FSU Special Collections & Archives Presents: The Great Rare Books Bake Off Appetizer Week

Welcome to the second week of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Great Rare Books Bake Off! This week we will be sharing and attempting appetizer recipes from our collection and also discussing historic measurements. Please visit our introduction post to find out how you can participate.

When reading through older recipes or cookbooks some of the units used for measurement can be confusing. What is a gill? What is the difference between a teacup and a coffee cup? Butter the size of an egg? Measurements were often based on items people commonly had on hand, such as an egg or a teacup, because standard measuring cups and measuring spoons hadn’t come into widespread use yet.

Sometimes the issue is as simple as converting from metric to US customary measurements; many online conversion charts are available.

This blog has a handy printable vintage measurement conversion card that helps if you find a recipe that calls for a gill (1/2 cup), a tumbler (1 cup), a teacup (1/2-3/4 cup), a knob (2 Tbsp), or many more measurements that you may find confusing.

Table of weights and measures, The country kitchen: the farmer recipe book, http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_TX715C8631911

Some recipes that were once widely popular, such as aspic, have since fallen out of favor. Aspic, a savory gelatin/jelly, was once a staple of many households up through the mid-20th century. Traditionally aspic was made by boiling animal bones to produce a gelatinized broth. The gelatin would be placed in a mold with meats, vegetables, and/or eggs. Meats were also sometimes encased in aspic to prolong shelf life and prevent spoiling. Check out my attempt at making aspic later in this post!

All about cookery: a collection of practical recipes arranged in alphabetical order By Isabella Beeton (1890) http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_TX717B421890

Quick aspic jelly: 1.5 oz gelatin, 2 quarts any kind of stock, 1 carrot, 1 turnip, 1 shallot, 3 or 4 cloves, 3 or 4 peppercorns, 1 lemon, 1 Tbsp vinegar, bouquet of herbs, 1 egg white. Put all in a stewpan and whisk over the fire until boiling, let boil, settle for 1/4 hours, then strain.

Aspic jelly moulded with vegetables: 1 pint aspic jelly, any cold boiled vegetables, such as asparagus tops, green peas, carrots, turnips, or beetroot in dice, cucumber, 2 hardboiled eggs. Coat a wetted mould with melted jelly, and when cold arrange in it some of the vegetables, with due regard to color and contrast, then add more jelly and when cool some more vegetables, with the hard-boiled egg cut in slices, and so on until the mould is full.

Luncheon & dinner sweets: including the art of ice making by Charles Herman Senn (1920’s) http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_TX773S461920z

Fruit salad: 4 oz loaf sugar, 1 1/2 gills water, mixed fresh ripe fruits, such as grapes, pears, apricots, pine, etc., flavorings of maraschino, Kirsch, or vanilla, lemon juice. Boil the sugar and water for about 15 minutes, until it is of a syrup-like consistency. Prepare the fruit and cut it into convenient size pieces and place it in a basin. When the syrup is cool, add the flavoring and a few drops of lemon juice; pour over the prepared fruit and leave in a cool place. When cold pour into a glass or silver bowl and decorate to taste and serve. Note-preserved, bottled, or tinned fruits may also be used for this salad, when the syrup from the fruits should be used in making the syrup.

The Country kitchen: the farmer recipe book. (1911) http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_TX715C8631911

Deviled eggs: Boil the eggs 15 minutes; when cold cut in two; take out the yolks and pulverize; add salt, pepper, butter and mustard to taste; then add enough vinegar to mix moist and pack back into the whites.

Aspic Recipe Attempt

I have had a morbid curiosity with aspic since first hearing about it from a family friend, so I was very excited to give it a try. I used the recipes from All about cookery: a collection of practical recipes arranged in alphabetical order by Isabella Beeton (1890) to make a quick aspic jelly and then used it to make a mould with vegetables. I mixed all of the ingredients together, boiled and strained them, then put it in the refrigerator to cool. I was worried I did something wrong because my mixture was very liquidy and had a VERY strong animal smell. After a few hours the mixture had completely solidified into an opaque jelly.

Once the “Quick aspic jelly” was complete, I moved on to the moulding. I covered the bottom of a bowl with melted jelly and began building upwards by alternating jelly with chopped cold chicken and then a final layer of peas. Once all the layers were complete I covered the bowl and let everything set in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning I ran a sharp knife around the edge of the bowl, placed a plate over the top, and inverted both. After a few minutes the moulded jelly down came free of the bowl and settled onto the plate. I realized afterwards that I used beef broth instead of the stock called for in the recipe, which may be why my aspic turned out cloudy instead of clear. It still has the visual effect of traditional aspic though!

Rating: 1 out of 5.

I couldn’t actually bring myself to try it, the smell was just too gross. It was fun as an art project/science experiment though! I can check it off my bucket list -Kristin Hagaman

Join us November 16th as we share main course and side dish recipes!

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