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Quaker Recipes in 1821 Reflected a Multitude of Cultures

Montgomery County, Maryland’s 93,000-acre Agricultural Reserve is a nationally recognized model of farmland and open space preservation, and a thriving diverse place. From this remarkable act of stewardship, especially in the face of intense development pressure in the Washington, D.C. area, the Reserve has generated clean air and water, natural habitat, diverse jobs, a connected […]

Photo credit: George Kousoulas
Claudia Kousoulas and Ellen Letourneau

Claudia Kousoulas and Ellen Letourneau

Montgomery County, Maryland’s 93,000-acre Agricultural Reserve is a nationally recognized model of farmland and open space preservation, and a thriving diverse place. From this remarkable act of stewardship, especially in the face of intense development pressure in the Washington, D.C. area, the Reserve has generated clean air and water, natural habitat, diverse jobs, a connected community and lots of good, local food.

Independent writer, Claudia Kousoulas and producer, Ellen Letourneau have created more than a cookbook. Its recipes, profiles, essays and photographs trace the Reserve’s history, but also the contemporary challenges faced by family farms trying to establish a new generation, new farmers seeking land and markets, and the shared community efforts required to preserve this special place.


 

Parsnip Cake with Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting

Photo credit: George Kousoulas

Pepper and parsnips in a dessert?  This warm spicy cake is nothing more than a variation on carrot cake and the Brown Butter Cream Cheese Frosting is more than just sweet — it has deep and nutty flavor.

Preparation

Grease a 20 cm (8-inch) round baking pan, line with a sheet of wax or parchment paper cut to fit, and set aside.

Mix the flour, spices, salt, and baking powder to blend. Set aside.

Using a stand or hand-held mixer, beat the sugar, eggs, vanilla, and vegetable oil until smooth and blended.

Mix in the flour mixture, parsnips, and walnuts, until just blended and no spots of flour are visible. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes at 177° C (350° F).

While the cake is baking, make the frosting. Melt the butter over medium heat, until it foams, the solids begin to separate, and it takes on a light brown color and a nutty aroma. Keep an eye out, it can burn quickly. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Using a stand or hand-held mixer, beat the cream cheese until soft. Keep beating and blend in the salt, sugar, and the brown butter, including the solids. Beat until smooth and blended.

To assemble the cake, let it cool in the pan for five minutes, then unmold it to cool completely. Once the cake has cooled, split it into two layers and spread the frosting between the layers.

Vinegar-Braised Chicken

Vinegar-braised chicken Photo credit: Martin Radigan

Chicken is a cook’s blank canvas, responsive to the simplest or most elaborate treatments. This version, inspired by a historic recipe, is simple but can be different every time you make it, depending on the vinegar you choose.

Preparation

Cut the chicken into pieces, season the skin side with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and place the chicken pieces in, skin side down. Season the other side and brown the pieces on both sides until the skin is well-browned and the pieces release from the pan. Don’t crowd the pan. As the chicken cooks, remove them from the pan.

Return all the chicken to the skillet, and add the butter and the vinegar. Cover, lower the heat, and cook for about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove the cooked chicken pieces from the pan and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. Sprinkle in the flour, and whisk it over medium heat to thicken. Whisk in the buttermilk, about ¼ cup at a time, to make a gravy.

Add salt and pepper to taste, and pour the gravy over the chicken and serve hot.

In her cookbook published in 1845, Quaker homesteader Elizabeth Lee offered a number of chicken recipes—fricasseed, broiled, in a pie, in a salad, in a soup with giblets, stewed with corn, even baked into an eggy Yorkshire pudding. But she always started with a whole, farmstead chicken.

Cold Chicken with Vinegar

Cut up the chicken in small pieces, and crack the bones; season with salt and pepper, put it in a deep baking plate, with a lump of butter and a tablespoonful of vinegar; cover with hot water, put a plate over, and let it stew on a stove or hot embers.

Savory Sweet Potato Pancakes with Pomegranate Molasses Yogurt Sauce

Photo credit: George Kousoulas

Preparation

Place the shredded sweet potatoes and scallions in a large bowl. Stir in the eggs.

In a small bowl, blend the flour, baking powder, mint, cumin, salt, and pepper, and stir into the potato mixture until evenly blended.

In a skillet, heat about .6 cm (¼ inch) of oil until hot. When a bit of batter sizzles, drop in a large spoonful of the mixture, gently pressing it into a patty with a spatula. Cook a few at a time, until browned and then flip to brown the other side, adjusting the heat so they don’t burn.

Keep the pancakes warm in a 93° C (200° F) oven while you cook the remaining batter.

To make the sauce, blend the yogurt, pomegranate molasses, and tahini until smooth.