Friday, August 5, 2011

50 Women Game Changers in Food - #9 Irma S. Rombauer - Shrimp and Grapefruit Cocktail

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...It is hard to believe that a widow who was a better hostess than cook, created a publishing dynasty based on recipes designed to lift the spirits and please the stomachs of a Depression weary nation. Irma Rombauer was that woman. Her cookbook, the Joy of Cooking, written following the suicide of her husband during the Great Depression, went on, in eight editions, to sell 18 million copies. She was born to a wealthy German immigrant family and raised in comfort. While she never had a job, her exposure to the trappings of wealth and extensive travel led her to consider herself a Renaissance woman. Her experiences were varied and, prior to her marriage, she had a brief assignation, that her biographer actually calls a tryst, with the writer Booth Tarkington. In retrospect, she probably found St. Louis to be a bit confining. She completed the cookbook in 1931 but she had to use her own money to have it published. It did not appear nationally until 1936, when it was distributed by Bobbs-Merrill. Her cookbook was unusual in that it was filled with wit and conviviality, as well as recipes that appealed to time-pressed housewives. She knew her audience and her cookbook changed with the times. During the depression she understood the struggle women had putting inexpensive food on their tables and when WWII shortages affected the ability of women to feed their families, hers was the first major cookbook to address the problems of rationing. Through it all, her cookbooks reflected her own sense of fun. In 1951, her daughter Marion assumed control of the family franchise and added a sense conscientiousness to the book that appealed to women of the time. The two attributes were combined in the 75th edition of the cookbook that was released in 2006. It's entirely fitting that Irma S. Rombauer claims 8th place on the Gourmet Live list of 50 Women Game-Changers in Food.

I've chosen one of her earliest recipes to represent the work she's done. It is a slightly different take on shrimp cocktail that is both interesting and delicious. While it appeared in the 1931 edition of the Joy of Cooking, it has recently been revived and popularized by Chef Jose Andres at his restaurant America Eats. Here's the recipe.

Shrimp in Grapefruit Cocktail...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Irma S. Rombauer

Grapefruit Dressing
1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
4 teaspoons sherry vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt to taste
2 quarts water
2-1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
20 whole, deveined shrimp
8 grapefruit segments
Sweet paprika
Freshly ground pepper
Sea salt

1) To make the grapefruit dressing: Strain the grapefruit juice into a large bowl and add the vinegar and mustard. Add the olive oil in a slow stream, continuously whisking to emulsify. Add salt to taste and store in the refrigerator.
2) To cook the shrimp: Bring a pot of salted water to boil. Have a bowl of salted ice water at the ready. Add the shrimp to the boiling water and cook for about 1 minute (cooking time will depend on the size of the shrimp). Remove the shrimp from the boiling water as soon as they are cooked and immediately place them in the salted ice water. When completely cool, quickly remove the shrimp from the water to prevent oversaturation.
3) To serve the shrimp: Marinate the shrimp in the grapefruit dressing for a few minutes. Arrange 5 shrimp on a salad plate. Add 2 grapefruit segments per plate and spoon more dressing on top. Dust with paprika, and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and sea salt. Serve immediately.Yield: 4 servings.

The following bloggers are also paying tribute to Irma S. Rombauer this week. I hope you'll visit all of them.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Kathleen -Bake Away with Me
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island

Next week we will highlight the food and recipes of Hannah Glasse and Mrs. Beeton. It will be really interesting to see what everyone comes up with. If you'd like to join us please email me for additional information. Everyone is welcome.


Red Nomad OZ said...

Sounds lovely, light and refreshing!! Although downunder here in OZ, we'd call the shrimp 'prawns'!! And Irma sounds a lot like our very own living treasure, Margaret Fulton!!

So what's not to love!!! Have a great weekend!

Elin said...

Mary...such a wonderful woman Irma was to come up with such a great shrimp and grapefruit cocktail...I can imagine how delish this cocktail would be :) Thanks for sharing with us this great cocktail and have a nice weekend :)


Anonymous said...

thank you again Mary for sharing this, Wishing you a wonderful weekend :)

Big Dude said...

We (Bev) have more cookbooks than I can count but the only one I use regularly is "The Joy Of Cooking".

PhOutsourcing said...

This sounds a very classy recipe, it looks well presented too. Shrimp with grapefruit cocktail really needs to be given a try! Thanks for sharing!

Philippines Outsourcing

Anonymous said...

Well have read about irma before.And taht she sued grapefruit in her prawn coctail( yes herew we call prawns the same as aussies:)was just a hint..This is timeless recepies that never is boring:)

Valerie Harrison (bellini) said...

Thank you for continuing to take us on this journey Mary. This is a very refreshing recreation of a classic.

Lynn said...

Looks like a very pretty salad Mary! Happy Weekend:@)

Maris (In Good Taste) said...

This is a lovely dish and I would expect nothing less from you and Erma! The Joy of Cooking is like a household name in many many homes!

Clint said...

Love you and love your blog...but cannot imagine eating shrimp and grapefruit together.

From the Kitchen said...

Irma was my Mark Bittman. I received a copy of her cookbook when I got married in 1974 and it soon became my book of cooking information as well as recipes. I still think her Brownie's Cockaigne are the best.


Sue/the view from great island said...

I love the idea of reviving old recipes. The funny thing is, this one seems absolutely contemporary. I can see why it's being served at America Eats. I've fallen in love with sherry vinegar ever since I bought some for making gazpacho. Great post.

Unknown said...

Light, Flavorful & Delicious -- can't wait to try this! Thanks xoxo from Trinidad

Inspired by eRecipeCards said...

Mary, I am so enjoying your series. A must stop every week. All I know of her is the brief scenes in Julie and Julia and I think I made potato pancakes from the book once about 20 years ago. Looking forward to next week


Natalie said...

What a beautiful dish and such a unique take on shrimp cocktail!

Cooking Creation said...

I love reading these posts, so interesting and informative! This sounds like it would be so refreshing and tasty. Thanks for sharing :)

The Harried Cook said...

The Joy of Cooking is one of the first cookbooks I ever bought, and I think I probably made my first recipe from it... It still has a place on my kitchen shelf... Lovely recipe! Great job with it, Mary!

We Are Not Martha said...

I've never heard of the shrimp and grapefruit combination, but I think I like it!! Especially for summer :)


brokeintrovert said...

My grandmother gave me unused ration coupons in the 1980s--just in case I needed them in the future. WWII must have been a bit traumatic that my grandma would save her unused coupons for me.

Unknown said...

Oooohh... I love this idea. I just made grilled shrimp with a grapefruit bbq was good, but this sounds even better!

Karen Harris said...

This sounds delicioius. This is probably the only cookbooks that I don't own. Thanks for sharing this recipe with us.

PeggyR said...

This looks very refreshing.

Susan Lindquist said...

Isn't that interesting? Shrimp and grapefruit! Well, it is citrus and we do put lemon on fish and shellfish! This is a great twist! I also think it interesting that her 'vintage' recipe has come back and again being used ... as the saying goes, 'Everything old is new again'! Great post, Mary!

Deana Sidney said...

That looks so refreshing! Love the idea of Rombauer and the way she changed the way we cooked ... not in a big flashy way but in an honest thoughtful way. No wonder everyone has her book on their shelves!

Beloved Green said...

This looks amazing--I'm drooling over this cocktail (well, the computer screen since I don't have the actual cocktail in front of me)

Banana Wonder said...

I never knew Joy of Cooking was written during the Great Depression. Interesting! I love this unique combination - never thought of it - your shrimps looks extra succulent too. :)

Diane said...

Mt mother had The Joy of Cooking and I have it somewhere still in a an unpacked box!! I would never have thought about citrus and prawns this sound fantastic. Diane

That Girl said...

We had shrimp last night. It makes for such an easy summer meal.

Anonymous said...

A perfect dish, so delicious, light and refreshing. Good old Irma Rombauer!

Joanne said...

There's so much i didn't know about this woman who's basically one of the staples of American cookbooks! Such an intriguing dish. I would have never thought to pair shrimp and grapefruit together,

Eileen said...

Sounds perfect - very refreshing, as others have said. I remember my mom had a Joy of Cooking cookbook that had been passed down to her - it was ancient and battered from all the use it got. How interesting to learn the back story behind it.

Ginny Hartzler said...

Phil adores shrimp cocktail, wonder if he would like this? He cannot eat anything grapefruit though, because he takes statin meds. This is much prettier than the traditional!!!

Angie's Recipes said...

A fresh, light and tasty summer seafood cocktail! Thanks, for sharing it.
I wish you a wonderful weekend!

Anonymous said...

The Joy of Cooking is such a great cookbook. Definitely a staple in my home. Never thought of pairing shrimp with grapefruit, but I'm sure it tastes lovely. Hope you have a wonderful weekend! xx

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a tasty combination. The grapefruit is something I don't see very often in dishes.

Jeanette said...

What an interesting combination of flavors, a refreshing summer shrimp cocktail. Thanks for organizing this weekly event in honor of all these amazing women in food.

Heather S-G said...

This sounds so light and perfect. I just love the shrimp and grapefruit combo and definitely think that I need to try it soon. Beautiful!

Candace said...

What a refreshing dish! I am craving shrimp now...and grapefruit! Love this.

Catherine said...

Looks refreshing and delicious. Have a great weekend Mary. Blessings, Catherine

Anonymous said...

Mary, what a superb fresh and flavourful cocktail.
Have a happy weekend.
:-) Mandy

Unknown said...

Well, to tell you the truth, I don't think I would go for this combo. Maybe I have lived in Turkey for too long because they don't like fruit with savoury combinations ..but isn't the shrimp taste too delicate to have the tangy grapefuit alongside?

Elaine said...

The Joy of Cooking was one of the first cookbooks I ever owned, given to me by my mother before I left home. I have cooked so many recipes from it over the years and always refer to it when I am cooking meat. This looks like the perfect recipe to serve it the summer and I like the unexpectedness of the grapefruit.

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