Category Archives: colonial america



The first rompope was made in the 17th century in the Santa Clara convent of Puebla, Mexico. It was a derivation of the Spanish ponche de huevo. At the time, the Catholic Church was prominent in government and society so convents developed innovative sweet and savor dishes for visiting officials and religious dignitaries.

This boozy and creamy drink that is one of them. It is still sold by nuns outside of churches in Mexico.

6 cups whole milk
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
pinch nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
8 large egg yolks
1 ¼ cup white rum

Bring milk, cinnamon, cloves, pinch nutmeg, vanilla, and baking soda to a boil over medium-high heat in a large heavy-bottom saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks,and sugar until thick and pale.

Remove cinnamon and clove from the milk and discard.

Whisking constantly, slowly add the milk to the yolk mixture.

Return mixture to pan and cook over low heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

When cool, stir in rum and serve.

Serves 6 to 8

(recipe adapted from Epicurious)

Macaroni and Cheese

notes on macaroni jefferson

Macaroni and Cheese

Thomas Jefferson introduced the first pasta maker and Parmesan cheese to Colonial America. Among the few existing recipes in his hand is one for macaroni, then a generic term for pasta. (We can also thank him for the first recipe for vanilla ice cream in the US.) He served a variation of this now all-American recipe at a White House dinner in 1802, a time when it would have been considered pretty sophisticated Italian fare.

The above image is Jefferson’s drawing of a macaroni (pasta) machine and notes from the Library of Congress. Click here to read more. TJ, you’re the man.

1 pound elbow pasta
salt to taste
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1 ½ cups Gruyere, grated
3 cups cheddar cheese, grated
pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper
½ cup plain breadcrumbs
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350º F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until not quite al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain, transfer to a bowl, and set aside.

Mix the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour until smooth. Whisk in the milk and cook, continuing to whisk often, until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the cheese, one cup at a time and whisk until the cheese is melted and incorporated. Whisk in a pinch of nutmeg, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Remove pan from heat and stir in the reserved pasta. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle the top with the Parmesan and breadcrumb mixture and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

Serves 12

Doniel’s Buttermilk Waffles

doniel's waffle

Doniel’s Buttermilk Waffles

This recipe is courtesy of Doniel Winter from the Asia Bed and Breakfast Spa in Asheville, NC.

The ancient Greeks cooked flat cakes, called obelios, between hot metal plates. Through Medieval Europe these cakes, made from a mixture of flour, water or milk and sometimes eggs, became known as wafers. In the 13th century they began to be stamped with designs ranging from family crests and landscape scenes to the characteristic grid pattern.

During the Renaissance, wafers becomes so popular that they were even sold by street vendors outside churches. The Dutch were particularly fond of them and colonists introduced them to the US in the early 17th century where they met their perfect match, maple syrup.

Thomas Jefferson is said to have purchased a long-handled waffle iron while traveling through the Netherlands and technically introduced the first waffle maker to America in 1789. Thank you, Thomas Jefferson.

1 cup flour
1 cup organic blue cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 eggs, separated
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
4 tablespoons butter, melted

Heat a waffle maker.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl whisk the egg yolks with the buttermilk and melted butter. In yet another bowl beat the eggs whites to form 2 inch peaks.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients in a thin steady stream while mixing gently with a rubber spatula. (Do not add liquid faster than you can incorporate it into the batter). Toward the end of mixing, gently fold the egg white into the batter.

Spread appropriate amount of batter into the waffle iron and cook until golden brown. Dust with powdered sugar and serve warm with fresh fruit and maple syrup.

Serves 6

Cauliflower Gratin

cauliflower gratin

Cauliflower Gratin

This cauliflower gratin makes a decadently delicious side for Thanksgiving.

Cauliflower was introduced to France from Genoa in the 16th century and, though rare in French cooking, held an honorable place in French gardens because of their delicate beauty. They were written about by the gardener and scientist Olivier de Serres in his 1600 book Théàter de l’agriculture (Theater of Agriculture) and are featured in La Varenne’s 1653 cookbook Le cuisinier francois (The French Cook). Prepared in a shallow dish and broiled to form a mouthwatering golden crust, gratins originated in French cuisine and include vegetables, breadcrumbs and grated cheese. 

1 head cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 ½ cups freshly grated Gruyere cheese, divided
¼ cup plain breadcrumbs

Preheat the oven to 400° F.

Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, until thickened. Remove from heat and add 1 teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg and 1 cup of the grated cheese.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 x11-inch baking dish. Place the cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the breadcrumbs with the remaining cheese and sprinkle on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned and serve hot.

Serves 6