08 August 2011

Recipes Of All Nations

Many cooks of the thirties, including Elizabeth David, were enamored of Countess Morphy's Recipes Of All Nations. There is very little known about Countess Morphy, though many believe she is a "countess" in that same way Prince is a "prince", that is in name only. Still the Countess knew how to collect recipes. This rather massive tome contains over 800 recipes from 29 countries.

This copy bears an introduction by the well-known 1950's television cook, Philip Harben. Harben states that while he has not cooked all 800 recipes, he has cooked over a dozen and boldly states, "I have never found Countess Morphy once to be in error."

There is a large section on Creole cookery and more than one person believes that before she was the "Countess", she was Marcelle Azra Hincks or maybe Forbes from New Orleans. Her section on Creole recipes features a calas recipe. This is a great old New Orleans recipe that is making a bit of a comeback in cooking circles.

Calas (Breakfast rice fritters)

These delicious breakfast fritters or cakes were sold by the old Creole negro women, and their familiar and harmonious street cry of “Bel calas, bel calas, tout chauds!” was heard in all the streets of the French quarter at breakfast time. They went their daily round carrying on their heads a covered wooden bowl containing the hot Calas – picturesque figures they must have been, with their brightly coloured bandana tignons or head-dress, their blue check dresses and their spotless white aprons. The negro cooks would dash out to secure the freshly made hot Calas, which were eaten with the morning cup of coffee. The following is the traditional recipe for Calas:

Ingredients: ½ a cup of rice, 3 cups of water, 3 eggs, 3 tablespoons of flour, ½ a cup of sugar, about 1 oz or a little under of yeast, lard or oil.

Method: Put the water in a saucepan, bring to the boil and add the rice. Boil till the rice is very soft and mushy. Remove from the saucepan and, when quite cold, mix with the yeast dissolved in warm water. Set the rice to rise overnight. In the morning, beat the eggs thoroughly, add them to the rice, with the sugar and flour. Beat all well and make into a thick batter. Set aside to rise for another 15 minutes. Have ready a deep frying pan with hot oil or lard, drop into it 1 tablespoon of the mixture at a time, and cook till a light golden colour. When done, remove them from the fat, drain well by placing them on a sieve or in a colander, sprinkle with sugar and serve very hot.

My copy of this book was used exclusively for the Austro-Hungarian recipes. (There are notes and checks.) This seemed to be a favorite. The "paprika" here refers to the actual pepper so the Countess should have translated it as a Pepper Salad.

Paprika Salat (Paprika Salad)

The paprikas are either boiled or baked till tender and served with salad dressing made of 2 tablespoons of oil to 1 of vinegar, salt, pepper, and a little sugar.

AS you can see, there are just more countries than we have time for here.


  1. I found this extremely interesting and knew nothing about the book previously. Now I'm planning to find out more. Thank you. Curtis Roberts

  2. I bought this book about 2 or 3 years ago at a used book store. Recently, I have started a blog in which I cook my way through this book.. which should be exciting and challenging. One recipe begins "start with a pig's head." I hope some people will join me on this journey.


  3. I found this amazing book for the huge sum of five cents in a junk shop, 40 years ago. I haven't been brave enough to try the lizard dishes, but the others have been excellent. I would LOVE to know more about the Countess!!


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