HISTORIC FOODWAYS

Delicious history!

These historic recipes are a delicious way to learn about how folks cooked in the past. If you give these a go, please post your final results on our facebook page facebook.com/westporthistory with the hashtag #TasteForHistory. We’d love to see them! Have a question about a historic recipe or one to share? Email us at virtualmuseum@westporthistory.org

Naleśniki: Polish Rolled Pancakes with Fruit Preserves
Throughout much of American history, immigrants were encouraged to “assimilate” to life in the United States, putting aside language, dress and social morés from the “old country.” Many retained their ethnic foods as visceral links to home. By the 1960s and 70s Americans were expressing a growing interest in world cultures. As part of this movement there was a renewed sense of celebration of Americans of all ethnicities and food was an egalitarian and popular …
Sweet Milk Bran Bread
​​​​​​​In 1947,  the Westport Woman’s Club  published The Connecticut Cookbook which is held in the Museum’s collection. The cookbook featured recipes from local ladies and was illustrated by noted Connecticut Artists such as Samuel E. Brown who lent this illustration to the Bread Chapter. This recipe for Sweet Milk Bran Bread was offered by Lillian Lambdin, wife of the noted Westport artist Robert Lambdin. This whole grain loaf is sweetened with molasses and dates—both of which add …
Dandelion Salad
In the past, the dandelion was well known as a folk medicine cure-all. Used in soups or tinctures or made into wine, dandelion was long thought to be a blood cleanser, good for the liver and the kidneys and rejuvenating as a spring tonic, This recipe is inspired by Clara’s Kitchen, a web site dedicated to Depression era cooking by Clara Cannucciari (1915-2013) based on her own experiences living through that era. It was tested and prepared by Charlotte D’Anna, a sophomore at …
Hoe Cakes & Honey
This recipe for hoecakes is adapted courtesy of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. The first president was a fan of these cornmeal pancakes and often had them for breakfast generously drizzled with honey—of which he was particularly fond. Washington’s affinity for the stuff was so well known that during the time of the first presidency, so many well-wishers left local honey at Washington’s Philadelphia door, that there was always a surplus.   We call for baking spray or safflower oil to fry the …
The Sherry Flip
Taverns in early America served a variety of drinks including beer, wine and spirits. Mixed drinks weren’t the sophisticated quaffs we know today. Often combining liquors for the best bang, heavily spiced and including for body, nutrition and froth, early American cocktails were served room temperature, warm or even hot since ice was not available. A common sailor’s drink, The Flip featured beer, rum, and molasses that was heated with a hot iron and served warm.  Ingredients   1 large egg ½ ounce (1 tablespoon) Simple Syrup* 2 …
Lucien Gaudin Cocktail
Lucien Gaudin was a French fencer during the 1920s who medaled in no less than three Olympic competitions in that decade which became known as the Annes Folles or “Crazy Years”. Gaudin quickly became a national hero for his efforts and the cocktail that bears his name was born and enjoyed in the myriad cafes, bars, and restaurants around Paris where a vibrant new-century social culture bloomed. Ingredients   1 1/2 ounce (3 tablespoons) gin  ¾  ounce  (1 ½ …
Chocolate Tart
It may be surprising but chocolate cream pie, or chocolate tart was a common dessert during Colonial times. Chocolate arrived in America via the West Indies and was used in drinking chocolate (cocoa) and the shells of the cocoa beans were used to make a light tea. Eighteenth century chocolate was far different from what we know today—it was a grittier product and usually flavored with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice in a recipe similar to traditional Central American …
Chantilly Cream
Sweetened whipped heavy cream by a fancy name is Chantilly Cream—a popular and delicious accompaniment to everything from fresh fruit to ice cream to pie and more. Culinary legend attributes this delightful airy concoction to the 17th century French chef, Vatel, who worked in the Château de Chantilly in France. In Chef Vatel’s time, as today, a copper bowl works best to whip cream—especially by hand. However, a good stand mixer and balloon whisk attachment make quick work …
Jesup Hall’s The  Buzzed  Bee
Branden Hahn, General Manager at Chef Bill Taibe’s popular downtown Westport eatery, Jesup Hall, offers this modern take on the classic Prohibition era cocktail called “The Bee’s Knees” (find the original here). Hahn’s spicy, sophisticated version of the drink uses vodka instead of gin and offers a kick with ginger syrup sweetened with demerara sugar, a unique, partially-refined large grained brown sugar grade originally milled in South America.  Ingredients For the Honey Syrup:  ½ cup honey ½ cup water  For the …
Potato Croquettes
This simple dish was called “Potatoe Balls” in the 18th and early 19th centuries and an original recipe for this dish appears in Mary Randolph’s cookery book The Virginia Housewife published in 1824. These croquettes are a good way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. While the base recipe is simple, feel free to add spices or herbs to your liking. Nutmeg, imported from the West Indies, was a common ingredient in early American kitchens—even in savory preparations. Minced chives are a good addition as is grated …
The Bee’s Knees
This cocktail was popular one hundred years ago during the Jazz Age. The sweet-sour combination was ideal to mask the taste of the harsh “bathtub gin” brewed locally or at home in defiance of Prohibition laws.  Ingredients For the Honey Simple Syrup:  ½ cup honey ½ cup water   For the cocktail:  1 lemon, washed well to make twist for garnish (optional) 2 ounces gin (or vodka) 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice 1 tablespoon honey simple syrup (or to …
Shrewsbury Biscuits
Named for a town in England in the county of Shropshire bordering Wales, the Shrewsbury biscuit is essentially a shortbread cookie. Carried to America via early colonists this cookie was commonly flavored with caraway seeds which impart a faint licorice taste. If you don’t like caraway, you may simply omit it. Ingredients 1 tablespoon butter 8 ounces (2 sticks) softened butter 1 cup sugar 1 egg 2 ½ cups flour with additional as needed 1 ½ tablespoons caraway seeds zest of 1 lemon  …
Beef Pasties
While it’s not definitively clear when meat turnovers were invented, meat pies have been referenced in a 13th century royal charter by England’s King Henry III and 14th century French cookbooks, which referred to the encompassing dough as paste. This is likely where the word “pasty” came from.  In earliest versions, a stiffer version of the pastry dough itself served as a baking container for the meat filling. These later evolved into the popular “standing pies” …
Salmagundi
Salmagundi was a popular dish in 17th and 18th century America, although it has its origins as far back as the 1500s. Essentially, Salmagundi is what we would call a “composed salad” today— a salad the eats like a meal.  In addition to lettuce, Salmagundi features meat of some kind as well as various vegetables. Cheeses, fruits, nuts and edible flowers may also be included.  The dressing is always oil and vinegar based. You can use any oil …