Tag Archives: Vintage Recipes

Retro Rice Pudding: What Would Jessie Dish? Week Seven

Is rice pudding part of the comfort-food craze?  I have not noticed rice pudding nearly as often on menus, in cookbooks, or in the blogosphere as bread pudding.  Perhaps it is the snob appeal of using brioche, quality challah, or other artisan breads  in bread pudding.  The rice pudding from my late grandmother’s recently discovered files, however, is a classic dish of comfort fare.

I distinctly remember my grandmother’s rice pudding, so I was looking forward to making this recipe.  Rice pudding is a dessert I enjoy and will make, depending on leftover rice, mood,  and other competing dessert priorities.

In 1931 Jessie (with my mother Nat) might have made rice pudding as a Depression-era dessert.

Last time I had made rice pudding, I followed Rick Bayless’s recipe for his Mexican version with cinnamon and lime, Arroz Con Leche, for my Olympic kick-off party (my theme was dishes from Olympic hosts of the past 50 years – Mexico had hosted the 1968 summer  Olympics, and I needed to do something with the four egg yolks leftover from my lemon meringue cookies – a nod to Grenoble, host of the 1968 Winter Olympics).  The Bayless recipe is worth a try for a softer, very cinnamony, lime-zesty pudding.

For the detailed recipe and a critique… Continue reading

Hot Fudge Pie: What Would Jessie Dish? Week Six

What exactly is hot fudge pie? Before I baked this dish, I was not sure about this week’s recipe from my grandmother Jessie’s recently discovered files.

One thing for sure was that my grandmother liked hot fudge, chocolate, desserts, and sweets, in general.  I recall that she enjoyed a good hot fudge sundae, frequently with coffee ice cream, at the old-fashioned ice cream parlours, which were once common across Chicago.  She liked the Ting-a-Ling, very close to her last residence, a near-north-side condo.  I imagine Jessie visited many of the south side institutions, e.g., Cunis’s, Cunag’s, Gertie’s, or the original Dove Candies – which has become a superstar of the American-commercial-high-end-ice-cream-bar-and-chocolate scene.  When I visit Chicago, I do try to make it to Margie’s Candies, which still serves a traditional hot fudge sundae, featuring their home-made ice cream, in huge white plastic scallop-shell dishes.

In Key West, Florida in the 1950s, Jessie wrote about what happens from eating too much hot fudge pie and such (on the reverse of the above photo).

The hot fudge sauce at these ice cream parlours came in a small stainless steel pitcher (the size of a small creamer), always served very hot and separate from the sundae, with its whipped cream, chopped pecans or other nuts, and, of course, a cherry on top.  It was a revelation to see how a sundae-eater consumed the hot fudge sauce:

  • all in one pour on top of the sundae,
  • poured judiciously and intermittently as he or she ate the ice cream and whipped cream,
  • poured onto the spoon to coat ice cream, one bite at a time, or,
  • in the most audacious move of them all, drunk from the pitcher itself.

These techniques indicated one’s personality, we speculated.

Oh, right, this post is not about hot fudge sundaes. (I do promise to write-up a classic recipe from one of my cookbooks, Lost Desserts, by Gail Monaghan, which features a very special recipe for hot fudge sauce from a Los Angeles eatery, with the perfect viscosity and a truly profound chocolate-fudge flavour).  The hot fudge pie in question is a bit perplexing, as it is neither a pie nor a cake nor a brownie; it is in between a chocolate molten lava cake (the dessert of the 1990s), a self-saucing chocolate cake (very big in the 1970s), and a very moist brownie (timeless!).

For the hot fudge pie recipe… Continue reading

Chocolate Nut Revels – Rich yet Delicate Cookies: What Would Jessie Dish? Week 5

What exactly are these chocolate nut revels?  I was intrigued by this week’s installment of the lost recipes of my grandmother Jessie, especially as “revel” is not used often these days – much less as a noun than as a verb.

This particular recipe was an easy one to prepare, though it is another item I do not recall from among my grandmother’s repertoire.  However, the name made me wonder about some of the things in which Jessie used to revel.  In this first photo, from the 1950s, she is at a banquet, probably one which involved sports writers, promoters, agents, etc.  (She is third from right in the pearls, with my grandfather, Louis, next to her on the right.)  Jessie seems to be reveling in this event, having just finished her dessert:

One other thing Jessie reveled was spending time in the sun, particularly during the brutal Chicago winters.  Here she is in Miami, where my grandparents spent the winter from the 1940s through the 1960s (this picture is dated March 1965):

Another passion of Jessie’s was travel.  Below, she appears to revel in her proximity to one of the great pyramids in Egypt, in 1971:

Of course, as I mentioned in previous posts, Jessie reveled in baked goods and sweets, so it is no surprise that the Chocolate Nut Revels were among her index cards of recipes.  In preparing it, I followed the ingredients  precisely yet made a few modifications in technique, so I will only make a couple of notes in addition to the recipe at the end of this post.

For the chocolate nut revel recipe, Continue reading

Mystery Dough = Tender Jam-Filled Pastry-Pockets: What Would Jessie Dish? Wednesdays Week Four

What exactly is “mystery dough”?  I figured the recipe I had from my late grandmother Jessie’s files had just enough information to create something, armed with my years of amateur baking and cookbook reading.

This is all of Jessie's recipe for "mystery dough".

This pursuit of trying to figure out a cryptic recipe brought back a reference to “Biblical exegesis” in an undergraduate literature class years ago.  I wondered why the professor was referring to “ex of Jesus”, when that did not make any sense to me (as far as I knew, He did not have any “exes”).  Later, I discovered that the word meaning a critical interpretation, analysis, or explanation, especially of the Bible.  One must practice exegesis diligently in fleshing out a recipe, too!

A confident, stylish Jessie knows mystery dough's secrets (ca 1935).

So, like a Biblical scholar or literary critic, I had the barebones for resurrecting, or, I should say, recreating the recipe.  Armed with some vague memories of my grandmother’s baking preferences, I also recalled her liking the Czech pastry, kolachkes, as they were known in the western suburbs of Chicago.  The kolachkes (AKA, kolaches, which I have spotted in Vancouver) have a buttery-cream-cheese-based dough, so I wonder if this recipe was for that very rich pastry, often apricot-filled.

The mystery is over, with amazing results – and the recipe: Continue reading

What Would Jessie Dish? A New Wednesday Feature: Introduction to the Project and the German Pancake

My grandmother is just 16, at her high school graduation in 1920.

She could dish it up, but can I make it?

In helping my mother get ready to move into an assisted living apartment recently, I came across my mother’s copy of The Joy of Cooking.  She no longer wanted it, had not used it in many years, and said I should take it.  However, it was not it until I had returned home, when I discovered that the book had a 5” x  7” Manilla envelope containing a number of recipes from my late grandmother, Jessie.  She died nearly 20 years ago.  I cannot imagine that anyone knew whatever happened to these recipes.  So I was excited to have stumbled on this treasure trove.

There were nearly 20 recipes, half typed on 3″ x 5″ cards, with the others were written in her careful handwriting on various pieces of scrap paper (“Waste not, want not!” Jessie would implore, having lived through the Great Depression).  Most of the recipes are for baked goods (hooray!), and I do remember having eaten most of these dishes.  There are a few I am sure she did not make for me, so re-creating other recipes my grandmother made intrigues me as well.

I decided that it would be a fun feature on IslandEAT to prepare each and every one of the recipes, expanding or clarifying the directions, and assessing the results.   Many are in the short-hand of an experienced baker – and cook – who knew her technique well, so the steps are implicit – that is fine if you know the technique, of course, and, fortunately, I have developed a sense for baking over the years and am familiar with many similar recipes.

However, some recipes, especially the handwritten ones,  are completely vague and lacking directions – and even titles.   I will have to experiment to see if I can re-create what I think she had intended. What they all have in common is a no-nonsense, non-fussy simple approach with relatively few ingredients.  The recipes are primarily American or, in a few cases, European.  Some are still current and even in vogue, while others do seem rather vintage, e.g., “apricot mold”, which uses apricot jello and evaporated milk — not the kind of thing I generally make, but I am ready to try it.

From now until I have prepared all 18, I will feature a Wednesday recipe from the past, with a scan of the original recipe (and sometimes, the odd bits I have found on the reverse side), aiming to do this every week until the end of summer.  I expect to include some recollections of her, as she was a bit of a character, with a very good sense of humour, unusual turns of phrases, and quite the sharp tongue; Jessie was not afraid to ask – or ask repeatedly – for what she wanted or to let people know exactly what she thought.  I hope this summer project helps IslandEAT’s readers get a glimpse into her personality.

For more on the German Pancake and the What Would Jessie Dish? Recipe Roster

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