Archive for September, 2009

Looks like I spoke (er, wrote?!) too soon. Kinda. Sorta. You see,
I HAVE found a pre-19th century American receipt for tomatoes.
HUZZAH! However, it’s not in a published cookbook of that era,
but in a family manuscript cookbook: Harriott Pinckney Horry’s
receipt book of 1770, published as A Colonial Plantation Cookbook
in 1984. It’s not for a sauce, but rather is for preserving tomatoes
to use later as soup. The book’s editor, Richard J. Hooker, notes
that the receipt “could well be the earliest reference to tomatoes
in any American cookbook.” He also agrees with what I mentioned
previously that tomatoes were not widely accepted in America
until the early 19th Century.

Of course, this presents us with yet more pieces to the tomato
receipt puzzle. Where did Harriott get this one? From what
person or outside source did she receive it? After all, her
mother was born and lived her early years in the West Indies.
Does that play a role? Harriott lived in South Carolina. Were
tomatoes more accepted, and accepted earlier, in the South
for some reason? So many questions, but so few answers!

Here, now, is Harriott’s receipt:

To Keep Tomatoos for Winter use

Take ripe Tomatas, peel them, and cut them
in four and put them into a stew pan, strew
over them a great quantity of Pepper and
Salt; cover it up close and let it stand an Hour,
then put it on the fire and let it stew quick
till the liquor is intirely boild away; then
take them up and put into pint Potts, and
when cold pour melted butter over them
about an inch thick. They comonly take
a whole day to stew. Each pot will make
two Soups.
N.B. if you do them before the month
of October they will not keep.

Did you notice the spellings? “Tomatoos” (love that) and “tomatas.”
What a hoot!

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After posting the 17th Century tomato receipt that we used
in last week’s modern cooking class at ICE, I began looking
through my other historical cookbooks for more. Based on
the books that I have, which are mostly British and American,
there are no published receipts using tomatoes until the early
19th Century. The first one I found is in A New System
of Domestic Cookery
, by a Lady (aka Maria Eliza Rundell),
which was first published in London in 1806 (I have the 1816
edition). It’s an interesting receipt. Note the use of capsicum
vinegar; or, if you have none, Cayenne; and the “few cloves”
of garlic. Compare it to Latini’s receipt (see 9/28). Seems
there’s a definite Spanish and/or Italian influence here.
I’d sure like to know the background, the how and why,
of Rundell’s reasons for including it. Had it been in her or
her family’s keeping for years? The second (1807) edition
has it, but what about the first? Or, possibly, it’s the result
of her collaboration with her publisher (and family friend)
John Murray (1778-1843)? According to information on
the Feeding America website, Rundell chose some entries
for her second and later editions from receipt collections
provided by Murray. It’s an intriguing food forensics puzzle,
and I’ll keep searching for an answer (if there is one).

In the meantime, here’s Rundell’s receipt:

Tomata Sauce, for hot or cold Meats.

Put tomatas when perfectly ripe
into an earthen jar; and set it in
an oven, when the bread is drawn,
till they are quite soft; then separate
the skins from the pulp; and mix this
with capsicum vinegar, and a few cloves
of garlic pounded, which must both be
proportioned to the quantity of fruit.
Add powdered ginger, and salt to your
taste. Some white-wine vinegar and
Cayenne may be used instead of
capsicum vinegar. Keep the mixture
in small wide-mouthed bottles,
well corked, and in a cool dry place.


NOTE: Spelling was not standardized in past centuries,
so you’ll see tomata and tomato. I’ve even found both
spellings within the same receipt!

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I mentioned in my most recent post that we used what is
believed to be the first tomato receipt published in Europe
during last week’s historical Spanish cooking class at the
Institute of Culinary Education (ICE). I thought I’d share
it with you. It’s actually from an Italian cookbook, Lo Scalo
alla Moderna
, written by Antonio Latini, of Naples, Italy,
that was published in 1692. Note, too, the use of chili
peppers. Of course, both tomatoes and chilis were
brought to Europe from MesoAmerica by the Spanish.
They became extremely popular in Spain and Italy, but
for some reason were slow to gain acceptance anywhere
else, including America.

Salsa di Pomadoro, alla Spagnuolo (tomato sauce, Spanish style)

Take half a dozen tomatoes that
are ripe, and put them to roast
in the embers, and when they
are scorched, remove the skin
diligently, and mince them finely
with a knife. Add onions, minced
finely, to discretion; hot chili
peppers, also finely minced, and
thyme in a small amount. After
mixing everything together, adjust
it with a little salt, oil, and vinegar.
It is a very tasty sauce, both for boiled
dishes or anything else.


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This past Thursday eve, I participated in a modern historical
cooking class at the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE).
Wait, “a modern historical cooking class”? How can that be?
Well, you see…everything was prepared in ICE’s high-end,
thoroughly modern kitchens, using modern ingredients and
equipment and traditional modern recipes. The historical
part was the fact that the recipes were ones adapted from
those found in three 16th and 17th century Spanish cook-
books. In fact, the title of the class was “Dining with Don
Quixote: Spanish Cookery of the 16th and 17th Centuries.”
It was led by knowledgeable ICE Chef Cathy Kaufman.

We prepared eight different dishes. They ranged from
Arroz en Cazuela al Horno (baked rice casserole) to Merluza
que es Pescada Cecial
(cod) to Gallina Armada con Salseron
para Volateris Asada
(chicken with liver sauce). We also
prepared Chorizo con Salsa di Pomadoro, alla Spagnuolo
(sausage with tomato sauce, Spanish style), which is
believed to be the first recipe using tomatoes that was
published in Europe.

Overall, it was an enjoyable evening. Chef Kaufman
teaches several of these historic classes, each one
encompassing a specific time period.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera (geeeze,
where WAS my brain?!?), so I have no pictures.

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Mystery Kitty, revisited

I thought I’d step off the historic cookery path a moment and
share with you additional photos I took recently of the cat who’s
taken up residence in my backyard.


As you may recall from when I wrote about him (or her? still not
sure) several months ago, I call him Mystery Kitty. He’s been
hanging around for about three years (wow, that long?!), first
in the front and now in the back. He is a sweetie.

Someone commented awhile back that it’s probably a Calico and,
therefore, is a she. And while I see some of that, I also see alot
of Tabby, particularly in the face, chest, and front legs. A mixture,
maybe, kinda like a mutt?


Hmmm, don’t think he appreciates being called that!

Oh, and we’ve reached a milestone this week. I’ve been able to pick
him up several times and hold him for a few moments. All without
any scratching or biting or fussing. So we’re making progress.


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Sunday’s Apple Fest at Wyckoff was a huge success. I cooked up
one batch of apple fritters after another and another. They were
IMG_7540then quickly eaten by anyone standing
nearby. Mmmm, mmmm, yummy!
In fact, if you weren’t standing right
there, ready and waiting to grab one
when they came hot off the fire, you
were out of luck!




The receipts will be posted shortly under “Apple Festival”
on the “Receipts” page.

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As I mentioned previously, I’ll be out at Wyckoff this afternoon IMG_7494
mixing up batches of apple fritters and frying them over
the open fire. There are dozens of receipts for these little
goodies in assorted historic cookbooks. As is often the case, all of them are basically
the same, with only minor
differences here and there.
What’s interesting is that
some are quite lengthy, and
some are rather short. Now
the two that I will use today fall into the somewhat “lengthy” category, and they’ll be posted
in the “Receipts” section later. But here is one that is nigh the
epitome of shortness. It’s from THE COOK NOT MAD, OR RATIONAL
which was published
in 1830 in Watertown, NY:

No. 152. Fritters.

Make them of any of the batters directed
for pancakes by dropping a small quantity
into the pan, or to make the plainer sort,
put pared apples or lemons sliced, or
currants into the batter, any sweetmeats
or ripe fruit may be made into fritters.


Annual Apple Fest
noon to 4 p.m.
The Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum
5816 Clarendon Road (on the corner at Ralph Avenue)
Brooklyn, NY 11203
(718) 629-5400


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