Liederkranz á la Hoosier

In his “Introduction” to the 1922 volume of virile culinary delectables, The Stag Cook Book: Written for Men by Men, Robert H. Davis proclaims that cooking “is a gift, not an art” and that eating “is an art, not a gift.” The Stag Cook Book is a careful consideration of both activities, with recipes contributed by true gustatory veterans. Davis writes that the “immortals who have contributed recipes to this volume were born with a silver spoon not in their mouths, but in their hands.”

Among this manly compendium of mouthwatering delights is an unusually named dish, Liederkranz á la Hoosier. Liederkranz is the American version of the odoriferous German cheese, Limburger, while “Hoosier” is the official demonyn for a resident of Indiana. Together they make a pungent snack fit for the keenest of masculine appetites.

Liederkranz á la Hoosier

Run around and find a real nice Liederkranz cheese and treat it as follows to get a serving for four people:

Mix the cheese with about a quarter of a pound of butter and work into a fine paste, adding salt, pepper, French mustard, paprika and Worcestershire sauce as you go along. Just add them to taste.

When the paste is smooth put in one finely chopped small green pepper; one small onion, or chives.

Mix well!

And serve on rye bread—spread thick. To be thoroughly technical, I suppose I should have said: spread to taste!

Editor’s Note :—You can have a wonderful time and make quite a reputation for yourself by inventing cheese combinations. Ordinary cream cheese makes a splendid base for original mixtures. Try combinations of finely minced pimento, celery, olives, chives and peppers (green and red). And anything else that promises well.

Cornish Pasties

A wonderful and odd thing is the Cornish pasty (which rhymes with “nasty”). Shaped like two sow’s ears inexpertly stitched together, this ungainly pastry is essentially a lump of butter-rich dough filled with meat and vegetables intended to nourish famished miners, whose profession didn’t allow for leisurely lunches or dainty foodstuffs. With coal-blackened hands, the miner gripped the fat braid laid across the pasty’s hunched back, devoured its meat-puffed belly, and discarded the dirtied remnants. It was a fussless, nourishing meal easily assembled by the resourceful housewives of England’s mining districts.

But the ease with which one could assemble a Cornish pasty didn’t prevent these humble bakers from using a good dose of imagination when it came to inventing tasty and satisfying fillings. A 1905 edition of Good Housekeeping tells us that the Cornish pasty comes in “many varieties” and that they are “very good indeed if properly made.” Some housewives stuck with traditional mixtures of turnips and beef or offal, while more enterprising souls minced together savory-sweet concoctions flavored with apples, sage and pork.

From an 1884 edition of Macmillan’s Magazine comes a traditional recipe for Cornish pasties; feel free, however, to add different herbs and spices to transform it into one of the pasty’s more exotic incarnations.

Cornish Pasties

1 lb buttock steak
1 lb potatoes
1 small onion
1 teaspoonful of salt
A pinch of pepper
1 lb of flour
3 oz of drippings
1 teaspoonful of baking powder
Gill (4 ounces) of cold water

Cut the meat into small pieces. Peel, wash, and parboil the potatoes, and peel the onion. Cut the potatoes into small pieces and mince the onion. Put the flour, salt, and baking powder into a basin, mix all together; rub in the dripping. Mix into a stiff paste with the water. Roll out a quarter of an inch thick. Cut into rounds. Place a portion of the meat, potato, and onion on each round; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wet the edges press them together. Make a frill on the top. Place on a greased baking tin. Bake half an hour.

Gurr Cake

A clever and economical innovation of Dublin bakers during the nineteenth century, gurr cake was a favorite after-school treat for many a young pupil “on the gurr,” or playing hooky. This illicit sweet was comprised of stale bread (on luckier days, day-old cake replaced the bread) which was mixed with sugar and dried fruit. The mixture of bread and fruit was then stacked between layers of dough and the entire concoction sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Because of its cheapness, gurr cake became synonymous with street urchins and was used to describe the hardened runaways who subsisted on it. But you need not be dodging school in order to enjoy a piece of this delightfully frugal cake. Below is a recipe from Culinaria: European Specialties for a slightly richer version of gurr cake. Enjoy it with tea, coffee or a glass of warm, rum-infused milk.

Gurr Cake

8 slices of stale bread without crusts
3 Tbs flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp bread seasoning
1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar
2 Tbs butter
6 oz (175 g) currants or dried mixed fruit
1 beaten egg
4 Tbs milk
8 oz (250 g) short pastry
Caster sugar

Soak the bread for 60 minutes in water, then squeeze dry. Mix with the flour, baking powder, seasoning, sugar, butter, currants, egg and milk. Stir the ingredients thoroughly.
Line a baking pan approximately 8 inches (22 cm) square with half the pastry, place the bread mixture in the pan, distribute evenly and cover with the remaining pastry. Score through several times.
Bake for about 60 minutes at 375 degrees F. (190 degrees C.) in the oven. Sprinkle with sugar and leave to cool in the baking pan. Then cut the cake into 24 small square pieces (such a piece in the last century cost a half penny).