Tuesday, November 22, 2011

book week: a fabulous feast

Let’s face it, there is little much besides food that I can think about this week. So I am delighted to tell you about a wonderful new cookbook, Dining with the Washingtons, which is sure to satisfy both your palate and delight your sense of historical curiosity. What did our forbearers really eat?

Pulling from Martha Washington’s own recipe box, as well as other traditional 18th-century sources such as Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery, this cook book presents some 90 historic recipes, adapted for the modern cook by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump. The recipes are complimented with information exploring the menus, diet, and styles of entertaining enjoyed by those dining with the Washingtons at Mount Vernon. Included are all sorts of classic dishes, from hoe cakes and dressed crab to syllabub and cherry pie. And if Martha’s famous Great Cake isn’t enough to tempt you, perhaps the gorgeously-styled photographs of food and interiors will.

When I decided to write about this book, I asked the editor Stephen MacLeod if he would allow me to include a recipe to whet your appetite. And he graciously agreed. These stewed pears (pictured above left) are a simple, but elegant compliment to any holiday meal. Enjoy. . . and Happy Thanksgiving!

Stewed Pears

The title of this Hannah Glasse recipe may confuse modern readers. Her directions specify baked, not stewed, pears, although they are to be baked in red wine or port if the recipe below is followed. Glasse noted, however, that the fruit “will [also] be very good with water in the place of wine.” As an alternative to baking, she suggested stewing the pears in a saucepan set over a low fire, using the same ingredients. Serves 6 to 8.

6 to 8 large ripe pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 cup sugar
3 whole cloves
1 cup red wine or port

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Arrange the pears in a single layer in a 9-by-13-by-2-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the lemon zest and sugar over the pear halves, and place the whole cloves in the dish. Pour the wine (or port) over the pears.

3. Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the fruit can be easily pierced with a skewer or paring knife, basting occasionally with the liquid. The pears should be tender but not soft enough to break into pieces.

4. Remove the pears from the oven, and set aside to cool completely in the baking dish before serving.

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Food styled by Lisa Cherkasky and photography by Renee Comet (all images courtesy of the Mount Vernon Ladies Association).


pve design said...

What a lovely book and I adore stewed pears.
Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Style Court said...

Kudos to Lisa and Renee! The cover is wonderfully relaxed.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

I love the green on the walls! Just beautiful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and the Gentleman. Looking forward to seeing you on Friday. ~MIR

L. said...

Oh my! I have a new book to add to my wish list--please, please tell me that there's a recipe for peanut soup in there!

pve design said...

Did you see the article on Washington's wine cooler in the Wall Street Journal which is being auctioned by Christie's? Thought of you....

Barbara Wells Sarudy said...

I love this posting. A book that could even tempt a non-book-reader to purchase it. Happy Thanksgiving to you & to those you love.

Janet said...

pve ~ thank you! It is so extraordinary when things like the GW cooler come up for auction. For those interested, here is the link to the WSJ article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204190504577040534013643756.html

Janet said...

Courtney ~ the photographs are wonderful! And the cover very clever, I think.

MIR ~ oh yes, the green. Happy, happy to you! See you soon :).

L ~ you of all people should ahve this book! Let me check on the peanut soup and get back to you. . .

Barbara ~ well, I know someone else in your household who has an affinity for GW . . . and can throw together a mean meal :).

JBR said...

Another great post! Wishing you and the Gentleman a happy, delicious, safe Thanksgiving.

home before dark said...

Hope your Thanksgiving is delicious—both fowl and fair with plenty of wines to celebrate the most wonderful foodie holiday.

Emile de Bruijn said...

Fantastic photographs - love the contrast between the fresh blue and white ceramics and the yummy food.

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