Known as “Queen Molly” the woman who set the finest table in early 19th century Richmond, Mary Randolph and the unnamed enslaved cooks in her kitchens produced food that set the standard for excellence in Southern cookery. Cook and explore along with me through the wonderful recipes in her classic book The Virginia House-Wife, first published in 1826. – – An Indigo House Digital project

Compote of Apples – The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5 / Mary Randolph

Compote of Apples – The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5 / Mary Randolph

Pare and core the apples, and if you prefer it, cut them in four, wash them clean, and put them in a pan with water and sugar enough to cover them; add cinnamon, and lemon peal which has been previously soaked, scraped on the inside, and cut in strings; boil them gently until the apples are done, take them out in a deep dish, boil the syrup to a proper consistency, and pour it on them.

 Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5  Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5  Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5
 Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5  Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5  Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5
 Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5  Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5  Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5
 Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5  12 - Mary Randolph, The Virginia House-Wife, pgs. 154-5

Leni Says – This is a very simple dessert dish.  MR does not specify what sort of apple will be best but I think it should be a firm, tart variety to hold its shape.  MR’s lemon ’peal’ is, of course, lemon zest.  She makes clear that none of the white pith is to be left on the inside of the peel.  Her directions for making lemon zest are classic.  And you can use the same technique for oranges and limes.