Sixty-five Sizzling Rabbits

From Bob Brown’s “The Complete Book of Cheese”, recipes on Sizzling Rabbits. And not the two eared kind.🙂

That nice little smoky room at the “Salutation,” which is even now continually presenting itself to my recollection, with all its associated train of pipes, egg-hot, welsh-rabbits, metaphysics and poetry.

Charles Lamb,
IN A LETTER TO COLERIDGE

Unlike the beginning of the classical Jugged Hare recipe: “First catch your hare!” we modern Rabbit-hunters start off with “First catch your Cheddar!” And some of us go so far as to smuggle in formerly forbidden fromages such as Gruyère, Neufchâtel, Parmesan, and mixtures thereof. We run the gamut of personal preferences in selecting the Rabbit cheese itself, from old-time American, yellow or store cheese, to Coon and Canadian-smoked, though all of it is still Cheddar, no matter how you slice it.

Then, too, guests are made to run the gauntlet of all-American trimmings from pin-money pickles to peanut butter, succotash and maybe marshmallows; we add mustard, chill, curry, tabasco and sundry bottled red devils from the grocery store, to add pep and piquance to the traditional cayenne and black pepper. This results in Rabbits that are out of focus, out of order and out of this world.

Among modern sins of omission, the Worcestershire sauce is left out by braggarts who aver that they can take it or leave it. And, in these degenerate days, when it comes to substitutions for the original beer or stale pale ale, we find the gratings of great Cheddars wet down with mere California sherry or even ginger ale—yet so far, thank goodness, no Cokes. And there’s tomato juice out of a can into the Rum Turn Tiddy, and sometimes celery soup in place of milk or cream.

In view of all this, we can only look to the standard cookbooks for salvation. These are mostly compiled by women, our thoughtful mothers, wives and sweethearts who have saved the twin Basic Rabbits for us. If it weren’t for these Fanny Farmers, the making of a real aboriginal Welsh Rabbit would be a lost art—lost in sporting male attempts to improve upon the original.

The girls are still polite about the whole thing and protectively pervert the original spelling of “Rabbit” to “Rarebit” in their culinary guides. We have heard that once a club of ladies in high society tried to high-pressure the publishers of Mr. Webster’s dictionary to change the old spelling in their favor. Yet there is a lot to be said for this more genteel and appetizing rendering of the word, for the Welsh masterpiece is, after all, a very rare bit of cheesemongery, male or female.

Yet in dealing with “Rarebits” the distaff side seldom sets down more than the basic Adam and Eve in a whole Paradise of Rabbits: No. 1, the wild male type made with beer, and No. 2, the mild female made with milk. Yet now that the chafing dish has come back to stay, there’s a flurry in the Rabbit warren and the new cooking encyclopedias give up to a dozen variants. Actually there are easily half a gross of valid ones in current esteem.

The two basic recipes are differentiated by the liquid ingredient, but both the beer and the milk are used only one way—warm, or anyway at room temperature. And again for the two, there is but one traditional cheese—Cheddar, ripe, old or merely aged from six months onward. This is also called American, store, sharp, Rabbit, yellow, beer, Wisconsin Longhorn, mouse, and even rat.

The seasoned, sapid Cheddar-type, so indispensable, includes dozens of varieties under different names, regional or commercial. These are easily identified as sisters-under-the-rinds by all five senses:

sight: Golden yellow and mellow to the eye. It’s one of those round cheeses that also tastes round in the mouth.

hearing: By thumping, a cheese-fancier, like a melon-picker, can tell if a Cheddar is rich, ripe and ready for the Rabbit. When you hear your dealer say, “It’s six months old or more,” enough said.

smell: A scent as fresh as that of the daisies and herbs the mother milk cow munched “will hang round it still.” Also a slight beery savor.

touch: Crumbly—a caress to the fingers.

taste: The quintessence of this fivefold test. Just cuddle a crumb with your tongue and if it tickles the taste buds it’s prime. When it melts in your mouth, that’s proof it will melt in the pan.

Beyond all this (and in spite of the school that plumps for the No. 2 temperance alternative) we must point out that beer has a special affinity for Cheddar. The French have clearly established this in their names for Welsh Rabbit, Fromage Fondue à la Bière and Fondue à l’Anglaise.

To prepare such a cheese for the pan, each Rabbit hound may have a preference all his own, for here the question comes up of how it melts best. Do you shave, slice, dice, shred, mince, chop, cut, scrape or crumble it in the fingers? This will vary according to one’s temperament and the condition of the cheese. Generally, for best results it is coarsely grated. When it comes to making all this into a rare bit of Rabbit there is:

The One and Only Method

Use a double boiler, or preferably a chafing dish, avoiding aluminum and other soft metals. Heat the upper pan by simmering water in the lower one, but don’t let the water boil up or touch the top pan.

Most, but not all, Rabbits are begun by heating a bit of butter or margarine in the pan in which one cup of roughly grated cheese, usually sharp Cheddar, is melted and mixed with one-half cup of liquid, added gradually. (The butter isn’t necessary for a cheese that should melt by itself.)

The two principal ingredients are melted smoothly together and kept from curdling by stirring steadily in one direction only, over an even heat. The spoon used should be of hard wood, sterling silver or porcelain. Never use tin, aluminum or soft metal—the taste may come off to taint the job.

Be sure the liquid is at room temperature, or warmer, and add it gradually, without interrupting the stirring. Do not let it come to the bubbling point, and never let it boil.

Add seasonings only when the cheese is melted, which will take two or three minutes. Then continue to stir in the same direction without an instant’s letup, for maybe ten minutes or more, until the Rabbit is smooth. The consistency and velvety smoothness depend a good deal on whether or not an egg, or a beaten yolk, is added.

The hotter the Rabbit is served, the better. You can sizzle the top with a salamander or other branding iron, but in any case set it forth as nearly sizzling as possible, on toast hellishly hot, whether it’s browned or buttered on one side or both.

Give a thought to the sad case of the “little dog whose name was Rover, and when he was dead he was dead all over.” Something very similar happens with a Rabbit that’s allowed to cool down—when it’s cold it’s cold all over, and you can’t resuscitate it by heating.

BASIC WELSH RABBIT

No. 1 (with beer)

2 tablespoons butter
3 cups grated old Cheddar
½ teaspoon English dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
A dash of cayenne
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten with
½ cup light beer or ale
4 slices hot buttered toast

Over boiling water melt butter and cheese together, stirring steadily with a wooden (or other tasteless) spoon in one direction only. Add seasonings and do not interrupt your rhythmic stirring, as you pour in a bit at a time of the beer-and-egg mixture until it’s all used up.

It may take many minutes of constant stirring to achieve the essential creamy thickness and then some more to slick it out as smooth as velvet.

Keep it piping hot but don’t let it bubble, for a boiled Rabbit is a spoiled Rabbit. Only unremitting stirring (and the best of cheese) will keep it from curdling, getting stringy or rubbery. Pour the Rabbit generously over crisp, freshly buttered toast and serve instantly on hot plates.

Usually crusts are cut off the bread before toasting, and some aesthetes toast one side only, spreading the toasted side with cold butter for taste contrast. Lay the toast on the hot plate, buttered side down, and pour the Rabbit over the porous untoasted side so it can soak in. (This is recommended in Lady Llanover’s recipe, which appears on page 52 of this book.)

Although the original bread for Rabbit toast was white, there is now no limit in choice among whole wheat, graham, rolls, muffins, buns, croutons and crackers, to infinity.

No. 2 (with milk)

For a rich milk Rabbit use ½ cup thin cream, evaporated milk,
whole milk or buttermilk, instead of beer as in No. 1. Then, to
keep everything bland, cut down the mustard by half or leave
it out, and use paprika in place of cayenne. As in No. 1, the
use of Worcestershire sauce is optional, although our feeling is
that any spirited Rabbit would resent its being left out.

Either of these basic recipes can be made without eggs, and more cheaply, although the beaten egg is a guarantee against stringiness. When the egg is missing, we are sad to record that a teaspoon or so of cornstarch generally takes its place.

Rabbiteers are of two minds about fast and slow heating and stirring, so you’ll have to adjust that to your own experience and rhythm. As a rule, the heat is reduced when the cheese is almost melted, and speed of stirring slows when the eggs and last ingredients go in.

Many moderns who have found that monosodium glutamate steps up the flavor of natural cheese, put it in at the start, using one-half teaspoon for each cup of grated Cheddar. When it comes to pepper you are fancy-free. As both black and white pepper are now held in almost equal esteem, you might equip your hutch with twin hand-mills to do the grinding fresh, for this is always worth the trouble. Tabasco sauce is little used and needs a cautious hand, but some addicts can’t leave it out any more than they can swear off the Worcestershire.

The school that plumps for malty Rabbits and the other that goes for milky ones are equally emphatic in their choice. So let us consider the compromise of our old friend Frederick Philip Stieff, the Baltimore homme de bouche, as he set it forth for us years ago in 10,000 Snacks: “The idea of cooking a Rabbit with beer is an exploded and dangerous theory. Tap your keg or open your case of ale or beer and serve with, not in your Rabbit.”

The Stieff Recipe BASIC MILK RABBIT

(completely surrounded by a lake of malt beverages)

2 cups grated sharp cheese
3 heaping tablespoons butter
1½ cups milk
4 eggs
1 heaping tablespoon mustard
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
Pepper, salt and paprika to taste—then add more of each.

Grease well with butter the interior of your double boiler so that no hard particles of cheese will form in the mixture later and contribute undesirable lumps.

Put cheese, well-grated, into the double boiler and add butter and milk. From this point vigorous stirring should be indulged in until Rabbit is ready for serving.

Prepare a mixture of Worcestershire sauce, mustard, pepper, salt and paprika. These should be beaten until light and then slowly poured into the double boiler. Nothing now remains to be done except to stir and cook down to proper consistency over a fairly slow flame. The finale has not arrived until you can drip the rabbit from the spoon and spell the word finis on the surface. Pour over two pieces of toast per plate and send anyone home who does not attack it at once.

This is sufficient for six gourmets or four gourmands.

Nota bene: A Welsh Rabbit, to be a success, should never be of the consistency whereby it may be used to tie up bundles, nor yet should it bounce if inadvertently dropped on the kitchen floor.

Lady Llanover’s Toasted Welsh Rabbit

Cut a slice of the real Welsh cheese made of sheep’s and cow’s milk; toast it at the fire on both sides, but not so much as to drop (melt). Toast on one side a piece of bread less than ¼ inch thick, to be quite crisp, and spread it very thinly with fresh, cold butter on the toasted side. (It must not be saturated.) Lay the toasted cheese upon the untoasted bread side and serve immediately on a very hot plate. The butter on the toast can, of course, be omitted. (It is more frequently eaten without butter.)

From this original toasting of the cheese many Englishmen still call Welsh Rabbit “Toasted Cheese,” but Lady Llanover goes on to point out that the Toasted Rabbit of her Wales and the Melted or Stewed Buck Rabbit of England (which has become our American standard) are as different in the making as the regional cheeses used in them, and she says that while doctors prescribed the toasted Welsh as salubrious for invalids, the stewed cheese of Olde England was “only adapted to strong digestions.”

English literature rings with praise for the toasted cheese of Wales and England. There is Christopher North’s eloquent “threads of unbeaten gold, shining like gossamer filaments (that may be pulled from its tough and tenacious substance).”

Yet not all of the references are complimentary.

Thus Shakespeare in King Lear:
Look, look a mouse! Peace, peace;—this piece of toasted cheese will do it.

And Sydney Smith’s:

Old friendships are destroyed by toasted cheese, and hard salted meat has led to suicide.

But Khys Davis in My Wales makes up for such rudenesses:

The Welsh Enter Heaven

The Lord had been complaining to St. Peter of the dearth of good singers in Heaven. “Yet,” He said testily, “I hear excellent singing outside the walls. Why are not those singers here with me?”

St. Peter said, “They are the Welsh. They refuse to come in; they say they are happy enough outside, playing with a ball and boxing and singing such songs as ‘Suspan Fach'”

The Lord said, “I wish them to come in here to sing Bach and Mendelssohn. See that they are in before sundown.”

St. Peter went to the Welsh and gave them the commands of the Lord. But still they shook their heads. Harassed, St. Peter went to consult with St. David, who, with a smile, was reading the works of Caradoc Evans.

St. David said, “Try toasted cheese. Build a fire just inside the gates and get a few angels to toast cheese in front of it” This St. Peter did. The heavenly aroma of the sizzling, browning cheese was wafted over the walls and, with loud shouts, a great concourse of the Welsh came sprinting in. When sufficient were inside to make up a male voice choir of a hundred, St Peter slammed the gates. However, it is said that these are the only Welsh in Heaven.

And, lest we forget, the wonderful drink that made Alice grow and grow to the ceiling of Wonderland contained not only strawberry jam but toasted cheese.

Then there’s the frightening nursery rhyme:
The Irishman loved usquebaugh, The Scot loved ale called Bluecap. The Welshman, he loved toasted cheese, And made his mouth like a mousetrap.
The Irishman was drowned in usquebaugh, The Scot was drowned in ale, The Welshman he near swallowed a mouse But he pulled it out by the tail.

And, perhaps worst of all, Shakespeare, no cheese-lover, this tune in Merry Wives of Windsor:
‘Tis time I were choked by a bit of toasted cheese.

An elaboration of the simple Welsh original went English with Dr. William Maginn, the London journalist whose facile pen enlivened the Blackwoods Magazine era with Ten Tales:

Dr. Maginn’s Rabbit

Much is to be said in favor of toasted cheese for supper. It is the cant to say that Welsh rabbit is heavy eating. I like it best in the genuine Welsh way, however—that is, the toasted bread buttered on both sides profusely, then a layer of cold roast beef with mustard and horseradish, and then, on the top of all, the superstratum, of Cheshire thoroughly saturated, while, in the process of toasting, with genuine porter, black pepper, and shallot vinegar. I peril myself upon the assertion that this is not a heavy supper for a man who has been busy all day till dinner in reading, writing, walking or riding—who has occupied himself between dinner and supper in the discussion of a bottle or two of sound wine, or any equivalent—and who proposes to swallow at least three tumblers of something hot ere he resigns himself to the embrace of Somnus. With these provisos, I recommend toasted cheese for supper.

The popularity of this has come down to us in the succinct summing-up, “Toasted cheese hath no master.”

The Welsh original became simple after Dr. Maginn’s supper sandwich was served, a century and a half ago; for it was served as a savory to sum up and help digest a dinner, in this form:

After-Dinner Rabbit

Remove all crusts from bread slices, toast on both sides and soak to saturation in hot beer. Melt thin slices of sharp old cheese in butter in an iron skillet, with an added spot of beer and dry English mustard. Stir steadily with a wooden spoon and, when velvety, serve a-sizzle on piping hot beer-soaked toast.

While toasted cheese undoubtedly was the Number One dairy dish of Anglo-Saxons, stewed cheese came along to rival it in Elizabethan London. This sophisticated, big-city dish, also called a Buck Rabbit, was the making of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street, where Dr. Johnson later presided. And it must have been the pick of the town back in the days when barrooms still had sawdust on the floor, for the learned Doctor endorsed old Omar Khayyam’s love of the pub with: “There is nothing which has been contrived by man by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern.” Yet he was no gourmet, as may be judged by his likening of a succulent, golden-fried oyster to “a baby’s ear dropped in sawdust.”

Perhaps it is just as well that no description of the world’s first Golden Buck has come down from him. But we don’t have to look far for on-the-spot pen pictures by other men of letters at “The Cheese,” as it was affectionately called. To a man they sang praises for that piping hot dish of preserved and beatified milk.

Inspired by stewed cheese, Mark Lemon, the leading rhymester of Punch, wrote the following poem and dedicated it to the memory of Lovelace:
Champagne will not a dinner make, Nor caviar a meal Men gluttonous and rich may take Those till they make them ill If I’ve potatoes to my chop, And after chop have cheese, Angels in Pond and Spiers’s shop Know no such luxuries.

All that’s necessary is an old-time “cheese stewer” or a reasonable substitute. The base of this is what was once quaintly called a “hot-water bath.” This was a sort of miniature wash boiler just big enough to fit in snugly half a dozen individual tins, made squarish and standing high enough above the bath water to keep any of it from getting into the stew. In these tins the cheese is melted. But since such a tinsmith’s contraption is hard to come by in these days of fireproof cooking glass, we suggest muffin tins, ramekins or even small cups to crowd into the bottom of your double boiler or chafing dish. But beyond this we plump for a revival of the “cheese stewer” in stainless steel, silver or glass.

In the ritual at “The Cheese,” these dishes, brimming over, “bubbling and blistering with the stew,” followed a pudding that’s still famous. Although down the centuries the recipe has been kept secret, the identifiable ingredients have been itemized as follows: “Tender steak, savory oyster, seductive kidney, fascinating lark, rich gravy, ardent pepper and delicate paste”—not to mention mushrooms. And after the second or third helping of pudding, with a pint of stout, bitter, or the mildest and mellowest brown October Ale in a dented pewter pot, “the stewed Cheshire cheese.”

Cheese was the one and only other course prescribed by tradition and appetite from the time when Charles II aled and regaled Nell Gwyn at “The Cheese,” where Shakespeare is said to have sampled this “kind of a glorified Welsh Rarebit, served piping hot in the square shallow tins in which it is cooked and garnished with sippets of delicately colored toast.”

Among early records is this report of Addison’s in The Spectator of September 25,1711:

They yawn for a Cheshire cheese, and begin about midnight, when the whole company is disposed to be drowsy. He that yawns widest, and at the same time so naturally as to produce the most yawns amongst his spectators, carries home the cheese.

Only a short time later, in 1725, the proprietor of Simpson’s in the Strand inaugurated a daily guessing contest that drew crowds to his fashionable eating and drinking place. He would set forth a huge portion of cheese and wager champagne and cigars for the house that no one present could correctly estimate the weight, height and girth of it.

As late as 1795, when Boswell was accompanying Dr. Johnson to “The Cheese,” records of St. Dunstan’s Club, which also met there, showed that the current price of a Buck Rabbit was tuppence, and that this was also the amount of the usual tip.

Ye Original Recipe

1½ ounces butter
1 cup cream
1½ cups grated Cheshire cheese (more pungent, snappier, richer,
and more brightly colored than its first cousin, Cheddar)

Heat butter and cream together, then stir in the cheese and let it stew.

You dunk fingers of toast directly into your individual tin, or pour the Stewed Rabbit over toast and brown the top under a blistering salamander.

The salamander is worth modernizing, too, so you can brand your own Rabbits with your monogram or the design of your own Rabbitry. Such a branding iron might be square, like the stew tin, and about the size of a piece of toast

It is notable that there is no beer or ale in this recipe, but not lamentable, since all aboriginal cheese toasts were washed down in tossing seas of ale, beer, porter, stout, and ‘arf and ‘arf.

This creamy Stewed Buck, on which the literary greats of Johnson’s time supped while they smoked their church wardens, received its highest praise from an American newspaper woman who rhapsodized in 1891: “Then came stewed cheese, on the thin shaving of crisp, golden toast in hot silver saucers—so hot that the cheese was the substance of thick cream, the flavor of purple pansies and red raspberries commingled.”

This may seem a bit flowery, but in truth many fine cheeses hold a trace of the bouquet of the flowers that have enriched the milk. Alpine blooms and herbs haunt the Gruyère, Parmesan wafts the scent of Parma violets, the Flower Cheese of England is perfumed with the petals of rose, violet, marigold and jasmine.

Oven Rabbit (FROM AN OLD RECIPE)

Chop small ½ pound of cooking cheese. Put it, with a piece of butter the size of a walnut, in a little saucepan, and as the butter melts and the cheese gets warm, mash them together,

When softened add 2 yolks of eggs, ½ teacupful of ale, a little cayenne pepper and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon one way only, until it is creamy, but do not let it boil, for that would spoil it. Place some slices of buttered toast on a dish, pour the Rarebit upon them, and set inside-the oven about 2 minutes before serving.

Yorkshire Rabbit

(originally called Gherkin Buck, from a pioneer recipe)

Put into a saucepan ½ pound of cheese, sprinkle with pepper (black, of course) to taste, pour over ½ teacup of ale, and convert the whole into a smooth, creamy mass, over the fire, stirring continually, for about 10 minutes.

In 2 more minutes it should be done. (10 minutes altogether is the minimum.) Pour it over slices of hot toast, place a piece of broiled bacon on the top of each and serve as hot as possible.

Golden Buck

A Golden Buck is simply the Basic Welsh Rabbit with beer (No. 1) plus a poached egg on top. The egg, sunny side up, gave it its shining name a couple of centuries ago. Nowadays some chafing dish show-offs try to gild the Golden Buck with dashes of ginger and spice.

Golden Buck II

This is only a Golden Buck with the addition of bacon strips.

The Venerable Yorkshire Buck

Spread ½-inch slices of bread with mustard and brown in hot oven. Then moisten each slice with ½ glass of ale, lay on top a slice of cheese ¼-inch thick, and 2 slices of bacon on top of that. Put back in oven, cook till cheese is melted and the bacon crisp, and serve piping hot, with tankards of cold ale.

Bacon is the thing that identifies any Yorkshire Rabbit.

Yale College Welsh Rabbit (MORIARTY’S)

1 jigger of beer
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon mustard
1½ cups grated or shaved cheese
More beer

Pour the jigger of beer into “a low saucepan,” dash on the seasonings, add the cheese and stir unremittingly, moistening from time to time with more beer, a pony or two at a time.

When creamy, pour over buttered toast (2 slices for this amount) and serve with still more beer.

There are two schools of postgraduate Rabbit-hunters: Yale, as above, with beer both in the Rabbit and with it; and the other featured in the Stieff Recipe, which prefers leaving it out of the Rabbit, but taps a keg to drink with it.

The ancient age of Moriarty’s campus classic is registered by the use of pioneer black pepper in place of white, which is often used today and is thought more sophisticated by some than the red cayenne of Rector’s Naughty Nineties Chafing Dish Rabbit, which is precisely the same as our Basic Recipe No. 1.

Border-hopping Bunny, or Frijole Rabbit

1½ tablespoons butter
1½ tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons chopped pepper, green or red, or both
1½ teaspoon chili powder
1 small can kidney beans, drained
1½ tablespoons catsup
½ teaspoon Worcestershire
Salt
2 cups grated cheese

Cook onion and pepper lightly in butter with chili powder; add kidney beans and seasonings and stir in the cheese until melted.

Serve this beany Bunny peppery hot on tortillas or crackers, toasted and buttered.

In the whole hutch of kitchen Rabbitry the most popular modern ones are made with tomato, a little or lots. They hop in from everywhere, from Mexico to South Africa, and call for all kinds of quirks, down to mixing in some dried beef, and there is even a skimpy Tomato Rabbit for reducers, made with farmer cheese and skimmed milk.

Although the quaintly named Rum Tum Tiddy was doubtless the great-grandpappy of all Tomato Rabbits, a richer, more buttery and more eggy one has taken its place as the standard today. The following is a typical recipe for this, tried and true, since it has had a successful run through a score of the best modern cookbooks, with only slight personal changes to keep its juice a-flowing blood-red.

Tomato Rabbit

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
¾ cup thin cream or evaporated milk
¾ cup canned tomato pulp, rubbed through a sieve to remove seeds
A pinch of soda
3 cups grated cheese
Pinches of dry mustard, salt and cayenne
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Blend flour in melted butter, add cream slowly, and when this white sauce is a little thick, stir in tomato sprinkled with soda. Keep stirring steadily while adding cheese and seasonings, and when cooked enough, stir in the eggs to make a creamy texture, smooth as silk. Serve on buttered whole wheat or graham bread for a change.

Instead of soda, some antiquated recipes call for “a tablespoon of bicarbonate of potash.”

South African Tomato Rabbit

This is the same as above, except that ½ teaspoon of sugar is used in place of the soda and the Rabbit is poured over baked pastry cut into squares and sprinkled with parsley, chopped fine, put in the oven and served immediately.

Rum Tum Tiddy, Rink Tum Ditty, etc. (OLD BOSTON STYLE)

1 tablespoon butter
1 onion, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 big pinch of pepper
2 cups cooked tomatoes
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups grated store cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

Slowly fry onion bright golden in butter, season and add tomatoes with sugar. Heat just under the bubbling point. Don’t let it boil, but keep adding cheese and shaking the pan until it melts. Then stir in egg gently and serve very hot

Tomato Soup Rabbit

1 can condensed tomato soup
2 cups grated cheese
¼ teaspoon English mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper

Heat soup, stir in cheese until melted, add mustard and egg slowly, season and serve hot.

This is a quickie Rum Tum Tiddy, without any onion, a poor, housebroken version of the original. It can be called a Celery Rabbit if you use a can of celery soup in place of the tomato.

Onion Rum Tum Tiddy

Prepare as in Rum Tum Tiddy, but use only 1½ cups cooked tomatoes and add ½ cup of mashed boiled onions.

Sherry Rum Tum Tiddy

1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, minced
1 small green pepper, minced
1 can tomato soup
¾ cup milk
3 cups grated cheese
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 jigger sherry
Crackers

Prepare as in Rum Tum Tiddy. Stir in sherry last to retain its flavor. Crumble crackers into a hot tureen until it’s about ⅓ full and pour the hot Rum Tum Tiddy over them.

Blushing Bunny

This is a sister-under-the-skin to the old-fashioned Rum Tum Tiddy, except that her complexion is made a little rosier with a lot of paprika in place of plain pepper, and the paprika cooked in from the start, of course.

Blushing Bunny is one of those playful English names for dishes, like Pink Poodle, Scotch Woodcock (given below), Bubble and Squeak (Bubblum Squeakum), and Toad in the Hole.

Scotch Woodcock

Another variant of Rum Tum Tiddy. Make your Rum Tum Tiddy, but before finishing up with the beaten egg, stir in 2 heaping tablespoons of anchovy paste and prepare the buttered toast by laying on slices of hard-cooked eggs.

American Woodchuck

1½ cups tomato purée
2 cups grated cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
Cayenne
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Heat the tomato and stir in the cheese. When partly melted stir in the egg and, when almost cooked, add seasonings without ever interrupting the stirring. Pour over hot toasted crackers or bread.

No doubt this all-American Tomato Rabbit with brown sugar was named after the native woodchuck, in playful imitation of the Scotch Woodcock above. It’s the only Rabbit we know that’s sweetened with brown sugar.

Running Rabbit

(as served at the Waldorf-Astoria, First Annual Cheeselers Field Day, November 12,1937)

Cut finest old American cheese in very small pieces and melt in saucepan with a little good beer. Season and add Worcestershire sauce. Serve instantly with freshly made toast.

This running cony can be poured over toast like any other Rabbit, or over crushed crackers in a hot tureen, as in Sherry Rum Tum Tiddy, or served like Fondue, in the original cooking bowl or pan, with the spoon kept moving in it in one direction only and the Rabbit following the spoon, like a greyhound following the stuffed rabbit at the dog races.

Mexican Chilaly

1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons chopped green pepper 1½ tablespoons chopped onion
1 cup chopped and drained canned tomatoes, without seeds
2½ cups grated cheese
¾ teaspoon salt
Dash of cayenne
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons canned tomato juice
Water cress

Cook pepper and onion lightly in butter, add tomato pulp and cook 5 minutes before putting over boiling water and stirring steadily as you add cheese and seasonings. Moisten the egg with the tomato juice and stir in until the Rabbit is thick and velvety.

Serve on toast and dress with water cress.

This popular modern Rabbit seems to be a twin to Rum Tum Tiddy in spite of the centuries’ difference in age.

Fluffy, Eggy Rabbit

Stir up a Chilaly as above, but use 2 well-beaten eggs to make it more fluffy, and leave out the watercress. Serve it hot over cold slices of hard-cooked eggs crowded flat on hot buttered toast, to make it extra eggy.

Grilled Tomato Rabbit

Slice big, red, juicy tomatoes ½-inch thick, season with salt, pepper and plenty of brown sugar. Dot both sides with all the butter that won’t slip off.

Heat in moderate oven, and when almost cooked, remove and broil on both sides. Put on hot plates in place of the usual toast and pour the Rabbit over them. (The Rabbit is made according to either Basic Recipe No. 1 or No. 2.)

Slices of crisp bacon on top of the tomato slices and a touch of horseradish help.

picture: pointer Grilled Tomato and Onion Rabbit

Slice ¼-inch thick an equal number of tomato and onion rings. Season with salt, pepper, brown sugar and dots of butter. Heat in moderate oven, and when almost cooked remove and broil lightly.

On hot plates lay first the onion rings, top with the tomato ones and pour the Rabbit over, as in the plain Grilled Tomato recipe above.

For another onion-flavored Rabbit see Celery and Onion Rabbit.

The Devil’s Own

(a fresh tomato variant)

2 tablespoons butter
1 large peeled tomato in 4 thick slices
2½ cups grated cheese
¼ teaspoon English mustard
A pinch of cayenne
A dash of tabasco sauce
2 tablespoons chili sauce
½ cup ale or beer
1 egg, lightly beaten

Sauté tomato slices lightly on both sides in 1 tablespoon butter. Keep warm on hot platter while you make the toast and a Basic Rabbit, pepped up by the extra-hot seasonings listed above. Put hot tomato slices on hot toast on hot plates; pour the hot mixture over.

Dried Beef or Chipped Beef Rabbit

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup canned tomato, drained, chopped and de-seeded
¼ pound dried beef, shredded
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ teaspoon pepper
2 cups grated cheese

Heat tomato in butter, add beef and eggs, stir until mixed well, then sprinkle with pepper, stir in the grated cheese until smooth and creamy. Serve on toast.

No salt is needed on this jerked steer meat that is called both dried beef and chipped beef on this side of the border, tasajo on the other side, and xarque when you get all the way down to Brazil.

Kansas Jack Rabbit

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup cream-style corn
Salt and pepper

Make a white sauce of milk, butter and flour and stir in cheese steadily and gradually until melted. Add corn and season to taste. Serve on hot buttered toast.

Kansas has plenty of the makings for this, yet the dish must have been easier to make on Baron Münchhausen’s “Island of Cheese,” where the cornstalks produced loaves of bread, ready-made, instead of ears, and were no doubt crossed with long-eared jacks to produce Corn Rabbits quite as miraculous.

After tomatoes, in popularity, come onions and then green peppers or canned pimientos as vegetable ingredients in modern, Americanized Rabbits. And after that, corn, as in the following recipe which appeals to all Latin-Americans from Mexico to Chile because it has everything.

Latin-American Corn Rabbit

2 tablespoons butter
1 green pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
½ cup condensed tomato soup
3 cups grated cheese
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup canned corn
1 egg, lightly beaten

Fry pepper and onion 5 minutes in butter; add soup, cover and cook 5 minutes more. Put over boiling water; add cheese with seasonings and stir steadily, slowly adding the corn, and when thoroughly blended and creamy, moisten the egg with a little of the liquid, stir in until thickened and then pour over hot toast or crackers.

Mushroom-Tomato Rabbit

In one pan commence frying in butter 1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms, and in another make a Rabbit by melting over boiling water 2 cups of grated cheese with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon paprika. Stir steadily and, when partially melted, stir in a can of condensed tomato soup, previously heated. Then add the fried mushrooms slowly, stir until creamy and pour over hot toast or crackers.

Celery and Onion Rabbit

½ cup chopped hearts of celery
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1½ cups grated sharp cheese
Salt and pepper

In a separate pan boil celery and onion until tender. Meanwhile, melt cheese with butter and seasonings and stir steadily. When nearly done stir the celery and onion in gradually, until smooth and creamy.

Pour over buttered toast and brown with a salamander or under the grill.

Asparagus Rabbit

Make as above, substituting a cupful of tender sliced asparagus tops for the celery and onion.

Oyster Rabbit

2 dozen oysters and their liquor
1 teaspoon butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 large pinch of salt
1 small pinch of cayenne
3 cups grated cheese

Heat oysters until edges curl and put aside to keep warm while you proceed to stir up a Rabbit. When cheese is melted add the eggs with some of the oyster liquor and keep stirring. When the Rabbit has thickened to a smooth cream, drop in the warm oysters to heat a little more, and serve on hot buttered toast.

Sea-food Rabbits

(crab, lobster, shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, abalone, squid, octopi; anything that swims in the sea or crawls on the bottom of the ocean)

Shred, flake or mince a cupful of any freshly cooked or canned sea food and save some of the liquor, if any. Make according to Oyster Rabbit recipe above.

Instead of using only one kind of sea food, try several, mixed according to taste. Spike this succulent Sea Rabbit with horseradish or a dollop of sherry, for a change.

“Bouquet of the Sea” Rabbit

The seafaring Portuguese set the style for this lush bouquet of as many different kinds of cooked fish (tuna, cod, salmon, etc.) as can be sardined together in the whirlpool of melted cheese in the chafing dish. They also accent it with tidbits of sea food as above.

Other Fish Rabbit, Fresh or Dried

Any cooked fresh fish, flaked or shredded, from the alewife to the whale, or cooked dried herring, finnan haddie, mackerel, cod, and so on, can be stirred in to make a basic Rabbit more tasty. Happy combinations are hit upon in mixing leftovers of several kinds by the cupful. So the odd old cookbook direction, “Add a cup of fish,” takes on new meaning.

Grilled Sardine Rabbit

Make a Basic Rabbit and pour it over sardines, skinned, boned, halved and grilled, on buttered toast.

Similarly cooked fillets of any small fish will make as succulent a grilled Rabbit.

Roe Rabbits

Slice cooked roe of shad or toothsome eggs of other fish, grill on toast, butter well and pour a Basic Rabbit over. Although shad roe is esteemed the finest, there are many other sapid ones of salmon, herring, flounder, cod, etc.

Plain Sardine Rabbit

Make Basic Rabbit with only 2 cups of cheese, and in place of the egg yolks and beer, stir in a large tin of sardines, skinned, boned and flaked.

Anchovy Rabbit

Make Basic Rabbit, add 1 tablespoon of imported East Indian chutney with the egg yolks and beer at the finish, spread toast thickly with anchovy paste and butter, and pour the Rabbit over.

Smoked sturgeon, whiting, eel, smoked salmon, and the like

Lay cold slices or flakes of any fine smoked fish (and all of them are fine) on hot buttered toast and pour a Basic Rabbit over the fish.

The best combination we ever tasted is made by laying a thin slice of smoked salmon over a thick one of smoked sturgeon.

Smoked Cheddar Rabbit

With or without smoked fish, Rabbit-hunters whose palates crave the savor of a wisp of smoke go for a Basic Rabbit made with smoked Cheddar in place of the usual aged, but unsmoked, Cheddar. We use a two-year-old that Phil Alpert, Mr. Cheese himself, brings down from Canada and has specially smoked in the same savory room where sturgeon is getting the works. So his Cheddar absorbs the de luxe flavor of six-dollar-per-pound sturgeon and is sold for a fraction of that.

And just in case you are fishing around for something extra special, serve this smoky Rabbit on oven-browned Bombay ducks, those crunchy flat toasts of East Indian fish.

Or go Oriental by accompanying this with cups of smoky Lapsang Soochong China tea.

Crumby Rabbit

1 tablespoon butter
2 cups grated cheese
1 cup stale bread crumbs
soaked with
1 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt
Cayenne
Toasted crackers

Melt cheese in butter, stir in the soaked crumbs and seasonings. When cooked smooth and creamy, stir in the egg to thicken the mixture and serve on toasted crackers, dry or buttered, for contrast with the bread.

Some Rabbiteers monkey with this, lacing it with half a cup of catsup, making a sort of pink baboon out of what should be a white monkey.

There is a cult for Crumby Rabbits variations on which extend all the way to a deep casserole dish called Baked Rabbit and consisting of alternate layers of stale bread crumbs and grated-cheese crumbs. This illegitimate three-layer Rabbit is moistened with eggs beaten up with milk, and seasoned with salt and paprika.

Crumby Tomato Rabbit

2 teaspoons butter
2 cups grated cheese
½ cup soft bread crumbs
1 cup tomato soup
Salt and pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten

Melt cheese in butter, moisten bread crumbs with the tomato soup and stir in; season, add egg and keep stirring until velvety. Serve on toasted crackers, as a contrast to the bread crumbs.

Gherkin or Irish Rabbit

2 tablespoons butter
2 cups grated cheese
½ cup milk (or beer)
A dash of vinegar
½ teaspoon mustard
Salt and pepper
½ cup chopped gherkin pickles

Melt cheese in butter, steadily stir in liquid and seasonings. Keep stirring until smooth, then add the pickles and serve.

This may have been called Irish after the green of the pickle.

Dutch Rabbit

Melt thin slices of any good cooking cheese in a heavy skillet with a little butter, prepared mustard, and a splash of beer.

Have ready some slices of toast soaked in hot beer or ale and pour the Rabbit over them.

The temperance version of this substitutes milk for beer and delicately soaks the toast in hot water instead.

Proof that there is no Anglo-Saxon influence here lies in the use of prepared mustard. The English, who still do a lot of things the hard way, mix their biting dry mustard fresh with water before every meal, while the Germans and French bottle theirs, as we do.

picture: pointer Pumpernickel Rabbit

This German deviation is made exactly the same as the Dutch Rabbit above, but its ingredients are the opposite in color. Black bread (pumpernickel) slices are soaked in heated dark beer (porter or stout) and the yellow cheese melted in the skillet is also stirred up with brunette beer.

Since beer is a kind of liquid bread, it is natural for the two to commingle in Rabbits whether they are blond Dutch or black pumpernickel. And since cheese is only solid milk, and the Cheddar is noted for its beery smell, there is further affinity here. An old English proverb sums it up neatly: “Bread and cheese are the two targets against death.”

By the way, the word pumpernickel is said to have been coined when Napoleon tasted his first black bread in Germany. Contemptuously he spat it out with: “This would be good for my horse, Nicole.” “Bon pour Nicole” in French.

picture: pointer Gruyère Welsh Rabbit au gratin

Cut crusts from a half-dozen slices of bread. Toast them lightly, lay in a roasting pan and top each with a matching slice of imported Gruyère ⅜-inch thick. Pepper to taste and cover with bread crumbs. Put in oven 10 minutes and rush to the ultimate consumer.

To our American ears anything au gratin suggests “with cheese,” so this Rabbit au gratin may sound redundant. To a Frenchman, however, it means a dish covered with bread crumbs.

Swiss Cheese Rabbit

½ cup white wine, preferably Neufchâtel
½ cup grated Gruyère
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ saltspoon paprika
2 egg yolks

Stir wine and seasonings together with the cheese until it melts, then thicken with the egg yolks, stirring at least 3 more minutes until smooth.

Sherry Rabbit

3 cups grated cheese
½ cup cream or evaporated milk
½ cup sherry
¼ teaspoon English mustard
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
A dash of paprika

Heat cheese over hot water, with or without a bit of butter, and when it begins to melt, stir in the cream. Keep stirring until almost all of the cheese is melted, then add sherry. When smooth and creamy, stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce, and after pouring over buttered toast dash with paprika for color.

Spanish Sherry Rabbit

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 bouillon cube, mashed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1½ cups milk
1½ cups grated cheese
1 jigger sherry

Make a smooth paste of butter, flour, bouillon cube and seasonings, and add milk slowly. When well-heated stir in the cheese gradually. Continue stirring at least 10 minutes, and when well-blended stir in the sherry and serve on hot, buttered toast.

Pink Poodle

2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon chopped onion
1 tablespoon flour
1 jigger California claret
1 cup cream of tomato soup
A pinch of soda
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
A dash of powdered cloves
3 cups grated cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

Cook onion in butter until light golden, then blend in flour, wine and soup with the soda and all seasonings. Stir in cheese slowly until melted and finish off by thickening with the egg and stirring until smooth and velvety. Serve on crisp, buttered toast with a dry red wine.

Although wine Rabbits, red or white, are as unusual as Swiss ones with Gruyère in place of Cheddar, wine is commonly drunk with anything from a Golden Buck to a Blushing Bunny. But for most of us, a deep draught of beer or ale goes best with an even deeper draught of the mellow scent of a Cheddar golden-yellow.

Savory Eggy Dry Rabbit

⅛ pound butter
2 cups grated Gruyère
4 eggs, well-beaten
Salt
Pepper
Mustard

Melt butter and cheese together with the beaten eggs, stirring steadily with wooden spoon until soft and smooth. Season and pour over dry toast.

This “dry” Rabbit, in which the volume of the eggs makes up for any lacking liquid, is still served as a savory after the sweets to finish a fine meal in some old-fashioned English homes and hostelries.

Cream Cheese Rabbit

This Rabbit, made with a package of cream cheese, is more scrambled hen fruit than Rabbit food, for you simply scramble a half-dozen eggs with butter, milk, salt, pepper and cayenne, and just before the finish work in the cheese until smooth and serve on crackers—water crackers for a change.

Reducing Rarebit (Tomato Rarebit)[A]

YIELD: 2 servings. 235 calories per serving.

½ pound farmer cheese
2 eggs
1 level tablespoon powdered milk
1 level teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon gelatin or agar powder
4 egg tomatoes, quartered, or
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon parsley flakes
½ head lettuce and/or 1 cucumber
¼ cup wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Fill bottom of double boiler with water to ¾ mark. Sprinkle salt in upper part of double boiler. Boil over medium flame. When upper part is hot, put in cheese, powdered milk, baking powder, gelatin, caraway seeds and pepper and garlic powder to taste. Mix. Break eggs into this mixture, cook over low flame, continually stirring. Add tomatoes when mixture bubbles and continue cooking and stirring until tomatoes have been cooked soft. Remove to lettuce and/or cucumber (sliced thin) which has been slightly marinated in wine vinegar and sprinkle the parsley flakes over the top of the mixture.

[A] (from The Low-Calory Cookbook by Bernard Koten, published by Random House)

Curry Rabbit

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 cups milk
2½ cups grated cheese
1 tablespoon minced chives
2 green onions, minced
2 shallots, minced
¼ teaspoon imported curry powder
1 tablespoon chutney sauce

Dissolve cornstarch in a little of the milk and scald the rest over hot water. Thicken with cornstarch mixture and stir in the cheese, chives, onions, shallots, curry and chutney while wooden-spooning steadily until smooth and sizzling enough to pour over buttered toast.

People who can’t let well enough alone put cornstarch in Rabbits, just as they add soda to spoil the cooking of vegetables.

Ginger Ale Rabbit

Simply substitute ginger ale for the real thing in the No. 1 Rabbit of all time.

Buttermilk Rabbit

Substitute buttermilk for plain milk in the No. 2 Rabbit. To be consistent, use fresh-cured Buttermilk Cheese, instead of the usual Cheddar of fresh cow’s milk. This is milder.

Eggnog Rabbit

2 tablespoons sweet butter
2 cups grated mellow Cheddar
1⅓ cups eggnog
Dashes of spice to taste.

After melting the cheese in butter, stir in the eggnog and keep stirring until smooth and thickened. Season or not, depending on taste and the quality of eggnog employed.

Ever since the innovation of bottled eggnogs fresh from the milkman in holiday season, such supremely creamy and flavorful Rabbits have been multiplying as fast as guinea pigs.

All-American Succotash Rabbit

1 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups grated cheese
1 cup creamed succotash, strained
Salt and pepper

Make a white sauce of milk, butter and flour and stir in the cheese steadily and gradually until melted. Add the creamed succotash and season to taste.

Serve on toasted, buttered corn bread.

Danish Rabbit

1 quart warm milk
2 cups grated cheese

Stir together to boiling point and pour over piping-hot toast in heated bowl. This is an esteemed breakfast dish in north Denmark.

As in all Rabbits, more or less cheese may be used, to taste.

picture: pointer Easy English Rabbit

Soak bread slices in hot beer. Melt thin slices of cheese with butter in iron frying pan, stir in a few spoonfuls of beer and a bit of prepared mustard. When smoothly melted, pour over the piping-hot, beer-soaked toast.

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