June 27, 2011

Cake or Pie? Bunny or No Bunny?

What do you think of when I say "Bunny Cake"? Something like this, perhaps?

Well, I guarantee that the Rabbit Cake (Hasen Kucka) in the Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook will look nothing like this smiling fellow - because, of course, it is made from real rabbit.  A cake made from rabbit? Well, they call it a cake - I'd go with casserole as a better description. The Rabbit Pie, in contrast, is more attuned to truth in advertising - it is rabbit and it is baked in a pie, just like those 4 and 20 blackbirds. I'd bet the bunny at least has a bit more meat to offer than the birds. When your bunny pie is done, it should look a bit like the one below - although I think the ears are a bit over the top, don't you? Of course, any recipe that includes the phrase, "reserved rabbit liquid" has bigger problems than ugly pastry ears. That has to be one product you will never find on your grocer's shelves! 

1 rabbit
potato filling (see below)
1 1/2 tsp. flour
1/2 cup rabbit broth

Wipe dressed rabbit with a damp cloth; barely cover with water to which 1/2 tsp. salt has been added and cook covered until tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Separate meat from bones and cut into small pieces. Butter a casserole and put a layer of Potato Filling in the bottom, then a layer of meat. Add 1 TBS. sauce (made by combining the flour, seasonoing and broth and boiling until sauce is thickened and smooth). Repeat layers until dish is filled. Bake at 350 degrees 25 minutes or until browned. 6 servings


2 cups hot mashed potatoes
1 egg, well beaten
4 cups cubed dry bread
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 cup diced celery
1 onion, minced
1 TBS. minced parsley
2 TBS. butter, melted.
Mix together the potatoes and egg. Soak bread in cold water and squeeze dry. Fluff bread and mix gently with the potato mixture. Blend in remaining ingredients and mix well. Will fill a 6- to 8-lb. bird.


1 rabbit, cleaned, washed and cut into 2 or 3 pieces
3 TBS. butter
2 TBS. finely chopped onion
2 TBS. finely chopped parsley
Dash tabasco
Pastry (see below)

Place rabbit in a sauce pot and barely cover with water. Cover the pan and simmer rabbit until tender. Add salt to season when partially cooked. Drain and measure the liquid. Set aside. Remove the meat from the bones, keeping it in large pieces. Heat butter in a skillet; add butter and parsley. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Measure 1 1/2 cups flour for each cup of reserved rabbit liquid; add flour to onion-parsley mixture in skillet and mix well. Add the rabbit liquid slowly, bring to boiling, and cook 1 to 2 minutes longer, stirring constantly. Add more salt if needed, and tabasco. Mix well with rabbit meat and pour into a baking dish. Cover with pastry and bake in a 350 degree oven for 35 minutes. 4 servings.

3 cups sifted flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup lard or other shortening
5 TBS. cold water

Sift the flour and salt together. Cut in the lard with pastry blender or two knives until pieces are the size of small peas. Gradually sprinkle water over mixture, mixing lightly with a fork after each addition; add only enough water to hold pastry together.. Roll out on a floured surface and fit into pie pan. Don't stretch pastry while fitting into pan, as this will cause shrinkage in finished product. Use as directed in pie recipes. Enough for 1 2-crust pie or 2 1-crust pies.

June 17, 2011

Goose Necks, Goose Necks Everywhere

Have you ever noticed that when you get a new vehicle, you suddenly see the same car here, there and everywhere? Sometimes they really are everywhere (as in the day I found my car was the third black Jetta in a row pulled up in front of the high school) and sometimes you've just never paid much attention before. Such seems to be the case with goose necks. Fool that I am, I thought the recipe I featured yesterday for Wintry Soup, featuring goose neck meatballs, was an oddity. Wasn't I surprised this morning to find that one of the recipes I had tagged in the Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook featured goose necks, too.

When you go to make your goose neck meatballs, or last Wednesday's recipe of goose skin fried in fat (and I know you can hardly wait to taste both of them) make sure that you set aside the neck skin to use in today's recipe, Stuffed Goose Necks. In this case, goose neck skin forms a handy tube in which to stuff ground goose meat scraps and the ever-present-in-PA-Dutch-cooking bread stuffing to make a pseudo-sausage.  Practical jokesters might find this a handy recipe to use when you want to prank your sausage-loving friends and family - if you are callous enough to possibly turn them against sausage for life and/or have enough friends that you won't mind losing a few.

I've included a pictorial on the steps in this process, following the recipe. Don't look if you are squeamish. Seriously. Also don't look if you have a prurient turn of mind - once stuffed, it looks disconcertingly like Lorena Bobbitt has been at it again.


Goose meat (uncooked)
Bread Stuffing
Goose neck skins, whole
1 onion, sliced
1 cup hot water

Grind scraps of goose meat finely and mix with the stuffing. Tie one end of the skin tight with clean string and stuff with mixture. Tie second end, place in baking pan, add onion and water and bake at 350 degrees until brown and crisp, basting occasionally. Slice and serve hot.

June 16, 2011

A Sorry Soup

The cookbook FOOD for the body for the soul was published in 1943, in a time of rationing and making do.  Even so, today's recipe seems born of unusually desperate times.  You are down to the last of the vegetables in the root cellar and the last bony pieces of the goose that has sustained you all week? Time to pull out the recipe for Wintry Day Soup! I picture this recipe being devised by a pioneer family snowed in at their tiny prarie home, relying on the root vegetables from Ma's little kitchen garden to get them through until spring. 


1 1/2 pounds ground gooseneck meat [I know geese are pretty large birds, but how many do you think it would take to get a pound and a half of neck meat?]
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. allspice
1 bunch celery
1 bunch carrots
1 large onion
2 or 3 parsnips
Potatoes (optional)
Roll seasoned meat in small balls about 1 1/4 inches in diameter and drop as you roll them into kettle containing 3 quarts of cold water and 1 TBS. of salt [yikes!]. Place over medium low burner. Water will gradually become hotter so meat juice does not escape from last of meatballs. Add 1 bunch celery, 1 bunch carrots, one large onion, 2 or 3 parsnips which have been cut up [presumably 'cut up' applies to all of the veggies]. Also potatoes if desired. Simmer at least one hour. 10 large servings.

June 15, 2011

In the Mood(y)

The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago might not be the last place that you would expect to publish a cookbook, but it's probably close. FOOD for the Body for the Soul is quite an agglomeration of recipes, bible verses, handy hints, prayers and inspirational essays, all meant to sustain a household physically and spiritually through the war years. Our editor is apparently the pictured Mrs. Frances Youngren, shown wearing her sheer "dress" apron in front of her faux window. In addition to being an expert at frosting cakes without looking at them - in mid-air, no less - she directed the Home Hour on radio station WMBI, the Bible Institutes' very own broadcast medium. Here's a sampling of some of the "extras" she dishes out along with the recipes.
On buying meat:
There are more different cuts of meat than you realize, perhaps - actually more than 200, including various types of sausages - yet the average woman knows only 12. [Shame on you! Go talk to your meat-man (as Frances calls him) immediately].
On the necessity of vitamins:
 In the last few years, we have been consistently educated in the knowledge and use of vitamins.....Beauty demands close acquaintance with and daily use of all these vitamins. Vitamin A, or Acceptance Vitamin stands for new life or life eternal.....Vitamin B, or the Belief Vitamin, is essential to the development and functioning of the new life....Vitamin C, Confession Vitamin.....Vitamin D, Determination Vitamin....Vitamin E, the well-known and absolutely necessary Endurance Vitamin, is the demanded element of true beauty.
On faking butter:
Spread oleomargarine on salted crackers and slightly brown in oven for a few minutes. Very good - tastes like buttered crackers. [ You're kidding! Really?]
On the diet of the Israelites in the desert:
Did you ever notice God's menu for the children of Israel on their journey through the wilderness? "Honey and waffles for breakfast and quail on toast for supper." [ I think the quote is from that famous authority, herself]
On removing coffee stains:
If stains cannot be removed by warm water and soap, pour on boiling water from a height of 2 or 3 feet.[She does not offer a companion hint on treating scalds, however]

But I digress. The frightening food contribution for today was submitted to the cookbook by Mrs. G. Kuiper, who obviously delights in a little joke. Russian Fluff is the name of the recipe. I should have known by its position above the Macaroni Ham Casserole that this was not to be a tasty cold dessert reminiscent of the fluffy snows of the Russian winter. It's a meat casserole, and it sounds more like, say, Kansas Catchall than it does like Russian Fluff. If you can figure out why such a prosaic dish deserves it's slightly exotic name, please let me know.

Also, beware: naughty Mrs. Kuiper also leaves out that all-important instruction to bake the dish. Unless, of course,  you like your browned meat topped with cold corn, cold canned tomato soup and raw bacon, in which case you should prepare it exactly as instructed.


3/4 lb. ground meat
1 tsp. salt
Dash of pepper
1 cup celery
1 onion, cut fine
3/4 cup rice
1 can corn
1 can tomato soup
Crumbs (type unspecified)
Simmer together the seasoned meat, celery and onion. Put the mixture in a greased casserole, over this pour the boiled rice. Then add a can of corn and over this pour the tomato soup. Cover with crumbs and bacon cut in 2-inch pieces.

FOOD for the body for the soul, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago, 1943

June 8, 2011

Fat, Frugal and Stuffed

Reading through the PA Dutch Cookbook, you will quickly recognize that PA Dutch cooking has two frequent characteristics: 1) it's frugal, and 2) it's full of fat. Philadelphia Pepper Pot is a soup that features two types of tripe (who knew there was more than one?) plus a veal knuckle (frugal) and a full cup of beef suet (fat). Snapper Soup features veal knuckles, again, with the meat from a snapper turtle (frugal) and a cup of chicken fat. Brown Flour Soup (isn't that name tempting? Blech!) uses soup stock (frugal) and a 1/4 cup of butter plus grated cheese (fat and fat). Dandelion Salad matches dandelion greens (frugal) with 4 thick-cut slices of bacon, 1/4 cup of butter and 1/2 cup of cream (fat, fat and more fat). Maybe this explains my observation that older PA Dutch women tend to be twice the width of their husbands. I imagine doing hard physical labor, day in and day out, could burn through that fat pretty quickly. But once the kids are old enough to do most of the physically tough household chores....

Stuffing also seems to be a popular feature in PA Dutch cooking. The PA Dutch Cookbook includes recipes for Stuffed Goose Necks, Stuffed Beef Heart and Stuffed Calf's Liver. Surprisingly, it does not include a recipe for the most popular stuffed animal part of all - Stuffed Pig's Stomach. Yes, restaurants out here in Dutch country actually advertise their stuffed pig's stomach and worse yet, many people order it and eat it, thoughtlessly encouraging the continued presence of this so-called delicacy on many a diner menu.

When it comes to frugal and full of fat, though, nothing can beat today's recipe - it is all fat, plus it's cooked in fat.  It's also decidely a part that someone with a less frugal turn of mind would not consider actual food. I present you with Goose Grieben, one of the very few recipes in which one is called upon to make this vexing decision: do I want to make crispy fat or chewy fat today?


Mmmmmmm.....fat fried in fat!
Fat skin of one goose
1 cup cold water

Cut the fat skin of a goose into 1" to 1 1/2" squares, sprinkle with salt and let stand in cool place 12 hours. Wash well and drain on absorbent paper. Add cold water and simmer for one hour. Drain and fry slowly to prevent scorching. If chewy cracklings are desired, remove them as soon as the fat is clear; if crisp cracklings, leave them in the hot fat until well browned and then place in oven a few minutes. Drain well on absorbent paper. Pour the goose fat into jars [yes, plural] and cover when cooled.

Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook, Culinary Arts Press, 1977

June 7, 2011

Everything but the Squeal

I have often heard PA Dutch folks say that when they make Scrapple they use up every part of the pig but the squeal. The claim is believable, because the PA Dutch are nothing if not thrifty, and I can imagine they would really work at ways to use every scrap on the butchers block. But now that I have read the Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbook, I know that this claim just isn't true. For Scrapple, you only need a hogs head. Hideous enough*, true, but a recipe using only a head, and one emptied of brains and eyeballs at that, just doesn't measure up to the "everything but the squeal" claim. 
*One of the most tasteful depictions of a pig's head available. Some of them will make your stomach flip.
Now if you want to get closer to the truth of that claim, the dish to make is Souse. Souse actually requires a pig and a half; not only does the recipe call for one pig's head, it also requires six pig's feet and six pig's hocks. Still, without eyes,brains, tongue or knuckles included in the recipe, it omits a lot of stuff besides the squeal. I think the complete pig using recipe remains to be devised.  Let's hope it stays that way!


1 pig's head
6 pig's feet
6 pork hocks
2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
2 onions, sliced
3 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 blade of mace
3/4 cup apple cider

Clean pig's head, remove tongue, and split head open. Clean pig's feet and hocks. Place pig's head, feet and hocks in a large, heavy kettle and coveer with wateer. Add the salt and pepper. Bring to boiling and cook until tender. Remove meat from liquid and cool. When cooled, remove meat from bones and cut into pieces. Add sliced onions, peppercorns, bay leaf and mace to liquid in the kettle. Boil until liqid is reduced by half, strain and cool. Skim fast from cooled liquid. Place fat, meat pieces, and vinegar in a kettle and bring to boiling. Turn into a crock and add as much liquid as it will hold. When cold, this will set and may be cut into slices to fry, or used for salad or sandwich meat.  Yum, yum!