Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cooking Class : Cheese Fluff

The depression era used some colorful names for food. Hobos called sausage "gut". A "foamy omelet" was baked, rather than fried, and resembled a souffle because the egg whites were beaten stiff before cooking. And a "Rag Cake", despite its unappetizing name, was a cake make with oil instead of the more expensive butter. In fact, a "Rag Cake" is the same as the more elegantly named, "Chiffon Cake." Chiffon, in french, means cleaning cloth...or rag!

I chose the following recipe from Jolly Times Cook Book : Simple Recipes for Young Beginners. Like many recipes from that time, this recipe has a unique, and inviting name. The book suggests the fluff be served with "tomatoes, Gossamer Pickles, Tumbling Bisquits, and fruit sherbert." I can't quite tell if this casserole is incredibly delicious, or just the opposite. While I have not made it, it appears to be a dish along the lines of french bread with cheese. The mustard threw me. I suppose you could leave it out. Bon appetite...and pass the Gossamer Pickles!

Cheese Fluff

4 slices white bread of medium thickness (this recipe assumes the bread was homemade)
1 pound American cheese (approx. 6-8 slices of American Cheese will be adequate)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
2 eggs
1 C. milk

The recipe calls for a large casserole pan be greased with butter. (While it does not indicate the exact size of the pan, I'd suggest a 9x13 pan.) Break the bread into pieces and layer evenly on the bottom of the pan. Place cheese slices evenly over bread. Combine the salt and mustard, then sprinkle over bread and cheese. Beat eggs and milk together. Pour mixture over bread and cheese. Cover for one hour so bread can absorb egg/milk mixture.

Uncover and bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. While I've modified the directions to suit how we cook, today, it is interesting to note that the original recipe instructs to "uncover casserole and place in a cold oven. Light fire, and bake.." In the 1930's, cooking stoves would have had to been 'lit', as opposed to merely turning a knob.
Osborn, Marjorie Noble Jolly Times Cook Book. Illus. Clarence Biers. Chicago : Rand McNally & Company, 1934.

Ok, I couldn't resist: Gossamer Pickles! Layer dill pickle slices with granulated sugar. After several layers, top with a final layer of sugar. Place in refridgerator for four or five days before serving.


Donna Jones Koppelman said...

Oh, Becky. Everytime I check your blog it's better! LOVE the recipes, and it just cracks me up that you 'assume' my bread is homemade. Can't wait to try the gossamer pickles. We're a bunch of pickle freaks. And the cheese fluff looks fun, too.

sutros said...

A good story

GK Chesterton: “The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

Voila: This book is a poetic view of 30 of the best loved French cheeses with an additional two odes to cheese. Recipes, wine pairing, three short stories and an educational section complete the book.

From a hectic life in New York City to the peace and glories of the French countryside lead me to be the co-founder of Ten years later with the words of Pierre Androuet hammering on my brain:

“Cheese is the soul of the soil. It is the purest and most romantic link between humans and the earth.”

I took pen and paper; many reams later with the midnight oil burning Tasting to Eternity was born and self published.

I believe cheese and wine lovers should be told about this publication.