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

 

Egg Nog Is Also For New Year’s Eve… Or The Entire Year!

As Alex Hawkes suggests in his “Rum Cookbook” (1972), enjoy home-made Egg Nog beyond the holiday season.

The holiday season tends to be very busy, and like so many traditions we limit our enjoyment of certain delights to only one time a year. Among the seasonal holiday culprits we have pumpkin everything, gingerbread, turkey, duck, stuffing, gravy, countless vegetables, cider, egg nog, and the list can go on and on. These ingredients are found plentifully year-round at markets, yet they go ignored for most of their shelf life, waiting for a sale or it’s holiday match. So, why not upgrade your New Year’s Eve with some homemade Egg Nog? You don’t have to fret about not making it earlier!

“It is not, though, necessary nor obligatory to restrict the offering of this drink to this time of the year. By using the following recipe, Egg Nog can be presented with pride all year round. Try it soon, for your next festive home get-together.” – Alex D. Hawkes – The Rum Cookbook (1972)

Throughout the countries in the Caribbean there are innumerable Egg Nog / Eggnog variations that are to be found and enjoyed. Milks, spices, and alcoholic beverages are mixed to the maker’s content. In Puerto Rico, there is a similar nog beverage made with eggs known as “Coquito”, translates to small coconut in English. This creation is concocted by mixing coconut milk with condensed milk, and like all homemade Egg Nog drinks, the results are delicious. Rum, bourbon, whisky, brandy, and cognac are among the alcohols to consider for your personal recipe. The milks that are generally varied are, condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, and regular milk.

The spices to consider, and use to your liking, are cinnamon pieces, whole cloves, whole star anise, and whole nutmeg. These spices except nutmeg can be infused in a simple syrup over heat, which is allowed to rest. The infusion is then poured in a thin stream whilst being whisked into the milk and egg yolk mixture. It is not unlikely to find a piece of cinnamon in a bottle, if you’re lucky to have received one as a gift. The results are generally well received, especially for whomever enjoys the last drops.

Among the Caribbean variations, we find one in Cuba, enjoyed in it’s most simple form, a syrup infused with spices, “Crema de Vie” as it is called in the “Pearl of the Antilles”, let us toast to the “Cream of life”.

“The drinkable spirits of the world are considerable in number and diverse in degree of popularity. In terms of world-wide consumption, four types stand out above all others, rum, whisky, gin, and brandy. Rum, particularly the rum produced in Jamaica, is increasing in popularity all over the world.” – Alex D. Hawkes – The Rum Cookbook (1972)
rum-cookbook-1974-alex-d-hawkes
Alex D. Hawke’s Rum Cookbook (1974) was photographed by Jamaica’s esteemed Maria Layocona.

Many countries in the Caribbean are known for their rum. Even Japan produces fine rums! The Antilles is famed for producing quality sugar from their bountiful harvests of sugarcane. The fertile soil in this region is noted for being optimal for growing sugarcane. Major Caribbean distilleries have prevailed adversary, such as Bacardí when their industry in Cuba was expropriated by Fidel Castro during his nationalization of hundreds of domestic and foreign businesses such as, Associated Press, Gillette Safety Razor Co., Remington, Reynolds, Kodak, Hershey’s, The Coca Cola Co., Dupont, Hilton, United Fruit Sugar Co., Exxon Corp., Texaco Inc., General Electric Co., The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., Procter & Gamble Co.. Bacardí prevailed since they had established a rum distillery in Puerto Rico in 1937.

“The “Harlem” sugar mill in the Artemisa province was the first to get its machines running in the 2016-2017 sugar harvest. Fifty-three other sugar mills will join in the country’s attempt to leave behind the dreadful results from the last decade, in what was Cuba’s first and most productive industry.”Cuba’s Sugar Harvest (2016-2017) Begins by Pilar Montes – December 03, 2016 

Bacardí’s move within the Caribbean, from Cuba to Puerto Rico was a worthwhile business venture. The Cuban sugar industry would slowly collapse under the communist regime, suffering a major setback when Russia and the Eastern Bloc lessened trade with Cuba. The Castro regime not only lost rum, which was one of their major exports. They razed their number one export, Cuban sugar, which was noted to produce among the finest of rums in the world. Ask Trader Vic what he served at his restaurant, Trader Vic’s, which opened and closed in 1959, at The Habana Hilton. At the time of it’s construction in Havana, the island’s capital city,  it was the tallest building in all of Latin America.

Rum from the “Pearl of the Antilles”, is comparable in terms of reputation, to the famed tobacco crop, and hand rolled “Habano” cigars from Cuba. Labels such as “Havana Club”, “Ron Matusalem”, “Caribbean Club”, “Ron Varadero”, & “Ron Caney” are among the preferred labels. It is important to note that Bacardí also produces a “Havana Club”, distilled in Puerto Rico, which is a competitor to the Cuban produced rum. Cuba is the largest of the Caribbean islands, and has the most diversified flora in the Antilles, with a large quantity of its species being endemic, meaning that they grow nowhere else in the world.

What better event than New Year’s Eve to anticipate with a few jugs of homemade egg nog? The eggs should be of highest quality, and you are encouraged to visit a local farmer or market to purchase the freshest local variety you can attain. Perhaps you have a chicken roaming in your yard? We followed Alex’s advice and used a Jamaican rum, which was distilled in the Caribbean by Appleton. So far this holiday season we’ve made a batch with Filipino, Cuban & Jamaican rums.

egg-nog-crema-de-vie-hawkes
Throughout the Caribbean there are innumerable variations of Egg Nog that are to be found and enjoyed. Milks, spices and alcoholic beverages are mixed to the maker’s content.

Egg Nog – Serves 24

1 bottle (fifth) light Jamaican rum
12 egg yolks
1 1/8th cups of sugar – 226 grams
1 quart whole milk
1 quart heavy cream whipped until stiff but not dry
freshly grated Jamaican nutmeg

Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and beat until they are light in colour. Then gradually add the sugar, and beat until the mixture thickens. Stir in the milk and the Jamaican rum. Chill, covered, for 3-4 hours. Pour into a pre-chilled punch-bowl, and fold in the whipped cream. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg. Use whichever nutmeg is available in your market, but the whole nut, rather than already ground.

Myers Original Jamaica Egg Nog – Serves 24

1 bottle (fifth) Myers rum
12 egg yolks
1 1/8th cups of sugar – 226 grams
1 quart whole milk
1 quart heavy cream
freshly grated Jamaican nutmeg

Beat egg yolks with rotary beater until light. Add the sugar, and continue to beat until the mixture is thick and pale in colour. Gradually stir in the milk and the dark rum, and chill in the refrigerator for 3 hours, stirring often. Turn mixture into a punch bowl, fold in the heavy cream which has been whipped until stiff, and place in refrigerator for an additional one hour. Serve sprinkled with freshly grated Jamaica nutmeg. Use whichever nutmeg is available in your market, but the whole nut, rather than already ground.

For a few other varieties we recommend the cookbook Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America by Dr. Maricel E. Presilla. Dr. Presilla is a chef, restaurateur, chocolate expert, medieval & culinary historian, and as diverse as her book, which is indeed a gem. It contains her adaptation of the Venezuelan “ponche crema”, by Dr. Jose Rafael Lovera, developed at CEGA, the institute of Gastronomic research in Caracas. The cookbook also includes a recipe for “Coquito“. Dr. Presilla’s cookbook was awarded the James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year & IACP Cookbook Award in 2013.

There is a also a “Coquito” recipe in another one of Dr. Presilla’s books, illustrated by Maricel’s father Ismael Espinosa Ferrer. An excellent book to share with children with delicious recipes, all listed here, Mazápan – Marzipan with Royal Icing, Mojo Agrio, Adobo Tía Anita – Aunt Anita’s Adobo, & Coquito – Creamy Coconut Drink.

Feliz Nochebuena, Feliz Navidad: Christmas feasts of the Hispanic Caribbean (1994) Henry Holth & Co. 

For more info on Rum check out Rob’s Rum Guide!

ron-santiago-de-cuba
Ron Santiago de Cuba ~ Añejo

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.