Archive for the 'new york' Category

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The Gallery: Urban Hearth Cooking Photos

Here are some snapshots my students took the past two weekends at my Urban Hearth Cooking class at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn!  If this looks like fun to you, be sure to get in the class when it returns in September.  To be the first to know about future classes, sign up for my mailing list here.

Brandishing the proper sized wood for a good cooking fire. Photo by Russell Karmel.

Directing students on the most effective way to light a fire. Photo by Adriana Stimola.

Working on a stubborn fire in the bake oven. Photo by Adriana Stimola.

A student moves hot coals out of the fire. Arranged in small piles, the coals will be our cooking surface. Photo by Adriana Stimola.





A student prepares dough for rusks, a fried roll. Photo by Russel Karmel.

Rusks frying next to a simmering soup. Photo by Adriana Stimola.

The first course of our fire-cooked meal: rusks and a spring soup. Photo by Adriana Stimola.

Baking cookies in a dutch oven. Photo by Adriana Stimola.

Baking cookies in the bake oven. Photo by Adriana Stimola.


Cocktail Hour: The Bronx and The Queens

The Bronx Cocktail. Photo by Kristy Leibowitz, taken at the Brooklyn Historical Society

After the creation of the Manhattan and the Brooklyn, cocktail jealousy ran rampant in the remaining three boroughs.  The Bronx and Queens were quick to follow with their own drinks, although few people remember them today.

The Bronx Cocktail was invented sometime right around the turn of the 20th century, and it did add something very important to the American drinking repertoire.  According to cocktail historian David Wondrich, it was the first drink to make the addition of fruit juice to a cocktail acceptable.  Yes, drinks before this had a squirt of lemon here and there; but The Bronx took a good teaspoon of orange juice and mixed it with gin and vermouth.  From this drink, all of our screwdrivers, mimosas, hurricanes, and cosmopolitans have spawned.

I think the more appealing version of The Bronx Cocktail is The Queens.  Instead of orange juice, gin and vermouth are combined with a muddled pineapple slice.  The original recipe calls for mixing The Queens in a shaker, and straining out the pineapple, but I say why not just leave that pineapple piece in there.  What’s it going to hurt?

The Bronx Cocktail
From The Ideal Bartender by Tom Bolluck, 1917

Fill a large bar glass (or shaker) full with shaved ice
1 oz dry gin
1 oz dry vermouth
1 oz sweet vermouth
1 slice orange (or, one teaspoon orange juice)

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass.


  • A drop or two of orange bitters is a lovely addition to this drink.
  • Replace the orange with pineapple or pineapple juice for a Queens cocktail.


The only borough of New York to lack a cocktail to call its own is Staten Island.  So if you were going to craft a Staten Island cocktail, what would be in it?  No cheap shots! (We love you, S.I!)  I want a quality cocktail idea.

Menus: The First Raw Banquet

The following menu was served at the first elementary or uncooked banquet ever spread in this country, given by the authors, June 18, 1903… The object was more to show the numerous and attractive dishes that could be prepared from uncooked foods, than to observe or follow any particular dietetic rule or law.

Uncooked Foods and How to Use Themby Eugene and Molly Griswold Christian.


Video: Inside the Kitchens of Little Germany

Video streaming by Ustream

A century ago, the Lower East Side of Manhattan was known as Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany.  New York was so populated by German immigrants that is was the third largest German-speaking city on the planet.

The Lower East Tenement Museum’s newest tour, Shop Life, looks at commercial spaces that were once in the historic structure, 97 Orchard street.  The new exhibit will feature a fully restored, German beer hall, run by two of 97 Orchard’s residents, John and Caroline Schneider.

On April 3rd, visitors got a behind the scenes look at the upcoming restoration, which opens in fall of 2012.  I gave a talk with Dr. Annie Polland, Director of Education for the museum, about the ins and outs of tavern life in 1860’s New York.  We spoke from the perspective of Caroline, tenement housewife, mother, and business partner to her husband: as the saloon owner’s wife, what was her day like?  And how did she accomplish the monumental task of preparing food for her family, and the saloon’s patrons, in her tenement kitchen?

For more on German food and life in 1860s New York, watch the video above, a live recording of the talk.  It begins with Dr. Polland and you’ll see me presenting foodways in the second half.  My section starts at 28 minutes in, and turn up you audio because it’s quite low in the recording.

The History Dish: Lebkuchen with How-to Video!

I’ve got a talk coming up on Tuesday, April 2nd at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum.  It’s FREE and there will be cookies–Lebkuchen, to be precise. (rsvp HERE)

Lebkuchen are tradition German spice cookies and I made them because the talk on Tuesday will focus on the Tenement Museum’s new tour Shop Life, which features a recreation of an 1860s German beer hall and the tenement kitchen of the family who ran it.

If you would like to find out more about the talk, and see how lebkuchen are made (hint: kirschwasser, candied citron, 2 oz of cinnamon…and more) watch the video belo!  The video is introduced by Dr. Annie Polland, VP of Education at the Museum, and my bit starts at two minutes in.


From The Practical Cook Book by Henriette Davidis, 1897 (American Edition. Original German version was printed in the 1840s)

2 cups honey
1 1/3 pounds brown sugar
1/2 pound slivered almonds
1/2 pound candied citron (or candied lemon)
1/2 pound candied orange peel
Zest of two lemons
2 ounces ground cinnamon
1/4 ounce ground  cloves
2 teaspoons ground mace
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup kirschwasser
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 3/4 lbs flour

1. In a large saucepan, combine honey and brown sugar.  Heat over medium, stirring occasionally, until it begins to bubble and rise to the top of the pan.  Add almonds and allow to cook for five minutes.

2. Remove from heat.  Add candied fruits, lemon zest and spices, stirring to combine after each addition.  Add kirschwasser, then baking powder, and mix to combine thoroughly.  Gradually add flour until the dough is thick but not crumbly.  You won’t use all of the flour.

3.  At this stage, the dough should still be slightly warm.  Either press dough into a shallow baking pan, or roll out on a heavily floured board 1/4 inch think.  Cut into long strips, about as wide as a biscotti, and place on a baking sheet.  Allow to sit out overnight.

4.  If you are baking the lebkuchen in a pan, bake for one hour at 350 degrees.  If you have rolled them thin, then 30 minutes at the same temperature will do.  Cut into sqaures immediately after they are removed from the oven.


Good lebkuchen are supposed to sit around for a couple months after you make them.  Even in modern recipes, there are often family traditions of letting them get stale before consumption.  These lebkuchen are not only great fresh, but perfect with a cup of coffee.

NYHS: Bridget’s Loaf Cake

The front cover of Mrs. Maria Sneckner-Lintz’s Receipt book, from the NYHS archives.

This post is the first in a series of three celebrating the re-opening of the New York Historical Society.  We’re going to focus on examples from the NYHS’s culinary holdings.

Today, we’re looking at a beautiful manuscript from 19th century New York; beautiful both for its physical appearance, and for the important information it gives us about daily life in the city 100 years ago.

The book is written by Mrs. Wilbur Lintz (nee Maria Sneckner), who was born in 1817 and passed in 1889.  During her life, she decided to record her favorite recipes and culinary knowledge.   Overall, this book gives us a peek into what was being cooked in a middle-class, New York kitchen.

“Recipe book of Maria (Sneckner) Lintz (Mrs. Wilbur Lintz) b. N.Y.C. March 14, 1817 d. ” Dec 27, 1889 at 135 w. 48″

Mrs. Lintz was a very organized woman; her cookbook is alphabetically indexed in a way that allowed her to add to her recipes over time.

Sneckner is an old Dutch name, and in that line, the manuscript features several traditional New Amsterdam-style recipes.  The recipe book includes three different recipes for New York Cakes, a cookie flavored with caraway.  In the Dutch tradition, these cakes were passed out to visitors on New Year’s Day; the practice of visiting on New Year’s was revived by the upper and middle classes of New York in the middle of the 19th century.

Additionally, this manuscript features recipes at the height of their fashion and modernity, like this one, at left, for Parker House Rolls.

These rolls were invented in the Parker House Hotel of Boston in the 1870s  and quickly became very fashionable.  “They are made by folding a butter-brushed round of dough in half; when baked, the roll has a pleasing abundance of crusty surface. Recipes for Parker House rolls first appeared in cookbooks during the 1880s.” (Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, 2004)

Parker House Rolls.–One quart of cold boiled milk, two quarts of flour. Make a hole in the middle of the flour, take one half cup of yeast, one half cup of sugar, add the milk, and pour into the flour, with a little salt; let it stand as it is until morning, then knead hard, and let it rise. Knead again at four o’clock in the afternoon, cut out ready to bake, and let them rise again. Bake twenty minutes.–Mass. Ploughman.
—“Parker House Rolls,” New Hampshire Sentinel, April 9, 1874 (p. 1) (sourced from The Food Timeline)

The Parker House still exists, and still serves its famous rolls, as well as its other great creation, The Boston Cream Pie.

The recipe I found the most interesting is this one, for “Bridget’s Loaf Cake”:

I recognized this recipe as the one that Mark Zanger, the author of The American History Cookbook, identifies as the firsts explicity Irish recipe to appear in print in an American book.  He cites it as coming from Mrs. Beecher’s domestic Receipt Book (1848), and sure enough, it is the same recipe as in Mrs. Lintz’s manuscript:

The 1840s were a decade of dramatic increase in immigration to America, due in part to the famine that hit Ireland, decimating the primary food source of potatoes.  The political situation was far more complicated than just that, but the results was the emigration of about 2 million Irish to points around the globe; 1.5 million landed in American; and by the 1860s, one in every four New Yorkers was born in Ireland.

Many single Irish women immigrated here to take positions in domestic service, as there was an incredible demand for servant labor in American household.  As a result, “Bridget” became the generic, ethnically-charged term for a servant.  Bridget learned American cooking from her Misses; and in turn, influenced the American kitchen with cuisine brought from home.

Mrs. Lintz’s Loaf Cake recipe isn’t just important because of the cultural trend it reflects; but because she took the time to copy it from Mrs. Beecher’s Receipt book, it illustrates that this recipe was actually popular and it was being made in family kitchens.

Bridget’s Bread Cake
From Mrs. Beecher’s Domestic Receipt Book, by Catherine Beecher, 1848.

Bake time and temperature from The American History Cookbook by Mark Zanger

For the bread dough:
3 cups flour
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast (or one packet)
1 cup warm water

This is a basic bread recipe I received from a great breadmaking class at the Brooklyn Brainery.  Frozen bread dough can also be subsituted.

Place water in a clean, glass bowl; sprinkle yeast over surface.  Whisk gently with a fork. Set aside.

Combine dry ingredients and oil, mixing with a fork.  Add yeast water, stirring to combine.

As the dough comes together, form into a ball and place on a clean surface.  Knead for 3 minutes, adding more flour or water as necessary.  A wet dough works well for this recipe.

Place in a bowl and cover with a clean towel.  Allow to rise for one hour.

For the Bread Cake:

3 cups sugar (you can use 1/2 cup brown and 1 cup white)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 nutmeg, grated (approximately 2-3 teaspoons ground)
1 tsp baking powder
3 medium eggs (or 2 large)
1/2 cup raisins

Using a fork, cream together butter and sugar.  Add nutmeg and baking powder, then eggs.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Stir in raisins.

Add ball of bread dough to sugar mixture.  Combine thoroughly using your hands: first fold the dough into itself, incorporated the sugar mixture; then squeeze and mash the dough with you fingers until you have a dense, sticky batter.

Set aside and allow to raise for 20-30 minutes.  Butter two small loaf pans and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake 15 minutes more.  Remove from oven and cool, in pan, on a wire rack.  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely on the wire rack, or serve immediately.


At these proportions, the Bread Cake came out super ooey gooey buttery sugary, to the point where it formed caramel on the bottom of the pan, like an upsidedown cake.  Overall, the texture was something like bread pudding.  I don’t think that was the intended result of this recipe, but I don’t think I care.  The texture is amazing and delicious.  Sadly, the caramel bottom stuck to the bottom of the pan, but I bet it would be even more awesome with it.

I wasn’t so fond of the flavor, though: heavy doses of nutmeg in my baked goods just make me think of the 19th century, but doesn’t hold any appeal to my modern taste buds.  If I were to make this again, I would use apples and cinnamon instead of nutmeg and raisins   I would line the loaf pan with parchment, so I could lift the whole thing out without losing the caramel, and I would serve it hot from the oven.  In fact, I think I might do just that.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Bridget’s Bread Cake – not particularly photogenic.

Appetite City: Schrafft’s Cheese Bread

Appetite City: Diners

I’m not old enough to know diddly about Schrafft’s, the New York City restaurant chain, first hand; but everyone who does always remembers the cheese bread.   There’s only one known recipe for the famous cheese bread and it looks like this: This document was dug up by Joan Kanel Slomanson, the author of When Everybody Ate at Schrafft’s: Memories, Pictures, and Recipes from a Very Special Restaurant Empire.  It gives the proportions to make cheese bread on an industrial scale; it seems like it would be simple to just scale it down, right?  Wrong!  The problem is the mystery ingredient: cheese tang! So what is a cheese tang? No one seems to know, or remember.  It was allegedly produced by Kraft, and some researchers have gone as far as to call the Kraft company and ask about it.  No one has any memory of its existance. With the loss of cheese tang, Schrafft’s cheese bread is gone to the ages. Hold the phone.  Time to do some deductive reasoning.  You know what else Kraft makes? Tang.  Like, orange Tang, that went up with the astronauts.  Tang is a bright orange, orange-flavored powder.  So perhaps cheese Tang is a bright orange, cheese-flavored powder.  Now in what Kraft product can one get bright orange, cheese-flavored powder?

This is my theory and I think it’s a good one!  At any rate, the bread made with Mac N’ Cheese powder is phenomenal and will be devoured within minutes of exiting your oven.  Should you have some left overs, toast it before consumption: it’s best warm.


Schrafft’s Cheese Bread
Adapted from the original Schrafft’s recipe, as reprinted in When Everybody Ate at Schrafft’s: Memories, Pictures, and Recipes from a Very Special Restaurant Empire by Joan Kanel Slomanson, published 2007.

1 package dry active yeast
1 ¾ cups warm water
2 tsp salt
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp – 1/4 cup powdered cheese (depending on desired cheesiness); either from a Mac & Cheese box, or from online
3.5 cups flour
1 cup grated sharp cheddar.
1. In a large bowl, combine yeast and ½ cup warm water. Stir to dissolve yeast. Mix remaining water with salt; stir to dissolve.  Pour over yeast and set aside.
2. In another bowl, sift together flour, sugar, and cheese powder.
3. Add flour mixture to yeast and water, one cup at a time.  When the dough becomes hard to stir, turn out onto a floured work surface.  Let dough rest while you clean out the bowls.
4. Knead dough for ten minutes, adding more flour if necessary, until dough is smooth and elastic.  Up to another 1 1/2 cups can be incorporated here.
5. Butter a bowl and place dough inside; let rise until it has tripled in size, 2-3 hours.  Punch down risen dough and turn out onto work surface.  Sprinkle grated cheese all over.  Roll the dough up and knead just long enough to incorporate cheese.  Swirls of cheese in the baked loaf are not a bad thing!
6. Grease two loaf pans; plop dough inside. Cover each with a kitchen towel and let rise 45 minutes.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
7. Put loaves in oven.  After 15 minutes, turn down heat to 350 degrees and let bake for 10 more minutes.  Cool on racks.
P.S. – this bread is total munchies food!
A delicious loaf of cheese bread.


Appetite City: Baked Alaska

Appetite City: Fine Dining. My demo starts at 12:35

Ok. So mine is maybe not the prettiest Baked Alaska.  And sometimes, I show my colors as still being a young cook.  Like when I dump my carefully crafted dessert all over the floor.  Oh well–at least I’m honest about it.

The history of  how Baked Alaska came to be is a little loosey goosey, as origin stories for the most famous dishes tend to be.  We do know that at the turn of the 19th century, scientists discovered the insulatory properties of egg whites.  Cooks seized on this idea, and began creating Baked Alaska-like dishes in the first half of the 19th century.  But Chef Charles Ranhofer, the gifted head of the Delmonico’s kitchen, seems to be the one that perfected and popularized it.  Allegedly,  it was served at a dinner celebrating the purchase of Alaska in 1867, and the popularity of this fantastic new dish sky-rocketed over the next century, peaking sometime in the 1950s.

Making a good, old-fashioned “Alaska, Florida”  has a hella lot steps, and the end result doesn’t taste that great.  It was waaaay super sweet.   I think this is one of those instances when you should look up a modern version of the old classic.  The dessert is worth cooking up in a simpler form: the combination of hot meringue and cold ice cream seems like magic and will really impress your friends.



Alaska, Florida (Baked Alaska)

From the Epicurian, published 1893.
And Martha Stewart Living.Small yellow cakes
Apricot marmalade
4 bananas
1 qt heavy cream
1 ¼ lb sugar
½ vanilla bean
6 egg whites
1 tsp cream of tarter1. Cake base:  Make your favorite yellow cake recipe in advance, baking it in cupcake tins or ramekins, depending on the size of your ice cream molds.  Remove the cakes from the tins, level the tops, then cut a depression into the center of each cake.  Fill depression with apricot marmalade.

2. To Make Banana Ice Cream:  Mash 4 banana to a pulp; Mix with 1 pt heavy cream and ½ lb sugar.  Stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Put into an ice cream maker until frozen soft.  Pour, or scoop, into a conical ice cream mold until mold is halfway full. Freeze until frozen hard.

3. To Make Vanilla Ice Cream: Infuse ½ a vanilla bean in ¼ cup milk by gently heating on a stove top burner.  Combine with 1 pt heavy cream and ¼ lb sugar; stir until sugar in dissolved.  Freeze in an ice cream maker until frozen soft.

4. When banana ice cream is hard, remove from freezer and pour vanilla ice cream over top, until the mold is filled.  Return to freezer and freeze until hard.

5. To make meringue:  Combine egg whites, remaining sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of electric mixer, and place over a saucepan filled with water.  Heat over stove-top like a double boiler, whisking constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the egg whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 3 1/2 minutes.  Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and whip starting on low speed and gradually increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.

6. Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Unmold ice cream, and place on top of cake.  Fill a pastry bag with meringue; encase ice cream and cake in meringue

7. Bake in a 500 degree oven for 2 minutes.  Serve immediately


Be sure to watch the episode to see me demo the whole thing, from start to finish!

The History Dish: Gazpacho and the Red Snapper

The first “gaspacho” recipe, from 1824.

Yesterday I appeared on Heritage Radio Network’s We Dig Plants, the bawdiest horticulture show on the web.  This past Sunday’s show was all about tomatoes, and I popped on as a special guest to share some historic tomato recipes. You can listen to the whole show here.

I brought along a few tubs of gazpacho I made from an 1824 recipes.  They were crazy delicious (I saved the leftover for my lunch today).  Mary Randolph’s The Virginia Housewife, published in 1824, has some of the earliest tomato recipes in print, and the first gazpacho recipe printed EVER on the planet.  At least that we know of.  The directions are pretty self explanatory, so here is the original recipe.

I did not stew and make my own tomato juice, I found this great, strained, tomato puree in a box at the store.  The gazpacho was more like a cold, fresh salad, and was really wonderful.  Carmen, one of the show’s hosts, even took some home to her tomato-hating husband in hopes that it would turn him into a tomato lover.

I also showed up with Bloody Marys–or, more accurately, Red Snappers, as they were originally known.  When the drink was created in the 1920s, vodka wasn’t yet widely available in the United States; the liquor of choice was gin!  The recipe for the Red Snapper, from the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis hotel in New York, is below. I actually prefer the gin over vodka; I would recommend Hendrick’s gin; the cucumber notes compliment the tomatoes beautifully.

The Red Snapper
From the St. Regis Bar, 1920s

1 1/2 oz Gin
2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
Pinch of salt and pepper
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
4 ounces tomato juice

Combine all ingredients in a glass and shake or stir to mix.  Serve chilled.


Both of these recipes are great if you need to use up a tomato surplus; For more history on both of these recipes, listen to the entire radio show here!

And on a somewhat unrelated note, I attended my first “crawfish boil” yesterday at the Brooklyn Brainery’s Summer Explosion.  I was all geared up to eat my first crayfish, but the sight of their yellow guts spilling out of their exoskeletons turned me off.  I don’t do well with invertebrates.  Instead, I stuffed my face with peach cobbler.

Cocktail Hour: Beef Beer

The short story: I was doing research amongst the stacks at the New York Public library.  In the appendix of a large volume called Virginia Taverns, I found a recipe for a “American Strong Beer,” dated 1815.  I read on to discover this beer was made with mustard, rice and beef.  Interesting.

While planning for Bread & Beer, I sent this recipe to the brewers at Brouwerij Lane as a novelty; the next thing I know, they’re making it.  And it was my favorite beer of the evening.  Joshua Berstein of the New York Press just wrote about it:

But I could definitely get pie-eyed from the second beer. It was a circa-1815 American strong ale fashioned with wheat, barley, rice, dry mustard and lean beef. Yes, beef. “You use it to make a sort of broth,” Olsen explained of the cow flesh, whose proteins aid the Belgian yeast. Instead of being overwhelmingly meaty, the beer drinks dry and slightly fruity, with gentle notes of hamburger.

You can read Berstein’s full article on the Bread & Beer event here.

Brewers: give this recipe a shot.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

They brewed this beer in two incarnations, one of which was infused with caraway.  Below, the full menu and tasting notes for the event.