Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Vintage recipes as suggested by Rufus

Rufus Estes was one of the finest chefs of the early 1900's. Born into enslavement in 1857 in Tennessee, he went on to live an exceptional life during difficult times. After losing both of his brothers in the Civil War, he took odd jobs milking cows, gathering wood, and carrying the hot dinners for labourers who worked in the fields.
At age sixteen he got a job working at a restaurant in Nashville, and some years later entered the Pullman Service - a private car travellers agency.
For the next fourteen years Estes served some of the most prominent people in the world including presidents, business tycoons and entertainers. He published his first cookbook in 1911. Entitled: "Good Things To Eat As Suggested by Rufus - A Collection of Practical Recipes for Preparing Meats, Game, Fowl, Fish, Puddings, Pastries, Etc.", the volume took him ten years to write and contains recipes for soups, breads, pies, sauces, souffles, preserves, ice creams, beverages - many of them written in a short and charming style. This significant work represents the life of a stylish, talented and creative man.

Here are two of his recipes, for Spice Cake and Fig Layer Cake:

Spice Cake
For little spice cakes cream one-half cup of butter with one cup of sugar, add one beaten egg, one-half cup of sour milk, and one-half level teaspoon each of soda, baking powder and cinnamon, and a few gratings of nutmeg sifted with two and one-half cups of pastry flour. Stir in on-half cup each of chopped walnut meats and seeded and chopped raisins. Roll out thin and cut in shape or put small spoonfuls some distance apart on a buttered pan and press out with the end of a baking powder can until as thin as needed; do not add more flour. Bake slowly.


Fig Layer Cake
Cream one-quarter cup of butter with one cup of sugar, add one beaten egg, one cup of milk, two cups of flour sifted twice with four teaspoons of baking powder. Bake in layer tins.
For the filling chop one-half pound of figs fine, add one-half cup of sugar and one quarter cup of cold water. Cook in a double boiler until soft, let cool, and spread between the cakes.

Recipes taken from: 'Good Things To Eat As Suggested by Rufus - A Collection of Practical Recipes for Preparing Meats, Game, Fowl, Fish, Puddings, Pastries, Etc.' Copyright 1999, Howling At The Moon Press.