There were many different spellings, so you need to either know the many spellings or hope there's a good dictionary of vintage cooking terms to help decipher. Some recipes always intrigue me as to how innovative they were, but also that early in history, science was an integral part of every day cooking. I marvel at how many seemingly peasant cooks had the knowledge that if you add this ingredient it produces this result or if you add another ingredient you get an entirely different result. We may be creative in our modern cooking, but they knew the why behind what they cooked and since they could ill afford to waste, each and every food item and ingredient had to work to feed their family. That said, I believe there are no complete failures in cooking, short of burning to a crisp. And many recipes, likely were simply happy accidents, but never complete failures. If the meal item didn't turn out as expected, it became something entirely different, which is likely how cobblers, pandowdy and buckles came to be. A pie that didn't turn out quite as it should have, but was tasty if not the most attractive. A little fresh sweet cream poured over top could disguise many an error, and it suddenly became a decadent dessert. Obviously cobblers in particular have stood the test of time even from their humble beginnings.
The earliest known cookbooks were not even written until the mid 17th century, and those were only available to the aristocrats, not to the every day cook, so it's not like most could just flip through pages of the latest cookbook from amazon or latest recipe section in a women's magazine or download to their Kindle Fire or other modern device. They had to know how to cook and utilize science, weights and mathematics to do it. When you consider the majority were not educated and especially the females, it is even more intriguing that they were ever able to cook anything but basic foods yet, they had many types of foods.
The recipe below, is one from an old household tome, titled *The Book of Household Management*, published in 1861. This particular recipe could easily be adapted to modern day cooking and appears to be an appetizer. This is not too unlike many recipes I see today for appetizers. What's somewhat different about it is the recipe itself and how it's written in weights, not in cups.
The Original recipe calls for a half pound butter, half pound grated cheese and half pound of flour. We can of course convert that to cups, which in cups translates to 2 cups of each or in the case of the butter it's two sticks. This is mixed together with cayenne pepper and salt, then baked in a moderate oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
Anyone that cooks knows a moderate oven setting is 325 to 350 degrees. But in those days gone by, they did not have temperature settings in ovens or in hearth cooking. So they adjusted the coals from barely warm to blazing hot, depending on what they were cooking. As near as we can replicate would be on our grill without a temperature setting or over an open camp fire, unless you're fortunate enough to have one of the early cast iron cook stoves that you cook on.
Our family actually had one into the late 50s, and it was used regularly, though we also had a modern electric range. Most of our canning and preserving was done on the cast iron cook stove, not to mention the many baby livestock that spent a night or two warming near that stove until they were able to return to the outdoors. Our sis had a cast iron stove into the mid to late 70s, along side her electric range. She still has an old cast iron cook stove, but it is no longer in use.
The vintage recipe is simple enough and one you might want to add for your next gathering and share the source from 1861. Your guests may be amazed that the appetizer is as at home today as it was 156 years ago.
The Original recipe says this will serve 7-8 people.
2 C. Shredded Cheese
2 C. Flour
2 C. Butter
1/3 tsp. Cayenne
1/3 tsp. Salt
Rub the butter and flour together with your fingers. Add the cheese, cayenne and salt and mix until the dough holds together. Roll the dough out and cut into *fingers*. Though the original instructions did not say, you will want to place these in a cast iron skillet or on a cooking tray. Bake at 325-350 for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve Hot.
Note: The title of this recipe is a bit misleading in the 21st century. I might call these Cayenne Cheese sticks or Cayenne Cheese Bread Sticks, to more aptly describe them.
Note: You may want to make a dipping sauce for this, though in the original vintage recipe none was mentioned. If you're feeling especially adventurous, you can place these on the grill or camp fire, as a closer replication of how they were originally cooked.
Note: The original recipe did not specify the type of cheese or the flour. But we can safely presume the cheese was a hard sharp cheese, and the flour was a whole grain wheat flour. Use the cheese and flour that you prefer. And as always, season to preferred taste. Those of you with a gluten intolerance should be able to successfully make this with gluten-free flour.
Tip: From my experience the dough came together easily. I did grate the butter that was cold from the refrigerator. I didn't roll the dough out, I just pressed it with the palm of my hand to about 1/4 inch thick, and cut it in strips, then baked it about 12 minutes at 350 degrees. The dough is oily enough that I didn't need to flour my surface, but you may wish to or roll it out on waxed paper or parchment paper. I didn't add salt, since cheese has salt in it and the 1/3 tsp. of Cayenne was plenty for my taste. This takes a matter of minutes to mix up and ready to bake, so it's ideal for those quick meals and I see this will work very well as a cheesy bread for soup or salad. It's a very light dough, very similar to a flaky pie crust.
Stay tuned, I'm going to use the remainder of the dough to make a savory pie crust for a Tomato and Bacon Pie. As I said, sometimes one thing can be turned into something else entirely different when you're cooking and this dough definitely can be used for a savory crust.
Refer to the link for my Tomato-Bacon-Zucchini Pie, using this dough for the pie crust: justfowlingaround.weebly.com/from-the-pantry/tomatobaconzucchini-skillet-bake
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