Certain Fanny Cradock recipes just keep popping up time and time again. In different books, on different TV shows and in different newspaper columns. She does them slightly differently each time. I like to think it's less her recycling old ideas, and more about reinforcing a set of core recipes that can be used differently for different occasions. She wouldn't be taking shortcuts to fill a show, would she? It would never be that she had run out of ideas, would it? Surely she wouldn't think we hadn't been watching properly before, would she? Her Rissoles are one such recipe. They get everywhere.
In the partwork she also gives them her favourite proper name. They are Fondue Frites. She doesn't discuss them, just presents them, after all we have made them together before. Many times. She introduced them on TV as part of her Adventurous Cooking series in 1966 and again when she invited us to her Cheese and Wine Party in 1970. After showing us around her glorious kitchen bursting with young assistants, she gets straight on with this hardly extravagant form of 'hot cheese' which is ideal for informal parties and buffets. It's disputable if they are of French of Belgian origin, Fanny never really decides. She is too busy explaining to us the real nature of the word 'fondue' which, she says. is a classical cookery term and not just hot cheese. Except this one, which is hot cheese.
The ingredients are well known to viewers and readers alike. Duchess Potatoes. This time not dyed eye-popping green but simply steamed and sieved before butter is added. Fanny suggests chilling the mixture until it becomes stiff at this stage. At least in the partwork she does. On TV she just jumps straight in and adds the absolutely essential Gruyère cheese, for it must be Gruyère, eggs, salt and pepper. Except in the partwork it's two egg yolks only. In the booklets it is two egg yolks only. On TV it's one whole egg. Surely Fanny didn't get her own recipe wrong on TV, did she?
In print again she recommends chilling the mixture at this point. On screen she blobs the mixture into a dish of flour and shapes it very roughly into a 'fat sausage shape'. At least that's how she describes it. I follow the printed instructions of course, shaping my sausages when the cheese and potato mix is cool and firm from the fridge, not hot and sloppy. Or loose and flabby. Or however she is describing it at the time. And chill again. On TV when Fanny brings her shaped sausages out of ordinary refrigeration they are perfectly shaped anyway, so presumably it doesn't matter. Magic must be at hand in her kitchen.
The shaped and chilled rissoles are then dredged in flour, beaten egg and coated with fine breadcrumbs. On TV Fanny does this once and plops them straight into the fryer. In print she is at pains to point out that this procedure must be undertaken THREE times. For only a triple coating will give a suitable protective wall for the delicate cheese and prevent it oozing into a gooey mess in the fryer. This would be failure. The oil must be smoking hot, so as to almost blind you, apparently. Fried until just golden and then transferred to the oven to finalise the 'fondue'. At least on TV. In print they are fried and well, just served, but still gooey inside. There seems to be many ways to make rissoles the Fanny way. They are cheesy and gorgeous, so we can forgive Fanny for the repetition, and (perhaps) the errors. My rissoles are all goo inside and no escaped ooze outside. No failure. Just like Fanny's.