Mor Monsen’s Kaker-Norwegian Christmas Cookies

plate of mor monsen’s kaker (my mother’s cake)

 

I took the winter off from college in 1973, to work at Big Mountain Ski Resort in Whitefish, Montana.  In my small studio apartment’s kitchen there, I first made these incredible bars, which are known for gracing Norwegian Christmases.

The Culinary Excellence of Scandinavia

Scandinavian baking is in a class all its own.  These people are known to be masters of pastry as well as open-face sandwiches-often incorporating cardamom, rye, and saffron in their creations.   Presently, their culinary genius has reached new heights: numerous times in this past decade, Noma of Copenhagen has been the title winner of The World’s Best Restaurant; it promotes the popular New Nordic cuisine, which is a style of food that has gone beyond the boundaries of Scandinavia.

New Nordic Cuisine

New Nordic is best known by the terms local and healthy.  In Norway, with a growing season that might last from June until August, it creatively uses the ocean, wild game, root vegetables, and cold-climate berries, such as the native cloudberry, which is highly valued in this country, as it can only be foraged, not cultivated commercially.

My simple, rich recipe exemplifies the culinary excellence of Norway; these lavish bars only call for currants and almonds, amidst the flour, eggs, sugar, and typical pound of butter.

The Origin of Currants

Currants have an interesting history.  Today, these small dried seedless grapes, known as Zante currants, essentially come from the grape cultivar Black Corinth (Vitis vinifera), which is from the genus Ribes.  Related varieties, such as the White and Red Corinth (and other cultivars from the Black Corinth), are used rarely.

There are a total of about 150 categories in Ribes, including the above, as well as golden currants, gooseberries, and ornamental currants.  These various kinds are native to the northern latitudes of Europe, Asia, and North America, and within each individual species there are many cultivars-horticulturally derived plants as distinguished from natural varieties-which have been developed over time.

Currants, which are most commonly dried, are generally referred to as Champagne grapes, when sold fresh, by U.S. specialty grocers.

Historical Background of Currants

The study of the origin of the word currant helps identify the history of our tiny fruit.  Written records of it initially date back to Pliny the Elder in 75 A.D.  A millennium later, we see the Middle English term raysons of couraunte, also known as raisins of Corinth (a region in ancient Greece which produced and exported these Ribes).

The word couraunte stands for (raisins of) Corinth, taken from the name Courauntz, which is of the Norman French dialect-a variety of speech used in Normandy and England in the Middle Ages-for this Greek region; this in turn comes from the medieval Old French Corinthe; thus, the dialectal name reysons de corauntz was first used for these grapes, when they were brought to the English market in the 14th century, from which the word currants eventually evolved.

In the 1600’s trade patterns shifted from Corinth to the Ionian Islands, particularly Zakynthos (Zante); thus, this small grape became known as Zante currant.

Currants in America

In 1854, the Zante currant the Black Corinth cultivar came via a trade ship to the United States, which eventually resulted in its commercial production in California; the related varieties the White and Red Corinth were established there in 1861.  (Presently, this state is one of the four major world producers of currants, with Greece covering about 80% of this total generation.)

Actually, trade ships were bringing varieties of Ribes to our soil as early as the 16th and 17th century; natural Corinth raisins, however, were indigenous here as well; the Native Americans had been harvesting them from the wild, long before any Europeans arrived, using them for medicines and dyes.

These Zante currants,  which were initially reported at the time of Christ, are presently hard to find.  In earlier days, I could find boxes of dried currants in many local supermarkets, but recently I can only find them in bulk at such upscale grocers as the national chain New Seasons, which also carries the seasonal, fresh Champagne grapes.

Try adding this dried delight to your next Waldorf salad, a batch of scones (see Scottish Oat Scones), or these superb Norwegian Christmas cookies.  Expect wonders!

References:

https://ag.umass.edu/sites/ag.umass.edu/files/fact-sheets/pdf/currants.pdf

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zante_currant

https://1historyofgreekfood.wordpress.com/2007/10/02/raisins-currants-sultanas/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/best-scandinavian-cookbooks_us_5756c7e2e4b07823f951302c

http://www.cookingbythebook.com/cookbook-reviews/cookbook-review-scandinavian-baking-by-trine-hahnemann/

cutting bars in triangles

Mor Monsen’s Kaker-Norwegian Christmas Cookies  Yields: 4 dozen bars.  Total prep time: 60 min/  active prep time: 30 min/  baking time: 30 min.   Note: these freeze extra well, to have on hand throughout the holidays.

1 lb plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

2 c sugar  (Organic is best; available at Costco and Trader Joe’s.)

4 lg eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 c flour  (Bob’s Red Mill organic unbleached white flour is ideal; may also grind 1-1/3 c organic soft winter white wheat berries to make 2 c fresh-ground flour.)

distributing currants on dough

1 tsp salt  (Real Salt is important for optimum health; available in nutrition center at local supermarket.)

3/4 c almonds, chopped small (May purchase almond slivers for easy chopping.)

1 c dried currants

A large 11” x 16” cake pan*, or a 12” x 16” jelly roll pan  (May use a 9” x 11” pan, in addition to a 9” x 9” square pan.)

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Grease pan-see optional sizes listed above-with 2 tbsp butter; set aside.
  3. Cream pound of butter with sugar, until light and fluffy, using an electric mixer.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition; mix in vanilla.
  4. distributing almonds on top of currants

    Blend flour and salt easily, by shaking vigorously in a sealed gallon-size storage bag; then, add this to butter mixture, beating only until all is incorporated, to keep cookies from toughening; set aside.

  5. Chop almonds fine with a sharp knife, or use a food processor, by repeatedly pressing down on the pulse button, cutting any big chunks in half with a sharp knife.  Set aside.
  6. Spread batter evenly on greased pan; sprinkle surface FIRST with currants; see photo in list of ingredients; then, distribute almond pieces over the top of these; see photo above.  Press nuts and currants down into batter slightly with fingers, so they are embedded; see photo below.  (This keeps them from falling off the baked bars in crumbles.)
  7. Bake for 20-35 minutes, or until golden brown, time varies with pan-size.
  8. While bars are still hot-using an 11” x 16” pan-cut 4 rows across the width and 6 rows across the length; then, cut these squares in half; see photo of cutting technique at top of recipe.  (Amount of rows may vary with differing pan

    pressing almonds and currants into dough, to embed them before baking

    sizes.)

  9. These freeze really well, to have on hand throughout the holidays.  They are a treat!

1880’s Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies

Ozark honey-oatmeal cookies

Here we will look at the detailed history of shortening and the background of early cook books in America, including Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, 1880; this cook book gives us these delicious Ozark honey-oatmeal cookies.

Early American Cook Books

My library holds many old cook books, some copyrighted in the 1800’s; I also have a number of facsimiles, exact reproductions of the originals.  These latter aren’t considered costly with collectors, but are highly valuable to me, with their precise historical evidence required for my work.

A number of these republications help me with my need for early U.S.A. food history.  For instance one illuminates the 18th century: American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons; this was the first truly U.S. cook book, with such strictly American dishes as Indian pudding, Indian slapjack (pancakes), and johnnycake (flat corn cakes).  1

All early cook books, that were published on our soil, prior to this 1796 publication, were actually reprints of English cook books, none of which contained American ingredients such as: cranberries, clams, cornmeal, shad (fish of the genus Alosa), terrapin (turtles), etc.  2

Interestingly, recipe books were not in demand in our young country, where rivaling colonial plantations jealously guarded their family’s treasured receipts, and rich city dwellers adhered to their individual Old World cooking traditions.  (See Ropa Vieja, for more on the development of American cuisine.)  3

Washburn-Crosby Co. Publishes Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book

In a recent cooking class, I taught Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies from one of my facsimiles: the Silver Dollar City Edition of Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which Washburn-Crosby Co. published in Boston originally, in 1880.  Its facsimile was issued at an unknown date during the 20th century, by General Mills, the successor to Washburn-Crosby Co.  Access the fascinating history of Maria Parloa and her cook books, these two flour mills, and this period cuisine at my following entries: 1800’s Escalloped Salmon1880’s Minced Cabbage, and 1880’s Philadelphia Clam Chowder.  4

The History of Shortening

These cookies call for shortening; its definition is fat used in cooking, made from animal, vegetable, or compound manufactured substances.  Examples of the latter are margarine, discovered in France in 1869, and Crisco, which is a hydrogenated vegetable oil, created in America in 1911; Crisco usually comes to mind when shortening is mentioned today.  5

The term shortening, however, first surfaced in the early half of 18th century; it is considered to be American.  As far as cook books are concerned, it appeared in several of Amelia Simmons’ recipes in American Cookery, 1796, such as johnnycake and “another plain cake”, though she doesn’t define the word shortening, which for her purposes probably meant butter or lard.  6

In the April 6, 1892 edition, the New York Times promoted Cottolene, as a “New Shortening…a vegetable product far superior to anything else for shortening and frying purposes”.  This, the first hydrogenated vegetable oil, was primarily used as a cooking medium, in some households.  7

In June of 1911, Procter and Gamble began selling hydrogenated cottonseed oil, as Crisco (short for “crystallized cottonseed oil”); they discovered this shortening in their quest to generate a raw material for soap, through a technique that had its origins in 1897 France.  8

Because of an intense promotional campaign, it became the first popular national shortening product of its kind (this ingredient is extremely prevalent in 20th century recipes).  To this day, Crisco remains the best known brand for this item in the U.S.; there are other well-known brands in a number of other countries.  9

Healthy Ingredients in Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies

These Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies allow for a healthy means to satisfy our sweet tooth, for they are made with such powerful foods as: organic oats, semi-sweet chocolate chips, organic raisins, unsweetened coconut flakes, pumpkin seeds, nuts, raw honey, etc.  In place of required refined sugar, I use the healthy alternative coconut sugar.

The recipe, from this 1880’s cook book, calls for shortening, which probably referred to either butter or lard initially, though those baking from its facsimile, in the 20th century, would have used then popular Crisco.  I leave this choice up to you.

This recipe is easy to make and is extremely good!  Enjoy.

References:

  1. Facsimile of Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, 1796 (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1965), pp. 57, 58.
  2. Esther B. Aresty, The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964), pp. 183-186.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Silver Dollar City Edition of Maria Parloa, Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Minneapolis: Washburn-Crosby Co., 1880); this facsimile was reproduced by General Mills at an unknown date  in the 20th century.
  5. http://www.foodtimeline.org/shortening.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shortening
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.

mixing oatmeal into dough in stages

1880’s Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies  Adapted from a recipe in General Mills’ 20th century Special Silver Dollar City Edition of Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, originally published in 1880.  Yields: 4 1/2 dozen.  Total prep time: 1 hr.

1 3/4 cup flour  (May grind 1 1/3 cups organic hard red spring wheat berries, a berry with a high protein content; this makes 2 cups of flour.  (BE SURE to remove 1/4 cup of flour, after it is ground, for the required 1 3/4 cup.)

1/2 c butter, or shortening

1 1/4 c sugar  (Coconut sugar has the most health benefits; see The Best Zucchini Bread for details.)

2 lg eggs

1/3 c honey

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/5 lbs.)

2 c oats  (Organic is only slightly more expensive; so much healthier.)

1/3 c unsweetened coconut flakes  (Available inexpensively in bulk at our local Winco.)

1/3 c pumpkin seeds

1/3 c nuts, chopped

1/3 c raisins  (Organic is important; available reasonably at Trader Joe’s.)

1/2 c chocolate chips  (High quality, semi-sweet chocolate chips are available at Trader’s.)

Parchment paper, wax paper, and 2 cookie sheets

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. If grinding your own flour, begin to do so now.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar with a fork; beat in eggs, one at a time; blend in honey.
  4. shaping dough in rough rounds

    Stir salt and baking soda into flour, in another large bowl.  (Instead, may place these ingredients in a sealed gallon-size storage bag and shake vigorously.)

  5. Mix this flour mixture into the shortening/sugar/eggs; do not over beat the dough, as this makes cookies tough.
  6. Stir coconut, pumpkin seeds, nuts, chocolate chips, and raisins into this mixture, distributing evenly.
  7. Mix half the oats into this dough gently; then, add other half (see photo at top of recipe); stir with a large rubber spatula or spoon, just until blended.
  8. Using a teaspoon, drop dough 2 inches apart on parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet, shaping rounds roughly with fingers, as you go (see above photo).
  9. Place pan in preheated oven for about 9-10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  10. Meanwhile, start shaping dough-rounds on a second parchment-lined pan.
  11. When first pan is done, immediately start baking this second pan.
  12. cookies baked to perfection

    Cool baked cookies on cookie sheet for 2 minutes (see photo).   Remove and place them on a large piece of wax paper.

  13. Using a new piece of parchment paper, prepare the third pan of cookies, to be ready for the oven as soon as second batch is done (pans should be cool before spooning dough on them-may place them in the refrigerator).  Repeat until all the dough is used.
  14. These freeze well, to have on hand for healthy snacks.

1880’s Minced Cabbage

cooked minced cabbage

Gold Medal Flour, Betty Crocker and Miss Parloa all had their beginnings in Washburn-Crosby Co.  Along with last week’s post on escalloped salmon, I discovered this elegant minced cabbage in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which was originally published in 1880 by Washburn-Crosby Co.

Its successor General Mills reprinted this same worthy account in the twentieth century.  This latter company, however, is better known for publishing recipe books under the pseudonym Betty Crocker, who never existed, unlike our illustrious 19th century writer Maria Parloa.

In 1921, before the above transfer of title, Washburn-Crosby was first to use the name “Betty Crocker”.  This came as a result of their being inundated with 30,000 entries, in a contest promoting their Gold Medal flour.

Many of these participants asked questions concerning baking.  Washburn-Crosby discerned that the replies would hold more influence if signed by a woman; thus, the inspiration for this sham Betty Crocker, which was derived from the surname of a retired company director.

General Mills continued in this tradition, after it was created in 1928, when it began merging Washburn-Crosby with 26 other U.S. flour-milling companies.  This, then the world’s largest flour mill, initially portrayed this fictitious authority photographically, in 1936, as a gray-haired home-maker.  Her image was frequently revised throughout the last century, as Betty Crocker was used as a major brand name for their various products.  (See more history at my 1880’s Clam Chowder-2017/01/30-1880’s Escalloped Salmon-2017/04/17-and 1880’s Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies-2017/10/30.)

It is jarring when we learn the falsehood of long accepted traditions, like the authenticity of this established person, for truth is fundamental to our stability.  We implicitly search for verity in all things, cooking included.

Rejoicing occurs when a good source for teaching the basics is found, such as those required for food preparation, as well as the execution of life; I hope you will discover these fundamentals present in my writings.

May you come to rely on my receipts, preparing them with the ease with which they are intended.  They may look lengthy at times; this is because I spell out shortcuts with care, for in a sense my blog is like going to cooking school.  Quickly you learn my simple, creative techniques, thus gaining the ability to follow my recipes adeptly.

This effortless minced cabbage comes with the height of freedom.  Enjoy!

References:

  1. Silver Dollar City Edition of Maria Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Laurait, 1880); this facsimile was published at an unknown date during the 20th century.
  2. James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), pp. 434, 456, 488.
  3. http://www.pbs.org/food/the-history-kitchen/who-was-betty-crocker/
  4. https://foodimentary.com/2012/03/24/a-history-of-betty-crocker-the-woman-who-never-was/
  5. http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/general-mills-inc-history/

chopping cabbage in a food processor

1880’s Minced Cabbage  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 25 min.  This is adapted from a recipe in General Mills’ Special Silver Dollar City Edition (copyright date unknown) of Maria Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, (Boston: Estes and Laurait, 1880).

Note: this can be made ahead and reheated just before serving.

1 1/2 lb green cabbage

2 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is ideal for quality and flavor here; avocado oil is also good; olive oil is carcinogenic when heated to high temperatures.)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp flour

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (I prefer a coarse salt here, such as a kosher salt or Trader Joe’s coarse sea salt. )

  1. Chop cabbage either by hand, or more quickly, by using the slicing attachment to a food processor.  If using a food processor, cut cabbage in pieces that will fit in its feeder tube (see above photo).  Set aside.
  2. Heat oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan, in which you have placed a small piece of cabbage.  When it sizzles, add rest of cabbage, and stir well to evenly distribute oil; cook until vegetable is limp, stirring frequently.  Meanwhile go to next step.
  3. cooking roux

    Make roux in a small sauté pan: melt butter over medium heat, add flour, and stir with a wire whisk.  Cook  until mixture is a light brown, about 2 minutes; remove from heat and set aside (see photo).

  4. When cabbage is soft, add salt, and stir well.
  5. Blend roux into vegetable, cook until consistency of cabbage is somewhat thickened, stir continually.
  6. When done, remove from heat.  May serve immediately, or better yet, make ahead, and reheat just before serving.  When it sits, cabbage juices form in pan; as you reheat it, stir in juices and loosened fond, which is obtained by scraping these caramelized pan drippings and browned bits off bottom of pan, using a wooden or plastic cooking spatula.  This adds great flavor!  (See top photo for finished product.)

1880’s Escalloped Salmon

ingredients for escalloped salmon

Maria Parloa blessed us with a recipe for escalloped fish in Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, which Washburn-Crosby Co. published in 1880.  This company’s successor General Mills brought her proven receipts back to America, by republishing them in their Special Silver Dollar City Edition of this book, at an unknown date during the twentieth century.

Both these companies are known for their production of Gold Medal flour, which they successively produced; thus, this product has been on the market for nearly two and a half centuries.  (For more details on Miss Parloa, Washburn-Crosby Co., General Mills, and 19th century American cooking, see 1880’s Clam Chowder-2017/01/30, 1880’s Minced Cabbage-2017/04/24, and 1880’s Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies-2017/10/30.)

This 19th century cook book was one of many written by Maria Parloa, who was an important figure in the gastronomical world of her day.  She taught an abundance of classes at her own two schools, as well as the Boston Cooking School, the home of Fannie Farmer’s Boston Cooking School Cook Book, which was forerunner to the renowned Fanny Farmer Cook Book.

In Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book, Parloa shared modern techniques and included 93 “essential” utensils for the kitchen, which boasted of such items as an apple corer, melon mold, and squash strainer.  Her writings catered to the affluent, for she recommended that a dinner for twelve need cost no more than $25, this at a time when an unskilled worker made about $1 per day.

In this book’s preface, the author’s desire for clear, complete, and concise directions is set forth, but these are vague compared to our present standards.  Her instructions, however, have far greater detail than those in many of the contemporary cook books of her day.

This recipe called for five pounds of fish, that which was normally required to sustain a family of six at the main, mid-day meal; by contrast, this same amount provided for twelve guests at a dinner party, as these hospitable affairs were always profuse in delectable dishes.  My directive only calls for one pound of salmon for four people in this creamy recipe, because this is a rich food for our relatively sedentary bodies; in these former days people were highly active, requiring many more calories than we do today.

As with this outmoded receipt, things call for adaptation; we must learn to adjust to the essential needs of any given time.  Our living God perpetually covers us in all instances of unforeseen change, bringing healthy modification, if we ask believing.  At times this process is slow; thus, patience is critical for success.

This is a joyful race we are running; nothing is too difficult for us!  We simply align our hearts to the “recipe” our Father is dictating at each turn, purposing to not be alarmed when our five pounds of fish becomes one pound, or with equal intention, staying calm when it reverses back to five pounds.

Recently I enjoyed escalloped salmon with friends that I hadn’t seen for a long time; our reunion was marked with excellence in both fellowship and food.  This dish is a winner for special occasions, especially when served with next week’s entry, teaching Miss Parloa’s minced cabbage.

References:

Special Silver Dollar City Edition of Maria Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1880); this was published by General Mills at an unknown date during the 20th century.

James Trager, The Food Chronology (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1995), p. 310.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Parloa

https://www.lib.umich.edu/blogs/beyond-reading-room/happy-172nd-birthday-miss-parloa

Click to access c2500.pdf

 

baked escalloped salmon

1880’s Escalloped Salmon  Yields: 4 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 15 min/  active prep time: 45 min/  baking time: 30 min.  This is adapted from a recipe in General Mills’, 20th century Silver Dollar City Edition of Maria Parloa’s Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1880).

Note: this may be prepared ahead of time following steps 1-8; when doing so, reheat this refrigerated dish for a total of 1 hr before serving.  The original recipe calls for white fish; I, however, find this exceedingly bland in flavor, where salmon is perfect.

1/4 c bread crumbs  (May purchase ready-made, or grind 2 slices of stale bread in a dry food processor.  Make extra, as these freeze well; for stale bread, leave pieces out for about 8 hours.)

1-1 1/2 lb salmon fillet  (A minimum of 1 lb is needed if fillet is boneless and skinless, more if there are bones and skin.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is best for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/1b.)

1 c whipping cream  (Heavy whipping cream is best health wise.)

1/8 c water

1 tbsp flour

1/8 tsp white pepper, or to taste

Steamed rice, cooked according to directions on package

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. If salmon fillet is large, cut in pieces that will fit in a 3-quart saucepan.  Place in pan and cover with salted water (add 1/2 tsp salt); bring to a boil over medium heat.  Cook until center of thickest part of salmon is opaque, when pierced with a fork.  Saving broth, remove fish from liquid and cool.  Reduce broth to about 1/4 c over high heat.
  3. If preparing your own bread crumbs, grind 2 pieces or more of stale bread in dry food processor, pressing pulse button repeatedly until crumbs are fine.  Set aside 1/4 c-freeze extras.
  4. Heat cream over medium heat in a small saucepan, only until a soft boil is formed, stirring frequently; watch carefully.  As soon as it comes to a bare boil, reduce heat to med/low.
  5. While heating cream, dissolve flour in water.  With a wire whisk, stir flour mixture into softly boiling cream, to which you have added 2 tbsp of reduced broth; cook until sauce is thick, beating frequently.  Season with 1/2 tsp salt and white pepper.  Taste and adjust seasonings; set aside.
  6. Start rice, following directions on package (wait if you are preparing salmon ahead).
  7. Butter a small, 1-quart baking dish; place a light layer of sauce in bottom of dish.
  8. Skin and carefully debone fish, placing bite-size pieces in baking dish on top of layer of cream, as you debone it.  When all the salmon is thus prepared, press down on fish to make compact; cover the top with the remaining cream sauce.  (If you are making this ahead of time, place dish in refrigerator; in which case an hour-twice as long- will be needed to bake cold fish; start rice when you place refrigerated salmon in oven.)
  9. Just before placing this in oven, spread bread crumbs on top of sauce.  If a skim has formed on top of cream, gently break apart with a spoon; this makes surface wet again, so crumbs can stick.  Then bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven; all the flavors will meld.
  10. Serve with 1880’s Minced Cabbage, which is next week’s entry.

1880’s Philadelphia Clam Chowder

mincing clams

mincing optional fresh razor clams

My great clam chowder is adapted from a recipe in the General Mill’s 20th century Special Silver Dollar City Edition of Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book; this reproduced cookbook was originally published in 1880, by Washburn Crosby Co., the makers of Gold Medal flour.  (This collection also includes my all-time favorite oatmeal/chocolate chip cookie, which I will share at a later date.)

I have enlarged upon this 19th century method of making this dish, by adding such flavor/texture enhancers as garlic, onion, celery, and unpeeled potatoes.  Miss Parloa calls her receipt Philadelphia clam chowder.  It introduces the technique of straining the clams, thus lending a delicate touch to the fish soup.  I am not a big fan of clam chowder, but I love this because of its mellowness, resulting from the removal of the clam juice.

There is much to be said about the distinctive flavors of shellfish and fish.  Harold McGee shares this apt science in his excellent treatise On Food and Cooking.  He teaches why ocean and freshwater creatures vary so greatly in taste, the former having a much stronger bite.

Ocean water is about 3% salt by weight, while the optimum level of all dissolved minerals inside of animal cells is less than 1%.  Consequently ocean creatures need to balance this substantial salt mineral, that they are breathing in and swallowing; they do this with amino acids, amines, and urea, which their bodies produce.  1

Behold, these substances have different flavors!  For example the amino acid glycine is sweet, while glutamic acid is savory; shellfish are especially rich in these and other amino acids.  Unlike shellfish, finfish rely heavily on the amine TMAO (trimethylamine oxide) for processing salt, which is largely tasteless.  Sharks, skates, and rays make ready the salt water with a slightly salty and bitter urea. However, this urea and the amine TMAO are converted into the stinky substance TMA (trimethylamine), by bacteria and fish enzymes in these dead, ocean-dwelling fish; thus, after they are killed, their meat tastes and smells powerfully bad with age, while that of their freshwater relatives doesn’t.  Note: our kitchen-cleanser ammonia is made from TMA.  2

Freshwater fish have a gentler effect on our taste buds, because the water they live in is actually less salty, than that of their cells; therefore, they do not need to accumulate these pungent amino acids, amines, or urea, which their ocean-dwelling cousins require to process the dissolved mineral salt.  3

You can see that different shellfish and fish supply our mouths with unique experiences.  Seawater varieties use a diversity of amino acids, amines, and urea to balance the salt in their cellular systems; these differing substances boast of a wide variety of powerful tastes.  Their freshwater counterparts, which don’t require these salt equalizers, are bland by comparison.

Miss Parloa counters the strong flavor of clam chowder by straining the clams, removing their excess liquid, which has an abundance of the above mentioned amino acids.  (For more history on Miss Parloa and 19th century American cuisine, see 1880’s Escalloped Salmon-2017/04/17, 1880’s Minced Cabbage-2017/04/24, and 1880’s Ozark Honey-Oatmeal Cookies-2017/10/30.)  I take this illustrious chef’s simple inspiration and provide an even richer experience, with additional textures and mouth-watering thrills.  You will like this delicious-yet mild-chowder!

References:

  1. Special Silver Dollar City Edition of Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1880).  This reproduction of Marie Parloa’s cookbook was published by General Mills at an unknown date during the 20th century.
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984, 2004), pp. 188.
  3. Ibid., p. 188.
  4. Ibid., p. 189.

Philadelphia Clam Chowder  Adapted from a recipe in General Mill’s 20th century Special Silver Dollar City Edition of Maria Parloa’s  Miss Parloa’s New Cook Book (Boston: Estes and Lauriat, 1880).

Yields: 8 servings.  Total prep time: 1 hr & 30 min/  active prep time: 30 min/  cooking time: 1 hr.

Note: if you don’t have large enough pots for the makeshift double boiler-see below photo and directions-just cook the soup over direct heat; this, however, may cause it to separate some, but this last option will reduce the cooking time.

1 tbsp oil  (Coconut or avocado oil is best; olive oil is carcinogenic at high temperatures.)

1 lg yellow onion, chopped

6 oz drained weight minced clams, or 3 strained 6.5 oz cans  (May use 6 oz fresh razor clams, chopped fine, see top photo.)

2 stalks celery, cut in 1/4″ dice

3 tbsp parsley, minced

1 lb potatoes, unpeeled, chopped in small 1/2″ pieces

5 lg cloves garlic, minced  (May use 3 cubes of frozen garlic from Trader Joe’s for easy prep.)

1 1/2 qt milk  (Whole milk is preferable, for both health and flavor.)

1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; an inexpensive, fine grind, Himalayan salt is available at Costco.)

1/2 tsp white pepper, or to taste

3 tbsp butter

3 tbsp flour

  1. make-shift double boiler

    make-shift double boiler

    Heat oil, over medium heat, in a 4-quart pot that will sit inside a slightly larger pot to make a double boiler; see photo.  (If you don’t have two large pots, cook the chowder over direct heat; cooking will be faster with this last option, however, the cream soup may separate some.)

  2. When a small piece of onion sizzles in oil, add the rest of the onions and sweat, cook until translucent.  Remove from heat when done.
  3. Fill larger pot 2/5’s full of hot tap water, cover, and bring to a boil over med/high heat.
  4. Spray celery, parsley, and potatoes with a safe, inexpensive, effective produce spray: fill a spray bottle with a mixture of 97% distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide.  After spraying vegetables, let sit for 3 minutes, rinse really well.
  5. Drain canned clams in a colander.  If using fresh razor clams, drain and chop fine (see top photo).
  6. Chop all vegetables and garlic; add to pot of cooked onions.
  7. Add milk, clams, salt, and pepper to the pan of vegetables.  Fit this smaller pan into the larger pot, so it sits above the boiling water (see photo).  Watch water level while cooking to make sure water doesn’t boil dry.  Cook chowder until potatoes are soft, about 50 minutes.  Note: if preparing over direct heat, bring soup to a near-or slight-boil over medium heat; lower heat and simmer until potatoes are soft.  This option will lessen the cooking time.
  8. Meantime make roux, by melting butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Add flour and stir constantly with a wire whisk.  Cook until light brown in color, about 2 minutes; set aside.
  9. When vegetables are soft, beat in roux with a big spoon; cook 5 more minutes, or until soup is thickened, stirring constantly.
  10. Adjust seasonings and serve.  May freeze leftovers; when you heat thawed chowder, however, it will be of a thinner consistency.  If desired, you may thicken with a small amount of roux-about 1 tbsp of melted butter cooked with an equal amount of flour-this amount will be adequate to thicken 4 leftover servings.
  11. I am passionate about this soup!

Serungdeng Kacang

serungdeng kacang

serungdeng kacang

The condiment serungdeng kacang first completed my varied dishes in the early 1980’s, when I was catering historical events in Billings, Montana.  In those days, I sought recipes that allowed me to offer thematic meals from diverse cultures and times. To my joy, I discovered a host of receipts from Indonesia; thus, I presented an Indonesian rijsttafel to my eager audiences.

A rijsttafel is a banquet of delicacies from this southeast Asian republic, formerly known at the Dutch East Indies.

Serungdeng kacang is a condiment for rice dishes in these ethnic feasts. My particular recipe comes from Java, one of the many islands in Indonesia. These coconut crumbs, spiced with onion and garlic, are spread liberally over the rice portions, in addition to a variety of other garnishes.

For me, serungdeng kacang has multiple, inventive benefits: it is compatible with Indian curries, acts as a delicious hors d’oeuvre, and-my favorite-provides the crowning touch to salads!

I always keep this enhancement to tossed greens on hand, by making a double batch and storing it in a sealed storage bag.  The beauty of this topping is it lasts a long time, if you are disciplined.

Prior to my doing this rijsttafel, I presented a gala event, a Moroccan affair, which was to  become one of my favorite memories in the history of my business; it best defines what my work entailed back then.

I loved to act in my youth and knew the Billings’ theatrical community well.  As an aside, actors often make a living in the restaurant business; they are adept at waiting tables.  Then my creative dinners needed both excellent service and improvisation.  An incredible fit was made with my Billings’ thespian friends; thus, I frequently employed them in my catered dramas.

My most treasured memory using this partnership was a fundraiser for the Billings’ Children’s Theatre, in which I presented an authentic Moroccan dinner, for a staged “Night at Rick’s Place”.  The five winning tickets, from those auctioned off-each with their three guests-were transported back to World War II in the theatre’s upstairs.

This large room had been converted into Rick’s Place, from the movie Casablanca.  It was furnished with a bar off to one side of the restaurant, while the dining room consisted of five tables of four, clothed with white linen.  The city’s leading actors peopled the bar scene. More of these, dressed in tuxedos, served the sumptuous meal to the unsuspecting partakers in this suspense.

Broadway arts resulted!  Numerous brawls took place in the bar; the Gestapo arrived; guests were pick-pocketed, and on and on.  Talk about fun.

My part was the researched African meal.  That afternoon, after weeks of cooking, I showed up for the final preparations in the theatre’s limited kitchen. Behold, the limits escalated upon my arrival, for the stove wasn’t working!

The true test of my creativity came.  Nevertheless, God’s grace broke through: makeshift occurred as a call went out and citizens brought in hot plates.  The event came off triumphantly, as I, in  Moroccan dress, told the innocent company the colorful history as each dish was served.

I repeated this dinner numerous times in my career, but this show never again reached the thrill of its original occurrence.  That night in “Casablanca” best exemplified what I did with my work then.

Now my food history presentations entertain larger audiences, but still guests participate in dinner theatre type events. They engage by eating authentic foods; I, dressed in period costume, narrate their careful stories.

Today my grand affairs mostly involve Northwest history, for which I was trained in graduate school.  However back in the 80’s and 90’s, I presented other cultures and times in my gala occasions.  Among these many thematic experiences was this Indonesian rijsttafel, from which today’s entry originated.

simple mincing of onion

simple mincing of onion

Serungdeng Kacang  Yields: 3 c.  Total prep time: 1 hr, plus 1 hr for cooling/ active prep time: 30 min/ cooking time: 30 min.

6 tbsp yellow onion, minced  (You will need a med/large onion; follow directions below for simple mincing-see photo.)

6 med/large garlic cloves, chopped fine

2 tbsp sugar  (Organic cane sugar is best; available at Trader Joe’s and Costco.)

1 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available inexpensively at Costco.)

1 tbsp oil  (Coconut oil is the best for flavor and quality here.)

2 c unsweetened coconut chips  (Available in bulk at our local Winco, or in a 12-ounce Bob’s Red Mill package at local supermarkets.)

1 c roasted, unsalted peanuts  (Also available at low cost in bulk at our local Winco.)

  1. An easy way to mince onion is to peel it, leaving the root on; next, score it by cutting slices close together across the top one way, going 3/4 of way down into the onion; then, turn it and cut slices the other direction.  After onion is prepared thus, shave the minced pieces off the end of it with a sharp knife (see photo).
  2. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
  3. Measure 6 tbsp of minced onion and place in a mortar; save rest of onion for other cooking.  With a pestle mash onions, garlic, sugar, and salt.  When this is a thick puree, set aside.  (See mortar and pestle in photo.)
  4. Place a piece of the coconut in oil; when it begins to turn brown, immediately lower temperature to med/low; oil is ready for cooking.  Meantime mix together coconut and onion mixture in a large bowl. Make sure coconut is completely coated.
  5. When oil is hot, add coconut mixture; mix well with spoon to evenly coat fruit with oil.
  6. Cook about 20 minutes (over med/low heat), or until golden brown in color and slightly wet, stirring every 5 minutes, so as not to burn.  Let it, however, cook for full 5-minute increments, without stirring; this allows for the coconut to brown.  As you stir it, carefully scrape bottom of pan with a spatula.
  7. When coconut is light golden brown, add the peanuts and cook for another 5 minutes; stir twice in this last 5-minute period.  Note: it will get a darker brown and drier, as it cooks more with the peanuts and then cools in the heat-retentive cast iron pan.
  8. Remove from heat and be sure to leave in skillet to cool; this completes the drying process.  (See top photo for finished product.)
  9. This lasts for months, kept in a sealed storage bag.

19th Century French Lemon Meringues a la Ude

Meringues a la Ude

meringues a la Ude

This is the third and final post on my simple 19th century French dinner.  These tart, gluten-free meringues a la Ude are a summer delight!  They are easy to prepare, though it takes about one hour of light labor; a child can follow these care-free steps of preparation.

These lemon meringues are effortless, because it’s another recipe from Louis Eustache Ude’s The French Cook, 1813; the lemon filling, however, is mine.  Ude also created the easy, delightful chicken a l’oignon of this series (see 2016/07/04).

This man’s incredible mind conceived elegant foods with the simplest preparations. His extraordinary talent placed him in the illustrious palace of King Louis XVI, before the fall of the monarchy; after his escape in 1795, he taught England his secrets.

Teaching young Nat how to cook.

teaching young Nate how to make meringues

I discovered this privileged information in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past  (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964).  This recipe is even easier for us today than it was for Ude’s followers, for we have the electric mixer to beat the egg whites!

Organic cane sugar works well for this receipt.  Nevertheless you may use regular refined cane sugar (C & H is a good brand.)

I tried to make the meringues with coconut sugar, which was a huge disaster. Sucanat, evaporated cane juice, doesn’t work either, as it is not fine enough to be incorporated in the beaten egg whites.  So stick with cane sugar, using either organic or regular.

19th century French costumeThis post includes a photo of my period costume for my 19th century French meals, which I wear when doing public events.  It is very beautiful, though it is quite bulky on me now, for I weighed 226 pounds when my costume designer fashioned it.

My Lord has healed my body and mind!  The result is a very voluminous dress on my small frame, which is joy unspeakable-health and more health!

 

Meringues a la Ude with Lemon Filling Adapted from a recipe in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964).  Yields: 1 dozen gluten-free meringues.  Total prep time: 1 3/4 hr/  active prep time: 1 hr/  baking time: 1 hr.

3 large egg whites (save 2 yolks for filling)

2 pinches salt

1 cup of sugar (Organic cane sugar is best; available in a 2 pound package at Trader Joe’s, or in a cheaper 10 pound bag at Costco.)

1/2 tsp lemon or orange extract, optional

  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
  2. Separate egg whites in a large bowl (save 2 yolks).  Add salt and beat the whites until quite stiff, using an electric mixer.
  3. Add sugar very slowly-a scant teaspoon at a time-keeping the beaters going constantly.  As whites get really thick, after about 3/4 cup of sugar is added, increase additions to 2 tablespoons at a time.  When all the sugar is incorporated, continue to beat for several minutes.  Mix in optional extract.
  4. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper; spoon egg whites on the paper in small mounds, about 2 1/2 inches long, in the shape of an egg.
  5. Bake for about 60-70 minutes, or until golden brown and rather sturdy.
  6. While warm, gently cut an indentation in the meringue with a small sharp knife.  Scooping delicately with your finger, make a hollow in each.
  7. Set aside and cool completely.
  8. Fill each meringue with lemon filling just before serving.

Lemon Filling (about 3 cups, enough for a dozen meringues)

3 medium organic lemons  (Regular lemons will have taste of pesticides.)

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar  (Organic cane sugar is best.)

1/4 tsp salt

2 cup cold water

2 large egg yolks

2 tbsp of butter

  1. Clean and zest lemons; juice and set aside.
  2. Mix cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium sauce pan.
  3. Add water; mix well with a wire whisk.
  4. Beat in egg yolks thoroughly.
  5. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly; continue boiling for 1 minute more, or until thickened.
  6. Add butter, lemon zest, and juice; blend well with whisk.
  7. Remove from heat. Cool in refrigerator, covering the top of filling with a piece of plastic wrap, once cool.
  8. Spoon filling into meringues just before serving.
  9. Serve open face.  The tart, yellow lemon filling shouts summer’s blessings!

Carrots au Beurre

Carrots-au-beurre

carrots au beurre

This three-part 19th century dinner, which started last week (see Chicken a l’Oignon and Lemon Meringues a la Ude), reflects the new Classic French cuisine.  This era in culinary history became popular as the Napoleonic age followed the French Revolution.  Then self-made men, following the example of Napoleon, rose in status and wealth.  They had to learn the ways of entertaining, or how to be amphitryons (hosts).

Cook books of the time reflected this non-aristocratic class’ needs, by giving such directions.  A forty-year lapse in the publication of cooking instructions, of any sort, existed prior to the beginning of this period.  One important recipe book, with the dawning of this new day, was Le Cuisinier, by A. Viard; it was published during the entire nineteenth century; its name, however, changed with each fresh political upheaval.

First printed in 1806, Le Cuisinier Imperial was named after the Emperor who loved classicism; Napoleon’s strong passion gave this new style of cooking its name Classic French cuisine.

The book’s title changed to Le Cuisinier Royal, when Louis XVIII became king in 1814.  Other name conversions reflected the politics of the century: it became Le Cuisinier National, at the time Louis Napoleon was elected President of the Republic; then, it went back to employing “Imperial”, when this man declared himself Emperor Napoleon III in 1852.  The cook book was known by Le Cuisinier National once again, when France became a republic in 1871; it has remained such; thus, this recipe for buttered carrots, taken from these pages, dates back two centuries.

In 1964, Esther Aresty documented the history of European and American cuisine in her account The Delectable Past, from which I got my above information. Here she improved on this delicious recipe from Le Cuisinier by pureeing this vegetable in a food mill.  I have augmented her outstanding method with easy, modernized, 21st century steps, utilizing a food processor.

You’ll be immensely pleased with this memorable dish; a comfort food of all comfort foods!

Carrots au Beurre  Adapted from a recipe in Esther B. Aresty’s  The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964).  Yields 4 servings.  Total prep time: 50 min./  active prep time: 20 min./  cooking time: 45 min.   Note: may make this the day before, as flavors are better the second day; double recipe for great leftovers.

½ cup pecan pieces

1 pound carrots  (Organic  carrots are very inexpensive.)

2 cups green beans  (Use either fresh or frozen;  excellent French-cut beans are available in Trader Joe’s freezer.)

1/4 cup whipping cream

2 tbsp butter

1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg, or to taste

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste  (Real Salt is best, available in health section of local supermarket.)

1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste

Butter or coconut spray  (Needed for oiling pan, if making ahead and refrigerating.)

  1. Preheat oven to 265 degrees. Roast pecans on a small cookie sheet for about 40 minutes, or until light brown, when piece is broken; set aside.
  2. Spray carrots with 97% distilled white vinegar mixed with 3% hydrogen peroxide, an inexpensive effective produce spray; let sit three minutes; rinse thoroughly; scrape with a sharp knife (scraping, as opposed to peeling, saves the vitamins which are just under the skin).  Cut into 1 inch pieces; if the carrot piece is thick, cut it in half.
  3. Cover cut vegetable with water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil over medium/high heat, lower heat to medium, and cook until soft.
  4. Meantime steam green beans in a medium saucepan.  (If you are making carrots ahead, prepare green beans during last half hour of  the reheating of carrot dish in oven.)
  5. Place the hot, drained, soft carrots in a food processor; add cream, butter, nutmeg, salt, and pepper; blend until carrots are a smooth mixture, stopping once to scrape down sides.  Adjust seasonings to taste.  (IF preparing ahead, butter a baking dish large enough to hold recipe; then, place pureed vegetable in it; cover well with tin foil; refrigerate; reheat in 350 degree oven 1 1/2 hours before serving.)
  6. Place hot pureed carrots in the center of a vegetable platter, surround with green beans, and top with roasted pecans.

Chicken a l’Oignon

Preparation of Chicken a l'Oignon

preparation of Chicken a l’Oignon

I will be giving easy recipes for a complete 19th century French dinner over the next three posts.  The main entrée for this meal is Chicken a l’Oignon (chicken with onion); this receipt was created by Louis Eustache Ude, chef to King Louis XVI, at the time of the French Revolution.

Our chef of renown escaped France during the tumult and moved to England; here he wrote the cookbook The French Cook, published in 1813.  His English was poor; thus, he lapsed into his native tongue when he couldn’t recall the proper English words; the title Chicken a l’Oignon demonstrates this trait of Ude.

His food preparations tended to be very simple and exceptionally elegant, of which the following is a perfect example.  Here thinly sliced onion is stuffed under the skin over the breast meat of a roaster; you do this by gently making a cavity under the skin with your hand; hence, the onion juices seep into this succulent meat, as it is roasted to perfection.  The results are tantalizing!

The ease with which you make this dish will astound you. Trust me it will become a family favorite.

Be sure to save the carcass for bone broth; instructions for this are given in Tortellini Sausage Soup; meanwhile freeze your leftover carcasses, until you have the needed three for the recipe.

Note: Bone broth is a power food, extremely high in protein; it is packed with nutrients that aid the digestive system and build up your adrenal glands; one cup of regular chicken stock has one gram of protein, while one cup of bone broth has nine grams of this essential food item!  The manner of preparation makes all the difference in producing these two diverse broths.  Buying prepared bone broth is highly expensive, while making your own is practically free!

Chicken a l’Oignon   Adapted from a recipe in Esther B. Aresty’s The Delectable Past (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1964).  Yields about 5 servings.  Total prep time: about 2 1/4 hr/  active prep time: 10 min/  cooking time: about 1 3/4 hr/  inactive prep time: 15 min.

4 ½-5 pound chicken  (Foster Farms is all-natural and inexpensive.)

1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced thinly

Spray oil

Salt and pepper  (Real Salt is best; available in the health section of your local supermarket.)

Steamed brown rice  (I prefer basmati brown rice.)

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Wash the inside of the chicken.  (Note: it isn’t necessary to wash meat, which is cut; only whole fowl, where blood is caught inside the carcass.)
  3. Cut off excess fat at neck; salt and pepper inside of chicken.
  4. Gently working your hand under the skin, make a cavity between the skin and the breast meat.  Go down into the thigh meat with your fingers, being careful to not tear skin.
  5. Gently stuff onion slices in the cavity over the breast meat, pushing them down over the thigh meat area by the legs.
  6. Using a cheap, canola spray oil, thoroughly spray the inside and top (also the underside of upper rack and edges) of a broiler pan; this makes cleaning extremely easy!
  7. Place chicken on pan, salt and pepper generously.
  8. Put in oven, reducing heat to 350 degrees immediately.  Bake for 20 minutes for each pound; temperature should be 165 degrees when done-legs should move fairly freely and juices should come forth, when skin is pierced.
  9. Remove from oven and let stand for 15 minutes before carving.
  10. Serve with steamed brown rice.

Cocoa Bread from 1920’s Portland, Oregon

Roaring twenties' cocoa bread

‘roaring twenties’ cocoa bread and fresh rosemary loaf

The spell-binding Cupid’s Book was a cookbook published twice in this city of roses in the 1920’s.  The downtown retailers enticed the brides-to-be into their shops with colorful advertisements, bountiful recipes, and good instructions on how to be a wife in these two editions.

The recipe for cocoa bread is the best of this collection.  It is a slice of heaven!  Unsweetened cocoa powder lends a flavor to this yeast loaf that makes one think of pumpernickel, with the first bite.  Hints of chocolate surface as one experiences it further.

I discovered this blessing, while I was researching at the Oregon History Center’s excellent library, during my graduate work.  1991 marked the completion of  my Master’s Degree, at which point I had exhausted every inkling to food in this archive.  My 114 page thesis, which they have on file,  closely documents the library’s details on nutrition.  It was here that I found the two romantic cook books appropriately named Cupid’s Book.

Bread is the staff of life!  It sustains one’s soul when made with love from scratch.  I grind the flour for all my bread from organic hard red spring wheat berries.  My understanding is these-of all the wheat berries-have the highest content of protein.  One serving has 7 grams of this compound, the same as an egg.

The superb quality of the freshly ground flour allows the bread to last for up to six weeks in the refrigerator.  It is, however, necessary to wrap it in paper towel to absorb the moisture, which keeps it from molding; always store the bread in an air tight storage bag.  Toasting it brings out optimum freshness.

Making bread with a food processor is quick and mess-free.  I encourage you to venture out using my technique; learning this will bless you with easy, homemade bread forever.

Be nourished by the baking and eating of this luscious loaf.!  Also recommended is my receipt for chocolate scones (see chocolate scones).

bread dough in food processor

bread dough after kneading twice in processor

Cocoa Bread  This is adapted from a recipe in Cupid’s Book (Portland, Oregon: Oregon History Center, 1921, 1925). Yields: 1 loaf.  Total prep time: 3 hr/  active prep time: 30 min/ inactive prep time: 2 hr/  baking time: 30 min.

1/4 c tepid water (Temperature should be 105-115 degrees.)

1  individual package active dry yeast  (May use 3 level tsp of Red Star Active Dry Yeast, available in a 2 lb package at Costco, which keeps well sealed in the freezer.  Yeast is best at room temperature for proofing.)

1/3 c, plus 1/4 tsp sugar  (Organic cane sugar is ideal; available at Trader Joe’s in 2 lb package, or less expensive at Costco in 10 lb package.)

2 1/2 c whole wheat flour  (Bob’s Red Mill flour is high quality.)

1 1/2 c unbleached white flour  (You may grind 2 2/3 c organic hard red spring wheat berries to make the total 4 c of flour.)

1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 tsp salt  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available inexpensively at Costco.)

1 1/4-1 1/2 c tepid milk, 110-115 degrees  (May use alternative milks, such as hazelnut or almond.)

3 tbsp oil  (Any kind of oil will do, for oiling the inside of a 13-gallon plastic bag.)

Spray oil  (Coconut spray oil is best.)

  1. Dissolve yeast and 1/4 tsp sugar in 1/4 cup water.  Let sit until it foams, looks creamy, and is nearly doubled in size, about 10 minutes.
  2. In an 11-c-or-larger food processor, blend well the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt.
  3. dough after first kneading of 35 seconds

    Add yeast mixture and 1 1/2 c milk to flour mixture (only 1 1/4 c milk will be needed, however, if grinding your own flour, as the grind is coarser and doesn’t absorb as much liquid.)  Knead for 35 seconds, see photo.

  4. Let rest for 4 minutes; then, knead one more time for 35 seconds (see photo at top of recipe). Note: processing dough will heat it and kill the yeast if cooling isn’t allowed.
  5. dough after kneading by hand

    Take out and knead by hand for about 8 minutes, or until satiny smooth (see photo).  This process is relatively foolproof, but if dough is too wet and sticky, add flour to board to facilitate kneading; it helps to wash hands, if dough is sticking to them.  Dough should be firm, elastic, and smooth to the touch after kneading.  If, however, it is too stiff to knead easily, place in machine, and knead in 1 tbsp water.  Repeat this last step, if needed, until severe stiffness is gone, it is flexible, and kneading by hand is facile, carefully resting dough as not to overheat.  It should be firm and satiny smooth when finished kneading by hand.

  6. Place in a 13-gallon plastic bag, in which several  tbsp of oil are evenly distributed. Let rise in a warm place for 60 minutes, or until double.  (Only if you’re grinding your own flour, punch dough down and allow to rise an additional 30 minutes. for lighter bread with coarser freshly ground flour.)
  7. Punch down and form into a loaf.  Place in a bread pan sprayed with oil; loosely drape a piece of plastic wrap also sprayed with oil over loaf.
  8. Let rise 50-60 minutes, or until double.
  9. Important: 30 minutes into the last rising process preheat oven to 400 degrees; this insures oven is ready when bread has fully risen.
  10. Remove plastic wrap when loaf is double.  Bake for 27-30 minutes, or until loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.
  11. Cool on rack.  Enjoy!