Thursday, October 2, 2008

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Brandy Stew

Fending off a bit of a head cold right now and craving soup. Which is weird because the days are unseasonably warm here in San Diego and hot soup seems out of place. Most likely, I'll pull some stock from the freezer, brown off some brisket, onions, and carrots, then add barley, sherry, chiles, and some dried mushrooms. That and a loaf of bread will drop me like an ox.

I am tempted, however, by an old New Orleans "infallible cure" for a cold. This brandy stew, from the fourth edition of The Picayune’s Creole Cookbook (1910), is part of a collection of "cooking for invalids" recipe file I began after throat surgery a few years ago left me unable to eat solid food for several days and the thought of more ice cream, gelato, and sorbetto made me shudder.

Brandy Stew (Cognac Chaud a la Creole)

1 Glass of Fine Old French Brandy [2 ounces]
1 Tablespoon of the Best Butter
3 Tablespoons of Sugar
1 Teaspoon of Ground Cloves
¼ Teaspoon of Grated Nutmeg
½ Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon and Allspice

Have a nice porcelain-lined saucepan. Melt the butter and sugar over a clear fire, blending well, and adding almost immediately the ground cloves, cinnamon and allspice. Let it stew slowly and add the brandy or good old Bourbon or Rye whiskey very carefully, so that it will not take fire. Stir well and let it bubble up once or twice, and then take off the fire and add the grated nutmeg.

This is a very delicate stew, and is offered to the sick and those suffering from severe cold. It is held as an infallible cure for a cold in twenty-four hours.

Hot Stews of Whiskey, Rum, Gin, Claret, Sherry, Madeira or Port Wine may also be prepared the above ancient formula.

Hot spiced port is on the same page. Sometimes it's good to be sick.


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