“A Cheese Pudding” was one of the dishes on the menu
for our recent hearth cooking class at The Israel Crane
House. In fact, we made two of them. And I must say,
they were mighty tasty! HUZZAH!
We followed the instructions found in Mrs. Lettice Bryan’s
receipt from her book, The Kentucky Housewife (1839):
A Cheese Pudding.
Cut slices of cold Indian mush
about half an inch thick. Grate
some nice kind of cheese thickly
over them, and lay on each a thin
slice of butter. Put them in a deep
dish, stratifying them till the dish
is full; then incrustate the top
with a little finely grated bread,
and broken bits of butter; bake
it a few minutes in a moderate
oven, and send it warm to table
with white wine and sugar.
Don’t you just love that word, “incrustate”?! I’m going
to have to find ways to use it often. What fun!
But I digress. Back to our puddings!
Now, as I mentioned, two were made, one (first, above)
with Parmesan cheese and the other (second photo)
with Cheddar. Both cheeses would’ve had to’ve been
imported to this country during the years the Crane
Family lived in the area. Mr. Crane most likely offered
them for sale in his store. At the very least, he would’ve
known how to acquire them.
We used two different types of “cold Indian mush” in our
puddings, as well. The Parmesan contained what I’d made
earlier at home. It was easy and fun, as all I needed to do
was make some Hasty Pudding (yum! me like!) and then
let it set up, or solidify, at which point it became mush:
Store-bought mush, or polenta, as it’s known in Italy, was
used in the pudding with the Cheddar cheese:
Interestingly, there’s a receipt for the exact same dish
in Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife (1824). It IS
a tad different, however. First, it’s entitled “To Make
Polenta,” and then it provides details on the entire
process, from the making of the Hasty Pudding to its
formation into mush to the layering with the cheese.
But hey, she doesn’t use the word “incrustate.” LOL
When all was said and done (and eaten!), it was clear
that it’s a most marvelous dish. I mean, really? Cornmeal
and cheese? Together?! Whodathunk it’d be so fantastically,
awesomely good?! HUZZAH!