Friday, October 4, 2013

Cooking with Apples: Great-Great-Grandmother Style

I am almost finished processing apples for the year.  I should end up with about 50 pints of applesauce, 25 pints of apple pie filling and a few gallons of apple juice. In the meantime, I am looking at what is left of the remaining bushel and thinking what would my great-great-grandmother do with all these apples? She would make apple tansy!

While it is called a 'pudding', it isn't a sweet dish. It does have a bit of sugar in it, but it is very easy to substitute stevia or splenda. Also, if you use sweet apples, you can omit the sugar. In addition, this recipe calls for rose water. Rose water was used a lot in recipes before vanilla flavoring became known to people living in America. (Vanilla was brought back to America by Thomas Jefferson upon his return from France in 1789.)  Rose water is still very popular in Middle Eastern cooking today and you can find it in ethnic food stores. You may also be able to find it at a place like Whole Foods or a more upscale grocery store (in the ethnic foods section).

One more note about this recipe. It cooks sort of 'omelet like' and you will need to flip it. If you don't use a deep, flat sided skillet, it should flip relatively easy. 

This recipe came from the book The Martha Washington Cookbook.  This is a collection of recipes from her family cookbook. The recipe for apple tansy is on page 172. Some of the recipes in this book go back to 1706! Most foods back then were highly seasoned; meats were cooked in wine, nutmeg and ginger were commonly used, and rose water was used in almost all puddings, cakes and creams.

With that introduction, here is the recipe.

Apple Tansy
Whites of 6 eggs
Yolks of 3 eggs  (I used three whole eggs and then used meringue powder & water for the other 3 egg whites)
2 TBS rose water (I never made it to the grocery store to buy this, so I used a tsp of vanilla instead.)
Juice of 1/2 lemon ( My bottle of lemon juice says the juice of 1/2 lemon is equal to 1 1/2 tablespoons so that is what I used.)
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 TBS sugar
6 apples
2 TBS butter (You can omit this and use Pam if you would like.)

I started with the three eggs and the meringue powder & water. Beat it well. I used a whisk.

Add the sugar, nutmeg, lemon juice and rose water or vanilla. Mix well.

Peel and chop four apples. The recipe said to chop the apples very fine. I used my Victorio Apple Peeler. It took about 1 minute to peel, core, slice and chop all four apples. (I do so love this tool! If you would like to own one, you can use my link on the left side of the blog to purchase it from Amazon.)

Add the apples to the egg mixture and set aside. Now, core the other two apples and slice thinly. Put 1 tablespoon of butter in the skillet and add the apples. Fry them till they are brown. I sliced one apple in half first and the other one I left whole.

Mine didn't turn golden brown but did turn translucent so I took them out of the pan. Set aside when done. 

The recipe said to keep them hot. I didn't want to turn on the oven, or setup the Sun Oven to keep them hot so I left them on the stove until I needed them. Then, to reheat, I put them in the microwave for 30 seconds.

Add the other tablespoon of butter to the skillet and add the apple mixture. Put the skillet on low heat and let it cook. Mine took 15 minutes.

Check the sides to be sure it is done. It should be cooked throughout. Now you can flip it. (This is just to brown the other side.) To flip, slide it out of the skillet on to a plate. Then, put another plate over it and flip it. Slide it off the plate and back into the pan. 

Next time I will do it a bit slower to keep the edges looking nice. When it is brown on the bottom, move it to a plate and add the fried apples to the top. At this point I decided that the half apples made a better presentation and so I cut them all in half. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and serve. 

It has a unique flavor. The nutmeg really stands out! I liked it. My husband said it was so-so.  I think it would make a nice breakfast dish. Definitely a change from boring breakfast cereal, toast or even french toast! 

On the web, I found another version of apple tansy that uses less eggs and a bit of cream. You can see that one here . I also found additional web sites that have other 18th and 19th century (and early 20th century) apple recipes:

Apple Salad
Dried Apple Cake
Apple Dumplings
Apple Cream

If you wish to try additional recipes our ancestors served their families, I highly recommend The Martha Washington Cookbook!

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