An anti-miserabilist approach to historical cooking

Tag: Savoury (page 1 of 1)

A Happy Idea for a Picnic Dish


Two men carrying a box or picnic hamper to the delight of children, Sam Hood, State Library NSW

Two men carrying a box or picnic hamper to the delight of children, Sam Hood c. 1934, courtesy of the State Library of NSW.


“How we all love a picnic! Wrapped up in that one delightful word is the call of the bush, the call of the surf, fresh air and sunshine, happiness and lots of nice things to eat!”[1] Australia doesn’t have a monopoly on picnics by any means, but the great weather and natural beauty makes picnicking a popular pastime, and that’s nothing new.


Barbara Santich dedicates a whole chapter to picnics in her history of Australian food Bold Palates, and she makes the point that while early picnics were utilitarian (quick meals to break up journeys or roadside stops where there was no inn to be found), they were also a way to celebrate special occasions and even official functions. One of their great attractions was surely that they cut across social and class lines, helped along by guild picnics and cheap public transport. Santich also notes the popularity of ‘mystery hikes’ in the 1930s where bushwalkers took a train to an undisclosed location for a hike and a picnic; one of these in 1932 catered to 8000 people![2]


The recipe that I chose for this HFF challenge is from December 1933 and it’s nice to think that these picnic patties might have been taken along on a mystery hike or two. We’ve talked before about the advantages of pies, they’re easily stored, portable and great for eating on the go. These mini pies have exactly the same benefits, and can be eaten hot or cold.


The recipe was submitted as part of a competition to find recipes for picnic foods. Although the contributor, Mrs E.E. Wain of Campsie, only got a consolation prize of 2/6 the patties are probably easier to eat than the jellied rabbit which took out first prize!

[1] “Happy Ideas for Picnic Dishes.”

[2] Santich, Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage, 88.


The Redaction

Picnic Patties


For the Pastry:

230g flour

3 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

1/2 tsp lemon juice

120g cold butter, diced

Cold water, as needed


For the filling:


1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp flour

1/2 cup stock (I used the water that I cooked the chicken in)

1/2 cup cream

Salt (and pepper)

1 cup chopped, cooked chicken (about 1 large chicken breast)

1/2 stick of celery, finely sliced


A little milk or egg wash.


  1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the lemon juice and the butter. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until it is the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add cold water a tablespoon at a time and mix gently until the pastry comes together. Be careful not to knead the pastry. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and refrigerate until needed.
  2. To make the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour. Cook for a minute and stir to remove any lumps. Add half of the stock and stir to combine, then add the other half of the stock. The mixture should be quite thick. Stir in the cream, seasonings, celery and chicken and turn off the heat.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease a cupcake pan. Roll out 2/3 of the pastry on a floured board. Cut circles from the pastry to fit the cupcake pan. Fill with the chicken mixture, then roll out the remaining pastry to cut lids. Place the lids onto the pies and press down around the edges to seal. Brush with a little milk or egg wash and use the tip of a sharp knife to make a small slit in the top of each pie.
  4. Bake the pies in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden on top.


IMG_4369The Round-Up

The Recipe: Picnic Patties (available here)

The Date: 30 December 1933

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: An hour.

How successful was it?: These were very nice, if a little bland. I would have liked them with some carrots and/or peas and a bit more aggressive seasoning. I also found the pastry a bit too thick, so that the proportion of pastry to filling wasn’t quite right, but that is easily fixed.

How accurate?: The recipe doesn’t specify how to make the pastry, so I used this recipe from 1934 for Creamed Chicken Turnovers. Overall I think that these were very accurate, the only major change that I made was to use butter in the pastry instead of lard or dripping, either of which would also make a very good pastry.



“Happy Ideas for Picnic Dishes.” The Australian Women’s Weekly, December 30, 1933. Trove.

Santich, Barbara. Bold Palates: Australia’s Gastronomic Heritage. South Australia: Wakefield Press, 2012.


An Excellent Family Pudding of Cold Potatoes, with Eggs etc.

Potato pudding, recipe from 1861

Last year when I first started looking at recipes for the Historical Food Fortnightly I came across a recipe for Potato Cheesecake in The Antipodean Cookbook. This recipe, which has no cheese, no flour and doesn’t have instructions for baking, was unlike any other recipe I had come across. Having looked at a lot more cookbooks since then, I’ve found that there are actually quite a few similar potato recipes.

Potato Cheese Cake Ingredients: 3 or 4 boiled potatoes, 1 tablespoonful butter, 1 tablespoonful sugar, 2 eggs, grated peel and juice of 1 lemon, 2 teaspoonfuls brandy, and a few currants. Mode: Mash the 3 or 4 potatoes quite smooth. Melt the butter in a saucepan, and stir in the potato, the sugar, and eggs well beaten. Stir over the fire till it thickens, then add the grated peel and the lemon juice, the brandy, and lastly a few well-washed currants.[1]

These recipes were both sweet and savoury, sometimes baked in a pie case and sometimes without, and they lasted from at least the mid-18th century to the end of the 19th. It’s not hard to understand why these puddings would have been popular, they are basically all cheap starch, flavoured with relatively small amounts of more expensive ingredients – brandy, citrus fruits, currants, sugar, or a little spice. They are also quite an appetising way of using up left over boiled potatoes, The Family Save-All specifically recommends saving up the potatoes left from two or three days meals. I also quite like that it is recommended for children, “children of larger growth”, invalids and the elderly, i.e. everyone.

Potato pudding recipes from The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book; And Compleat Family Cook pg. 115.

Potato pudding recipes from The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book; And Compleat Family Cook pg. 115.

I was a bit suspicious of adding marmalade though, so in the end I went with the savoury version of the pudding and served it with gravy. I’ll have to come back when I’m feeling more adventurous and try one of the sweet recipes.

Potato pudding recipe form The Family Save-All, 1861, pg. 90.

Potato pudding recipe form The Family Save-All, 1861, pg. 90.

The Redaction

An Excellent Potato Pudding

6 large potatoes

4 eggs

568ml milk

Salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 200˚C. Peel, chop and boil the potatoes if you aren’t using left over potatoes. Mash them well and stir in the beaten eggs and milk. Season well.
  2. Pour the mixture into a greased casserole dish and smooth the top or make patterns in it with a fork. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the top has formed a golden crust. Serve hot with gravy.

Potato pudding, recipe from 1861

The Round-Up

The Recipe: An Excellent Family Pudding of Cold Potatoes, with Eggs etc. from The Family Save-All by Robert Kemp Philp (available here, pg. 90)

The Date: 1861

How did you make it? See above.

Time to complete?: About an hour.

How successful was it?: It was hot, starchy and quite plain. It was a bit like eating very smooth mashed potatoes. It definitely needed more seasoning.

How accurate?: Pretty good, but I wasn’t sure if the instruction to add sugar was for both versions, or just the sweet version. In the end I didn’t add it, but that may have been the wrong choice.

[1] Mrs. Lance Rawson, Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion, Facsimile of 2nd ed. (Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press Pty.Ltd, 1992), 34–35.


Harrison, Sarah. The House-Keeper’s Pocket-Book; And Compleat Family Cook. 4th ed. London: Printed for R. Ware, at the Bible and Sun on Ludgate-Hill, 1748.

Philp, Robert Kemp. The Family Save-All, a System of Secondary Cookery. By the Editor of “Enquire Within”. 2nd ed. London: W. Kent and co., 1861.

Rawson, Mrs. Lance. Antipodean Cookery Book and Kitchen Companion. Facsimile of 2nd ed. Kenthurst, NSW: Kangaroo Press Pty.Ltd, 1992.