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A mysterious ingredient in the Alice B. Toklas cookbook.

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A friend of my father-in-law wrote to me: "I have a question that I hope she can answer about the recipe for Garlic Ice Cream (a salad dressing) on the attached page from the Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. It looks like a recipe worth trying, but a foray into googling failed to disclose what the mandatory “Cowboy’s Delight” is, or was, although others before me have been curious." Does anyone know what Cowboy's Delight is?

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

asked over 7 years ago

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11 answers 2460 views
Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added over 7 years ago

Tried to attach the page -- trying again.

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sdebrango
sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 7 years ago

I found this online:
Cowboy's Delight is a common name for Sphaeralcea coccinea, also known as Prairie Mallow and Scarlet Globemallow.
Its a flower that grows in the prairies Indians used it to reduce hunger and also made it into tea.
It used to be sold in Los Angeles by a company called Old Smoky Sales Company I think the company is now defunct.

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Droplet
added over 7 years ago

http://www.wildphotosphotography.com/WildPhotos/FLOWERS/scarlet_globemallow.htm
Posting this based on google search. I myself am not familiar with it. Maybe the plant is used as an herb in the dressing? Lisa Fain at Homesick Texan might be able to answer this one.

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sdebrango
sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 7 years ago

It grows in Montana maybe Boulangere can get some for you.

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SKK
SKK
added over 7 years ago

My age may be useful because I can tell you back in the day slang and songs included references to Cowboy's Delight and it was not in the context of making teas or salad dressing, although you could use it in any recipe. Cowboy's Delight covered many different 'herbs'. I was born in raised in Colorado and the term was used. John Denver sang about it. Probably Willie Nelson sang about it in Texas. This alone may be worth a contest.

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boulangere
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 7 years ago

It's a common wild plant in both Montana and many parts of Northern California. As for harvesting for consumption, you'll want to be sure you're getting it from a reliable source - someone who knows his/her wild flora well. Let me do some asking around and see if I can find some for you here in Montana. If not, I'll tap my California connections.

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sdebrango
sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 7 years ago

Here is a link with some references and pictures:
http://peakgardening.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/cowboys-delight-by-carey-harrington/

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boulangere
boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 7 years ago

Unfortunately, mallow is past its fresh season here.

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Amanda Hesser
Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

added over 7 years ago

Does anyone know what Prairie Mallow tastes like? Can you describe it?

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sdebrango
sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

added over 7 years ago

Have never tasted it searched by the latin name and the closest I came to an answer was this:
Whole plants were used to make a sweet-tasting tea that made distasteful medicines more palatable.
Not much help I know but judging from that maybe it has a sort of sweet taste. It seems that herbalists still use this for medicinal purposes I am searching sites to see if I can find it.

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Droplet
added about 7 years ago

I did some research (like reading about herbs) and while there is information available about its medicinal properties, the only actual adjective regarding its taste that I was able to find, was that it is bitter (http://www.plant-materials.nrcs.usda.gov/pubs/ndpmcbr10292.pdf) . I have no clue whether that is a dominant and therefore defining characteristic of its taste though, or if the bitterness is just present. I'd guess the latter if I have to, because what Sdebrango mentioned was also mentioned at several places. It is said to also be somewhat slimy and with a tendency to gel, but that isn't of much culinary value. I noticed that seeds for it are avaibale from quite a few nurseries; maybe you could try substituting those ground until next season comes. I have no clue whether or not they resemble the flavor of the herbacious part of the plant.

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