American expatriate Wallis Warfield Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, wrote a cookbook in 1942 entitled Some Favorite Southern Recipes of the Duchess of Windsor. The woman who may have saved the country from a Nazi-sympathising king shared her 140 recipes to raise money for the British War Relief Society.
The Duchess could certainly feed. A friend of the duchess’s wrote in a letter in 1931, when the royal spouse was still Mrs Ernest Simpson:
Wallis’s parties have so much pep no one ever wants to leave. Cocktails with sausages, not on skewers, caviar with vodka, soup with sherry, fish with white wine, hock, champagne, from then on to the brandy. Needless to say, I do not attempt this lavish mixture. But her food is as elaborate as her wine list.
Wallis Windsor (as she signed her name) notes in the introduction:
“It is the simple dishes of my homeland which are the most popular… and which are the ones most frequently served at my table.”
In the section headlined “Some of My Favorite Foreign Recipes”, home cooks could try recipes for, at the time, a rather exotic chicken madras but also haddock souffle and risotto – dishes now pretty common.
Although her two recipes using terrapin look more esoteric than ever.
Eleanor Roosevelt added her words to that introduction:
The real improvements in American living and health has been the discarding of the elaborate and extravagant menus which marked our entertaining as recently as the General Grant period…This tendency toward more healthful simplicity and especially toward the more scientific preparations of food is, I believe, one of the outstanding contributions which the people of the United States have made toward modern eating habits.
Roosevelt was the leading light in the British War Relief Society, which saw Americans donate to the beleaguered British:
Michael Roberts in an article in the LA Times noted that the repertoire of flavorings in the book is limited to salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, sage, thyme, cloves, allspice, mace and nutmeg. There’s file powder in two gumbo recipes. There’s no garlic in the entire book. Tomatoes are used in only one recipe–ravioli with tomato sauce. When vinegar is called for in a recipe for pickled oysters, the only specification in the ingredient list is that it be hot.
The Duchess’s recipes – such as: pilau of rabbit, wine jelly or baked Maryland chicken – were tested by the Home Institute of the New York Herald Tribune.
One recipe was for… The Duchess of Windsor’s Pork Cake.
1/2 pound fat salt pork, ground
3/4 cup boiling water
3/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup of firmly packed brown sugar
2 cups raisins
1 cup currants, washed and dried
3 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Place pork in a mixing bowl and add boiling water. Add molasses, brown sugar, raisins and currants and cool. Mix and sift the flour, baking soda and spices together three times. Add to the molasses mixture and beat until smooth. Turn into long narrow bar pan (10 X 4 X 3 inches) and bake in a slow oven (325 F.) 1 hour and 15 minutes.
MARYLAND FRIED CHICKEN
1 (3-pound) chicken
1 cup flour
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup broth
Have chicken disjointed at market, with wings, breast cut in halves, back, second joints and drumsticks separated. Season chicken to taste with salt. Roll chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Reserve leftover flour.
Melt shortening over medium heat in cast-iron skillet until hot. Add butter. Place chicken pieces in skillet. Cover and cook 30 to 45 minutes, turning pieces frequently to brown slowly on all sides. When browned, add 2 tablespoons water and place covered skillet in oven. Bake at 300 degrees 15 to 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender.
Remove chicken to plate. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings. Stir in 2 tablespoons reserved flour. Add cream, broth and salt and pepper to taste. Stir constantly over low heat until thickened. Add giblets, if desired. Makes 4 servings.
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups boiling water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
In bowl soften gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water.
Meanwhile, cook mushrooms. In pan boil water. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain. Reserve liquid.
Add liquid to softened gelatin, stirring until dissolved. Stir in lemon juice. Chill until slightly thickened. Fold in mushrooms.
Turn into 6 individual molds and chill until firm. Unmold onto individual plates covered with lettuce leaves. Serve with mayonnaise on side. Makes 6 servings.
SOUTHERN BROWNED RICE
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups water
Place rice and butter in oven-proof skillet and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until rice is golden brown. Add salt and water and bring to boil.
Then transfer skillet to oven. Bake, covered, at 300 degrees 30 minutes, or until rice is done. Makes 6 servings.
Now, about that terrapin a la mode…