Thursday, March 31, 2016

Grace's Chocolate Mousse

Simple, delicious, and probably shouldn't be served in a giant ramekin...

When I first introduced Grace, I mentioned how I'd found out that in France, most people don't make their own desserts. It's customary to purchase them at a local bakery or sweet shop instead. But there are two recipes that are exceptions to this rule: the yogurt cake I tried and slightly failed to make in said intro, and chocolate mousse. Which is what we're going to talk about here!

Chocolate mousse has slightly mysterious - or at least murky - origins. No one really knows when it was invented, but we do know that people have been making mousses since the 1700's, and it did get its start in France. Since Europeans had been enjoying chocolate for almost a hundred years at that point, it's not all that surprising to think that someone got the idea to put the two together! Some researchers think it came to be when people started adding eggs to the customary chocolate drink to make it thicker and foamier, and eventually someone added cream and sugar, and presto! Chocolate mousse.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ivy's Chop Suey

The spaghetti and meatballs of Chinese American cuisine!

We've talked a bit in the history of this blog about the misconceptions regarding some "foreign" additions to American cuisine. People can say all they want that corned beef and cabbage or spaghetti and meatballs aren't authentically Irish or Italian food, but the fact of the matter is that they are authentic Irish American and Italian American. People dismissing them as somehow lesser or not as worth eating just because they didn't come from the mother country are essentially dismissing the history of the people who invented, improved and enjoyed the dishes over the years as being unimportant, and it's a trend I wish people would get over.

Another victim of this slander is chop suey, a dish that's notorious for being a terrible American version of good Chinese food.

But what you might not know is that chop suey isn't actually that American (read: white bread, probably Anglo-Saxon) at all.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Samantha's Oatmeal Lace Cookies

Just like the suffragists used to make!

Ever since 1988, March has been declared Women's History Month in the United States, Great Britain and Australia, even though International Women's Day got its start in 1911. I'm not always good at remembering to do posts that coordinate with anything other than major holidays - and even then, I've inconsistently done things for a couple of the big ones - but this year, I knew I wanted to feature a recipe I'd stumbled upon almost a year ago, and kept meaning to bring out!

These simple, delicate cookies first came on my radar thanks to The American Plate by Libby H. O'Connell, and have an interesting origin that make them something that could very easily have made them a favorite recipe of Samantha or Aunt Cornelia. Read on to find out more!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Jane's Cheesecake

What the Pilgrims wanted to eat on the First Thanksgiving!

Wait, what? Gwen, you've got to be kidding us. This can't be a historical recipe. There's no way cheesecake dates back to the 17th century, right?

Well, surprise! It totally does. And it actually has a much, much longer history than that, which is actually pretty well documented compared to some of the other desserts I've shared with you all. The one I made this weekend might not be the New York style cheesecake you're familiar with, but it's still cheesecake, and we might not have the cheesecake we know and enjoy today without this one.

(Might, because who knows. Someone else could've had the idea at some point.)

I know a 17th century cheesecake might sound like a hard sell to some of my readers, but trust me. This one might surprise you!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Emily's Woolton Pie

Want to win the war? Eat more vegetables!

We've done a lot of talking about rationing in Britain and how much worse Emily would have had it than Molly, or just about any middle class kid living in the United States during the war. Something we haven't mentioned in detail is just how often people turned to vegetables for sustenance. The Ministry of Food didn't just encourage people to eat their carrots and potatoes at virtually every meal, they also promoted things like Wheatless Wednesdays and - the horror! - Meatless Mondays, both of which were going to help conserve supplies for the war effort.

This might sound horrifying to my non-vegetarian readers, considering most of us come from societies where meat is pretty much the star of almost every single meal. Remember, this didn't just mean eating a bean and cheese burrito on Monday and calling it a Meatless Monday, this meant vegetables. Lots and lots of vegetables.

And one of the most advertised means of getting these vegetables was named after the Minister of Food himself, and that's what we're making today!

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Samantha's High Tea Lemon Butter Biscuits

The best way to have a send off to our favorite high budget soap opera!

Tonight, the last episode of Downton Abbey airs on PBS, and it's a pretty bittersweet moment for me. All good things have to come to an end, it's true, and I'd rather the show end when it's still watchable than drag on and on and on until you're begging for the writers to put it out of its misery, but I'll miss watching it with my mom on Sunday and wondering what crazy antics everyone will get up to next week.

I knew I wanted to have some kind of send off for the show, and after a lot of deliberation, I decided the best way was to find some kind of tasty tea treat. Nothing else really screams Edwardian elegance as much as a tea party, and while these biscuits might not look like anything special, they've got some really interesting history that would've made them a favorite of anyone living at the Abbey, upstairs or downstairs. They're quick to whip up, don't make an overwhelming amount, and most of the ingredients are things you probably already have in the pantry. If you're looking for a snack to much on during the finale, look no further.

Oh, and they taste pretty great, too. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Felicity Visits the Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum

Re-enact a part of history and get to taste part of it, too!

I spent four years in Boston as an undergrad and did my fair share of stomping around the Freedom Trail and other historic sites in the area. There are still a few I need to check off - Lexington and Concord are a little challenging to get to when you don't have a car! - but here I was thinking I'd done just about everything there was to do in Boston.

And then I found out about the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum, and everything changed. Apparently, a couple cool, new things have been happening in Boston since graduation, and this is definitely one of them. Read on to discover one of the coolest new attractions in the northeast!