquor which comes out of them boils up, they are enough. Throw them into a clean sieve to drain, and squeeze it well between two plates, and cut it in any form you like. Lay it in a plate, or small dish, and never put any butter on it, but put it in a cup.
Stewed Spinach and Eggs: Pick and wash your spinach very clean, put it into a sauce-pan, with a little salt; cover it close, shake the pan often; when it is just tender, and whilst it is green, throw it into a sieve to drain, lay it in your dish. In the mean time have a stew-pan of water boiling. Break as many eggs into cups as you would poach. When the water boils put in the eggs, have an egg-slice ready to take them out with, lay them on the spinach, and garnish the dish with orange cut into quarters, with melted butter in a cup.
- Bryan, L. (1992,1839). Kentucky Housewife. Columbia, SC, University of South Carolina Press.
- Spinach: After picking the spinach very carefully, wash it in several waters, drain it, throw it in a pot of boiling water, and boil it briskly for a few minutes; when it is tender, take it up, drain and squeeze out the liquor, put it in a sauce-pan, with a lump of butter, some salt and pepper; set it on coals, and chop and stir it constantly till ;nearly dry. Serve it warm, and make it smooth. P 205 Spinach with Eggs Having boiled the spinach by the preceding receipt, drain and press it well, put it in a sauce-pan, with sufficient butter, pepper and salt, to season it. Stir it till it becomes dry, or nearly so, and serve it up. In the meantime, having poached some eggs in the nicest manner, lay them over the top of the spinach, sprinkle over them a spoonful of hot vinegar, with a little black pepper, and send them up warm.
Stewed Spinach (Sinkler): Pick the spinach very clean, and wash it through 2 or 3 waters; then drain it and put it into a saucepan, with only the water that remains about it after the washing; add a very little salt and pepper, and let it stew for 20", or till it is quite tender, turning it often, and pressing it down with a broad wooden spoon on flat ladle; when done, drain it through a sieve, pressing out all the moisture, till you get it as dry as you can; then put it on a flat dish, and chop or mince it well; set it again over the fire; add to it some bits of butter dredged with flour and some beaten yolk of egg; let it simmer 5" or more and when it comes to a boil take it off; have ready some thin slices of buttered toast cut into triangular or 3 cornered pieces, without any crust; lay them in regular order round a flat dish, and heap the spinach evenly upon them smoothing the surface with the back of a spoon, and scoring it across in diamonds.
- Rutledge, S. (1979). The Carolina Housewife, (a facsimile of the 1847 edition). Columbia, University of South Carolina Press.
(This book is available at the VT University Libraries: TX 715 R975 1979 &endash; Newman stacks)
- Stewed Spinach: When your spinach is nicely picked and oiled, press it well in a cullender; then add some pepper and salt, a spoonful of fresh butter, and put it back in the skillet, and let it stew gently a little longer, adding a small teacup of sweet cream or, in its stead, a little beef or veal gravy.
- Parloa, M. (1880). Miss Parloa's New Cook Book, a guide to marketing and cooking. Boston, Estes.
(This book is available at the VT University Libraries: TX 715 P269 1880 &endash; Special Collections)
- Green Vegetables: All green vegetables must be washed thoroughly in cold water, and dropped into water, which has been salted and is just beginning to boil. There should be a tablespoonful of salt for every two quarts of water. The time of boiling green vegetables depends on how long they have been gathered. The younger and more freshly gathered, the more quickly they are cooked &endash; Spinach, 1 - 2 hours; Dandelion, 1 - 2 hours; Beets greens, 1 hour.
Nearly all these vegetables are eaten dressed with salt, pepper, and butter, but sometimes a small piece of lean pork is boiled with them, and seasons them sufficiently. Boil the spinach in salt and water until tender. Drain in the colander, and chop fine in the tray. Season well with pepper and salt. For each quart of the chopped spinach, put two tablespoonfuls of butter and one of flour in a frying pan. When this has cooked smooth, and before it has become brown, add the spinach. Stir for 5 minutes; then add half a cupful of cream or milk, and stir three minutes longer. Arrange in a mound on a hot dish. Garnish with a wreath of slices of hard-boiled eggs at the base, and finish the top with another wreath. Serve hot. Lettuce can be cooked and served in the same manner. It must be boiled about twenty minutes to be tender.
- Knox Gelatine: Dainty Desserts, Candies, Salads (1931)
- Spinach Salad: Many children refuse to eat vegetables, but when molded with gelatine they appeal to the child's fancy and they are delighted to eat the salads, which appear so attractive. Recipe: Soak gelatine in cold water. Dissolve in boiling water and add to hot spinach. Turn into a wet mold lined with hard-cooked egg cut in slices. Chill. When firm, unmold.
- Home Comfort Cook Book, (1946)
- Spinach: Wash spinach in several waters (until free from sand and insects). If fresh, place moist spinach in kettle without water. Cover closely and cook 6 minutes. If old, place it in _ to 1 cup of boiling water, cover closely and boil until tender. Drain. Put through colander or chop until fine. Season with salt, pepper and butter. Serve garnished with slices of hard-cooked egg.
Cream the chopped spinach by adding 3 tbsps. Butter, 2 _ tbsps. Flour and 1 cup rich milk, cream or stock to 1 _ cups spinach. Season with salt, paprika, nutmeg or minced onion. Stir and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Place chopped spinach in an equal amount of tomato sauce. Cook and stir until blended.
Buttered spinach is good served with canned or peeled grapefruit.
Spinach Juice used to Color Food
To make Gooseberry cream, (Glasse, p. 176) ..and when it is almost cold, put into it two spoonfuls of juice of spinach, and a spoonful of orange-flower water or sack; stir it well together, and put it into your bason
To make Whipt -- Syllabubs (Glasse, p. 178)
- Take a quart of thick cream, and half a pint of sack, the juice of two Seville oranges or lemons, grate in the peel of two lemons, half a pound of double-refined sugar, pour it into a broad earthen pan, and whisk it well, but first sweeten some red-wine or sack, and fill your glasses as full as you chuse, then as the froth rises take it off with a spoon, and lay it on a sieve to drain, then lay it carefully into your glasses till they are a full as they will hold. Do not make these long before you use them. Many use cyder sweetened, or any white wine you please, or lemon, or orange, into a quarter of a pint of milk, when the curd is hard, pour the whey clear of, and sweeten it to your palate. You may colour some with the juice of spinach, some with saffron, and some with cochineal, just as you fancy.
Blanc Mange (Glasse p. 150)
- Some moulds require colouring &endash; for an ear of corn, mix the yelk of an egg with a little of the blanc mange; fill the grains of the corn with it &endash; and when quite set, pour in the white, but take care it is not warm enough to melt the yellow: for a bunch of asparagus, colour a little with spinach juice, to fill the green tops of the heads. Fruit must be made the natural colour of what it represents. Cochineal and alkanet root pounded and dissolved in brandy, make good colouring; but blanc mange should never be served, without raspberry cream or syllabub to eat with it.
To Make Spinach Green (Parloa, p. 38)
- Wash a peck of spinach. Pour on it two quarts of boiling water. Let it stand one minute. Pour off the water, and pound the spinach to a soft pulp. Put this in a coarse towel and squeeze all the juice into a small frying-pan. (Two people, by using the towel at the same time, will extract the juice more thoroughly than one can.) Put the pan on the fire, and stir until the juice is in the form of curd and whey. Turn this on a sieve, and when all the liquor has been drained off, scrape the dry material from the sieve, and put away for use. Another mode is to put with the juice in the frying-pan three tablespoonfuls of sugar. Let this cook five minutes; then bottle for use. This is really the more convenient way. Spinach green is used for coloring soups, sauces, and creams.