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


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)
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.



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.

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)


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.

“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.

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


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.

“Allow kumquats to stand in syrup overnight. Next day, bring fruit and syrup back to the boiling point.” – Hawkes (1967)
“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)
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!


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.