Nineteenth-Century Creole Snacks & Jennie Carter

The first public screening of a local historical short documentary was an occasion to serve Creole finger foods from a cookbook published in 1885.

Actress Katrina Thompson who portrays Jennie in the film read a book excerpt and spoke about the timeliness of the reappearance of Carters’work.

Jennie Carter was a free black woman who moved to Nevada County, California from New Orleans at the outbreak of the American Civil War.  Her essays, published in the book Jennie Carter: A Black Journalist of the Early West, edited by Eric Gardner, were the basis for a seventeen-minute video shown to Nevada County neighbors.

To add to the learning experience, recipes were chosen from a cookbook that originated in New Orleans, La Cuisine Creole. It was food Jennie Carter may have prepared or eaten. While some of the recipes (squirrel or pigeon pie, or suet pudding) were not ones we were willing to attempt, many sound delicious!

For this setting, we chose simple, finger fare and modified ingredients as necessary. (See notes below.)

pickled scallops

*Frozen scallops were substituted for oysters. Ground mace was used instead of ‘blades.’ Scallops were sliced thin and placed on slices of buttered baguette, topped with a very small amount of ground mace.

*To French’s mustard, salt, garlic granules, tarragon leaves, and white wine vinegar were added – to taste.

*A specialty squash from one of the neighborhood gardens was substituted for pumpkin. Stop cooking soon after a fork or knife is easily inserted. Let cool overnight. Eat at room temperature.

Resources:

Published in 1885. Click on the book cover for a PDF of the entire cookbook. Courtesy of Michigan State University | Feeding America: Historic American cookbook collection

Click here to watch the video and read related articles.

Additional Jennie Carter Articles

Jennie Carter’s Nevada County Setting 1860s, 2nd Marriage & Obituary
Jennie Carter’s Pre-Civil War, Civil War & Reconstruction-era 1846-1870
Jennie Carter Book Review
Jennie Carter – Filming Behind-the-Scenes & Creative Partners

Three-Meat Giant Meatball Soup

from above

STEP ONE: Make Meatballs

Three packs of ground meat

Turkey, beef, and Italian sausage were used in this batch, but it also works well with pork, elk & buffalo. (In the comments, send combinations you discover and love!)

Bread crumbs

I make mine from scratch. 

Cut bread in small squares, place flat on cooking in sheet in 200° oven till crisped to desired amount.  For his recipe, I used Kalamata Olive Sourdough bread.

Once you have tiny toast squares, blend them in the blender till they look like…bread crumbs.

Additional Items

Salt, pepper and any other spices you like.

½ bunch fresh Italian parsley, chopped

2-3 eggs

Mix ingredients to the consistency of meatloaf

Prepare Meatball Stuffing

Peel and chop fresh garlic cloves

garlic-3185163_640

and hunks of parmesan cheese

cheese-3058056_640

Roll ground meat mixture into palm-sized balls, pressing garlic cloves and cheese into the center, making sure they are completely covered.

Bake covered in a 350° oven for 50 minutes, uncover and bake for 10 more minutes.

 

STEP TWO: Cook pasta in chicken broth

Use any kind of pasta you have on hand.
Drain when cooked.

STEP THREE: Make Green Soup

Finely chop spinach, chard, and onions

Saute in olive oil till tender, add chicken broth to cover

 

*If a smooth soup is desired, let cool completely then blend in a blender.

Assemble Soup

Steam meatballs to reheat if you made them ahead.

assembled

Combine all. Enjoy!

 

This is one of those meals that tastes better after a day in the refrigerator.

Egg Poaches – Herb Broth & Mexican with Tomatillo and Epazote Sauce

Eggs Poached in Herb Broth

To a pan with a lid, add

between 1/4 – 1/2 cup of water per egg
add chicken, beef, or mushroom broth to taste
two shakes turmeric
4 shakes garlic powder
2 shakes onion powder
pinch of oregano
Bring to boil, reduce to simmer
add egg(s)
cover & cook for approx. 2 min or until the desired yolk hardness
Gently spatula-out eggs, placing them on top of toast
Pour remaining herb broth liquid over bread
Enjoy!

 

Mexican Poached Eggs with Tomatillo Sauce and Epazote

Bake Tortillas

1 – pkg. fresh white corn tortillas  
Use scissors to cut into fourths
Spread out in a single layer on cookie sheet, spray with cooking oil
Bake at 350 degrees until lightly brown
Green Sauce Part 1
Approx. 1 lb fresh tomatillos
Peel outer husks
2 serrano peppers, remove stems and seeds
1 clove garlic
Add all to a cooking pot, cover with water
Simmer for about 15 min.
Let cool. Drain.
Put tomatillos, pepper & garlic in a blender. Blend until smooth.
Sauce Part 2
To a deep skillet, add 1 tblsp. oil
Optional: add cooked shredded chicken
Add green sauce from Part 1 and 3 epazote leaves.

Add a pinch of salt
Cook over medium heat for 5 min.
Poach the Desired Number of Eggs

Plate
Spread a layer of toasted white corn chips on plate.
Cover with green sauce.
Top with poached eggs and Queso Cotija cheese.
Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Serve with a side of refried beans.

 

 

 

 

Extras:

 

Click here to see more flavor families of the world.

Perfectly Poached Micro Story (100 words)

poach – 1

pōCH/

verb

  1. cook (an egg), without its shell, in or over boiling water.
  2. “a breakfast of poached egg and grilled bacon”
    • cook by simmering in a small amount of liquid.
    • “poach the salmon in the white wine”

poach – 2

pōCH/

verb

  1. steal

______

If you liked Perfectly Poached, you might also enjoy, Water Element of Life, The Shape of Water Continued and PBJ on my short story blog, Redfern Writes.

Greek Style Shepherd’s Pie – Lactose & Wheat Free

Meat:

Ground meat – beef & pork
1 – 2 onions, chopped
Salt & pepper
Oregano, rosemary, cinnamon, garlic powder, dash of red wine vinegar, several dashes liquid aminos (soy sauce), and 2-3 tblsp. sugar.
1 can tomato sauce
1-2 cans tomato paste
Olive oil

Over medium heat, add several tablespoons of olive to a pan. Add onions & meat, saute until done. Add spices & tomato ingredients until flavored and thickened to your taste.

Veg:

Steam at least two bunches asparagus. Remove from heat as soon as it turns bright green.

*Better next time note: cut asparagus into 1 1/2 inch sections before beginning to layer your dish.

Boil 2  – 3 lbs. of potatoes till tender. (Peel before boiling, or squeeze skin off after they are cooked and cooled). Slice, lengthwise, 1/2 of the cooked potatoes.
For the other half, use 1/4 cup chicken broth and nutmilk to mash to the desired consistency.
Add salt, garlic powder and nutmeg to taste.

Zucchini:

Slice thin, lengthwise. No precooking required.
*Note: while baking the zucchini will create a liquid. This can be soaked up, like gravy, with the mashed potatoes while eating, OR potatoes can line the bottom of the pan in order to soak up the liquid.

Pan Layering:

Coat bottom of oven safe baking dish with olive oil. Add the juice of one fresh lemon and 2-3 drops of liquid smoke. Use a fork to mix and spread evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Add asparagus (or potatoes as noted above), then a layer of zucchini slices, meat mixture, another layer of potatoes, and zucchini slices. Top with mashed potatoes.

*Note: Dollop mashed potatoes across the surface, use moistened fingers to spread.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove covering for last 15 minutes.

 

Chimichurri Sauce

A spicy Argentinian parsley-based green sauce for …anything; soups, eggs, salad dressing, pasties, chicken, steak, or fish.

 

In a blender, add

1 1/2 cups olive oil
1/2  cup red wine vinegar
pinch or two red chili flakes
pinch or two of  salt
couple shakes of pepper
3 – 4 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 – 3/4 tsp. cumin powder
2 bunches fresh flat-leaf parsley – most of the stems trimmed
1 bunch fresh cilantro – most of the stems trimmed

Pulse on high or ‘ice chop; setting – more olive oil if needed – until just blended (rustic).

Taste and adjust spices as desired.

Other Variations:

red onions
fresh oregano
lime or lime juice
sherry or balsamic vinegar (instead of red wine vinegar)
basil

For a creamy version, add:

avocado
sour cream or
mayonnaise

Resources:

Skirt Steak, Chimichurri & Veggies | Feli & Jamie Oliver (herb brush seasoning)

Argentinian-Style Fresh Herb Salsa and Marinade

Creamy Chimichurri Dip

Traditional Chimichurri

One Step Tamale Pie – Casserole

Casserole comfort food.

1 pound ground meat (beef)|
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Saute in skillet until onions are clear and meat is thoroughly cooked.

2 – 8 oz cans seasoned tomato sauce
-12 oz can corn, drained skillet
1/2 cup pitted olives, sliced
Few dashes hot pepper sauce
2 – 2 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 teaspoons salt

Add above to skillet.

1 cup chicken broth
2 eggs slightly beaten
3/4 cup cornmeal

Blend in a bowl until smooth then add to skillet & cook for a few minutes.

Cook in a baking dish in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Add cheese, if desired, in the last ten minutes.

Lisa’s Adaptations:

Same way of prepping and cooking – slightly different ingredients

1 pound ground elk meat
1 chipotle pepper
1 – 12 bag frozen peas, corn & green beans, thawed
1 large onion, chopped
1 entire bulb of garlic, chopped
two pinches salt
6 shakes chili powder

Saute in skillet until onion and meat are cooked.

To pan, add

1 cup polenta
1 – 6 oz can green olives with juice ( I like them whole)
1 – 7 0z can Embasa Salsa Casera
1 – 6 oz can tomato paste
2 tblsp. oregano
1 tsp. Better than Boullion Chicken Base (water from olives adds more salt and dilutes chicken base)
3 eggs, slightly beaten

Mix thoroughly & cook for a few minutes.

Cook in a baking dish in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes.

Add 1 lb of shredded cheddar cheese, if desired, in the last ten minutes.

 

 

Windus Macaroni Casserole

grandma-windus-reciep

Lisa’s modified version of Windus Macaroni Casserole made with white rice angel hair pasta. *A short style pasta – on the bottom layer – is the optimal way to prepare this hearty one dish meal.

1 lb ground beef

1 whole onion – chopped

1 – bulb garlic – cloves peeled & chopped

3 tblsp. Italian herbs

2 –  16 oz cans chopped tomatoes (*drained or with liquid – see notes below)

4 – 6 cups cups macaroni (partially cooked) – enough to fill whatever sized baking dish you have

Pour macaroni into greased / sprayed casserole dish. Top with remaining ingredients and back uncovered at 350 degrees 30-45 minutes.

 

Lisa’s additions:

2 fresh zucchinis thinly sliced

one bunch of fresh, chopped parsley

juice from one lemon

pinch of salt

Notes: For the version that I prepared (photographed above), I used an entire 8.8 oz package of white rice angel hair pasta. (This is what I had on hand.)  It worked, but with the added zucchini, a short pasta would have been better to soak up the extra juice. Pasta on the bottom, as the recipe instructs, is the right way to go. short-pasta

*Include the juice from the chopped tomatoes or drain it depending on how much liquid you need to make this dish moist.

 

Upon receipt of the recipe, I noticed several things. There was only an ingredients list – no measurement amounts, and like the other family recipe collections that I’ve studied, casserole cooking used to be popular.  The lack of measurements told me that Virginia was a cook, like my Grandma, who could get the proportions right by ‘feel’ or eyeballing it. She had a lot of mouths to feed and casseroles were an economical way to satisfy it.

Casseroles in the US became popular after World War II, when the Campbell’s Soup Company distributed a booklet entitled Helps for the Hostess, published in 1916. Recipes from this book became staple meals in Baby Boomer homes. Click on this link to learn more about the history of condensed soup and its impact on American culture.

 

 

margaret-windus

 

This recipe is from the Adrian (Bud) Schmidt collection. (Betty Wrysinski’s younger brother.) It was passed down through the family from Margaret Windus, maternal grandmother to Mary Schmidt Schwaller. Margaret was a neighbor to Betty’s mother, Lillian Schmidt.

 

 

Gumbo

image by: Jmprouty, wikimediacommons

image by: Jmprouty, wikimediacommons

Okra as a thickener?  I must say it is a little ‘weird’ to observe the clear slime (mucilage) that interconnect slices of okra like spider webs when they are moved around in a saute pan. [It is also interesting to note that the viscosity of this substance increases with heat.]

No matter – the okra entertainment value is a ‘plus’ and it is delicious when combined with the other ingredients that make Gumbo!

 

Gumbo is a stew that originated in southern Louisiana during the 18th century. It consists primarily of a strongly-flavored stock, meat or shellfish, a thickener, and the vegetable holy trinity of celery, bell peppers, and onions. Gumbo is often categorized by the type of thickener used: the African vegetable okra, the Choctaw spice filé powder (dried and ground sassafras leaves), or roux, the French base made of flour and fat. The dish likely derived its name from either the Bantu word for okra (ki ngombo) or the Choctaw word for filé (kombo). – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Basic Gumbo Components:

Sauce:

6-8 cloves garlic – finely chopped
1 med. or lg. onion – chopped
meat | protein of choice chopped into bite sized pieces (my favorite is chicken thighs)
1/4 cup Dijon mustard (regular mustard also works fine)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Combine all and refrigerate for several hours to overnight.

In a large soup pot start with 2 tbslp. olive oil . Add 1 large package of frozen okra (thawed). Saute until brown. Add whatever other vegetables you wish to include.

In the version pictured at the far right, I used broccoli, turnips, carrots, onions and green beans. Cut these into bite sized pieces and saute with okra for about 10 minutes. gumbo

Spices:
1 tblsp. thyme
1 tblsp. oregano
1 tblsp. basil
2-3 bay leaves
salt to taste

*2 bunches of fresh cilantro – finely chopped – added right before serving

To soup pot, add 1 large can of diced tomatoes and 2 cups chicken stock –  set on low while you work on stage two.

Stage Two:

In a saucepan, saute sauce mixture from above until meat is cooked. Add this to the soup pot.

Stage Three: Additional thickener – roux

In a saute pan, melt 1/4 cup butter over low heat. Slowly, whisk in 1/4 cup flour until it is smooth and smells slightly nutty (about 3-4 minutes). Add to soup pot.

Simmer until Gumbo is the consistency of gravy.

Shrimp_gumbo

“Gumbo isn’t so much a recipe as it is a state of mind, complete with secret language and poetic license.” – Peggy Lampman, author of Simmer and Smoke and culinary food blogger. [click here to see Peggy’s Gumbo ya-ya reicpe]

 

Chicken with Rice – Pollo Con Arroz

chicken with rice

A recipe from ‘Life at Home in Mexico’ cookbook [1944].  It is one of those simple comfort foods that satisfies with every bite.

The recipe was incorporated into an encaustic (hot wax) art piece. (An interesting side note. When working with hot wax, one uses tools that heat it until it turns, temporarily, liquid.  While heating the wax with the dried onions in it, the onions gave off a smell like they were being cooked…which they were!)

 

1 frying chicken – cut up

1/2 cup oil

1 cup rice, uncooked

1/2 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup tomato puree

21/2 cups boiling water

Salt and Pepper

Cut chicken in pieces and fry in oil until a delicate brown. Remove from pan. rice1Add the unwashed, uncooked rice to the oil in the pan and fry until golden, stirring frequently. Add onion, garlic, tomato puree and boiling water.rice 2 Season with salt and pepper. Add the browned chicken, and let simmer covered,f or 30 minutes. Do not remove cover. It must steam thoroughly. Serves 6-8.

 

* Lisa’s note:  I added cumin seed (about a teaspoon per serving) at the end to jazz it up.
chicken and rice

 

Turkey – Brined & Self Basting – with Stuffing on the side

How do you know when something is done? When you can smell it…  This meal creates delightful aromas and flavors.

meal

Brine Mix:

Sea Salt
Dried herbs: juniper berries, rosemary, black peppercorns, cranberries, garlic, apples, thyme, rosemary, sage and orange peels.

In a heavy white garbage (compactor) bag combine 1/2 cup brine mix with 4 cups warm water.  Shake it around so that the salt dissolves.
Place bag inside of a 5 gallon bucket.brine mixture

brined

Remove packaging from turkey as well as giblets or packing in the body cavity. Rinse turkey with fresh water then pat dry.
Without poking holes, run your hands under the turkey skin on the breast and back to create skin pockets.
Use a fork or knife to pierce turkey meat in the breasts, thighs & legs.

Put turkey into basting bag inside of bucket. Fill bag with water until turkey is submerged. Place bucket in refrigerator several days prior to cooking.

Self Basting Herb Paste:

1  cup barely softened butter
4 strips bacon uncooked – chopped
1/2 onion – chopped
3 cloves garlic – chopped
1/2 bunch fresh parsley – chopped
Fresh sage – chopped (about 3 tblsp.)
1 preserved lemon – chopped (less if a less salty gravy is desired)

1 cup dry white wine

4-5 more strips of bacon

Use your hands to squeeze the mixture together till well mixed.

Gently place handfulls of the Self Basting Herb Paste into the skin pockets.

basting paste

Place turkey –  breast side down –  into baking pan.

Lay remaining strips of bacon on top of bird & cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Cook in 350 degree oven till done. (See package cooking instructions for how much time to cook based on weight.)

Check center of breast meat with meat thermometer. Once it’s reached 155 degrees it’s ready!

Adam prepares the 2013 Thanksgiving turkeys; a wild hunted bird and a store bought.

Adam prepares the 2013 Thanksgiving turkeys; a wild hunted bird and a store bought.

Strain out solids from turkey drippings. Place in pot on stove top. At medium heat, start adding sprinkles of Wondra Flour once bubbles start appearing at the edges.  Blend with hand-held whisk until desired thickness.

Stuffing:

Meyer Lemon Bread Crumbs – about 4 cups

1 bunch fresh cilantro – chopped
3 beaten eggs
1/2 onion  – copped
3 stalks celery – chopped
3 cloves garlic – chopped
chicken broth – enough to moisten bread crumbs
1 drop food-grade Oregano oil (stirred into broth)

Combine all ingredients, cover and bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes.

jaja with turkey