Family members and visitors alike testified that hoecakes were among George Washington’s favorite foods. He invariably ate them at breakfast, covered with butter and honey, along with hot tea—a “temperate repast” enjoyed each morning.
Years after Washington’s death, Nelly Custis Lewis described her method for preparing a yeast-risen version of hoecakes in a letter to her close friend Elizabeth Bordley Gibson. “Make it by candlelight,” she wrote, “& let it remain [by a warm hearth] until the next morning.” Describing the baking method, she wrote: “[D]rop [the batter] a spoonful at a time on a hoe or griddle (as we say in the South). When done on one side turn the other—the griddle must be rubbed . . . with a piece of beef suet.”
This recipe is a modern adaptation of the 18th-century original. It was created by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump for the book Dining with the Washingtons.
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/2 cups white cornmeal, divided
3 to 4 cups lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Melted butter for drizzling and serving
Honey or maple syrup for serving
Mix the yeast and 1 1/4 cups of the cornmeal in a large bowl. Add 1 cup of the lukewarm water, stirring to combine thoroughly. Mix in 1/2 cup more of the water, if needed, to give the mixture the consistency of pancake batter. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200°F.
When ready to finish the hoecakes, begin by adding 1/2 to 1 cup of the remaining water to the batter. Stir in the salt and the egg, blending thoroughly.
Gradually add the remaining 1 1/4 cups of cornmeal, alternating with enough additional lukewarm water to make a mixture that is the consistency of waffle batter. Cover with a towel, and set aside at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
Heat a griddle on medium-high heat, and lightly grease it with lard or vegetable shortening. Preparing 1 hoecake at a time, drop a scant 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle and cook on one side for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. With a spatula, turn the hoecake over and continue cooking another 4 to 5 minutes, until browned.
Place the hoecake on a platter, and set it in the oven to keep warm while making the rest of the batch. Drizzle each batch with melted butter.
Serve the hoecakes warm, drizzled with melted butter and honey or maple syrup.
Unctuous isn’t a word to throw around about a recipe without merit. These braised lamb shanks earn it in spades! Lots of liquid and a low-and-slow braise are the chef’s techniques for falling off-the-bone lamb shanks—don’t attempt to rush it.
8 lamb shanks, about 12 oz (340 g) each
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) canola oil, divided
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried rosemary, crumbled
1 can (473 mL) brown ale
4 cups (1 L) no-salt-added chicken broth
1/2 cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (150 mL) cold water or additional broth
Preheat oven to 325°F (163°C).
Pat lamb shanks dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil in a large Dutch oven or deep roasting pan over medium-high heat. Brown lamb shanks in batches of 2 or 3 (avoid crowding the pot), turning occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until well-browned. Transfer to a large bowl as they’re browned. Spoon off fat if too much accumulates as you cook (you only want a thin layer in the pot), and adjust heat as necessary to prevent burning. Pour off all the fat after browning lamb.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add remaining oil to the pot. Add onions, garlic, carrots, celery, rosemary and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Pour in ale and broth, and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits stuck to the pot.
Return lamb shanks and any accumulated juices to the pot. Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise for about 3 hours or until lamb is very tender.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer lamb shanks to a large bowl, cover with foil and keep warm. Skim fat from top of sauce. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat. Whisk flour with cold water in a bowl until smooth. Gradually whisk into boiling sauce. Reduce heat and boil, whisking often, for about 10 minutes or until thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Reserve 2 lamb shanks and 2 cups (500 mL) of the sauce for Brown Ale Lamb Poutine; let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Serve remaining lamb shanks with sauce.
Try this classic veal dish for a quick restaurant-quality meal that tastes like it took hours to prepare!
1/4 cup (50 mL) flour
pinch salt and pepper pinch
1 lb (500 g) Veal slices, cut 1/4″ (5 mm) thick
4 tbsp (60 mL) butter
1 lb (500 g) mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) beef stock
1/4 cup (50 mL) Marsala wine or Sherry
Combine flour, salt and pepper. Coat veal slices lightly on both sides with flour mixture. Melt 2 tbsp (30 mL) butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Cook veal slices 4-5 minutes until golden brown, turning once. Remove from pan and keep warm. Add remaining butter to skillet and cook mushrooms to golden brown. Add beef stock, bring to boil and simmer 2 to 3 minutes. Add Marsala wine and return meat and any accumulated juices to pan. Re-heat 1 to 2 minutes. Serve veal topped with sauce and mushrooms. Serve with roasted baby potatoes and a green vegetable.
Baking salmon in a salt crust insulates the fish so it cooks evenly and delicately. The result is an incredibly moist fillet, gently perfumed with lemon and dill. The real hero is the Brown Butter Vinaigrette, which adds richness, acidity and nuttiness that pair beautifully with salmon.
2 centre-cut salmon fillets, each 1 1/2 lbs (680 g), even in size
1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
1 cup (250 mL) dill fronds, divided
3 1/2 cups (875 mL) coarse salt
1/3 cup (80 mL) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (60 mL) cornstarch
2 egg whites
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
Brown Butter Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
Pat salmon dry with a paper towel. Season flesh sides with pepper. Arrange lemon slices on the flesh side of 1 salmon fillet. Place 1/2 cup (125 mL) dill on top of lemon slices, then place another fillet on top, flesh-side down. Using butcher’s twine, secure fillets together.
Mix salt, flour and cornstarch in a large bowl. Stir in egg whites and water until the mixture has the texture of wet sand.
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour one-third of the salt mixture onto parchment and arrange into the size and shape of fish fillets.
Lay fish on top of the salt. Cover fish with remaining salt mixture, packing it securely so that no fish is peeking through.
Bake until fish is cooked through, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from oven and rest 2 minutes.
Break open salt crust and gently remove salmon. Untie, carefully separate fillets, and discard dill and lemon.
Lay fillets, flesh side up, on a serving dish. Pour Brown Butter Vinaigrette over salmon. Garnish with remaining dill.
BROWN BUTTER VINAIGRETTE
Full of flavour, this vinaigrette can be used on salads, steamed vegetables, delicate meats and of course, fish. Browning butter guarantees a deep, nutty, caramel flavour. Pairing it with salty capers, lemon and shallots create a dressing with a whole lot of character.
1/2 cup (125 mL) unsalted butter 2 tbsp (30 mL) capers, drained 1/3 cup (80 mL) almonds, roughly chopped 1/3 cup (80 mL) thinly sliced shallot 2 tsp (10 mL) lemon zest 1/4 cup (60 mL) lemon juice 1/2 cup (125 mL) dill fronds, plus more for garnish 2 tbsp (30 mL) grainy mustard
1. Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook until the butter gets foamy with browned bits on the bottom, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. Add capers, almonds and shallot. Cool 2 minutes, then add lemon zest and juice, dill and grainy mustard.