21 July 2009

Plantation Feasts and Festivities

Plantation Feasts and Festivities was compiled in honor of the 250th anniversary of the birth of James Madison. Angela Mulloy owns one of the plantations featured in this cookbook. Willow Grove is now the Willow Grove Inn. Mulloy was always being asked about the history of the plantation and especially about the cuisine and entertaining during the heyday of the plantation. Mulloy was joined in her enthusiasm for the cuisine of Virginia by the legendary Edna Lewis. Miss Lewis had been born in Orange County, Virginia and shared a birthday with Thomas Jefferson.

Miss Lewis helped in the celebration of Jefferson's 250th anniversary. At that event she met Angel Mulloy and they began work on Plantation Feasts and Festivities, combining old recipes, new recipes and time honored Virginia tradition.

James Madison’s era cannot be fully discussed without the mention of his wife and soul mate, Dolley. Dolley Madison was the pre-eminent hostess of her day.

Dolley Madison by Gilbert Stuart

She set the tone for entertaining in Washington society. Dolley Madison showed off the elegant country cuisine of Virginia. Here is a favorite.

Herbed Sweet Potato Cakes

2 medium sweet potatoes
1 medium white potato
1/2 medium red onion
1/2 cup scallions
4 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 tablespoon chopped thyme
Salt and pepper

Peel and grate the potatoes and finely dice the onion. Chop scallions. Combine eggs, sour cream, onion, and scallions. Mix well. Add grated potatoes to the mixture. Add salt, pepper, and thyme. Mix together. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet until just smoking. Make small cakes from the potato mixture and fry in oil until golden brown. Drain well on paper towel.

A note from Miss Lewis: Sweet potatoes should be bought in season and should never be refrigerated as they will lose their flavor.

Read Edna Lewis' Obituary.

For a full discussion of Dolley Madison's impact on America, read Catherine Allgor's A Perfect Union: Dolley Madison and the Creation of the American Nation.

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