A History of Cookbooks: How New Products Entered Cookbooks

excerpted from A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page over Seven Centuries by Henry Notaker

This October we are celebrating National Cookbook Month by exploring the history of the cookbook genre. Check back each Wednesday for a new excerpt from Henry Notaker’s work.

A History of Cookbooks coverThere was a great difference between the various products in the way they were integrated. When people were confronted with the new foods, they compared them to existing and well-known food categories. The product that was most easily accepted was turkey—at least for those who could afford to buy it. This animal was not too different from the other big birds that had traditionally been served at the tables of the European elite. Turkey could be used as a substitute for peacock or capon and was prepared the same way. Meat from birds was also considered to be healthy, so it did not risk being criticized by doctors, as many of the other new foods were.

It is consequently no surprise that cookbooks with recipes for turkey were published in the first century after Columbus arrived in the New World. In 1570, the Italian Bartolomeo Scappi suggested the same preparation for turkey pullets and ordinary pullets, and he compared the cooking of turkey with that of peacock. A decade later, the German Marx Rumpolt proposed twenty different ways to prepare turkey, all of them well-established methods for other meats. A taste for turkey soon spread from the aristocracy to the wealthy bourgeoisie, and prices went down. In France in 1538, turkey meat cost eight times more than meat from hens; in 1711, it was only twice as much.

The tomato is an example of a new food that was slow to become part of European food culture. For a long time appreciated only as an ornamental plant, the tomato was mentioned as food around 1600 in an Italian botanical treatise. As was the case with turkey, the fruit was compared with well-known ingredients in the kitchen; the author of the text explained that tomatoes could be eaten the same way as eggplants—with salt, pepper, and oil. But the first professional recipe for the food did not come until 1692, when Antonio Latini’s Italian cookbook gave a preparation for salsa di pomodoro, alla spagnuola (tomato salsa, Spanish style). In Spain, tomatoes were not included in any cookbooks published before 1611. After that year, there is unfortunately a period in which no new Spanish cookbooks were published that lasted until 1745, when we find a recipe for tomato sauces with garlic and oil, typical of the Mediterranean food culture we know today.

Tomato recipes in Spanish and Italian cookbooks surprise nobody, since the fruit could be grown in these countries. The situation was completely different in northern Europe, where effective cultivation came only in the twentieth century. The first tomato recipes from this region were from the last decades of the nineteenth century, and they suggested using canned tomatoes in soups and sauces. One of the Russian cookbooks written by Elena Molokhovets called for tomato purée in soups in early editions published in the 1860s and only gradually introduced fresh tomato dishes. As late as 1896, Charles-Emil Hagdahl wrote in his gourmet cookbook that he regretted that tomatoes in Sweden were mainly sold in the form of bottles of purée, imported from abroad. In Norway, a cookbook from 1888 included a series of interesting tomato recipes, but the book actually demonstrates why general conclusions about diet never should be drawn on the basis of one cookbook. The author had spent several years in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), where tomatoes were common by that point, and her book was the only one of its kind. A decade later, another Norwegian author did not give any tomato recipes in the first edition of her cookbook, published in 1897, and in a later edition, issued in 1912, she remarked that “tomatoes are seldom appreciated the first time they are tasted,” and wrote that in Norway, “tomatoes are still very expensive.”


Notaker cookbook author photoHenry Notaker is a literary historian who taught courses in food culture and history for over a decade. He was a foreign correspondent for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and a TV host of arts and letters shows and documentaries. He is the author of numerous books and articles on European and Latin American contemporary history, food history, and culinary literature.


A History of Cookbooks: American Cookbooks and National Identity

excerpted from A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page over Seven Centuries by Henry Notaker

This October we are celebrating National Cookbook Month by exploring the history of the cookbook genre. Check back each Wednesday for a new excerpt from Henry Notaker’s work.

A History of Cookbooks coverIn 1776, many years before the aforementioned European nations started to fight for independence, a new independent country had been created in North America: the United States. After the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolutionary War, a growing national consciousness was observed among the inhabitants of the nascent state. This new patriotism was strengthened by new national symbols; before the turn of the century, the United States had a flag, the Great Seal, and a national bird, the bald eagle. The first cookbook written by an American is also from this period: American Cookery, by Amelia Simmons, was published in 1796. The subtitle claimed that the book was “adapted to this country.” There are recipes for Independence Cake and Federal Pan Cake, but more important is the use of indigenous foodstuffs, such as corn, squash, and Jerusalem artichoke.

The language of the book has many interesting features. For example, it introduced several Americanisms that had not yet been referred to in American dictionaries. One of them was “slapjack” (a corn pancake), a word probably based on a misreading of the English “flapjack”; at the time, the f and the long s (∫) were very similar in print. The book was also the first to use two words borrowed from Dutch: “cookey,” from the Dutch koekje, used for what English cookbooks called “little cakes,” and “slaw” from the Dutch sla, meaning “salad.”

The author—of whom we know nothing more than we can read in the book—presented herself on the title page as “An American Orphan.” Why did she give this peculiar biographical information? Some scholars have interpreted it as a national metaphor. The author had to support herself without any help from a parent, just as the United States needed to survive without England. If this interpretation is correct, the book is an even stronger proof of national attitudes.

It should be mentioned that not all the recipes in Simmons’s book are American. She included traditional English recipes, many of them taken verbatim from English books. But the American recipes in Simmons’s book were noticed by both readers and publishers; in the following years, new editions of old English books were printed with the addition of American recipes, many of them taken directly from American Cookery. The title of her book also heralded a period when the American angle was emphasized. In the years leading up to the Civil War, more than twenty cookbooks used the word “American” in their titles: for example, The American Housewife, American Domestic Cookery, American Receipt Book, and Modern American Cookery.

The United States was a society dominated by immigrants from many European countries, and one of the characteristics of cookbook publishing, like other fields of publishing, was the high number of books in languages other than English. The first French cookbook in the United States was published in 1840, the first Spanish in 1845, and the first German (Pennsylvania Dutch) in 1848, and they were followed by cookbooks in Italian, Yiddish, and Scandinavian languages, mirroring the country’s different immigrant groups. Some of the books were printed in two languages—for example, Yiddish and English, or French and English.

Most cookbooks in foreign languages catered to large immigrant groups who wanted to preserve their culinary heritage, but there were also foreign-language cookbooks with a very different intention. A particular genre consisted of works with recipes written in two parallel columns, one in American English and the other in Danish, Swedish, or Finnish. They were meant to help American housewives communicate with their Scandinavian servants—of which there were a large number in the United States around 1900. The housewife would point out the dish she wanted prepared (the dishes in these books were American, not Scandinavian), and the servant would then use the cookbook as a manual for cooking in addition to as a textbook for the English language.


Notaker cookbook author photoHenry Notaker is a literary historian who taught courses in food culture and history for over a decade. He was a foreign correspondent for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and a TV host of arts and letters shows and documentaries. He is the author of numerous books and articles on European and Latin American contemporary history, food history, and culinary literature.


A History of Cookbooks: Recipes in Verse

excerpted from A History of Cookbooks: From Kitchen to Page over Seven Centuries by Henry Notaker

This October we are celebrating National Cookbook Month by exploring the history of the cookbook genre. Check back each Wednesday for a new excerpt from Henry Notaker’s work.

A History of Cookbooks coverDidactic works in verse go back to Hesiod’s Works and Days, written around 700 BCE, and are found in the Middle Ages and the early modern period. Several versions of Regimen sanitatis were circulated in verse starting in the thirteenth century, many of them written in a Latin close to the vernacular Italian. In England, there were John Russel’s treatise on household duties, The Boke of Nurture (ca. 1460), and Thomas Tusser’s A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry (1557). According to the German scholar Bernhard Dietrich Haage, the bound form is used in practical literature as a mnemonic aid, but it might also have been used to give material an aesthetic value.

Several early cookbooks open with a verse, either written by the author to serve as a preface or written by someone else as a recommendation for the book, but there are also examples of rhymed recipes from the fifteenth century in German and English manuscripts. According to the historian Hans Wiswe, however, one of the German recipes is “a humorous Intermezzo in a book that is otherwise so matter-of-fact.” This can be explained by what Haage said about versification of practical literature for the upper levels of society: “It is mainly for fun” (Aus reinen Spieltrieb).

There is a long tradition in European literature of verses about food, often with a comic or playful element, and the humor is quite obvious in the collections of rhymed recipes (“poetic cookbooks”) from the eighteenth century onward. The first of these books was the French Festin joyeux, printed in 1738. One of the recipes is for perdreaux aux écrévisses (partridges with crawfish) and it starts like this:

First you cook everything well,

And mix with a light ragoût,

Add sweetbreads and truffles too,

And let cockscombs and champignons swell.

Typical for the recipes in this book is that they can be sung, as they were written to well-known tunes from light and popular music genres. Referring to himself as a cook, the alleged author made excuses for the bad rhymes in his verses, which he said were certainly not as Scarron would have written them. By referring to the seventeenth-century burlesque poet Paul Scarron, the suspicion is strengthened that the verses belong to the century before the book was printed, and it has been suggested that the real author was the aristocrat Louis de Béchameil, although this has not been confirmed.

In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, French, German, Spanish, American, Danish, and Norwegian books of recipes in verse were published. A Norwegian book from 1833 versified the recipes of the first printed cookbook in Norway, published only two years earlier, and the verses were written to melodies used for national anthems, drinking songs, and hymns. By using tunes for hymns in these merry songs, the author, a church warden and rebellious publicist, did the opposite of men such as Martin Luther and William Booth, who wrote religious hymns to popular, secular melodies.

Were these recipes intended to be used to help in the kitchen? Some of them did in fact emphasize that that was the basic idea. The Danish Kogebog for musikalske husmødre (Cookbook for musical housewives) professed in verse in the preface:

The housewife now can cook her meat

While singing from a music sheet.

But in spite of the declared intentions, these books were probably made more to amuse readers than to instruct them. Most of the verses were rather amateurish, with clumsy rhymes and hobbling rhythms, and could not hope for a glorious afterlife in the history of literature. There are, however, recipe poems that were written by authors with acknowledged literary qualities. They followed the same chronological progression as the ordinary recipes, giving step-by-step instructions, but they added aspects and elements that were generally absent in cookbooks. Here follow five examples in five languages and from different literary contexts.

The first was by a representative of Polish romanticism, Adam Mickiewicz, who in his epic poem Pan Tadeusz actually used a 1682 cookbook to describe an old Polish dinner. But he also gave, as part of his description of old national traditions, the “recipe” for bigos, a dish still popular in Poland. He admitted that words and rhymes—he used thirteen syllable lines with caesura and rhymed couplets—were not sufficient to transmit a real appreciation of “the most wonderful flavor, the smell and the color.” He listed the ingredients of the dish—good vegetables, chopped sauerkraut, morsels of meat—and explained that they should all be simmered in a pot. But he did not follow the traditional recipe form; his recipe is a narrative told in the third person and without the particular verbal forms indicating a request.

Other writers, however, chose the imperative. The French dramatist Edmond Rostand included in his most famous play, Cyrano de Bergerac, a scene where the protagonist’s friend, the rôtisseur and pâtissier Ragueneau, proudly declares that he has versified a recipe: “J’ai mis une recette en vers.” The recipe is for tartelettes amandines and is written in a light, elegant poetic form that plays with the rhymes and rhythm, making it very difficult to translate.

While Rostand kept the imperatives in the second-person plural, which was typical of most French culinary recipes at that time, the Argentine-born Spaniard Ventura de la Vega—who wrote many occasional poems—chose the first-person singular when he described his method of making garlic soup, sopa de ajo. The Voltaire-admirer-turned-Catholic paid tribute to the soup as a dish for Lent, but he also declared it the basis of the Castilian diet. The personal tone in the poem creates an atmosphere similar to the one in Pablo Neruda’s Odas elementales (which is about tomatoes, potatoes, and other foodstuffs), combining the solemn and the ordinary: In a casserole, boil salt, pepper, and small bits of bread in olive oil, and in this swelling mixture, “I will hide two well-peeled cloves of Spanish garlic.” Instead of Neruda’s free verse, Vega chose the bound form, and the Spanish composer José María Cásares later composed music for it. The text and the notes were printed in Angel Muro’s original cookbook, El practicón (1894).

Another original and much praised cookbook, Modern Cookery, by Eliza Acton, included a recipe in rhymed verse in the 1855 edition. In a note, Acton wrote that this was the first time the poem was printed, after it had been circulated among the friends of the author, the poetic reverend Sidney Smith. But in contrast to the serious, almost religious tone in Vega’s verse, Smith’s poem is filled with the light-hearted humor he was famous for. The ingredients for his salad dressing are enumerated with the common imperatives, but they are not always used in the traditional manner: “Let onion atoms lurk within the bowl,” he instructed readers in one line, and in another, he told them to add “a magic soupçon of anchovy sauce.” He even resorted to alliteration: “Of mordant mustard add a simple spoon.” And then he expressed his enthusiasm for the result: “Oh, green and glorious! Oh, herbacious treat!”

A final example, which also raises theoretical questions, is a poem the German romantic poet Eduard Mörike wrote about Frankfurter Brenten, a type of small cookies. The first surprise is perhaps his use of the imperative second-person singular, a dated and very uncommon form in the mid-nineteenth century:

Start with almonds, I suggest,

Take three pounds, or four at best.

This poem, which is included in Mörike’s collected works, was originally published in a German journal for ladies, Frauen-Zeitung für Hauswesen, weibliche Arbeiten und Moden, in 1852, and Horst Steinmetz used it as an example of how context may decide the reception of a text. The readers of Mörike’s complete works may have considered the recipe as a poem on a par with the other poems in the book, which describe feelings and phenomena of the human universe. The ladies who read “Frankfurter Brenten” in the journal may have looked at the text as a practical instruction—a recipe—even if they observed and appreciated the form as an amusing variation and perhaps made no practical use of the recipe in the kitchen. Yet a closer reading of Mörike’s text reveals that it has elements not expected in recipes. Consider, for example, these lines:

Now put all this while it is hot

Onto a plate (but poets need

A rhyme here now, and therefore feed

The finished stuff into a pot).

With this ironic remark, which breaks up the sequence of instructive steps, the poet seems to make fun of his own role; it is a kind of Verfremdung, or alienation, that creates a distance between Mörike as a poet and as a cooking teacher.

These rhymed recipes seem to have been written with very different intentions: to inform, to instruct, to entertain, or to create art. This is of course also true for recipe poems in unbound form by Günter Grass and others. But there is a noticeable difference in intention when recipes appear in prose works other than culinary works.


Notaker cookbook author photoHenry Notaker is a literary historian who taught courses in food culture and history for over a decade. He was a foreign correspondent for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation and a TV host of arts and letters shows and documentaries. He is the author of numerous books and articles on European and Latin American contemporary history, food history, and culinary literature.


Fried Chicken for Hanukkah from The New Mediterranean Jewish Table

by Joyce Goldstein, author of The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home

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Fried Chicken for Hanukkah (Pollo Fritto Di Hanucca)

The dishes served at Hanukkah are fried to remind the Jews of the oil lamp that burned
for eight days in the Second Temple in Jerusalem, even though the amount appeared
sufficient for only one day. This recipe for fried chicken, Italian style, is rather bland, so
I have brined the chicken for added moisture and flavor. I have also added grated lemon
and orange zests, garlic powder, onion powder, and nutmeg to the flour.

Serves 4 to 6

Brine

1 cup kosher salt
⅓ cup sugar
8 cloves garlic, unpeeled and smashed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 cinnamon sticks
4 allspice berries
5 bay leaves
2 lemons, halved
8 fresh thyme sprigs
8 fresh parsley sprigs
4 quarts water

Chicken

1 fryer chicken, 3½ to 4 pounds, cut
into 8 to 10 serving pieces, or 4 pounds
assorted chicken parts
3 eggs
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
3 tablespoons garlic powder
2 tablespoons onion powder
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Canola oil for deep-frying
Lemon wedges for serving

Combine all of the brine ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil over high
heat, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl or plastic container, pour the cooled
brine over them, cover tightly, and refrigerate overnight.
Remove the chicken from the brine, rinse, and pat dry. Discard the brine. Place a
large rack on a large sheet pan. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and lemon
juice until blended, then season with salt and pepper. In a second bowl, combine the
flour, citrus zests, garlic and onion powders, and nutmeg, season with salt and pepper,
and mix well. Divide the seasoned flour between 2 shallow bowls or deep platters. One
at a time, dip the chicken pieces in the flour, coating both sides and tapping off the
excess. Next, dip into the beaten egg, allowing the excess to drip off, and then finally,
dip in the second bowl of seasoned flour. As each piece is dipped, set it aside on the
rack. Let the pieces stand for 15 to 20 minutes to allow the coating to set.
Pour the oil to a depth of 2 to 3 inches into a large, deep sauté pan and heat to 375°F.
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Line a large sheet pan with paper towels. In batches, slip the
chicken pieces into the hot oil and fry, turning as needed, until golden on all sides and
cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer to the prepared sheet pan and
keep warm in the oven until all of the chicken pieces are fried. Arrange the chicken on a
platter and serve hot with lemon wedges.


JG1Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author. Her most recent book is Inside the California Food Revolution: Thirty Years that Changed Our Culinary Consciousness (UC Press, 2013).


National Cookbook Month: Moroccan Vegetable Tagine

by Joyce Goldstein, author of The New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home

October is National Cookbook Month! Come back for a new recipe from The New Mediterranean Jewish Table each Wednesday, and click here to save 30% on some of our award-winning cookbooks.

New Mediterranean Jewish Table Joyce Goldstein

Moroccan Vegetable Tagine (Mehalet)

This recipe, which is sometimes called tajine del sabana, is a cross between two tagine recipes in La cuisine juive du Maroc de mère en fille by Maguy Kakon. Similar dishes are found on the Rosh Hashanah table in Fez, Meknes, and Tangier. Almost any combination of vegetables will work for this fragrant stew, which is typically served with cous-cous. It includes both potatoes and sweet potatoes and the classic addition of preserved lemon and olives, which add salt and tang. If you like, 1 to 1/2 pounds butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3-inch chunks, can be used in place of the sweet potatoes. Although not authentic, I sometimes add 1/2 cup plumped raisins for a note of sweetness. Continue reading “National Cookbook Month: Moroccan Vegetable Tagine”


UC Press staff cook the book: New Mediterranean Jewish Table potluck

“A cookbook that educates as well as inspires.”—New York Times

With the critical mass of media coverage for Joyce Goldstein’s new cookbook, the New Mediterranean Jewish Table: Old World Recipes for the Modern Home, some UC Press staff members were indeed inspired to get cooking themselves!

The cooks gathered for a celebratory potluck lunch last week, fortuitously aligned with the beginning of Passover.

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The photos do not do justice to all the bright colors and flavors, but the dishes we feasted on were the following:

  • Red Pepper, Walnut, and Pomegranate Spread (Muhammara)
  • Turkish Nine-Ingredient Eggplant Salad (Dokuz Türlü Patlıcan Tarator)
  • Cucumber and Yogurt Salad (Cacık)
  • Beets with Yogurt (Borani ye Laboo)
  • Chickpea Purée with Tahini Dressing (Hummus ba Tahini)
  • Turkish Lentil Salad (Adas Salatası) with Mint Vinaigrette
  • Lebanese Bulgur and Parsley Salad (Tabbouleh)
  • Persian Yogurt Soup with Chickpeas, Lentils, and Spinach (Ashe Sbanikh)
  • Fried Eggplant with Sugar (Papeyada de Berenjena)
  • Tunisian Passover Stew with Spring Vegetables (Msoki)
  • Orange Custard (Flan d’Arancia)
  • Olive Oil, Orange, and Pistachio Cake
  • Greek Yogurt Cake (Yaourtopita)
  • Purim Butter Cookies (Ghorayebah)

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Join in with sample recipes from the book, such as Hazelnut Sponge Cake; Persian Yogurt Soup with Chickpeas, Lentils and Spinach; Fish with Green Tahini, and Moroccan-Inspired Honeyed Eggplant.


Passover Hazelnut Sponge Cake

This is the final part of a series of recipes from our forthcoming cookbook The New Mediterranean Jewish Table by Joyce Goldstein. Check out the other recipes here.

 

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Passover Hazelnut Sponge Cake

Pan di Spagna alle Nocciole

A family favorite, this light, flourless Italian Passover cake is fragrant with sweet toasted hazelnuts—a specialty of the Piedmont region—and with subtle hints of citrus.

Serves 10 to 12

 

Ingredients:

10 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

Grated zest and juice of 1 orange (3 to 4 tablespoons juice)

Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (2 to 3 tablespoons juice)

11/2 cups finely ground toasted and peeled hazelnuts

6 tablespoons matzo cake meal, sifted

2 tablespoons potato starch

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Have ready a 10-inch tube pan.

In a bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of the sugar, and the citrus zests and juices. Using an electric mixer, beat on high speeduntil the mixture is thick and pale and holds a 3-second slowly dissolving ribbon when the beaters are lifted.

In a second bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. On medium-high speed, gradually add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the egg mixture just until combined, then fold in the hazelnuts, the matzo cake meal, potato starch, salt, and vanilla.

Pour the batter into the tube pan and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Invert the cake still in the pan onto a wire rack and let cool completely. To serve, lift off the pan and transfer the cake to a serving plate. Cut into slices and serve.

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Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author.


Fish with Green Tahini

This is part two of a series of recipes from our forthcoming cookbook The New Mediterranean Jewish Table by Joyce Goldstein. Check out part one here.

9780520284999

Fish with Green Tahini

Samak al Sahara

Samak is Arabic for fish. This recipe is a variation on the traditional Middle Eastern samak ba tahini where the fish is covered with sesame paste flavored with garlic, lemon, and onions and served at room temperature. Here the fish is served hot. To the basic tahini sauce the Egyptians and Lebanese add a tingle of heat with cayenne and add chopped cilantro and parsley, which tint the sauce pale green. The tahini crust on the fish keeps it moist throughout the baking process. You may garnish this with olives, chopped walnuts, or pine nuts along with more chopped cilantro. Serve with lemon wedges and a rice or bulgur pilaf. Spinach or roasted cauliflower or carrots are good accompaniments. If you do not want to bake the fish under the tahini you may also bake, broil or grill the fish and spoon the sauce on after cooking.

 

Serves 6

 

Ingredients:

6 fillets of snapper, rockfish, sea bass, each about 6 ounces

1/2 cup tahini, including some of its oil

3-4 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

¼ teaspoon cayenne or a bit more

1/2 teaspoon salt

½ cup tightly packed cilantro leaves

½ cup chopped parsley leaves (optional for more greenery)

1/2 cup water or as needed to thin

Chopped walnuts or pine nuts for garnish (optional)

 

Instructions:

Combine tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cayenne, salt, cilantro and parsley if using, in the container of a food processor or blender. Pulse to combine. Add water as needed to thin. Adjust heat and salt to taste.

To cook the fish, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place fish fillets in an oiled baking dish and spread with a layer of the Sahara sauce. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish.

Variation: Yellow tahini: Omit green leaves and add 1 teaspoon turmeric to the tahini when blending the sauce.

Variation: Red tahini: Omit green leaves and add chopped tomato or some tomato paste when you blend the tahini sauce or 1 roasted red bell pepper.

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Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author.


Moroccan-Inspired Honeyed Eggplant

Over the next four weeks we will be sharing recipes from our forthcoming cookbook The New Mediterranean Jewish Table by Joyce Goldstein. Check back each Friday morning for a new recipe from the kitchens of three Mediterranean Jewish cultures: the Sephardic, the Maghrebi, and the Mizrahi.

9780520284999

Moroccan-Inspired Honeyed Eggplant

Aubergine au Miel, or Barania

Traditionally served for breaking the fast at Yom Kippur, this dish is so seductive it will convert people to eggplant lovers. Using fresh ginger instead of dried makes all the difference.

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 small or 2 medium Japanese eggplants cut in half lengthwise

Or 2 globe eggplant, peeled, and in one inch dice

Olive oil

2-3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced or grated

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons ras al hanout

2 teaspoons ground toasted cumin

6 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Salt

Instructions:

Score the cut sides of the Japanese eggplants with a knife in a crosshatch pattern. Brush liberally with olive oil and place on griddle or in heavy sauté pan adding a bit more oil as needed. Cook on medium heat until eggplant is softened and golden, turning a few times.

If your market does not have Japanese eggplants you can also use 2 globe eggplants, peeled and cut in 1 inch dice and sauté in oil until golden.)

Mince fresh ginger and garlic in mini processor or grate or chop finely. In a wide saute pan large enough to hold the cooked eggplants (in one layer if possible) warm 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for a minute or two. Add ras al hanout and cumin and then stir in the honey, lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Simmer for a few minutes, then transfer the eggplant to the pan, adding ¼ cup water if the sauce is stiff). Coat the eggplant with sauce and cook over low heat until eggplant absorbs most of the honey lemon mixture and becomes caramelized.

Variation: If you are entertaining and do not want to make this at the last minute, prepare the sauce and turn eggplant in the sauce for a few minutes. Then transfer to a baking dish and heat in a 350 degree oven until bubbly, about 25 minutes. If you like, sprinkle with sesame seeds, as for the dessert barania on page xx in the preserves chapter.

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Joyce Goldstein was chef and owner of the groundbreaking Mediterranean restaurant Square One in San Francisco. Prior to opening Square One, she was chef at the Chez Panisse Café and visiting executive chef at the Wine Spectator Restaurant at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa. Today she is a cooking teacher, consultant to the restaurant and food industries, and prolific cookbook author.


Why I Wrote The Hakka Cookbook

The Hakka CookbookThis guest post comes to us from veteran food writer Linda Lau Anusasananan, a recipe editor for Sunset Magazine for 34 years and former president of the Association of Chinese Cooking Teachers and the San Francisco Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier. Here she describes her family history and the inspiration for writing The Hakka Cookbook. Visit the book’s website at thehakkacookbook.com and the book’s page at ucpress.edu to read an excerpt and recipes for Five-Spice Potatoes with Chinese Bacon and Stir-Fried Long Beans and Pork.

 

 

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Popo
Art by Alan Lau

Why I Wrote The Hakka Cookbook
by Linda Lau Anusasananan

The idea for The Hakka Cookbook was planted in my mind when I was just a child. When I was about 7, my maternal grandmother came to live with us in the early 1950’s. We called her Popo, the Chinese word for grandmother.

Popo kept telling us, “You should be proud to be Hakka.” As the first and only Chinese in a small all-white town in Northern California, learning to be more Chinese was the farthest thought from our minds. We were the oddballs at school. All we wanted was to fit in.

Popo prevailed and everyday after American school, we went upstairs to Popo’s kitchen to learn how to write Chinese characters and read from Chinese picture books. After class, she sometimes would cook dinner for us. Stir-fried garden vegetables, chicken soup from scratch, and sometimes our favorite Chinese bacon and potato stew.

Decades later the Chinese lessons were forgotten, but the smells from her kitchen and her words haunted me. I had recently left Sunset Magazine where I had written food stories and developed recipes for more than three decades. Now I had the time to explore Popo’s words. I decided to do it through what I knew best, food.

Hakka means guest family. We were the nomads of China. A long history of migration, forced by having no land to call home, made us unique. In the forth century, we were forced from our homes in north central China by invaders and gradually moved south and eventually settled is scattered communities throughout the world. Since we arrived last in settled areas, all that was left were scraps of poor land. We were unwelcome and looked down upon. We worked hard and learned to survive in situations where most people failed.

My plan was to follow the footsteps of the Hakka diaspora, eating my way around the globe. My journey took me to my father’s home in the Hakka heartland of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Hawaii, Peru, and Canada. I also interviewed people from multiple migrations who came from Tahiti, Mauritius, Jamaica, Trinidad, and India.

As I listened to their stories of migration, I began to understand why Popo was proud of to be Hakka. With our shared history of hardship and migration, we developed a strong character that enabled us to cope with hardships and survive. Our hearty food, often robustly flavored, reflects our history and travels. It comforts the Hakka soul.