Don’t miss the Food Sense symposium this weekend! This is our last Friday Food post. Eliza Leslie (1787–1858) aspired to be a poet or novelist, but she is best remembered today for her cookbooks. In 1828, Leslie published her first book, Seventy-Five Receipts for Pastry, Cakes and Sweetmeats, a collection of recipes she had developed as a cooking school student. Encouraged by its popularity, she went on to publish at least six more titles and established a reputation as the most popular and influential food writer in America. Directions for Cookery (1837) is considered her most important work.
Leslie was famous for popularizing distinctly American foods, as the following recipe from Directions for Cookery shows. Her Indian Meal Book (1846) was the first cookbook devoted entirely to corn.
Take twelve ears of green corn, as it is called, (that is, Indian corn when full grown, but before it begins to harden and turn yellow,) and grate it. Have ready a quart of rich milk, and stir into it by degrees a quarter of a pound of fresh butter, and a quarter of a pound of sugar. Beat four eggs till quite light; and then stir them into the milk, &c. alternately with the grated corn, a little of each at a time. Put the mixture into a large buttered dish, and bake it four hours. It may be eaten either warm or cold, for sauce, beat together butter and white sugar in equal proportions, mixed with grated nutmeg.
To make this pudding,—you may, if more convenient, boil the corn and cut it from the cob; but let it get quite cold before you stir it into the milk. If the corn has been previously boiled, the pudding will require but two hours to bake.