Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Egg Balls

Egg Balls
submitted by Mrs. Charles Waring
Charleston Receipts p. 27
I'm sure there's a "which-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg" joke in here somewhere, but it's not coming to me.

As mentioned last time, a recent jaunt through Pilot Mountain, NC, snagged me a 1950 copy of "Charleston Receipts", still available in a recent edition on Amazon, if you're interested. With treats like the above, as well as "Mrs. Alston Pringle's Calf's Head Soup", "Hog's Head Cheese", and "Ham Paste", how could you resist?

As to the book's title, my crack Googling skills tell me that receipt and recipe both derive from the Latin recipere, "to receive or take". Receipt was first used in medieval English as a formula or prescription for a medicinal preparation (Chaucer is the first known user, in the Canterbury Tales of about 1386). The sense of “a written statement saying that money or goods have been received” only arrived at the beginning of the seventeenth century.
Recipe is the imperative, "take!", from the same Latin root. It was traditionally the first word in a prescription, heading the list of ingredients. This was often abbreviated to a letter R with a bar through the leg, the origin of the standard "Rx" abbreviation in pharmaceutical circles. Recipe has been used alongside receipt since the eighteenth century in the sense of cookery instructions, gradually replacing it over time. 
It’s by no means entirely defunct even today. It was used on British television, up to the late 1990s, on  Two Fat Ladies, featuring Clarissa Dickson Wright and the late Jennifer Paterson, who invariably spoke of receipts. It is also said with regularity by my mother.
So, on to the Egg Balls.  I had a house full of company when I made them, and, being by now a minor regional celebrity, the prospect of Egg Balls being made caused quite a bit of excitement, as one would imagine, one guest even insisting on observing the creative process from start to finish.
The recipe:
4 eggs
1/2 pound butter
Salt and red pepper
Worcestershire sauce
Celery seed
Bread crumbs

Cream hard boiled eggs with butter. Season to taste with red pepper, Worcestershire sauce and celery seed. Make into balls, put in ice box to set, then roll in rich bread crumbs that have been browned in oven. Equal parts of mashed fish and a few pinches of chopped parsley may be added to creamed eggs and rolled in bread crumbs. Makes 16-18 balls.

A couple of disclaimers: I didn't have celery seed, so I used celery salt. I also used bread crumbs right out of the box, assuming that modern technology had eliminated the need to brown them myself.  

I also opted out of the mashed fish suggestion.

What we thought: My guests, for some strange reason, were over the moon with this dish. (But they're young, they lack the life experience to discern a really fine canap√©.) The Egg Balls were so popular, I'm not sure Husband even had a chance to try one. As for me, it's not something I could exactly complain about. They taste like egg on buttered toast, if you took the egg on buttered toast, rolled it into a ball, and stuck it in the freezer for 15 minutes. I suppose 1950's hostesses needed something familiar-tasting-yet-oddly-too-cold to serve to guests in the days before you could buy 1500 pinwheel sandwiches at Sam's Club.
Our Rating: Two screaming husbands
(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Twofer: Bleu Cheese De Luxe Mold w/ Lazy Man's Old-Fashioned

Bleu Cheese De Luxe Mold
Joys of Jell-O page 74
Lazy Man's Old-Fashioned
Contributed  by Samuel Gaillard Stoney
Charleston Receipts page 12
My secret dream of creating a buffalo-chicken-inspired Jell-O mold recipe - oh wait, it's not a secret anymore, is it? - came one step closer this week, with the Joys of Jell-O approved Bleu Cheese De Luxe Mold. I wasn't sure if Bleu Cheese, an essential ingredient in any buffalo chicken-inspired dish, would hold up to gelatinization, but thankfully we can all rest easy on that front.

Auto-correct didn't change "gelatinization", so I'm assuming it's an actual word.

"Joys of Jell-O", uncharacteristically, didn't have an exuberant sentence describing the thrill your guests would get from tasting this dish, opting instead for a flat "This mold is delicious as spread for crackers or apple wedges or as a salad."  Period the end.  Regardless, I was anxious to test the viability of bleu cheese, as well as to use my beautiful new individual  copper molds which I scored for 75 cents each at an antique store in Pilot Mountain, NC, the oft-overlooked neighbor to Mt. Airy, birthplace of Andy Griffith, and the inspiration for TV's Mayberry.  Pilot Mountain is, of course, the inspiration for the frequently-mentioned Mt. Pilot, but today is forgotten by the tourists who flock to Mt. Airy, which has fully embraced its pop culture bonafides. But the real Pilot Mountain after which the town is named cuts an imposing figure on the landscape, and is worth a visit if you're in the area.
Pilot Mountain, North Carolina
Now, for the recipe:
1 3-oz. package Jell-O Lemon Gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup crumbled bleu cheese
2 cups finely diced unpeeled red apple (optional)

Dissolve Jell-O Gelatin in boiling water. Add cold water and wine. Then blend in sour cream. Chill until very thick. Stir in cheese and apples. Pour into a 1-quart mold or individual molds. Chill until firm. Unmold on lettuce and serve with crackers or apple wedges.

To the above I took the liberty of adding bacon bits. Because bacon.  And I did use the optional diced apple in the mold.

What we thought: Husband loved this, probably more than anything I've yet made.  I had four individual molds, and offered some to overnight guests who happened to be in town.  One, with a known dislike for all sweets including fruit, didn't care so much for it.  The other loved it.

I myself could have done without the apples.  Once I had a taste of savory, I wanted that taste only, which the apples interfered with. Maybe skip the apples in the mold and follow the suggestion to serve it with apple wedges. Or, maybe forego the bacon, to cut down on the saltiness and not create such a clash of flavors?  Though foregoing bacon is not in my nature.

To accompany the mold, I mixed up a couple of Lazy Man's Old-Fashioneds, from "Charleston Receipts", a copyright 1950 cookbook also scored at the antique shop. The recipe:

1 tsp. orange marmalade
3 dashes angostura bitters
1 finger light rum or whiskey
crushed ice to fill glass

Stir until it tastes right; add spirits, if necessary, to the result.

You can see in the photo that I veered from the instructions; I used two fingers of bourbon, and shook the concoction with ice so it could be served in a martini glass.  I also used cranberry-orange marmalade, because it's what I had in the fridge. I'm not going to rate the drink, because it's a drink. What's not to like?
Our Rating: Zero screaming husbands

(all dishes are rated from one to five Screaming Husbands. One Screaming Husband equals a happy home where all problems are solved during cocktail hour. Five Screaming Husbands signals the beginning of divorce proceedings.)