Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Holland Style.

I often get side-tracked chasing some intriguing but obscure old food word or reference, and forget that there are many well-known foods or recipes that I have not pursued for the purposes of a blog story.  Yesterday’s source,  The 3-6-5 cook book, for use 365 days in the year (1899), by Mary Shelley Pechin included a recipe (which I give you below) for Hollandaise Fritters. This got me thinking that I have not so far written about Hollandaise Sauce.

Hollandaise sauce is one of the classic five “mother sauces” of classic French cuisine. It is an emulsion made from butter, lemon juice, and egg, served warm (not hot or it splits or curdles.) Made well, it is rich and buttery, with a slight tang, and it is and it is essential to Eggs Benedict.

There are of course a number of theories and myths as to the origin of the style of sauce and the specific name. ‘Hollandaise’mean Holland-style or from Holland, and is commonly held to reference the rich buttery-ness of the sauce - Holland historically being famous for the quality of its dairy produce. It is generally also assumed to be French in origin, although various buttery sauces were in existence in Europe long before the classical French cuisine era. Other buttery sauces such as ‘Dutch Sauce’ and ‘Sauce d’Isigny are variations on the same theme, so the debate is as much about the name ‘Hollandaise’ as about the actual recipe.

As this is a blog post, not a thesis, I toss in a few random points to challenge the accepted ‘truth’ of Hollandaise sauce:

·         “Dutch sauce” was known in Britain in the second half of the sixteenth century.
·         Several buttery sauces appear in a seventeenth century Dutch cookbook (De Verstandige Kock )
·         According to the late, great Alan Davidson, there is mention of “sauce a la hollandoise” in Marin’s Dons de Comus (1758)

And now for our recipes. I have given you one version of Hollandaise sauce in a previous post (here), and give you another, for comparison:

Hollandaise Sauce.
For Meats.
One-fourth pound of butter; mix in this one teaspoonful of flour, and the yolks of three eggs well beaten, the
juice of one-half a lemon, a little grated nutmeg and one tablespoonful of water; mix together and stir constantly
over a slow fire. The sauce must not boil, or it will curdle, and be unfit for use.
The 3-6-5 cook book, for use 365 days in the year (1899), by Mary Shelley Pechin
And here is the fritter recipe which triggered the story:

Hollandaise Fritters.
Four cupfuls of cold, boiled rice; two eggs well beaten, one-half cupful of grated cheese, one tablespoonful of cream, a little salt and pepper. Mix well together and make into small flat cakes; have some hot fat in the pan, not a deep fat; brown the cakes in this, cooking slowly; turn and brown on the other side. Serve hot with either lamb chops or steak.
The 3-6-5 cook book, for use 365 days in the year (1899), by Mary Shelley Pechin
And for good measure, a Holland-style creamy eggy soup from one of England’s nineteenth century celebrity chefs:

Soup à la Hollandaise.
Peel three carrots, and an equal number of turnips and cucumbers; scoop these out into the shape of small olives, and, after blanching them, boil them in two quarts of good strong blond of veal; when the vegetables are done, remove the soup from the fire, and mix in with it a leason [liaison] of eight yolks of eggs, half a pint of cream, a pat of butter, and a little sugar; set the leason by stirring the soup over the fire, and then pour it into the soup-tureen, containing about half a pint of young peas boiled green, and an equal proportion of French-beans cut into diamonds, and serve.
The Modern Cook, (1846) by Charles Elme Francatelli

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