Mrs. Fisher’s Fish Chowder

What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking – on Amazon

fish chowder

fish chowder

Mrs. Fisher’s Fish Chowder

I came across this recipe for fish chowder while browsing through an old cookbook on line. The book’s title is What Mrs. Fisher Knows About Old Southern Cooking. It was published in 1881 and written by Mrs. Abby Fisher. Mrs. Fisher was a former slave and her cookbook is believed to be the first ever written by an African-American.
The fish chowder recipe appealed to me. I decided to try to make it although Mrs. Fisher doesn’t give very precise instructions, ingredient amounts, or cooking times. Onion, butter, cayenne, and salt were easy but I had to Google ‘sea cracker’ and eventually found a modern equivalent. She doesn’t say what kind of fish so my choice was hake, an inexpensive white fish  For ‘Irish potatoes’ I used Idaho and instead of ‘salt pork’ my substitute was pancetta. I added some olive oil and paprika. I think Mrs. Fisher wrote this book for people who knew how to cook. so she was able to make some assumptions. This recipe worked for me and I’ll definitely make it again.

fish chowder

fish chowderIngredients:

  • 1/4 lb. pancetta cut in one inch pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 & 1/2  lbs. fish cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 large, peeled and cubed Idaho potatoes
  • 3 ground Pilot Bread Crackers
  • 3 pats of butter
  • 1/4 tsp . cayenne
  • 1/2  tsp. sweet paprika
  • salt to taste

Cook the pancetta on a low heat until it ‘s brown and the fat rendered. Then remove it from the pot.

Also on  low heat, in the same pot, lightly brown the onions and removed them.

fish chowder

As Mrs. Fisher says, “Having all now prepared,” add 1 or 2 tablespoons of olive oil to prevent sticking to the rendered pancetta fat if the pot appears to be too dry, then put in the  fish. Next add the pancetta. Then  a layer of potatoes and then the onions with the sprinkled cracker crumbs. Dot the butter on top of that, sprinkle the cayenne and paprika and that’s it. Cayenne is pretty spicy so be careful how much you use.

fish chowder

Add 2 cups of water, cover the pot and simmer for one hour on a low heat – don’t stir it and disturb the layers.  Check it occasionally and add water if it starts to dry out. Use a ladle when you serve it and be sure to get each layer.

fish chowder


fish chowder

Pilot Bread substitute for sea crackers

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Arancia Frittelle (Orange Fritters)

orange frittersArancia Frittelle (Orange Fritters)

I got this recipe from a Sicilian friend. I confirmed with his mother that olive oil was used for frying and not something lighter. She said to use olive oil, but warned me about letting it get too hot.

orange fritters

orange fritters

Whisk together the first 7 ingredients.
orange fritters
Heat the oil in a small pot. Adjust the heat so it doesn’t get hot enough to smoke. Pick up a tablespoon full of batter and scrape it into the hot oil with another tablespoon. Give it a minute and turn the frittelle over.
orange frittersWhen golden brown on both sides, drain on paper towels and let them cool. Arrange the frittelle in a dish and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

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Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancakes

There’s not much to say about scallion pancakes. It’s just 4 ingredients, there’re pretty easy to make and the result is delicious.

Scallion Pancakes

Ingredients:
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped scallions
  • Vegetable oil for brushing & frying

Scallion Pancakes

Mix the flour and salt with one cup of hot water. Do it in a bowl or use a food processor. Knead it briefly on a floured surface. Cover it with Saran Wrap and let it rest for an hour.

Scallion Pancakes

Divide the dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a thin 8-10-inch round. Brush each round with oil and scatter with scallions. Roll up each round into a tight cylinder, then coil each cylinder around like a bun. Slightly flatten each bun, then roll each into a round pancake about 5-6 inches in diameter.Scallion Pancakes
Scallion Pancakes

Scallion Pancakes


Heat oil in a pan on medium. Fry the pancakes, turning, until lightly browned – about a minute or so per side, adding more oil as needed.Scallion Pancakes

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Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce

I got this recipe from a friend who got it from a food page on Facebook. No amounts were given but what I’ve listed here works pretty well. Since the ingredients aren’t written in stone, I suggest that you adjust the amounts according to your taste. Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce is rich, thick, and hearty with some intense flavors.
Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Ingredients:
  • 1 medium onion cut into ¼ moons
  • 1 red bell pepper sliced
  • Olive oil – enough for frying
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms – your choice
  • 3 or 4 Italian sausage cut into small pieces*
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 28 oz. can tomato puree
  • 1 lb. pasta – something small

*When you have to cut sausage or any soft meat, it helps to keep it in the freezer for 20 minutes first.

Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Start a pot of salted water on a burner for the pasta.
Sauté the pepper and onions in oil until they begin to soften. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the paste and blend. Continue cooking until peppers and onions just begin to brown and remove them from the pan.
Add some more oil and cook the mushrooms until they soften and brown. Remove them from the pan.
Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce
Add the sausage to the pan and brown. Add oil as you need it. When almost done add the garlic. Blend and add the puree and return the onion, peppers, and mushrooms. Taste for seasoning. Stir and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes.

Mushroom and Pepper Pasta Sauce

Drain and serve the pasta.  Add some pasta water if the sauce is too thick. Serve with grated parmigiana.

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