Monday, February 12, 2007

Granny's cookbook: beef rolls and carrot ragout

My dear K turned 35 last November, and his mum included two precious items in her present - his grandmother's handwritten cookbook from 1934, as well as his great-grandmother's handwritten cookbook (in three slim volumes!) from 1894. Precious! As I promised last month, I'll be cooking from these handwritten cookbooks a lot during the coming months, as they were full of tempting and surprising recipes. These beef rolls, for instance, included ginger in the recipe - and I thought that Estonian dishes back then only used salt and pepper...

Here are the first two recipes I tried from the 1934 booklet. They're next to each other in the booklet, so I assume they're meant to be served together. They definitely did go well together, which is not surprising, as the more modern versions of these beef rolls include carrot strips in the recipe.

Grandmother's beef rolls
(Loomaliharullid ingveriga)
Serves 4

600 grams beef (I used sirloin)
black pepper
ground ginger or minced fresh ginger
1 onion
some celeriac
butter and vegetable oil for frying
boiling water
single cream (optional)

Cut the beef into 1 cm slices, across grain, and flatten'n'soften with a meat hammer.
Sprinkle some finely chopped onion, ginger and celeriac on top, roll up and tie with a undyed kitchen string (or you might end up with the infamous Bridget Jones moment!)
Fry the beef rolls in oil until browned on all sides.
Now add enough boiling water to cover the meatrolls and simmer on a medium heat until the meat has softened (this can take anything from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on your meat).
A little before the meat is cooked, add the cream.
When ready to serve, lift the meat rolls out of the gravy, remove the strings and place meatrolls on a heated serving plate.

Serve with boiled potatoes, carrot ragout and the gravy.

Serve with this slightly sweet carrot ragout, also adapted from K's grandmother's handwritten cookbook:

Carrot ragout
Serves 4

500 grams organic carrots
200 ml water
1 onion
ca 50 grams butter
3-5 Tbsp concentrated tomato puree
black pepper
a spoonful of brown sugar

Peel carrots and cut into thick coins (about 3-4 mm thick).
Bring the water to the boil, add carrots and boil until slightly softened, but still crisp (about 5 minutes).
Add chopped onion, simmer for a few more minutes.
Add tomato puree, season with salt, pepper and sugar. Stir in butter and simmer, until carrots are al dente, if you know what I mean:)

UPDATE 14.2.2007: Alanna mentioned this story in her BlogHer post - check it out here. Thanks, Alanna!!


thepassionatecook said...

you are one lucky foodblogger! i keep saying that my foodblog is a modern version of the handwritten family cookbook passed down through the generations which I never had.
I do envy you!
Beef roulades are traditional in austria, too, but we tend to stuff them with carrots, celeriac, gherkins - ginger doesn't feature much on Austrian menus!
Love the look of your potatoes, too...

Kalyn said...

What a nice gift and a wonderful way to preserve the family recipes. It looks delicious too. I especially like the photo of the pre-cooked beef rolls, all nicely tied together.

Susan said...

What a treasure to have those cookbooks and to pass on family traditions.

I've just discovered your blog, and it's wonderful.

Susan from Food "Blogga"

neil said...

I love beef rolls having been introduced to them by friends. You are so lucky to have such a treasure as K's grandmother's and great grandmothers cookbooks. Sounds like the grandmother was ahead of her time. Can't wait to hear of your adventures with them.

joey said...

What a wonderful gift! A real treasure :) And those beef rolls look delicious!

Roxy said...

If you ever leave K, make sure to take the books with you lol x

Freya said...

Those recipes are the best kind, tried and tested by people you know and trust! The beef rolls look delicious!

SheepsPyjamas said...

Enjoy your heirlooms -- I've only one recipe hand-me-down from my family, and I do treasure it quite a lot! I've saved the beef rolls recipe and will be giving it a try; thanks for sharing!

Scott said...

My wife (Polish) does something very similar with rolled beef - and it's delicious, as I'm sure yours is too!

Jeanne said...

In South Africa my mom often used to make what we call "beef olives" - like your beef rolls but stuffed with a little mincemeat. Most supermarket butchers stock them too - but I've never seen them here :-( I always wondered why they were called beef olives - an analogy to stuffed olives?! I like the sound of your onion, ginger and celeriac combination, I must say...

eva said...

Delicious confort food !!

Kinna said...

You are lucky with the cookbooks. This is what I also do, cook out of Grandmas books. I have also re-written everything so I have it in my computer because the books are so fragile and vulnerable. I will look in to your blog more frequently because this i exciting.

christine said...

Wow, how wonderful for you! I've actually booked a trip to my grandmothers hometown down south to collect all her recipes. I don't know what to expect. I've never seen her recipes before, and I don't know where they're even kept. It'll be quite an adventure. :) Enjoy the cooking! I will definitely be coming back for more.

Pille said...

Johanna - believe me, we didn't know that ginger featured in Estonian kitchens in the interwar period either. But there it is, in black and white! Her recipes also include pistachio nuts and various exotic spices - things we had NO access whatsoever during the Soviet occupation. Fascinating! I like the way you describe your blog as a modern version of a handwritten family cookbook:)

Kalyn - thank you!

Susan - welcome! I hope we'll be able to peruse many more of the recipes in the near future..

Neil - we've bookmarked plenty of recipes already:)

Joey - it was the best imaginable gift to us both:) And thanks for your kind words!

Roxy - I hope it'll never come to that. But if it does, I'll nick the books:)

Freya - I never met K's grandmother, but apparently she was a brilliant cook.

Sleepspyjamas - we will! Which reminds me that as I still have both of my grandmothers, I should pester them for their favourite recipes. My paternal granny makes the best pickled tomatoes in the world, and my maternal granny makes wonderful stews and a sweet bread with poppyseeds!

Scott - yes, I imagine these would be familiar to Polish kitchens - and just as delicious:)

Jeanne - I've come across that word 'beef olives' before, when still in the UK. I should check my British cookbooks, maybe they've got something similar after all??

Eva - thanks!!

Kinna - I thought about photocopying the cookbooks, too, as they're indeed fragile and precious. We've also had to translate some of the ingredients into 'modern Estonian', especially some old names for fish. Quite a lot of fun! By the way - there is even a recipe for Lindström's meatballs!

Christine - I do hope you'll find something to cherish!

Ula said...

Hi - we have a similar dish in Poland - but inside the beef were putting smoked bacon and saltet cucumber :-)

I love your blog :-)