We are in the money with some shrimp pie and punch to wash it down.
The 1828 campaign for presidency was so ugly and bitter you would think it took place in our day and age. John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson (nicknamed Old Hickory) went head to head and things got very personal, very fast. Mrs. Rachel Jackson, who had been married once before (and also smoked a pipe and had a Tennessee drawl), became the focus of the mudslinging. She sounds pretty awesome to me. When Jackson was elected, “Madame Presidentress”, as she was rudely nicknamed, was dreading the move to the Capitol, noting she would “rather be a door keeper in the house of God than live in that palace in Washington”. Well, ask and you shall receive. She died in December of 1828 at their home, the Hermitage, in Nashville. The President, who was completely heartbroken, claimed that all of the bullying hastened her demise. I’m sorry Miss Jackson… I am for real.
Jackson entered the White House alone, but to the biggest reception the country had ever seen. His inauguration open house on March 4, 1829 remains the wildest party the White House. It was a rager so large it can only be compared to those parties you see on the news when a kid posts their address on Facebook and half the world shows up. Folks were so thrilled that a ‘common man’ from Tennessee won the election that an estimate crowd of 20,000 people came to the Capitol to watch his inauguration. The mob followed the President to the White House, where they became so rowdy, Old Hickory had to flee out of a back window. With everyone good party, there is booze. The spiked punch went down a treat and fueled the mob’s enthusiasm. The recipe below is a party punch that won’t disappoint, similar to the orange version served by the barrelful.
Now we come to the BEST foodie story we have come across yet. Brace yourselves. In the penultimate year of his presidency, a dairyman from New York gave President Jackson the gift that kept on giving. It was a 1,400 lb cheese, measuring 4 foot wide and three feet thick. A similar situation would happen to me if I died and went to heaven (endless baked brie please?). As any good lover of cheese would do, he had it aged in the White House cellar and brought it out to share with the public right before his departure from office. People from near and far came for their wedge, stuffing their faces in a gorgeously gluttonous dairy fest. The cheese was finished but the scent lingered on, much to the horror of his successor, Martin Van Buren. Sweet dreams are made of cheese.
The Original Formula [Punch]- 16 cups
· The juice of 3 or 4 oranges
· The peel of 1 or 2 oranges
· ¾ lb sugar
· 3 ½ pints of boiling water
Infuse half an hour, strain, add ½ pint of porter; ¾ to 1 pint each, rum and brandy (or either alone 1 ½ to 2 pints) and add more warm water and sugar; if desired weaker or sweeter, A liqeur glass of Curacoa, noyau, or maraschino improves it. A good lemon punch may be made by substituting lemons instead of oranges.
Jerry Thomas, Bar-Tenders Guide, 1862
· I added orange zest to the final product because I like the texture but certainly not necessary.
· I added Maraschino and it was delicious.
· Porter is a dark beer made from brown malt– ie Guinness is one.
Emily Donelson’s Shrimp Pie
The kitchen as the Jackson White House served up all sorts of Southern fare. Emily Donelson, Rachel Jackson’s niece from Nashville, moved in and did most of the hosting. She was a sweet Southern belle who quickly acclimated from her country ways to the fancy capital vibe. Her shrimp pie recipe is perfect comfort food for the fall.
· 1 cup pastry
· 1 ½ lbs fresh shrimp
· 1 tsp mace
· 3 whole cloves
· 3 anchovies
· 3 Tbsp butter
· ½ cup white wine
Make up pastry and chill. Toss shrimp into boiling salted water, cover, reduce heat and cook slowly for about five minutes. Drain and if necessary remove shells. Start your oven at 425 or hot. Put shrimp in a buttered nine-inch pie pan and season with mace and cloves. Lay anchovies on top of shrimp, dot with butter, and pour in wine. Cover with pastry, seal edges securely. Bake fifteen to twenty minutes or until pastry is golden. Serves four generously.
· There is absolutely no shame in buying premade pastry at the store. Use the shortcut pastry if you want a traditional pot pie style, or go for the puff pastry if you want to get fancy.
· I used anchovy paste instead of anchovies as they are not my favorite thing in the world. The flavor was still there (in a nice way) but I didn’t have to look at them.
· There is no thickening agent (like flour) in this recipe so it is runny. If you prefer a gravy consistency, combine the butter and a tsp of flour in a saucepan. Add the wine and make a thicker sauce before pouring it over the shrimp.
· Add veggies of your choice if you want. I added leeks (lightly sauteed).