Aunt Lil’s Kisses

I also used the King Arthur Cookie Cookbook as a reference

I decided to try another of Aunt Lil’s recipes from her hand written cookbook. First one I opened to was called Kisses. It was obvious when reading the recipe it was a meringue cookie, but had two rather strange elements to it. You baked the meringue on top of something she called butter thins.  I assumed this was some type of store bought cookie. I googled but didn’t find anything that jumped out at me.

After searching the grocery store aisle I settled on these thin butter cookies (that taste like Animal Crackers). But I still worried. Meringue takes forever to cook – granted at low heat – but I still worried that the butter cookie would burn long before the meringue was finished. The other unusual ingredient was powdered sugar, rather than granulated. And of course, Aunt Lil gave no specific directions.

I searched through various of my cookbooks. The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book (1924) had meringues that used powdered sugar and nuts (nuts were also found in Aunt Lil’s recipe). But little in the way of direction. Mary Jane’s Cook Book, 1916 had a marguerite that sounded similar and placed the meringue on a saltine cracker before baking (oh yes, yuck). My Joy of Cooking (1943) was the most helpful with good directions on temperature and timing. But in the end it was all a crazy experiment – that worked!

  • Whites of two eggs
  • 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 c. chopped walnuts

Beat the separated egg whites until stiff (the egg whites should be room temperature)

Gradually beat in the powdered sugar a bit at a time

Fold in the chopped walnuts

Place the butter thins on an ungreased baking pan

Carefully drop a teaspoon of egg white mixture onto each butter thin

Bake in a 225 degree oven

In the end, I think they were in there about an hour. Toward the end of the hour I turned the heat up to 400 as the meringue wasn’t browning. I worried that they weren’t dry enough when they came out. We tried them and they were good, but a little too mushy inside. But weirdly, the next day after I’d stored them in an air tight container they were perfect. And very good and also looked quite nice! 

 

Calcutta Beef – Exotic for the 1950s

The 1950s was a time when some (and I do mean some) cooks began to experiment with “exotic” and foreign recipes. After WWII, many soldiers and nurses stationed throughout the world were exposed to new cooking styles for the first time. In my collection is a tiny spiral bound cookbook with the humorous name, Cyrano de Casserole. Subtitled “A nosegay of fragrant casserole recipes,” this cookbook was written by Ruth Chier Rosen and published in 1955.

According to the back cover, Ruth was born in Minneapolis, attended Smith College and had “attended many cooking schools and has sampled the wide variety of food that New York has to offer.” She lived in New York City with her publisher husband and young sons. The bio went on to say that she’d spent a summer in Europe studying cooking ,and that she was a leading authority on food preparation writing extensively for leading national magazines.

She had some equally fun sounding cookbooks to her name including The Big Spread, Wick & Lick (golly, what could be the subject of this?), and Tooth Sweet. So who was this Ruth? Well, I googled to learn more and bingo!

My word this woman has her own website and a blog with the most recent posting being 2015! Now, mind you Roth would be in her 80s during her last blog post, and she would now be 92ish. The blog which you should visit here is an absolute gold mine of information about how she learned to cook, and how she and her husband began their publishing business on a small scale and how it grew. An excellent writer, her posts are such fun to read. Can you tell I’m over the moon that I found this? I will be emailing her expressing my fan love and hoping that she will receive it.

But now on to the recipe. Calcutta Beef with a little symbol for India next to it. For those of us that know Indian food this recipe bares no resemblance. It has curry powder in it – that’s about it. But I loved it. Dan was more so so, but even after eating numerous leftovers I still liked it.

Calcutta Beef

  • 1 1/2 lb. ground beef (pick the leanest you can)
  • 3 tbs. butter (I used 1 tbs. and if I cook this again I’d omit)
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 t. garlic salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • 1/2 c. cooked peas (taken straight out of a can like my mom would have in the 50s)
  • 1 can whole tomatoes (so obviously I had no idea how much this was. They only sell very large cans of whole tomatoes anymore. I drained the tomatoes and eyeballed the amount to not overwhelm the dish. Maybe I used 5 tomatoes)
  • 1 tart apple, chopped
  • 1 tbs. green pepper, chopped (I was a bit more generous)
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 3 tbs. curry power
  • 1 tbs. flour

Saute the onions, beef and garlic salt and pepper until browned 

Add tomatoes, apple, green pepper, stock and curry powder that has been mixed with the flour

Stir until smooth

Place everything in a casserole

Bake in a moderate oven (350 degrees) for 30 minutes

Add peas and bake another 5 minutes

Serve over rice

Super easy. My only slight complaint was I thought it was a bit too greasy, which is why I suggest you do the following. Don’t use any butter. Use the leanest ground beef and drain the beef of fat before you add the tomato mixture. This is a very fragrant dish and looked festive with the red and green of the apple, tomatoes and green pepper.

If you’re out there Ruth Rosen – a big thank you for Beef Calcutta!

 

 

Walnut Meringue Bars

This recipe is just plain yummy. Dan and I have torn through it and it’s all gone just a few days after baking. Something that rarely happens. When there’s just the two of us, sometimes my baked goods languish a bit. It’s hard when you love to bake with a very small family. I’m trying [...] Read more »

Maine Buttermilk Biscuits

So my fan base of two – big shout out Bev and Meg – wonder why Aunt Lil hasn’t been cooking. So on this incredibly snowy day, I’ve made some Maine Buttermilk Biscuits. I had some leftover buttermilk to use up and this was the perfect way to do so. The recipe comes from Maine [...] Read more »

Aunt Lil – A Maine Adventure

Yes, I’ve been mighty quiet, but for good reason. On November 13, I began a new job in Castine, Maine! And with great luck our house in New Hampshire sold in two days resulting in a flurry of activity as we bought a home and moved the household and animals four hours northeast. For those [...] Read more »

Aunt Lil’s Butterscotch Sticks

I’ve had my eye on Aunt Lil’s recipe called Butterscotch Sticks for a while. I just needed to find a similar recipe that gave me a few more directions before trying them. While thumbing through my King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion I came across Vintage Butterscotch Bars. Voila – an almost identical recipe to Aunt [...] Read more »

What a Difference a Recipe Makes

Last week’s Banana Cake was a disaster. This week’s was sublime. The difference? It was all in the recipe. I felt determined to make a good Banana Cake. After reviewing many recipes in my vintage cookbooks, I decided to use The Joy of Cooking, by Irma Bombauer from the 1943 WWII edition. I can’t remember [...] Read more »

That Sinking Feeling – Cake Disasters

I really wanted my next post to be about something yummy, but that won’t be for this post. I’ve been wanting to try making a banana cake for some time now. Banana cake was a very popular cake that has since gone out of favor. Today, you use your bananas to make banana bread. But [...] Read more »

Bread Pudding on a Cold Snowy Day

Bread pudding has been around for ages and versions of it can be found in many countries’ cuisines. Basically, its a pudding that uses leftover stale bread, eggs, milk and or cream, sugar, raisins and spices. Things that most women had around the house and so could easily whip together at a moment’s notice. Since [...] Read more »

Christmas Baking

Friends often give me their parents’ cookbooks, knowing that I will love any cookbooks that pre-date the 1960s. I recently was given a gold mine of early cookbooks by my friend Anne whose mother passed away last year.  My heart was racing as I loaded up the car knowing I’d have many hours of fun [...] Read more »

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