Friday, June 12, 2015

Cherries in Claret, A Charles County, Maryland Recipe

Cherries in Claret
This recipe comes from Araby, an historic home that was built in Charles County, Maryland in the middle of the 18th century and was the home of William and Sarah Eilbeck. While I am not sure if George Washington ever slept there, he did record many visits there. However, it was another George, as in Mason (father of the Bill of Rights), who had the larger claim on the property because he married the owners' daughter, Anne. 

This recipe for Cherries in Claret was printed in an Annapolis, Maryland cookbook in 1963 and is attributed to Araby. The recipe has no specific date; however, its form and ingredients are reminiscent of recipes from the 18th and 19th centuries.


Source: Maryland's Way, The Hammond Harwood House Cook Book,
by Mrs. Lewis R. Andrews and Mrs. J. Reaney Kelly, published in 1963.
Modern Recipe Adaptation
You can follow the recipe as written using the photos below as a step-by-step guide. I used modern bing cherries because that is what is available to most people in the 21st century; however, you can try other varieties:

1. Wash the cherries. Note: a quart of cherries is 4 cups.



2. Cut the stems down about half-way to make them look neat and tidy, 
and to give you an easy way to pick up each cherry.
3. To the cherries. add the wine (any fruity red wine will 
do), sugar, and cracked cinnamon stick. Cook on medium
heat for about 10 minutes. Use a pan with a heavy bottom
to prevent scorching the sugar.

4. Use a slatted spoon to remove the cherries from the pan of hot liquid. While the cherries cool, add the red currant jelly to the liquid left in the pan. Whisk it in and cook for just about one more minute. Then remove from heat.
Red Currant Jelly
5. Pour the hot liquid into a measuring cup, being sure to strain out
the cinnamon sticks and any stray cherry stems floating in it.


6. Try to stand the cherries up so that the stems are visible and easy to reach.
Pour the hot, sweet liquid over them. Allow this to cool off to room temperature and then cool in the refrigerator.

Serve cold with lady fingers, sponge cake, angel food cake, with ice cream, or in a parfait!





Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Summer Treat: Preserve Cherries a 19th Century Way

Northstar Pie Cherries


An Old Recipe for Cherry Preserves:

From Miss Leslie's Directions for Cookery by Eliza Leslie (Philadelphia, 1851 ed.)

The Cherries
Instead of Morella(o) cherries, I am using a cherry grown on the premises of the historic c.1801 Riversdale House Museum in Riverdale Park, MD. These cherries are called Northstar Pie Cherries and are a tart cherry known for being heavy producers and are quite disease resistant. These cherries were introduced in 1950 and are therefore not quite as historic as the home on the grounds on which they were grown. However, these cherries are sour enough to be a good substitute for morello cherries and are a good choice for this 19th century recipe by Eliza Leslie.

Modern Recipe Adaptation


1.  Wash and weigh your cherries.  Then, measure out one pound of sugar per pound of cherries. Divide the sugar into two equal measures and set aside.

2.  Pit the cherries and place in a bowl. Then add one portion of the sugar. Mix together and let sit for about one hour until the cherries soften and release lots of their juice.


Allow the cherries to macerate in the sugar for about one hour.


Macerated Cherries



3.  Place the remaining sugar and the cherries into a large preserving pan or pot with a heavy bottom (to prevent burning and sticking).  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium high, stirring frequently.  Cook for about 15 minutes, or until the cherries are glossy. You can use the cherries as soon as they cool, or you can preserve them in a hot water bath canner, or freeze them.


Cooked Cherries

Delicious on ice cream, sponge cake, in a trifle, or on yogurt!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Historical Food Fortnightly Bonus Challenge 27: Bonus! Breakfast Foods

A simple breakfast in 18th century France.

The Challenge: BONUS! Breakfast Food 
May 29 - June 11
For a bonus challenge, make a breakfast dish. Get creative, but make sure to provide your documentation for its place at the breakfast table!

The Recipe:
This breakfast is not so much a recipe as it is a collection of foods. In the European medieval days, breakfast did not exist as a meal unless it was specially requested by certain members of the household (aristocratic) who needed to be up earlier than others to see to their duties. Instead, dinner, the main meal of the day, was served as early as 10 in the morning and served to break the fasts for the majority of the upper class people. Over the course of the centuries, a specially designated breakfast did emerge usually comprised of leftovers from the previous day's meals. Therefore, lots of meats (particularly beef), oysters, vegetables, bread, beer, an/or wine, among other things, may have been served. The modern notion of breakfast consisting of eggs, bacon, toast, coffee, tea or chocolate did not really emerge until the 17th century. You can read a detailed historical description of the origins of breakfast at Chez Jim.

According to a 1799 phrasebook for emigres by a Madame de Genlis, (see Chez Jim for the full account) several suggestions for breakfast are stated such as: tea, chocolate, coffee, punch, bread, butter, soft-boiled eggs, hard-boiled eggs, cheeses, bacon, sausages, ham, cold mutton, biscuits, cakes, preserves, and lots of fruits.

Therefore, I have opted to prepare a simple breakfast off of this list: hot chocolate, a soft-boiled egg, and toast fingers.

Date/Year and Region
18th century France

How Did You Make It
No recipe is needed, just simmer your egg, toast the bread, and make your favorite hot chocolate!

Time to Complete
About 10 minutes.

Total Cost
I had everything on hand so there was no cost.

How Successful Was It?
It tasted exactly as you would expect!

How Accurate Is It?
I made it as accurately as I could apart from modern equipment and ingredients. The historic message of the breakfast comes through despite the modern nod to ingredients.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Rum, Lemons, and Green Tea Make This Annapolis White Wine Punch Pop with Flavor!


White Wine Punch



This recipe is from one of my favorite Maryland cook books, The Hammond Harwood House Cook Book by Mrs. Lewis R. Andrews and Mrs. J. Reaney Kelly published in 1963. This recipe is really interesting because though published in 1963 it is very historic given the instructions to rub lemon skins on loaf sugar. Loaf sugar was the solid form in which a cone of solid white sugar wrapped in blue paper was sold until well into the 20th century. Here is an image of this type of sugar:
Loaf Sugar
The recipe is very straight forward therefore I will not transcribe it. However, here are some images of working with the loaf sugar and the lemons. Considering that most people nowadays will not have access to this type of sugar, you can always substitute by either rubbing the lemon oils onto sugar cubes or by using regular granulated sugar and grating/rasping the lemon zest into the punch.

Rub loaf sugar on lemon to extract the oils.


 

Loaf sugar covered in lemon oil.