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.

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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

 

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

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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)
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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.

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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.

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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)

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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.

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“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.

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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.

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