To be able to boil a potato perfectly is one of the tests of a good cook, there being nothing in the whole range of vegetables which is apparently so difficult to accomplish. Like the making of good bread, nothing is simpler when once learned. A good boiled potato should be white, mealy, and served very hot. If the potatoes are old, peel thinly with a sharp knife; cut out all spots, and let them lie in cold water some hours before using. It is more economical to boil before peeling, as the best part of the potato lies next the skin; but most prefer them peeled. Put on in boiling water, allowing a teaspoonful of salt to every quart of water. Medium-sized potatoes will boil in half an hour. Let them be as nearly of a size as possible, and if small and large are cooked at the same time, put on the large ones ten or fifteen minutes before the small. When done, pour off every drop of water; cover with a clean towel, and set on the back of the range to dry for a few minutes before serving. The poorest potato can be made tolerable by this treatment. Never let them wait for other things, but time the preparation of dinner so that they will be ready at the moment needed. New potatoes require no peeling, but should merely be well washed and rubbed.
Boil as directed, and when dry and mealy, mash fine with a potato-masher or large spoon, allowing for a dozen medium-sized potatoes a piece of butter the size of an egg, half a cup of milk, a teaspoonful of salt, and half a teaspoonful of white pepper. The milk may be omitted if the potato is preferred dry. Pile lightly in a dish, or smooth over, and serve at once. Never brown in the oven, as it destroys the good flavor.
Mash as above, and rub through a colander into a very hot dish, being careful not to press it down in any way, and serve hot as possible.
Wash and scrub carefully, as some persons eat the skin. A large potato requires an hour to bake. Their excellence depends upon being eaten the moment they are done.
POTATOES WITH BEEF.
Pare, and lay in cold water at least an hour. An hour before a roast of beef is done, lay in the pan, and baste them when the beef is basted. They are very nice.
Cold mashed potatoes may be used, but fresh is better. To half a dozen potatoes, mashed as in directions given, allow quarter of a saltspoonful each of mace or nutmeg and cayenne pepper, and one beaten egg. Make in little balls or rolls; egg and crumb, and fry in boiling lard. Drain on brown paper, and serve like chicken croquettes.
Wash carefully, and boil without peeling from three-quarters of an hour to an hour. Peel, and dry in the oven ten minutes. They are better baked, requiring about an hour for medium-sized ones.
Winter beets should be soaked over-night. Wash them carefully; but never peel or even prick them, as color and sweetness would be lost. Put in boiling, salted water. Young beets will cook in two hours; old ones require five or six. Peel, and if large, cut in slices, putting a little butter on each one. They can be served cold in a little vinegar.
Wash, and scrape clean; cut lengthwise in halves, and boil an hour, or two if very old. Serve whole with a little drawn butter, or mash fine, season well, allowing to half a dozen large parsnips a teaspoonful of salt, a saltspoonful of pepper, and a tablespoonful of butter.
Three large parsnips boiled and mashed fine, adding two well-beaten eggs, half a teaspoonful of salt, a saltspoonful of pepper, two tablespoonfuls of milk, and one heaping one of flour. Drop in spoonfuls, and fry brown in a little hot butter. Oyster-plant fritters are made in the same way.
Scrape, and throw at once into cold water with a little vinegar in it, to keep them from turning black. Cut in small pieces, or boil whole for an hour. Mash fine, and make like parsnip fritters; or drain the pieces dry, and serve with drawn butter.
Carrots are most savory boiled with corned beef for two hours. They may also be boiled plain, cut in slices, and served with drawn butter. For old carrots not less than two hours will be necessary. Plenty of water must be used, and when cold the carrots are to be cut in dice. Melt in a saucepan a spoonful of butter; add half a teaspoonful of salt, a saltspoonful of pepper, and a teaspoonful of sugar, and when the butter boils put in the carrots, and stir till heated through. Pile them in the centre of a platter, and put around them a can of French peas, which have been cooked in only a spoonful of water, with a teaspoonful of sugar, a spoonful of butter, half a teaspoonful of salt, and a dash of pepper. This is a pretty and excellent dish, and substantial as meat. A cup of stock can be added to the carrots if desired, but they are better without it.
Pare and cut in quarters. Boil in well-salted water for an hour, or until tender. Drain off the water, and let them stand a few minutes to dry; then mash fine, allowing for about a quart a teaspoonful of salt, half a one of pepper, and a piece of butter the size of a walnut.
Wash, and look over very carefully, and lay in cold water an hour. Cut in quarters, and boil with corned beef an hour, or till tender, or with a small piece of salt pork. Drain, and serve whole as possible. A much nicer way is to boil in well-salted water, changing it once after the first half-hour. Boil an hour; take up and drain; chop fine, and add a teacupful of milk, a piece of butter the size of an egg, a teaspoonful of salt, and half a one of pepper. Serve very hot. For cabbage Virginia fashion, and the best of fashions, too, bake this last form in a buttered pudding-dish, having first stirred in two or three well-beaten eggs, and covered the top with bread-crumbs. Bake till brown.
Wash and trim, and boil in a bag made of mosquito-netting to keep it whole. Boil steadily in well-salted water for one hour. Dish carefully, and pour over it a nice drawn butter. Any cold remains may be used as salad, or chopped and baked, as in rule for baked cabbage.
If milk is plenty, use equal quantities of skim-milk and water, allowing a quart of each for a dozen or so large onions. If water alone is used, change it after the first half-hour, as this prevents their turning dark; salting as for all vegetables, and boiling young onions one hour; old ones, two. Either chop fine, and add a spoonful of butter, half a teaspoonful of salt, and a little pepper, or serve them whole in a dressing made by heating one cup of milk with the same butter and other seasoning as when chopped. Put the onions in a hot dish, pour this over them, and serve. They may also be half boiled; then put in a buttered dish, covered with this sauce and a layer of bread-crumbs, and baked for an hour.
Cut in two, and take out the seeds and fiber. Half will probably be enough to cook at once. Cut this in pieces; pare off the rind, and lay each piece in a steamer. Never boil in water if it can be avoided, as it must be as dry as possible. Steam for two hours. Mash fine, or run through a vegetable sifter, and, for a quart or so of squash, allow a piece of butter the size of an egg, a teaspoonful of salt, and a saltspoonful of pepper. Serve very hot.
SUMMER SQUASH, OR CIMLINS.
Steam as directed above, taking out the seeds, but not peeling them. Mash through a colander; season, and serve hot. If very young, the seeds are often cooked in them. Half an hour will be sufficient.
Shell, and put over in boiling, salted water, to which a teaspoonful of sugar has been added. Boil till tender, half an hour or a little more. Drain off the water; add a piece of butter the size of an egg, and a saltspoonful of salt. If the pease are old, put a bit of soda the size of a pea in the water.
These are generally used after drying. Soak over-night, and boil two hours, or till tender, with or without a small piece of bacon. If without, butter as for green pease. Or they can be mashed fine, rubbed through a sieve, and then seasoned, adding a pinch of cayenne pepper.
In Virginia they are often boiled, mashed a little, and fried in a large cake.
Boil green corn and beans separately. Cut the corn from the cob, and season both as in either alone. A nicer way, however, is to score the rows in half a dozen ears of corn; scrape off the corn; add a pint of lima or any nice green bean, and boil one hour in a quart of boiling water, with one teaspoonful each of salt and sugar, and a saltspoonful of pepper. Let the water boil away to about a cupful; add a spoonful of butter, and serve in a hot dish. Many, instead of butter, use with it a small piece of pork,—about quarter of a pound; but it is better without. A spoonful of cream may be added. Canned corn and beans may be used; and even dried beans and coarse hominy—the former well soaked, and both boiled together three hours—are very good.
String, cut in bits, and boil an hour if very young. If old, an hour and an half, or even two, may be needed. Drain off the water, and season like green pease.
Husk, and pick off all the silk. Boil in well-salted water, and serve on the cob, wrapped in a napkin, or cut off and seasoned like beans. Cutting down through each row gives, when scraped off, the kernel without the hull.
One pint of green corn grated. This will require about six ears. Mix with this, half a cup of milk, two well-beaten eggs, half a cup of flour, one teaspoonful of salt, half a teaspoonful of pepper, and a tablespoonful of melted butter. Fry in very small cakes in a little hot butter, browning well on both sides. Serve very hot.
One pint of cut or grated corn, one pint of milk, two well-beaten eggs, one teaspoonful of salt, and a saltspoonful of pepper. Butter a pudding-dish, and bake the mixture half an hour. Canned corn can be used in the same way.
Peel, cut in slices half an inch thick, and lay them in well-salted water for an hour. Wipe dry; dip in flour or meal, and fry brown on each side. Fifteen minutes will be needed to cook sufficiently. The slices can be egged and crumbed before frying, and are nicer than when merely floured.
Peel, and cut out a piece from the top; remove the seeds, and fill the space with a dressing like that for ducks, fitting in the piece cut out. Bake an hour, basting with a spoonful of butter melted in a cup of water, and dredging with flour between each basting. It is very nice.
Wash, and cut off almost all of the white end. Tie up in small bundles; put into boiling, salted water, and cook till tender,—about half an hour, or more if old.
Make some slices of water toast, as in rule given, using the water in which the asparagus was boiled; lay the slices on a hot platter, and the asparagus upon them, pouring a spoonful of melted butter over it. The asparagus may be cut in little bits, and, when boiled, a drawn butter poured over it, or served on toast, as when left whole. Cold asparagus may be cut fine, and used in an omelet, or simply warmed over.
Not less than a peck is needed for a dinner for three or four. Pick over carefully, wash, and let it lie in cold water an hour or two. Put on in boiling, salted water, and boil an hour, or until tender. Take up in a colander, that it may drain perfectly. Have in a hot dish a piece of butter the size of an egg, half a teaspoonful of salt, a saltspoonful of pepper, and, if liked, a tablespoonful of vinegar. Chop the spinach fine, and put in the dish, stirring in this dressing thoroughly. A teacupful of cream is often added. Any tender greens, beet or turnip tops, kale, &c., are treated in this way; kale, however, requiring two hours' boiling.
Cut off the outside leaves; trim the bottom; throw into boiling, salted water, with a teaspoonful of vinegar in it, and boil an hour. Season, and serve like turnips, or with drawn butter poured over them.
Pour on boiling water to take off the skins; cut in pieces, and stew slowly for half an hour; adding for a dozen tomatoes a tablespoonful of butter, a teaspoonful of salt, a saltspoonful of pepper, and a teaspoonful of sugar. Where they are preferred sweet, two tablespoonfuls of sugar will be necessary. They may be thickened with a tablespoonful of flour or corn-starch dissolved in a little cold water, or with half a cup of rolled cracker or bread crumbs. Canned tomatoes are stewed in the same way.
Take off the skins; lay the tomatoes in a buttered pudding-dish; put a bit of butter on each one. Mix a teaspoonful of salt, and a saltspoonful of pepper, with a cup of bread or cracker crumbs, and cover the top. Bake an hour.
Or cut the tomatoes in bits, and put a layer of them and one of seasoned crumbs, ending with crumbs. Dot the top with bits of butter, that it may brown well, and bake in the same way. Canned tomatoes are almost equally good. Thin slices of well-buttered bread may be used instead of crumbs.
Prepare as for frying, and broil in a wire broiler, putting a bit of butter on each slice when brown, and serving on a hot dish or on buttered toast.
Wash in cold water, changing it at least twice. It is better if allowed to soak an hour. Drain, and throw into a good deal of boiling, salted water, allowing not less than two quarts to a cupful of rice. Boil twenty minutes, stirring now and then. Pour into a colander, that every drop of water may drain off, and then set it at the back of the stove to dry for ten minutes. In this way every grain is distinct, yet perfectly tender. If old, half an hour's boiling may be required. Test by biting a grain at the end of twenty minutes. If tender, it is done.
Where used as a vegetable with dinner, to a pint of cold boiled rice allow a tablespoonful of melted butter and one or two well-beaten eggs. Mix thoroughly. A pinch of cayenne or a little chopped parsley may be added. Make in the shape of corks; egg and crumb, and fry a golden brown.
Never wash macaroni if it can be avoided. Break in lengths of three or four inches and throw into boiling, salted water, allowing quarter of a pound for a dinner for three or four. Boil for half an hour, and drain off the water. It may be served plain with tomato sauce, or simply buttered, or with drawn butter poured over it.
MACARONI WITH CHEESE.
Boil as directed. Make a pint of white sauce or roux, as on p. 169, using milk if it can be had, though water answers. Have a cupful of good grated cheese. Butter a pudding-dish. Put in a layer of macaroni, one of sauce, and one of cheese, ending with cheese. Dust the top with sifted bread or cracker crumbs, dot with bits of butter, and bake fifteen minutes in a quick oven. It can be baked in the same way without cheese, or with simply a cup of milk and two eggs added, making a sort of pudding.
THE EASIEST WAY IN HOUSEKEEPING AND COOKING.
Adapted to Domestic Use or Study in Classes