Tuesday, December 5, 2006

"Five Star Favorites - Recipes from friends of Mamie and Ike" & "The First Ladies Cook Book" - Applesauce Meatballs and Clove Cake

Date I made these recipes: Sunday, November 5, 2006

Five Star Favorites – Recipes from friends of Mamie and Ike
Published by: Golden Press – New York
© 1974
Recipe submitted by Mrs. Robert S. Callender of Indian Wells, CA

The First Ladies Cook Book – Favorite Recipes of all the Presidents of The United States
© 1969 (or, as they say in Roman numerals – MCMLXIX)
Recipe from the collection of Theodore Roosevelt
Tuesday, November 7, 2006, was the day of mid-term elections in the United States. In honor of that event, I pulled out six cookbooks from my collection having to do with the Presidents, their First Ladies and/or law and elections in general. I honestly didn’t realize I had so many and let me tell you, some of them were a real challenge to cook with as you will see below.

But first, a history lesson.

Some of you are probably asking yourselves “Mamie and Ike Who??” And so to enlighten you: Dwight David (Ike) Eisenhower (a/k/a Dwight D. Eisenhower) was the United State’s Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in Europe during WWII as well as a five-star general (thus the title of the book). Back in the day, women loved a man in uniform and so it should be no surprise that he came back from WWII (and the Korean War) as the man of the hour, ran for President on the Republican ticket (many a woman was photographed with a “We Like Ike” sign) and won. Ike was the 34th President of the United States and served from 1953-1961 when the glamour boy of the day, Jack Kennedy, bounced him out and the Camelot years started, spearheaded by the equally glamorous Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.

Alas, Mamie Doud Eisenhower, Ike’s First Lady was no glamorpous (I seem to recall many a discussion about her hairstyle – a sort of Audrey Hepburn imitation sans Audrey, you know?). But in her heyday, Mamie was the hostess with the mostest and she and Ike seemed to know everyone as evidenced by all the famous people who submitted recipes to the cookbook.

I have absolutely no idea (although I did a Google check) who Robert S. Callendar is nor do I know who Mrs. Robert S. Callendar is but it matters not to me as it’s all about the recipe and this recipe is damned good.

Applesauce Meatballs - Five Star Favorites – p. 56
1 egg
½ c. milk
1 ½ c. packaged season stuffing croutons
1 ½ lb ground beef
2/3 c. applesauce
3 T. finely chopped onion
1 ½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
¼ tsp sage
1 can (10-3/4 oz) condensed tomato soup
½ c. water

Okay, this recipe starts out fairly easily. Beat the egg with the milk, add that mixture to the croutons and let stand about 5 minutes. No issues there.

Next we go to the instructions “beat until smooth and fluffy.” Hmmm. Okay, I put the contents in my Cuisinart, let them whirl around for a minute or so and voila! Smooth and fluffy it was! (Just so you know, they didn’t have Cuisinarts back in the 50’s so no wonder the instructions were vague. But now you know so no excuses, people!)

Mix together the croutons, beef, applesauce, onion, salt, pepper and sage. Do not do as I did which is to say I mixed all but the salt and pepper, rolled them all out, realized my mistake and threw all the meatballs back in the bowl for re-mixing. Duh.

Once again, the quantity of the meat required by the recipe was problematic. I found myself staring at the packaged ground beef options in the meat section of my grocery store and cursing the fact that there were absolutely no 1.5 pound packages to be had. No problem, I thought, I’ll just buy two packages of almost 2 pounds and just use it all. What would it hurt?

Well, people, it hurt. Here’s the problem: You will not have enough tomato sauce (made with the tomato soup listed above) if you make almost 2 pounds of meat. To compensate, I had to divide my tomato sauce (to which you add the ½ cup water and then stir) between two baking dishes. While the whole thing was incredibly flavorful, the soup mixture looked a little anemic and not as pretty as it could have been.

But what was lacking in appearance was more than made up in taste. These meatballs are Yummy! The applesauce (and for convenience sake, I used two lunch-sized containers from an apple-sauce six pack) made the meat as moist as it could be. And even better was the fact that my leftover sage from a few week’s ago was still fresh enough to use in the dish. It doesn’t get any better than this. And wouldn’t you know that me, “Miss Never Eats Leftovers,” is still working on the meatballs 4 days later. Of course, this is due, in part, to having made way too many meatballs but that’s beside the point.

Clove CakeThe First Ladies Cook Book – p. 166

So...history time again. Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt was Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR’s) cousin and the 26th President of the United States. Unlike his cousin, Franklin, Teddy was a Republican, something that I, somewhat of a history buff, managed to overlook for several years. (Don’t even get me started on how confusing it was to my teenage mind to learn that Abraham Lincoln was also a Republican but that was back in the day when Republicans were really Democrats and Democrats were really Republicans.)

Some of you may or may not know that the Teddy Bear was named after Teddy. Since it doesn’t have anything to do with the recipe, I’ll let you read about that on your own, but I’m thinking that both Teddy and the bear would enjoy this sweet treat!

Clove Cake
½ c. butter
½ c. milk
½ c. molasses
2 c. flour
2 eggs, whole
3 c. seedless raisins
1 tsp baking soda, mixed into the molasses
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
1 ½ teaspoons nutmeg
Butter for decoration (optional)
½ pound crystallized ginger (optional)

Okay, those of you who bake know the golden rule: butter, milk and eggs should be at room temperature. I know this rule, I know this rule, I know this rule…but I was in a hurry so I bent the rule. I had the ingredients out for maybe five minutes, maybe 10 but no longer than that and so let me just say that before you knew it, my Kitchen Aid was spitting out egg yolk like a volcano because the butter was too cold to incorporate the egg properly. It was not pretty. (We won't even talk about what happened when I opened the can of tomato soup.)

To force the issue, I took out a wooden spoon and smoothed out the butter until it was soft and also let it sit a bit so that it would come up to temperature. The second beating went much better than the first.

Next, sift together the flour and the spices. Again, I say unto you to think before acting. I have several sifters but decided to use the Martha (Stewart) method and put it through a fine sieve rather than a sifter with a handle like my grandmother’s. Well, all well and good I say unless the amount of flour you are sifting exceeds the size of the sieve.

Now that I was completely covered with eggs, milk and flour, it was time to add the raisins. Let me say a word about raisins.

I had some leftover seedless raisins in my house that turned out to be boulders in comparison to the itty bitty organic seedless raisins I purchased at Whole Foods, my local grocery store. Out of the three cups needed, I’d say a good two were the boulder size and the other cup was pebble sized.

The result was that this cake really should be renamed Raisin Cake instead of Clove Cake because all that you can see are the raisins and while very yummy, it does seem like overkill.

Anyway, once you’ve mixed all the ingredients, bake in a greased 8-inch tube pan at 350 for 45-55 minutes. Naturally, I have something to say about that.

I have two “tube” pans at home. One is a Bundt pan, and I can tell you, since I measured, it is not 8 inches, and one is what I would call an Angel Food Cake pan that IS 8 inches. I measured them using a little measuring tape on a key ring my husband bought me years ago after I kept guestimating the size of furniture pieces I considered buying. I cannot tell you how convenient it is.

Anyway…and then there’s the amount of baking time. I say to pull the cake after 45 minutes on the dot and test for doneness because by the time I got to it at about 50 minutes, it was bordering on being too dry. I’m still eating it but I think you’d achieve better results by checking. I also think that a lovely dollop of whipped cream would taste nice on this, but that’s just me.

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