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Archive for May, 2010

Thomas Jefferson, our third president (1801-1809),
is often credited with “bringing ice cream to America,”
and even with “discovering” it. Neither is true, however.

It’s believed that the first mention in this country
of those two words “ice cream” is in the journal
writings of a fellow named William Black. You see,
it’d been served during an elegant dinner he had
attended at the home of Maryland’s then-governor,
Thomas Bladen, in 1744. Black was so impressed,
he just had to record it. Incidentally, 1744 was
the year of Jefferson’s first birthday (1743-1826).

At the same time, however, Jefferson greatly enjoyed
ice cream, and he did much to promote it in America.
It was served often at the many dinners he held, both
during his years in the White House and at his home
Monticello in Virginia. Most likely, his first introduction
to ice cream was while he served as Minister to France,
from 1784 to 1789, a time when ice cream was quite
common in and around Paris. In fact, there are no less
than eight receipts (recipes) for ice cream in Jefferson’s
papers, all written in his own hand.

One of those eight is for vanilla, and I made some
to share with attendees at the recent Culinary
Historians of New York
(CHNY) program on ice
cream with speaker Jeri Quinzio. It’s a bit like the
previous parmesan, in that it’s also custard-based,
requiring the cooking of cream, sugar, and eggs.

Here’s the receipt:

Jefferson’s Vanilla 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 its sticking to the casserole.
–when near boiling take it off and strain it thro’ a towel.
–put it in the Sabottiere [sic]
–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 Sabotiere 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.*

_________________________

The mixture, pre-freezing:

Ready to serve (yes, I know, ugly horrid modern plastic
container; but hey, had to get it uptown somehow!):

_________________________

*See: www.monticello.org for more information, as well as for a modern
version of this receipt (which I found quite helpful when deciphering it).
You’ll also find it on page 76 in
Of Sugar and Snow, A History of Ice
Cream Making, by Jeri Quinzio. Another excellent source on all things
Jefferson (including his ice cream) is the book
Dining at Monticello,
edited by Damon Lee Fowler.

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With the “turning” help of several willing attendees,
I made parmesan ice cream during last week’s
Culinary Historians of New York (CHNY) program,
featuring ice cream historian Jeri Quinzio.

Yep, that’s right, parmesan. As in the Italian cheese.
HUZZAH!

I used the receipt from Frederick Nutt’s book,
The Complete Confectioner: Or, the Whole Art
of Confectionary Made Easy
(1789). Nutt was
a professional confectioner in London, England,
who had previously apprenticed with the Italian
confectioner, Domenico Negri. There are 32
receipts for ice cream in Nutt’s book, ranging
from the typical peach and raspberry to odd
flavors like brown bread and ginger. According
to Jeri Quinzio’s book, Of Sugar and Snow,
A History of Ice Cream Making
, however, it’s
likely that Nutt stole, er, “borrowed” his
parmesan receipt from a predecessor,
French chef Joseph Gilliers.

Incidentally, Gilliers, Nutt, and others would
often put their parmesan ice cream in molds
shaped like slices of cheese:

They would then use burnt sugar to simulate
the rind.

Here is Nutt’s (er, Gilliers?!) receipt:

No. 150. Parmasan [sic] Cheese Ice Cream.
Take six eggs, half a pint of syrup,*
and a pint of cream; put them into
a stewpan and boil them until it begins
to thicken; then rasp three ounces
of Parmasan cheese, mix and pass
them through a sieve, and freeze it.

The end result was quite tasty! HUZZAH!
A perfect blend of savory and sweet, it earned
rave reviews from all who tried it. It was so much
fun. I can’t wait to try another “uncommon” flavor!

_________________________

Below are the instructions I used to make
the syrup* required in the above receipt,
courtesy of British food historian Ivan Day:

To make a stock syrup for Nutt’s ice cream recipes.
1000 mls of water and 1 kg of sugar.

Bring the water to the boil
and remove from the heat.
Add the sugar and stir until
dissolved. When cool store
in a large jar and keep it in
a cold place until required.

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Whew! The past week or so has been extremely hectic.
First, my focus was on ice cream for the Culinary Historians
of New York’s
(CHNY) program on that very treat, then it
was preparations for, and cooking during, a new major
event out at Wyckoff (more on that later). And hence,
yes, I’ve been lax in posting. dagnabit.

So, now on to more important matters! Namely, CHNY’s
“I scream, you scream…” program this past Wednesday.
In short, it was a HUGE success! HUZZAH!

The event was well-attended, and I think it’s safe
to say that everyone had a glorious time. Our speaker,
author Jeri Quinzio, was fantastic. She gave a highly
informative and entertaining talk, wherein she shared
the facts, as well as quite a few myths, surrounding
ice cream’s history. Guests enjoyed a range of yummy
treats offered by various vendors during the requisite
reception at the start of the program. The location,
the auditorium adjacent to the Mount Vernon Hotel
Museum and Garden
, was just perfect, as well. A
hearty “Thanks!” to the site and its staff for their
generous hospitality.

Of course, event attendees were also able to try
the ice creams I’d made: the custard-based vanilla;
the strawberry; and what I think was THE highlight,
parmasan [sic], which we made on site. All three
were huge hits. HUZZAH!

_________________________

Speaker Jeri signs my copy of her book, Of Sugar
and Snow, A History of Ice Cream Making
:

Sneaking a taste of my own concoctions at my ice cream
serving and making station:

CHNY member Rheda Brandt enjoys a bit of my vanilla AND
my strawberry ice creams:

A reporter gets a bird’s eye view of my sorbetiere:

_________________________

Next: the specific ice cream receipts (recipes)

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For the better part of the past several days,
I’ve been mired in cream, sugar, fruit, and
sometimes eggs. It’s a new sweet ‘n heavy
dairy diet! Well, no, not really. So what have
I been doing with all those ingredients? Why,
I’ve been making ice cream, of course!

It all started when the Culinary Historians
of New York
(CHNY) announced there’d be
a program on May 19. Yes, as in today. The
speaker is to be Jeri Quinzio, and her topic
will be the history and evolution of everyone’s
favorite treat, ice cream. Based on her past
work, including numerous articles, multiple
entries in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food
and Drink in America
(QEFDA), and not one,
but two, books on the subject, Quinzio is
surely THE Expert on the fascinating history
of ice cream. The title of her most recent

work is Of Sugar and Snow, A History of Ice
Cream Making
, which won IACP’s* 2010 award
for Best Book on Culinary History. I’ve read
it, and it’s jam-packed with well-documented
information. I’ve also heard Quinzio speak (see
9/2/2009 ), and she is quite knowledgeable.

In any event, in the interest of honing my ice
cream making skills, I offered to make some
to be served during the refreshment portion
of tonight’s program. And so the fun began.

My Big Plan was to make one or two flavors
in advance and then another during the event.
Of course, I would be doing them all in my trusty
sorbetiere (sarbotiere), with the new bucket**
that I recently custom ordered. Next was making
the decision as far as what flavors to make, so
I began searching for ice cream receipts (recipes)
in various historic cookbooks. I knew I wanted
to make one with fruit and one with something
odd and unexpected, say barley or ginger. Finally,
I settled on the following three:

1.) The receipt written by Thomas
Jefferson in his own hand; it’s a basic,
vanilla-tinged custard-based ice cream.
I figured it’s ideal for a program focusing
on ice cream’s history
2.) Parmasan [sic] ice cream (yes, as
in cheese), courtesy of The Complete
Confectioner
(1789) by Britisher
Frederick Nutt
3.) And one for strawberry from Lettice
Bryan’s The Kentucky Housewife (1839).

I’ve lots to do to finalize my preparations for tonight,
so I’ll have to write more later. I’ll post the three
receipts, along with details of my ice cream making
experience. Maybe report on tonight’s CHNY program,
as well.

_________________________

*International Association of Culinary Professionals
**Made by cooper Norm Pederson; see “Carolina’s
Cupboard” for additional information; my sorbetiere was
crafted by Peter Goebel.

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Now and then, I browse through one website
or another, just to see what’s there, what’s
new, what’s different, what’s the same,
what seems odd, what I missed the last
time, or…whatever.

So I was doing this the other day, just kinda
strolling through the myriad of items offered
on Peter Goebel’s site, Goose Bay Workshops.
He crafts a wide variety of copper and tin items,
ranging from colanders to kettles to cacao bean
roasters. His items are either historically inspired
or are actual historic reproductions. Peter tells
you which is which, and his detailed descriptions
of each item are fantastic. Unfortunately, he
doesn’t give any actual sources or offer any
documentation. I’ve bought a couple of his
items, however, and he does nice work. He’s
rather expensive, though, so it can be a bit
tricky if, like me, you’re purchasing historic
equipment with your own funds.

Nevertheless, that’s not the point of this post.
What IS, is the fact that, while strolling amongst
all the items on Goebel’s site, I discovered a black
and white illustration on his “POTS-KETTLES” page.
It’s of a small bulbous container called a porridge
pot. The drawing’s accompanying text states,
“these pots were very common in the 17th and
18th centuries,” and that they were mainly used
to cook porridge.

So, based on that simple drawing and its copy
on Goebel’s site, I’d say that the cute little
copper pot I found awhile back is a match.
It is, indeed, a porridge pot:

I just love those lopsided ears, don’t you? Gives my little pot
it’s character. The one in Goebel’s illustration is a bit larger;
mine is only about seven inches tall and four in diameter.
(four at the base; it’s about six at it’s widest section)

Now, where did I find this little treasure?
Why, on eBay, of course. HUZZAH!

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This past Saturday, I got up really early, went
into Manhattan, and boarded a New Jersey
Transit train. About an hour and a half later,
I arrived at my destination, disembarked, and
walked a mile or so up the road. I was headed
to Historic Speedwell, to participate in a hearth
cooking class led by Susan McLellan Plaisted,
of Heart to Hearth Cookery.

Now, usually, I’d share some pictures with you.
And not to brag, but I think I take some pretty
damn good photos, yes?! Nevertheless, I’d love
to be able to present a few now. Perhaps some
of the food being prepared and cooked. Maybe
several views of the finished dishes. Even one
or two of my fellow classmates hard at work
and having fun.

Unfortunately, however, I can’t. You see, just
a few days prior to the class, everyone was
sent an e-mail wherein it was stated:

…photography is not permitted.

Okaaaaaaaaaay….

Now I’m sure this “new” rule is not dictated
by Historic Speedwell. I’ve taken four classes
at the site, and everyone has always been
allowed to take pictures during class. I’ve
even been there on other occasions, as well,
merrily snapping away, inside and out. No,
this is an instructor’s rule. I won’t go into it
here, but I know that to be the case. So,
despite the fact that the class and the site
are open to the public, we paid to participate,
we did nearly all the work, and we now would
like to show others (particularly folks back at
our own historic sites, or friends and family,
or heck, even blog readers) what took place,
we can’t.

Of course, I took my camera anyway (out of habit,
don’t you know) and got a few exterior photos
of this National Historic Landmark. (So shoot me!)

This is the building where the class was held:

The same house from the back. The class took place
in a large room just inside the lower level door (near
the center, at the bottom of the photo) at a modern,
reconstructed cooking hearth.

Here’s the building behind the one above:

Nearby is a completely restored barn-like structure,
known as the Factory Building. Inside are several
interactive exhibits that pertain to Speedwell’s role
in the invention of the telegraph. It was here that
the first successful demonstration of that ground-
breaking devise took place on January 11, 1838.
There is a working restored, 24-foot overshoot
waterwheel housed in the side extension, as well:

Another house, near the entrance:

During the hearth cooking class, seven early
19th century dishes were prepared. I mainly
worked on a curd dish called a “Devonshire
Junket.” It’s basically a pre-cheese concoction,
consisting of just the curdled milk and its whey.
A cooked cream sauce, spiced with sugar and
cinnamon, was dribbled on top. It reminded us
all of the first lines of the childhood nursery
rhyme (which naturally has British origins):

Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey….

Now I know what she was probably eating.
Minus the little creepy crawler, of course.
And I must say, I think it was the best dish
of the lot. HUZZAH!

Of course, it prompted me to do a little research
when I returned home. According to the Oxford
English Dictionary (OED)
, a junket is

a cream-cheese or other
preparation of cream
(originally made in a rush
basket or served on a rush
mat); now, a dish of curds,
sweetened and flavoured,
served with a layer of scalded
cream on the top. (Popularly
associated with Devonshire,
but answering to the ‘curds
and cream’ of other districts.)

In addition to a few similar receipts, I also found
quite a bit written by the late noted author,
Karen Hess,* including this marvelous line:

The English predilection
for curds is legendary.

Hess also mentions that curd dishes are members
of the same group as soft cheeses, syllabubs,
custards, and so on. Apparently, they were eaten
often during church-ordered fasting periods. As
those restrictions eased, however, they fell out
of favor, and all but disappeared at some point
during the 17th century.

Later, I discovered…um, well, uh…wait a minute…

Awww, what the hey! Rule, schmule. Yep, that’s
right, I broke it. I snuck a photo (or two). Dagnabit,
I’m gonna document my “Junket.” So, go ahead,
call the cops! Have me arrested!

Here now, is my contraband, my “stolen” treasure.
Enjoy!

_________________________

* See Martha Washington’s Booke of Cookery,
transcribed by Karen Hess, p. 146-7.

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Alot of the pieces in my own little personal collection of historic
cooking equipment are reproductions. You can find the list of my
preferred vendors on the “Carolina’s Cupboard” page. I also have
quite a few “originals” that were found on eBay. For example,
I bought a pair of sugar nippers awhile back. They were kinda
scuzzy (still are in places), but it’s nothing a little elbow grease
can’t cure. Besides, they’re OLD. In any event, I found these
photos of them while playing the “delete and/or save” game
on my digital camera the other day. Again, I think it’s pretty
amazing what can be found, and bought (if the price is right),
on good ol’ eBay. HUZZAH!

The sugar cone in the photo was purchased from Deborah’s Pantry.
Think I’ve had it for a couple of years, but I mainly just use it for
demonstrations. The sieve in the background is yet another eBay
find. In fact, I’ve bought two or three, all of different sizes. They’re
mighty useful. HUZZAH!

Incidentally, wanna know where I bought my digital camera?
Yep. Good ol’ eBay! HUZZAH!

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