Dainty Dishes

Published in 1866 in Philadelphia, this volume in the American Antiquarian Cookbook Collection contains almost one thousand recipes and cookery advice characterized by the author as simplified and refined, for discriminating palates—the remedy for “English cookery . . . the worst in the known world!”

 From her writing and recipe style, Lady Harriet was clearly a sophisticated woman of means who deplored the “unpalatable horrible attempts at entrees, dignified with some high-sounding French name, made by the general run of English cooks.” Her recipes for soups, sauces, fish, meat, poultry, vegetables and salads, eggs and cheese, pudding, jellies, pastries, bread, biscuits, cakes, liqueurs, pickling, coffee, and dairy making were clearly designed to replace the “sodden pieces of meat, soaking in a mess of flour and butter . . . which forms the English cook’s universal idea of a sauce, and which they liberally and indiscriminately bestow on fish, flesh and fowl.” Refined and sophisticated, her cuisine was clearly targeted for those who appreciated and could afford good living. The last ten pages of the book contain a listing of other books published by Edmonston & Douglas of Edinburgh, so it is likely that the Philadelphia publisher J.B. Lippincott and Co. simply reprinted the original Engish edition in its entirety.


This edition of Dainty Dishes was reproduced by permission from the volume in the collection of the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Massachusetts. Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and successful printer and publisher, the Society is a research library documenting the life of Americans from the colonial era through 1876. The Society collects, preserves, and makes available as complete a record as possible of the printed materials from the early American experience. The cookbook collection includes approximately 1,100 volumes.

About the Author

 Lady St. Clair was probably the daughter of a member of the British peerage, Sir James St. Clair-Erskine, sixth baronet of Alva, third earl of Rosslyn. It is not known whether she lived in America and commissioned the American publication of Dainty Dishes, or whether this edition was produced by Lippincott without her involvement.

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