By Sheila Brass
Photographs by Andy Ryan
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Marilynn and Sheila Brass have spent a lifetime collecting handwritten “manuscript cookbooks” and “living recipes.” Heirloom Cooking collects and skillfully updates 135 of the very best of these, which together represent nearly 100 years of the best-loved and most delicious dishes from all over North America. The oldest recipes date back to the late 1800s, and every decade and a wide variety of ethnicities are captured here.
The book is divided into sections including Starters; Salads; Vegetables; Breads; Main Dishes including Lamb, Beef, Veal, Pork, Fish, Chicken, and Turkey; Vegetarian; and — of course — Dessert. As they did in Heirloom Baking, the Brass sisters include the wonderful stories behind the recipes, and once again, lush photography is provided by Andy Ryan.
Queens of Comfort Food ™
Recipes You Remember & Love
MARILYNN BRASS & SHEILA BRASS
Photographs by Andy Ryan
To our three Barbaras
Barbara Carey, Barbara Haber, and Barbara Wheaton
How to Use This Book
The Essence of Heirloom Cooking
IN THE BEGINNING
Libby’s Spicy Ribs with Barbecue Sauce
Mrs. Yaffee’s Pierogi
Mixed Olives with Lemon and Rosemary
Auntie Dot’s Chopped Liver
New York Paté
Nick’s Savory Blue Cheese and Walnut Crackers
Ione’s Zucchini Pie
Mystery Stuffed Mushrooms
Helen’s Fried Cheese Balls with Chili Mayonnaise
Corn Pancakes with Sour Cream and Chives
Chickpea and Potato Cholay
Rose and Natalie’s Caponata
Sunshine Potato Salad
Mrs. Fredman’s Coleslaw
Sweet Potato Salad
Barbara Carey’s Chopped Salad
Mock Chicken Salad
Barbara’s Rice Salad with Cumin and Walnuts
Mrs. Julian’s Shrimp Salad
Boiled Salad Dressing
Dot Luke’s Hawaiian Jellied Salad
Mary Bradshaw’s Egg and Gherkin Salad
Mrs. O’Brien’s Cranberry Delight Salad
Banana Nut Salad
Jane Bullard’s Yellow Squash Casserole
Caramelized Potatoes (Brunede Kartofler)
Libby’s Stovetop Pickled Beets
Baked Butternut Squash
Louella’s Church Cauliflower
Zucchini Cheese Bake
Jean Downey’s Marinated Vegetables
Marinated Fresh Bean Salad
Mrs. Carter’s Baked Stuffed Onions
Mrs. E. R. Brown’s Corn Soufflé
Crispy Norwegian Potatoes
Red Cabbage (Rødkål)
Mrs. Hodges’ Savory Sweet Potato Puff
French Risotto (White Rice)
SOUP OF THE DAY
Arthur’s Clam Chowder
Katherine’s Savory Tomato Peanut Butter Soup
Fred’s Creamy Potato Soup with Thyme
German Dessert Fruit Soup (Schnit Suppe)
Garden Salad Soup
Bok Choy and Corn Soup
Baked Bean Soup
Portuguese Red Kidney Bean Soup
Mama’s Chicken Soup
Margaret’s Cream of Parsnip Soup
Auntie Rose’s Vegetable Beef Soup
Split Pea Soup
Vermont Corn Chowder
STAFF OF LIFE
Ila’s Canadian Banana Bread
Aunt Ruth’s Dilly Casserole Bread
Clara J. Warren’s Refrigerator Rolls
Arline’s Farm House Rye Bread
Grandma Hails’ Buns
Chili Cheese Cornbread
Oma Geywitz’s Stollen
Traditional Greek Easter Bread (Lambropsomo)
Bagels from Chicago
White Hall Crackers
Lizzie Goldberg’s One-Bowl Babka
Grandma Gaydos’ Gum Boots
Margaret’s Scottish Baps
New England Brown Bread
Mike’s Mother’s Spaetzle
Souffléed Common Crackers
Katherine’s Shepherd’s Pie
Mary Gualdelli’s Tomato Sauce
Curry of Lamb with Saffron Rice
Controversial Irish Lamb Stew
Corned Beef Hash
Glazed Corned Beef from Michigan
Romanian Stuffed Cabbage
Alice McGinty’s London Broil
Creole Veal Chops
Arline Ryan’s Swedish Meatballs with Sour Cream Sauce
Wisconsin Beer-Baked Beans with Short Ribs
Bunny Slobodzinski’s Stuffed Cabbage with Salt Pork Gravy
Germain Asselin’s Stuffing Pie (Tourtière)
Deviled Ham and Cheese Strata
Daddy’s Fried Lox
Elinor’s Shrimp Creole
Dot’s Tuna Crescents
Danish Roast Goose Stuffed with Apples and Prunes
Libby’s Curried Turkey Pie
Hot Chicken Salad
Chicken Pot Pie
Anna Morse’s Lemon Chicken
Reta Corbett’s Wild Rice and Chicken Casserole
Rose Howard’s Cheese Frittata
Mama’s Pie Crust Pizza with Mushroom Tomato Sauce
Onion and Olive Tart
Susanne Simpson’s Apple Puff-Pancake
Aunt Ida’s Apple Cranberry Noodle Pudding
Billionaire’s Macaroni and Cheese
Basic White Sauce
Red Velvet Cake
Dorset Apple Cake
Milk Chocolate Pound Cake
Edinburgh Tea Squares
Coconut Pie from North Carolina
Sheila’s Sweet or Savory Pie Crust
Mary Melly’s Chocolate Angel Pie
Mrs. Naka’s Lemon Angel Pie
Green Tomato Pie
Sweet Potato Pudding
The Samels-Carbarnes Family Adventures
Toasted Almond Butter Cookies
The Five Isabelles’ Orange Drop Cakes
Nathalie’s Ginger Whale Cookies
Gertrude Woods’ Steamed Pecan Cake
A NOTE FROM THE AUTHORS
We are two roundish bespectacled women who have a combined total of 114 years of home cooking experience. We have always felt comfortable in the kitchen because we learned to cook at a very early age. Our mother, Dorothy, was an inspired home cook, and the meals she produced when we lived on Sea Foam Avenue, in Winthrop, Massachusetts, more than sixty years ago are still memorable.
Working at the black cast iron stove with its green enamel trim, we learned to ignore its idiosyncrasies to produce the soups and stews of our childhood, recipes we still make with pride today. We believe that there is nothing more comforting than the smell of a thick vegetable soup simmering on a back burner, a glistening brisket braising in the oven, or a dish of macaroni and cheese with its golden crust of buttery crumbs. We still relive the glories of the appetizers, vegetables, salads, and main dishes that came out of that sunny kitchen to become satisfying home-cooked meals. When we want to replicate these precious family recipes, we go to Mama’s first cookbook, All About Home Baking, fragile now, but priceless, with her handwritten recipes on the front and back pages.
We couldn’t have written Heirloom Cooking without consulting our manuscript cookbooks, those treasured notebooks of personal recipes compiled by home cooks. It is these living recipes, these notes handwritten on crumbling scraps of paper or the pages of old, well-worn cookbooks that inspire us to interpret the lost recipes and family stories of others. We continue to find these recipe collections, gathered together in bundles or in small boxes at yard sales, in used bookstores, or on the pantry shelves of friends.
Our personal collection of manuscript cookbooks has grown from 85 to 150 over the past two years. Because we are women of the twenty-first century, we have launched our own Web site () to communicate with our new friends, exchange recipes and family stories, and answer culinary questions.
In Heirloom Cooking, we give you the choice of planning and serving an entire heirloom meal or preparing a special heirloom dish from primary sources, the recipes handwritten by home cooks from all over the United States and Canada. The recipes we present are culturally diverse and tempting, from a German sauerbraten recipe from Ohio to a sophisticated liver paté from New York City. Discover Arline Ryan’s Swedish Meatballs with Sour Cream Sauce from Indiana, Sweet Potato Pudding from North Carolina, Elinor’s Shrimp Creole from Florida, and Danish Roast Goose Stuffed with Apples and Prunes and served with Red Cabbage and Caramelized Potatoes from Minnesota. Scottish baps appear as well as sweet and sour cabbage rolls and French-Canadian tortière. Mrs. Fredman’s Coleslaw, from our childhood, is represented right along with Southern Icebox Pickles. For dessert we present a colorful choice of Red Velvet Cake, Green Tomato Pie, and a New England Blueberry Buckle, as well as other classic home-baked desserts.
We also pay tribute to the inexpensive vegetarian meals that utilized and celebrated the bounty of backyard gardens—those dumplings, frittatas, and pancakes that often served as main dishes in families that had more love in their kitchens than money in their purses.
Heirloom Cooking contains chapters on appetizers, soups, salads, vegetables, breads, and main dishes, as well as a respectable number of pies, cakes, and cookies. We have interpreted these handwritten recipes so that you can reproduce them in your own home kitchen, and we’ve tried to simplify the ones that once took hours or days to put together. To do this, we’ve turned to the culinary tools of twenty-first-century America—the mixer, the food processor, and occasionally, the microwave oven. Some recipes, such as those for bagels, have been scaled down and reinterpreted so that you will be able to prepare a home version of something that was usually produced in large quantities commercially. Not only have we kept it simple, we’ve also given you the freedom to adjust the seasonings, the size of the portions, and the cooking times. Please remember that the more exotic dishes, such as curries and patés, are interpretations of how an heirloom cook would have prepared these dishes in her own home kitchen. The recipes for roast goose and sauerbraten require more time to prepare and would have been served on special occasions.
What has influenced our appreciation of heirloom cooking the most has been the culinary journey we’ve taken across America. We’ve traveled through the South, the Midwest, and New England meeting old friends and making new ones. It was a sentimental journey because these visits with home cooks all over America have reinforced our belief that every family has a story and a recipe to document its own personal history. Sometimes the stories are sad, sometimes they are funny, but all are touching.
For us, traveling across America was a movable feast. We shared chicken pot pie in St. Louis, and we ate pierogi and stuffed cabbage in Ann Arbor. We learned about a Danish-American boy from Minneapolis who, upon losing his mother when he was fifteen years old, learned to cook the substantial meals needed to sustain his construction worker father. We were told of a young girl who, married at age fourteen to a Russian Orthodox priest, fed her five children her delicious cheese and farina dumplings between entertaining the bishop and ironing the church linen. There was the sprightly white-haired woman in Philadelphia, with a no-nonsense haircut and merry blue eyes, who advised us to add brewed coffee to our soups and gravies to give them a richer color. Later, we found the same advice in a Southern cookbook from the 1870s.
These encounters were precious, but the message was always the same. Cooking is the way we show our love for others. It’s the way we nurture and support our family and friends. Heirloom cooking is just another definition for comfort food.
We have provided you with a keepsake envelope in the back of Heirloom Cooking as well as a special chapter of blank lined pages on which to transcribe the stories and recipes of your own family. We encourage you to listen to each story, write down the recipe, and make the book your own. Have fun cooking!
MARILYNN AND SHEILA BRASS
HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
We hope you will enjoy using this book. We have tried to make the recipes easy to understand and the ingredients easy to find. We’d like you to be so inspired by the recipes that you go into your own kitchen and start cooking.
Nearly all of the ingredients for the recipes in Heirloom Cooking are those found in most home pantries. You probably won’t have to make a stop at your local gourmet shop to stock up on special spices, herbs, flours, or extracts. If you do find that some ingredients prove to be elusive, we have included a short list of suppliers (see Sources on page 269) whom we suggest you contact to order what you need. Most of the recipes will make four to six servings; several of them can be successfully halved or doubled. Some of the soup recipes make more than four to six servings. We suggest freezing leftover soup. What constitutes a serving size is often subjective, and open to interpretation, so for some recipes, we have tried to give you measurements in cups or slices for each serving. Decreasing or increasing the recipes may result in adjustments to cooking times.
BRANDY, SHERRY, AND WHISKEY
We bought small amounts of good-quality brandy, sherry, and whiskey to have on hand when making heirloom recipes. We use them to flavor recipes, plump raisins, and season fruitcakes.
For the recipes in this book, we use unsalted or sweet butter, softened at room temperature. Some recipes call for butter that is refrigerator-firm or melted before it is combined with other ingredients. We used generic store brand butters and found them to perform as well as commercial brands. If you do not have unsalted butter on hand, you can use salted butter for cooking, but do not use salted butter when baking because its moisture content can affect your results. We suggest that you reduce the amount of salt when cooking if you use salted butter. Do not use whipped butter in any of the recipes.
CHOCOLATE AND COCOA
Chocolate was often a luxury ingredient in the kitchens of the women whose recipes we tested. Occasionally, we introduced a gourmet chocolate when testing a recipe and noted a subtle enhancement of flavor, but we also found that familiar commercial brands of chocolate and cocoa produced good results. We discovered that by judiciously adding small amounts of bitter or baking chocolate to semisweet chocolate, we could achieve the complexity of flavor we were seeking. When a recipe requires baking chocolate, we use bitter chocolate. We were vigilant about using the correct cocoa, either American-style or Dutch, depending on the rising agents used in the recipe. Store chocolate and cocoa in a cool dry dark place. Milk chocolate candy bars can be used for Milk Chocolate Pound Cake (page 242).
The recipes in this book use homogenized milk, not skim milk, and cultured nonfat buttermilk. We used whole-milk ricotta. We do not use reduced-fat cream cheese or nonfat sour cream. For cream, we use heavy cream, whipping cream, or half-and-half. We use farmer cheese or pot cheese instead of dry curd cottage cheese. We do not use reduced fat cheese or products referred to as cheese food.
For consistency, we used only U.S. graded large eggs. Unless otherwise noted, the eggs should be at room temperature. Some recipes call for beating the eggs before adding them to the other ingredients. Egg whites should be at room temperature before being beaten. Eggs added directly to a warm or hot mixture run the risk of cooking too rapidly. To temper the eggs, stir a small amount of the hot mixture into the eggs before adding the eggs to the recipe.
EXTRACTS AND PURE FLAVORED OILS
Vanilla is the most popular flavor in the recipes we tested. We use only pure vanilla, lemon, and almond extracts. Pure citrus oils, when substituted for extracts, resulted in some very true flavors, and we provide a source for ordering them (see Sources on page 269).
FLOUR AND GRAINS
Use all-purpose bleached or unbleached flour unless the recipe calls for a specific type, such as bread flour, cake flour, or pastry flour. Some recipes require graham flour or rye flour. We also use yellow and white cornmeal interchangeably. Even though most large grocery chains carry specialty flours, you can order these items by mail or on the Internet (see Sources on page 269). For smooth gravies, we suggest that you use quick-mixing flour, which is finer than regular flour. It is available in grocery stores under the brand name Wondra. We tested several recipes with well-known commercial brands of flour but we found that using store brands produced the same results.
Measure flour by scooping a cup of flour and leveling it with a knife. If a recipe calls for “1 cup sifted flour,” sift the flour and then measure it. If a recipe calls for “1 cup flour, sifted” measure the flour first and then sift it.
FRUIT—FRESH, DRIED, AND CANNED
We use the fruit called for in the original recipe whenever possible. Most of the manuscript cookbooks call for raisins, currants, prunes, cherries, dates, figs, and candied peels such as orange, lemon, or citron. When we did make substitutions, such as dried fruit for fresh or fresh for dried, we noted it. We use fresh fruit when it is in season and buy dried fruit in small quantities. Often, we found that plumping dried fruit in orange juice, tea, or brandy before using added another level of flavor.
We used canned fruit when it was appropriate to the recipe, such as canned pineapple and mandarin orange sections for Dot Luke’s Hawaiian Jellied Salad (page 78) or the cranberry sauce for Aunt Ida’s Apple Cranberry Noodle Pudding (page 229).
LARD AND SALT PORK
We buy only commercial brand lard for use in recipes that call for lard. Old pastry recipes often call for a combination of lard and butter. We found that some cookies and pie crusts were particularly flaky and tender when made from lard or a combination of lard and butter. We also found that using lard gave an old-world flavor and texture to finished dishes. We use commercial brand salt pork to add flavor to heirloom dishes. Salt pork is remarkably salty. Since it might be necessary to remove the tough skin and blanch the salt pork, we suggest that you substitute bacon or pancetta (Italian bacon), when appropriate.
LEMON, ORANGE, AND LIME JUICE AND ZEST
We use medium-sized lemons and oranges, as well as regular-sized Persian limes, with firm, unblemished skins. Use a Microplane zester/grater or a traditional grater to remove the zest or colored part of the rind, leaving behind the bitter white pith. We roll the fruit on a flat surface to break up the juice pockets first. Then cut the fruit in half and juice it on a reamer; strain the juice to remove any seeds. A lemon weighing 4½ ounces yields approximately 2 teaspoons grated zest and 3 tablespoons lemon juice. An orange weighing 6¼ ounces yields approximately 2 tablespoons grated zest and 4 tablespoons orange juice. A 3½-ounce lime yields approximately 2 teaspoons of grated zest and approximately 5 tablespoons lime juice.
Our choice of nuts depended on the original recipe. Walnuts, pecans, peanuts, and almonds were typically found in the larders and pantries of the women whose recipes we tested. Buy nuts in small quantities and store them in sealed and dated plastic bags or covered plastic containers in the freezer to preserve their freshness.
SALT AND PEPPER
"Sisters Marilynn and Sheila Brass have revived dozens of recipes that represent decades of home-cooked comfort food?presenting [an] edible history in this handsome volume."
"Their cooking expertise is difficult to dispute."
"We fell in love with the Brass Sisters at first sight?.[Heirloom Cooking] reads more like an exploration of a cookbook from your grandma?s attic, full of warm memories and cozy notations."
"If you have a hankering for cherished old-time recipes, you?ll appreciate the new "Heirloom Cooking with the Brass Sisters?a fun nostalgic read ? and doable recipes, too."
Selected "Best Outside the Box" cookbook! "One look at [The Brass Sisters?] book and them on the cover and we know we?d like to be cooking in the kitchen with them."
- On Sale
- Jan 6, 2014
- Page Count
- 285 pages
- Black Dog & Leventhal