Sunday, March 22, 2015

Historic Food Fortnightly Challenge #21: Rare and Scarce Ingredients

The Challenge:
Just where does one find some of the ingredients for these recipes? That’s your job for this challenge! Find a recipe that relies upon an ingredient that can’t be had from the corner store, locate the ingredient, and recreate the dish.

Consider the 19th century market. Go on, close your eyes and get a good picture in mind.
This challenge gives  me an excuse to feature a favorite 19th century book.
The Market Assistant, Containing a brief description of every article of human food sold in the public markets of the cities of New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Brooklyn by Thomas F. DeVoe
As noted in the preface, the information was compiled prior to the firing on Fort Sumter and publication was held until after The War.
Many entries surprise the history enthusiasts with their notions of when Americans began enjoying certain fruits and seasonings. Bananas at Gettysburg? Oh, yes, just a short train trip from the Philadelphia dock. Tamarinds, a staple of South American and Asian cooking were regularly imported. The "best" oranges  come from St. Augustine, Florida according to Mr. DeVoe, in direct contradiction to when Floridians think citrus made Florida famous.
A surprise to me, with all the other citrus listed as readily available imports, were limes being somewhat scarce. In honor of the scarce lime, we present a dried apple pie seasoned with lime.

The Recipe:
From: The Cook Not Mad, or Rational cookery published by Knowlton and Rice, 1831
No 57.
Dried Apple Pie.

Take two quarts dried apples, put them into an earthern pot that contains one gallon, fill it with water and set it in a hot oven, adding one handful of cranberries; after baking one hour fill up the pot again with water; when done and the apple cold, strain it and add thereto the juice of three or four limes, raisins, sugar, orange peel and cinnamon to your tase, lay in paste No. 3.

Paste No 3. To any quantity of flour, rub in three fourths of its weight of butter, whites of eggs; if a large quantity of flour, rub in one third or half of the butter, and roll in the rest.

The Date/Year and Region: 
1831-1865, mid-Atlantic

How Did You Make It:
Prepare the paste: I used a gluten free flour so my Roomie could join in the apple pie (hopefully) goodness.

While it was chilling in the fridge, I started on the apples.
In a large casserole, I added the apples, cranberries, and enough water to cover them.
Bake in the oven at 350* for 1 hour. {TIP: add a baking sheet with sides underneath if your casserole may boil over.}
Drain the water. Fill the pot again.
Set aside until the apples are cold.
Strain the remaining water.

Add Juice of 4 Limes, Raisins, 1 cup of Sugar, 2 generous tablespoons of Orange Marmalade (in place of the orange peel), and Cinnamon.

Mix well and fill the paste.
Bake at 350* for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden.

Time to Complete: 
2 hours 30 minutes, inconsistently... unless you need to start with drying the apples, then 12 to 14 hours, 30 minutes. :-p

Total Cost: 
Highest item was the gluten free flour at $4.00 per bag.

How Successful Was It: 
Roomie and I think it tastes good, kinda tangy.
If I were to make this again, I'd cut the apples into smaller pieces and use less sugar and limes so the innards would be less liquid. I'd also bake the paste a bit before adding the filling as some gluten free recipes recommend.

How Accurate Was It: 
I'd consider this in the spirit of period cooking, though with gluten free paste and marmalade instead of peel it reads like a modern recipe indeed.

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