History time: Boston Baked Beans and Boston Brown Bread are an interesting part of Bostonian heritage. The main reason for this is that these two dishes have a lot of molasses in them. Boston was a big rum producing city, and, therefore molasses was an easily accessible commodity. So, during the late 1800’s, economical dishes that stuck to your bones and had molasses in them became a staple of the Boston area diet.
So, this meal was very good, the baked beans tasty and the bread magnificently different and delicious. The soup was yummy, though the feta made the soup an outlier in terms of taste for the meal. In the future, I’d probably serve the beans and bread with a big salad, or maybe a big crunchy slaw of cabbage, carrots, and whatever else I’d have around. Either way all of it was very tasty.
Boston Brown Bread (serves 8): This recipe is from the Sandra L. Oliver’s Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and their food, at sea and ashore in the nineteenth century, (which is a really cool book by the way) and is a version of the traditional Boston Brown Bread that was made during the 1800’s.
- 1 cup corn course corn meal
- 3/4 cup rye flour
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 cup milk
- Some container to steam it in (like a coffee or bean can, or small baking pans) and tin foil to cover it if it lacks a lid. I used a rather large covered round baking dish and stuck it in the big pot that I use for canning, since it had a rack on the bottom. You need something to keep the baking container out of the boiling water- so you can use a steamer basket if big enough. You can be creative- old New Englanders got by without specialty equipment.
- Grease baking can or pan.
- Bring the big pot with water and rack to a boil.
- Mix together all try ingredients.
- Add milk and molasses and blend well.
- Pour into the cans or pans to about half full.
- Cover (with lid or foil) and set into large pot.
- Steam for 4 hours. * Depending on size of your bread container (can or pan) will alter the time. If it is really small, expect 2 hours, my really big baking pan with a lot of bread in it took 4.5 hours to cook.
- Check for doneness with a knife- if inserted into the bread and comes out clean (without dough stuck to it) it’s done. If not, keep steaming it.
The final product will be an amazing hearty custardy bread like you’ve never had before (at least the first time for me). I will admit, steaming this for 4.5 hours was epic on a hot day, and maybe not recommended, but the result is certainly satisfying.
Boston Baked Beans (Serves 4):
- 1 cup of dried beans (I used pinto)
- some pork fat (I used some saved ham trimmings)
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- worcestershire sauce to taste
- Cook beans in 2 cups of water (either on low in a crock pot, or set just them to soak overnight).
- Preheat oven to 350 F
- Drain and add to a pot of water with pork fat with two cups of fresh water.
- Bring to a boil and cook on high for about 1 hour.
- Combine the other ingredients in a bowl.
- Grease a baking pan.
- Pour the cooked beans (and a little of the remaining water) into the greased pan.
- Pour the rest of the ingredients on top and mix.
- Stick in the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
- Take out and serve with worcestershire sauce.
Summer Squash and Corn Soup (serves 4): This is a great use for summer squash and corn. It can be the main dish of a meal served with bread and extra feta, or can be a side soup.
- 3 medium to large summer squash, washed and chopped
- 1 small onion
- 1 cup of corn
- 1 tsp of herbs (thyme or oregano, or whatever else you think would go well)
- 1 tsp of oil
- 1 tsp of bouillon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- feta for liberal garnish
- Cook onion in oil in a deep pan for about ~3-5 minutes.
- Add squash and herbs.
- Cook for ~5 minutes.
- Add bouillon, water and salt.
- Bring to a boil.
- Cook until squash is tender.
- Take a potato masher and roughly mash squash.
- Add corn.
- Cook ~5 minutes more.
- Turn off heat, add lemon juice. Stir well.
- Serve with crumbled feta and pepper.
Lastly, to finish off this lovely meal, for dessert we made fresh raspberry frozen custard!
This was the first time we made frozen custard- however in Pennsylvania (where my family is from) I have experienced the amazing nature of this fine frozen treat. The homemade version was just as good- and was perhaps the best final product we have ever produced from our ice cream maker in terms of texture.
Frozen Raspberry Custard (serves 3-4):
- 1 cup of 2% or skim milk
- 1.5 cups of fresh raspberries, mashed
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup of sugar
- Slowly heat up milk to barely a boil, without scalding it.
- Meanwhile beat eggs and sugar together until thick.
- When milk is just about boiling temper the eggs by stirring a little bit of milk into them and beating the mixture quickly. Repeat until you’ve added about 1/2 cup of milk.
- Stir the warmed egg mixture into the milk in the pan, and let it cook until it thickens.
- Cool and add raspberries.
- Put in ice cream maker and let go for ~15 minutes until thick and creamy.
- Serve and enjoy lavishly!