WWII Ration Week: Day Two


Day Two started on a somewhat less healthy note than Day One. Whoops. Let’s have a look.

Breakfast
Bacon Buttie
Tea

Lunch
Leftover ‘Everything In’ stew
A piece of wholemeal bread
Tea

Afternoon Tea
Mandarin
ANZAC Biscuit
Tea

Dinner
Bacon and vegetable pastie

One may think that I’m getting sick of eating the stew by now, but it’s quite the contrary. Admittedly, as a young woman who is usually only cooking for herself, I’m quite used to preparing meals to last over several days. Besides, the stew has only gotten more delicious with each passing day

My only other real observation for the day is that I’m quite sure that I’m going to have no problem with making my meat, vegetables and fruit last me for the entire week. To be honest, I highly doubt that I even eat 1.1kg of meat in an ordinary week. What I’m discovering is that it’s the butter and oil that are going to be the biggest issue during the last few days. As such, I’ve been saving as much drippings as possible.

One other quick issue is the fact that I work for a chocolate company and have had to be incredibly resilient about samples. In case you were wondering, adults were allowed 90g of sweets during the rationing period.

In closing, here is my recipe for the bacon and vegetable pasties I made tonight. They were incredibly tasty, and a lot less time consuming to make than I originally anticipated. The only downside is that I only have roughly a quarter of my butter ration left. As you’ll notice, I had to get a bit creative.

Ingredients

Pastry

1 cup flour (I used wholemeal)
3 tsp baking powder
1 large pinch of salt
6 tbs of butter (I substituted dripping for 3 tbs)
Herbs and pepper, to taste
Water, to bind

Filling

You really can use anything you like, but I used:

1 rasher bacon, diced
1 small potato, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 large mushrooms, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
Mixed herbs (I used parsley and chives from my garden)

Method

Preheat your oven at 200°C

Pastry

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the baking power, salt and any herbs you may like to add

Rub in the butter, or any substitute that you’re using

Bind the mixture with water. I recommend using a small amount of time, as to not get the mixture too wet

Divide the pastry into 4 pieces and roll out each one into a circle

Filling

Cook the carrots and potatos until medium soft

In a separate pan, cook off the bacon. Keep the drippings.

Add the rest of the vegetables and your herbs until cooked. Add the bacon back in.  I also added a gravy effect by stirring in some  of my leftover stew broth with flour.

Put the mixture in the middle of each pastry circle

Wet the edges of the pastry with just a little bit of water. I recommend using your fingertips

Pull over one side of the pastry and press the edges down. I also used a fork to make an edging effect.

Prick the top of the pastry and brush with a small amount of milk

Cook for 25 – 30 minutes, until crisp and golden

Eat!

In Honour of Remembrance Day


Those of you who follow Delicious History on Twitter may remember that a few weeks ago I tweeted about Remembrance Day, which will fall next Sunday – 11/11/12.

This year I wanted to do more than just remember those who have endured the hardships war. I wanted to take it a step further by experiencing a small element of what they lived through.

I have done a great deal of research into the rationing and food restrictions placed on the Australian Home Front during WWII, and I can say that it certainly puts into perspective how indulgent and wasteful modern society is. As such, for the week leading up to Remembrance Day, I intend to live off these same rations and restrictions, utilize authentic 1940s rationing recipes, and to document the experience.

I am of course aware that this will in no way compare to the hardship and loss experienced by those who have actually lived through war. However, I thought that this small gesture would give me a more informed understanding and enlightenment into how their sacrifices enabled modern Australians to live such privileged lives.

I have done my best to be as accurate as possible when it comes to the rationing amounts per adult per week, although I’m sure that it won’t be 100% correct.

Here is a list of the foods that have finite restrictions that I will be utilizing over the next seven days:

Fresh Meat – 1.1kg
I have chosen bacon, chuck steak and sausages. The latter is due to the fact that sausages weren’t rationed, and the bacon and steak because they were cheaper and more readily available during wartime.

I should also mention that Spam was a common commodity during WWII, so I’ll be exposing my body to it in the name of historical enquirey. I haven’t tried it before, and I must say that I’m rather apprehensive/terrified. In addition, thinking about it makes Monty Python invade my internal monologue.

Sugar – 450g
I actually don’t have a great deal of sugar in my diet, so I can’t see this being much of a setback. However, I do plan on doing some baking so it’ll be interesting to see if any difficulties crop up.

Butter – 225g
Same as the sugar

Milk – 1.2L
Same as the sugar and butter, but to a somewhat lesser extent. I mostly use milk in my tea and coffee.

Cooking Oil – 50g
I’m unsure as to whether this is going to be much of an issue as yet. However, I do plan on utilizing the ‘save the grease’ principle of rationing which will help stretch my budget out.

Fruits and Vegetables
There were no ration restrictions placed on fruits or vegetables, however, they were subject to availability. In order to be as authentic as possible I ordered a seasonal fruit and vegetable box from Coles. I won’t know what I’m getting until it’s arrived and I will have to make do with whatever I get.

Flour and Bread
Again, these items weren’t rationed, but wholemeal was the standard fare so that’s what I’ll be using. My main challenge here will be with the bread. I can take a month to go through a single loaf and thus keep it in the freezer. I won’t have that luxury this week and will therefore need to think of creative ways to utilize the slices that start going stale. Afterall, one wasted nothing during wartime.

FYI, French Toast is out, because unless you had your own hens, you were only allowed one fresh egg per week.

Herbs
It was highly encouraged that people kept herb and vegetable gardens (known as Victory Gardens) to supplement their diets and to reduce the strain on food demand. Luckily I have a herb garden, which will come in handy when I need to jazz up relatively plain recipes.

Tea – 45g
Tea was in short supply during WWII due to the blocking of trade routes from Asia. I’m actually quite worried about this restriction, because I drink an obscene amount of tea.

I hope you all follow my little culinary adventure through history – as I said, I’ll be documenting it daily. I’m really looking forward to the experience and hope that it makes me more appreciative for what I have, and the sacrifices made to enable my relatively cushy lifestyle.

Eggs Benedict – The Breakfast Food of Champions


I strongly believe that the greatest example of human advancement is breakfast foods. A controversial statement, I know. For those who would argue that advances in technology, infrastructure and medical research are more worthy candidates for this honour – I’m afraid that you’re terribly misguided and need to spend some serious time reflecting on your life.

So, why am I of this opinion? Think about it – sweet AND savoury flavours are socially accepted norms at the breakfast table. You simply cannot beat that.

I’d have to say that my favourite breakfast concoction is Eggs Benedict. Why? Because I’m not a commy bastard, that’s why.

As per usual, there are conflicting accounts of how this magically delicious meal came to be. Here’s a couple of the more interesting ones:

The earliest account of the Benedict comes from the 1860s.  Credit is given to Delmonico’s Restaurant – the first restaurant/dining hall to be opened in the United States.  A regular patron of the restaurant, Mrs. LeGrand Benedict, was bored with the menu and asked the chef,  Charles Ranhofer, whether there was anything new he could cook for her. He suggested poached eggs on toasted English muffins with a thin slice of ham, topped with hollandaise sauce and a truffle.

I wish being a demanding bitch resulted in getting a delicious breakfast dish named after me. I suppose having a name such as ‘LeGrand’ would help.

Ranhofer went onto include a recipe for Eggs Benedict in a cookbook that he published in 1894. He called it ‘Eggs à la Benedick’, and had by this time removed the truffle from the list of ingredients.

The Lovely Katie took a photo of the delicious looking Eggs Benedict she had over the weekend. As you may notice it includes spinach. I knew I wasn’t crazy…

1894 seems to be intimately intertwined with the history of the Benedict, because it’s from this year that my favourite account of its creation hails. This story first appeared in an issue of the New Yorker from 1942, and was based on an interview with one Lemuel Benedict, a retired Wall Street broker.

Mr. Benedict claimed that he was dining at the The Waldorf one morning whilst suffering from a particularly nasty hangover. In order to combat his ailment he ordered “some buttered toast, crisp bacon, two poached eggs, and a hooker of hollandaise sauce” The Waldorf’s chef, Oscar Tschirky, was so impressed with this invention that he put the dish on his breakfast and luncheon menus. Are you at all surprised that the Benedict may have started out as a therapeutic hangover cure? Me either.

Meanwhile, I’m going to personally crusade to bring back the term ‘hooker’ as a name for crockery and containers.

“Honey, can you put the gravy hooker on the table?”

So kids, I have a bit of a confession to make. After many years of eating Eggs Bennie, I have only recently discovered that traditional recipes do not include spinach, despite the fact that I always seem to get it in restaurants. As many of you are probably aware, spinach is in fact a substitute for the ham or bacon, which renders the dish as Eggs Florentine. Despite the error of my ways, I stand firmly by the belief that the Benedict is greatly enhanced by the inclusion of spinach, and not just because it makes me strong like Popeye.

My discovery (and subsequent food-knowledge shame) inspired me to look up other variations of Eggs Benedict – and good lord are there a lot of them.  Enjoy the long and fascinating list!

  • Eggs Blackstone – adds a tomato slice. OUTRAGEOUS.
  • Eggs Florentine – As discussed,  substitutes spinach for the ham.
  • Eggs Mornay – Surprise, surprise, it substitutes the Hollandaise with Mornay sauce.
  • Eggs Atlantic or Eggs Hemingway – Substitutes salmon  for the ham. This is a common variation found in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. This variation can also be referred to as Eggs Royale or Eggs Montreal in New Zealand, and Eggs Benjamin in Canada. In Australia, I’ve only ever seen it referred to as  ‘Eggs Benedict with Salmon’. Yeah, we’re original like that.
  • Huevos Benedict – Substitutes either sliced avocado or chorizo for the ham, and is topped with both a salsa and hollandaise sauce.
  • Oeufs a la Benedictine – Replaces the ham with salted cod and the muffins with potatoes.
  • Eggs Hussarde – Substitutes Holland rusks (similar to melba toast) for the English muffin and adds Bordelaise sauce.
  • Eggs Sardou  – First served  in a New Orleans restaurant. Originally, it replaced the English muffin and ham with artichoke bottoms, topped with anchovy fillets.  On top of the egg and hollandaise sauce was a dollop of chopped ham and a slice of truffle. A more widespread version of the dish starts with a base of creamed spinach, substitutes artichoke bottoms for the English muffin, and eliminates the ham.
  • Artichoke Benedict – Replaces the English muffin with a hollowed artichoke.
  • Country Benedict – Replaces the English muffin, ham and hollandaise sauce with an American biscuit, sausage patties, and country gravy. The poached eggs are replaced with fried. This is also sometimes called Eggs Beauregard.
  • Irish Benedict –  Replaces the ham with corned beef.
  • Eggs à la Commodore – Poached eggs and béchamel sauce over pâté de foie gras purée spread on grilled buttered toast circles.
  • Portobello Benedict – Substitutes Portobello mushrooms for the ham. This is a popular alternative for Catholics observing the Friday Fast.
  • Eggs John Scott – Replaces the Hollandaise sauce with HP Sauce.
  • Eggs Maryland – Replaces the ham with crab cakes.
  • Waldorf Style Eggs – Replaces the English muffin with toast and is served with poached eggs, sautéed mushrooms and mushroom sauce.
  • Oscar Benedict – Replaces the ham with asparagus and crab meat. Also known as Eggs Oscar.
  • Eggs Billy – Replaces the English muffin with a lightly toasted buttermilk biscuit and the poached egg with fried.
  • Eggs Provençal – Replaces the Hollandaise sauce with Béarnaise Sauce.
  • Russian Easter Benedict –  Replaces the Hollandaise sauce with a lemon juice and mustard flavored Béchamel Sauce, and is topped with black caviar.

I’m willing to bet that there are an abundance of other variations out there. Do share if you have stumbled across any others!

Cocktail Party: Irish Coffee


So we’re onto our last cocktail of the night, and everybody who is still conscious has agreed that it will be much easier to just stay up. Besides, it’s only three hours until they can go and get pancakes for breakfast! Everyone’s getting sleepy though, so it’s time for some caffeine. Alcoholic caffeine.

Fact: Anything can be improved by adding copious amounts of alcohol and cream. For example – steak, pain medication, tax time.

Between 1939 and 1945 many Americans flew to Ireland in a Pan Am Flying Boat. This extraordinary sounding aircraft was actually just a seaplane that contained a hull. Why not make a few extra bucks by storing passengers there?

The planes would land in Foynes, Limerick after what I imagine would be a gruelling eighteen hour flight. After landing, the passengers would be shuttled by boat to the terminal. On cold days, the passengers would often be chilled and miserable after the ride. As such, they greatly appreciated a cup of hot coffee or tea upon arrival at the terminal.

The Irish have taken whiskey in their tea for many centuries and this gave the chef at the airport restaurant an idea. He thought he would provide the freezing passengers with a little Irish hospitality with an American twist. He knew of their partiality to coffee with cream, so he added some whisky to the cups. One of the pleasantly surprised passengers asked “Is this Brazilian coffee?”, “No” replied the chef, “That’s Irish coffee.” And thus the original Irish Coffee recipe, as well as another excuse to drink, was born.

Ten years later, the owner of a San Franciscan restaurant decided to recreate the alcohol laced coffee that a friend had tasted in Ireland.They thought it would be a simple process, but after many experiments using a variety of whiskey they weren’t satisfied. It didn’t taste the same and the cream always sank to the bottom.

Being persistent, the pair travelled to the Limerick to sample the original. When they returned, it was decided that only high quality Irish whiskey could provide the proper taste. Furthermore, the cream had to be slightly aged and lightly whipped. Voilà, Irish Coffee crosses the Atlantic and began to grow in popularity throughout the United States and the world.

Now, in case you have the uncontrollable urge to get boozed up over your morning/afternoon/evening coffee, here’s a recipe!

Ingredients:

40ml Irish Whiskey
80ml Hot Coffee
30ml Cream, whipped
1 tsp Brown Sugar

Method

Heat the coffee, whiskey and sugar on a medium heat. Do not boil. Pour into a glass and top with cream. Serve hot.

Now, I realise that I began this post by saying that this was the last cocktail of the night. However, I never said that we wouldn’t be indulging in one in the morning. I wonder what it will be?

Check back tomorrow to find out what delightful concoction we’ll be finishing our cocktail party with!

Cocktail Party: The Mint Julep


Hello, hello? Is this thing on?

Greetings! Welcome back to Delicious History. After a few minor technical setbacks I’m here to give you all the historical goss on the lovely and refreshing Mint Julep.

So, we’re onto cocktail number five. At this point of the evening the heavy weights are attempting to chat up a hottie/anyone in the corner so they don’t have to take the train home. Meanwhile, the light weights are lying outside on the grass crying down the phone to their mums, apologising for all the horrible things they have done in their lives. This is something I have seriously done – just replace ‘grass’ with ‘driveway’ and ‘phone’ with ‘parents standing on the front porch hanging their heads in shame’.

Tegan’s Tip – Never let a seventeen year work colleague serve you ten wines in an hour at a Christmas party. On a Monday night. In February.

I need these glasses in my life

The mint julep is predominantly famous for being the signature cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. The popularity of the drink at the racetrack began in 1938 when it became the official cocktail of the Derby. Back in those days, the drink set the fans back a cool 75c. Today, a mint julep in a collectors glass starts at $1000.

Seventy five of these commemorative glasses were made earlier this year to mark the 75th anniversary of the Derby. Sixty Five were made from pewter and were hand engraved with a racing scene. They also came with a sterling silver drinking straw. You think that sounds impressive? Oh no, those were only the thousand dollar plebeian glasses that had been fashioned for the peasants.

Ten of the glasses were made entirely from sterling silver, plated in 24 karat gold and featured a diamond horseshoe with 43 diamonds totaling approximately one carat. Furthermore, a jeweler selected and set each diamond by hand.

Just, damn.

The origin of the Julep goes back much further than the Derby though. In fact, it doesn’t even begin in the USA. Centuries ago, there was an Arabic drink called julab,  which was made with water and rose petals. The beverage had a delicate and refreshing scent that people thought would instantly enhance their quality of life. When the julab was introduced to the Mediterranean region, the native population replaced the rose petals with mint, a plant indigenous to the area.

The mint julep, as it was now called, grew in popularity throughout Europe, particularly in agriculture regions. This also happened when it was introduced to the USA. Americans also enjoyed juleps made with genever, an aged gin, during the nineteenth century. However bourbon-based juleps have decisively eclipsed gin-based ones in recent years.

The julep was originally a morning drink – a spirited equivalent to coffee. Apparently,  one sip enabled farmers and workmen alike to face the day. I must say that I adore how many of cocktails have been used for medicinal purposes or as an excuse to drink in the morning. It would be great to walk into work and buy a $4 cocktail off my coffee guy. “Hmm one Julep and a croissant thanks, Emilio. No, I’ll definitely go the large. It’s feeling like a double shot day.”

With that steady slide into alcoholism, let’s get to the recipe!

Ingredients

90ml Bourbon Whisky
4 – 6 sprigs Mint Leaves
Granulated Sugar, to taste

Method

Place mint, sugar, and a small amount of bourbon into the bottom of a mixing glass. Gently muddle and then let it stand for a couple of minutes to allow the mint flavour to be released. Strain and pour into a julep cup (A glass with a pewter base. Or silver if you’re a rich bastard), rotating to coat the sides. Fill with ice and then add the remaining whisky. Garnish with a small mint sprig.

Fun Fact – Mint juleps are traditionally served in pewter based glasses and held by the handle or rim in order to maintain optimum frost.

Tomorrow – A Dessert Cocktail!

Cocktail Party: Wasting Away Again in Margaritaville…


…searching for my lost shaker of salt.

Greetings, lovelies!

How are you feeling after your first two drinks? Ready for some more? I certainly hope so because we’re heading into Tequila Territory, and there’s just no coming back from that. We’re at that point of the party where you know you shouldn’t do it, but you’re just sauced enough to throw caution to the wind and to let your Future Self deal with the stomach churning consequences. Then, when you’re paying homage to the Porcelain God the following afternoon, you curse your Past Self and swear to never touch tequila again, because it is truly Not of the Lord. But it’s never true.

Never. True.

I’m sure you’ll all be shocked to learn that the Margarita is yet another cocktail with an elusive history. That doesn’t mean we can’t take a peek at the possibilities though! There are of course numerous accounts of ‘this bartender here’ and ‘this bartender there’ being attributed with its invention, but I want to keep things interesting. As such, here are a few short tales describing the birth of this tasty and dangerous beverage. I’ll leave it up to you to choose which reality to believe.

It looks so pretty despite being a demon liquor from hell.

Our first story hails from Acapulco in 1948. A Dallas socialite had a holiday home in the Mexican city that she would visit with her family during the holidays. She was well-known for indulging in a game where she would duck behind the bar and mix up weird and wonderful concoctions for her guests. I know I’ve said it before, but I would rather enjoy partying with this dame.

During a Christmas gathering she decided to mix tequila, Cointreau and lime juice for her guests, and did so with great success and praise. They were so enamoured with the drink that they took it home to the States where it spread like wildfire. They thought that it was only fitting to name th drink after their socialite friend, Margarita.

Our next story is yet another shout out to the ladies. We’re in Mexico, circa 1938 and following a showgirl by the name of Majorie King. Unfortunately, our damsel suffered from a truly tragic ailment – she was allergic to all alcohol, with the exception of tequila.

King was visiting Rancho Relaxo Del Gloria Bar in Rosarita Beach, Mexico and, like a champion, wasn’t going to let her allergies get in the way of a good time. She explained her predicament to the bartender and he proceeded to pour tequila over shaved iced and then added some lemon and Triple Sec. Once again, the drink was a hit and he decided to name the concoction after the Spanish equivalent of Majorie – Margarita.

Our final story comes from Juarez, Mexico. A gentleman named Pancho Morales was working as a bartender  in 1942 when a patron ordered a drink called a Magnolia. Alas, Morales couldn’t remember what was in the cocktail, except Cointreau. Instead of explaining this, he decided to roll the dice and fake it. I’m sure you can all guess what happened next. He decided to name the his new invention after his favourite flower, the daisy. For those of you who are well aquainted with the language will already know that daisy translates to Margarita in Spanish.

And now – recipe time!

Ingredients

35ml Tequila
20ml Triple Sec
15ml Lime Juice
Salt

Method

Rub the rim of the glass with lime slice to make the salt stick to it. Shake the ingredients with ice, then strain into the glass.Garnish with a lime or lemon wedge and serve over ice.

So there you have it, three drinks down and four to go. I do hope you can all manage to stay standing for tomorrow’s exciting brew.

See you then.


Cocktail Party: The Cosmopolitan


Alright ladies and gents, we’re one drink in and the party is starting to heat up. Day two of our soirée has begun and someone has started passing around the Cosmos.

I’m afraid that we can’t avoid the horse faced elephant in the room so we might as well get it out of the way.

The vast majority of the population associate the Cosmo with the ever popular Sex and the City. Ever since the late 90s, fans of the show have been ordering the pink concoction under a false pretense of sophistication. Unfortunately, most of them were ordering them in backwater bars on the corner of Tumbleweed Road and You Got a Pretty Mouth Avenue.

I believe that it’s due to the Carrie Bradshaw association that little is known about the true origin of this sweet and chic drink. I have even heard people muse over whether it was invented for the show itself. This notion is enough to send my inner historian into a rage blackout, so I think that it’s best if we move on.

Drinking this won’t make you pass for a classy New Yorker

It seems that conflicting origin stories are becoming a theme on this blog, and the Cosmopolitan is no exception. The general school of thought concedes that the Cosmo was born in the 80s, but nobody can seem to agree where. This seems to be common with drinks – they are notoriously difficult to patent and are so often based off other similar concoctions. However, I am able to provide you with a few theories and possible creators.

The first culprit is Dale Groff, a bartender who spent a large portion of his career at the legendary Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Plaza. It was there that he supposedly had the idea to add liqueur and a mixture of vodka, cranberry  and lemon juice to create the original Cosmo. This theory is naturally quite popular with Manhattanites.

Another rumour is that there is a version of the cocktail that can be attributed to the entire gay community of Provincetown, Massachusetts. I just love that an entire group of people can supposedly invent a drink. Thanks, internet.

The last commonly cited story is from South Beach, Florida. A bartender named Cheryl Cook is said to have invented it in 1985. Although this isn’t interesting in itself, there are some who believe Cook to be a mythical character invented by the community in order to lay claim to the drinks creation.

These stories may seem somewhat devoid of information. Unfortunately, this is because there is very little out there. I think that the consequence of this is that despite its origin, the Cosmopolitan is doomed to be forever associated with Carrie and her Prada clad pals.

Now, because I know you all just skipped to this part anyway, onto the recipe!

 Ingredients

40ml Vodka
15ml Cointreau
15ml Lime Juice
30ml Cranberry Juice

Method

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake well. Double strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a lime or lemon wheel.

I hope you can all hold your liquor adequately because I’ll be serving you up yet another delicious concoction tomorrow!

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