Today, February 7th …
This day in 1891 was the birthday of Ambrose Heath, the extraordinarily prolific English food writer and broadcaster. Between 1932 and 1968 he wrote over 70 books, in addition to his regular newspaper and magazine contributions, and it is well-night impossible to find a food topic he did not cover.
He described in detail the preparation of turtle (The Slaughtering of the Turtle, The Treatment of the Carapace, the Plastron, and the Flippers …) and wrote a whole book about cooking with tinned food. Several books were devoted to cooking on an Aga, in a hay-box, and on a single gas ring; others were dedicated to specific ingredients, such as honey, cheese, potato or onion (with 14 recipes for onion soup); many more covered a diverse range of topics such as home made wines, children’s party fare, “American Dishes for English Tables”, and pig curing and cooking. A number were devoted to wartime cookery.
Heath’s last book, “A menu for all seasons”, was published posthumously in 1971 and is a charming insight into the man and the era. Australia is mentioned twice.
To accompany a menu of Mushroom flan, Cod maitre d’hotel, and Pineapple ice-cream he suggested “An Australian White Wine: a medium dry riesling”.
Secondly, in the dessert dish in the menu: Eggs mayonnaise, Hollenden halibut, and Australian pancakes, served with “Portuguese White Wine: Serradayres”.
I give you the halibut recipe, because it is curious, and the pancake recipe because I am baffled as to the connection with Australia.
Lay half a dozen thin slices of blanched pickled pork in a fireproof dish, spread some thin slices of onion over them and put a bay leaf in the middle. On this put a two-pound piece of halibut and spread on it an ounce and a half of butter kneaded with the same quantity of flour. Sprinkle with buttered breadcrumbs and arrange a few narrow strips of pickled pork on top. Cover with buttered paper and bake for thirty-five minutes in a moderate oven. Then take off the paper and bake for another quarter of an hour. Garnish with lemon and chopped parsley and hand a white sauce made with the cooking liquor instead of milk.
Make pancakes and fry them in the usual way, and when they are done pile them up one on top of the other between layers of thick hot stewed fruit.
Tomorrow: What does “cooking” mean?