Vintage Kitchen: Mushroom Dream

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Week three of cooking through my heirloom antique and vintage cookbook collection, and I’m serving up a recipe that made my First Reader’s eyes light up when he saw it.

He loves anything that calls for mushrooms. This recipe comes from the 1929 International Cook Book, and you can find some of the contributors in the Vintage Kitchen photo album, as the book was compiled from world-famous (at the time!) chefs by a enchanting looking woman who was also portrayed in a photograph. The equivalent of a modern-day Food Network star, I suspect.

Just a few sizes of cans I happened to have in my pantry.

On first glance, this is a simple recipe. But then, when I started to pull together the ingredients, I realized that her can was probably not my can… which can? What does that mean? Augh!!

But after I’d gotten over my existential tomato anguish, I decided that I’d go with the 14 oz can, and that I’d put it all in. I still have no idea what size cans of tomatoes were in 1929. That was the year of the Great Crash, and the Depression, and this book was published at the height of wealth and hubris in our nation. Still, there’s some yummy recipes in it. It does bring into perspective the wealth we have now, that I look at the recipes in this book and don’t bat an eye at making them for, well, easy meals, nothing special. At least this one is more comfort food and very tasty than it is fancy.

Simple one-dish meal, unless you count the toaster, which I don’t.

Bacon, mushrooms… there’s no way this dish isn’t a winner. But when we were standing over it sniffing while it simmered, we looked at one another and said: ‘You know what this would be good for?’ Pizza. Or to serve over pasta as a version of spaghetti. Oooh! It would be terrific folded into an omelette. Or… So many options. It’s delicious, but the toast is a little weird.

When we do it again, and we will! We’ll leave off the bacon. The bacon grease for frying up was lovely, but the bacon itself felt like it wasn’t really connected to the dish. We save bacon grease, so we don’t need to fry up the bacon and put it on. I used a can of tomatoes that had peppers in it, because I just don’t keep a lot of diced tomatoes in the pantry, and it added a lot of spice which was nice, but we want to try it again without that.

The First Reader says that it was tasty, but would be better served as a sauce than a main dish. I agree with him – I don’t know if it was meant as a side dish or if the way we eat has just changed.

printable recipe with my notes below


6 responses to “Vintage Kitchen: Mushroom Dream”

  1. Kathleen Sanderson Avatar
    Kathleen Sanderson

    While we were on our Coast trip, we visited a small farmer’s market in Florence and I picked up about a pint of small chantarelles. Also a Walla Walla sweet onion and some Swiss chard….We sauted the onion, added the mushrooms and sauted them, then the swiss chard. The original plan had been to use this mix — with some sausage Grandma had along — as filling in omelets. But we wanted to get on the road, and omelets would have taken too long. So we scrambled some eggs in with the rest of the mix and ate it that way — it was very good!

    1. Sounds like it would have been great! I know chantarelles grow here in OH, but I haven’t had time to go mushroom hunting.

  2. We eat more meat main-dishes than we used to, especially in summer. The price of cattle used to start dropping in April and bottomed out in August as people at more vegetables and fruit, and eggs, in summer. Partly because of preservation, partly because of the cost of meat in general was high, but the price of fruits and veggies dropped in summer. My grandmother’s collection of recipes (from her mother and aunts) has a number of mock-meat dishes and [things] on bread, plus her own Depression Era mock [thing] recipes.

    1. I think you’re right – mushrooms were a common meat substitute. And this is a very hearty dish, although I’d at least double it to feed a family.

  3. You got a British recipe out of the international cookbook!

    Living with a Brit has taught me that “stuff on toast” is a very common form for British meals – especially because the way he holds the fork, the toast is essentially a backstop to keep (stuff) on the back of the fork.

    British meals include beans on toast, spaghetti on toast, eggs on (or in) toast, scrambled eggs on toast, chipped beef on toast, and so on.

    Therefore, the hearty rich dish with bacon on toast makes perfect British sense – what Peter would do if I handed this dish to him is to cut the slightly-limp bacon, cut a wedge of toast, and then push the mushroom sauce on the back of the fork and backstop it with a scrap of bacon and bit of toast. (This is why Brits don’t do crispy bacon, I think; they can’t load it on the fork in the wrong direction.)

    1. That makes good sense. I find toast a little odd – I think because we just didn’t make much toast when I was a girl. I remember doing cinnamon toast under a broiler, but that’s about it. On the other hand, Sanford can’t have his morning eggs without it.