Monday, November 30, 2009

21 Club Style Turkey Hash

Pictures from 21 Club website

The 21 Club in NYC was opened in 1929 by cousins Jack Kreindler and Charlie Berns. Although raided many times, an ingenious liquor chute (there’s a cool video called "Rumrunners, Moonshiners and Bootleggers"showing how this worked on the website) and a magically hidden wine cellar made sure the place was never caught dispensing illegal beverages.

When I was first in NY, a friend was dating an insurance company exec who invited me along to his lunch joint, the 21 Club. I was impressed. The bar room ceiling was (and is) covered in toys… but they were power toys.

Men from Standard Oil sat beneath their company oil truck, a Pan Am exec sat beneath an airplane with the Pan Am logo. At some time or another each toy was related to or donated by a powerful patron.

A visit to the hidden wine cellar (it now serves as a private dining room) brought a view of many ancient treasures including a human-size bottle of Goldwasser that was full of a bucket of real gold leaf.

The cellar, in its time, had stored private bottles for everyone from Ernest Hemingway to JFK to Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe.

Times have changed but this is still a port for the rich and powerful to eat $30 hamburgers and $36 chicken hash, elbow-to-elbow with their peers.

It’s because of that hash that I share the story with you today. It’s really, really good! I used the new 21 Club recipe because I liked the cheese but the old version is fabulous too. I have taken to using it as a wonderful finale for turkey leftovers with some minor changes. It does take a lot of sherry…but the results are divine. Here's the original recipe:

Original 21 Club Chicken Hash (from Molly O'Neill)

Bechamel Sauce

2 c milk
2 T butter
2 T flour
1/4 t white pepper
salt to taste
dash of tabasco
dash of Worcestershire


½ c light cream
¼ c dry sherry
2 c diced cooked chicken breast
2 egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 300º
Make the became sauce by scalding the milk, then melt the butter and adding the flour, cooking for a moment. Then add the milk slowly, stirring all the while. Cook about 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring often. Add the tabasco and Worcestershire. Cover and place in oven for 1½ hours till thick and fluffy.

Strain. You should have 1 cup.

Whisk the sauce with cream and heat. At low heat, add the chicken and sherry and warm about 5 minutes. Add the egg yolks. Be careful not to heat too high for the yolks will curdle. Serve with wild rice and spinach.

Turkey Hash 21 (based on modern 21 Club recipe)

1 ½ lbs turkey (breast or combination)
3 c turkey gravy (if you don’t have that much left, use additional turkey stock with 3 T flour and 3 T butter for each cup of liquid. Heat that up in the saucepan, add the stock gradually to thicken.)
¼ c dry sherry
¼ c heavy cream
1 ½ lb grated gruyere
½ t nutmeg

Add the sherry and cream to the gravy/thickened stock and warm them. Adjust seasoning and whisk in cheese and nutmeg. Remove from heat when the cheese is melted. Fold in the turkey.

It’s best to add additional cheese to the top and run under the broiler, but not necessary.

This is traditionally served with wild rice and sautéed spinach. You can use up more of your leftovers by serving it on dressing.

While you are making this wonderful hash, may i recommend another gem from 21 Club?

Pomegranate Cider

4 cups pomegranate juice
4 cups apple cider
Zest of 1 orange
6 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
3 cloves
1 cup rum (optional)

Warm all except the rum for 10 minutes. Add the rum if desired and serve.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Aviatrix, Creme de Violette!

Palerme by Baccarat

I saw the drink “The Aviation” in a Michael Ruhlman blog awhile back.
Although I don’t countenance gin (my mother let me sip a martini when I was 7 and scarred me for life, blek--gin!), I was captivated by Crème de Violette.

Does it get any more romance-novel-L’heure-Bleue than Crème de Violette (ok, there’s that crazy teen box-office smash Twilight, but this is for grown-up girls)? IT IS REALLY VIOLET, Art Nouveau violet.
Made from the distilled essence of violets:
The provenance of the cocktail is fabulous. It was created by Hugo Ensslin at the Hotel Wallick in NYC, Ensslin published a recipe in 1916 in his book, Recipes for Mixed Drinks

1/3 Volume Lemon Juice
2/3 Volume El Bart Gin
2 dashes Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Crème de Violette
Shake well in a mixing glass with cracked ice, strain and serve.

Ruhlman’s version was a little less tart:
2 oz. gin 

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. Luxardo Maraschino Liquer 

1/4 oz. Crème de Violette

As I mentioned, I don’t like gin, so, I created a new, very homage-to-Amelia-Earhart drink:

1 T Crème de Violette
1/2 Cup Champagne or Prosecco (good quality please, no $5 bottles for this)
Lemon twisted over the glass
splash maraschino (optional)
splash of gin (optional)
You can add a splash of the Maraschino liquor (I wrote about that HERE) but I found it too much. Some like the gin as an  edge for the sweetness... your call.You can squeeze lemon peel into the drink, or run it around the rim, or wrap it cunningly around a vintage sterling cocktail stick like this:
However you manage it, pull out a great champagne glass, light a fire or candles and let the light dance in the lavender bubbles. The result is magical. But beware, for all it's lavender allure it packs a wallop!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks on Thanksgiving, NYT!

I would like to offer thanks, this Thanksgiving, to the “Gray Lady”, the venerable 150 year old New York Times, for all the wonderful information she keeps at my fingertips. Bless her for that. Thanks to her archives, I can learn about Thanksgiving history, I can find out, for instance, that in 1895, turkeys were going high at 16-20¢ a pound, apples $2.50 a barrel, cranberries were $10-$10.50 a barrel and celery was a princely 30¢ a bunch. I can learn what was popular on this holiday in NY 100 years ago, thanks to the menu they published:

I can learn that yesterday may not be so different from today with holiday cooks following the suggestions of celebrity chefs. The Thanksgiving menu of a famous chef was published on that November 1895 day:

Or, thanks to the wonders of technology and a marvelous NYT's music feature, I can hear recordings, that were made 100 years ago and discovered in a vault in the Paris Opera in a time capsule that was opened this year and that are perfect listening for a retro holiday celebration... Treasures From the Paris Opera Vaults !

Because the 1890’s are hot again, as we see in another article about fashion this month in the NYT, and complete with ravishing tintypes from the brilliant David Sokosh

The more we spin into the future, the more many of us are dipping our toes into the past. Honestly, can the 19th Century look any better with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law Holmes-&-Watsoning in high budget glory in Sherlock Holmes this Christmas? It looks amazing, all that gorgeous set dressing!

Clothing and entertaining are moving back in time to be the next big thing!

(Thanks to Sarah @ 4poundsFlour for the picture and the post about it!)

With his finger on new trends, this year Zagat hosted amazing vintner’s dinners at some of the greatest restaurants in NY. The theme was 19th century food and style (doesn't it make you want to run to Replacements for some old Minton?).

So I say, thanks, NYT on this Thanksgiving for your archives, for making the old new again, for making my mornings brighter. Long may you print!

PS And thanks for all my new blog friends/readers. It's great hearing from you!

Monday, November 23, 2009


Have you read Susan Orlean's "The Orchid Thief"? How she made me love those orchid hunter's addictions to "mystery, beauty, unknowability". I found myself circling her words nodding yes, yes, yes, all Molly Bloomy when I read, "The world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it… the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility. 

Haven't you always wanted to be one of that novel race of beings who "didn't feel part of this modern world and this moment in time -- the world of petty aggravations and obligations and boundaries, a time of bored cynicism -- because how they live and what they lived for was so optimistic. They sincerely loved something… lived for a myth about themselves and the idea about adventure, were convinced that certain things were really worth dying for, believed that they could make their lives whatever they dreamed." Vivat, vivat orchid hunters and passionate souls everywhere!

I say the quest instinct, unquenchable curiosity and hunger for adventure and discovery –– hunger to know and understand, hunger for mystery and magic and hunger to obtain (or prepare) the rare and unobtainable is wired in to us. Whenever I go to a great greenmarket I see endless possibilities before me, don't you? As I blog I read and learn and expand my realm of possibilities and tastes. I escape the mundane "now" and taste history. From my stove I can taste the world, past and present. It's really a wonderful journey.

My first hunt for elusive edible treasure came long before search engines. I was looking for grains of paradise. For the uninitiated, grains of paradise, or aframomum melegueta, come from the seed pod of a lavender-blushing-white flowered relative of the ginger family. Grains of paradise made their way into Europe during the spice craze of the Middle Ages. It was called the poor man's pepper then -- although not as hot as black pepper and possessing a dusky, perfumed after-taste –– they are intoxicating.

Discovering they were from West Africa, I called their embassy. Fifteen people down the line and a fortune in local minutes later, I found out that there just happened to be a freighter from that coast sitting at the NY docks with a shipment of the stuff destined for an African neighborhood in Brooklyn. One more phone-call, and a few weeks of custom's wrangling later, and I had my grains of paradise.

How times have changed! I just found a grains of paradise/cubeb pepper grinder in the spice section of Whole Foods in NYC! Now it's easy to get many of the formerly impossible-to-find ingredients for historic recipes. WARNING! One of the sneaky problems with transcriptions of really old recipes that were made in the mid to late 20th century is that they skip the hard to find and substitute without telling you –– beware those recipes if you treasure authenticity.

To memorialize my search for grains of paradise so long ago –– I thought a good holiday recipe for Hippocras, the ancient spiced wine, would do the trick.

To research my Hipprocras I went to The Forme of Cury which was compiled from Richard II's master cooks in 1390.

I was guided there by an old Lorna Sass book I'd gotten from the Met when I was a kid. Here are Ypocrasse instructions from the 18th c Samuel Pegge copy of the vellum manuscript:

Further research led me back to a favorite website run by a genius named Ivan Day in England at Historic Food (let me also mention his amazing book: Cooking in Europe, 1650-1850)

From his wonderful site I discovered many remarkable facts about hippocras or ypcras (too many to mention –– go to his website for a full tutorial!) in which he related:

One of the rarest spices used in the production of hippocras was
carpobalsamum, the aromatic flower buds of the Balsam of Judea
Tree. In the eighteenth century a grove of the trees grew in the
gardens belonging to the Sultan of Cairo.They were guarded
night and day by armed janissaries to protect both the valuable
balsam and the flowerbuds from thieves.
Musk seeds, another
Egyptian spice, were also used to scent hippocras, though the most
popular perfuming ingredients for the beverage were the animal
products musk and ambergris. Scented hippocras was served
with the bridecakes at Tudor weddings.

Mr. Day kindly included a recipe for using carpobalsam from "The
Art and Mystery of Vintners and Wine Coopers (London 1698):

Cinnamon 3 ounces, Carpobalsamum 2 ounces, Cardamum and Cubebs,
Gallingal half an ounce, Gingiberis one ounce, Grana Paradisi 3

Basically, hippocras is a spiced wine that was usually augmented
with cinnamon, cardamom, grains of paradise and long pepper.

The recipe from the
Forme of Cury advises:

Pur fait Ypocras.
Treys Unces de canell. Et iii unces de gyngener.
spykenard de Spayn le pays dun deneres. garyngale.
clowes, gylofre. poivr long, noiez mugadez.
maziozame cardemonij de chescun i.qrt douce
grayne & de paradys flour de queynel de
chescun dimid unce de toutes. soit fait
and serve it forth

This is more or less translated to:
3 ounces of cinnamon
3 ounces of ginger.
a penny's worth (or a penny's size piece or 1.275 grams?)
of spikenard (I used 2 oz of the wrong thing the first time I made it–– I used 

a root from the US –– true spikenard is green and musky smelling and tasting, 
you don't need much!)
1/4 of an ounce each of galingale, cloves, long pepper,
nutmeg, marjoram and cardamom
1 ounce of grains of paradise and of cassia buds
Make powders of all and serve it forth.

All recipes during this time are loosely written, and this
one more than most. Honestly, no matter how hard you try,
translations for this manuscript are really dodgy. The
passage in the book is written in an odd English/French mix
that isn't really anywhere else in the manuscript. Many
translations didn't bother with telling you there was marjoram
in the mix and stuck with the spices. The amount of spikenard
is really confusing. It could be an amount (denier is 1.275 grams
which is really tiny) or the size of a coin, or the cost of the
spice. Almost all the translations said that flour de queynel
was powdered cinnamon, which made no sense since the recipe
had asked for cinnamon at the beginning and requested that
you powder everything at the end. It took a lot to find it
was cassia berries, which taste like old red-hot candies...a bright
cinnamon flavor. A little more of one spice or less of another
will not be in-authentic. The strongest tastes of the hippocras
are cinnamon and ginger then spikenard.

That said, this amount of spice mixture was probably used for
a gallon of red wine. One recipe recommended hanging each
spice in a separate bag, soaking them in wine in

separate basins and then squeezing them in a larger basin
to your taste (more cinnamon, squeeze harder on bag 1!).
More simply, the spices can be put altogether in a cheese
cloth bag or thrown into the wine and strained out later.

Cubeb and grains of paradise on the cinnamon stick


3 ounces of cinnamon
3 ounces of ginger.
a penny's worth (or a penny's size piece or 1.275 grams?)
of spikenard -– try a tablespoon and taste up to 1/4 c)
1/4 of an ounce each of galingale, cloves, long pepper,
nutmeg, marjoram and cardamom
1 ounce of grains of paradise and of cassia buds
Make powders of all and serve it forth.
1 gallon Red wine
1 to 1 1/2 c sugar or 1 c honey-ish c honey, to taste

For a gallon of red wine add a cup to a cup and a half of sugar
for 'lords' or honey for 'comyn pepull' (sugar was more expensive
at the time). 

Warm the wine and add the sugar or honey and crush the
spices and add them to the sweetened wine. Allow to warm, covered, on the 

lowest flame you can manage for an hour or so (it could be done in a jar set 
in the sun as one recipe recommended!) although some recipes ask for real
cooking, I think a gentle warming gives the best effect. 

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Place in a clean jar and cover.
It is bitter at first, after 48 hours all the bitterness is gone.
Store for a month to get the most flavor from the spices, even
though I may say some of the bitterness returns, (although some
recipes asked for only that 48 hours of storage). 

Best suggestion is taste every few days or so to see what you think. At this 
point remove the spices by straining or remove the bag. In the old
days it was done with a Hippocras sleeve which was a kind
of jelly bag.

From Coquinaria

May I say that the more esoteric spices can be purchased from:
Mountain Rose Herbs, My spice sage,  Kalyx for  true Spikenard

Spikenard   nardostachys jatamansi  NOT  aralia racemosa

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Pumpion Pye in the 17th Century

I can’t be the only person who is haunted by a recipe.

I saw this little beauty a few years ago. It was in a November 27, 1895 NYT's article that included 'modern' Thanksgiving menus as well as fashions of times past. It was said of this pie that it "puts the modern pumpkin pie to blush for the simplicity of its construction. It gives evidence that the early American Thanksgiving day did not pass without some culinary pomp and display". How could I not want to make this pumpion pye? Before that could happen, a little translating was in order. I knew vergis was probably verjuice and remembered that caudle was a restorative egg noggy drink. I looked up the obscure froiz but had no luck. I was stuck on froiz which was a fairly elemental part of the recipe. No pumpion pye for me.
Luckily times have changed. This year I found the source thanks to an inspired online library system, Project Gutenberg. After about 5 Google searches i found that the original came from the 1656 The Complete Cook, published by Nathaniel Brook, authored by W.M., but there was a nearly identical recipe a few years later in Robert May’s 5th edition (although it was first published in 1665) 1685 The Accomplisht Cook:

Now, there's a discrepancy.  The oldest version says ½ pound of pumpion with no egg, Robert May's version says 1 pound with 10 eggs -- a very different animal altogether.  I chose to try the egg version for my first go at it.

 I also substituted my own pie crust when I read this in May’s book, assuming it would be tough:
To make a Paste for a Pie.
Take to a gallon of flour a pound of butter, boil it in fair water, and make the paste up quick
During the English Renaissance, much food was prepared in pastry 'coffins' (a Charles Addams image if ever there was one), created to contain the interior ingredients during the cooking process with a casket-like sureness. The crust had to have a ceramic durability. This was not going to be the tender flaky stuff that we spoiled moderns have come to expect. I chose to try the paste another day... perhaps with a nice 16th century 'chickin pye'

Although this recipe seems alien and is quite a departure from our modern pumpkin pies with creamy, custardy fillings, the layers of the dish are not unlike, say, eggplant lasagna where you must cook the eggplant first in an egg dip and fry before layering it with sauce and pasta. According to Mr. Johnson's 1825 dictionary, "froise" comes from the French "froisser, as the pancake is crisped or crimpled in frying. The froiz is like a omelette/pancake with sliced up pumpkin and wonderful spices and herbs - or it is spiced, sliced pumpkin - crisped around the edges. The layers of apple and currants and the froiz sounded bizarre but were quite good in the end. I made a little lid, inspired by some of the engravings in May’s book so it would be easy to pour in the caudle (wine or liquor and eggs made into a drink) after baking was done. I was pleased to have some verjuyce on hand(not the crabapple juice that the English may have used but a wonderful Madeleine Kamman recipe with honey and cider vinegar and Armagnac.)

I revisited this recipe this Thanksgiving with excellent results.  After many years of wrestling with old recipes, I realized that I hadn't given my interpretation of the old recipe as I came to do during the course of Lost Past Remembered and left readers to their own devices without much encouragement.  It is daunting to take this kind of thing on with the only measurement being the amount of pumpkin (which doubled in the years after the first was written).
Here's what I did - with measurements.  I tried something different than my first attempt because this time  I was struck by the phrase "mix and beat them all together".  The first recipe doesn't mention eggs blended with the pumpkin, the second says 10 eggs to 1 pound of pumpkin.  Both of these made me think the pumpkin is cooked through either before it gets blended with the eggs or before it gets pounded with the sugar and spices and herbs.  I thought I would cook the pumpkin slices in butter (it might have been previously baked before -- old recipes notoriously neglect important instructions -- I also didn't want to cook the egg to death).   I then mashed the pumpkin to a still chunky state, mixed all the rest of the ingredients together,  and slowly added the egg mixture to the mashed pumpkin.  I gently cooked and cooled it -- I thought this was delicious - the herbs are spectacular in the pie.  I also sautéed the apples till slightly softened but also had uncooked slices at the very top.   I think it would work equally well to try it the first way -- and just have spiced fried slices of pumpkin... the caudle would be the only egg in the pie.

Pompion Pye

1 recipe for pie crust (I used 1 1/4 c flour, 1 stick butter 2 T lard and 1/4 c water)
7 oz of pumpkin, sliced thinly
2 T butter
1 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T chopped fresh  thyme
1 T chopped fresh marjoram
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/8 t ground cloves
1 t pepper
1/4 - 1/3 c sugar
1 T molasses
5 eggs, beaten (skip this if doing version 1)
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 apples sliced thin
1 T butter
1/3 c currants

2 T butter for putting on top of the pie before closing


2 egg yolks
2 T sherry, 1 T madeira with a splash of verjuice if you have it or a splash of sherry vinegar. 

Sauté the pumpkin in 2T butter till tender.  Let it cool and mash it.  Blend the herbs and spices with the eggs.  Mash the pumpkin with the egg mixture, blending slowly.  Warm butter,  pour the pumpkin mixture into the pan and cook on  a low heat -- turning it over to cook until softly scrambled (OR toss plain sliced pumpkin with the sugar and spices and skip the 5 eggs).  Remove from heat and cool. Sauté 1 apple in the butter and cool. Slice 1/2 apple and leave uncooked
Heat the oven to 400º

Put the bottom crust in the pan (I used a 6" bottom - 8" top cast iron skillet - smaller than a regular pie pan).  Lay the pumpkin mixture over the crust.  Sprinkle with currants and cover with cooked apples and finish with the raw apple slices -- dot with 2 T butter.  Put the top on the pie in such a way it can be removed to add the caudle.

Bake till crust is golden -- about 30 minutes - turn off the oven.  Take the pie out,  remove the top crust and pour the caudle in the pie (perhaps double the caudle recipe if doing version #1).  Put the pie back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Thanks to Tastespotting for publishing my pumpion pie post!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

English Muffins, old style!

 The English muffin had humble beginnings. Muffins were originally only made for the servant class from leftover bread dough scraps and mashed potatoes that were combined and fried into light, crisp crusted muffins full of nooks and crannies meant to drink up melted butter. These delicious muffins quickly made their way into upstairs society. The Oxford Companion to Food says the word muffin is a term connected with moufflet, an old French word applied to bread, meaning soft. The word muffin first appeared in print in the early 18th century, and recipes began to be published in the middle of the 18th century.

In Hannah Glasse’s 1747 book, The Art of Cookery Made Plain & Easy, she advises:
“And when you eat them, toast them with a Fork crisp on both Sides, then with your Hand pull them open, and they will be like a Honey-Comb; lay in as much Butter as you intend to use, then clap them together again, and set it by the Fire, when you think the Butter is melted turn them, that both Sides may be butter'd alike, but don't touch them with a Knife, either to spread or cut them open, if you do they will be as heavy as Lead, only when they are quite butter'd and done, you may cut them across with a Knife."

After toasting they were placed in a silver or porcelain muffin dish to keep them warm (the holes in the dish kept them from getting soggy) and served with afternoon tea with clotted cream and jam.

19th Century Limoges Muffin/Pancake/Biscuit server
19th Century Spode Tower 3 Piece Muffin Dish
1870 English Silverplate Muffin Dish

English muffins began in America in 1880, when Samuel Bath Thomas, newly arrived in New York City,opened a bakery shop selling his English muffins at 163 Ninth Avenue. Although Thomas died in 1922, the business prospered and remained in the family until 1970.

Here is a recipe for English muffins that is an adaptation of the most wonderful Bert Greene’s recipe that includes mashed potatoes as in days of old. Over the years I’ve made small changes but it is the best English muffin I’ve ever had and it makes amazing Eggs Benedict!

English Muffins

1 small potato (enough for 5 T, riced) or better still, 5 T leftover mashed potatoes with butter and milk
2 T. milk
1 package yeast
¼ t. sugar
1 t. salt
2 cups flour + ½ c. for kneading (either all white or 2 ¼ cup white and ¼ cup whole wheat)

Cook the potato, sliced into quarters in 2 cups of water. Remove, reserving water, and peel and rice the potatoes. Stir the generous 5 T. riced potato (press down on the potato as you measure) with the 2 T milk.

Take ¼ cup of the potato water and add yeast and sugar… taking care that it has cooled to lukewarm. Let it sit for 10 minutes.

Combine the potato, the yeast mixture, the flour and salt and blend with 3/4 cup of the reserved water. Use approximately ½ c of flour to knead the dough (sometimes you may have to use more or less flour depending on dryness). Knead for a minute or two. It will be a wet, loose dough.

Let this rise for 1 hour.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Use oiled English muffin rings or just place flattened balls on a cornmeal-covered baking sheet. Cover the muffins with another pan or oiled plastic wrap. Let this rise for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425º and cook the muffins for 12-15 minutes if not using rings, 15-20 minutes if you are using them. Turn the pan around in the oven midway through cooking time so the muffins cook evenly.