Monday, February 18, 2013

Strawberries in Madeira and Cream

"Arcadian Dainties." According to David DeWitt, who wrote Founding Foodies, that is the name given by Thomas Jefferson to a recipe of Strawberries in Madeira and Cream.  DeWitt cites a source who noted that, in the late eighteenth century, cultivated strawberries were one of the fruits cultivated at the gardens of Monticello.

Strawberries were not the only thing that "abounded" at Monticello.  If the fields may have been full of strawberries, the wine cellar was stocked with Madeira, a fortified wine produced in the Madeira Islands of Portugal.  Traditionally, the wine was made with Sercial, Verdelho, Bual and Malvasia grapes, although other grapes were introduced into the production over time.  During the late eighteenth century, Madeira had become the wine of the new United States. It is reported that Madeira was used to toast the Declaration of Independence, and that many of the "Founding Fathers," such as George Washington, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and, of course, Thomas Jefferson, were enthusiasts of the wine.

However, it is a "Founding Mother" who is entitled to the credit for this recipe.  According to DeWitt, in his book Founding Foodies, Abigail Adams wrote in 1798: [a]fter walking in the garden we returned and found the table spread with 6 or 8 quarts of large ... strawberry, gathered from the vines with a proportional quantity of cream, wine, and sugar.  This quote is the recipe for Strawberries in Madeira and Cream, which served as the dessert for our wine club dinner. 

Recipe from Dave DeWitt, Founding Foodies at p. 205
Serves 4

4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
2 cups Madeira
Confectioners' sugar for sprinkling
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, whipped

1.  Prepare the strawberries.  In a bowl, combine the strawberries with the Maderia, and mix well.  Marinate for two hours.  Drain the strawberries and place in 4 bowls.  

2.  Finish the dish.  Sprinkle sugar lightly over the strawberries, and top with a dollow of whipped cream.


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