Events in May: Garlic and Booze!

Garlic+for+SiteThe History of Garlic: A Special Dinner at the Farm on Adderley
Tuesday, May 12th, 7:30 PM
$60 / person (+ beverages, tax & gratuity)
To sign-up, send an e-mail to thefarmonadderleyevents@gmail.com 

Americans are fanatical about garlic. Not just as food, but as an alternative-medicine cure-all. Our contemporary love of garlic is an irony considering that through much of garlic’s history its taste was considered repulsive. Not simply repulsive, but un-American. “Real” Americans a century ago, viewed Italian immigrants’ love of garlic as a manifestation of their resistance to American culture. This beloved bulb was condemned and marginalized.

Join us for a five-course dinner hosted by historic gastronomist Sarah Lohman. We will eat garlic-focussed foods from our kitchen and dive into how garlic became a flavor so desirable that it managed to transcend xenophobia and became the most widely used flavor in American cooking. Space is limited. Reservations required.

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Bottle Images_CombinedDistilling Brooklyn
Thursday, May 14th
Doors open 6:30pm. Event begins at 7pm. 
@ The Brooklyn Historical Society, 128 Pierrepont St, Brooklyn, NY
$12 General Admission / $8 for BHS and G-W Members

Three of Brooklyn’s top distilleries share their personal distilling histories and look at the vibrant (and sometimes violent) history of distilling in Brooklyn. Moderated by historic gastronomist Sarah Lohman, tastings will be offered from the esteemed participants, Kings County Distillery, New York Distilling Co., Van Brunt Stillhouse, and Brooklyn Gin.

Buy tickets here!

Presented in partnership with Brooklyn Brainery.

Video: Cooking from the Moosewood Cookbook with Jeffrey Marsh

I made a silly little cooking video with my friend and inspiration Jeffrey Marsh. Jeffrey is a Vine superstar and cultural phenomenon, and you should check him out.

We cooked Miso Soup from the classic Moosewood Cookbook, a revolutionary vegetarian cookbook from 1977. My favorite part about this book is the recipes are very loosey goosey–everything is to taste. Add a little of this, a little of that–whatever! That style is still so different from the rigid recipes we’re used to, and still sets this cookbook apart.

So watch the vid to see Jeffrey and I goofing off, talking about food history, and attempting this soup from the seventies.

Etsy Kitchen Histories: Adventures in At-Home Cheesemaking

cheese2Homemade paneer, queso fresco, and goat cheese.

For my latest on Etsy, I made cheese. So much cheese. Hundreds of pounds of it at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in New York City, and a few more on my kitchen stove at home.

…When I heated my milk, I wasn’t paying attention, and the temperature got way too high. My mozzarella never quite formed into a satisfying ball; it was more like a cheese puddle. But the instructions that came with my kit were very supportive — they basically said, “That’s okay! Just eat it.” It tasted like mozzarella, even if it didn’t look like it.

Did I ever have cheesey succuss? You can find out on the Etsy blog here!

The History Dish: Rosquetas de Naranja (Orange Doughnuts)

doughnuts7A heaping plate of orange and cinnamon doughnuts.

When I was in Mexico City a few years ago, my favorite morning in the city was spent digging through a local flea market. The first thing that caught my eye when I entered the market was a yellowing composition book. The mexican_coverpages were handwritten, in Spanish, which I don’t speak terribly well. But I could recognize the format: lists of ingredients, followed by directions. It was a recipe book, dated 1945.

“How much?” I asked the vendor in Spanish–I spoke enough to handle flea market haggling. The price was the equivalent of $20 American, a little expensive. The vendor immediately walked away, indicating there would be no discussion. There was no way I was letting this book go. It was fated for me. I dug into my pocket and handed over the money.

There are 19 recipes in the book, ranging from a very traditional Enchiladas Verde (Green Enchiladas) made with pork, Serrano chiles and cilantro; to a recipe for choux paste, the French batter for cream puffs; to Macarrones Endiablados, or Deviled Macaroni, a very mid-20th century sounding concoction of macaroni, tomatoes and deviled ham.

doughnuts1Frying the doughnuts.

The first recipe in the book is Rosquetas de Naranja, doughnuts flavored with orange zest and rolled in cinnamon sugar. This recipe is one of the best things I ever ever made for this blog. I live for reviving historical recipes like this one. They fry up crispy on the outside with a soft, cakey center; the orange flavor is delicate at first, then comes on strong and pairs perfectly with the cinnamon. One recipe makes the just the right amount for a party or brunch with friends; or, if it’s just you, you’ll make yourself sick eating them. It’s impossible to stop. They are best devoured fresh and hot, so it’s like your duty to scarf them right out of the fryer.

This recipe book was my prize souvenir from my journey. There are still a few more dishes I want to try from its pages, but these Rosquetas de Naranja are a true treasure that make me feel connected to an unnamed cook from Mexico’s past.

doughnuts6Rolling the doughnuts in cinnamon sugar.

Rosquetas de Naranja: Orange Donuts
Adapted from a handwritten recipe book, dated 1945. Translation by Danielle Rodriguez.

1 lb Flour (about 4 1/2 cups)
3 teaspoons Baking powder
1 Orange, zested and juiced
3 Large Eggs
1 cup Whole Milk
¾ cup Granulated Sugar
1 stick of Butter, room temperature, cut into cubes.
Vegetable oil
Cinnamon Sugar: 1 cup Sugar and 2 teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder.
  2. In a second bowl, whisk eggs, orange juice, and zest. Whisk in milk; then, stir in sugar until it is dissolved.
  3. Using your hands, mix the butter and flour until it forms small pills.
  4. Form a well in the center of the flour and pour in the wet ingredients. Using your whisk, form into a batter.
  5. Fill a small electric deep fryer, or a saucepan with deep sides, with 2 inches of vegetable oil. The oil is ready when a dollop of dough immediately begins to sizzle.
  6. Deep fry doughnuts until golden brown, flipping them once. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon and set the doughnuts on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Allow them to cool while you add another batch to the oil, then roll doughnuts into cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately.

If you would like to download a PDF of the original cookbook it’s available here, and Danielle Rodriguez’s translation is here. Just let me know if you try any of the recipes!

NPR: Mourning the Matzo

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I just did an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered on the closing of the Streit’s Matzo factory on the Lower East Side, after 90 years of business.

But as Lowman (sic) points out, the Lower East Side has changed many times before. And Streit’s isn’t going out of business. “We aren’t really losing this product, or this family, or this business,” she says. “It’s still very much a part of New York history and Jewish history in America.”

There’s a cute bit where I taste test two matzos and have to guess which one is Streit’s. Will I guess correctly? Listen here (or below) to find out!

Masters of Social Gastronomy

By Leendertz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, March 25th
FREE FREE FREE, 21+ RSVP
Doors at 7:30pm, talks start at 8pm
Littlefield, 622 Degraw Street in Gowanus

Each month, the Masters of Social Gastronomy (Sarah of Four Pounds Flour and the Brainery’s Soma) take on the history and science behind some of your favorite edibles. Up this month: the world’s strangest (and most expensive) edibles.

One man’s delicacy is another man’s nightmare! Uncover the oddball background of the world’s priciest coffee, and what a jungle cat has to do with your mild roast. If mammals sound passé, you might try bird’s nest soup, a Chinese delicacy that’s anything but a cluster of twigs.

Mankind has always loved strong scents and powerful flavors, but sometimes goes to questionable lengths to obtain them. Flavoring from a deer’s butt, anyone? Or the almost-mythical ambergris, a mass of squid beaks and fecal matter from inside a whale’s intestines, considered one of the most valuable substances by the ounce on the planet? Hear harrowing tales of aromatic animal extracts, in high demand as dessert flavorings from the medieval era through the 19th century.

RSVP here!

The History Dish: Chinese New Year Cookies

IMG_7168Chinese New Year Cookies…there was nothing I could do to them to make them look less like poops.

The Chinese New Year starts tomorrow, so in celebration I thought it would be fun to make a vintage recipe for Chinese New Year Cookies. It’s too bad these cookies look like poop.

The History

This recipe come from the same vintage collection as my Moose Milk recipe, and caught my eye because I had never seen a Chinese New Year-themed confection in an otherwise anglo recipe collection. What makes these cookied Chinese-ish is the inclusion of Chinese noodles: crispy fried rice noodles, like the kind you get with a take-out order of wonton soup. I can’t even begin to answer the question of whether or not these noodles are authentic in any way, fully Americanized, or some combination thereof. It seems that they’re such a niche aspect of Chinese take-out that no one has ever bothered to wonder before. Anyone out there have a clue?

The Recipe

IMG_6969

Chinese New Years Cookies
Written by B. Allen. From a recipes collection dating between the 1960s-1990s.

1 pkg (6oz) Semi sweet chocolate chips
1 pkg (6oz)  Caramels
1 can (3oz) Chinese noodles
1 can or jar (7-8 oz) Peanuts

  1. Melt chocolate and caramel.
  2. Mix in noodles and nuts.
  3. Scoop by teaspoon onto waxed paper. Chill.

Makes 2-4 dozen.

The Results

IMG_7146A hot mess from start to finish.

This entire recipe was a hot mess from start to finish. Something was off about the texture–when the chocolate and caramel melted together, it was so thick. My friend Pat and I got into a long debate about whether or not it was the qaulity of the caramels, or if I had used too many in proportion to the chocolate, but the point is moot because nothing will stop these cookies from looking like tiny piles of poo.

They also taste like tootsie rolls with Chinese noodles jammed up inside them.

Enjoy the New Year, instead, with some of those strawberry candies. Those are great.

Etsy: Perfume Cake

Perfume Cake 3

I’ve got another post up on Etsy, this time with my friend Jessica Reed, a historic cake connoisseur. We tried a particularly unique cake:

“Perfume Cake was a sort of sport…invented by our daring big sister and eaten with a certain delightsome awe by all who knew its secret, which was after all a simple one, merely that of substituting a few drops of Mother’s best perfume for the usual vanilla or almond extract.”

Find out the results here!

Moose Milk: A Boozey Punch for a Blizzard

moosemilk1Moose Milk: A drink for a blizzard.

If you live anywhere in the Northeast (or those other places that always get snow and don’t freak out) you probably have a lot of snow outside right now. So here’s what you can do with it: make a magical boozey punch that you chill in a snow drift.

The History.

moosemilk9A recipe collection dating from 1966-1998.

Every now and again, a reader will send me something. A little book, or recipe, or what-have-you they’ve stumbled upon. Reader Bonnie Belza sent me a binder of vintage recipes picked up at an estate sale in Arizona, stuffed with handwritten notebook papers and newspaper clippings dating between 1966-1998. The collections’ compiler, Anne, asked friends and family for recipes, and they would sign and date their contribtions: Bette Hartnett’s Southern Pecan Pie, 1970; Mrs. Steven’s Ginger Snaps; Aunt Grace’s Date Nut Loaf. Sometimes, the recipes would come attached to letters and notes, which also went into the recipe binder. The book is not just a collection of desserts, but sampling of Anne’s community.

moosemilk8Gale’s fool-proof dessert is Creme Celeste: vanilla, cream and gelatin molded in a “pint sized parkay tub” and served with fruit.

More recent newspaper clippings confirm that Anne lived with her husband Manolo in Arizona, but I suspect they may have retired there from the Midwest. Ethnic treats like kolaches, and dishes of Swedish descent, are also tucked in the book’s pages indicating they may have come from colder climates. And then there’s the recipe for Moosemilk: on a type-written page, in a fancy font (in the era of electric typewrites, you could change the font!), dated only “friday,” a young woman named Lynne writes to Anne and Manolo about her new baby boy, Mark Oliver Mabry: “John loved the Oliver part but everyone thought it was such an odd name that he hated to name him that so we just used it for a middle name.” On the back, she included two recipes for punch, one of them a rum and ice cream concoction called Moose Milk that she instructs to “Cover and refrigerate and leave covered in a snow bank for several hours or overnight.”

Moose Milk is an old term in Canada for hooch: unfiltered moonshine that came out cloudy. The term dates back to the early 1900s (source). But this moosemilk is a sweet, mixed punch and seems similar to the sort of punches that evolved in the 1950s. I can’t find much dependable history as to its origins, but it seems to have some sort of association with the Canadian Airforce.

The Recipe.

moosemilk11I included some of my parent’s homemade, dark maple syrup.

Variations of the recipe contain Kahlua (which sounds delicious but I didn’t have any on hand) and maple syrup. I did have a jar of my mother’s homemade dark maple syrup, so I decided to substitute it for the 2-3 tablespoons of confectioners sugar recommended in my recipe.

moosemilk10The original recipe for Moosemilk.

Moosemilk
Adapted from a typewritten letter, c. 1975

2 eggs, room temperature
2-3 tablespoons confectioners syrup or dark (grade b) maple syrup
1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream, softened (get the good stuff)
1 quart (4 cups) whole milk
1 pint (2 cups) dark rum (I used Black Seal, but Meyer’s would do you just fine.)

  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine eggs and maple syrup. Gradually increasing speed, beat eggs until frothy, about three minutes.
  2. Add ice cream. Beat on low until the it looks like ice cream soup; then beat on high until light and airy, about 4 minutes total.
  3. With mixer on low, add rum and milk. Mix until it looks like watery egg nog.
  4. Pour into tupperware, mason jars or a bowl, and seal. Bury in a snowdrift for at least three hours, or up to overnight.

Alternately, you could make this recipe in the morning and reveal it in the evening for a party. I made mine in the evening as a massive snowstorm rolled through New York, and nestled it into the snow of my apartment building’s back yard. When the bowl of ice cream and booze was all tucked in, I waved good bye, went inside, and waited for the magic to happen.

moosemilk7Putting the punch to bed. See the blue circle of the punch bowl on the ground?

 

moosemilk6The next morning: Covered in a snow drift!!!

The Results!

In the end, New York City didn’t get as much snow as expected: about a foot in my part of Queens. But somehow, I managed to put the bowl of Moose Milk in the middle of a three foot snow drift. My husband and I dug it out around noon, after it had been in the snow about 18 hours.

moosemilk4Excavating the punch.

When I brought it in, and scissored through the tin foil covering, I was shocked to find ¾ of the contents missing. My first thought, naturally, was “What kind of sorcery is this!” Upon closer inspection, I found a fairly large, but barely imperceptible crack in the bottom of the bowl. Luckily, there was still enough punch left for several glasses.

moosemilk2The final punch!

Overnight, the punch had separated: a delightful, creamy froth had risen to the top, ready to be spooned on top of Moose Milks helpings. Most importantly, the drink had mellowed. When I tasted it right after mixing, all I could tasted was the rum. After many hours in the snow, it was still strong, but the bite of the alcohol had relaxed just enough. I garnished each glass with powdered vanilla, which was just the bump this drink needed. (although I got mine from a collegue, here’s something similar). Creamy, vanilla, goodness.

Moosemilk! If you’ve got some snow outside, harness the weather to make you a drink, instead of taking up precious refrigerator space. Invite a few neighbors to share it with, or perhaps it’s just for you and your partner, while you binge watch The Wire.

Masters of Social Gastronomy: Romance and Revenge, January 28

Masters of Social Gastronomy:  The History of Aphrodisiacs and Poisons

Wednesday, January 28th.
FREE FREE FREE, 21+ RSVP
Doors at 7:30pm, talks start at 8pm
Littlefield, 622 Degraw Street in Gowanus

The  Masters of Social Gastronomy take on curious food topics and break down the history, science, and stories behind them. This month, we’re getting reading for Valentine’s Day!

Every culture has a long history of aphrodisiacs – love-inducing and libido-promoting foods, ranging from the commonplace to the esoteric. Is chocolate the rightful king of Valentines Day, or could we do better with a tiger’s unmentionables? Let’s trace the history of these foxy foods and see what science has to say about their amorous assertions.

First comes loves, then comes marriage, then comes a little bit of rat poison in their coffee cup. When love goes wrong, out comes the Victorian obsession with female poisoners: delicate and seductive, these ladies made headlines in the age of yellow journalism for offing their lovers with poisoned food. Come hear their stories and…hey, does this taste like almonds to you? RSVP HERE.