Sunday, May 17, 2009
THE SPRING MENU (by Mrs. Sarah Moore)
"It is no new idea that vegetables and fruits should form a much larger part of the spring menu than is the general practice in most homes. Of all early vegetables, spinach is the most valuable. It is one of the first in the garden or market and one of the cheapest. Spinach furnishes little bodily energy, it is true, but it is so exceptionally rich in iron and in vitamins that it is especially recommended for children, and invalids as well as persons in normal health. While it is very easy to cook, most housewives do not serve it as often as they should. It is such a nuisance to prepare because it takes so much washing to free it from sand and grit. Now I find it easier and quicker to wash spinach in two pans than by the usual method of rinsing it in one. Cut off the roots, break the leaves apart and drop them into a big pan of water, rinse well and lift into a second pan of water. Do not pour off the first water over the spinach, or the dirt that has just been washed off will sift back over the leaves again. Continue washing first in one pan and then in another until there is not a trace of sand on the bottom of the pan. The number of times this will have to be done depends entirely on the original condition of the spinach.
Simple Dinner Menus for Spring
Cream of Onion Soup
Meat and Vegetable Pot-Pie
Spinach and Poached Eggs, or Spinach a la Marguerite with Bacon
Macaroni and Cheese
Lamb Pot-Pie, Fried Potatoes
Rhubarb Mince Pie
Steamed Cod with Egg Sauce
Baked Milk Toast with Strawberries
Stuffed Small Fish
Spinach with Egg Garnish
Broiled Haburg Steak
New Potatoes and Green Peas
Spinach Cooked Without Water. Fresh young spinach when washed will hold enough water to cook it in. Put the spinach in a tightly covered saucepan and cook for ten minutes. Press down and turn the spinach over several times during the process. Then turn the spinach into a chopping bowl and chop rather fine. Return to saucepan and add for every half peck of spinach two heaping tablespoonfuls of butter and a teaspoonful of salt and half a tablespoonful of vinegar also if desired. Then simmer for five minutes longer and serve. Spinach cooked in this way retains all its useful vegetable-salts and the flavor will be much better than when boiled in water. But when spinach is old and somewhat tough it needs to be cooked longer and so must have water put with it to keep from burning.
Spinach a la Marguerite. Cook spinach in its own juice, chop, season, and pile in a mound in the center of a platter. Decorate with hard-boiled eggs with the white cut in strips and arranged around the yolk like the petals of a daisy. Fry slices of bacon very crisp, and arrange around the edges of the platter.
Stuffed Small Fish. Clean and remove backbone from six small fish (porgies, butterfish, scup, trout, pickerel, etc. can be served in this way). Stuff them with breadcrumbs seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme, sage and chopped onion, moisten dressing with melted butter. Tie each fish or skewer with a steel skewer to hold it together. Cover with bits of butter and roast in the oven. Serve on platter decorated with parsley.
Spinach with Poached Eggs. Dandelion or beet-greens can also be served in this way. Boil and chop as usual, season with salt, pepper and vinegar and reheat, press into a dish and then invert this over a hot platter. Poach four or five eggs and place on top of spinach. The dish is used for a mold to give shape to the spinach.
Italian Spinach. Take enough cold boiled and well chopped spinach to fill a baking-dish. This is a delicious receipt for using cold spinach left from the day before. Season the spinach well with salt and pepper and a very little lemon-juice or vinegar. Place in the baking-dish and pour over it a sauce made from one cupful of milk, one tablespoonful of flour, one tablespoonful of butter and three tablespoonfuls of grated cheese, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper. Cover the top with buttered crumbs and place in the oven until the top is brown.
Shad-Roe and Cucumber Salad. Salt well one quart of boiling water, add two tablespoonfuls of vinegar, drop a good-sized shad-roe in this and simmer slowly from twenty minutes to half an hour, then drain and let cool. When the fish is cold, cut in small squares or thick slices, pour a little French dressing over this. When ready to serve, peel and slice a cucumber that has been kept on ice or in a cold place until crisp. Arrange this on lettuce-leaves and pile to shad-roe in the center of the dish and pour over it a little mayonnaise-dressing. This salad is also very good without the mayonnaise. Canned salmon or tuna-fish can also be used for this salad.
French Dressing. There are different ways of making this, but one of the simplest and best is to take two tablespoonfuls of salad-oil, stir in one scant tablespoonful of vinegar, more or less according to strength, add a saltspoonful of salt and a good dash of pepper (if red pepper is used be careful not to get in too much). If this rule is too sour for you, use less vinegar. Lemon-juice can be substituted for the vinegar, if preferred.
Strawberry Baskets. This is a very simple yet exceeding pretty way of serving strawberries and cream. The idea is a good one for strawberry-festivals, etc. Make some cup-cakes from your favorite receipt. When cold cut them in two crosswise and place the top piece bottom up on a dish and cut the lower section straight down in two portions. Whip and sweeten the desired quantity of cream. Place the small cut pieces of cake on top of the larger piece and fill between and around them with strawberries, partially covered with whipped cream.
Strawberry Sponge. One box of strawberries washed carefully, half a cupful of sugar sprinkled over them and then the berries mashed and rubbed through a sieve. Soak two tablespoonfuls of gelatine in half a cupful of water until dissolved, boil half a cupful of sugar and one cupful of water to a syrup, add to gelatine, and cool. Add juice of half a lemon, berry-pulp and the white of three eggs beaten very stiff, beat all together until it begins to thicken, pour into a mold or glass dish and set in the refrigerator until hard. Serve with whipped or plain cream.
Rhubarb Pudding. This is best made of the red-skinned rhubarb that comes earliest in the spring. Wash but do not peel this rhubarb unless it is big and coarse, cut it into half-inch pieces – there should be enough to fill two cups. Take the same quantity of stale bread cut into dice, and sprinkle a layer of this in the bottom of a baking-dish and sprinkle little bits of butter over it, over this place a layer of the rhubarb and sprinkle lavishly with sugar and grate a little nutmeg on it, then another layer of bread and bits of butter or substitute, and so on until the dish is filled to the top, having the top layer bread. Separate two eggs, beat yolks, add one half cupful of sugar and two cupfuls of milk and pour over pudding. Bake slowly one hour. When the pudding is done, beat the white of eggs, add two tablespoonfuls of sugar and brown in the oven.
Strawberry Pie. Make a rich pie-crust and line a pie-plate with it and bake in a quick oven. When done fill with strawberries that have been cut in half and well-sugared. Beat the white of two eggs very stiff, add two tablespoonfuls of sugar, spread over the pie and brown in the oven. This pie is delicious served either hot or cold. If preferred, the strawberries can be baked between two crusts in the usual way and the pie served with cream.
Rhubarb Mince Pie. Take enough rhubarb to jmake two cupfuls when finele chopped, mix with this three large soda-crackers rolled fine, half a teaspoonful of salt and one cupful of sugar and one tablespoonful of butter. This is enough for three small pies. When each pie-dish is filled add a tablespoonful of water before putting on the crust.
Mint Potatoes. A sprig of fresh mint put in the kettle while boiling new potatoes gives them a very refreshing flavor.
Strawberry Tapioca. Soak two-thirds of a cupful of pearl tapioca overnight in enough water to cover, or use minute tapioca that needs no soaking. Put in a double boiler and add half a teaspoonful of salt and two and one-quarter cupfuls of boiling water and cook until the water is all absorbed. Then add two cupfuls of strawberries or other fruit (fresh or canned) and cook until the tapioca is transparent and the fruit soft. Serve with cream or milk or strawberry-sauce.
Strawberry-Sauce. This sauce can be used for all sorts of puddings, boiled rice, etc. Put three tablespoonfuls of butter in a hot bowl and work until creamy, add slowly, while stirring, one cupful of confectioner’s sugar. Take two-thirds of a cupful of strawberries and add to the sugar and butter one at a time, beating until all are well blended. If the strawberries are added two fast the sauce will look curdled. Serve on a glass dish.
Baked Milk Toast With Strawberries. Cut slices of bread medium thick, trim off the crusts, toast it light-brown on both sides and then butter it. Lay the slices in an oven-glass dish or baking-dish in which it is to be served, sprinkling each slice with a little powdered sugar. Pour over this as much milk as the dish will hold. Cover and bake in the oven for twenty minutes. Have ready two or three cupfuls of strawberries (according to the size of the dish of toast), mash them slightly and sweeten with sugar. When the toast comes from the oven, put the strawberries between the slices. Decorate the top with whole strawberries and serve at once. Try this and see how good it is. If you can use thin cream instead of milk, the dish will be all the better."
(from Needlecraft, May 1922).