Showing posts with label ginger biscuits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ginger biscuits. Show all posts

Friday, May 27, 2016

Ginger Biscuits

Here at MLK we offer you all kinds of recipes: treasured family favorites, crazy things we’ve stumbled over in our travels, quick and easy ones, innovative ones. Everything you will ever need! Which means we’re always looking for another recipe.

Recently at Malice Domestic I stopped at the vintage-bookseller’s table. They always put it right next to the entrance (how cruel!). I should know by now to shut my eyes and march past, but I don’t.

This year’s prize is The Complete Illustrated Cookery Book, with no apparent author, edited by “CHEF.” It contains “Over two thousand recipes” plus hints on just about everything else related to food and kitchens. There are pictures, some in color (all of which the editor promises were made from recipes included in the book). It was published in England in 1934.

The world has changed a wee bit since then. The thing weighs several pounds and is 2-1/2 inches thick, with small print. I sat myself down with it to skim through it, and ended up laughing hysterically. You’ll see why when I give you only a few examples of suggested recipes:

Baked Eels: to skin an eel, hold it with a cloth. The head should be cut off, the skin turned back at the top all round the neck, then drawn downwards. Draw the head one way and the skin the other. Open the fish and remove the inside. Cut off the back bristles. [Needless to say, I will not be cooking eel any time soon.]

To Dry Haddock at Home [another “I don’t think so” recipe]: Remove the eyes, the gills and the inside, and cleanse the blood from the backbone… Now fill the body and eye sockets with salt.”

Liver Crepinettes: One can buy pig’s caul from the butcher. [Not in this town!] …rinse it well and cut it in pieces with a pair of scissors to any size desired. [How do I know what size pieces of pig’s caul I want?]

But wait! There’s more!

Calves Brains en Matelotte: The brains should be washed in cold water with a little salt. Take away the loose skin and any clots of blood…

Is it just me or is this beginning to sound like a CSI episode?

Here’s a good one: Stewed Tendons of Veal [Yes, you read that right—the tendons, aka the gristles—do something else with those nice tender veal breasts they were attached to.]: Put them [the tendons] in a stewpan…put the pan over the fire, then simmer for 4 hours. [To serve] arrange the tendons in a circle round a dish with a fried crouton between each and fill the centre with a puree of green peas. [Are you hungry yet?]

And it goes on. There is a recipe for Larks a la Bourgeoise (doesn’t say where to get the larks); for a Pupton of Pigeons (which in addition to pigeons includes 1 sweetbread, ½ pound of bacon, and 1 ox palate (???). Later there is a recipe for a Turkey Stuffed with Truffles [really?], and instructions for How to Truss Blackcock [excuse me, I wouldn’t know a blackcock if I met one—apparently it’s a kind of black grouse]. The instructions include “scald the feet, peel off the skin, and cut off the toes.” And if you leave the head on, you must remember to tuck it under one wing. And finally, there’s Rook Pie (you must be sure to remove the backbone, else it will be bitter). [Would a crow do?]

Oddly enough (by MLK standards, at least), there is much more emphasis on meat and poultry than on desserts or sweets. But it may be revealing that a former owner marked very few pages—and the one for Rich Bride Cake was one of them. There is (hard to believe) only one recipe for Cookies in the book, with the notation “(An American Recipe).” It involves boiling them in lard. No thanks.

What? You want a recipe? I will gladly offer you Ginger Biscuits.

Ginger Biscuits


1/2 lb flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp ground ginger (you can use more)
4 oz butter
4 oz castor (white) sugar
2 eggs

I don't know what I did before I
had a kitchen scale! (BTW, it also
works for postage.)


Mix together the flour and salt with the ginger in a basin. Beat the butter and sugar to a cream. Add the eggs one by one, beating each in well, then gradually stir in the flour. Should the mixture be too dry, add a very little milk.

About a tablespoon?

Drop spoonfuls of the mixture on greased paper on a greased tin a very short distance apart. Put them into a rather slow oven [I guessed 325 degrees, and I found 20 minutes worked well at that temperature] and bake a pale brown for 15 to 20 minutes. Note, Ginger Biscuits do not become crisp until they are cold.

That’s the recipe as given. I love the way older cookbooks assume you know what you’re doing in the kitchen and can fill in the blanks! You will note a few rather vague points, like the temperature of the oven, and the size of the spoon. I beefed up the ginger and the butter, and everything worked fine. I will say I approve of the greased baking sheet plus the greased parchment paper—the cookies slid right off.

Actually the cookies or biscuits were rather nice—not too sweet, not too spicy, and easy to make. I might just keep this recipe handy.

Hey, less than two weeks before Dead End Street hits bookstore shelves everywhere! 

No recipes, but I did send Nell back to the Reading Terminal Market again in the book. I can't stay out of that place! Maybe next week I'll give you a Philadelphia recipe? (Not scrapple, I promise--the less you know about that, the better.)

Dead End Street is available for pre-order at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.