Basque Eggs Are Superb

“The Basques of northern Spain have contributed many superb dishes to our regional tropical cuisine.
Many Basques settled in Florida years ago, and their influence on our cookery is seen in cities such as Tampa, Miami, and Key West. These delightful people know how to cook, and eat, and enjoy things – as is evidenced from the following recipe for their version of eggs.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963)

Basque Eggs Are Superb Miami Herald HAWKES

Alex D. Hawkes was an epicure of the times, having written for Gourmet food magazine in the 1960s. His career prior to becoming one of America’s foremost horticulturally inclined cooks, was Botanizing. Alex could be found trekking through our world’s lost jungles, scouring lush forrest canopies in the Caribbean and beyond, for rare plants, orchids, bromeliads, ferns, and palms. If it was green, Alex was keen to take notice of not just the plant’s botanical tidbits, but of their origin, history and quite often their culinary potential.

1963-05-15-he-cooks-with-florida-foods
He Cooks With Florida Foods

Alex Hawkes was known for collecting recipes, and his receipt collection from the 1940s – 1970s would have been much different than internet bookmarks. Then, it was normal fashion to clip and collect newspaper clippings of the food section and hand written receipts, usually instructions from a relative, friend, if lucky the Chef of a local restaurant, or in Hawkes case, during one of his botanizing trips. Perhaps he sat in a Cuban cafe and noted one of their specialties in the 1940s, after indulging in Cayo Coco’s landscape? Flying beautiful white ghost orchids, Dendrophylax varius, as the Atlantic Ocean pounded the luscious Cuban archipelago. Another recipe after exploring a tropical rainforest in Brazil or South America? Indeed, Alex surely enjoyed these adventures with the famed ghost orchid, one of Florida Everglades’ extirpated orchids, and here it is seen calmly flowering in Cuba, as if nothing ever happened.

Dendrophylax varius - CUBA, SOROA - Giardina, D.J.
Dendrophylax varius at Jardín botánico Orquideario Soroa (Soroa Orchid Garden) La Habana, Pinar Del Rio, Cuba. Photo taken by Dennis J. Giardina, Everglades Region Biologist ~ Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission ~ Division of Habitat and Species Conservation ~ Invasive Plant Management Section

“A World of Vegetable Cookery is a result of combining my interests in botany and cooking over a number of years. My researches on my particular botanical specialties- orchids, palms, bromeliads, and certain other groups of plants have taken me to many parts of the globe. Everywhere I have traveled I have had the opportunity to note the good things that appear from the kitchen or campfire.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1968) 

Perhaps Alex’s Basque Eggs recipe was scoured from a Woman’s Club Cookbook, a local Junior League, or a Jamaican housewives society? Presumably, all of the above. We know his affinity for adapting recipes, from newspaper column hints Alex would leave us in his Floridian themed food columns (Florida Cookery, Sub-Tropic Cookery), for the Miami News, the Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times, Lakeland Ledger, Jamaica Gleaner, and in his elusive self published subscription / mimeographed culinary musings COOKERY NOTES. We know that he collected thousands of recipes and how much he enjoyed reading, reviewing and recommending cookbooks, either by adapting their recipes for his Coconut Grove kitchen, or by citing an author and offering cherry picked recipes to the Floridian readers of his American food column.

1965-10-09 Alex D. Hawkes Cookbook Recipe Collection St. Petersburg Times Omelet Is Now Happy SNIP
1965-10-09 Alex D. Hawkes ~ Omelet Is Now Happy ~ St. Petersburg Times

All this eclectic culinary diversity in an era prior to James Beard Foundation food writing awards, the namesake, a champion in the food writing field, whose column “Beard on Food”, would appear on occasion alongside Alex’s “Sub-Tropic Cookery” since James Beard’s recipes and musings for the Associated Press (AP), would be printed by hundreds of papers across the states. Alex wrote in a time that only the noble could relish in, having his recipes printed next to Beard’s, the dean of American cooking, is enough to raise our hands and acknowledge Alex as one of the gourmands doing their part to introduce us to cuisines from lands far, far away, but as close as a succulent bite. Alex would have been a James Beard writing award winner. His wise approach was warm, and where else would he have been a better fit than Miami’s enchanting Coconut Grove neighborhood? Today we are off to Spain, one of Europe’s most delicious countries, and home of the world’s oldest restaurant, Botin Restaurant in Madrid serving dishes since 1725. Perhaps Craig Claiborne and Alex Hawkes chatted about Spain’s Botin when they spoke on the phone?

Basques Florida HAWKES
“The Basques of northern Spain have contributed many superb dishes to our regional tropical cuisine.
Many Basques settled in Florida years ago, and their influence on our cookery is seen in cities such as Tampa, Miami, and Key West. These delightful people know how to cook, and eat, and enjoy things – as is evidenced from the following recipe for their version of eggs.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963)

Well, for this egg recipe we are sharing with you today, the source is yet known, and after perusing the pages of our Gasparilla Cookbook, we can assure you that Alex didn’t adapt this recipe from the Gasparilla ladies. The source of the cited column from 1965, “Omelet Is Now Happy” (St. Petersburg Times), will be shared in a subsequent post. For now enjoy these superb Basque Eggs as published by the Miami Herald in the 1960s.

BASQUE EGGS RECIPE

Basque Eggs

3 medium potatoes, cooked and peeled

1/4 cup butter

1 medium onion, sliced wafer-thin

4 eggs, beaten

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup scallions, with tops, chopped fine

2 tablespoons parsley, minced

Slice the potatoes less than one-quarter inch thick, and in a large skillet saute them in the butter with the onions, until they are browned. Add salt and pepper during this cooking process. Pour the beaten eggs over the potatoes and onions, and sprinkle with the chopped scallions and minced parsley. Lower heat, cover, and cook until the eggs have – set about ten minutes. Serve at once to for persons.

Basque Eggs HAWKES Pan

Basque Eggs Florida Orange Juice
“Fresh-squeezed Florida orange juice, mixed with a tablespoon of Grenadine syrup, and well chilled is a nice appetizer for such a bountiful meal.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963)

Basque Eggs HAWKES Plate

 

It’s Season To Serve The Delicious Avocado – Brazilian Avocado Cream

“Originally from Mexico and Central America, botanists know the avocado as a member of the laurel family, and have records showing that the Aztecs made extensive use of it long before the arrival of Columbus on our shores.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963)

Avocado It's SEASON Title Hawkes

As avocado season is upon us here in South Florida let’s delight ourselves with some freshly made Avocado Ice Cream. What could be finer in the summer, wherever you may be? Both a fruit and vegetable, the Avocado (Persea americana, of the Laurel Family), also regarded as Alligator Pear, was once a foreigner in Florida. Let’s see what Dr. David Fairchild over at The Kampong in Coconut Grove has to say about Alligator Pears.

Dr. David Fairchild Laboratory The Kampong.png
Dr. David Fairchild at his typewriter in his Laboratory at The Kampong in Coconut Grove, FL.
“As I sit here at my typewriter and let my mind sweep back over the days which I have spent in the state of Florida, I discover what an impossible task it is to give anything but a most distorted picture of that past. Even the common words which I will have to use do not carry the meanings which they did at that time. The word Avocado in 1898 when there were none in Florida, except an occasional specimen in some experimenter’s yard, has a very different meaning now from what it had then. Were I writing in those days I would have to begin with the assumption that none of my readers had the faintest idea what an avocado was, for the word itself had not penetrated into the literature of the Floridians. If they knew anything about the avocado it was as an Alligator Pear. Why alligator and why pear are points I have never quite comprehended. They illustrate what I wish to bring out however, viz. that the so called “things” of history are merely symbols and that it is with these symbols and not with the things that History is mainly concerned.” – Dr. David Fairchild – The Kampong – Coconut Grove, FL. (1942) TEQUESTA
1963-four-gourmets-only-hawkes-miami-herald
FOR GOURMETS ONLY (Miami Herald) Recipes by Alex Hawkes
“The avocado is one of those wonderful tropical delicacies which can be classed either as a fruit or as a vegetable, depending upon how it is used.”
“Though its origins date back to pre-Columbian times in Mexico and Guatemala, today the finest avocados in the world are raised here in South Florida, where their commercial production falls into the category of big business.”
“Through the development of new early-bearing varieties, our avocado season is now almost nine months of the year, certainly a record for a tropical fruit!” – Alex D. Hawkes
Avocado Botany Hawkes
“Originally from Mexico and Central America, botanists know the avocado as a member of the laurel family, and have records showing that the Aztecs made extensive use of it long before the arrive of Columbus on our shores.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963)
Avocado Enjoy Tropical Treats Hawkes
Enjoy These Tropical Treats

And here’s Alex’s Brazilian Avocado Cream, which can be adapted with various creams and nut based milks to suit your needs, experiment, let us know, surely Alex wouldn’t object. Enjoy.

Avocado Laurel MH Hawkes
Avocados Came From Mexico … they’re members of laurel family

Hawkes Brazilian Avocado Cream

Brazilian Avocado Cream

“In Brazil, the avocado is known as abacate, and is a favorite ingredient in menus, whether simple or ornate. Here is a wonderful dessert from a cidade maravilhosa, Rio de Janeiro.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1968)

2 large, very ripe avocados

2 to 3 tablespoons of fresh lime juice

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon salt

Press avocado pulp through a sieve or food processor to make a puree. Thoroughly blend in other ingredients. Chill for at least two hours. Serve in a chilled parfait glasses. Serves 4 to 6.

The Kampong… A Home on The Edge of the Tropics – Kampong Date Chews

“This is rather a kind of “coal back to Newcastle,” for the man who introduced these commercial dates from the Arabic countries was the Iate Dr. David Fairchild, who also gave me my first home here in South Florida, and for many years encouraged me in my botanical work in this area.” – Alex D. Hawkes

Kampong Date Chew

Try These Cookie Cakes - Kampong Date Chews

Certain places capture an energy that can’t be described beyond simply living in the moment. Coconut Grove is such a place, and the stories within it’s curvy roads have been heard by the trees that line street names that reminisce about a Grove filled with characters, fruits, birds & memories. Here’s a recipe for all the “Grovites” out there, perhaps Alex served you some Kampong Date Chews during high tea in his backyard garden in Coconut Grove? Or maybe you enjoyed them with his, Dr. Fairchild & Mrs. Marian Hubbard Graham Bell Fairchild’s company, at The Kampong, along the Biscayne Bay? Alex Hakwes named this recipe after Dr. Fairchild’s residence in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood, The Kampong. A captivating tropical botanic garden, that is still preserved and open for one’s enjoyment and amazement in enchanting Coconut Grove, Florida.

The recipe for Kampong Date Chews also appears in Alex’s first cookbook, South Florida Cookery (1964), aside from the 1963 Miami Herald “For Gourmets Only” column we’re sharing with you today.

the-kampong
“The Kampong” Home of Dr. David & Marian Fairchild in Coconut Grove, Florida.
“Dr. Fairchild’s experiences with dates and the almost insurmountable difficulties he had trying to introduce them here are well known to readers of his marvelous books. He tasted, on several occasions at “The Kampong” here in Coconut Grove, these Date Chews, and I believe that he felt that not all of his efforts had been in vain after doing so.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963-10-01) The Miami Herald
1963-four-gourmets-only-hawkes-miami-herald
FOR GOURMETS ONLY (Miami Herald) Recipes by Alex Hawkes

Alex would receive a yearly bountiful supply of wonderful Indio dates from California, as a sort of thank-you from the editor of an orchid magazine to which he regularly contributed to. Let’s see how he put these dates from the Palm tree Phoenix dactylifera to use. The date palm is in the palm family Arecaceae, which is cultivated for the fruit produced by the palms. 

Dates

“This is rather a kind of “coal back to Newcastle,” for the man who introduced these commercial dates from the Arabic countries was the Iate Dr. David Fairchild, who also gave me my first home here in South Florida, and for many years encouraged me in my botanical work in this area.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1963-10-01) The Miami Herald

TRY THESE COOKIE-CAKES

Kampong Date Chews Recipe - Hawkes

Kampong Date Chews

2     cups dates, cut into 1/4-inch sections (use scissors)

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1     cup warm water

1     tablespoon flour

1     teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2  teaspoon salt

2     cups raw rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1     cup dark brown sugar

3/4  cup melted butter

 

When preparing these moist cookies – or are they really small cakes? – be gentle in the mixing; also when placing the various layers into the pan. They are not complicated, but beating the ingredients can cause them to “fall.” They are also better after sitting refrigerated overnight, and, then allowing them to come to room temperature.

Dates cut

In a saucepan, cook over very low heat the dates, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, and 1 tablespoon flour. When this thickens and dates are just barely soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the vanilla.

Date mixture after cooking

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, rolled oats, and brown sugar, using your hands to combine them gently but thoroughly. Add melted butter, and again be gentle while mixing thoroughly. In a shallow, well-greased 8”x 12” pan, place one-half of this flour-oats mixture; pat it down gently. Next add the date mixture, spreading it very thoroughly, and top with the remaining flour-oats mixture, which again is patted down gently. Bake in preheated, 365-degree oven for 30 minutes. Allow to cool and cut into Squares. Makes 20 to 30 squares. 

Kampong Date Chew

Indonesian Recipes At Home In Florida – Tomatoes Javanese

“The marvelous and varied cuisine of far-off Indonesia offers many suggestions for us here in Florida. These recipes are quite unlike those of any other Eastern cookery – some Javanese dishes are frighteningly spicy-hot, for example. Yet I often use them in combination with good old American meals to excellent advantage.” – Alex D. Hawkes

indonesian-recipes-at-home-in-florida-hawkes

When is the last time you served tomatoes as a side? How about the carbon footprint of the fruits and veggies you enjoy? Were they grown locally? Sometimes these questions incite differing opinions about GMO this and that, and organic vs conventional banter. Is there a need to pay exorbitant prices for premium produce in Florida, or anywhere in our great country? Yes, on occasion, to satisfy some popular opinion. What does it take for more vegetable side dishes to appear at our tables? The lower the carbon footprint, the better off things will be, right?

“The marvelous and varied cuisine of far-off Indonesia offers many suggestions for us here in Florida. These recipes are quite unlike those of any other Eastern cookery – some Javanese dishes are frighteningly spicy-hot, for example. Yet I often use them in combination with good old American meals to excellent advantage.” — Alex D. Hawkes (1964)
ruth-gray-editors-note-hawkes-grove
Editor’s Note: “Alex D. Hawkes is a writer, noted orchidologist, and specialist in the cookery of southern Florida. He makes “his home in Coconut Grove.” — Ruth Gray (1964)

The focal concern here, is noting that there’s a definite level of aloofness regarding overall awareness of, “The Sunshine State’s” agricultural prowess, particularly in the winter. When snow is falling in every American state, except in “The Tropics“, Florida, is proudly providing and endless bounty of tasty vegetable side dishes for the rest of the country. The aloofness is amongst Floridians, and the remainder of Americans as well. Become aware of how your local agricultural networks function, by visiting local farms, and purchasing produce directly from growers, and suppliers connected to the source. Visit farmer’s markets throughout the week, not just during the weekend. Plant a tree.

“Handsome rich-red tomatoes are big business with Florida farmers. During the springtime especially, these juicy vegetables are common and reasonably priced in our markets. The following recipe for Tomatoes Javanese is a quickie, requires only a few minutes” preparation, and is very popular with my family and friends. I serve Tomatoes Javanese with such things as charcoal broiled hamburgers, pot roast, and even fried pork chops or ham.” — Alex D. Hawkes (1964)

Florida, “The Sunshine State“, is primed for growing a variety of just about everything tropical, and a divine selection of vegetables, from parsnips, cucumbers, squash, chayote, watercress, and tomatoes, to name just a few. For Alex’s Tomatoes Javanese recipe, we prepared “Redland SweetTomatoes, grown by Pine Island Tomato Farm, in Homestead.

florida-cookery-hawkes-column-hat

TOMATOES JAVANESE

6 medium tomatoes, cut in wedges

2 medium onions, sliced thin, in rings

2 tablespoons peanut (or soy) oil

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon ground dried red pepper

In a heavy skillet, heat the oil and stir-fry the onion, with the salt, cumin, and dried red pepper, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato wedges and stir-fry 5 minutes. Serve either hot or chilled. Serves 4 to 6 persons.

tomatoes-javanese-hawkes
Indonesian Recipes At Home In Florida – Tomatoes Javanese – St. Petersburg Times – 1964-05-28 — Alex D. Hawkes

 

 

Take Full Advantage Of Kumquat Season – Preserved Kumquats

“The other day a good friend presented me with a marvelous quantity of beautiful fresh kumquats. These little citrus fruits are to be encountered in many good Florida markets now, too, and the enterprising cook should take full advantage of their availability while they are still on the trees. Perhaps you still have some left in your yard.” Alex D. Hawkes (1967)

hawkes-kumquat-header

The fruits of being a Floridian. Kumquat, Citrus japonica, is part of the Rutaceae citrus family. “Fortunella is the name given to the kumquat genus in honor of Robert Fortune who in 1846 was the first person to import kumquats into Europe. The name “kumquat” is a synthesis of the Chinese words gam (金), meaning gold, + gwat (橘), a term for tangerines” (UF IFAS). These small, delicious, sweet, and tart, citrus fruits can be eaten whole and turned into a fine array of preserves. Not to be confused with Calamondin, another one of the small and magical citrus fruits that are to be enjoyed.

“The other day a good friend presented me with a marvelous quantity of beautiful fresh kumquats. These little citrus fruits are to be encountered in many good Florida markets now, too, and the enterprising cook should take full advantage of their availability while they are still on the trees. Perhaps you still have some left in your yard.” Alex D. Hawkes (1967)

Let’s discover the way Alex D. Hawkes explained and prepared kumquats in his 1967 article “Taking Full Advantage Of Kumquat Season”, for the St. Petersburg Times, in North Florida. Alex, a South Floridian, from a small, botanically lush neighborhood, known as Coconut Grove, in the City of Miami, facing the Biscayne Bay. But why was Hawkes writing for the St. Petersburg Times and The Lakeland Ledger, in the north of The Sunshine State? Mr. Hawkes was a botanist, and was involved with the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society, that gathered in northern Florida. Alex also divided his time between Coconut Grove “The Tropics”, and Jamaica in the Caribbean, his second home. During his Jamaican getaways, he would submit his recipes by post to Jane Nickerson, Lakeland’s food editor. His last columns kept running for several weeks after his untimely 1977 death in Jamaica.

Alex was a devoted orchidologist and specimen collector, with a wide range of interests. Alex’s botanical adventures took him around the world, into the the jungles of Latin America, the Caribbean, and countless other places, which will be discovered through A.D. Hawkes’ recipes. When taking the larger view, then, it becomes clear that the very personal magic he’d bring to life in his small immaculate Coconut Grove kitchen, partook of a larger outside world, and might help explain why, after all these years, his recipes refuse to be contained. This is where Alex would test and adapt the recipes he collected from his botanizing adventures. Alex would go on to share these recipes via Florida’s newspapers as a food columnist, and through the cookbooks he authored, leading up to being cited by food writing heavyweights such as Cecily Brownstone, in her highly syndicated AP food column.

Alex D. Hawkes carved his path within various botanical circles related to orchids, bromeliads, ferns, palms and more. Alex established the South Florida Bromeliad Society (BSSF), alongside Nat DeLeon and Bob Wilson in 1959. Alex’s botanical connections around the state very well could have linked him up with the St. Petersburg Times paper, the rest is delicious. The BSSF still meets monthly at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG), in Coral Gables.

kumquat-a
“Wash the firm kumquats, and using a big darning needle, prick each fruit several times.” Alex D. Hawkes (1967)
“The vivid orange rind is piquant, yet edible, hence whole fresh Kumquats can be served as a very distinctive fresh accompaniment with any festive meal, from fish or fowl to roast red meats. Marmalades and jellies are also prepared from these attractive fruits, and when crystallized or preserved, kumquats are increasingly popular with many of us.” Alex D. Hawkes (1967)

Enjoy Alex’s recipe, while we add another book to his list of unpublished cookbooks. Was Hawkes pulling our leg when he mentioned he was writing a “Citrus Cookbook”? Nonetheless, Alex’s 4 published cookbooks, and his hundreds of newspaper columns for the Miami News, The Miami Herald, St. Petersburg Times, Lakeland Ledger, and The Jamaica Gleaner will satisfy anyone’s desire to explore the lovely world of citrus fruits, with the wide array of recipes Mr. Hawkes shared with his readers during his food writing career.

kumquat-c
FLETCHER’S PRESERVED KUMQUATS. Who was Fletcher, perhaps Alex’s nice friend that gave him the marvelous quantity of beautiful fresh kumquats?

FLETCHER’S PRESERVED KUMQUATS (MAKES A LOT)

2 quarts fresh kumquats

   Boiling Water

5 cups sugar

1 tablespoon lime (or lemon) juice

Wash the firm kumquats, and using a big darning needle, prick each fruit several times. Place fruit in a large heavy saucepan, add boiling water to cover. Simmer until the fruit is tender – (usually about 20 minutes). Remove kumquats from water with slotted spoon. Add sugar and lime (or lemon) juice to water, and bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil for five minutes, then return the kumquats, and cook them over very low heat until they are semi – transparent, usually about an hour. Allow kumquats to stand in syrup overnight. Next day, bring fruit and syrup back to the boiling point. Remove kumquats from syrup with slotted spoon. Pack them into hot sterilized jars. Cook syrup until thickened. Pour over, the kumquats. Seal the jars.

kumquat-b
“Allow kumquats to stand in syrup overnight. Next day, bring fruit and syrup back to the boiling point.” – Hawkes (1967)
kumquat-1912-florida-tropical-cookbook-first-presbyterian-church-of-miami
“As a decorative fruit when used fresh, the kumquat is very beautiful. In using the kumquat, as in other citrus fruits, the length of time and quantity of water to be used in extracting bitterness from peel varies with individual fruits; some requiring more and others less. This can only be regulated by testing the liquid and changing until palatable.” – Florida Tropical Cookbook – First Presbyterian Church of Miami (1912)
kumquat-growers-dade-city-fl
We prepared Florida Kumquats from Dade City. Nature’s Sweet Tart An exciting new taste treat. Eat it all except the seeds. Sweet peel and tart pulp. Kumquat Growers, Inc. ~ Fresh From Florida

Holiday Shopping in 1967? Cookbook South Florida Cookery (1964) by Alex D. Hawkes now at all bookstores!

1967-12-03southfloridacookeryxmasad

The late Alex D. Hawkes wrote a magical first cookbook, ‘South Florida Cookery‘ (1964). ‘SFC’ was published and hand bound with enchanting cloth covers by Wake Brook House (WBH), local Coral Gables publisher at that time. Alex lived in Coconut Grove, a relatively colorful neighborhood next to Coral Gables. More info about WBH will be linked at the bottom of this post. ‘South Florida Cookery‘ was advertised by The Miami Herald for the 1967 holiday shopping season with the ad seen above. Alex’s cookbook is certainly that, plus much more. The promotional quote, “How To Use Florida’s Glamorous Foods” is both highly evocative and a sign of the times. It was Alex’s time to shine, and indeed he did, becoming one of Florida’s most esteemed cooks. Who else would be keen enough to publish Papaya recipes by non other than David Fairchild, that were enjoyed in his legendary Coconut Grove, retreat, “The Kampong”? Amazingly, the lush botanical oasis on Miami’s beautiful Biscayne Bay has been preserved, and is used for ongoing plant research, and special events. Dr. Fairchild’s recipes will be shared soon.

Alex D. Hawkes dedicates ‘South Florida Cookery’ (1964) “I would like to dedicate this book to the fond memory of Dr. & Mrs. David Fairchild”

Where have the culinary traditions that once thrived regionally, and across the whole of the United States of America (U.S.A.) gone? The age of convenience has stripped away both a way of living, and also any number of lovely staples that adorned proud dining tables across the country. The countless generations of the cooks in our families that painstakingly perfected and passed these recipes down, must be rolling in their graves! They didn’t have the facility that television and the internet offers, like current generations thoroughly enjoy. The concern at hand is not that we’ve stopped eating or have began to create non glamorous dishes. Among the concerns is that we’ve become increasingly reliant on chefs and restaurants to provide us with these delicious experiences. We look for convenient and simplistic satisfaction when cooking for ourselves either due to lack of experience in the kitchen, or not having enough time. There are other factors and perspectives to keep in mind as well, we do all have to eat everyday.

Like many of the great cookbook authors that have strived to influence our eating habits by introducing foreign cuisines to North America, Alex D. Hawkes ranks high in the list of people that influenced the culinary landscape in all of Florida, and the U.S.A.. From Florida’s northern panhandle to the southern tip of Key West, Alex served us with an avid sense of all things botanical that could be of interest to cooks in the kitchen. Alex found himself to be widely useful and well liked by his colleagues in the world of food writing at the time. This is noted through their various citations and acknowledgements made during his lifetime, and thereafter.

By presenting delicious recipes from his world travels, using a variety of rare fruits & vegetables that were then just beginning to appear in our markets, Alex helped all those raising their hand or eager to jump into the kitchen to experiment. His botanical background literally left no leaf unturned or nut untasted, which ads something fun and interesting to the cooking experience. Alex Hawkes accomplished something like what Alton Brown, current Food Network TV host that shares scientific and botanical tidbits in his cooking show, has successfully done. Alex exemplified a spirit bringing to mind a cross between Alton Brown, Anthony Bourdain, chef and world traveller, and Julia Child, beloved American author and TV host that trained professionally at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, a maven for any cookbook author interested in taking on the role of presenting foreign cuisines to Americans.

The authors mentioned above all served important roles introducing Americans to the cuisines of foreign lands. Many were American, others were foreign, but in the end they shared a common goal of promoting the positive attributes of the U.S.A. through cooking. A few prominent examples: Julia Child – French Cuisine, Diana Kennedy – Mexican, Joyce Chen & Barbara Tropp – Chinese, Felipe Rojas-Lombardi – Peruvian, Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz – Caribbean & Latin American. Elizabeth also compiled Alex’s final cookbook posthumously, Alex D. Hawkes – The Flavors of The Caribbean & Latin America: A personal collection of recipes (1977) Viking, New York. There are of course many more such authorities and examples that can be shared. The names mentioned above will help contrast between foreign cuisines and the heritage of the diverse fare that is still alive and well in the U.S.A..

Alex D. Hawkes Cookbooks

To hook Americans on how rich and diverse our own cuisine was, food writing heavyweights such as James Beard, Edna Lewis, Cecily Brownstone & Jane Nickerson were among those doing their part to help Americans understand, how rich and diverse our ancestors cooked, while promoting the eclectic regional cuisines of the U.S.A.. James Beard covered all of American regional cuisines like his colleague & dear friend Cecily Brownstone who wrote several highly syndicated columns for the Associated Press (AP), over the course of a staggering 39 years. Cecily Brownstone, the most widely published of syndicated food writers, loved to reference Alex’s botanical tidbits whenever she was writing brussels sprouts recipes. We cannot forget Edna Lewis who continued to enamor us with the delights of Southern Cooking. Jane Nickerson who became a Floridian by adoption in 1957 when she handed off the New York Times to Craig Claiborne.

Claiborne who had worked with Ann Seranne and Eileen Gaden prior to Gourmet and the New York Times, was an excellent succeeding writer to Nickerson. The fact that all these writers and characters knew about one another, only makes richer the broth, and helps put into perspective what Alex Hawkes was up to. Craig Claiborne would eventually cover Alex in The New York Times of the 1960s. That article will be shared in another post, stay tuned!

There is no country that devotes more time to watching foreign foods being prepared on television than the U.S.A.. There is no country that investigates and welcomes foreign cuisines to the extent that Americans do, but we leave it up to restaurants and chefs to do the cooking. How does this relate to Alex Hawkes and his ‘South Florida Cookery‘ (1964) cookbook? Simple, Alex was showing us that the cuisines from all over the world simply tasted better when prepared at home with a good recipe and quality produce, such as the bountiful heaps of fresh Florida fruits and vegetables that were abundant in markets of the 1950s & 1960s. Times haven’t change in Florida, and the farming networks although some say are diminishing, are at least for now providing quality produce all across the states. Historically, Florida “The Sunshine State” has proudly served winter cooks with splendid harvests, when most of the country is having snow pile on their yards.

Many Americans and Floridians are unaware that the great “Sunshine State”, was and still plays an integral part in the agricultural network of the U.S.A., not just in the winter, but all year long. Alex shared a variety of recipes, often times his newspaper food columns were seasonally themed which was fitting, since they were titled ‘Florida Cookery’ and ‘Sub-Tropical Cookery’. Alex also played another role for those that wanted to experience culture through cooking and explore the world via fruits and vegetables, by enjoying foreign fare that they cooked themselves at home.

Here’s some of the cuisines found in ‘South Florida Cookery‘ (1964) aside from Alex’s American interpretations, international delights & his personal culinary creations. Recipes for Haitian, Jamaican, Bahamian, Cuban, Spanish, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan, Argentine, Brazilian, Italian, Japanese, Nipponese, Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Javanese, Indian, French, Hawaiian, Singapore, Philippine, Burmese, Lebanese, Turkish and Syrian dishes are offered. Alex D. Hawkes was a character of sorts, a cross between Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain, befitting since he travelled the world as a botanist, pleasing his palate and returning back to the U.S.A., eager to share his discoveries with fellow Americans, as did Child.

Here are three full shots of the four known hand bound covers by Wake Brook House of ‘South Florida Cookery‘ (1964). The fourth cover is partially visible on the photo displaying the stack of some of Alex’s cookbooks. Catch you in “The Tropics”.

Please subscribe to this blog and check out Recipe Lost’s other social media pages via links located at the top, right and bottom of this website. Don’t forget to run out and grab Alex’s book for $5.00…

Miami Herald – Sunday December 3, 1967
South Florida Cookery (1964)
How To Use Florida’s Glamorous Foods
The Ideal Gift
A Handmade Book published by WAKE-BROOK HOUSE (Coral Gables)
At All Bookstores $5

A list of Alex D. Hawkes’ published works can be found via this link. – More books!

For more information about Wake Brooke House visit David Burkam’s website on the subject. Click this link.

What is Sub-Tropic Cookery? Who was botanist & cookbook author Alex D. Hawkes, from Coconut Grove?

“A World of Vegetable Cookery is a result of combining my interests in botany and cooking over a number of years. My researches on my particular botanical specialties- orchids, palms, bromeliads, and certain other groups of plants have taken me to many parts of the globe. Everywhere I have traveled I have had the opportunity to note the good things that appear from the kitchen or campfire.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1968)

awovc-hawkes

Exploring the fruit and vegetable kingdom with the late botanist, and cookbook author Alex D. Hawkes (1927-1977). Recipes, botany and lore of the fruit and vegetable kingdom.

A World of Vegetable Cookery is a result of combining my interests in botany and cooking over a number of years. My researches on my particular botanical specialties- orchids, palms, bromeliads, and certain other groups of plants have taken me to many parts of the globe. Everywhere I have traveled I have had the opportunity to note the good things that appear from the kitchen or campfire.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1968)

Welcome to Alex’s garden & kitchen… palm and bromeliad expert, orchidologist Alex D. Hawkes shared a lot with us, especially through the recipes he collected, from his world travels as a botanist. We “RecipesLost” hope you get to try some of Alex’s recipes, let us know, try it out, take a chance, have a taste will ya?

Alex D. Hawkes graduated from the University of Miami in the late 1940s as a Botanist. Among his first assignments for Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG), in Coral Gables, was documenting the Palms all over the globe. Alex compiled this breathtaking task in a 9 volume work in the early 1950s after traveling the world, while enjoying it quite thoroughly, for the botanical garden. Alex also gathered some papaya “pawpaw” recipes, that will be posted, from his stay at Dr. David Fairchild’s “Kampong” in the Magic City’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. Hawkes was keen enough to collect recipes everywhere he went. His vast recipe file, wherever it may be, will reveal a treasure of recipes. To the person guarding it, thank you. The recipes Alex collected, whether if it was from a hotel he stayed at in Nicaragua during one of his botanical adventures discovering colorful orchids, or from the mountains of Peru and Mexico, were wholesome and honest.

1945hawkesfairchildkampong
Dr. David Fairchild & Alex D. Hawkes in the former’s garden “The Kampong” in Coconut Grove, Florida. (1945-02-15)

The caribbean captivated Alex, it’s influence is shown through Alex’s grasp of the many cuisines that make up the West Indies. The caribbean is the home of many beautiful places, but Alex lived only in two, Cuba & where he passed away, Jamaica, his second home away from beautiful Coconut Grove, FL. in Miami. An adventurer, botanist, cook, writer, columnist & more, Alex D. Hawkes left us recipes, to enjoy cultural experiences, and a taste of the past, which is still as delicious as it once was. He traveled the world, Europe, South America, Latin America, India, Japan, & beyond.

Alex played an integral role in South Florida’s bustling botanical circles. He mimeographed and published several independent papers that are now considered collector’s items, on various subjects. Orchids, Bromeliads, Palms and his culinary writing, the elusive, “COOKERY NOTES”. Alex was the coordinator of The Bromeliad Society of South Florida, Inc., serving as temporary Chairman of the Board. Alex was known for hosting high tea in his Coconut Grove backyard garden. These occasions must have certainly called for lovely Floridian menus.  Alex’s notoriety allowed him to maintain a constant flow of correspondence with his colleagues and readers. If you have found any of Alex’s letters, please contact us.

1962-03-27-alex-hawkes-more-mail-marilyn-monroe-cropped
“Did you know I receive more fan mail weekly than does Marilyn Monroe? … she is now receiving only 80 or so letters a week, while mine runs at least double that!” — Alex D. Hawkes (1962)

Alex’s recipes have been shared and adapted in newspapers by food columnists & cookbook authors in their works. Alex had many friends and shared his mimeographed COOKERY NOTES with countless of acquaintances and food professionals of the era. Authors such as Elizabeth Alston, Nika Hazelton, Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, Elizabeth Schneider, Bernard Clayton Jr., Cecily Brownstone, Jane Brody, Ruth Gray, Bertha Cochran Hahn & Jane Nickerson have cited Alex or exchanged letters with him. There are more, we hope, do let us know if you find one folded up inside a cookbook while you peruse it. Contact Us -> #RecipesLost In the late 1960s Mr. Hawkes humbly had lunch with Julia Child and James A. Beard at Joyce Chen’s restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was covered by Craig Claiborne in the New York Times (1960s), and Alex’s cookbooks were mentioned thereafter by Claiborne.

Gourmet the Magazine of Good Living, was at the time the premier magazine for food talk. The magazine featured many seminal figures that helped shape the way America eats. Among the many writers to mention, Gourmet would showcase columns by Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher (M.F.K. Fisher), and her occasional wine musings. It was not odd for these pieces to appear alongside writings on an endless variety of culinary ‘Delights And Prejudices‘, by none other than the Dean of American cookery, James A. Beard.

In the October (1964) issue of Gourmet, Alex D. Hawkes joined the ranks of several of the cookbook authors he esteemed. With his first cookbook ‘South Florida Cookery‘ (1964) hot off the presses, Alex’s food writing career couldn’t have begged for a brighter red carpet. Alex’s piece for Gourmet featuring the squash like Chayote, ‘Sechium edule’, Cucurbitaceae, was as exciting to read, as it was to prepare. The recipes Alex discovered in Mexico & Nicaragua, during his botanical adventures, are culinary time capsules. After being introduced how to prepare chayotes in quite culturally distinct fashions, Alex returned to his Coconut Grove kitchen with the recipes, and shared them with the world. Chayote recipes will be featured in a later post, stay tuned.

Alex continued sharing his recipes, which landed him a food columnist gig for The Miami Herald, after he won a Cook of the Month title in 1963. Alex continued onto the Miami News in the mid 1960s. Then, via his horticultural society connections, he penned a food writing column in North Florida, for the St. Petersburg Times in the late 1960s, via his column ‘Florida Cookery’, seldomly ‘Southern Cookery’. By the 1970s Alex was dividing his time between Jamaica, and Coconut Grove. In the Caribbean, he was maintaining a daily radio program ‘What’s Cooking’ on Radio Jamaica, cooking TV appearances, & varied columns for The Jamaica Gleaner, on topics such as sightseeing, horticulture, botany, & of course recipes.

Never forgetting his Floridian roots, Alex, simultaneously maintained his ‘Sub-Tropic Cookery’ for The Lakeland Ledger, in central Florida. Jane Nickerson, ex Food Editor of the New York Times, moved to Lakeland, and took on the role of food editor at The Ledger. ‘Sub-Tropic Cookery’ by Alex Hawkes, was an excellent column for Jane Nickerson to have in her food section, since the cuisine in Florida was being shaped quite differently than the rest of the United States of America. This is due in part to the rather recent availability of imported varieties of lesser known rare fruits & vegetables in markets across the U.S.A.. The state’s markets were being influenced by the various cultures, that were all then, calling “The Sunshine State” their new home.

“Though I have been collecting recipes for the use of all types of vegetables for a considerable number of years, it is only comparatively recently that many of the less familiar ones have become available in the United States. This is, to me, very exciting, since this condition opens up a wondrous new field of inventive cuisine.” – Alex D. Hawkes (1968)

Florida also was increasing their production of various culinary staple items that are integral to the cuisines of many foreign lands. Crops such as ginger, chayotes, green beans, radishes, watercress, corn, zucchini, squash, strawberries, guavas, papayas, mangos and plenty more delicious gourds were being grown commercially in the 1960s & 70s in Florida. Alex’s column was surely there for you during Mango season, of course! He’s from Coconut Grove like Mr. Haden, whose wife Florence cared for the mango seedlings brought down via sailboat from West Palm Beach. After her husband’s passing, she had the varietal named “Haden” after the good Captain from Coconut Grove. It is claimed that the original Haden Mango tree is still standing in “The Grove”, on land that was once lived on by the Matheson family. – Photograph of what is believed to be the original ‘Haden’ tree, located in Coconut Grove, Florida

The United States has always been regional, The Great West, The North West, The Eastern Heartland, New England, Creole & Acadian, Southern Style & Florida somehow gets left out of the South. Although not part of the Caribbean, it’s the only subtropic state in North America. Alex Hawkes took full advantage of the knowledge he picked up during his world travels, and assisted Americans with the bountiful heaps of tropical fruits and vegetables that were to be found in their markets.

The United States is perhaps the first country to seek out cuisines from all corners of the globe and make it possible via cookbooks, supermarkets and strong agricultural networks. Alex was interested not just in bringing the recipes home, but also sparking curiosity about how something grew or where it originated. He was able to highlight a vegetable, whether it was misunderstood, or avoided and create something unique yet simple.

akexdhawkesjamaica

Alex authored hundreds of articles & botanical books. For a list of his cookbooks follow this link -> Alex D. Hawkes – Botanical Works & Cookbooks.

Sub-Tropic Cookery‘ is maintained by the Recipe Hunters @ #RecipesLost. A food history & recipe scavenging project. Share with us via the tag #RecipesLost or send us your recipe request. Have a question or request of what do make or what to do with a fruit or vegetable? Looking for an interesting side dish? Send us an email at RecipesLost@gmail.com ~ Oh yeah! If you have any copies of Alex’s COOKERY NOTES please let us know! Thank you.

Image: Cookery Notes – November 1967 – Vol. 4, No. 1 – Fondues For Everybody!We would like to thank Mr. John Banta who provided us with a few Volumes of Alex Hakwes’ COOKERY NOTES. If you find any pages, please let us know, thank you!

alex-d-hawkes-cookery-notes-1967nov

xxx