The The First Jewish-American Cookbook First Jewish-American Cookbook

The The First Jewish-American Cookbook First Jewish-American Cookbook

by Esther Levy

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A remarkable culinary and historical document that offers housekeeping and domestic management advice, as well as daily menu suggestions, a Jewish calendar, and a selection of medical and household recipes. Delicious and economical, the recipes feature ingredients readily available to modern cooks, with instructions that are abundantly clear.  See more details below


A remarkable culinary and historical document that offers housekeeping and domestic management advice, as well as daily menu suggestions, a Jewish calendar, and a selection of medical and household recipes. Delicious and economical, the recipes feature ingredients readily available to modern cooks, with instructions that are abundantly clear.

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The First Jewish-American Cookbook (1871)

By Esther Levy

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2004 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-80454-5



For Breakfast.

The table should be laid with a clean white cloth, the cups and saucers at one end, if for tea; at both ends, if for tea and coffee. The tea pot and coffee pot occupy the space between in front, and the urn at the back; the slop basin and milk jug should be placed to the left, and the cream and hot milk jugs to the right; the remainder of the table should be occupied in the centre by the various dishes, while at the sides must be ranged a large plate for eggs, fish, etc., and a small plate for toast and rolls, etc., with a knife and fork for each person; the butter knives to the right of the dishes; and spoons in front of the hot dishes with gravy; and individual salt-cellars for each person; the cruets should be placed in the centre of the table.

For Luncheon.

Bring in a tray, with let-down sides, on which has been previously arranged a tray cloth, and letting down the sides and spreading the cloth upon the dining-room table to distribute the things as required. The sides of the table are occupied by the requisites for each guest: two plates, a large and small knife and fork and dessert spoon, a folded napkin, and the bread under it, which are to be arranged in front of the place of each guest.

The dishes generally served for lunch are the remains of cold meat, fish, or poultry, neatly trimmed or garnished, or sweetmeats, or fruit, or plainly cooked cutlets, chops, or steaks, or in fact anything does for lunch; cheese or eggs, or bread and butter and pickles. A good housekeeper will always have something in the house for lunch. Ale, porter, home-made wines, or sherry is generally drank.

For Dinner.

The table should be well polished and covered with a green baize cloth, over which a fine damask one should be spread. If the white cloth is to be kept on after dinner, (some persons use an entire upper cloth, to prevent gravy stains or accidents, which is removed after dinner,) it does not require the tedious brushing the cloth.

When the cloth has been spread, place finger glasses, with the tumblers belonging to and placed over them, between every four persons; a salt-cellar between every third person, and a large and small knife, fork, and spoon to each guest, with two wine glasses, a champagne glass, and tumbler to the right of each person, and the bread placed on or under folded napkins, between the knives and forks and spoons. At grand entertainments, or public dinners, the name and rank of each guest should be neatly written on a card, in front of napkin, to prevent confusion and jealousy.

The centre ornament, usually a candelabrum, or epergne, or a vase of real or artificial flowers, must be set on the table, and the mats for the various dishes arranged. The wine coolers, or ornamental vases, are placed between the centre-piece and the top and bottom dishes, with the wines in the original bottles, loosely corked, The spoons for assisting the various dishes, asparagus tongs, fish knife and fork or slice, are placed in front of the dishes to which they belong, and a knife rests opposite to those who carve, with a bill of fare, and a pile of soup plates before those that have to assist with the soup.

Particular attention must be paid to the cleanliness of the plate and glasses, so that they have a bright polish. Nothing looks so bad as dirty, greasy looking silver and glasses. Glass should be rubbed with a fine wash leather, dipped in a solution of whiting and stone blue, and then dried and polished with an old silk handkerchief. Plates and dishes must be hot. Bread should be cut in pieces about an inch thick, or pastry rolls should be used. Lights, either at or after dinner, should be subdued and above the guests, if possible, so as to be shed upon the table without intercepting the view. Sauces, either bottled or sweet, or both, vegetables and sliced cucumbers, or glazed onions, for fall goose, should always be placed on the sideboard. A plate for removing the soiled plates is usually placed under the sideboard or some other convenient part of the room, and two knife trays, covered with napkins, are placed upon a tray. These are used for removing the soiled knives and forks, and the soiled silver. There should always be a corkscrew ready, and funnel with strainer, and brad-awl to break the wire of the champagne bottles, and the other to strain port wine, if required for dinner.

To place Dishes on the Table.

Each servant should be provided at large dinner parties with a bill of fare, and instructed at small ones where the dishes are to be placed. No two dishes resembling each other should be placed near the same part of the table. Soup should always be placed at the head of the table, if there are two, top and bottom, if four, top and bottom and two sides, with fish alternating. Fish should be placed at the head of the table; if two sorts, have fried at the bottom of the table, and boiled at the top. If there are four sorts, arrange the same as the soup. Fish is generally served on a napkin, the corners of which are either turned in or thrown over the fish.

The first course generally consists of soups and fish, which are removed for the roasts, stews, etc., of the second course.

The second course, when there are three, consists of roasts and stews, for the top and bottom. Turkeys or fowls and smoked beef, garnished tongue or fricandeau, for the side, with small made dishes for corners, served in covered dishes, as curries, ragouts, fricassees, stews, etc.

When there are two roasts, one should be white and the other brown. Removes are generally upon large dishes, for, as they supply the place of the fish and soups, they constitute the principal part of the dinner.

Entrées, or made dishes, require great care in placing them upon the table or the gravy runs over and soils the dish. They are served with a wall of mashed potatoes, to keep them in their proper place, or rice, or other vegetables. They should be served as hot as possible.

The third course consists of confectionery, delicate vegetables dressed in the French style, puddings, creams, jellies, etc. When there are only two courses, the first generally consists of soups and fish, removed by boiled poultry, smoked beef tongue, stews, roasts, ragouts, curries, or made dishes generally, with vegetables. The second consists of roasted poultry at the top and bottom of the table, with dressed vegetables, macaroni, jellies, water ices, creams, preserves, fruit, pastry, and general confectionery, salads, etc. It is generally contrived to give as great a variety as possible, in their dinners. Thus, a jelly, a compote, an ornamental cake, a dish of preserved fruit, fritters, a blanc-mange, a pudding, celery, etc.

The side and corner dishes, usually put on for dessert, consists of compotes in glass dishes, frosted fruit, served on lace-paper in small glass dishes; preserved and dried fruit in small glass dishes; biscuits, fresh fruit, served in dishes, surrounded with leaves or moss, olives, or wafer biscuits, brandy scrolls in the centre. Dishes may consist of a Savoy, or an ornamental cake, on an elevated stand; a group of wax fruit, surrounded with moss; a melon, or pineapple, grapes, or a vase of flowers.



* * *


Observations on Dressing Fish.

Be careful to scrape off the scales and wash the inside perfectly clean. Do not allow the fish to remain too long in the water, as it will spoil its flavor.

When quite clean, if to be fried, sprinkle lightly With salt a half hour before cooking; if to be boiled, a little vinegar should be put in the water, with a handful of salt, to keep it firm. Those who understand how to purchase fish, may, by taking more at a time than they want for one day, often get it cheap ; such kinds as will pot or pickle, or keep by being sprinkled with salt and hung up, or by being dried, will serve for stewing the next day, may then be bought with advantage.

TO BOIL FISH. — All large fish, such as rock, salmon or halibut, with the skin whole, must be wrapped in a cloth with twine tied around it, and boiled in cold water; it must not be covered with more than two inches of water; put in a good handful of salt, when the water begins to boil skim it well, and remove it to one side and let it boil gently till done; the fish will separate from the bone when it is cooked, if it falls from the bone it is over-cooked; the exact time for boiling must be according to the size of the fish; Salmon will take longer. Take the cloth and twine off the fish carefully, and turn it upon a dish with a napkin; serve with drawn butter or egg sauce. If there is a strainer to your saucepan, there is no need for a cloth. In boiling salt cod fish, previously soak it for a day, change the water until fresh, then boil it gently, take it apart with a fork, thicken it with milk, butter and flour, dish it up hot and eat it with sauce.

TO FRY FISH. — If fish is to be fried or broiled, it must be wrapped in a nice soft cloth, after it is well washed. When perfectly dry, place some sweet olive oil in a frying pan, and be sure to observe that it must boil; and put a small piece of stale bread in the pan before the fish is put in, beat up some eggs, to three pound of fish two eggs will suffice, and a quarter of a pint of oil and some flour in a plate, then dip the fish in the flour smoothly and then in the egg, then put it into the boiling oil and let it fry quickly on one side, and turn it over to cook on the other side, and then turn it a third time on the other side to finish; take it out carefully with a fish slice, and place it on a dish to remain two or three hours; then change your fish on another dish for the table, to be garnished with fresh parsley around the dish. The same oil, with a little fresh added will do again. Butter gives a bad color and not so good a flavor. For those who will allow the expense oil is by far the cheapest, as it takes the smallest amount, used with care.

TO BROIL FISH. — Broiled fish must be seasoned with pepper and salt; then floured and put on a gridiron that is very clean, which, when hot, must be greased with a little butter, if for breakfast, or with oil for dinner, to prevent the fish from sticking. It must be broiled on a very clear fire, that it may not taste smoky, and not too near that it may be scorched. If the fire is smoky, throw some salt on it, and it will get clear.

ENTREE FISH. — Chop fine four white fish, and rub them through a fine wire sieve, put this in a mortar with a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, an equal quantity of bread crumbs, pound these until well mixed; season with pepper, salt and nutmeg, add three yolks of eggs, beating all for five minutes, then add two whole eggs, mix all well together ; then take up in a basin, add a spoonful of cream and the juice of a lemon, next shake some flour on a clean board or slab, divide the ingredients with a spoon into twelve equal parts, roll these, with the hand dipped into flour, in small oval shapes, dip in beaten eggs and place them in a frying pan with butter; when fried sufficiently dish them up close together, fill the centre with cooked mushrooms or truffles, pour round some sauce of lemon and egg, and the gravy made from the bones of the fish; any kind of good fish can be cooked the same way.

LEMON STEWED FISH. — Have washed and scraped clean the nape or head and shoulders of halibut, or any good firm fish; cut it up small and lay it in a stewpan, with one pint of water and three or four good sized onions, fried in oil a light brown; put them on top of the fish, with some cayenne pepper, a little ground mace, and a teaspoonful of ground ginger, with two tablespoonfuls of salt; let it all stew gently until it is done; if there should be too much gravy on it before adding the sauce, take it off; prepare two eggs and six good sized lemons, squeezed and strained; then take some of the gravy from the fish, while it is boiling, add it to the lemon, with the two eggs well beaten, and a tablespoonful of flour; mix smoothly with some chopped parsley; when all is well mixed, put it to the fish, shake it gently for five minutes while it is boiling, taking care not to let it burn; when it is sufficiently cooked, let it stand for an hour, and dish it up. Garnish with slices of lemon and parsley. To be eaten cold. Fish balls are made with it, as in recipe for fish balls.

A GOOD BROWN STEWED FISH. — Take either some carp or shad, and place it in your stewpan, with a pint of vinegar, a quarter of a pound of dark molasses and a couple of sliced onions, some ginger, a tablespoonful of salt, pepper, mace, allspice, nutmeg and a little piece of cinnamon, and let them stew together until done; then mix some gingerbread with the gravy and a few raspings of bread, and pour on the fish, and let all boil up together for a few minutes, and dish up. To be eaten cold.

POLISH STEWED FISH. — Take some pike, after being well washed, and place it in a stewpan, with a pint of water, a small piece of butter, a little ginger, pepper, salt and chopped parsley, and let them stew well; when done, roll some butter in flour and add to the fish; let all boil together for a few minutes, and dish up. To be eaten either cold or hot,

TO MAKE STEWED FISH-BALLS. — Take some fish, clear from the bone, and chop it up with some cod liver and bread crumbs, grate with parsley, ginger, pepper, a little mace and salt, and a beaten egg; mix all the ingredients together and stew with your fish, not too stiff, with bread crumbs; be sure to beat your egg first, as it will bind the articles together.

BAKED HADDOCK. — Take a haddock of five or six pounds, after it has been well cleaned, and lay it in a baking dish, with a half pint of water, a quarter of a pound of butter, broken into small pieces, and some pepper, ginger and salt; sprinkle flour and rasped bread crust over the fish ; a stuffing of bread crumbs, chopped parsley, thyme, marjoram, pepper and salt, and eggs beaten up, all mixed together, with a small piece of butter, to be put inside the fish, and with some potatoes cut in thin slices around it. Bake in a good oven for one hour and a half.

SALMON, WITH PEAS. — Take three or four pounds of salmon, cut into slices two inches thick, and place in a saucepan with some young green peas, in sufficient water to cover them, with a good sized piece of butter, pepper, salt and ginger, and let them stew for three-quarters of an hour \ when done mix a little flour and milk and pour over them, and let it boil up, shaking the saucepan carefully for two or three minutes.

TO POT SALMON. — Take a large piece, scale and wipe, but do not wash it; salt it very well, and let it lie till the salt is melted and drained from it, then season with beaten mace, cloves and whole pepper ; lay in a few bay leaves; put it close into a pan; cover it over with butter, and bake it: when well done drain it from the gravy; put it into pots to keep. When cold, cover it with clarified butter; in this manner any kind of firm fish may be done.

TO POT SHAD, HERRING OF OTHER FISH. — Let the fish be well scraped and washed, then lay it for three or four hours in salt; take a good sized jar, and cut the fish in pieces to fit; season it with salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, mace and ginger; put in the jar a layer of fish, one of spices, strewed over smoothly, then sprinkle a little flour over, and pieces of good butter, and so on alternately until the jar is full; pack it down tightly, then fill the jar with vinegar and a little water, cover the jar with a crust made of flour and water, press close to the jar that the steam may not escape; bake it in a gentle oven for five or six hours. Do not remove it from the jar until it is cold. Slice it thin and serve with lemon sauce.

TO PICKLE SALMON. — Split the salmon and divide it into good sized pieces, lay it in the saucepan, with as much water as will cover it; to three quarts of water put a pint of vinegar, a handful of salt, twelve bay leaves, six blades of whole mace and a quarter of an ounce of black pepper ; when the salmon is boiled enough, drain it and put it on a clean cloth, then put more salmon into the saucepan and pour the liquor upon it, and so on till done. After this, if the pickle be not strongly flavored with the vinegar and salt, add more, and boil it quickly three-quarters of an hour. When all is cold, pack the fish in something deep, and let there be enough of pickle to cover and preserve it from the air; the liquor must be drained from the fish, and occasionally boiled and skimmed.

SAUCE FOR BOILED FISH. — Make the sauce in this way: Take one cup of butter, rub in it a table-spoonful of flour, a little salt and pepper, then add to it a pint of cold water, boil it gently, stirring it all the time; you can add more butter if you wish it richer; also chopped parsley. For egg sauce, add to the above hard boiled eggs, chopped fine.

CAPER SAUCE FOR FISH. — Chop some capers quite small, some melted butter, and a little of the liquor off the fish, and three anchovies chopped fine and a little of the essence; mix all together with salt, pepper and ginger, and boil all smoothly.


Excerpted from The First Jewish-American Cookbook (1871) by Esther Levy. Copyright © 2004 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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