GENERAL COOKING METHODS AND RECIPES FOR VEGETABLES
—Crisp vegetables with tender fiber are eaten raw. Their preparation includes freshening in cold water, thorough washing to remove grit and insects, thorough drying by shaking in a soft cloth or wire basket, and cooling on the ice. Lettuce should not be served so wet that the water collects on the plate, making it impossible to dress the salad with oil.
—Vegetable cooking is an art much neglected, and in consequence vegetables are sometimes served lacking their proper flavor and their original nutrients. To cook vegetables
in boiling salted water, throwing the water away, is not the correct method, except in a few cases. With this method much of the valuable mineral matter and the flavoring substances are lost in the water. With such strong flavored vegetables as the cabbage, old onions and beets, and old potatoes this method is permissible, but even in these cases the nutritive value is decreased.
Principles of cooking.
—Softening of the fiber.
Opening of the starch granules, when starch is present, at a temperature of 212° F. Retaining mineral and flavoring matters.
—These rank in value as they do or do not retain the mineral and flavoring matters.
Baking.—No nutritive material lost. The best method for potatoes and sweet potatoes. Used also for squash, pumpkin, beets, young onions, dried beans, peas, and lentils.
Steaming. (Cooking in a steamer.)—No nutritive material lost. A good method for all fresh vegetables. Steamed vegetables have less flavor than baked.
Stewing.—Cooking in a stew pan or kettle with so little water that it is almost boiled out at the end of the process, any remaining liquid being served with the vegetable. The best method for spinach, which can be cooked with no additional water, beyond that remaining on the leaves from the washing. The French use this method almost entirely, and with tender peas and carrots they omit water and use butter only. A substitute for this latter is a very small amount of water, with the addition of butterine or some good butter substitute.
Boiling.—Cooking in a large amount of boiling, salted water, the water to be drained off and thrown away. May be used with old beets of rank flavor, strong onions, old potatoes, or potatoes boiled with the skins on. A wasteful method.
—Salt, pepper, butter, or some other fat, milk, cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, eggs.
—A vegetable brush, a sharp knife, a chopper, a potato masher, a strainer, a colander, a stew pan, kettle or steamer, baking pan, baking dish, bean pot, frying pan or kettle.
—Wash the vegetables, scrubbing the skin vegetables with a brush. Washing in several waters is important with spinach to remove all grit. Scrape off thin skins or pare off the thicker. Thick skins such as those of old beets are more easily
removed after cooking. The outer covering must be removed in the case of peas, shell beans, and sweet corn. Pull or cut strings from string beans with great care. Discard all poor portions. Remove and throw away the inner pulp and seeds of old squashes and pumpkins. The whole of a tender summer squash is eatable.
When boiling salted water is used, allow one tablespoonful of salt to four quarts of water. Steamed and stewed vegetables are salted and dressed with butter or butter substitute before serving. Butter is a better dressing for vegetables than white sauce. Where cream is available, nothing is so delicious. Use white sauce very sparingly with some escalloped vegetable for variety. Making a sauce adds to the labor of preparation, and the sauce hides the delicious flavor of a well-cooked vegetable. Some vegetables are mashed before serving; potatoes, turnip, squash, either boiled or baked.
Time of cooking.
—The following table is a guide, but one must learn from practice, for the time depends upon the quality of the vegetable, whether tender or tough, and upon the size whether large or small. Test by gently inserting a fork.
Allow more time for cooking in a steamer, than for stewing or boiling. It requires more time to bake a potato than to boil one of the same size. Why?
Time-table (For stewing and boiling unless stated otherwise.)
15 minutes.—Tender cabbage and sweet corn. These are usually cooked too long.
30 minutes.—Asparagus; peas; potatoes of medium size; summer squash; tomatoes.
45 minutes.—Young beets and carrots; onions; young parsnips; medium potatoes baked, sweet potatoes boiled.
1 hour.—String and shelled beans; cauliflower; oyster plant; winter squash, steamed or baked; young turnips.
2 hours.—Old carrots, beets, and turnips.
6 - 8 hours (or more).—Dried beans, lentils, and peas, baked in the oven, with water added.
The potato, a starchy vegetable.
—Make it your pride to serve a plain potato, mealy and inviting. Potatoes are “new,” fully ripe, and old. The new potato is in market in July and August, and may be recognized by its very thin skin. The later potatoes have a thicker skin, the color still being fresh. In the spring after
its winter storage, the potato is “old.” It seems a little less firm, the color of the exterior is somewhat changed; perhaps the buds in the eyes of the potato are beginning to grow. When cooked it has a stronger flavor, and rather darker color. If the potato has been frozen, a sweet flavor is developed, and the quality is waxy. Potatoes are sometimes inferior in quality when the season is a poor one, or when some potato disease is prevalent. The following classification shows you in how many ways potatoes may be cooked, and also shows you how easy it is to classify recipes in an orderly way.
Potatoes cooked whole.
a. With skin.
b. Without skin.
a. With skin.
b. Without skin.
a. With skin.
b. Without skin.
Potatoes, not whole.
- From raw potatoes
a. Sliced and escalloped.
b. Cut in cubes and stewed.
c. Cut in slices or fancy shapes and fried.
2. From cooked potatoes.
(a) From boiled potatoes, plain or browned on top.
(b) From baked potatoes, seasoned and served in shell.
b. Creamed. From either cold-boiled or baked potatoes; the latter are better.
(a) Sliced and browned.
(b) Hashed and browned.
If you know some other method, see if you can fit it into this grouping.
1. Baked potatoes.
Method 1. The best method, for new potatoes. Select those of uniform size. When scrubbed, place them in a shallow
pan, or upon the rack of the oven. The oven should be hot, about 450° F. or even a higher temperature. The length of time required depends upon the size of the potato, forty-five minutes being the average time.
A potato is largely water. What is the temperature of the interior of the potato during the baking process?
Test by pressing firmly, protecting the fingers by a soft cloth; or insert a fork. When the potato is done, it yields to the pressure of the fingers. If the potatoes cannot be served at once, break the skin that the steam may escape, cover with a cloth, and keep them hot.
For convenience at the table, cut the potatoes in two lengthwise, loosen the content of each half with a fork, sprinkle with salt, and add a bit of butter, as much as one would add at the table.
Potato on the half shell carries serving one step farther. Cut the baked potatoes in two lengthwise, remove the contents, mash lightly, add butter or butterine, milk, and salt, allowing a teaspoonful of butter, a tablespoonful of milk and a shake or two of salt to each potato.
These measurements cannot be given with exactness, because potatoes vary in size. Beat this mixture well, replace lightly in each half shell, and brown the tops slightly. This is nothing more than mashed baked potato, prettily served.
Invent other variations of this dish, adding ingredients that are agreeable when mixed with the potato. The beaten white of an egg added, gives greater lightness to the mixture in the potato shell.
Method 2. The same as Method 1, except that the potatoes are pared before baking. A good method when the skins are not fair. A brown crust is formed on the potato, which is crisp and pleasant to eat. Large potatoes may be cut in two before baking, or even sliced.
What difference in length of baking will there be between Methods 1 and 2?
2. Boiled potatoes.
The only way to prevent the loss of nutrients in using this process is to boil the potatoes with the “jackets” on. This is the best way with new potatoes. This method with ripe and old potatoes gives a yellowish color to the surface and
indeed throughout. It is a labor-saving method for the busy housewife, as the skin cracks and loosens at the end of the boiling process, and is easily removed.
If you choose to have a snow-white potato, it must be pared before boiling, and thus you deliberately waste the valuable mineral matter provided by nature. If your income permits this æsthetic pleasure, the mineral matter can of course be supplied in other vegetables. The person should boil the potatoes with the skins on and gratify her artistic sense in some other way.
The method of boiling is the same in either case, whether the potato is pared or not.
Have enough boiling water to cover the potatoes. Put the potatoes of uniform size one at a time into the kettle that the boiling may not stop.
Allow a gentle boiling to continue until the potatoes are done.
Test with a fork at the end of half an hour.
When the potatoes are mellow, drain off the water, and set the kettle where the remaining moisture will steam off. Shake gently to hasten this process, and sprinkle the potatoes with salt. If they must stand before serving will you place a tin cover or a cloth over the kettle? Old potatoes, with a strong flavor, should be pared before boiling, or even soaked in cold water.
3. Mashed potatoes
Some one devised this convenient method of serving, to save trouble at the table.
Mashed potato can be very poor and unappetizing when wet and lumpy.
Do not attempt it with new, poor, or old potatoes. See that the boiled potatoes are as dry as can be—every particle of water steamed away.
Mash thoroughly with the wire masher, add butter or butterine, salt and milk in about the proportions given for potato in the half shell.
Use a tablespoonful or so of cream if it is available. Beat vigorously. The mealiness of the potato and the vigorous beating are the secrets of success.
The finished product should be light and somewhat moist,—not wet. Reheat in the kettle. Pile lightly in a hot dish and serve; or brown the top before serving.
Potato puff. (Soufflé.)—With your knowledge of mashed potato, can you not invent a potato puff?
4. Escalloped potato
The name escalloped is applied to any baked dish that is arranged in layers. Escalloped potato is a palatable dish and this is one of the most economical of methods.
Wash, pare, and slice the potatoes in 1⁄4-inch pieces. Slightly grease an earthen or enameled baking dish.
Cover the bottom of the dish with a layer of the slices, sprinkle the slices lightly with flour, and put on two teaspoonfuls of butter, or butterine, in small bits. Continue until the dish is nearly full. Pour in milk to barely cover the potatoes, put a cover on the dish and set the dish in an oven of 380° F. Remove the cover in time to allow the top to brown. Allow rather more than half an hour for the baking.
5. Creamed potatoes.
Method 1, an easy way. Chop cold baked potatoes with the chopper. Allow one tablespoonful of butter to 1 pint of chopped potato. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
Stir in the potatoes.
Shake from the dredger the equivalent of a tablespoonful of flour, stirring the potato with one hand as you shake with the other.
Pour in enough milk to barely cover the chopped potato.
Set the saucepan in the coolest spot on the range; or on the simmering burner of a gas range, upon an asbestos mat; or turn all into an earthenware jar, or baking dish, and proceed as with escalloped potato.
Allow the mixture to cook until it becomes creamy.
Method 2. Cut the cold potatoes in cubes, and heat in a thin white sauce. See Chapter X.
Boiled potatoes may be used, but baked are better in texture and flavor for creaming.
6. French fried potatoes.
Wash and pare small potatoes, cut in eighths lengthwise, and soak a few minutes in cold water.
Take from water, dry between towels, and fry in deep fat. Drain on brown paper and sprinkle with salt.
- Deep fat frying.—An iron kettle is the best for deep fat, 3 quarts a convenient size. A wire basket is almost necessary for frying soft material.
Fill the kettle 1⁄2 full of fat and place over fire. When a slight blue smoke or vapor rises from it, it is ready to test. Test with small cubes of bread. If bread browns in 1 minute, the temperature is right for uncooked mixtures. If it browns
in 10 seconds, it is right for cooked materials. Care must be taken to keep the temperatures at the right point, for if too cool, the material will soak fat; if too hot, both fat and material to be cooked will burn.
(2) To clarify fat.—Drop several slices raw, pared potato into the fat and let bubble up. Strain all through cheesecloth back into pail from which fat was taken. The potatoes seem to absorb food odors and collect crumbs and leave the fat clear.
7. Stewed celery.
A green vegetable. Stalks of celery, too tough or coarse for serving uncooked, are delicious when stewed. The process is simple. Wash, scrape, and cut the stalks crosswise. Place them in a stewpan, barely cover with hot water, adding a teaspoonful of salt to a pint of celery. Cook gently for half an hour or until the celery is tender. Use the liquid remaining in making a sauce, adding some milk to make the necessary amount of liquid. Three fourths of a cup of sauce is enough for a pint of celery.
The method given makes cabbage a delicious and attractive vegetable, as delicate as cauliflower, and the odor in the kitchen is not noticeable.
Select a small cabbage, with the ribs in the leaves not too thick. Prepare the cabbage before washing it by cutting out the stalks from below with a sharp knife. Separate the leaves. Have ready the largest kettle available, nearly full of rapidly boiling water. Drop in one cabbage leaf at a time, pressing each one down with a long-handled spoon or skimmer.
Do this so slowly that the water does not stop boiling. Leave the kettle uncovered, and allow the cabbage to cook from 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the leaf stalks.
Remove the leaves with a long-handled skimmer, putting them into a colander standing on a plate.
Immediately pour the hot water down the sink drain, turn on the cold water to flush away the odor, and fill the kettle with cold water.
While the cabbage is cooking, you have made a pint of white sauce, No. 2 (Ch. X), adding a teaspoonful of salt, and have prepared 1⁄2 cup of buttered crumbs. Cut the cabbage leaves slightly, place them in a baking dish, pour the white sauce over them, sprinkle the crumbs on the top, and brown the crumbs in the
oven or under the gas. If you can, prepare this as a surprise at home, and ask the family to “guess” what it is. If the cabbage is a good one, some of the leaves turn a very pretty green with this method of boiling.
9. Baked beans.—A nitrogenous vegetable and a meat substitute. A dish known in old days in New England, baked to perfection in the old brick oven. Baked beans seem difficult of digestion for some people. The mustard is supposed to be helpful, and adds something to the flavor. If the molasses is omitted, or but a small amount used, and if butter takes the place of pork or suet, the beans seem more digestible. In different parts of New England the dish is varied. Some people prefer rather dry baked beans, others wish them moist and very sweet.
Utensils.—A kettle. A covered bean pot.
1 quart of white beans.
1 teaspoonful of soda.
1⁄4 lb. salt pork or more, or
4 tablespoonfuls of beef fat or butter substitute.
Molasses, from two tablespoonfuls to 1⁄2 cup, or none.
1 teaspoonful of mustard.
Method.—Wash, and soak the beans in cold water over night. Pour off any water that remains. Put the beans into the kettle, cover with cold water, add the soda, and cook gently until the beans are slightly softened. The soda aids the softening. Pour off the water again, and put the beans into the pot. Mix the molasses and mustard with a pint of water, and pour this over the beans, adding more water if the beans are not covered. Place the pork or other fat upon the beans, and cover the pot. If fat other than pork is used, salt must be added to the beans. The beans should bake slowly, for from 6 to 8 hours, and even longer in a very slow oven. A stove of the type shown in Fig. 17 is good for this purpose. They
can be baked in the ordinary gas oven, if only one burner is used, and that is turned very low.
Laboratory management.—The last experiment is the only one not easily performed in the school kitchen. The process, can begin perhaps on one day, and be finished the next. If there is some apparatus that cooks at a low temperature, the practical difficulties may be overcome.
Vegetable, or “cream” soups.
These are of two classes: the purées (porridge), or thick soups, with vegetable pulp as the thickening material, and the cream soups, which are somewhat thinner, the juices of some vegetable giving the flavor.
Potato purée, or soup, is an example of the first; cream of tomato of the second. The line is not sharply drawn between the two in many cook books. Milk is an important ingredient in these soups, so that they are sometimes known as milk soups. Butter and flour are used in both,—the flour in the purée “binds” the mixture and makes it smoother; in the cream soup the flour is used for thickening as well.
Dried beans, peas, or lentils make a delicious purée, the secret of success being long slow cooking in some low temperature apparatus. They are brought to perfection in the Atkinson Cooker.
10. Potato Pureé.
Potato 1 cup
Milk 1 quart
Flour 1 tablespoonful
Butter 1 tablespoonful
Salt 2 teaspoonfuls
Celery stalks, cut small 1 teaspoonful
Onion, chopped 1 tablespoonful
Pepper, Cayenne To taste.
Remarks.—If a thicker purée is desired, use more of the mashed potato. If celery salt is used, omit one teaspoonful of the salt. Less onion may be used, and the pepper omitted.
Utensils.—Make the list yourself, after reading the directions for mixing.
Method of mixing.—Boil and mash the potato, or use cold mashed potato. Heat the milk in the double boiler with the celery and onion. Add the milk gradually to the mashed potato, beating vigorously.
Put this mixture through a strainer into the double boiler,
and reheat it. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, or stir in the flour, add slowly half a cup of the soup to the butter and flour paste, and then pour this slowly into the mixture in the double boiler, stirring all the time. The soup will be ready to serve in about ten minutes.
The important point in this recipe is the quality of the mashed potato. It should be dry and light. It may be made from hot, mealy baked potatoes. If cold mashed potato is used, this should be made light again with a fork. An excellent luncheon dish. Will serve four to six people.
11. Cream of tomato soup.
Tomato juice 1⁄2 cup
Milk 1 quart
Flour 2 tablespoonfuls
Butter 2 tablespoonfuls
Salt 2 teaspoonfuls
Bicarbonate of soda 1⁄2 teaspoonful
Pepper, Cayenne To taste.
Remarks.—Celery and onion may be added, but are not necessary. When you become expert, you will be able to use a larger amount of tomato juice, and even omit the soda.
Method of mixing.—This you will be able to work out for yourself. First perform this simple experiment. Stir together a tablespoonful of stewed tomato and a tablespoonful of milk. What happens? Heat this mixture. What further do you notice? How may you best extract the juice from the tomato? You have noticed the effect of the acid tomato upon the milk. The soda is added to partly counteract this effect. Will you stir the soda into the tomato juice or into the milk? Will you stir the tomato juice into the milk, or the milk into the tomato juice? Will you cook the mixture at all? How long before serving will you mix the two? When will you add the butter and flour?
Laboratory management.—An individual portion of soup may be made with 1⁄2 cup of liquid, but it is better to allow 1 cup when possible to each pupil, or two pupils may work together.
The important point in this soup is to prevent the curdling, so you safeguard the milk at each step.
Croutons may be served with any of these soups.
12. Chili sauce.
Tomatoes 12, medium sized and ripe
Green pepper 1, finely chopped
Vinegar 2 cups
Sugar 3 tablespoonfuls
Salt 1 tablespoonful
Clove 2 teaspoonfuls
Cinnamon 2 teaspoonfuls
Allspice 2 teaspoonfuls
Nutmeg 2 teaspoonfuls grated
Method.—Peel tomatoes and slice into a preserving kettle. Add other ingredients and heat to the boiling point. Cook slowly two and one half hours. Pour into preserve jars and seal.