200 Years of Classic Recipes From America's First
by Walter Staib (Running Press)
many people thank the U.S. Department of the Interior and historical
museum curators in the acknowledgments of their cookbooks, but Walter
Staib didn't just buy City Tavern restaurant in Philadelphia, he
was awarded the management contract by an act of Congress.
was in 1994, a full 220 years after the ritzy restaurant first opened
its doors. Soon after, Paul Revere arrived at those doors to announce
Parliament's closing of the port of Boston. That was the first of
many landmark events the restaurant witnessed. In 1777, City Tavern
hosted the country's first official Fourth of July celebration.
In 1789, George Washington feasted there on the way to his inauguration.
Unfortunately, the building was heavily damaged by fire in 1834
leading to its eventual razing.
1948, Congress authorized Independence National Historical Park
to preserve important sites such as that of City Tavern, which was
replicated and opened in time for the country's bicentennial. Staiban
award-winning chef and restaurateurtook over in 1994 making
a splash by serving 18th century-style gourmet food.
book makes a similar splash and should be a welcome addition to
the shelves of anyone interested in culinary historyor simply
good stick-to-your ribs Colonial cuisine. First fill up on historynot
just that of the restaurant, but the cuisine of the times. Then,
move on to the first plates. As Staib explains, "When City Tavern
first opened, appetizers weren't served as they are today. Meals
were organized as 'first plates' and 'second plates,' with first
plates including appetizers, soups and salads. All first plate items
were brought out at the same time and served family-style and in
eclectic dishes of various shapes and sizes." These might have included
Cornmeal Fried Oysters With Remoulade inspired by Martha Washington's
Booke of Cookery and Chestnut Fritters, Pumpkin Bisque, Corn
Chowder and Dandelion Salad.
quickly see why most of the ingredients have lasted centuries as
this country's favorites. Here are some of Staib's second plates
(entrées) that also feature all-time favorite ingredients:
Honey-Glazed Roasted Ducklings
whole boned and halved domestic ducks (2 to 4 pounds each), see
1/4 cup fresh orange juice, strained
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup honey
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Homemade or store-bought chutney, for serving, optional
oven to 425 F. Place duck halves skin sides up, in a large shallow
In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, brown sugar, thyme and
parsley; mix well.
Using a pastry brush, brush the mixture over the skin of the ducks.
Roast for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the
oven. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 F.
Brush the honey over the skin of the ducks and sprinkle with the
Roast for 15 to 20 minutes more, until crispy.
If desired, serve with homemade or store-bought fruit chutney. Yields
Note: If possible, have your butcher bone the ducks removing
the wing bones but leaving in the thigh bone and keeping the breast
intact with the thigh. Then ask to have the ducks cut in half.
with Black Walnuts
4 whole fresh trout (8 to 10 ounces each), with heads, tales and
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pats
Salt, to taste Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste, for garnish
3/4 cup chopped (preferably black) walnuts, for garnish
oven to 350 F. Place each trout on its back, cavity facing up, and
remove the excess bones. Rinse the fish; pat dry. Place the flour
in a medium shallow bowl. Dip both sides of the trout into the flour.
In a large skillet, cook the trout in the oil over high heat for
2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Transfer the trout to
a baking sheet. Bake for 3 to 4 minutes, until crisp. Transfer to
a serving platter. Keep warm. In the same skillet, sauté the shallots
in the 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat for 3 minutes, until
golden brown. Add the wine to deglaze the pan, loosening any browned
bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the lemon
juice and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the butter pats one
at a time, whisking with a wire whisk, until all of the butter is
incorporated into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
To serve: Spoon the sauce over the trout. Garnish with the
parsley and walnuts. Yields 4 servings.
(Updated: 11/06/08 SB)