Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Year With Bettina Week 2

Bettina is proud of her thriftiness and cleverness when it comes to cooking. As such, steak is a rare treat for her husband. I did find a steak recipe this month and tried it out.

What's interesting about going through this antique cookbook is how different things were culinarily (is that a word?) back then. Again, I have no pictures because my camera's battery needs charging and, frankly Bettina's recipes aren't very pretty. Presentation as well as flavor is very popular and important now. Back then, the presentation must not have been so popular.

Tonight's dinner: Swiss Steak, Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Carmel Custard

1 lb. round steak two thirds of an inch thick
5 Tablespoons flour
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup water
1 Tablespoon onion
2 cloves
1 Tablespoon bacon fat (I used coconut oil)

Wipe the steak with a damp cloth, trim the edges to remove any gristle, and pound the flour into the meat, using a side of a heavy plate for the pounding. This breaks up the tendons of the meat. Place the bacon fat in a frying pan and when hot, add the meat. Brown thoroughly on each side. Lower the falm. Add the bay leaf, salt, pepper, onion, (cloves-this was omitted from this part of the recipe. My guess is they didn't have a very good editor.) and water. Cover with a lid and allow to cook slowly for one and a half hours. More water may be needed if the gravy boils down. Pour the gravy over the meat when serving. This recipe is good for the fireless.

I loved the flavor of the bay leaf and cloves. However, the idea of cooking the meat for 1 1/2 hours didn't sit well with me. Then again, you're talking to the lady who cooks her steaks so they're still bleeding in the middle. 1 1/2 hours for a 2/3" steak?! I refused to cook mine that long. As for the gravy, it wasn't much of a gravy at all and not very appetizing. The flour clumped on the meat and in the broth instead of making a nice, rich gravy. I gave it to the dog. But, like I said, I loved the flavor of the bay leaf and cloves.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

3 good-sized sweet potatoes
2 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Wash the potatoes and remove any bad places. Add the water, and cook gently until tender. Drain, and peel while still hot, by holding the potatoes on the end of a fork. Mash with a spoon or a potato masher, adding the salt, butter, milk and paprika. Beat on minute. Pile lightly in a buttered baking dish and place in a moderate oven about twenty minutes until a light brown.

My sweet potatoes didn't have the nicest skin, so I just peeled and cut them up before cooking them. I'm not sure why Bettina, in all her kitchen know-how, doesn't do it my way. Perhaps keeping the skin in tact while cooking improves flavor or retains more nutrients. Personally, the idea of trying to peel a hot sweet potato on the end of a fork with 1 or 2 little ones at my elbows wasn't up my alley. For the paprika, instead of grabbing my usual paprika, I tried a sweet smoked paprika I had on hand. All in all, I really liked the sweet potatoes. My kiddos only nibbled at it. My son wasn't thrilled with the flavor. My daughter was just being objectionable. She gets this look in her eyes when she simply wishes not to obey. I found out later just how objectionable she was. After she went to bed, the green bean I fed her remained hidden in her mouth and she spit it out in her daddy's recliner! Ohhhhh....but that's another post. All in all, I really liked the mashed sweet potatoes. I think I'm the lone ranger on this one, though.

Carmel Custard

1 Cup milk
1 egg
4 Tablespoons sugar
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Melt the sugar to a light brown syrup in a sauce pan over a hot fire, add the milk and cook until free from lumps. Beat the egg, sugar, salt and vanilla and pour the liquid slowly into the egg mixture. Pour into buttered moulds. Set the moulds in a pan of hot water and bake in a moderate oven until the custard is firm (about 40 minutes). Do not let the water in the pan reach the boiling point during the process of baking.

This recipe is a keeper! I've never made a flan-like custard like this. It was so good and so easy and fast! My son was interested in the sugar melting into a liquid. I just wish I had a mountain of whipped cream to place on top!

Ditch the swiss steak.
File the mashed sweet potatoes.
Keep the caramel custard on hand.

1 comment:

Anna said...

Round steak is often prepared the way pot roast is--seared for flavor, and then cooked slowly until it's tender. The only way to quick-cook it successfully I know of is to slice it very thinly against the grain and stir-fry it. So the long cooking is to break down the toughness.

Sweet potatoes? I always cook them in the skins just because it's so much easier to peel them cooked--the peel practically falls off, much less work than peeling them raw.

I love these! Keep up the good work!!! You know Bettina would have been blogging her dinner back then :)