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.

Bacon – Flat, Crisp & Splatter-free

Spread bacon strips between layers of paper towels on a flat plate. (Don’t overlap.)

Microwave on high for 6.5minutes.

Check crispiness. If more is desired, cook at 2 minutes increments until it’s how you like it.

Hal Greene’s connection to the Wrysinski / Schmidt’s; Two of his sons married two of the sisters.


A byproduct of this cooking method is a heap of bacon fat-infused paper towels. Most composters agree animal fat should not go into the outdoor pile. Putting these paper towels in the garbage may attract dogs and urban adapted animals such as raccoon, coyote, and bear (in more remote areas). Since I’m always interested in alternatives other than entombing refuse in great twentieth-century pyramids, I encourage and welcome waste disposal recommendations in the comments section.

Sauce Series – Brown Sauces & Thickeners – 3 of 5

Meat based liquids with thickening agents. Start with simple pan sauces or gravy and extend it into soups and stews.

 

Basic Brown Sauce

2 tblsp. Butter

3 tbslp. Flour

1 cup beef stock

½ tsp salt

Pinch of pepper

 

Melt butter in pan. Stir in flour and cook until browned, stirring continuously.

Little by little, add beef stock. Stir until it boils and thickens, continue to cool three more minutes.

Add any desired seasonings.

 

Pan Gravy

Approximate the amount of flour needed to thicken the volume of meat drippings available. Place flour in a dressing / gravy shaker or whisk with cool water and shake or blend till smooth.

To meat drippings (fat) [from a turkey, chicken, bacon, or roast] in a deep pan over medium heat, slowly add flour and water mixture. Stir continuously. After the mixture has thickened, continue cooking for a few more minutes to make sure that the raw flour taste has been dispelled.

 

Peanut Sauce

¾ cup organic creamy peanut butter

¼ cup + 2 tblsp. Water

½ tsp. Hoisin sauce

2 tblsp. Freshly squeezed lime juice (approx. 1 ½ medium limes)

4 ½ tsp. soy sauce

3 tblsp. Maple syrup

1 ¼ tsp. chile-garlic paste

1 med. Clove garlic, mashed to paste

½ tsp. toasted sesame oil

Blend, whisk or stir all ingredients together till smooth. Store in refrigerator, but let warm to room temperature before using.

Can be used a dipping sauce, over noodles, as a salad dressing or in spring rolls.

 

Cilantro Sauce (It’s green)

 

THICKENERS

Flour  – velvety texture – opaque

(can be stirred directly into fat – butter, meat drippings, etc.  If mixing with water first, it must be cooked for a while to eliminate the raw, starchy taste)

Instant Blending Flour – Wondra or Shake & Blend

Can add to liquids without lumps

Kneaded Butter (Beurre Manie) – equal parts butter and flour – kneaded till smooth and rolled into teaspoon sized balls (can be frozen for storage). Drop a ball or two into sauce when needed.

Cornstarch – smooth – glossy – clear

Mix starch with equal parts water, then add to warm liquid

Arrowroot flour | tapioca flour, rice flour

Gums – Xanthum gum, agar agar, pectin, and guar gum

Egg Yolks – velvety – smooth

Add to heated liquids (no hotter than 190 degrees) slowly and stir constantly – or scrambled eggs will be the result

High fat cream / yogurt – thick – smooth

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Additional Resources

WikiHow – thickeners

A Life of Geekery – guide to thickening sauces, soups, and stews

Youtube Videos

French Cooking Acacemy – What is a Roux – white, blond & brown

Beurre Maniékneaded butter

French Cooking Academy –  Hollandaise sauce tutorial for beginners (w/o double broiler)

Julia Child – The Hollandaise Family

Harvard University – Science in Cooking class – Working with Modern Thickeners

 

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Check out the other videos in this Sauce Series

Sauce Series #1 – taste bud training

Sauce Series #2 – red sauces

Sauce Series #3 – brown sauces & thickening agents

Sauce Series #4 – white sauces

Mock ‘Chopped’ #5 – group cooking challenge how-to

 

 

Sauce Series – White Sauces – 4 of 5

White sauces are made with milk, buttermilk, yogurt, coconut milk, butter, other white liquids and thickening agents.

 

Basic White Sauce

2 tblsp. Butter

2 tblsp. Flour

1 cup milk

½ tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

Melt butter and stir in flour. Gradually add milk and stir until mixture boils and thickens. Cook an additional 3 minutes.

Use on seafood, vegetables, fish, or meat.

Additions to white sauce:

Chopped parsley 2 – 4 tblsp.

Mustard – 2 tsp.

Cheese – ½ – 1 cup grated cheese

 

Horseradish Cream Sauce

½ cup heavy whipping cream, whipped to stiff peaks.

4 -6 tblsp. horseradish

½ tps. Salt

Pinch of pepper

Serve with ham, beef or fish.

 

Makes ¾ cup sauce.

 

Lemon Roux

 

Pan Gravy

Approximate the amount of flour needed to thicken the volume of meat drippings available. Place flour in a dressing / gravy shaker or whisk with cool water and shake or blend till smooth.

To meat drippings (fat) [from a turkey, chicken, bacon, or roast] in a deep pan over medium heat, slowly add flour and water mixture. Stir continuously. After the mixture has thickened, continue cooking for a few more minutes to make sure that the raw flour taste has been dispelled.

 

Hollandaise Sauce

2/4 cup butter

1 ½ tblsp. Lemon juice

3 egg yolks, well beaten with dash of salt

Cayenne pepper

 

Divide butter in the three parts. Place one piece in top of a small double broiler, add lemon juice and egg yolks. Place over hot water (not boiling) and cook slowly, whisk constantly.

When butter is melted, add second piece. Keep whisking. As mixture thickens, add the final piece of butter.

Once the mixture is about as thick as gravy, remove from heat, add salt and serve immediately.

Can be used over vegetables (asparagus), fish, shellfish and poached eggs.

Lightly finish with cayenne pepper.

 

Makes: ¾ cup
Trouble shooting: If sauce is curdling, dilute by the teaspoon with hot water while constantly whisking.

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Check out the other videos in this Sauce Series

Sauce Series #1 – taste bud training

Sauce Series #2 – red sauces

Sauce Series #3 – brown sauces & thickening agents

 

Mock ‘Chopped’ #5 – group cooking challenge how-to

 

 

Group Cooking Challenge – Mock ‘Chopped’

Here’s how to organize a group cooking challenge in your kitchen. (Roughly based on the TV show ‘Chopped.’)

Goal: Create a social experience, experiment, learn something new, and have fun!

Mystery Items:

Each participant brings 3-5 strange, unusual, foreign, untried, or previously unknown food items.

At the beginning, the challenge master collects these, groups them, and distributes them evenly among the chefs.

‘Rule’ Guidelines:

We decided not to attempt timed rounds. (Too much pressure!)

As a group, open and taste all the ingredients.

Everything in the kitchen pantry, spice cupboards, and refrigerator / freezer is available for use. (Or clearly define off-limits areas.)

If someone is stumped about what to prepare, everyone helps to brainstorm until they have a direction.

At the conclusion, everyone shares the meal.

Judging (if desired) can be accomplished by an individual, with a panel, or as group.

 

Ideas for Group Kitchen Challenge Themes:

All organic

Appetizers

Breakfast foods

Egg based

Ethnic cooking

Foodie specialists

Foods of color – purple, orange, green, etc.

For people around the age of ten (scrambles, healthy snacks, smoothies)

For people over twenty-one (food and beverage / wine pairings)

Movie / game night foods

Pasta & toppings

Picnic fare

Salads

Soups – freezer container portioned for make-ahead meals

Vegetarian

Wraps

 

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Boiled & Spiced Citrus Chicken (or Pork)

It takes time and patience to prepare chicken this way, but it is so worth it!

6 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs OR about a 4 lb bone-in pork shoulder – chunked into quarters

Rinse, pat dry and place meat into a large food-safe plastic bag

Add to the bag;

1 tblsp. cumin powder
1 tblsp. sea salt
1 tblsp. garlic powder
1 tblsp. oregano
1 tblsp. cayenne pepper (reduce to half or less if you don’t like spicy food)

1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup lime juice

If you remember Shake-n-Bake …do that. If that reference is meaningless, then shake everything inside the bag until the chicken is evenly coated with the spices.

Place the spiced chicken and citrus juice in a pot. Fill it with water – just until the chicken is covered. On the stovetop (uncovered), cook on high until the chicken begins to boil, reduce heat, but still keep it bubbling.

This where the patience comes in. Keep an eye on the pot as the liquid boils. This can take anywhere between 2 and 3 hours. Once the liquid is almost gone, let the meat brown – turn it so it cooks evenly – but not so much that it burns.

Liquid almost all-the-way boiled down.

 

The chicken meat can be shredded, chunked or eaten off the bone. Use it in salads, soups, on tostadas or in tacos…and the list could go on and on!

Next time I make it, I will double this recipe so that leftovers will linger longer.

boiled and spicked chicken

 

Flat Bird – the Spatchcocked Turkey

 

spatchcock turkey

A flat turkey may not match the traditional visual image of a Thanksgiving bird – but the benefits; evenly cooked juicy meat and reduced cooking time – make this ‘new’ method worth trying.

Cut out the back.

Flip the bird.

Apply chest compressions until it lays flat.

Tuck in wings.

Place vegetables on dripping pan below turkey (moisture keeps dripping from smoking).

Cook at 450 degrees for approximately 80 minutes or until breast temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Flat Bird ‘stuffing’ method:

Place stuffing in deep baking dish.

Lay flat bird on top and cook about 1/2 way through the cooking time.

Remove stuffing pan and move turkey to baking pan with vegetables lining the bottom.

See Serious Eats for the complete article.

turkey-852044_640

Tiramisu – Kid Style

This ‘kids version’ of Tiramisu was a great hit in my son’s classroom for the holidays….especially because he made it all by himself.

This is a simple recipe that comes together quickly.

It’s a real confidence booster for an up-and-coming foodie.

tiramisu kid style

2 pkg. lady fingers

2 pints heavy whipping cream

powdered sugar to taste

hot chocolate mix (made with hot milk or water) to taste

grated Ghiradelli Chocolate

Preparation:

Use a fine grater or a food processor to grate chocolate.

Prepare hot chocolate mix (sweeter than you’d usually drink it)

hot chocolate

In a deep bowl mix 2 pts. heavy whipping cream with about 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar.
With an electric mixer, blend on ‘high’ or ‘whip’ until the mixture starts to thicken.  Do a taste test to see if the sweetness is to your liking. Add more if needed.
Continue blending until stiff peaks form.

whipping

Using a deep, clear sided bowl or baking dish, assemble.

1st. Put down a layer of lady fingers.sauce

2. Slowly spoon or pour liquid hot chocolate mix over the cookies until it’s absorbed the liquid (but not swimming)

3. {See note below for cream cheese variation} Spread a layer of whipped cream.

4. Repeat.

5. Top with grated chocolate.chocolate shavings

Note:

Almond /  ‘peppermint pattie’ variation

to the whipped cream & powdered sugar – add a few drops Almond extract

Peppermint Cream Cheese Filling

1 pkg. cream cheese – softened

powdered sugar – to taste

peppermint flavoring (food-grade Peppermint Oil) to taste

blend all together till smooth

carefully & gently spread over first layer of chocolate covered lady fingers

Additional Information:

Wikipedia – Tiramisu