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)

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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.

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”.

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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.

Traveling the world through Alex D. Hawkes’ recipes

Traveling the world through Alex D. Hawkes’ recipes… more recipes to come.