08 March 2009

Cook Hostess’ Book

"Only a slut gets in a mess in the kitchen."

Franny Cradock

"I'm all about Fanny Cradock"

Amy Winehouse

What a shame that we will never witness a cooking program with both Franny and Amy. Suffice to say, it put Nigella and Gordon Ramsey to shame.

Fanny Cradock was one of the first "celebrity" chefs in Britain. Her program debuted nearly a full decade before Julia Child. Fanny was a firm francophile and and loved to give even the most British dishes extravagant French names. Her partner in TV was her husband, Johnnie, who appeared to be the slightly drunk on most occasions. As the years wore on, Fanny's love for pastry boats and garish food coloring lost it's charm as did Fanny. And while today's television chef's find rudeness as important as a sharp knife, it failed Fanny. As she grew older, she wore more and more make-up, flitting around the kitchen in chiffon and pearls, making her persona the stuff of parody.

Fanny & Johnnie Cradock's Cook Hostess' Book is one of my favorites. It is filled with "Fanny" pronouncements on how and why to entertain. She relay the day she told a group of British experts that ALL of her source books were, of course, in French. Her discussion of how much food to prepare for say, a dinner dance, gives us this:
"...hostess who give dinner parties before dances and, alas and alack, some of theses will be very liberal while others may veer to the parsimonious."
For Fanny, there is nothing worse than having the guests at a dinner dance be famished because you were parsimonious in the portion department!

This is truly delightful and unusual dish. I love the phrase "1 dozen tiny casserolettes" which I believe we would call ramekins. The ice cream does tend to go a bit "begiey" but I refrain from food coloring. Dust the top with a fine grind of red pepper and it will brighten it up. Fanny doesn't tell you how long it might take to set up. Give it at least 4 hours and serve it with bit of green salad for a lovely appetizer.

Cheese Ice Cream

If you really want to surprise your guests and save yourself the trouble of working on this course at the time of your entertainment, serve our Cheese ice Cream. Johnnie moaned on about the lack of this kind of ice cream for many years and, finally, Fanny settled down to what she calls a trial and error session. There emerged the recipe we have been using ever since.
Make a good sauce by dissolving 1 oz. butter in a smallish pan and working in 1 oz. of fine sifted flour. When the roux is formed and has cooked for at least 2 minutes work in 1/4 pt. of dry white wine gradually, beating well, as always, between each addition. Repeat the process with 1/2 pt. milk or 1/2 pt. single cream. Then add 3/4 oz. of very finely grated Gruyere cheese and 1 1/4 ozs. finely grated Parmesan. Remove pan from heat, beat in 1 separated egg yolk and then 2 1/2 fl. ozs. of double cream. Taste, correct seasoning with salt, pepper and a pinch or two of nutmeg. Remember when doing your final seasoning that freezing diminishes the potency of both sweet and savoury flavours so err a little on the generous side.
Divide mixture between 1 dozen tiny casserolettes or miniature moulds and freeze under a tight covering of foil until a very few moments before service. Alternatively, show off with a large cheese ice cream. Oil an ornamental mould, pour in the mixture and freeze until 10 minutes before service. Dip into very hot water, unmold and surround the base with a little wall of coiled pretzels. Incidentally, we think the appearance of the finished ice cream is dull – a flattish creamy beige – and we have taken to adding a few drops of harmless green vegetable colouring to make it more pleasing to the eye.

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