Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving is the best eating day of the year!

City Tavern, 1772, Philadelphia, PA

The day before Thanksgiving means that your kitchen is a busy place. The turkey is in the frig, stuffing ingredients are ready to assemble and most of the side dishes have been delegated to others. Your cousin Lenora is bringing her signature green bean casserole. Another cousin her sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows. Aunt Emma is bringing the rolls and grandmother has got the pies under control.

So, I’m not going to disturb your carefully crafted menus. Instead, I’m going to offer some classic ‘anytime’ recipes from the 1800s that my husband and I enjoyed on our recent trip to Colonial America.  Unless you want to make the rolls or whip out a chocolate pecan pie tomorrow, you can try the recipes another day.

On our trip we occasionally ate at local taverns that served lunch and dinner. Two of our favorites were the King’s Arms Tavern in Williamsburg and the City Tavern in Philadelphia where the servers were not only in costume and conversation of the period but so was the food.

We were introduced to peanut butter soup at the King’s Arms.
It was probably concocted by a clever cook to make use of the peanuts grown in the region, I found it a bit too rich but you may just love it. Some of our fellow diners did, so I’m including the recipe.

Three kinds of bread — Anadama, Sally Lunn and Jefferson’s sweet potato biscuits — were served at the City Tavern in Philly. Jefferson grew sweet potatoes on his farm. No doubt a thrifty cook figured out a novel way to use them. And finally, chocolate pecan pie, an age-old favorite of mine was also on the menu. Delicious!

Have a great day tomorrow. Wherever you go, whatever you do, may the shared spirit of Thanks-giving brighten your life and that of your loved ones. Enjoy!

Cream of Peanut Butter Soup
King’s Arms Tavern (1772) Williamsburg, VA

1 med. onion, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1/4 cup butter
3 tablespoons flour
8 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
2 cups smooth peanut butter
1 3/4 cup light cream
Peanuts, chopped

In a large saucepan or soup pot, melt butter and sauté onion and celery until soft but not brown.

Stir in flour until well blended. Add the chicken stock, stirring constantly and bring to a boil. Pour into a sieve set over a large bowl and strain, pushing hard on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible. Return the liquid to the saucepan.

Whisk the peanut butter and cream, stirring to blend thoroughly.
Return to low heat and heat until just hot but do not boil. Serve, garnished with chopped peanuts.

Thomas Jefferson’s Sweet Potato Biscuits
City Tavern, Philadelphia, PA — Since 1772

 2-1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup margarine, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk (maybe more)
1 large or 3/4 cup sweet potatoes, cooked and mashed
1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 450° F.
Combine dry ingredients. Add margarine. Combine milk and sweet potatoes; add to flour mixture. Add pecans. Knead dough with your hands until it is a smooth mass. Roll out on a floured surface to 1/2" thickness and cut with a 2" biscuit cutter. Place on a greased baking sheet 2" apart. Bake for about 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on wire rack. Makes 10 to 12 (2-1/4") biscuits.

Sally Lunn Bread

1 pkg active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (105 -115F)
1 3/4 cups scalded Milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 well beaten eggs
5 cups sifted flour (Divided)

1. Dissolve the yeast into warm water.
2. Combine milk, sugar, butter, and salt in a mixing bowl. Allow to cool.
3. Stir in yeast, eggs, and 3 cups of flour.
4. Add enough additional flour to make nice soft dough.
5. Place in a greased bowl and turn once to coat all surfaces.
6. Cover and allow to rise in a warm, dark spot. Punch down and turn onto a lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic.
7. Divide dough in half and form into 2 loaves.
8. Turn into 2 greased 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.
9. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
10.  Bake at 400 for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature
   to 350 and bake 17 minutes more.

11. Remove from the pans and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Note: This dough is versatile and forgiving. After the first rise, it can be shaped into buns, rolls, loaves of bread or poured into an angel food cake pan and baked. It is best served warm with butter.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

4 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 cup dark corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups pecan halves
1 unbaked 9” pie shell, in pan
Whipped cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Line the pie shell with pecans, adding more if needed.

Combine eggs, sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, chocolate and vanilla in large bowl and mix well. Pour over pecans in pie shell. Rearrange pecans as they rise to the top. Place pie in oven, reduce heat to 350° F. and bake 40-50 min. The filling should be firm in center. Cool and serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare. Contact her at 942-1317 or email

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