[Sca-cooks] Tamarind and Cookies was Stefan's recent Nobles Luncheon at the BG 30th

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Mon Nov 9 05:49:53 PST 2009

Stefan asked a few questions about my banquet from 2002.

I shopped a number of ethnic grocery stores prior to this feast and  
came across a small package
of tamarind there. It wasn't very expensive so I bought it. The  
tamarind was a different color than the other candied fruits so I put  
it out in small dish for the table. Sometimes creating these tables  
dishes of certain colored items to show to advantage other dishes and  
plates. This was back when I was on candying kick and acquiring items  
that had been candied was part of that pursuit.
Tamarind shows up in Indian cookery; it is also a part of Persian and  
Arabic cookery.
It shows up in a drink in An Anonymous Andalusian Cookbook.

The taai-taai dough is one of those odd things. I was at the time on a  
tear trying to figure out the best way to recreate the Dutch letter  
cookies that are seen in many still life paintings.
(See them here in a painting by Osias Beert- Still Life with Oysters  
and Pastries.
http://www.wga.hu/support/viewer/z.html  )

They have a marzipan or almond paste filling that is surrounded by a  
pastry or cookie dough. If you cut
into the pastry, the filling is exposed and shows.

The description that I wrote up about them back in 2002 is as follows:

Letter Cookies and Taai-Taai Cookies—
Are seen in various Dutch and Flemish paintings in the late 16th and  
17th centuries. HRM Alys gave a lecture on Dutch paintings featuring  
foods at the Midrealm Cookery Conference last December and talked  
about these cakes. I happened at that time to have at hand the Gillian  
Rilley article on letterform cookies from Gastronomica. I have not to  
date managed to locate a “period” recipe for these cookies. Knowing  
that they existed and what they looked like has helped, but I’ve not  
yet found a 16th or 17th century recipe. The cookies offered here were  
made using a very traditional recipe suggested by the new 2002  
Prospect Books volume Windmills in My Oven. A Book of Dutch Baking by  
Gaitra Padrach-Chandra. This is the first history of Dutch baking to  
appear in English. From my first experience making these, I would tend  
to agree that they used a mold to form them. I used the same dough to  
produce the stamped rose cookies. The freehand letters are not very  
satisfactory but give some idea as to what must be done to get a more  
appropriate letter cookie.

I have made them since using molds and they work much better.

The Gastronomica article is in volume 1, number 1. It's described here:
”Eat Your Words!” Seventeenth-Century Edible Letterforms by Gillian  
Expansive, illustrated article on Dutch still life painters and the  
rise of letterforms within these paintings. Note: An example of a  
letterform would be the letter "B" formed from dough.
With a sixth-page, full color recreation of Clara Peeters’ Still Life  
with Artichoke, 1612, a full-page, full color detail from Peeters’  
Candle, Sweets and Wine, 1607, full page, full-color presentation of  
Willem van Mieris’ Grocer’s Shop, 1732, half-page, full color print of  
Osias Beert’s Still Life with Artichoke, no date given, and a two- 
page, full-color offering of Pieter Claesz’s Still Life, 1625-1630, a  
half-page, full color print of Peter Binoit’s Still Life with Letter  
Cookies, ca. 1615, and lastly, a page-and-a-half, full color of Clara  
Peeters’ Still Life with Gilt Goblet, ca. 1612.

Windmills in My Oven. A Book of Dutch Baking by Gaitra Padrach-Chandra  
is still in print. It's by Prospect Books. Full of traditional  
recipes. She has another good book out about baking.

One other source that should be mentioned came out later in 2002.  
That's Matters of Taste. Food and Drink in Seventeenth Century Dutch  
Art and Life by Barnes and Rose which was the catalog for . They are  
discussed on pages  32-33.

A recipe was also posted to Coquinaria.nl in late 2004- see http://www.coquinaria.nl/english/recipes/speculaas.htm

Under Pastry Letters you can find a number of recipes now for how to  
make these cookies. Bakeries apparently make them now with chocolate  
or dip them in chocolate.

Here's a traditional recipe for the filling. Note it says just use a  
rich pastry dough.
Banket Gebak
Have a rich pastry dough chilled and ready to roll. Mix:
1 lb. sweet almonds
2 C. sugar    3 eggs
grated rind of one lemon    water
Grind almonds fine, add sugar and lemon, beaten eggs and enough water  
to make a firm mixture. Roll pastry quite thin into a long strip.  
Place almond filling on pastry and roll like jelly roll. Do not make  
roll thicker than two inches. Cut and form into letters desired.
Bake until light brown. Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.


Hope this helps


On Nov 9, 2009, at 2:02 AM, Stefan li Rous wrote:

> Johnnae replied to me with:
> Menu/article is at
> http://www.mkcc.rhawn.com/MKCCfiles/RoseTournament2002Desserts.html
> <<< Tamarind candy? The only place I've seen tamarind was in Indian  
> food.
> Something I came across.>>>
> Something you came across in a store as a candy? (I've seen it that  
> way) or that you found in a modern cookbook? Or that you found in a  
> period cookbook? And if the latter, where?
> <<< What is the recipe for the "Spice (Dutch Taai-Taai) Cookies".
> They are discussed in the book Windmills in My Oven among other  
> places. >>>
> What is this "Windmills in My Oven"? I've never heard of it. Is it a  
> modern Dutch cookbook? Or traditional? Or even with period recipes?   
> Or is this a modern recipe for something you think comes close to a  
> period cookie? Still, like the Christmas cookie exchange of previous  
> years, this still might be a nice cookie to try, if you're willing  
> to post the recipe.

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