Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Food out of time.

The general idea of this blog is to visit previous eras of cooking via cookbooks of the period. The plan is to make about 1 full meal per week using only the instructions provided in a classic cookbook while following the given recipes as closely as possible. Obviously this is easier said than done for many of the older recipes (especially anything involving fire, I live in an apartment in Tokyo after all)

Being originally from New England, I've decided to start with a New England Cookbook from 1905. The cookbook I used was "The New England Cook Book, The Latest and Best Methods for Economy and Luxury at Home" which, as I mentioned is from 1905.

The beauty of this book is that it is full of recipes, albeit some of them call for things that are well nigh impossible to get your hands on without seemingly visiting a slaughterhouse (calf's head anyone?) or traveling back in time (there are a ton of bizarre brand names mentioned including a certain brand of mixed spice, who knows what it contained).

I had originally set out to make something like a roast chicken as there are plenty of recipes that involve chicken and chicken pieces and chicken stock.  However, this being Tokyo, the local supermarket had no whole chickens.  I went to another supermarket that had wildly overpriced whole chickens (about $50) and even more wildly overpriced turkey (about $85) so the chicken plan was scrapped and I went with something different.

The something different was a pork roast.  I picked up a big hunk of pork on the assumption that there would be a lot of recipes in the book about cooking pork.  Unfortunately there was only one or maybe two that involved a pork roast.  I went with roasted pork.

The recipe is below:

[I'll insert the recipe when I get around to typing it up]

There were some initial problems right off the bat though. First, there are no oven temperatures or cooking times involved with the recipe.  It was mostly a guessing game for how long it should cook and what the final product should look like.

Beyond a basic salt and pepper seasoning, I roasted garlic and mushrooms in the tray below the roast to use in the gravy.

I roasted the entire thing for about an hour and half at 170C and the result was a nicely cooked roast.  I added some water, the drippings plus the garlic and mushrooms into a pan and reduced them to a gravy.

For sides I used the recipe for boiled turnips and a second one for stewed potatoes.

The turnips were pretty straightforward.

[again I'll insert the recipe here later]

No problem with those. It was basically a cut up, boil, mash with a little bit of butter, add salt and pepper and done.  I chose the turnips on impulse because they were on sale at the grocery store and also because I don't recall ever having eaten a turnip before.  The result was good though, it was almost like a aikon.

The stewed potatoes were something different.

[Final recipe goes here]

Though it's called stewed potatoes it was more like potatoes in a sweet cream sauce.  The sauce was made of milk and butter with salt and pepper added.  The potatoes were boiled in the butter and milk until soft.  The end result was tasty but surprisingly sweet.  Probably it could have used more salt though they were tasty regardless.

Here is the final plate: