25 July 2009

Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book

C’est la sauce qui fait manger le poisson.
Old French Saying

The Pruniers were consummate restaurateurs, opening their first restaurant in 1872. Around the world, people sought out their restaurant to eat their innovative preparations of fish. Emile Prunier decided to collect the many recipes he cooked into an expansive fish cookery book. He discussed his plans with his daughter and his partner, Michel Bouzy. Shortly after preparing an outline for his book, Prunier died. Within two years, Bouzy published a book on fish cookery, essentially, Emile Prunier’s recipes.

Not to be outdone, Madame Pruiner published her own book. She credits her cookbook in part to her clients, one who repeated a common theme, “Oh, Madame Pruiner, you give us fishes which we wouldn’t dream of eating anywhere; you call them by a funny French name, and we all adore them!”

After opening a restaurant in London in 1935, London bon vivant and gourmand, Ambrose Heath, took on the job of translating the recipes and Madame Prunier’s Fish Cookery Book became a trusted source for cooking anything that came from the water.

In keeping with the old French saying, Madame Pruiner lists approximately 80 sauces for the cooking of fish. Here are a few.

Beurre d’ail (Garlic Butter) –Blanched garlic well pounded and mixed with an equal quantity of butter. Pass through a fine sieve.

Beurre de Raifort (Horseradish Butter) –- Add a dessertspoonful of finely grated horseradish to five ounces of softened butter.

Sauce Crème (Cream Sauce) –- to a little over half a pint of Béchamel Sauce add four tablespoonfuls of double cream.

Sauce Andalouse – to just over half a pint of Mayonnaise Sauce add four tablespoonfuls of thick very red tomato purée, and two small sweet peppers cut in julienne strips.
And sole named for Pruiner…
Sole Pruiner ---

Poach the filets with white wine and mushroom cooking liquor. Dish them, and surround them with poached and bearded oysters. Place over them peeled mushrooms and slices of truffle, and cover with a White wine sauce.

In later years, Madame Prunier wrote a history of her of the family business: La Maison: The History of Prunier's.

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