This was a lovely find at the local Goodwill Bookstore.
I will have to dedicate an entire blog post to cookbooks soon I think. Do you know that there are people who buy cookbooks JUST to read them, they may not even cook, ever. Cookbooks stack up on their night stand and pile up on their coffee table never to get milk splashed on them or to find spices in their creases and notes written along the margins. I confess, I can be one of these people easily and sometimes I am, but I do like to cook occasionally. To adequately write a retro food blog it's necessary to collect cookbooks from as far back as I can find them. I classify this under 'necessary research' in order to spend hours digging through stacks of old books at thrift stores. I recently found, 'The Seducer's Cookbook', so be watching out for a sultry recipe and some advice on the lost art of seduction coming soon. Anyway, back to searching for cookbooks. An interesting note on cookbooks,one of the oldest ever discovered to date is from the reign of King Richard II some 600 years ago. It contains a collection of 150 recipes from delicacies for the royal family as well as meals for servants. Items such as peacock, swan, and puff pastries. However there have been recipes found from as far back as Roman times.
Modern cookbooks are a whole other story though, they really didn't come into popularity until the 1950's. My current Goodwill find, 'Cooking for Two' was published in 1929 by Janet McKenzie Hill. The subtitle is; A Handbook for Young Housekeepers. I especially like the Forward; "The best things are nearest...Then do not grasp at the stars, but do life's plain, common work as it comes, certain that daily duties and daily bread are the sweetest things of life."
I've noticed with older cookbooks that the recipes are not laid out as we are used to seeing them today, a list of ingredients with step by step directions. Instead, they are in paragraph form and very often missing pertinent pieces of information such as temperature of oven, how many of something to make, and how long to cook it, just to name a few. But what they do often include...handwritten notes!! I ADORE handwritten notes, whether it is nothing more than adjustments to the ingredients or personal notes on the front cover...I love, love, love them. 'Cooking for Two' has two such notes. The first, how to clean silver...aahhh, very helpful in 1929 but no so much now. The second, this book was given to a daughter by her father and he wrote her a silly little note. (You can click on the picture to enlarge.)
The Recipe -This recipe is meant to be used with leftovers of chicken and mashed potatoes.
Chicken Bechamel in Potato Patty Cases
1 1/3 cups left-over shredded or cubed chicken
2 Tbls. of butter
2 Tbls. of flour
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/4 tsp. of paprika
1/2 cup of chicken broth
1/2 cup of heavy cream or milk
3 cups of seasoned mashed potatoes (salt and pepper)
1 yolk of egg
What you need:
The left over potatoes should be room temperature or warmed and moist enough to flow through a pastry bag easily. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, butter a cookie sheet or put down parchment paper. Spread rounds of potato 1/2 an inch thick and 3 inches in diameter.
Add the rest of potatoes to a pastry bag. (No pastry bag? Use a sandwich bag and just cut off a corner.) Pipe potatoes around potato disk and build up the sides, forming a basket or bowl shape.
The directions say to brush outside of baskets with a lightly beaten egg yolk, I did this but I don't think it is necessary.
Place in preheated oven and bake until browned. This portion didn't go so well for me. I think if I had left it in the oven longer, at least 15-20 minutes, it would have browned. But I was rushing and it wasn't browning quickly enough so I turned on the broiler to brown it. Which it did, but it also melted down the basket shape and turned it into a big blob of potatoes browned on top.
Now on to the chicken:
Melt your butter, add in flour and whisk, add in broth, mix well and add in milk. Continue to whisk until thick like a gravy. Add in salt, pepper, and paprika. Essentially this is what is called a 'bechamel' sauce or 'rue'. It is used as the base for many sauces such as cheese sauce for macaroni and a gravy base for breakfast sausage gravy.
Fold in your shredded chicken.
Fill potato baskets with chicken mixture.
Okay, so I am the first to admit these really do not look very appetizing. It was difficult to even get an acceptable picture of them. But they tasted great! Eternally hungry husband and I really like it. There was something very comfort foodie about it. Eternally hungry husband suggested chives in the potatoes might be a good idea and I concur, it would add another layer of flavor.
I didn't use leftovers, I used a rotisserie chicken and made fresh mashed potatoes and the recipe was very easy and quick to put together. I know, I know, piping potatoes with a pastry bag! Take my word for it, easy schmeasy, it really doesn't take much effort.
We'll be making this again and I hope YOU give it a try!