Tag Archives: recipes

Recipes, now and then

Andrew Zimmern

The recipe, which came in a Twitter update from the chef and television personality Andrew Zimmern, was succinct, as the form requires: “Brown 8 thighs, 3 C shallots. Add wine, tarragon, Dijon, sim 30 min covered. Remove lid, reduce. Add 2 C cut cherry toms.”

There was no photograph attached, but he was clearly writing about chicken. An image of the dish was instantly in my mind: the burnished brown of the skin peeking out of a sauce the color of goldenrod, with flecks of green from the tarragon and bright red from the wilted tomatoes. Such is the power of a great recipe in whatever form. The dish seemed obviously cookable. Better yet, it was deeply appetizing. I made it for the family right away.”

Sam Sifton, New York Times Magazine Chicken with Shallots, Chef Style March 19, 2014.

Sam Shifton also wrote a book on Thanksgiving

Sam Sifton also wrote a book on Thanksgiving, a great primer for the day’s cooking

Sifton goes on to say how he knows it’s chicken and how he cooks it and cooks it again, and that the twitter has the essence of the recipe.

Chicken, shallots,






and cherry tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes


The photo to the NY Times

The photo to the NY Times article

Now, if Sifton didn’t know from chicken or tarragon or cherry tomatoes….this might not have been the image he  would have conjured up. But since he had an image and an impression of the dish, he knew how to cook it. So much of cooking is memory.

So much the same for cooks of the past. Just a few words could conjure up an image, and then they’d know what to do, if they even want to do this at all.

In the 17th century they didn’t have Twitter, but some of their recipes  are succinct enough for the form.  And the spelling is totally creative.

Parboyl them with beaten Parsley and Butter in their Bellies, then put them into your Boyler with strong Broth, add a blade of Mace, and some gross pepper, with half a pint of white-wine, grate a little bread into the broth to whitten the Fowl; and so serve them up with the Gravy and a dissolved Anchovy, Garnish’d with Parsly and Violets, or their leaves.

The Whole Duty of a Woman: Or a Guide to the Female Sex, 1696

This is a recipe for………

Pigeons or any small Fowl to Boyl.

It would work equally well with chicken.  Not too far from the the first recipe either – bird, wine, herb.

Violets are edible, as are their heart shaped leaves

Violets are edible, as are their heart shaped leaves

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Filed under Eating, Perception ways, Thanksgiving

A Throwback Thursday

…. to when they bain’t be so different after all.

And to find out that recipe/receipt/rule question of what to call the  instructions that one receives to cook was a question and source of some confusion with ordinary cooks long before historic cooks got into the business.

WABAC machine

WABAC machine =- and Sherman and Peabody, too

WABAC machine =- and Sherman and Peabody, too

Take me back…to 1942 and Mrs Appleyard’s Kitchen….

This is a book that was given to me not once, but twice, in two different decades by two very different people. Both of them thought I’d enjoyed it – and they were both right!

Both times the book itself was a yard sale/flea market find. One copy from 1942, the other a reprint edition from the 1950’s.

Mrs Appleyards Kitchen

Mrs Appleyard is very much no-nonsense, with a very good palate and a strong sense of right and wrong, especially when it comes to what is being set out on her table.

But I’ll let her speak for herself

Mrs. Appleyard’s Kitchen. Louise Andrews Kent. Houghton Mifflin Company – The Riverside Press: Boston, 1942.

“ ‘This book will never replace real cookbooks – books like the Hesseltine and Dow Good Cooking, for instance. I don’t know how brides got along without that, because it has everything in it that anyone ever heard of cooking, and it’s practical. If I’d had it when I was a bride everything might have been different. I might never have made those choke-dogs, for instance…’ p. vii.

(If anyone knows what the chock-dog reference is, please leave a comment! Inquiring minds want to know)

Heseltine and Dow Good Cooking - they also wrote The Basic Cook Book that had at least 5 editions and was still being reprinted into the 1960's

  Majorie Heseltine and Ula M. Dow Good Cooking – they also wrote The Basic Cook Book that had at least 5 editions and was still being reprinted into the 1960’s

“ ‘…I still think there’s room for the smaller, more personal book, for the kind that is based on one person’s experience, rather than the encyclopaedia of cooking that has all the wisdom of the ages in it. The smaller ones are fun to read, too, even if you never cook out of them.’

‘Is your book for wartime?’ asked the Editor.

‘Nor specifically,’ said Mrs. Appleyard, ’but I think it might be helpful. Its point of view is that you eat things when they are at their best rather than dragging them all over the country when they are out of season. And that you have a few things and take pains in making them, rather than many and give them only part of your attention. p.viii.

(In season? Local? Isn’t it funy how this isn’t quaint right now?? )

‘In our family we say “receipts”, said Mrs. Appleyard, ‘and I’ll tell you why. It’s a question of Latin. “Recipe” is the imperative form of the verb – what I’d say to you if I wanted to tell you how to make cornstarch pudding, for instance, or cough syrup, or any other unlikely substance. “Take – recipe,” I’d say, “two tablespoons of cornstarch and throw it into the sink.” Those directions would be the receipt – the instructions that you received from me, because the word is derived from the past participle – is that clear?’

‘As clear as imitation Hollandaise sauce,’ murmured the Editor.

‘I’m glad’, said Mrs. Appleyard,’because I just made it up. Of course when we don’t want to embarrass anyone we just call them “rules” ’, she continued. ‘Yes, a good many of them are family receipts and others came from friends, and some are things we worked out ourselves.” p. ix.

Louise Kent

Louise Andrews Kent

We’ll be spending more time with Mrs Appleyard.

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Filed under Perception ways, Recipe