Friday, July 25, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #4 - Foreign Foods

Blanc Mange - pronounced bla-monzh - described by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as a sweetened and flavored dessert made from gelatinous or starchy ingredients and milk.  The name derived from Anglo-French blanc manger translated as "white food".  First known use 1717.

Sounds very French so that it fits the HFF Challenge for people currently living in the United States, but also sounds completely bland.  But, if so, how has the recipe survived for these many years?  And since the recipe is in our October/November/December 1950 CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes, we are going to find out why.

A little more research and we find the history from the ifood website  ifood Explanation of Blanc Mange:

Blancmange is a French pudding or dessert which had originated during the middle ages. The Blancmange is also known as ‘Shape’, due to its typical shape which is made out of moulds. The food received its name from the French word – ‘blanc’ which means “white” and ‘manger’ which means “eating” or “food.” It was known as ‘white dish’ among the English Upper class. The traditional Blancmange has a very mild flavor of fruit syrup, sauces or fresh fruits. It is believed that the origin of the Blancmange recipe has been related to the Arab world, due to the rich use of almond in the dessert.  The dessert is commonly prepared with milk or cream, sugar thickened with gelatin, cornstarch or Irish moss, and almond flavored.  The origin of Blancmange is not certain, the dish is claimed to have originated as a result of introducing almonds and rice in pre- medieval Europe through Arab trading. One of the oldest recipes found for the Blancmange is in German. Several variations have been found for this recipe, including recipes from the 15th century.
Now this is a recipe that has some history!
Ingredients are very simple:

Scalding milk was generally done to destroy harmful bacteria but still has some great cooking advantages.  If you are baking and need a large quantity of milk, scalding will destroy a protein that reduces volume in bakery.  In our case scalding destroys enzymes that keep milk from thickening.  Put the milk in a pan, heat on med-low until bubbles form on the edge of the milk and steam starts to be released.
After that it's a simple recipe although it takes close attention.  The mixture thickens to a beautiful pudding consistency.
Although the recipe calls for an eggnog sauce, our family enjoys cinnamon and in the true blanc mange tradition, whatever flavor or color or shape you enjoy is your choice.  And here is our finished Blanc Mange served in cups on china saucers.

Smooth!  Creamy!  Sweet!  Fabulous!
We've never had the pleasure of traveling to France and perhaps never will, but we can enjoy the pleasures of any country through their cuisine.  Patrick's father, Arthur Marvin Murray, was in France.
In March of 1941 he was a young man attending Davidson College in North Carolina.
As many young men of his time he left college to serve his country during World War II and was in Paris during the Liberation.  His notes on the back of the photos are quoted.
"Made in Paris, France"

"Place de la Concorde, showing Obelisk and Eifel Tower"
"L'Arc de Triomphe taken from the Champs Elysees (main drag)"

"Notre Dame. Picture made while standing on exact geographical center of Paris."

Arthur Marvin Murray, March 1941
70 years later.....

Marvin Patrick Murray, April 2011

Historical Food Fortnightly

The Challenge:  #4 Foreign Foods
The Recipe:  CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes
The Date/Year and Region:  October/November/December 1951, United States
How Did You Make It:  Followed recipe exactly.
Time to Complete:  1 hour plus chilling time
Total Cost:  $4.00
How Successful Was It?  Serving it to company.  That's success!
How Accurate Is It?  All except for using molds.

We should probably say "Bon App├ętit",
Patrick and Jeanette

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #3 - Today in History

Reading the Declaration of Independence to the Army
On the evening of July 9, 1776 General George Washington assembled the Continental Army to hear a declaration approved by the Continental Congress.  The declaration called for American independence from Great Britain.  Independence had been voted for on July 2nd, and the Declaration signed on July 4th.  Now it was time for the General to read these words - words thought about and argued about and fought about and finally put to paper - to the men who would sacrifice their lives to bring a desire into reality.  An excellent summary of that evening is here:  George Washington's Mount Vernon   or
So while we celebrate July 4th as Independence Day in the United States, the true test and action happened following that July 9th evening.  George Washington, born February 1732, had been a congressman from Virginia but resigned that position when Congress formed the Continental Army and appointed him commanding general on July 14, 1775.  Having resigned his congressional position, General Washington was unable to participate in or sign the Declaration of Independence.  His actions, however, and his leadership as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War insured that independence was not just a declaration but a way of life.  He became the first president of the United States in 1789 and served until 1797.  He presided over the convention that drafted the United States Constitution.  He died in December 1799.
Young George Washington lost his father when George was only eleven years old.  There is a story that George's father once gave him a hatchet and six-year-old George used that hatchet to cut down a cherry tree.  When confronted by his father young George confessed.  As the story goes, George's father, touched by his son's integrity and honesty, felt that possessing those qualities far outweighed the value of a cherry tree.

So for the Historical Food Fortnightly Challenge #3 - Today in History we will honor George Washington with Washington's Cherry Tarts from the January/February/March 1951 CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes. 

The ingredients are assembled and we're using small cake pans.  The recipe calls for placing a hatchet cut from pastry on the top of the tart and we've made this paper template.
The pastry is called Stir-N-Roll.  It couldn't be simpler with flour and salt blended, and then cooking oil and cold milk added.  While a nice dough forms it does flake away easily while handling.  What is great about that, though, is how flaky it is when it bakes!  Mix the canned cherries with sugar, flour, and cornstarch, spoon into the pastry shells, dot with butter, cut the little pastry hatchets using a small knife, and the tarts are ready for baking.
20 minutes later, a bubbling, sweet tart!
And then it's time to eat!

So as we eat our Washington's Cherry Tarts we think about the freedoms we enjoy.  We remember, as children, pledging our allegiance to our country every day.  In 1942 Congress had formally adopted the Pledge of Allegiance and the last change was made in 1954 when the words "under God" were added.  Each morning as school began all of us children would stand and face our flag, put our hands over our hearts, and say the Pledge.  So on this day in history we say thank you to George Washington and all those who take action for what they believe to be right, and for those who continue to do so.
I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God,
with liberty and justice for all.
Historical Food Fortnightly
The Challenge:  #3 Today in History - Make a dish based on or inspired by a momentous occasion that took place on the day you made it.
The Recipe:  CBS Homemakers Exchange Recipes Jan/Feb/Mar 1951
     Stir-N-Roll Pastry and Washington's Cherry Tarts
The Date/Year and Region:  1951 United States
Time to Complete:  45 minutes
Total Cost:  $2.00
How Successful Was It?  Patrick thought he hated cherries.  Turned out he loved these tarts!  That's success!
How Accurate Is It?  Completely, including the hatchet.
P.S.  Is George Washington the reason there are cherry trees planted in Washington, D.C.?

Happy eating!
Patrick and Jeanette