The work of two African-American chefs, each considered a pioneer in the culinary arts but a century apart, is now on display in a pair of cookbooks.
Much the older, and quite frankly, more interesting of the two books is "Good Things to Eat, as Suggested by Rufus," by Rufus Estes (Howling at the Moon Press, $19.95 paperback). This is a reprint of the cookbook he published in 1911.
Born immediately prior to the Civil War, Estes was a slave who was given the last name of his Tennessee "master." In 1881, at the age of 24, he secured a job in a Chicago restaurant, although it is unclear what he did for $10 a week. His big break came three years later when he was hired by the Pullman Co.'s private railroad car service. Estes became an outstanding chef for the railroad, serving U.S. Presidents Grover Cleveland and Benjamin Harrison, Europe's royalty, business tycoons and celebrities. Estes speaks of walnut meal, sarabandes, spawn and milk, boiled samp, crumpets, fruit paste and turkey truffles, which is a recipe that begins with "three or four pounds of truffles" for a stuffing.
Turn 180 degrees and you'll discover how far the creative culinary arts -- and cookbooks -- have progressed. "Cooking With Patrick Clark: A Tribute to the Man and His Cuisine," coordinated and conceived by Charlie Trotter (Ten Speed Press, $35). Patrick Clark, who died in February 1998 at the age of 42 before he could complete his cookbook, was a highly acclaimed trendsetter at the famed Tavern on the Green in New York.
This is a glitzy book, not only for the obligatory color photographs but for the lineup of 51 celebrity chefs who added their recipes and memories of Clark. The contributors include Alice Waters, Emeril Lagasse, Daniel Boulud, Jacques Pepin, Dean Fearing and Trotter.
Most of these recipes are not for the novice. Clark's own Stuffed Squab, for example, extends over two pages and requires 45 ingredients. Chef Gray Kunz prepares Elderflower Ice Cream with elderflower syrup and Moscato d'Asti, which few would have in the pantry.
Here's an easy dessert by Patrick Clark from "Cooking With Patrick Clark."
HOMEMADE APPLESAUCE IN BAKED APPLES
8 Granny Smith apples
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons butter
1/4 cup water
12 sprigs mint (for garnish)
To prepare the apples: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Core 4 of the apples and peel some of the skin from around the top. Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle over the apples.
Add 1 teaspoon of butter on top of each apple and place in a baking dish. Add 1/2 inch of water to pan, cover, and bake for 40 minutes, or until just cooked. Remove from the oven and let cool before handling. Scoop out most of the flesh from the inside of the apples and set aside, leaving the skin intact.
To prepare the applesauce: Peel, core, and chop the 4 remaining apples. Cook the apple, water and honey for 7 to 9 minutes, or until tender. Puree the apples for 1 minute, or until smooth. Add the reserved apple and mix well.
Place an apple shell in the center of each plate and spoon in the applesauce. Arrange the mint sprigs around the base of the apples. Makes 4 servings.
Here is another apple dessert exactly as presented by Rufus Estes in "Good Things to Eat." A "slump" is an old-fashioned fruit dessert, often topped with biscuit dough. A slump also is known as a "grunt." Here Estes refers to the dough as "paste," which could be a pie dough. As with most of his recipes, precise measurements and quantities are not spelled out.
Fill a deep baking dish with apples, pared, cored and sliced. Scatter on a little cinnamon and cover with good paste rolled a little thicker than for pie. Bake in a moderate oven until the apples are done, serve in the same dish, cutting the crust into several sections. Before cutting, the crust may be lifted and the apples seasoned with butter and sugar, or the seasoning may be added after serving. A liquid or a hard sauce may be served with the slump. If the apples are a kind that do not cook easily, bake half an hour, then put on the crust and set back in the oven.