By Arlene Shaner, Historical Collections Librarian
The New York Academy of Medicine hosted its annual fund-raising gala at the Mandarin Oriental on June 14th. Gala attendees had the opportunity to sample two treats based on recipes from one of our favorite manuscript receipt books.
The Academy Library has 37 manuscript receipt books, most of which contain a mix of culinary, medicinal and household recipes. Some of them have been featured already on our blog (see earlier posts on Mother Eve’s Pudding, and English Gingerbread). The Recipes Project also featured an interview with Anne Garner, our Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, about the print and manuscript historical recipe books in our collection.
One of our favorite manuscripts is A Collection of Choise Receipts from the late seventeenth century. Inspired by a recipe for Black Cherry Water in the manuscript, Pietro Collina and Matt Jozwiak created a signature cocktail, the “Choise Cherry Crush,” for gala guests. You can try your hand at mixing one up if you are so inclined.
The drink was inspired by this 1680 recipe:
On their way out at the end of the evening, guests received bags with a pair of almond cookies also adapted from a recipe in Choise Receipts.
There are several recipes for cookies or little cakes made with almonds in the manuscript. My favorite, “The Lady Lowthers Receipt for to make Bean Bread” a cookie that very much resembles a macaron in texture, takes its name from the slivered almonds that look like little beans that are mixed into the dough.
The recipe for Almond Bisketts that we reproduced for the gala, however, seems to be missing a crucial ingredient: almonds!
Only when examining the full page of the manuscript, on which a very similar recipe for Almond Cakes appears directly above the one reproduced on the postcard, does it become clear that the “half a pound of fflower” referred to in this recipe would be made from ground almonds. The adapted recipe printed on the back of our card makes that clear.
If you make a batch of these tasty cookies, let us know how they turn out! Better yet, send us a picture and we’ll post it on Instagram.