Superwoman by E J Catering

One evening a few years ago, when I was unable to sleep, I got up and put the telly on.  Slumped with a duvet and head full of unnecessary action, I was taken off to the world of Hannah Glasse (1708-1770).  I had never heard of her before, but it seems that long before the renowned Mrs Beeton or Fanny Cradock, Hannah Glasse was the first “kitchen goddess”, way back in the 18th century.  She was an English woman who wrote the first known successful and commercial cook book, The Art of Cookery, published in 1747.  At the time, the name of the author was unknown, as she signed off her work “by a Lady”.

Hannah, who had grown up in the country with well-to-do folk, and experienced good food and the beginnings of hospitality as a way to show off wealth and possessions, found herself in the city as a very young wife and realised that there was a gap in the market.  Her book was based on simple instructions, accessible ingredients and easy recipes.  She simplified old fashioned text – so “pass it off brown” became “fry it brown in some good butter” and “draw him with parsley” became “throw some parsley over the dish”.   She cleverly engineered weights and measures instructions, making them foolproof.  In her famous recipe, To Roast A Hare, she suggests “as much thyme as will lie on a six-pence” – a clever means to measure without machinery.  She offered practical help with timing, suggesting winding a length of string onto your spit.  She reasoned that when all the string was on the floor, the roast was cooked, ensuring no need for a modern-day timer with a ping.  Hannah Glasse brought the first curry recipe to the British table, though it must have been basic, as it only requires coriander and black pepper. But when the dish was reproduced on that late night programme, I saw a group of food experts pronounce it totally delicious.

From where I sat on the sofa, I can tell you we have learnt a bit about presentation since Hannah’s day, but I was sold on her methods. So with Hannah as my inspiration, here’s my easy recipe for gooseberry fool.

Gooseberry fool

ngredients

2 quarts (2.2l/4pt) gooseberries

1 Quart (1.1l/2pt) of sugar syrup (water and sugar, bring to the boil, allow to cool)

2 quarts (2.2 l/4pt) of new milk

4 egg yolks

Pinch of nutmeg

Method

Take 2 quarts of gooseberries, which come into season next month.  Set them on the fire in about a quart (1.1l/2pt) of water.  When they begin to simmer, turn yellow and begin to swell and split, throw them into a colander to drain the water out.  With the back of a spoon, carefully squeeze the pulp through the sieve into a dish and let them stand till they are cold.  Meanwhile, take 2 quarts (2.2l/4pt) of new milk, and the yolks of 4 eggs and beat it all up with a little grated nutmeg.  Stir it softly over a low heat.  When it begins to simmer take it off, and by degrees stir it into the gooseberries. Let it stand until cold, then serve it up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: