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.

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

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)
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.

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 ~ Añejo

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)


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.

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.

“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.


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 ~ 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!