Friday, August 12, 2011

50 Women Game-Changers (in Food): #10 Hannah Glasse & Mrs. Isabella Beeton - Pan-Seared Trout w/ Caper Sauce

In May '11, Gourmet posted a list of 50 Women Game-Changers (in Food) that runs the gamut from food writers to cookbook authors to television personalities to restauranteurs to chefs to food bloggers.  Some are a given.  Some are controversial.  Speaking the names of some brings fond childhood memories.  Speaking the names of others will make some readers cringe.  And of course, some of our favorites were not even included.  We food-lovers are a passionate bunch of people and whether we agree or disagree, every woman on this list has earned her place for a reason.  Being a woman who is passionate about food (cooking, eating, talking about, writing about, photographing), when I caught wind of Mary from One Perfect Bite's idea of cooking/blogging her way through each of these 50 women...one per week...I knew I wanted to join her.  Many of these women paved the way for us in culinary school, in the kitchen, in cookbooks, in food writing, and on television and I think it is a fabulous way to pay tribute to their efforts.  Some of the women on the list have been tops with me for years.  Some I have heard of (perhaps even seen, read, or cooked from) before.  And there are even a handful that I am not familiar with at all.  I excited to educate myself on each of these women game-changers and hope you look forward to reading along.  We are going in order from 1 to 50.
the "Gourmet" prompt...
10. Hannah Glasse and Mrs. Beeton- Mrs. Glasse’s The Art of Cookery (1747) and Mrs. Isabella Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) are Important Foundation Cookbooks.

I am completely fascinated by these two ladies.  Honestly, I had never heard of them before.  I think you'd be lucky to find a hard copy of either book anyplace, but oh, how I'd love to get my hands on one.  I was able to find both books in their entirety on the internet, though.  The style of the books (to me) is reminiscent of Carême and Escoffier.  But unlike those men, we never studied Glasse or Beeton in culinary school.  I suppose they were more for the common folk and women.

Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management was a guide to all aspects of running a household in Victorian Britain...dealing with everything from dealing with servants to invalid cookery to children's cooking plus a load of recipes.  It would take me forever just to get through it.  I find it that Isabella wrote all of this in her 20's, as she died at 28.

In a 2006 BBC documentary, Glasse was called the "mother of the modern dinner party".  The Art of Cookery also includes a load of recipes along with chapters on how to market and medicines and repellants.

worth further exploration:  (online cookbooks) Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, The Art of Cookery
Pan-Seared Trout w/ Caper Sauce
Mrs. Beeton suggests pairing her Caper Sauce with skate or salmon, but since I had access to some very fresh trout, I decided to use this instead.  I think it is more of a "caper butter" than a "caper sauce", but no matter what you call it, it melts nicely on top of  hot, just-cooked fish...seeping in and adding another layer of flavor.
serves ~3

One (12 oz.) fillet of Trout w/ skin
butter
sea salt
white pepper

Caper Sauce (*recipe below)
*Caper Sauce for Fish
from Mrs. Isabella Beeton's Book of Household Management 

as written (includes numbered recipe from book...I left out the optional glaze, used guesstimates on the "dessert spoonfuls" and used anchovy paste in place of anchovy essence...I just added everything to the hot pan that I cooked the fish in and it was finished in no time):  
383. INGREDIENTS - ½ pint of melted butter, 3 dessert spoonfuls of capers, 1 dessert spoonful of their liquor, a small piece of glaze, if at hand (this may be dispensed with), ¼ teaspoonful of salt, ditto of pepper, 1 tablespoonful of anchovy essence.

Mode.—Cut the capers across once or twice, but do not chop them fine; put them in a saucepan with ½ pint of good melted butter, and add all the other ingredients. Keep stirring the whole until it just simmers, when it is ready to serve.

Time.—1 minute to simmer.
Make sure that your trout fillet is scaled and free of any pin bones.  Cut into three (4 oz. each) pieces.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Using a very sharp knife, make three diagonal cuts through the skin of each piece of fish.  This will keep the skin from curling up when it hits the heat.  Season each side with salt and white pepper.

Place a large sauté pan (I like to use either cast-iron or hard-anodized finish) over medium-high heat.  Once it is hot, throw in a pat of butter.  Once it has melted and has begun to foam, add fish, skin side down.  Cook until skin is golden and crispy, ~3 minutes.  The butter may "pop", so be careful.  Gently flip the fish over and cook for another minute or so, until just cooked through.

Serve on a bed of baby spinach or other greens.  Divide the "sauce" over each plate and throw in a lemon wedge or two for squeezing over.  As you eat, the buttery sauce seeps down into the fish, adding another rich layer of flavor.  All of the juices then begin to wilt the spinach.  Paired with the lemon squeezed over everything, this makes a fantastic meal!
Hannah Glasse  (March 1708 - September 1770)
 ~ ~
Mrs. Isabella Beeton  (March 12, 1836 - January 1865)

Who is cooking along with these 50 Women Game-Changers?
I am sharing this post with:
fridaypotluck FCFButton fresh food friday at la bella vita Foodie Friday Logo 2 friday food at mom trends foodfriday