Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Rhubarb, or Pie-Plant Pudding

The White House Cookbook: A Selection of Choice Recipes Original and Selected, During a Period of Forty Years' Practical Housekeeping, by Fanny Lamira Gillette, [1887]

IN presenting this book of recipes to the public, I do so at the urgent request of friends and relatives. During forty years of practical housekeeping, it has been my custom, after trying and testing a recipe, and finding it invariably a success, and also one of the best of its kind, to copy it in a book, thereby accumulating a considerable amount of reliable and useful information in the culinary line.



Rhubarb, or Pie-Plant Pudding
Chop rhubarb pretty fine, put in a pudding-dish, and sprinkle sugar over it; make a batter of one cupful of sour milk*, two eggs, a piece of butter the size of an egg, half a teaspoonful of soda, and enough flour to make batter about as thick as for cake. Spread it over the rhubarb, and bake till done. Turn out on a platter upside down, so that the rhubarb will be on top. Serve with sugar and cream.


Verdict:

Another name for rhubarb is "pie-plant", because of rhubarb's excellence in pie making. I think this is outstanding. Any produce so intimately connected with the manufacture of pie can only be a source of good in the world.

This was quite tasty! Kind of like a rhubarb upside-down cake, except that the cakey bit wasn't sweetened. That was all right, because the sweetened rhubarb made it just sweet enough. That, and the cream and sugar on top. I would have just drizzled the cream on, but I've got all this unsweetened whipped cream in my fridge from a failed butter-making attempt.** Besides being tasty, it was also quick and easy to make. Consequently, I'll probably be making it again some time. Next time, though, I shall add a little bit of sugar to the batter, some vanilla, and some nutmeg. Mmm. Delightful.

This is a great recipe to practice on if imprecise recipes make you nervous.



*For every cup of milk, add about 1 tsp. of lemon juice or vinegar and stir it around. If you lived in the days before pasteurization, you'd be drinking milk that gradually soured due to bacterial formation. Pasteurized milk does not do this. It just goes nasty. The reason for using sour milk instead of fresh milk is not economy; it is cleverness! You need some acidity to react with the baking soda to leaven the batter, making your end result light and fluffy instead of dense and brick-like. This is why you must add acid in the form of lemon juice or vinegar to achieve the same result.

**Remember this post on butter-making? It is much easier with a stand mixer in a room-temperature house than on a chilly day in 1917 with a hand-cranked churn.

24 comments:

Sara said...

This looks lovely! Rhubarb is one of my favorites - I love the tart flavor! This looks like a delicious dessert. :)

Jana said...

Mine, too. It is springy and refreshing.

Kathleen said...

I just did a stawberry rhubarb crisp for reasons of cleaning out the freezer for this years new bags of strawberries and rhubarb. Note to self: talk to mom about raiding her rhubarb plants. I still have a couple bags of rhubarb so I may give this a shot.

Jana said...

If you make it out of your mom's rhubarb, it will probably taste very, very similar to the rhubarb I used. :D

nali said...

Mom's rhubarb is lush and ready to use. Perhaps you would like to come get some in a week or so. In fact...maybe some little rhubarb custard pies or rhubarb cake might be made for some special occasion.

If you were to find a nicely watered area of your lawn, maybe Mom would even be willing to divide hers and give you a rhubarb start.

Anonymous said...

OMG! First I just discovered your blog. I collect antique and vintage cookbooks and recipe booklets and am about to start experimenting with recipes from them. Second, my thoughts were the same as yours: vanilla and nutmeg--that because of a recipe my mom used to make.

Is there some way one can subscribe to your blog via email? Or do I, feeling more retro--or even like a dinosaur--need to find some, er, feeder???

I am supposed to be sorting my material post-move, and instead will be sitting right here, reading your post. I really like the fact that your are recommending recipes too....

Jean B. in Massachusetts

Jana said...

Welcome, Jean of Massachusetts! Also, I always accept guest posts. ;D I don't know all the ways to subscribe, but I use google reader. [https://www.google.com/reader] It is extremely handy, and I recommend. However, Husband has also found these instructions to do it via email. [http://lifehacker.com/123370/rss-on-email]

I am happy to facilitate and enable your procrastination! I hope you will be entertained.

~~louise~~ said...

I've never been able to "warm up" to rhubarb. I do however, get a kick out of this book. I too have a few editions. I may even have one in German.

Thanks for sharing, Jana...

K.P. Hornsby said...

Long live the imprecise recipe! I can't wait to try this one ;-)

Jana said...

Louise- do you mean the Campbell's cookbook? If so, I did not even know it came in German! That is awesome.

K.P.- Please do. I hope you enjoy!

My Mom's Recipe Box said...

Wanted to let you know how much I enjoy reading your blog, by passing the award onto you!
http://mymomsfilebox.blogspot.com/2011/05/award-versatile-blogger.html

Jana said...

Thank you very much!

Joy @ Joy Of Desserts said...

I found your blog through My Mom's Recipe Box and see that you also like old recipes. I would love to have you participate with Vintage Recipe Thursday.

Nonna Beach said...

Who knew rhubarb could be so tasty without strawberries ? That looks divine !!! And the possibility of fresh grown rhubarb plants from Mom...awesome !

Norma said...

So here's how I found your blog: Because rhubarb is now briefly available in some grocery store produce departments, I went looking on line for rhubarb dessert recipes. Which reminded me of my mother's rhubarb creation, a standard of my childhood. She called it "Pie Plant Puff," and it wasn't until I reached adulthood and started learning to cook (Mother was an excellent midwest-style cook, but had no patience for teaching; thus I pretty much didn't know how to boil water when I got married) that I learned that rhubarb was once referred to as "pie plant," and that her Pie Plant Puff was basically a rhubarb upside down cake. However, she served it with half-and-half poured over, soaking into the cake. Heaven. So I decided to search for "Pie Plant Puff" -- and I think it's the first time EVER that Google didn't produce ANY results. Zero! Amazing! So I shortened my search to just Pie Plant, and finally got some, not the usual countless, results. One of them lead me to Pie Plant Pudding . . . and when I saw your blog I had to investigate more. LOVE it! I still have a few of her old cookbooks (mostly food company giveaways), but I've never tried using the recipes -- I just love reading them! If you'd be interested, I'd be glad to send you a list of those I have, and if you want any of them, you can let me know.

Specific question: In your wanderings through old recipes, have you ever run across one for a dessert that starts with crumbled soda crackers, combined with something that holds it together (I'm guessing sugar and egg whites, but don't really know) and chopped dates? It's then spread in a cake pan and baked, and finally crumbled onto a dessert plate and served topped with whipped cream. Mother called it "crumble cake," but my searches for that turned up results that were completely different.

Mother was born in 1900 and grew up on an Iowa farm in a very large family, where she learned to cook as a child. She made lots of dishes that I've never found anywhere else, some of which were known by names I've never heard elsewhere.

Thanks for you blog! I'm going to be looking through it a lot in the future!

Norma in Ocala, FL

Jana said...

Welcome, Norma! What a lovely comment. I heartily approve of any dessert that has half and half poured over it, so your mother's recipe can only be fantastic.

Food company giveaway booklets are fun. You are lucky to have them! If you want to send any of them, I'd enjoy having them. Write to me at timetravelkitchen [at] blogspot [dot] com, and I can send you my address. Otherwise, know that I am always delighted to receive guest posts! :D

Sadly, I have never come across a dessert such as you mention. It is always tragic to lose a beloved family recipe because one never thought to ask about it when the family member was with you. I will keep my eyes out for you, though.

Jana said...

Perhaps this similar to what you seek?

http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,166,156163-241201,00.html

~~louise~~ said...

Hi Jana,

Sorry, I meant the White House Cookbook. I had a German version of it but I gave it to Katie, my Amish friend who is having a ball with it. She speaks and reads German. I figured why not, I have two others.

P.S. I'm going to check a few of my older cookbooks for that Date recipe your visitor requested. It seems I've seen it somewhere. I only hope after noting to look it up, I don't forget! You may want to send her to the Uncle Phadeus website. He is touted as the "finder of lost recipes." His link is on my side-bar toward the bottom.

Jana said...

That IS fun. I didn't know it even came in German! Good luck finding that recipe. Even if you don't, I'm sure you'll find some treasure or other. :D

Norma said...

Jana, the cooks.com link looks like it could be PERFECT (minus the almond flavoring)! I just added dates to my grocery list, so I'll try it soon. Thanks so much!! I never think to try cooks.com for lost recipes, but now maybe I'll remember.

Re half & half: I've never known anyone else who had this history. I've been making strawberry shortcake (my mother's version -- the ONLY version I really love) for the past couple of weeks, now that strawberries are sweet. The "shortcake" is a non-sweet biscuit, strawberries are cut in chunks and macerated with sugar, and the whole thing is drowned in half and half. Hmmmm . . . would it be too decadent to go to the kitchen right now and make this dish for my breakfast?? Here I go!

Norma said...

Louise -- Re the date recipe, I think the cooks.com link Jana provided is VERY close, so I'm going to make it as soon as I get some dates!

And I did try Uncle Phadeus a few years ago in my initial attempt to unearth this recipe, but he couldn't find it.

Jana said...

Hooray! I'm glad I was able to help! And that sounds like a marvelous breakfast, one I am jealous of.

~~louise~~ said...

GREAT Norma,
Another mystery solved. I do hope you will be sharing the results.

Well done, Jana. Now all we need to do is wait and share, lol...

Jana said...

Crud, I meant timetravelkitchen [at] GMAIL [dot] com. :(