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Curious Cat: Thanksgiving Dish of Choice

By Olivia Dunn & Ethan Shea

"Curious Cat Banner"

Happy Thursday, Wildcats! Thanksgiving break is fast-approaching, and you knows what that means … delicious Thanksgiving meals! Ranking the quality of holiday dishes can be a controversial topic, but nevertheless, this week’s installment of the Curious Cat takes on the age-old debate over Thanksgiving foods.

Which dish is best? Have you spent the last year pining for green bean casserole, or are you a glutton for mashed potatoes? Regardless of how you fill your plate, this blog is for you! Read on to find out how a few Falvey patrons responded to this provocative prompt.

"Curious Cat Nov. 17 (2)"

“Clementines with my turkey.”

— Meagan Tolgyesi ’23

“Sweet potato casserole without marshmallows and with nuts.”

— Katherine Polatchek ’23

“Mashed potatoes.”

— Christina Ochs ’23

"Curious Cat Nov. 17 (1)"

“Mashed potatoes.”

— Emma Thompson ’23

Olivia Dunn HeadshotOlivia Dunn is a senior at Villanova University. She works in Falvey Library as a Communications and Marketing Assistant and majors in Communication with specializations in both Journalism and Public Relations.





Headshot of Ethan SheaEthan Shea is a graduate student in the English Department at Villanova University and Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.


Foto Friday: What’s in Your Fridge?

picture of Falvey grad assistant, Jenna Newman, peering from behind a refrigerator door

Graduate assistant, Jenna Newman, is pictured raiding the refrigerator at her parent’s in her Villanova mask.

Hope you all had a great time celebrating with friends, family, and food yesterday! Now, raid your parent’s refrigerator for all the good left-overs and settle in for some finals study time. If you’re still near campus, the library is still open for Wildcard Access from 6 a.m.-12 a.m., and you can find great digital resources Falvey’s librarians have put together here.

What’s your go-to Thanksgiving recipe and what tastes the best as left-overs? Let us know below!


Sandwiched Between Holidays

Ah, the perpetual challenge of leftover turkey. Each year as I watch the bird brown in the oven, I’m already thinking of ways to dress it up in different ways after the holiday. Don’t get me wrong, that childhood food memory of thinly sliced turkey on white bread with mayo still thrills me. It’s right up there with all the other Thanksgiving weekend traditions, like shopping, football, playing board games with cousins and talking about our favorite holiday shows or movies.

What follows is my turkey and TV gameplan for the first day between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

turkey breakfast picJust like Ralphie’s “old man” in A Christmas Story, I am a “turkey junky, a bonafide golly turkacanis freak.” Leftovers for breakfast consist of pan fried cornbread, apple and sausage stuffing, moistened with turkey gravy with an egg a la mode. It’s enough food to fuel a shopping trip to the local mall.

turkey lunch picAlthough shopping can sometimes leave me knowing just why and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, I manage to avoid the sensation of greed and avarice and return home to cheerfully prepare sandwiches with leftover turkey, whole wheat dinner rolls, Brie and baby lettuces. I add a little avocado too.

turkey dinner picAfter a long day of post-Thanksgiving household cleaning, I look forward to a marathon of Christmas-themed television episodes, starting with Doctor Who: The Christmas Invasion, where David Tennant makes his first appearance as the 10th doctor. I march into the kitchen and whip up a dinner of doctored-up green bean casserole, to which I add chopped turkey, Alfredo sauce, top with (more) French fried onions and bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes.

Writing this is making me hungry so I’m off to make an old-school turkey sandwich that I can eat while I get caught up on work email and finish the book I’ve been reading. Not all students returning to campus will have leftover turkey or fixings, but I’m sure there are plenty of other excellent sandwiches available on campus!

(The links above take you to library media holdings. Ask a librarian to help you find more resources on the history of Thanksgiving, sandwiches, turkey, and more!)

LuisaCywinski_headshot thumbnailFood blog by Luisa Cywinski, writer on the Communication & Service Promotion team and team leader of Access Services.



Hispanic Heritage Month: Dulce de Leche

hispanic heritage month 2015The inspiration to make dulce de leche for Hispanic Heritage Month came from reading articles and books about Jorge Bergoglio, who enjoyed cooking for his family and for his fellow Jesuits before becoming Pope Francis. Dulce de leche means “milk jam” and essentially calls for only two ingredients, milk and sugar, but other variations exist. The dessert is said to originate in Argentina, the Pope’s home country, and is also popular in other Latin American countries and in Europe.

Legend has it that, in the early 19th century, a cook who worked for General Juan Manuel de Rosas, an Argentine dictator, left a pan of milk and sugar on the stove unattended during a particularly chaotic day and when she returned found that it had converted to a creamy, thick brown syrup. Apparently, she convinced one of the soldiers to taste it.

If prepared with goat’s milk, as with the version described below, it is known as cajeta. It is also referred to as manjar in Mexico when prepared with vanilla or as cortada when made with soured milk in Cuba. It can also be prepared using a can of sweetened condensed milk, a process that is also described below. No matter which method you choose, it can take up to three hours and requires your full attention, so keep a close eye on the stove. Your patience will be rewarded.

Dulce de Leche (homemade)

1 quart goat milk (whole)

1 cup sugar

½ vanilla bean

¼ tsp. sea salt

¼ tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. water

Using a medium to large, preferably tall, non-stick pot, combine milk, sugar, and sea salt. Start warming the milk mixture slowly on the stove. Cut the 1/2 vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds and put the seeds and the scraped bean into the milk mixture.

Turn the heat up and bring the mixture to a healthy simmer, but don’t let it boil. Mix the baking soda and water together in a separate dish. Remove the pot from the stove and add the baking soda & water mixture. It might foam a little if you’re using goat’s milk so hold it over the sink, just in case.

dulce de leche simmerPlace the pot back on the stove and simmer for an hour, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Once it starts turning a light brown, stay at the stove and stir every 5 minutes or less to keep the mixture from sticking. Do this for another hour. If you’ve got studying to do, this is the perfect time to multi-task. Prop your book up and read while you stir.

The dulce de leche will start to thicken and darken. Keep stirring. You can remove it from the stove before the end of the second hour if it has reached the right caramel color and gooey consistency.

dulce de leche jarUse immediately as a topping on ice cream, crepes, apple pie, toast, or just eat it with a spoon while you study. If you have any left, store in a closed glass jar and let cool completely before placing in the refrigerator for storage. It will keep for a few weeks.

My first batch hardened as soon as I poured it into the jar. I had to microwave it for a few seconds to soften it up before serving.

Dulce de Leche (with a can of condensed milk)

Here’s a quick and easy way to make dulce de leche with only one ingredient: a can of sweetened condensed milk. Fill a large pot, preferably a tall pot, with water. Remove the label from the can of condensed milk and place the can on its side at the bottom of the pot. Make sure the water level is at least one inch above the can. Bring to a rolling simmer. Cook for 2-3 hours.

October 5 2015 104IMPORTANT: Keep checking the pot every 15 minutes to ensure the water level is always at least one inch above the can. Let the can cool completely before opening, otherwise it could explode, resulting in a big mess and possible injury.

Serve as noted above.


Additional fiction and non-fiction resources (sampling below) on dulce de leche are available through E-ZBorrow or Interlibrary Loan. You can also contact the Romance Languages & Literatures librarian, Susan Ottignon for scholarly Hispanic or Latino cultural resources. There is also a Villanova University Hispanic Initiatives site that promotes resources and events on campus.

dulce de leche books


LuisaCywinski_headshot thumbnailHispanic Heritage Month food blog by Luisa Cywinski, editorial coordinator on the Communication & Service Promotion team and team leader of Access Services.


Pope Francis: Family and a Frugal Table

pope francis family photo

From left to right, standing, Alberto Horacio, Jorge Mario (now Pope Francis), Oscar Adrian, Marta Regina. Seated, Maria Elena, mother Regina Maria Sivori, and father Mario Jose Francisco.

It may be hard to imagine Pope Francis as a child, answering to the name Jorge, going to school, interacting with his four siblings or dancing with friends as a young man. After his calling to serve God, he remained the friendly, approachable, and kind person who liked “to go out and meet people.”

It’s less difficult to imagine Pope Francis cooking at home or for his fellow priests. According to one article, his earliest memory of cooking involved his mother, Regina Maria Bergoglio, who was recuperating from the birth of her fifth child. She could not walk and would direct her eldest son, Jorge Mario Bergolgio, as he was then, in the preparation of veal scaloppine.

Jorge Bergoglio cooking for JesuitsHe was also known to cook for his fellow Jesuit priests, one of whom commented on his excellent rendition of paella. Dulce de leche, a dessert, is another of the Pope’s favorites. It was added to the Vatican menu for the Pope and appears in a Vatican cookbook assembled by one of the Swiss Guard. As further evidence of  his desire to “go out and meet people,” the Pope sometimes makes an appearance in the cafeteria, lunching with Vatican workers.

Although he has risen to the highest post in the Catholic church, Pope Francis remembers his own family and embraces strangers as if they were family.

Another crowd-pleasing food that Pope Francis enjoys is bagna cauda. It’s a simple recipe of olive oil, garlic, anchovies and butter that is cooked and “placed in a big pan in the center of the table for communal sharing.” According to The Catholic Beat, the Pope would sometimes visit a local nunnery to enjoy this dish served with bread or vegetables.

To honor the idea of family and its central role in the coming World Meeting of Families, and to honor the Pope’s great respect and love for his mother, I ventured to make veal scaloppine in my own kitchen. I’m sure it can’t compare to Jorge Bergoglio’s recipe, but I feel confident that Pope Francis would gladly share my family table anyway.

Veal Scaloppine

Veal scaloppine3 T. olive oil

1/2 C. flour

1 t. salt & 1/4 t. salt (measured separately)

1/2 t. pepper & 1/4 t. pepper (measured separately)

1 lb. very thin veal cutlets

1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed

1 1/2 T. red-wine vinegar

1 1/2 T. drained small capers

2 T. chopped flat-leaf parsley

Combine flour, 1 t. salt, and 1/2 t. pepper. Pat veal dry with paper towels, then coat both sides of each piece with flour mixture. Shake to remove excess. Heat large, heavy skillet over medium high heat, then add olive oil. Cook veal cutlets in small batches. When both sides are browned and cooked through, set aside on a plate. Reduce heat to medium. Pour off excess oil from skillet, add butter. Cook butter until light brown. Add vinegar, capers, and 1/4 t. each of salt and pepper. Return veal to skillet to heat through and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with salad or vegetables. Feeds a family of 4.

Food blog written by Luisa Cywinski, editorial coordinator on the Communication & Service Promotion team and team leader of the Access Services team.



Alice's Adventures and Mock Turtle Soup

Alice's Adventures in WonderlandSince this is a library food blog, I like to find recipes that will connect to a book or to reading in general. So this month, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, I decided to read this childhood favorite again in the hopes of finding culinary inspiration.

The story begins with Alice half-dozing outside on a hot summer day as her older sister reads a book with “no pictures or conversations in it.” As her mind wanders, she enters another world where animals talk, playing card soldiers double as croquet arches, and a Queen randomly orders executions for trivial infractions. But it’s the Mock Turtle who gets my attention. He goes to school, sings, dances and plays games. We learn of the sad Mock Turtle’s schooling in chapter 9 and he performs the Lobster Quadrille in chapter 10. Both chapters are filled with songs, puns and word play.

I’m not sure if it was the Queen’s mention of Mock Turtle Soup or if it was the Turtle Soup song that inspired me to make soup. And there was no doubt in my mind that it would be the mock version of turtle soup. The ingredients would be easier to find and cheaper than using real turtle. That, combined with the happy childhood memories of finding cute little turtles near Fern Hill Lake, prevented me from considering turtle meat.

mock turtleIn the earliest publication of Alice’s Adventures, the Mock Turtle was beautifully illustrated by Sir John Tenniel, who showed the character with a calf’s head and hoofs instead of flippers on his hind legs. He may have been inspired to draw the Mock Turtle this way because of the transition to “dull reality” as Alice’s sister thought of how “the lowing of the cattle in the distance would take the place of the Mock Turtle’s heavy sobs.”

Instead of making the traditional Victorian mock turtle soup, which calls for calf’s head and heels, I adapted a Louisianan recipe from the In a While, Crocodile cook book that had a little more kick to it. In addition to ground beef, I added ground veal, as a nod to the traditional calf ingredient.

¾ lb. ground sirloin

¾ lb. ground veal

6 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup butter

15 oz. tomato puree

30 oz. chicken broth

30 oz. beef broth

1/2 cup flour mixed with 1 cup water

1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce

1 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon hot sauce (more if you like it hotter)

2 bay leaves

1-1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley

6 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

6 slices lemon, for garnish

1 cup sherry (or to taste)

Mock turtle saute stepSaute the meat, celery, garlic, and onion in butter until meat is brown and veggies are translucent. Add to the slow cooker (6 quart or larger).

Add tomato puree, chicken broth, beef broth, flour mixture, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, hot sauce, bay leaves, thyme, salt, and pepper to the slow cooker. Stir.

Cook on low heat for 3 ½ hours.

Add lemon juice, parsley, and eggs. Stir well and cook for another 30 minutes. If desired, skim and discard fat from top of soup.

IMG_8535Immediately before serving, remove bay leaves, add sherry to taste, and garnish individual bowls with lemon slices. Enjoy with buttered bread.




If you’re looking for a historically accurate mock turtle soup recipe, try the one copied below, from Martha Lloyd’s Household Book. (Martha was a close friend of Jane Austen.)

Mrs. Fowle’s Mock Turtle Soup:

Take a large calf’s head. Scald off the hair. Boil it until the horn is tender, then cut it into slices about the size of your finger, with as little lean as possible. Have ready three pints of good mutton or veal broth, put in it half a pint of Madeira wine, half a teaspoonful of thyme, pepper, a large onion, and the peel of a lemon chop’t very small. A ¼ of a pint of oysters chop’t very small, and their liquor; a little salt, the juice of two large onions, some sweet herbs, and the brains chop’t. Stand all these together for about an hour, and send it up to the table with the forcemeat balls made small and the yolks of hard eggs.

“The Mock Turtle sighed deeply, and began, in a voice sometimes choked with sobs, to sing this:—

‘Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,

Waiting in a hot tureen!

Who for such dainties would not stoop?

Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!

Beau—ootiful Soo—oop!

Beau—ootiful Soo—oop!

Soo—oop of the e—e—evening,

Beautiful, beautiful Soup!


‘Beautiful Soup! Who cares for fish,

Game, or any other dish?

Who would not give all else for two

Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?

Beau—ootiful Soo—oop!

Beau—ootiful Soo—oop!

Soo—oop of the e—e—evening,

Beautiful, beauti—FUL SOUP!’”

Food blog by Luisa Cywinski, editorial coordinator on the Communication & Service Promotion team, and team leader, Access Services team.

Mock Turtle Soup recipe adapted from In a While, Crocodile: New Orleans Slow Cooker Recipes by Patrice Keller Kononchek and Lauren Malone Keller, © 2014 by Patrice Keller Kononchek and Lauren Malone Keller, used by permission of the publisher, Pelican Publishing Company, Inc.


There are Faires and There are Fairs

The ferris wheel at the Devon Horse Show & Country Fair.

At this time of year it seems like a festival, fair(e), or fling is around every corner. They might have games, rides, petting zoos, vendors, food, farm shows, competitions, musical performances, comedians, dancing, hay rides, fire engine rides, the list goes on! If you’re staying in the area this summer, why not visit one of the fairs and experience some local color?

The first-ever Philadelphia Renaissance Faire (Philly Ren Faire) was held last weekend in the Chamounix section of Fairmount Park. Celebrities, like Hafthor Julius Bjornsson, known for his role in the TV series Game of Thrones, was at the Philly Ren Faire to play the role of King Thor. The faire also featured the usual comedians, musicians, and costumed faire-goers.

philly ren faire photos






The Philly Ren Faire should not be confused with the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire (PA Ren Faire), which takes place every year from August – October in Mount Hope, PA. The PA Ren Faire will also have a Celtic Fling & Highland Games in late June, if you’re interested in that sort of thing.

For those unfamiliar with the concept of a Renaissance Faire, it is loosely based on the historical Renaissance period during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in England, but it often features the Spanish Moors, pirates, Medieval characters, Vikings, wizards, elves, and more recently, cosplay.

The smaller fairs or festivals are often organized by a local township or fire company, like the Goshen Country Fair or the Malvern Fire Company Fair. The Brandywine Strawberry Festival is more than just strawberry pie tastings and as a bonus, the Coatesville Youth Initiative benefits from the proceeds. The Devon Horse Show & Country Fair has been held annually since the 1890’s. This year it starts on May 21.

I don’t know about you, but one thing I always look forward to is fair(e) food, which is very similar to boardwalk food. Corn dog? Yes, sirree! Funnel cake? Bring on the powdered sugar! Scotch eggs? With Branston pickle or mustard, please! Giant turkey leg? Hand it over!

scotch eggsFor some reason, the Philly Ren Faire didn’t have Scotch eggs available. Shocking, I know. Not to be cheated out of this delicacy, I decided to make them at home. It was my first venture into the realm of deep fried food. I followed Jamie Oliver’s recipe, but failed to keep an eye on the temperature of the oil and they came out a bit on the dark side (okay, they were burnt). However,  I was undaunted by the initial failure. Worried that the insides were not cooked due to my immediate retrieval of the eggs from the boiling oil, I placed them in the oven, preheated to 400, for about 15 minutes.

To my great surprise, they turned out pretty well. They weren’t just edible, they were delicious. (I make this assessment with all humility.) Feeling rather delighted that I was able to rescue the Scotch eggs from doom, I ventured forth into the territory of turkey legs. These, too, came out rather well. I followed the Pioneer Woman’s blog instructions for brining the turkey legs, or as she calls them, Caveman Pops, and then followed the Paleo Cupboard recipe for seasoning and roasting them.

turkey legs Do you have a “faire food” recipe you’d like to share? Feel free to add it to the comments section below. Or tell us about a fair(e) or festival you attended!

If you’re interested in learning more about Renaissance Drama, look for the related blog post tomorrow, May 26, written by Sarah Wingo, subject librarian for English Literature and Theatre.

Written by Luisa Cywinski, writer for the Communication & Service Promotion team, and team leader, Access Services team.



The Belgian Cook Book

belgian cookbookWhile visiting my nieces, one of them showed me a cookbook she found and thought I might like to borrow. The Belgian Cook-Book (1915), edited by Mrs. Brian Luck, who apparently has no first name of her own and is referred to as M. Luck elsewhere in the book, is owned by only 58 libraries in the world, according to WorldCat.

The editor, M. Luck, collected recipes from “Belgian refugees from all parts of the United Kingdom” and intended this “small manual…for the use of the work-a-day and inexperienced mistress and maid.”  The preface, as well as the recipes, are filled with amusing expressions and anecdotes.

A newer edition was published by Baker & Taylor in 2006. There is also a digitized copy of the 1915 edition available through Project Gutenberg, which proved handy while cooking one of the recipes displayed on my iPad.

I was torn between using a recipe calling for asparagus, an early spring vegetable, or for mushrooms, which are typically harvested in spring or fall. Since the local asparagus crop at the farm in my area isn’t quite ready, I decided to go with mushrooms.

An image of the 1915 recipe is displayed below with my translation under it.

gourmands mushroomsgourmands mushrooms 2



















Gourmands’ Mushrooms

8 tbsp. butter

1 lemon

½ lb. white button mushrooms

1 tbsp. flour

1 egg yolk

¼ tsp. salt

⅛ tsp. pepper

Bread or English muffins

mushrooms ingredients

Warm a whole, uncut lemon in boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Remove lemon from hot water and cut in half, squeeze one half lemon and set aside. Place butter in heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add lemon juice. When butter & lemon start to simmer, add mushrooms and cook until some of the liquid has been absorbed. Don’t allow the mushrooms to brown.

Remove mushrooms from pan with slotted spoon, leaving the juices in the pan. Toss mushrooms with flour, salt, and pepper. Return floured mushrooms to pan over low heat. Add one egg yolk and stir until thoroughly mixed with mushrooms. Add a few drops of water or chicken broth to moisten if needed. You can also add a few more drops of lemon juice to taste.

mushroomsServe on toasted bread or toasted British muffin. Makes 2-4 servings.

I leave you with this comment about savories from Madame Luck:

“If you serve these, let them be, like an ankle, small and neat and alluring.”



Food blog by Luisa Cywinski, writer for the Communication & Service Promotion Team and team leader, Access Services.


Women’s History Month: Power & Magic in the Kitchen

Historically speaking, the kitchen is a woman’s domain. Women were chained to their stoves for hours on end. Cooking skills were right up there with other desirable traits, such as purity, appearance, and obedience to men. As Laura Schenone puts it in her book, A thousand years over a hot stove, “cooking reveals itself as a source of power and magic, and, at the same time, a source of oppression in women’s lives.”

To paraphrase Schenone, what women learned and what they knew wouldn’t be found in a book. It was passed down in the oral tradition, shared with daughters and friends. Women shared information and found support for more than just cooking. They relied on each other to learn healing remedies, to craft utensils and containers, to secure moral support, and to learn survival skills.

When times made life difficult and challenged even the most experienced cook, women found ways to feed their families with what little food was available. They would pool their resources or come to the aid of a hungry family. Women created new recipes to stretch the limited types and quantities of food.

Not unlike other American households, during World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt’s housekeeper, Ms. Henrietta Nesbitt found ways to deal with meat rationing and developed “meat-stretcher” recipes. There is one such recipe in The Husbandman, an agricultural newspaper. This newspaper was published during America’s Gilded Age, a period when the women’s suffrage movement was strengthening in the United States.

The original recipe for scrap pie is below. My adaptation follows the image.

Scrap Pie – 1886

The husbandman, v. XIII, no. 640, Wednesday, November 24, 1886

Scrap Pie Women's History









Scrap Pie – 2015

1 lb. ground beef

1 lb. white or red potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks

½ large onion, finely chopped

2 tbsp. chicken, beef, or vegetable broth

1 egg, beaten

4 tbsp. butter

¼ tsp. pepper

½ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare and assemble all ingredients.

Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Drain and set aside. Sauté onion and set aside. Use 1 tbsp. butter to coat the inside of a 9” pie plate. Cover the inside bottom of the pie plate with ground beef. Drizzle broth over beef. Layer the sautéed onion over the beef. Boil chopped potatoes in large pot of water until potatoes are tender. Turn off burner, drain and return potatoes to pot. Mash potatoes until smooth. Add the beaten egg, 1 tbsp. butter, salt, and pepper to the mashed potatoes. Whisk by hand or use an electric hand mixer until smooth. Cover the beef with the mashed potato mixture. Use a dinner fork to create a design on the potatoes. Use remaining 2 tbsp. of butter to dot the top of the potatoes.

beefbeef onionsbeef potato






Bake at 375° until top is browned, about 30 – 35 minutes.

Scrap Pie done










Makes 4-6 servings. Serve with salad or cooked vegetables.

Below are links to books, articles and blogs for your reading, watching and listening pleasure.

A thousand years over a hot stove can be requested through E-ZBorrow or Interlibrary Loan.

What we lose in losing Ladies’ Home Journal (Thanks to Laura Bang, Special Collections, for the link.)

The First Kitchen

Women’s History and Food History: New Ways of Seeing American Life

#FoodieFriday: 5 Kitchen Appliances and Food Creations that Transformed Women’s Lives in the 20th Century

Women’s History Month – Audio and Video

My thanks to Michael Foight, Special Collections, for sending me the link to our digitized copy of The Husbandman.

LuisaCywinski_headshot thumbnailMonthly food blog feature by Luisa Cywinski, writer, Communication & Service Promotion, and team leader, Access Services.


Share the Love: Macaroons and Chocolate


Like the title says, we’re here to talk about macaroons, referred to by the official website of France as “seductive little biscuits,” and chocolate, traditionally consumed on Valentine’s Day.

If you read the play “A Doll’s House”, then you probably remember Nora’s obsession with macaroons and the significance of this simple cookie in the play. A similar theme plays out in the movie “Chocolat” where chocolate is taboo during Lent but its overwhelming allure leads the residents of a quaint French village to hide their consumption of it from the mayor.

London Art of Cookery title pageI’m using a recipe from “The London Art of Cookery and Domestic Housekeepers’ Complete Assistant On a New Plan Made Plain and Easy to the Understanding of Every Housekeeper, Cook, and Servant in the Kingdom,” written in 1783. How’s that for a title? We have the print edition in Special Collections, but there are also other digitized editions available.

An important distinction needs to be made. Macaroons, as they are made in France, are almond biscuits sandwiched together with jam, chocolate, or other sweet fillings. The “other” type of macaroons contain shredded coconut. And although the recipe from The London Art of Cookery simply calls them Macaroons, it’s actually a recipe for French macaroons, not coconut macaroons. It’s confusing. I know.






One detour from the recipe will be the addition of chocolate ganache filling between two macarons, which is how they would be made in a French pattisserie. I will use the 1783 recipe for the cookies and a Food Network recipe for the ganache. And of course, I had French cafe music playing on Spotify, for inspiration.


1 lb. sugar

1 lb. almonds, blanched and beaten (almond meal)

A few drops of rose water

7 egg whites, frothed

macaroon batterAfter combining the sugar, almond meal, and a few drops of rose water, I stirred in the frothed egg whites. The egg whites should form stiff peaks before being added to the sugar and almond meal. Using a small spoon, drop round dollops of batter about two inches apart on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Or you can use a pastry bag. The recipe ends with the instruction, “put them in the oven” without so much as an oven temperature or length of cooking time. I checked the Food Network for a suggested oven temperature (325) and time (13-15 minutes).

There was no measurement for the rose water so I used ½ tsp., but next time I would skip it altogether. It was a noticeable and not necessarily pleasant flavor, but that’s just my opinion. Luckily, the chocolate ganache soon remedied that. The cookies came out a little flat, not like the macarons I’ve come to expect. They tasted good so, who am I to complain? One last tip: make extra ganache. It’s great for dipping strawberries.

macaroons plated

To quote Nora, and although they didn’t turn out perfectly, “I shall have one, just a little one–or at most two. I am tremendously happy.”

Happy Valentine’s Day!





I want to thank Michael Foight and Laura Bang in Special Collections at Falvey Memorial Library for locating suitable recipes from Falvey’s print and digital collections. Their help was invaluable.

‘Caturday feature written by Luisa Cywinski, writer, Communication & Service Promotion Team and team leader, Access Services.



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Last Modified: February 8, 2015

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