Holiday Recipes from Our Cookery Collection

By Carrie Levinson, Reference Services and Outreach Librarian

It’s that time of year, when big batches of sweet treats are put in the oven, entrées that can feed an army are lovingly prepared, and fun beverages are served all around. Perhaps you don’t know exactly what you’d like to serve at this year’s holiday dinner, or just want to mix things up a bit (with a little historical flair). With this in mind, The New York Academy of Medicine Library is offering a variety of recipes for your perusal from our adoptable Cookery Collection, holdings which span over 10,000 cookbooks, menus, and pamphlets and that include recipes from ancient Rome to mid-century America.

We start off with a festive drink, a “beautiful flavoured punch”, from one of the oldest American cookbooks. Robert Roberts’ The House Servant’s Directory: A Monitor for Private Families (originally published in 1827; our edition is from 1828) was the first commercially-produced book in the United States authored by an African-American (Langone, 2002). It includes an etiquette guide for servants as well as useful household receipts.

TO MAKE A BEAUTIFUL FLAVOURED PUNCH. Take one dessert-spoonful of acid salt of lemon, half a pound of good white sugar, two quarts of real boiling water, one pint of Jamaica rum, and a half pint of brandy, add some lemon peel or some essence of lemon, if agreeable, four drops of the essence is enough; then pour it from one pitcher to another twice or thrice to mix it well. This will be a most delicious and fine flavoured punch.

Recipe “to make a beautiful flavoured punch” from Robert Roberts’s House Servant’s Directory: A Monitor for Private Families (1828). NYAM Collection.

Moving onto some main course inspiration, these recipes for roast goose and apple stuffing come from the December 18th, 1933 issue of A & P weekly menus from the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company.  The menus, which span the years from 1933-1935, include meal ideas for four people as well as complementary recipes and advertisements; some weeks have a theme and some simply list different recipes the consumer might find appealing.

Menu for a Special Christmas dinner, along with recipes for Roast Goose and Apple Stuffing.

December 18, 1933 menu from Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. A & P Menus: Prepared and Proven in the A & P Kitchen. 1933–1935. NYAM Collection.

Amelia Simmons’ American Cookery, or, the Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, & Vegetables (1804) is the first cookbook known to be written by an American, and was originally published in 1796. Simmons included the first recipes for items like johnnycakes and custard-style pumpkin pie and substituted American ingredients for British ones (Stavely and Fitzgerald, 2018). She also included a recipe for New Year’s Cake, seen here.

NEW YEAR'S CAKE Take 14 pound flour, to which add one pint milk, and one quart yeast, put these together over night, and let it lie in the sponge till morning, 5 pound sugar and 4 pound butter, dissolve these together, 6 eggs well beat, and carroway seed; put the whole together, and when light bake them in cakes, similar to breakfast biscuit, 20 minutes.

New Year’s Cake recipe from Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, or, The Art of Dressing Viands, Fish, Poultry, & Vegetables (1804). NYAM Collection.

Need more ideas? Check out the full Holiday Recipes addition to our Adopt a Book Cookery Collection, and help support the care and preservation of these rare and unique materials!

References

Langone, J. (2002). Introduction to the Feeding America project. Retrieved from https://d.lib.msu.edu/content/introductory_essays/?book=43

Stavely, K., & Fitzgerald, K. (2018, January 12). What America’s first cookbook says about our country and its cuisine. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-americas-first-cookbook-says-about-our-country-its-cuisine-180967809/