Many persons look upon the cucumber with fear as a source of indigestion and gastric discomfort. One able dietitian has left on record his opinion that a square inch of verdant cucumber is about as fit to be put into the human stomach as would be a like quantity of Paris green.
Our cucumber, like many another abused article, is maligned because its enemies have never made the attempt to do it justice. If a few simple rules are followed it will prove less indigestible and more palatable than foes and friends imagine. When cooked, it loses many of its disturbing qualities. But, as some people enjoy the crisp freshness of its raw state, it is well to learn just how to prepare it properly.
See to it that the cucumber is fresh and lay it on the ice until wanted. Do not be content with leaving it on the shelf of the refrigerator. It must be in actual contact with the ice. Just before sending to the table, peel quickly and slice thin, scattering crushed ice among the slices. At the table make a French dressing of one part vinegar, three parts oil, salt and pepper to taste, and pour over the cucumbers as you dish them. To allow the vegetable to lie for even fifteen minutes in the dressing is to toughen the fiber and make it as indigestible as gutta percha.
Peel eight medium-sized cucumbers and cut them into slices an inch thick. Lay in iced water for half an hour. Have a pint of unsalted, hot beef stock in a saucepan, drain the cucumbers and lay them in this. Stew until tender, then remove with a skimmer and lay in a vegetable-dish. Cook together a tablespoonful, each, of butter and browned flour, and pour upon them the stock in which the cucumbers were cooked. Stir until you have a smooth brown sauce; add a saltspoonful of salt, the same amount of pepper, a teaspoonful of kitchen bouquet and a half teaspoonful of onion juice. Stir all together and pour over the stewed cucumbers.
Cut good-sized young cucumbers into halves, lengthwise, and remove the seeds. Fill the hollows thus left with a forcemeat made of equal parts of chopped roast beef and minced boiled ham, with half as much fine bread-crumbs. Moisten this stuffing with melted butter and season to taste. Place the halves of each cucumber carefully together and tie with soft twine. Place in a roasting-pan, pour about them a cupful of skimmed beef stock, and cook until tender. Remove the strings, transfer the cucumbers to a hot platter, thicken the gravy left in the pan and pour it about them. This is a Syrian recipe. 29
Peel medium-sized cucumbers, arrange them in a bake-dish and pour about them a couple of tablespoonfuls of water in which has been melted a tablespoonful of butter. Dust with salt and pepper, and bake, covered, for half an hour. If you wish, you can scallop them by cutting them in slices, sprinkling with crumbs and basting with bits of butter. Bake, covered, until tender; uncover and brown.
Peel and leave in ice water for half an hour. Slice lengthwise, making three slices of each cucumber of fair size, lay in fresh iced water for ten minutes more. Wipe dry, sprinkle with pepper and salt, dredge with flour and fry to a light brown in deep, boiling cottolene or other fat. Drain, and serve dry and hot.