Sunday, January 31, 2010

Apple Pandowdy

Earlier this month I made an Apple Pandowdy in the Guardian Service Casserole/Tureen cooker so delectable that Andrew urged me to write his sister about it. We recently sent her a Casserole/Tureen cooker and thought her family would enjoy this American classic as much as we did (the recipe I used dates back over 250 years).

Andrew asked that I send you the recipe for a dessert I made in our Guardian Service Casserole/Tureen cooker the other night. Easy, delicious and an old American Classic and something we imagine EVERYONE will love.

The attached recipe is from "New England Cookbook" (Random House, 1954) by Eleanor Early, a "born and bred New Englander.” I make note of my variation (I was out of cider, so I used some sangria still in the fridge from Christmas--it had cured nicely with orange, pomegranate, apple, raisins and spices--impossible to reproduce but divine...). Let audience and inspiration determine your own variations.

After assembling the apples, sugar, spices, juices and dotting with butter, roll out the biscuit dough (to about a 1/2" thickness, large enough to cover the diameter of the GS tureen) and cut three slits in the dough (doesn’t have to be arty, it’s all going to steam together), then cook it in the preheated outer Tureen liner for 45 minutes or so (on medium heat).

Let it stand for 15-20 minutes before serving. I was half-expecting this to turn out like an upside down cake (since the method is the same), but it's a quasi-cobbler/apple pie (the biscuit dough is more like a thick crust; it steams a bit and melds with the apples below). Just cut through the crust and spoon it out and serve à la mode (or with yogurt the next morning... if there's any left...).

Much love to you all,


And for your listening pleasure, from 1946 (and on 78 RPM, yet!) Dinah Shore sings "Shoofly Pie and Apple Pandowdy."

Apple Pandowdy
(Sometimes called Apple Jonathan; from New England Cookbook by Eleanor Early, Random House, 1954)
"This is the recipe of Mrs. Israel Putnam of Connecticut, whose husband left his plough and marched off to join the Patriots. Her great-great-great-great-grandson tells me that his family has been eating it for 200 years."

4 cups apple slices
½ cup cider*
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
¼ cup butter
  1. Arrange apples in buttered baking dish (the Tureen). Add cider. Mix spices with sugar and sprinkle over apples. Dot with butter.
  2. Cover with biscuit dough ½-inch thick. Make slits in dough with knife for steam to escape.
  3. Bake in 350° oven (the pre-heated Casserole on medium heat) until apples are tender. Time depends upon texture and quality of apples. Serve warm.
* I was out of cider and a little short of a full cup of brown sugar, so I tried this variation: juice of 1 lemon, tbsp. molasses and a bit of Sangria (or red wine, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, etc).

Below: preparing the Apple Pandowdy in the Guardian Service Casserole/Tureen cooker.
Browning an optional finishing touch. Served here with yogurt, dusted with cinnamon.

Dough (Baking Powder Biscuits)
(From New England Cookbook by Eleanor Early, Random House, 1954)

"When I was ten years old I was permitted, as a special treat, to make biscuits one Sunday for supper, and thereafter I made them almost every Sunday for about five years. By that time my ideas of a “special treat” had changed considerably. But the family never tired of baking-powder biscuits. We had them with warmed-up beans and piccalilli and cold meat left over from Sunday’s dinner."

2 cups flour
5 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¼ cup butter
¾ cup milk
  1. Sift flour with baking powder and salt.
  2. Cut in butter until butter is size of small peas. (Old-fashioned pie crust is made the same way, and anyone who learns to make good biscuits can make good pies too.)
  3. Add milk and mix lightly until milk is absorbed.
  4. Toss dough on floured board. Roll out lightly to about ½-inch thickness. Cut with floured biscuit cutter. If you wish biscuits with soft, fluffy sides, place close together on baking sheet. If you prefer biscuits with crusty sides, place 1 ½ inches apart. For lightly browned biscuits, use a shiny cookie tin or pan. An old, darkened pan will burn biscuits on the bottom.
  5. Bake in 450° oven about 12 minutes. (In my little-girl cookbook there is penciled, “If baked slowly, gas will escape before it has done its work”—something to do with paking powder, I suppose—so remember—a hot oven for biscuits.) This recipe makes about 16 2-inch biscuits. At our house we had a little 1-inch cutter and it was possible to coax out 26 tiny biscuits, 4 a piece for the 9 of us.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cottage Pie (Shepherd’s Pie)

An economical and elegant meal and a perfect dish for the Guardian Service Casserole/Tureen cooker.

Cottage pie, or Shepherd’s Pie as its often called, is a favorite wintertime comfort food; a traditional English meat and vegetable stew with a mashed potato crust. “Cottage” was a reference to the rural poor and this dish is an economical way to squeeze another meal out of leftover roast meat and vegetable odds (hash and mash). While the term “Shepherd’s pie” has become associated with the lamb variation, this recipe works equally well with any left over meats (poultry, beef, pork, venison, rabbit, etc., or a mixture), vegetables (carrot, celery, onions, corn, peas, etc.) and any starchy mashed vegetable for the “crust” (potato, yam, parsnip rutabaga, even a cornmeal/polenta, etc.). A stick-to-your-ribs meal, cooked in a single dish, top-of-the-stove; easy prep and easy clean up.

Cottage Pie (Shepherd’s Pie)

Guardian Service cooker: The Casserole/Tureen cooker
Serves: 4 ; Preparation: 15 mins; Cooking: 1 hr 10 mins


Mashed Potato Crust

1 ½ lbs russet potatoes (5-6 large potatoes)
1/2 cup stock (chicken, beef, vegetable) and/or milk
2 tbsp butter

Stew Filling

1 lb ground lamb (or beef, chicken, turkey, pork, etc.,)
1 tbsp butter, olive oil or bacon fat for frying (optional, depending on leanness of meat)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 carrots, chopped
a handful of fresh or frozen corn, peas, or mixed vegetables
2 tbsp tomato purée
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp fresh herbs (thyme or rosemary are especially nice)
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup stock (chicken, beef, vegetable, etc).
coarsely ground black pepper and sea salt

  1. Prepare potatoes The Guardian Service Way. Remove from heat, add butter, milk and stock, mash, adjust seasoning and set aside (these can be done in advance, or leftover mash works perfectly well).
  2. In the Casserole unit, sautée the chopped onion until translucent in a little butter (or bacon drippings, olive oil, etc. I like to use a mixture of two or three fats). Cook until translucent.
  3. Add the ground meat and brown. If you wish to make an accompanying gravy you can strain and reserve excess fat and drippings, add flour to make a roux, brown and reconstitute with stock, wine, sherry or milk; set aside to accompany the pie!).
  4. Add the chopped carrots, minced garlic and additional vegetables and cover. Simmer on low heat for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, dust with flour, add seasonings and tomato purée; set aside.
  6. Set the larger Tureen unit over a medium flame to preheat while spreading the mash mixture over the stew. Rough up the surface a little to create peaks and valleys, and brush with melted butter.
  7. Nest the filled Casserole unit inside the preheated Tureen unit, cover and set over medium high flame, cook 30-40 minutes until bubbling.
  8. Optional: place the Casserole under a broiler to brown the top or, if your cooker has a metal lid, try the Top-Stove Browning technique*
A note on the “Top-Stove” Baking with the Casserole/Tureen:
It wasn’t until we used the Guardian Service Casserole/Tureen that we understood the true meaning of the term “Dutch” oven—the modifier being a synonym for “thrifty.” The outer Tureen cooker creates a stove-top (or in the cookbooks' parlance: "Top-Stove") oven that insulates the inner Casserole cooker, keeping the food from excessive heat, baking with an economy of fuel and without heating up your entire kitchen (especially if you have an older, drafty oven as we do). Just preheat the outer Tureen unit, add the inner Casserole liner and bake any escalloped dish in the combined units.

*A note on “Top-Stove” Browning and pre-war metal lids:
In the lead-up to WWII, the worldwide aluminum shortage apparently prompted the Century Metalcraft Corporation to switch to manufacturing glass lids. These newer glass lids provide the ooh-aah “science project fun” of watching the food’s vapor in action, but the durability of the older metal lids also offer a unique and flashy trick: Top-Stove Browning. To brown crusts more crisply (as with the Cottage Pie) set the cooker to one side of the flame, completely off the burner and rest or angle the cover so that it juts out over the flame creating a canopy that reflects the heat back onto the crust to brown it. This is a trick that takes a little patience and practice, but it’s a showy final touch before you bring the casserole directly to the table.

Pictured below: Using a metal lid to brown the potato crust on the Cottage Pie; an excerpt from the 1935 “Guardian Service Tested Recipes” cookbook: the method for “Top-Stove” browning through reflected heat.
NOTE: We have done this with the glass lid—it obviously takes longer and is less effective (and beware that some modern reproduction lids are NOT oven proof and may not be able to withstand the direct heat).
An excerpt from the 1935 “Guardian Service Tested Recipes” cookbook: the method for “Top-Stove” browning through reflected heat.
Using a metal lid to brown the potato crust on the Cottage Pie

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Guardian Service Pizza

Here's a use for the 15" round tray that its makers never imagined: pizza.

The Guardian Service Round Tray was originally designed to carry all three Economy Trio Cookers (it cradles them nicely and might work well as a trivet on a large table or buffet, but to actually carry all three roasters, piping hot and loaded with food, is not as finger-tips breezy as "Doctor Homemaker," pictured below, would lead you to believe.

In the 1935 edition of Guardian Service Tested Recipes, Betty Gay suggests that "your GUARDIAN Round Tray makes an attractive cake plate. With a lacy paper doily on it, it's quite the thing."

But here's an idea to really put this tray to work: pizza—the American Classic that America hadn't yet invented back in the day that these trays were being minted by the good folks at 6000 S. Avalon Blvd in Los Angeles, CA. Some of the finest New York Pizza is cooked on big aluminum rounds and this service tray does the job nicely.

We've baked up dozens of varieties: Pepperoni/Anchovy, Margherita, "Hawaiian" (Canadian Bacon/Pineapple), Barbecued Chicken, Pulled Pork, Pear/Walnut/ Gorgonzola.... And here's New Depression cooking for you: for less than ten dollars worth of ingredients, you can cook up a 5-star Gourmet Pizza that will make you wonder why you ever eat out.

Here's a recipe I whipped up last night to clean out the cupboard, but the method's the same regardless of your choice of toppings:


Pizza Dough, see below
2 Tbsp. Olive oil
3 oz. Pesto sauce (minced basil, toasted pine or walnuts, parmesan and olive oil)
2, 6 oz. cans Tuna, drained and flaked
3-4 Tomatoes, thinly sliced (heirloom, organic)
1 small Onion, thinly sliced, and
3 cloves Garlic, thinly sliced sautéed in
1 Tbsp. Bacon drippings
2 Tbsp. Olive tapenade
1 Tbsp. Capers
8 oz. Mozarella Cheese, shredded
8  Anchovies, whole


A crispy, chewy, tender crust. This easy recipes yields enough dough to create a medium-thick crust on the 15" Guardian Service Tray.

1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups warm water
1 envelope active dry yeast
3 cups flour (for added nutrition and texture, use half all-purpose, half whole wheat flour, or, our favorite combination: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus 1/2 cup cornmeal for extra "tooth")
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. olive oil
oregano or other herbs, to taste
  1. Stir yeast into warm water in small bowl and let stand about 5 minutes, until yeast dissolves.
  2. Lightly brush a large mixing bowl with olive oil and add the flour, sugar, salt, making a well at the center. Add yeast mixture and olive oil and stir to combine, adding more flour if very sticky, more warm water if too dry.
  3. Kneed dough for 10-15 minutes and work into a ball. Drizzle dough with olive oil, cover with a cloth and let rise in a warm area, free of drafts, until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
  5. Punch dough down and roll into a disc. (I've never developed a pizza dough spinner's knack—I stretch it by hand, or roll out the dough between two Silpat mats with a roller pin, then lay it out on the tray). Position dough on the tray, tacking the outer edge of the crust to the rim of the tray.
  6. Spread sauce or oil over the crust, then layer with the remaining ingredients, finishing with cheese.*
  7. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until cheese is bubbling-golden-brown.
  8. Let rest for a few minutes, then remove pizza to cutting board (or cut directly on the tray with a silicone pizza slicer, which won't scratch the surface) and serve.
As with all Guardian Service cookware, the aluminum evenly distributes heat, so the crust crisps perfectly (the airpockets created by the hammer-finish help too). 

*Note: If you're planning to really load on the toppings, pre-cook the crust for 5-15 minutes before adding sauce and toppings.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cooking Potatoes in Guardian Service Cookware

Potatoes are what made us fanboys of this whole lost line of cookware. A friend of ours, upon cooking potatoes in his Guardian Service Economy Trio cooker for the first time, called us to say he couldn't believe the flavor—"I can taste the Earth!" he gushed. So you can.
Keep the skins on. (As with most vegetables, but especially true of potatoes; so much of their nutritional value is in that precious skin). Shake the roaster a couple of times during cooking to let the potatoes re-position themselves, and they'll all brown nicely. Try for a happy medium: a few crisp, golden edges, and flaky mealy insides. A little bit over a half hour of cooking time seems to hit it just right, depending on how many potatoes and how big the chunks are.

It’s nearly impossible to overcook potatoes in GS. I once left the roaster on, very low of course, and forgot it for several hours... Instead of being ruined, the potatoes were mealy and ambrosial (though the caramelization on the pan was thick and took some soaking to get out. A little caramelized goodness is a beautiful thing but avoid burning, which produces potentially carcinogenic acrylamides... besides being no fun to clean).

(from "Guardian Service Tested Recipes")
Time: 35-55 minutes, depending on the size
Scrub the potatoes, place in cold unit. Cover, start over medium flame for 5-7 min. or until cover of unit is quite warm to touch. Reduce heat to low until potatoes are tender.
Baked: When potatoes are softened, pierce skins several times with a fork or cut crossed slits on one side. Leave unit over a low flame with cover partially open 7-10 min. to allow surplus moisture to escape.

Since Waterless Cooking works like a pressure cooker (only slower), you can work magic with foods which readily absorb flavors (like the humble spud). Add chopped cloves of garlic (or an onion, or shallot... or jalapeno if you'd like some added heat) in with cubed potatoes and cook them all at the same time.
When potatoes are done, turn off the heat and add a pat or two of butter (or cream cheese, milk, cream, yogurt or sour cream) and fresh herbs (parsley, chives, rosemary, savory, dill, whatever suits your taste). Stir and let sit for a moment with the lid on to let the flavors marry. Finish with freshly ground pepper and a nice salt, garnish and serve. 

If there’s anything left over: re-heat the mash the following morning (I like to use the Duplex Utility (omelet) pan, heat them up, shift the mash to one side and cook up some eggs in the other). Very little fat—the tiny bit you added just after cooking—goes a long way!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vegetables, "The Guardian Service Way"

Of all the food we prepare with our Guardian Service cookware, vegetables shine—literally. The superior color and texture of vegetables prepared “The Guardian Service Way,” are a result of the nutrient-retaining method of waterless cooking. Of course, the real beauty is that those vitamins and minerals, which would go up in steam or down the drain in other cooking methods, will instead nourish you and your beloveds.
“Waterless” doesn't mean no water at all—in fact what you actually are doing is super-heating the water within the food itself as pressure slowly drives heat into the cells of the food, vaporizing its own juices.
photo: Chris Martin

In brief, the technique is to get your Guardian Service pan hot at first to encourage steam, then turn the heat down to cook gently. Water vaporizes inside the vegetables’ cells, which stay intact, and every bite is delicious and nutritious.
First, clean and prep your vegetables, but with most, avoid peeling: it requires more scrubbing, but it preserves so much flavor and nutrition—another argument to buy organic produce when you can.
Remember that the finer something is chopped, the quicker it will cook. You can bake whole potatoes in GS (and they are spectacular) but to speed up the process, chop them—true for parsnips, carrots, turnips, beets, any of the starchy vegetables. When we want it fast, we chop it fine, but if we’re not in a hurry, we quarter them or chop them in half and let them linger on low flame for a bit longer.
After cleaning and prepping your vegetables, place them in an unheated, corresponding-sized pot and rinse them with a small amount of cold water (1/2 cup or so), then pour off the excess liquid. That small amount of moisture is all that’s needed. You may notice that discarded water is already tinged with the vegetables’ color from a quick cold rinse—just imagine what you lose when you boil...
Cover unit and set over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the lid is warm to the touch. Within minutes you'll see steam rolling down the inside of the glass lid like a delicious science project. Now turn the heat way, way down, until (if you’re cooking with gas) the flame is barely flickering.
Check for doneness after 15 minutes or so, depending on the vegetable. You may wish to add a pat of butter and dash of salt, then stir or shake and serve (right in the unit—another economic benefit: each Guardian Service piece is designed to go from stove to table-top, so there are fewer pots to clean).

We typically reserve organic vegetable scraps in a freezer bag, then cook them down into soup stock when we have a surplus. But some trimmings can be profitably cooked right along with your vegetables. For example, broccoli: instead of throwing out the woody stalks, lay them at the bottom of the pot, then layer the broccoli florets on top. As you cook them together, the stalks will protect the upper florets and suffuse them with extra moisture, flavor, and even vitamins.

Guardian Service is Depression-era cooking not only because of the conservation of nutrition but because it is incredibly frugal with carbon (meaning heating energy, whether gas or electric). Aluminum is highly efficient at conducting and retaining heat, and when the amount of heat that is streaming into the pan from the burner equals the amount of heat radiating off the outside, your food cooks at its ideal temperature. The technique “slow cooks” your food (but quickly!) with the heat that is initially built up inside the metal.

It's common sense: keeping the lid on conserves heat and moisture. You may have noticed the succulent aromas sealed inside the lid, which only escape when you lift it. This is key to flavor—aromas are flavor essence, and scents that are in your kitchen, delightful as they may be, are in the air, not in your food.

(Excerpt from the 1935 "GUARDIAN SERVICE Tested Recipes" Cookbook by "Director, Betty Gay")
  1. Wash vegetables carefully, even though they look clean. Scrub, remove only decayed portions and tough outer stalks or leaves as necessary. Remember, when you are tempted to peel—vital food values are wasted in parings. A wire vegetable brush is less of a culprit than the paring knife.
  2. Select a GUARDIAN SERVICE unit that corresponds in size to quanity of vegetable.
  3. Place in unheated unit. If vegetables are not strictly fresh or if, when peeled, some of the natural moisture has been removed, then replace moisture by adding a very small amount of water. This also applies in the case of preparing a small quantity of food in a large unit, there being insufficient moisture in the food to fill the unity with vapor.
  4. Cover unit and start over MEDIUM HEAT. Never use high heat. Heat will spread evenly and quickly to every part of your GUARDIAN SERVICE unit. Too much heat at first may cause food to stick before vapor has formed with unit.
  5. Keep on MEDIUM flame about 5 minutes, until cover of unit becomes quite warm to touch.
  6. Reduce heat to LOW. Do not wait for vapor to escape before reducing heat. Escaping vapor, at any time, means that flame is too high. Low heat will be as easy on the vegetables as on the fuel bill.
  7. Season any time after vapor forms. Because rich, natural mineral salts and juices are largely retained, very little or no seasoning is required. The addition of butter just before serving is sufficient in most cases. Never, never add soda to vegetables as it not only gives them an artificial appearance, but actually breaks down the fiber and destroys flavor and vitamin content.
  8. Avoid lifting covers unnecessarily during preparation period as this prolongs time and allow vapor to escape. Raising the heat will not speed up the process, and may cause food to dry out and stick or burn.
  9. Test for tenderness at end of preparation period (See time chart, page 9.) Vegetables are done when tender, but still firm and natural in color. Do not soften to mushy, breaking apart stage.
  10. GUARDIAN SERVICE is constructed to retain heat over a long period of time. Therefore to prevent loss of color through over cooking, remove cover from the following vegetables as soon as tender: Asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, green beans, peas, greens, cabbage and cauliflower.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Welcome to the Guardian Service Ware Blog

We first stumbled upon a Guardian Service coffee pot in a Burbank thrift store going out of business, victim of the recent depression. The bullet-proof, vaguely aeuronautical design snared us first, but the more we researched, the more impressed we became by the esteem in which this long-defunct brand has been held by generations of chefs and nutritionists, and by the part it played in the evolution and spread of “California cooking”—meaning modern, healthy, diverse, fresh, and holistic in the post-War period.

We've since been cooking most every meal with the cookware and are always researching and improving our techniques. We're always impressed by the versatility of the cookware and the economy of energy it uses, but above all the flavor of foods prepared "the Guardian Service Way." Whether you are new to Waterless Cooking or an experienced enthusiast, we hope that the ideas and recipes presented here will help you get the most out of your Guardian Service cookware in pursuit of "Good Health, Pleasure and Profit."