One of the museums I work at recently hosted its second food and drink event, using historic recipes from the 1850s to the 1920s. It’s a fun Christmas event with a lot of food samples. I try to mix it up a little each year and introduce different recipes so repeat guests will find something new and tasty to try. Some of the recipes stay the same, however, because they are simply too delicious not to serve.
Cayenne pepper isn’t for everyone, which makes both of these recipes all the more wonderful because you can leave the cayenne pepper out and still enjoy them, or add the cayenne in moderation to control the heat.
Cayenne Cheese Crackers
This recipe is from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1861. It was brought to my attention by a colleague who copied the recipe from a museum she had previously worked at.
1 cup butter
1/3 tsp salt
2 cups grated cheddar cheese [a sharp or old cheese works best]
2 cups flour
1/3 tsp cayenne [or less, or more]
Rub the butter in the flour. Add the grated cheese, cayenne and salt, mixing well together. Moisten with sufficient water to make the whole into a paste. Roll out and cut into fingers about 4 inches in length. Bake them in a moderate oven [modern oven 350°F] until a very light colour, and serve hot. [Modern time - 12-15 minutes]. You can can also simply roll out the dough and cut into rounds.
This recipe is sourced – it comes from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, published in 1861. You can follow the recipe exactly, or you can follow my method – add more butter and a little less broth. The results yield a very creamy and savoury soup.
½ cup butter [3/4 cup]
2 pounds parsnips
4 cups of broth + 4 cups of broth [I used sodium reduced beef broth, 873ml cartons. 1 carton:4 cups]
salt, pepper, cayenne pepper for seasoning
Melt ½ cup butter. Slice parsnips and add directly. Stew until soft (45+ minutes). (Might have to add a little water or more butter so it doesn’t burn off or cook on low heat). Gradually pour in 4 cups of broth and boil for 20-30 minutes. Work through sieve with wooden spoon [food processor or blender] and then add remaining 4 cups of broth (to equal 8 cups of soup total). Season with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper (optional). Bring to boil, skim and serve.