Tuesday, February 28, 2017

White Chicken Fricassee

Roosters from
Tacuinum Sanitaris: An Early Renaissance Guide to Health

Recipe Provenance
The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

The Recipe: Fricasee
a chicken, or rabbit cut in pieces, well washed from the blood, put in a stew pan with as much water as will cover it; add to it a bunch of sweet herbs, some white pepper & onion stew it ‘till the meat is done, then beat the yelks of six eggs (three will do for one chicken) a glafs of white wine, a nutmeg grated, a little chopped parsley, a piece of butter, 4 spoonfuls of cream, beat all these together, put in the stew pan, stir it ‘till it is well mixed, do not put the wine in ‘till just before you dish it. Mrs. Carroll’s

About Fricassee (or Fricasee)
Fricassee is a cooking style that denotes meat, fish/seafood or vegetables that are either fried in a pan or slow-cooked in a broth (braised) and then covered with a sauce. Fricassees were either white (with milk or cream) or brown (no dairy) but they frequently have butter, egg yolks, wine, lemon, and fresh herbs.

In the nineteenth-century, American recipes for fricassee frequently feature chicken or rabbit. However, there were many other foods that could take center stage in a fricassee. Here are some examples: lamb, venison, mutton, sweetbreads, tripe, giblets, pigs' feet & ears, veal, goose, eggs, salmon, crabs, lobster, oysters, peas, tomatoes, mushrooms, okra & corn, and parsnips.


Various 19th Century Fricassee Recipes:


Henderson, Mary N.F. Practical Dinner Giving (NY, 1877)

Fanny L. Gillette White House Cook Book (Chicago, 1887)

Ann Allen Housekeepers Assistant (Boston, 1845)

Elizabeth E. Lea Domestic Cookery (Baltimore 1869)

Modern Recipe Adaptation: White Chicken Friccasee

Ingredients:
  • 1 Chicken, Cut into Pieces
  • 1 Large Onion, Diced
  • Bundle of Sweet Herbs (Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Bay, and Marjoram)
  • 1 Teaspoon White Pepper 
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • Yolks of 6 Large Eggs
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 1 Teaspoon Freshly Grated Nutmeg
  • 1/2 Cup White Wine
  • Handful Freshly Chopped Parsley
Directions:
  1. In a large enamel-coated cast iron Dutch oven place the chicken pieces, onions, herbs, pepper, and salt. Cover the contents with cold water. Place on medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cover. Allow this to cook slowly for about one hour. Remove the scum that rises to the top.
  2. When the chicken is cooked, remove it from the Dutch oven and set is aside.
  3. Strain the cooking broth through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Remove excess fat that settles on top of the broth. Return about 4 cups of the strained liquid to the Dutch oven. Add the butter and allow it to melt in the broth.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cream, and nutmeg.
  5. Temper the Eggs: Ladle about one cup of the hot mixture in small increments into the eggs. Whisk while adding the hot liquid to the eggs. Then pour the egg mixture into the Dutch oven. Cook on low for just a few minutes to allow the eggs to cook, but do not cook them on high heat or they will scramble and you do not want that!
  6. Add the chicken back into the Dutch oven. Then add the wine and heat through on very low for just a few minutes.
  7. Just before service, sprinkle on the parsley as a garnish. Season with more salt and pepper, as desired.
  8. Serve with wilted greens and rice or noodles.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ice Cream: Sink Your Teeth into this Recipe and Short History


Recipe Provenance
The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

The Recipe with General Directions for Churning Ice Creams

Ice Cream
5 pints new milk, 4 eggs, 4 extra whites, well beaten with 1 ½ lbs. sifted sugar made into a custard & Flavoured with a vanilla beanor lemon. After it is cold, stir in one pint of nice cream.

To Make Ice Creams
break a few pounds of ice, almost to powder, throw a large handful of half of salt upon it. Prepare it in a part of the house where there is little warm air to reach it. The Ice & Salt being in a bucket, out your cream into an Ice pot and cover it; immerse it in the ice, & draw that round the pot so as to touch every possible part. in a few minutes put a Spatula or Spoon in & stir it well, removing the parts that ice round the edges to the centre. after it has been well beaten, frozen & quite smooth, put it in a mould shut the bottom close and move the whole in the ice, until sufficiently firm –note: when any fluid tends towards cold, the moving it quickly accelerates the cold; & when any fluid tends to heat stirring it will facilitate its boiling


About Ice Cream
The Chinese may have invented a device to make sorbets and ice creams. This device was simple and brilliant all at the same time. According to Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat in History of Food, "they poured a mixture of snow and saltpetre over the exteriors of containers filled with syrup, for, in the same way as salt raises the boiling-point of water, it lowers the freezing-point to below zero." Toussaint-Samat also suggests that Marco Polo (1254-1324) brought the idea and practice of making ice cream home to Italy. It is documented that recipes for ice cream date back to the sixteenth century in Italy but clearly could date back much further.

The first recorded mention of ice cream in England was in 1627, and the first published recipe in that country was by a Mrs. Mary Eales in 1718. This is an ice cream recipe in the 1733 edition of Mrs. Eales's Receipts:


To ice CREAM.
Take Tin Ice-Pots, fill them with any Sort of Cream you like, either plain or sweeten'd, or Fruit in it; shut your Pots very close; to six Pots you must allow eighteen or twenty Pound of Ice, breaking the Ice very small; there will be some great Pieces, which lay at the Bottom and Top: You must have a Pail, and lay some Straw at the Bottom; then lay in your Ice, and put in amongst it a Pound of Bay-Salt; set in your Pots of Cream, and lay Ice and Salt between every Pot, that they may not touch; but the Ice must lie round them on every Side; lay a good deal of Ice on the Top, cover the Pail with Straw, set it in a Cellar where no Sun or Light comes, it will be froze in four Hours, but it may stand longer; than take it out just as you use it; hold it in your Hand and it will slip out. When you wou'd freeze any Sort of Fruit, either Cherries, Rasberries, Currants, or Strawberries, fill your Tin-Pots with the Fruit, but as hollow as you can; put to them Lemmonade, made with Spring-Water and Lemmon-Juice sweeten'd; put enough in the Pots to make the Fruit hang together, and put them in Ice as you do Cream.


The earliest record of ice cream being served in America is by the Lady of Governor Blandon of Maryland in 1744. While not too popular throughout the bulk of the eighteenth century, ice cream’s popularity seems to have taken an upward turn with Thomas Jefferson’s devotion to it. The first American recorded recipe for ice cream is written in Jefferson’s hand. Here is that recipe:


Ice Cream
2. bottles of good cream.
6. yolks of eggs.
1/2 lb. sugar

mix the yolks & sugar put the cream on a fire in a casserole, first putting in a stick of Vanilla. when near boiling take it off & pour it gently into the mixture of eggs & sugar. stir it well. put it on the fire again stirring it thoroughly with a spoon to prevent it’s sticking to the casserole. when near boiling take it off and strain it thro’ a towel. put it in the Sabottiere then set it in ice an hour before it is to be served. put into the ice a handful of salt. put salt on the coverlid of the Sabotiere & cover the whole with ice. leave it still half a quarter of an hour. then turn the Sabottiere in the ice 10 minutes open it to loosen with a spatula the ice from the inner sides of the Sabotiere. shut it & replace it in the ice open it from time to time to detach the ice from the sides when well taken (prise) stir it well with the Spatula. put it in moulds, justling it well down on the knee. then put the mould into the same bucket of ice. leave it there to the moment of serving it. to withdraw it, immerse the mould in warm water, turning it well till it will come out & turn it into a plate

Jefferson’s visitors to Monticello remarked at the frequency with which ice cream was served there. Massachusetts' congressman Manasseh Cutler dined with Jefferson in February 1802 and remarked on the menu included "Ice cream very good." In addition, Jefferson is remembered for staging a stunt at a state dinner when the ice cream was served baked in pastry! 

In an era where refrigeration was non-existant, the earliest recipes for ice cream included the amounts of snow or ice needed to complete the task of freezing the cream. Fortunately, the ice house at Monticello provided Jefferson with an almost year-round supply of ice; sometimes ice was available there even as late as October. 

Jefferson was not the only one connected to the American presidency to have loved ice cream. Dolley Madison, wife of President James Madison “set astir an Air of Expectancy among her Guests” when she served “a large, shining [pink] dome” of ice cream to guests at her husband’s second inaugural ball.

Ice Cream Equipage
Jefferson mentions the need to use a piece of equipment called a Sabotiere (also spelled sorbetiere). This is an early form of an ice cream maker that is essentially just a copper cylinder with a lid that could be plunged into a barrel of ice and salt. The confectioner handling the sorbetiere had to turn the contraption in the ice for a long time, about 45 minutes. Additionally, the tricky part of using a sorbetiere is that the cream needs to be stirred and scraped down every few minutes. Removing the lid and doing this without getting the salty ice crystals inside is indeed tricky. The historic site where I am food historian, the c. 1801 Riversdale House Museum in Riverdale Park, Maryland has a reproduction sorbetiere which I have used so I have had first hand experience with this demanding process. 


Here is the sorbetiere at Riversdale. The photos were taken in the 1830s dependency kitchen there where monthly open hearth cooking demonstrations are held: 


Photos courtesy of Riversdale House Museum



In 1843, Nancy Johnson of Philadelphia received the first U.S. patent for a small-scale hand-cranked ice cream freezer. The ice cream freezer was a pewter cylinder. This patent applied in both the US and England. Here is an image of that first hand-cranked machine:


Jacob Fussell (1819-1912) is known as the “Father of the Ice Cream Industry” because he opened the first large scale ice cream factory in the U.S. in Baltimore, Maryland in 1851. Fussell ran a dairy business and decided that he could use the excess milk and cream he purchased from dairy farmers from York County, Pennsylvania to make ice cream. He sold it "for 25 cents per quart, delivered in moulds or otherwise day and night." Interestingly, because Fussell was selling at high volume he was able to undercut competition by reducing the price per quart by 35 cents (it was averaging 60 cents per quart at the time) and was still able to make a profit.


1853 Matchett's Baltimore City Directory


A British Victorian confectioner, Agnes Marshall (1855-1905) received a patent for an improved variation on the hand-cranked ice cream maker. This maker purportedly could freeze ice cream in just five minutes!


Marshall's Patented Ice Cream Maker
(Source: Advertisement in Agnes Marshall, 
Mrs. A.B. Marshall's Larger Cookery Book, London, 1891))

Ice Cream Flavors
While making ice cream was a labor and time-consuming affair in the days before electricity and refrigeration, people who could afford it loved to eat it. They loved the visual appeal of ice creams dyed different colors, and they liked their ice creams to come in a variety of flavors. Many historic ice creams would suit modern palates, such as those made from a number of different fruits, cinnamon, orgeat (sweet almonds),  coffee, and chocolate. However, they also enjoyed making interesting flavors such as artichoke, brown bread, chestnut, noyau (apricot kernels), and even parmesan cheese

Morris's recipe suggests flavoring the ice cream with either vanilla or lemon. These are simple flavors; however, the vanilla has an interesting history.

Vanilla grows wild in Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. It was first-ever harvested in these hot tropical jungles and not known to Old World Europe until its introduction there by the Spanish at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Despite the fact that vanilla is native to the Americas, it was not used widely in British North America until the nineteenth century; this is most likely the result of its being native to regions too far away from North America to make its existence well-known. 

Thomas Jefferson is credited with bringing vanilla to America after he returned from France in 1789. He ordered 50 vanilla beans to be sent to America from his French attaché. However, it is difficult to say that Jefferson was responsible for introducing vanilla to Americans. Jefferson may have played a part in promoting vanilla to Americans, but it is not likely that his influence sparked a large American market for it. The limited use of vanilla in this 1824 Baltimore manuscript exemplifies that it was known but not embraced in a wide array of recipes as it is now for cakes, cookies, etc. Rather, the favored contemporary flavorings of choice were rose-water, orange-blossom water, lemon, nutmeg, mace, etc. 

Vanilla’s popularity did not soar until later in the nineteenth century, when it was capable of being artificially pollinated. Up until that point, the only place it was produced was in its home-land in the tropical regions of the Americas where it was pollinated by a peculiar American variety of the sting-less bee. In 1830, a French gardener developed the method of artificial pollination; his work produced the strain of vanilla that would become the ancestor of all vanilla plants in the Mascarene and Comoros Islands and Madagascar; eventually, vanilla plant cuttings were sent to Tahiti, too, where they flourished. 

Modern Recipe Adaptation: Vanilla or Lemon Ice Cream

Ingredients:
  • 2 1/2 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Heavy Cream
  • 3/4 Cup + 2 Tablespoons Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Vanilla Bean, Split and Scraped or the Grated Rind of 2 Lemons
  • 1 Whole Large Egg
  • White of 1 Large Egg

Directions:
  1. Read Ice Cream Maker Manufacturer's guidelines for freezing the bowl. Then, proceed to make the custard in step #2,
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla beans and pod (or lemon). Heat on medium heat until the mixture reaches about 175º F. 
  3. Whisk together the egg and egg white in a large bowl and set aside.
  4. Temper the Eggs: Add about 1/4 cup of the hot mixture to the eggs and stir. Add the eggs to the hot cream in the saucepan and whisk.
  5. Return the custard to the stove and cook on low heat for a few minutes, until the custard reaches about 160º F and coats the back of a spoon.
  6. Strain the custard through a fine mesh sieve and place in container with a lid.
  7. Allow the custard to cool in the refrigerator for several hours or even overnight. 
  8. When the custard is completely cold, follow ice cream maker manufacturer's directions to make the ice cream.

References
  • Davidson, Alan. The Penguin Companion to Food (New York, 2002)
  • Fowler, Damon Lee, ed. Dining at Monticello (Thomas Jefferson Foundation, 2005)
  • Smith, Andrew. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, 2nd edition (Oxford, 2013)
  • Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne. History of Food (English Translation, 1994)
  • Weir, Robin. Recipe from the Dairy (The National Trust-London, 1998)
















Friday, February 24, 2017

White Custards and a Short Custard History Primer

White Custard 

Recipe Provenance
The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

The Recipe: White Custards
Set a quart of new milk in a skillet of hot water & let it boil, and add the whites of 8 eggs well beaten, sweeten to the palate & flavour with vanilla or anything you please. Stir the custard all the time it is boiling.


About Custards
The word custard today refers to a concoction of milk and eggs that is cooked either on top of a stove or baked in an oven. These custards are thick and firm when cool. However, custard can also be made into a thinner sauce used to pour over bread puddings, fruit, etc. 

The term custard is derived from the French word croustade, meaning an uncovered pastry case (meant to be filled with a cooked milk and egg mixture). Therefore, the name for the case is actually now what we use to refer to the firm, thick filling. Interestingly, custards in Asia are traditionally made without milk; instead, water and sometimes oil are combined with eggs to make the custard. 

Custard recipes actually can be traced back as far as the Roman days and can be found in Apicius, a collections of Roman recipes written in Vulgar Latin (the Latin of the common people) believed to have been compiled in the late 4th century or early 5th century AD. The name Apicius probably comes from a term used back then to denote a lover of fine food, possibly inspired by Marcus Gavius Apicius, a Roman gourmet who lived during the 1st century AD.

Apicius contains several custard recipes such as brain custard, vegetable and brain custard, elderberry custard, rose custard and the one below which is for a Nut Custard. Note that this recipe contains milk, eggs, broth and oil which combines both the eastern and western custard traditions:

[129] ANOTHER DISH, WHICH CAN BE TURNED OVER [A NUT CUSTARD] ALITER PATINA VERSATILIS

THE DISH, CALEED TURN-OVER, IS THUS MADE CRUSH VERY FINE WALNUTS AND HAZELNUTS TOAST THEM AND CRUSH WITH HONEY, MIX IN PEPPER, BROTH, MILK, EGGS AND A LITTLE OIL.


Later Medieval custard recipes are found in Libellus de arte coquinaria, An Early Northern Cookery Book, edited by Rudolph Grewe and Constance B. Hieatt (2001), a translation of the oldest known collections of European recipes written sometime during the Middle Ages. The original text of the cookbook is believed to be lost, but there are four collections of recipes (codices) that appear to all come from it. They are written in the local vernacular languages of northern Europe: Danish, Icelandic and Low German. There are about 35 recipes contained in these four separate codices, and the oldest might date back as far as the 12th century. There are several recipes for custards including Larded Milk, Gilded Milk, and this recipe:

Almonds in a Pie:Make thick milk of almond kernels. Make a shell of dough, pour the milk into it and cover the top with the same dough. Salt it, and bake it in a hot oven.

Notice that no eggs are used in this custard recipe, just almond milk and salt cooked in a pastry case. This must have been a recipe used on fast days when no eggs, dairy, butter, meat etc. were allowed to be consumed.

A set of recipes from the very late Medieval period/early classical period in the 16th century, Livre fort excellent de Cuisine (The Most Excellent Book of Cookery) has custard recipes for herb custard, custards served with roulade of venison, and tartlets.

By the 17th century, custards flavored with almonds, orange-flower water, orange, spices, and rice were quite popular. Here is a recipe from Gervase Markham's 1615 publication, The English Housewife (London):


Otherways to make a White Pot._ Take a quart of sweet cream and boil it, then put to it two ounces of picked rice, some beaten mace, ginger, cinamon, and sugar, let these steep in it till it be cold, and strain into it eight yolks of eggs and but two whites, then put in two ounces of clean washed and picked currans, and some salt, stir all well together, and bake it in paste, earthen pan, dish, or deep bason; being baked, trim it with some sugar, and comfits of orange, cinamon, or white biskets.

Here is another Markham recipe for a baked custard:

To make a Cream Tart in the Italian fashion to eat cold._ Take twenty yolks of eggs, and two quarts of cream, strain it with a little salt, saffron, rose-water, juyce of orange, a little white-wine, and a pound of fine sugar, then bake it in a deep dish with some fine cinamon, and some canded pistaches stuck on it, and when it is baked, white muskedines. Thus you may do with the whites of the eggs, and put in no spices.

Here is another 17th century custard recipe that is flavored with orange-flower water. It is from The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby Knight Opened by Sir Kenelm Sigby Knight (Britain, 1669):



A GOOD DISH OF CREAM

Boil a quart of good Cream with sticks of Cinnamon and quartered Nutmeg and Sugar to your taste. When it is boiled enough to have acquired the taste of the Spice, take the whites of six New laid eggs, and beat them very well with a little Fresh-cream, then pour them to your boyling Cream, and let them boil a walm or two. Then let it run through a boulter, and put a little Orange flower-water to it, and sliced bread; and so serve it up cold.



In the 17th century in Britain, fruit creams also became popular; these incorporated fruit puree into the custard and were sometimes called fools



Interestingly, custard tarts could also be made into fanciful designs such these from Edward Kidder's Receipts of Pastry and Cookery for the Use of His Scholars (Britain, 1702):





Of course, ice creams are often made with a custard base. Here is a recipe for an ice cream made with a custard base from a cookbook published in America by a British author, The New Art of Cookery, According to Present Practice by Richard Briggs (Philadelphia, 1792):


And not to be ignored was the invention of custard powder in 1837 by Alfred Bird in Birmingham, England. Custard powder was revolutionary in that it was a mixture of flavored cornstarch (cornflower in the UK) and sugar which was meant to be heated with milk; no eggs were required to thicken the custard-revolutionary indeed!

(Source: Pinterest)


About This Recipe

This is one of those recipes in the manuscript that just does not work the way it is written. It is written for egg whites only, no egg yolks which makes it trickier to prepare successfully. I originally deciphered the number of egg whites to be 3 but after testing the recipe numerous times I came to realize it must have been an 8! I also consulted other period recipes for White Custards (and there are very few). Here is one from The Woman Suffrage Cook Book by Hattie Burr (1886, 1890):







After numerous failed attempts at cooking this on the stove-top, and after reading other period recipes, I realized these egg white custards do indeed need to be baked in an oven otherwise they do not really set up properly. Finally, I altered the recipe so that it can yield enough to fill six ramekins that fit neatly into one large rectangular casserole dish.

Modern Recipe Adaptation: White Custards

Ingredients:

  • Whites of 6 Large Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar, Divided
  • 3 Cups Whole Milk
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

Directions:


  1. Heat oven to 350º F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites and about half the sugar. Set aside.
  3. In a three-quart saucepan, whisk together the milk and the remaining sugar (the addition of the sugar to the milk will help prevent the milk from scorching). Set over medium heat and bring just to the boil and then immediately remove from the heat.
  4. Temper the eggs into the milk by ladling about 1 cup of the milk mixture into the eggs and whisk together. Then add the egg mixture into the saucepan with the milk. Whisk together. 
  5. Add the vanilla extract and whisk. 
  6. Place six custard ramekins in a large (10" x 15") rectangular casserole dish. Pour the custard evenly into into the ramekins. Pour boiling water into the casserole dish until it reaches a level half-way up the ramekins. Do not cover.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the custard is firm and jiggles just slightly when shaken.


References in Addition to Primary Sources Noted in Post






  • Davidson, Alan. The Oxford Companion to Food (Oxford University, 2014)
  • Oxford English Dictionary


  • Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Coconut Pudding in a Paste and Sourcing Coconuts in 19th Century Maryland


    Recipe Provenance
    The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

    Cocoanut Pudding
    1 lb. of cocoanut grated, 1 lb. sugar, 12 oz.’s of Butter beat to a cream. the whites of 16 eggs beat to a high froth. Wine glass of rose water, wine & Brandy.


    About Coconut

    Coconut comes from Cocos nuclear (coconut palms) which are native to tropical areas of Asia. 


    Coconut Palm (Florida Keys)
    source: wikimedia commons

    The exact knowledge of how coconuts reached areas outside its native Asia is unclear. Dum, a type of palm coconut tree, is documented as a food source going back to ancient Egypt.  Venetian trader Marco Polo (1254-1324) brought coconuts with him on his travels to serve as both food and drink. This may be one of the earliest documented accounts of the movement of coconuts outside of Asia. However, coconuts can float and may have traveled on their own to new and distant lands long before Polo took them to new lands. 

    There is further debate as to when coconuts reached the Americas. One theory is that the Spanish introduced coconuts to Puerto Rico; another theory claims that the Portuguese introduced them to Brazil in the 16th-century. While coconuts were being imported into North America by the middle of the nineteenth-century, if not earlier, it was not until the late nineteenth-century until coconut cultivation reached Florida. Anecdotally, Palm Beach, Florida supposedly received its name in 1878 when a vessel called Providencia bound from Havana to Europe washed ashore with its load of coconuts. 


    25 April 1890 Los Angeles Herald
    (source: wikimedia commons)

    Coconut in American Recipes
    Though coconuts may have not been cultivated in the USA until the late 19th century, they were available earlier to American cooks. Coconuts (or cocoanuts as they were often spelled in the 19th century cookery books) were widely used in North America as early as 1850 and possibly earlier. Nineteenth century recipes that use coconut exist for ice cream, cakes, puddings/custards, pies, cheesecakes, cookies, and creams. 

    Here is a recipe from Miss Beecher's Domestic Receipt Book by Catherine Beecher (New York, 1850) for a cake with grated coconut:



    Here are two more 19th century recipes that use coconut:

    The Great Western Cook Book or Table Receipts Adapted to Western Housewifery by Angelina Maria Collins (New York, 1857)


    Domestic Cookery by Elizabeth Ellicott Lea (Baltimore, 1869)
    Here are some advertisements from 19th Century Maryland publications that advertise imports of coconuts and palm nuts, which very well may have been coconuts:


    1837-8 Matchett's Baltimore Directory
    Notice that Palm Nuts and Cocoa Nuts are both listed; it is possible the Palm Nuts are actually coconuts and the Cocoa Nuts (written as two words) are actually the raw cocoa beans used for making chocolate. I am still investigating this.
    3 September 1840 American and Commercial
    Daily Advertiser, Baltimore
    12 November 1864 Easton Gazette


    Modern Recipe Adaptation: Coconut Pudding in a Paste

    I chose to make this recipe as a pudding in a paste (coconut custard pie) but you can bake it in individual custard ramekins without a pastry bottom. Note that the custard has no dairy in it so it is not creamy; instead, it has a fluffy texture.

    Ingredients:
    • One Sheet of Puff Pastry, Thawed
    • 6 Tablespoons Butter, Softened
    • 1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
    • Whites of Four Large Eggs
    • 1 Teaspoon Rosewater
    • 1 Tablespoon White Wine
    • 1 Tablespoon Brandy
    • 4 Ounces Grated Coconut (About 1-1/2 Cups)
    Directions:
    1. Heat oven to 350º F.
    2. Line a pie plate with pastry crust dough and place on a parchment lines baking sheet. Set aside.
    3. Using an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until creamy.
    4. Add the egg whites, rosewater, wine, and brandy. Beat until well-blended and frothy.
    5. Using a runner spatula, gently mix in the coconut.
    6. Pour the pudding mixture into the prepared pie dish.
    7. Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the pudding is set in the middle and lightly golden brown on top.

    References:
    • Davidson, Alan, ed.. The Penguin Companion to Food, 2002.
    • Flandrin, Jean-Louis and Massimo Montanari. eds., Food, A Culinary History, 1999.
    • Smith, Andrew, ed. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, 2013.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    Wine Blanc Mange



    Recipe Provenance
    The following recipe comes from a collection of recipes found in a manuscript journal located in the H. Furlong Baldwin Library at the Maryland Historical Society in Baltimore. The manuscript is attributed to Ann Maria Morris and the date of 1824 is written on the inside cover. The recipe below is one of many from the manuscript that will be included in a book I am writing. The book will contain biographical information about Mrs. Morris, an annotated transcript of the entire manuscript as it was written, and a section of modern recipe adaptations (including this one!).

    The Recipe: Wine Blanc Mange
    Pour a pint of warm water on one oz. of Isinglass. Let it simmer 8 or 10 hours. Strain the juice of 3 large lemons on 1 ¼ lb. of sugar, rasp one lemon, add a pint of wine. Put the whole on the fire till it boil a few minutes—strain it, have the yelks of 6 eggs well beaten pour it on them, let it simmer & boil it very few minutes, cool it & put it in moulds.


    About the Recipe 
    Click here to read about the history of blanc mange in my post for Lemon Blanc Mange, a recipe that is very similar to this one, except it has less wine.

    Wine Blanc Mange: Modern Recipe Adaptation

    Ingredients:
    • 2 Cups White Wine
    • 3 Cups Sugar
    • 1 Cups Cold Water
    • 1-Ounce Package Knox Unflavored Gelatin
    • Juice of 3 Lemons
    • Grated Zest of 1 Lemon
    • 6 Egg Yolks

    Directions:
    1. Place the wine and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, until the mixture has reduced and is syrupy.
    2. While the wine/sugar mixture is cooking, place the cold water in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle all of the gelatin on top and set it aside.
    3. When the wine/sugar syrup is ready, add the lemon juice and zest to it and stir. Then, add this mixture to the cold gelatin in the large mixing bowl and stir well. The mixture will still be too hot to add the raw egg yolks without tempering. Follow the next step carefully to temper the eggs.
    4. Place the egg yolks in a small mixing bowl and whisk. Then, add about 1/4 cup of the hot gelatin mixture to the egg yolks and stir well.  Then, add the egg yolks to the larger mixing bowl with the hot gelatin. Stir well. Note: You need to do it this way to avoid the egg yolks from cooking and scrambling, so don't leave this step out!
    5. Pour the mixture into a medium-sized decorative jelly mold and refrigerate several hours until the jelly is completely firm.
    6. Place the mold in a bowl of hot water for 30-60 seconds to help release it from the mold.