November 30, 2009

Cocktail Hour: Egg Nogg Cocktail

I've often been asked where I get the ideas for the recipes I cook.  It goes a little like this: throughout the course of my day, thought bubbles appear with a pop above my head.  They waft through the air, trailing behind me, gently enfolding images of food I would like to devour: whole roasted pigs; booze flavored jell-o; fatty dairy products.  Recently, I've been dreaming of egg nog.

My roommate whipped up a batch based on this recipe, from the NPR article "More Evidence that Egg Nog Goes Better with Booze."  It's made with raw eggs and an entire bottle of rum.  The Nog has to sit around and mellow for a month in the refrigerator.  There's a cute video about it here, where scientists test the Nog for signs of salmonella.  Preliminary tests indicate that the alcohol kills any bacteria present in the eggs.  It's hardly surprising--the nog is so boozey it tastes like creamy astringent.

The scientist's findings inspired me to test out a 19th century egg nog recipe, from Jerry Thomas' wonderful book How to Mix Drinks.  On the subject of "Egg Nogg," Thomas has this to say:
Egg Nogg is a beverage of American origin but it has a popularity that is cosmopolitan.  At the South it is almost indispensable at Christmas time and at the North it is a favorite at all seasons...Every well ordered bar has a tin egg nogg shaker which is a great aid in mixing this beverage
The Egg Nogg chapter of his book offers a variety of recipes for egg nogg as we know it, in punch form.  But the very first recipe is for what I would call an egg nogg cocktail: a single serving drink of eggs shaken up with milk and alcohol.  Perhaps this is the way egg nogg was first served, well before it filled holiday punch bowls.

81. Egg Nogg
From How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon-Vivant's Companion by Professor Jerry Thomas

1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1 tablespoon cold water
1 medium egg
2 ounces brandy
1 ounce rum
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup shaved ice or two ice cubes

1. The first step depends on what kind of cocktail shaker you have: If you have a Boston shaker, you're going to want to put your ice in the bar glass. If you have a cobbler shaker, put the ice in the shaker. (what kind of shaker do I have?)

2. Dissolve sugar in the water in a bar glass; add egg and beat slightly. Add milk and alcohol.

3.Cover and shake (or add to cobbler shaker) until all ingredients are thoroughly amalgamated.

2. Strain into a pint glass and garnish with grated nutmeg.


I am drinking this right now, and I love it.  It's not as heavy as a cream-based egg nog, but it is still satisfying my nog cravings.  And the best part--it's a single serving!  So I can enjoy it anytime without having to mix up large batch.

I also suspect this recipe would be good with bourbon instead of brandy.  Either way, I highly recommend it.  It's just delicious.

If you need some training for your cocktail shake, I recommend the Hard Shake.  And if you're interested in more holiday cocktails with egg, try LeNell's Mae West Royal Diamond Fizz.

And now that I've reached the end of this post...I'm a little tipsy.  Congratulations, me.

November 26, 2009

Menus: Thanksgiving in 1845

A menu from The New England Economical Housekeeper by Esther Allen Howland.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Enjoy the holiday weekend.

November 23, 2009

Events: A Revolutionary Thanksgiving Photos!

If you took any photos at the event, please add them to the Revolutionary Thanksgiving group here.

Events: Revolutionary Thanksgiving Recipe Extravaganza!

Preparing Four Pounds Flour "signature" apple tart.

The event yesterday at Old Stone House was a huge success: all the food was cooked and delicious!  We had a big turnout, thanks in part to some great press leading up to the event, including a listing on Grub Street, an article in the Village Voice and, my favorite, a wonderful feature on Brokelyn.  I'm going to be posting photos from the event photos soon!

Thanks to everyone who came out; also a big thanks to D'Artagnan for donating the wild turkey and the venison; and to Red Jacket Orchards who donated historic baking apples, the Newtown Pippin.

Many of those who attended requested my recipes, so I thought I'd share them with you here.  They are all incredibly simple and delicious, and perfect for your Thanksgiving table.

All three of these receipts were adapted from the first American cookbook, American Cookery by Amelia Simmons.  A hearth is not necessary to prepare them; you'll do just fine in a modern kitchen.

Stuffing for a Turkey

This recipe makes enough for one stuffed bird. If you plan to serve it as a side; bake it in a casserole at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

1 loaf bread or cornbread
1 stick butter
1/4 lb salt pork or fat back; or 4 slices bacon.
2 eggs
1 tsp savory
1 tsp marjoram
1 handful fresh parsley, torn
10 leaves fresh sage, torn
1 tsp each Salt and pepper, or to taste.

1. Tear bread into small pieces and put in a large bowl.

2. Melt butter and pour over bread.

3. Finely chop pork and add it to the bread mixture.

4. Add remaining ingredients.  If the mixture seems too dry, add another egg.

5. Stuff into a turkey.

Squash Pudding

This recipe is a bit labor intensive.

2 small or one large squash. (I used 2 butternut squashes)
3 baking apples
Juice of 1/2 an orange
1/2 cup sugar
2 slices bread or 3 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon rosewater
1/3 cup wine
3 eggs, beaten
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon flower

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel and core apples.  Slice into 1/2 in - 1 inch chunks.  Add orange juice to prevent apples from browning.  Add to a skillet with  1/4 cup sugar.  Cook on a high heat until apples bubble and steam; turn heat down to medium, and stew for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

3. Cut squash into quarters; peel and cut into one inch cubes.  Boil in a large stock pot, in lightly salted water, until tender.

4. Strain squash and add to a large mixing bowl. Mash to desired consistency with a potato masher, wine bottle, or other heavy implement.

5. Combine with remaining ingredients.

6. Bake from 45 minutes- 1 hour, until mixture is hot and bubbly around the edges.

Pumpkin Pie

2 cups pumpkin (canned or fresh)
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup real maple syrup (fresh pumpkin may need an additional 1/3 cup of maple sugar.)

1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mace
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, well beaten
¼ cup brandy

1. Preheat oven to 325.  Combine pumpkin, sugar, maple syrup, salt and spices in a mixing bowl.

2. Beat together milk, eggs, cream and brandy.  Add to pumpkin mixture.

3. Pour into an unbaked pastry shell and bake for 1 hour.


November 18, 2009

Taste History Today: Jefferson's Favorite Apple

Photo by Brandon Miller

The premiere issue of Edible Queens has a feature on the Newtown Pippin apple, a heritage breed with it's origin in the New York area. From the U.S. Apple Association:
"Also known as Albemarle Pippin, a favorite variety of Thomas Jefferson. Discovered on Long Island in 1759, this apple is one of the oldest original U.S. varieties, helping to launch the U.S. fruit export industry. Newtown Pippin is a distinctive green, often with yellow highlights. Its aromatic, tangy flesh makes the Newtown great for use in pies and applesauce. Primarilly a processing variety, most U.S. supplies are used commercially. Newtown Pippin is typically available from September through December."
Jefferson dubbed the Newtown "The Prince of Apples" and grew them on his Monticello estate. The Newtown is making a comeback in the New York area thanks to Erik Baard, a Long Island City–based environmentalist.
"Since 2006, Baard has spearheaded a local movement to plant Newtown Pippin saplings across the city and state. “I’m trying to remind New Yorkers of our agricultural heritage one tree at a time,” explains Baard, the borough’s own Johnny Appleseed.
The Newtown Pippin—a pippin is an apple grown spontaneously from seed—first took root in the Newtown section of Queens, now Elmhurst, in the 1700s, and was almost universally lauded as one of the best-tasting apples ever grown. (Edible Queens)”
You can get your hands on Newtown Pippins in New York at the Red Jacket Orchard stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on Mondays. They sell other heirloom breeds including Baldwin, Staymen Winesap, 20 oz pippin and Northern Spy.

I'm going to be featuring the Newtown Pippin at the Old Stone House event this Sunday: stop by to see the apples for yourself and for a taste of apple-rosewater tart.

November 16, 2009

Origin of a Dish: Green Bean Casserole

I want to stick my face in it.

The most recent issue of Martha Stewart's Food magazine contains an abomination: a recipe for Green Bean Casserole in which all of the components are made from scratch. Shallots are hand-breaded and pan-fried. Mushrooms are seasoned and sauteed in cream. Ridiculous!

My mom and I got into a heated debate over the legitimacy of this recipe. Mom thought it might be good; I conceded that it might. However, this recipe takes a dish that was designed to be extraordinarily simple and makes it incredibly complicated!

I say don't fix what ain't broke. Green Bean Casserole was created in the 1950s during an era of canned convenience food. It has survived as a traditional Thanksgiving side dish not only because of its simplicity, but because it happens to be delicious.

From the Campbell's Kitchen webpage:

"Deemed the 'mother of comfort food,' Dorcas Reilly led the team that created the Green Bean Casserole in 1955, while working as a staff member in the Home Economics department of the Campbell Soup Company.

...She says the inspiration for the Green Bean Casserole was to create a quick and easy recipe around two things most Americans always had on hand in the 1950s: green beans and Campbell's Cream of Mushroom Soup. Like all great recipes, the casserole requires minimal number of ingredients (just five), doesn't take much time, and can be customized to fit a wide range of tastes.

In 2002, Mrs. Reilly appeared at the National Inventor's Hall of Fame to donate the original copy of the recipe to the museum. The now-yellowed 8 x 11 recipe card takes its place alongside Enrico Fermi's invention of the first controlled nuclear reactor and Thomas Alva Edison's two greatest hits: the light bulb and the phonograph."

(Editor's Note: I can find no evidence that this recipe card is actually in the Inventors Hall of Fame.)

This Thanksgiving, reenact a tiny bit of American history, and make the classic Campbell's Green Bean Casserole.

Classic Green Bean Casserole
from Campbell's Kitchen

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon soy sauce
Dash ground black pepper
4 cups cooked cut green beans
1 1/3 cups French's® French Fried Onions

1. Stir the soup, milk, soy sauce, black pepper, beans and
2/3 cuponions in a 1 1/2-quart casserole.

2. Bake at 350°F. for 25 minutes or until the bean mixture is hot and bubbling. Stir the bean mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining onions.

3. Bake for 5 minutes or until the onions are golden brown.

November 13, 2009

Events: A Revolutionary Thanksgiving at Old Stone House

I've often said that any object your heart desires can be found within the boundaries of New York City; however, that comes with a short list of items that are extraordinarily hard to track down in the city limits. At the top of that list is a working hearth. So you can imagine my amazement when, about a month ago, the executive director of Old Stone House in Park Slope dropped me an email to let me know that the museum owned an outdoor, working hearth.

Naturally, my first impulse was to cook an entire Thanksgiving dinner. Which is utter insanity, considering that my hearth cooking experience up until this point has been fairly limited. But I was excited by the challenge: our foremothers did it, therefore there's no reason I should be incapable of doing it too.

This Sunday, November 22nd I am going to be cooking up a storm at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn. I've got a traditional, Revolutionary Menu in the works. There is a chance that everything will come out burnt on the outside, and raw in the middle. But either way, you're invited to join me in my culinary adventure! The event is free and open to the public; I'll be serving tasting portions of hot-off-the-hearth food from 12-3pm.

I want to mention that the fine folks at D'Artagnan are donating some of their exemplary meats for the occasion.

The official press release is below. I hope to see you there!


The Historic Gastronomist demonstrates:

An 18th Century Thanksgiving
Join Sarah Lohman at the Old Stone House Hearth
Sunday, November 22, 2009
Limited tastings will be available.

Preparations will include:

Turkey with Gravy
Stewed Squab
Venison Roast

Sourdough Bread

Squash Pudding
Onions in Cream

Seasonal Vegetable

Plum Pudding
Apple Tarts
Pumpkin Pie
336 Third Street, bet. 4th/5th Avenues
Brooklyn, NY 11215

November 12, 2009

Events: Brooklyn Beefsteak Wrap-up!

"The Unbridled Enthusiasm of Sarah Lohman." Photo by Doan Buu.

I know this post is belated, but I must to take the time to say something about the amazing event I attended in Gowanus last weekend, the Brooklyn Beefsteak.

The mood at the event was nothing less than euphoric: a room full of hungry carnivores, subdued by the ever-flowing pints of McSorely's, and finally satiated by course after course of beef. And oh, the beef! We started with tiny hamburgers, then slices of tenderloin, then there was pot roast, and some sort of BBQ Beef. Too many beefs for me to count or remember, and each one masterfully prepared.

My favorite course was the strips of tenderloin, grilled over charcoal and drizzled with butter. It's the most traditional preparation of beef at a beefsteak, and arguable the best.

And now I know a thing or two about the history of the beefsteak, thanks to the two lectures at the event: one on the tradition of the beefsteak in New York (a manly 19th century gathering) and one on the survival of the beefsteak in the VFW halls of northern New Jersey. Both talks were entertaining; however, I don't envy the speakers for trying to give a history lesson to a room full of drunks. We were an enthusiastic crowd, to say the least.

You can see a bajillion photos from the event here. And if you would like to learn more about the tradition of the beefsteak, I encourage you to read the classic New Yorker article All You Can Hold for Five Bucks. It was published in 1939 and survives as the source of most of our contemporary beefsteak knowledge. Don't be dismayed by the first two paragraphs, were he talks about how terrible women are. It gets better after that.

November 10, 2009

The Historic Gastronomist: Giving Recipes an Afterlife

Liza di Guia, a local food journalist, recently shot a short documentary about my work--and here it is! This is my first experience with being on camera, so I am simultaneously horrified and delighted.

And if you like what you see here, come see more in person at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn! On Sunday, November 22nd, from 12-3, I'm going to be cooking an entire Thanksgiving dinner over the hearth. Stop by to tour the museum, chat, and get some free tastes of what's cooking. More information the meantime, please enjoy the video!

The Historic Gastronomist: Giving Recipes an Afterlife from SkeeterNYC on Vimeo.

Welcome to food. curated.

Meet Sarah Lohman. She's not a professional cook, nor a historian, yet what she is passionate about involves both cooking and history.

Sarah is a rare breed of hobbyist. A "historic gastronomist". She rediscovers and recreates American recipes that went out of style hundreds of years ago. For her, it is the closest thing to time travel...reawakening her senses and opening doors to old flavors and ideas that had once been pop culture.

And it's a hobby not without purpose. She uses these discoveries to introduce new ingredients and techniques into her cooking today. A trend, she says, that is catching on with chefs all over New York City.

food. curated. spent an afternoon with Sarah in her "kitchen lab" and at Brooklyn's Old Stonehouse to see what a typical day of recipe testing is like...

Read more about Sarah and her projects in her blog

Thanks for watching

Shot & Edited by Storyteller: Liza de Guia

Follow my food obsessions on Twitter: SkeeterNYC

November 9, 2009

History Dish Mondays: Huguenot Torte

You are gonna love this torte.

I first heard about the Huguenot Torte when paging through my most recent issue of
Cuisine at Home. The photos promised a luscious-looking apple and pecan treat, that "...Hails from the Ozarks, but was popularized in South Carolina by French Protestant immigrants known as the Huguenots." An apple dessert that also has a historical provenance? Excellent.

Then I came across the same recipe in the pages of
The First Ladies Cookbook, who listed it as one of Martin van Buren's favorite dishes. "Well, if MVB likes it," I thought, "It has to be good!"

As it turns out, this dish had little to do with the Huguenots, and nothing at all to do with our eigth president.

While researching a little further into the history of the Huguenot Torte, I can across this article in the New York Times. The article is part of a larger feature called Recipe Redux, wherein the author revisits recipes that were printed in the Times in years past. Huguenot Torte first appeared in the paper in 1965: "The Times’s recipe came from “The First Ladies Cook Book,” where it is featured in the chapter on Martin Van Buren — a historical impossibility because the dessert was created nearly 100 years after his term."

According to culinary historian John Martin Taylor:
"...The torte descends from a more recent Midwestern dessert called Ozark pudding. Huguenot torte, Taylor said, first showed up in print in 1950 in “Charleston Receipts,” a successful community cookbook in which the torte recipe was attributed to Evelyn Anderson Florance (then Mrs. Cornelius Huguenin). In the 1980s, Taylor tracked her down in a nursing home and discovered that she had eaten Ozark pudding on a trip to Galveston, Tex., in the ’30s. After fiddling with the recipe, she renamed it Huguenot torte after Huguenot Tavern, a Charleston restaurant where she made desserts. The tavern became known for the torte."

I don't hold the untruths that have been propagated about the Torte against it, because in actuality, this torte is one of the most amazing desserts I've ever had. It takes advantage of the fall apple harvest and is incredibly simple to put together. It has very little flour and a lot of eggs and sugar, which results in the most fascinating texture combination after it is baked: the top is the crustiest, crispiest meringue, while the inside is gooey, buttery caramel.

This dessert is astounding and due for a revival; in fact, I bet Martin van Buren would have loved it, had he been alive when it was created.

Huguenot Torte (1930s)

Ingredients taken from
The First Ladies' Cookbook (1965)
Directions inspired by
Cuisine at Home magazine (2009)

2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup peeled and chopped tart cooking apples
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, mixed with
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon almond extract.

1. Preheat over to 325 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish; or line it with parchment paper.

2. Beats eggs and vanilla at high speed. Add the sugar a little at a time, until the eggs are light and creamy, about five minutes.

3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix into egg mixture until just combined.

4. Fold in apple and pecans.

5. Pour into baking dish. Baked torte 35-45 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Cool five minutes and serve warm, cut into squares. Don't get stressed out when the Torte crumbles as it is dished out; that's it's nature. A dollop of lightly sweetened, almond flavored whipped cream is an excellent compliment. This Torte tastes even better the next day, after being warmed a few minutes in the oven.

November 5, 2009

Menus: Roast Bear for Charles Dickens

I recently spent some time rifling through the New York Public Library's extensive menu collection, and I came across this gem from 1842:

Some of the dishes served included: Larded Sweet Breads and Larded Fillet Beef; Plum Puddings, blazing; and, my favorite, Roast Bear. I think the hosts tried to American things up for Charlie D: "Look at us! We're so wild in the States! We're eating a bear!" I hope Mr. Dickens had a good time.

I think this menu has planted the seed of an idea for a future dinner party.

November 2, 2009

Events: Brooklyn Beefsteak

I'm going to an exciting event this weekend: The Brooklyn Beefsteak, a revival of the 19th century tradition of an "all-you-can-eat-and-drink beef and beer feast." Would anyone like to come with?

GROUP TICKETS - SOLD OUT / $35 Advance Tickets / $50 Door

Ticket includes…
+ All-you-can-eat naturally raised aged beef
+ Ever flowing McSorley’s Light and Dark Ale
+ Your own McSorley’s pint glass
+ LIVE MUSIC by Susquehanna Industrial Tool & Die Co.
+ Presentations by Beefsteak scholars Paul Lukas ( Page 2 Columnist) and Bill Wander
+ Eating Contest, Raffles, and More!

All tickets are general admission - general seating.

We expect guests to bring the shenanigans. For more information or press inquiries please e-mail