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Dead chefs: a whipt syllabub from Amelia Simmons

Valentine's Day is a time of cards, flowers, and confections. Many people like to bake special treats for their loved ones to grace dinners, picnic lunches, and even breakfast dishes, just to say "you are special to me". This article features a recipe from Amelia Simmons, the author of American Cookery, 1798. The cookbook is her only known published work.

Though little is known about Amelia, it has been deduced that she was from the Hudson River Valley region (New York area), and had no known family ties. The title pages of her cookbook list her as "Amelia Simmons, An American Orphan". She wrote in her preface "those females who have parents, or brothers, or riches," and that "female orphans may be reduced to the necessity of going into families in the line of domestics." suggests that she was an orphan working as domestic help. Her cookbook is laced with some New England specialties, such as Indian pudding, and johnnycakes. It also contains words such as :"slaw" and "cookery", words used in the Hudson Valley region. Other than that, not much else is known about Amelia.

The following is a recipe from her cookbook, with a suggested conversion to it. It's a light dessert that could be served with any meal, including a special Valentine's Day dinner. This cookbook can be seen at Project Gutenburg.

A Whipt Syllabub

"Take two porringers of cream and one of white wine, grate in the skin of a lemon, take the whites of three eggs, sweeten it to your taste, then whip it with a whisk, take off the froth as it rises and put it into your syllabub glasses or pots, and they are fit for use.” – American Cookery, 1798

2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup white wine
3 egg whites
1/8 teaspoon lemon juice or lemon zest

Combine ingredients. Whip all ingredients with wisk or beater. Place in dessert dishes of choice and chill. Can be topped with chocolate curls.

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