Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Grand Marnier, Elizabeth David

A couple of weeks ago, I found an article in the June 1957 issue of The Epicurean Monthly titled Entertaining With Grand Marnier by Elizabeth David. I thought it would be fun to share some of the highlights of the article on the anniversary of Elizabeth David's birth which is today December 26.

Elizabeth David was born on December 26, 1913. She was a pre-eminent British cookery writer of the mid 20th century. She is considered responsible for bringing French and Italian cooking into the British home. Elizabeth David helped reawaken the postwar British palate which had been worn down by post-war rationing and dull food by celebrating the regional and rural dishes of the Mediterranean rather than the fussier food of the gourmands and aristocrats.

Elizabeth David studied at the Sorbonne in Paris and lived in France, Italy, Greece, and Egypt, where she worked for the Ministry of Information during World War II. While abroad she spent much of her time researching and cooking local fare. On her return to London in 1946, David wrote cooking articles and in 1949 the publisher John Lehmann offered her a hundred-pound advance for A Book of Mediterranean Food, a passionate mixture of recipes and culinary lore which was the start of a dazzling writing career. David spent eight months researching Italian food in Venice, Tuscany and Capri. Many of the ingredients were unknown in England when the books were first published, and David had to suggest looking for olive oil in pharmacies where it was sold for treating earaches. Within a decade, ingredients such as eggplants, saffron and pasta began to appear in shops, thanks in no small part to David's books. Elizabeth David gained fame, respect and high status and advised many chefs and companies. In November 1965, she opened her own shop, the Elizabeth David Kitchen Shop in Pimlico, London. She severed her ties with the shop in 1973, but went on to bring improved cooking equipment and kitchen tools to department stores in England.

Long acknowledged as the inspiration for such modern masters as Child and Claudia Roden, Elizabeth's David's contribution to the gastronomic arts was recognized with numerous awards, including the first Andre Simon memorial prize. source @ wikipedia

Grand Marnier As A Liqueur

(the above article will open in a new window)

Here are a few highlights from The Epicurean Monthly article.

Grand Marnier As A Liqueur: The finest brandies in the world are distilled from wine produced in the small area of France known as Grande Champagne...In the heart of the country which produces these Brandies lies the Chateau de Bourg Charente, owned by the firm of Marnier-Lapostolle. Here is produced the Grande Champagne sold under the name of Cognac Marnier Lapostolle, and on a basin of this same Cognac is distilled the world famous orange liqueur known as Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge.

Grand Marnier then, is not just "a liqueur," a term which nowadays implies almost any spirit based, sweetened, and fruit or herb flavoured compound. Now there is a world of difference between a liqueur in which the flavouring extract has been produced by distillation of a fruit syrup, and one in which the sugar and the flavours have been introduced by maceration, which means the fruit kernels, peels, herbs or whatever the flavouring may be, having been steeped in the spirit for varying periods is then removed and the spirit is filtered. In the past many such liqueurs were made at home according to treasured family recipes, and were called cordials or ratafia as distinct from distilled liqueurs.

I decided to include this recipe (also from the article) for Lemon and Grand Marnier Ice-Cream in celebration of Elizabeth David and the invention of the lemon squeezer by, John T. White, which was also this month.

Lemon & Grand Marnier Ice Cream

2 large lemons
3 ozs. icing sugar
1/4 pint double cream
Grand Marnier
Put the thinly peeled rind of the lemons with the icing sugar in 4 oz. water, and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Leave this syrup to cool, strain and add to it the juice of the lemons. When quite cold, add it gradually to the whipped cream; stirring gently until the whole mixture is smooth.

Pour into the ice-tray, cover with paper and freeze at maximum freezing point of the refrigerator for about 3 hours, taking it out to stir it twice, after the first 1/2 hour, and again after another hour. Half an hour before serving, stir in a good liqueur glass of Grand Marnier (the contents of a miniature bottle) and put back in the freezing compartment. Being an orange flavoured liqueur, the Grand Marnier mixes well with the lemon, supplying the rich flavour against the sharp background of the lemon.

The amounts given will fill an 18oz ice tray. Should the quantities have to be altered to go in smaller or larger trays, alter them all in proportion. The amount of sugar in refrigerator made ice cream is important. Made in the above manner, there will be no little ice particles and the result is a soft, light ice-cream. but it melts quickly, so leave it in the ice tray until the moment comes to serve it.

Instead of the customary wafers to go with the ice cream, serve minature, very fresh brown bread sandwiches with a filling of chopped walnuts, and a drop of Grand Marnier beaten into the butter with which the sandwiches are spread. Epicurean Monthly; June 1957, pg. 39


Elizabeth David changed our attitudes to food, drawing on Mediterranean influences to enliven the British palate. Ten years after her death, her editor, Jill Norman, pays tribute." read more

Remembering Elizabeth David and M.F.K. Fisher:

It is significant that both writers lived in Continental Europe and wrote about the food of France and Italy long before Americans and Britons had any first-hand notion of what those cuisines were all about, at a time when their own countries were more or less culinary deserts, subsisting largely on canned food. read more

Do Elizabeth David's recipes stand the test of time?
Online Recipes
1) Minestrone
2) Elizabeth David's Gateau Au Chocolat Et Aux Amandes
3) Elizabeth David's Mousse au Chocolatê l'Orange
4. Elizabeth David's Pumpkin & Tomato Gratin
1) Elizabeth David @ wikipedia
2) An Award
3) Elizabeth David's Kitchen @ Mae's Food Blog


  1. Thanks for the link, Louise. Love this post. Love your whole site! Have you thought about compiling all your fascinating food tidbits into a book? I think it would make a great one.

  2. Hi Lynn, I'm delighted you enjoyed this post. I hesitated leaving it but I just thought you might enjoy it. I'm thinking more of compiling a calendar, we'll see...


Through this wide opened gate,
none came too early,
none returned too late.

Thanks for dropping in...Louise