Monthly Archives: January 2013

Retro Food For Modern Times: Singers and Swingers – Roberta Ashley (1967) – Sorry About That, Chief!

Last week  I mentioned that there was surprisingly little to mock in Roberta Ashley’s Singers and Swingers.  Never fear though, little doesn’t mean nothing and today, I’m turning my unflinching gaze to a few of the less palatable gems contained therein.

I have a strange relationship with cold soup.  Until 5 years ago, I can honestly say, had never eaten it, and had no intention of doing so. I started to come round after a trip to Barcelona in 2008 and a bowl of the most amazing gazpacho I have ever eaten.  I have become a fan of this delicious Spanish concoction, to the point of whipping up a batch or two of my own...

Homemade Gazpacho...I can do cold Soup

Homemade Gazpacho…I can do cold soup

So, whilst reconciled to gazpacho, cold creamy soups and I aren’t even friends on Facebook.  You know how sometimes, if you eat something creamy you get a film in your mouth from the fat in the cream? That’s the thought that puts me off.   Well, it’s that thought that puts me off  a cold soup made from the freshest cream and vegetables.  I have seen what cold canned soup looks like and believe me, it’s not going anywhere near my mouth!  Gross!  So, this recipe from Leonard Nimoy is designed to push all the wrong buttons for me.  As far as I’m concerned this one can go back to Vulcan, Spock!

Leonard Nimoy's Cold Soup..not for me!

Leonard Nimoy’s Cold Soup..is not for me!

The next recipe designed to have me gritting my teeth and muttering swear words under my breath is called Homemade Canned Beans. As mentioned in the last post, I am not averse to a can of beans.  Beans on toast is one of my go to meals when I want something quick and healthy after a trip to the gym or a lazy breakfast.  My issue with most of the popular brands of beans on the market is that the sauce can be overly sweet.  So I was very excited to read the name of this recipe.  Imagine if I could make my own beans that tasted like canned beans but with less sugar?  Happy days….

Unfortunately, as I read on, it turned out that the universe had another fate in store for me

 

Homemade Canned Beans?

Homemade Canned Beans?

Remember in the wacky races when Muttley used to mutter under his breath?  I did a lot of that whilst reading this recipe.

If you want a better recipe for beans, check out Erica over at Retro Recipe Attempts.  If, like me, you have an aversion to an overly sweet sauce for your beans, I think the mustard and tabasco in Erica’s recipe would cut through that  sweetness.

http://retrorecipe.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/zingy-baked-beans/

Next, on my hit list,  we have Southern Fried Chicken À La Mrs Bobby Goldsboro. Personally, I would call this heart attack on a plate but Mr Bobby Goldsboro informs us that:

“I like it because I like Southern Cooking, but another reason is that fried foods are fattening and I am always trying to put on some weight”. 

Mr Bobby Goldsboro needs a good hard slap if you ask me. The man must have had the metabolism of a hummingbird!* Just looking at a plate of something that contains bacon fat, oil and cream and is served with mashed potatoes or biscuits, butter and honey would be enough to derail my weight loss efforts for a year!

Southern Fried Chicken A La Mrs Bobby Goldsboro

Southern Fried Chicken A La Mrs Bobby Goldsboro

As a child, one of my favourite tv shows was Get Smart.  I  would race home from school every day to see which episode was on, I swear I have seen every episode a dozen or more times and, if push came to shove, I could probably recite some of them almost verbatim.   

The hero of the show was the bumbling, wise-cracking secret agent called Maxwell Smart, played by Don Adams.   Given my love for the show, I was delighted to see that Singers and Swingers contained recipes by both Don Adams and Barbara Feldon who played Max’s colleague (and eventually his wife), Agent 99.  More about Barbara Feldon next time but I desperately wanted their recipes to be good.  Hers is great.  However, in the words of Maxwell Smart, I believe this recipe “missed by that much”.  If by “that much” you mean the distance from here to the moon.  I can’t even think what this mix would begin to taste like…if anyone is brave enough to make it, please let me know!

don adams peanut butter cheese spread 001

I’ll leave you to  ponder the utter weirdness of the Don Adams recipe.  I’m off to search for episodes of Get Smart….

Enjoy your week!

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*Hummingbirds have an incredibly fast metabolism. At any given moment they are only hours away from starving to death.  

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Retro Food For Modern Times: Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen – Roberta Ashley (1967) – Franks, Mince and A Saucer of Milk!

Whilst I love all old cookbooks, there is a special place in my heart for the celebrity cookbook and finding Roberta Ashley’s “Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen” was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

Subtitled

“The Scene Makers Cookbook Dozens of Nutty Turned On Easy-To-Prepare Recipes From The Grooviest Gourmets Happening” 

Singers and Swingers is a collection of recipes from The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Leonard Nimoy, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minelli and other icons of the ’60’s  “that will keep you grooving with the greatest.”

Life really does not get much better than this!

Front Cover - Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen

Front Cover – Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen

Back Cover - Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen

Back Cover – Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen

As teenage columnist for This Week Magazine, Ms Ashley often asked bright young things of the day what their favourite foods were.  She advises that many of these dishes were:

“Worked out while they were quietly starving or working in a “pass-the-basket” coffee-house.  That means that most of these dishes can be cooked on allowance type money…or very little bread as they say”

Which just makes me love it more…star studded AND thrifty is one of my favourite combinations!

And for those readers who may be new to the kitchen, or hesitant cooks, Ms Ashley offers the following words of encouragement.

“Give it a try, the recipes are mostly easy ones and remember a year ago, Barbra Streisand couldn’t cook at all”

Adorable!

The recipes in the book are mostly solid, with only the occasional piece of  WTFery  thrown in.  If there is a real problem with the book it is that there is a certain degree of repetition in the recipes.  Of the 68 main recipes in the book, minced meat features in 11.  These include:

3 recipes for Chilli:

  • Chili by Paul Revere
  • Chili Esperanza by The Mamas and The Papas.  They liked to eat this with scrambled eggs…the thought of that makes me gag a little. (Then again, maybe they should have stuck to softer types of foods like chili and scrambled eggs and avoided the types of food that can get stuck in your throat like sandwiches.)
  • Chili for Chums.  This is not name checked but to my mind is actually the best of the lot.

Paul Revere was the lead singer of a band called Paul Revere and the Raiders who liked to dress up in period costume and presumably precede all of their gigs by repeatedly shouting “The British are coming, the British are coming”.

Paul Revere 1967

Paul Revere 1967

Ah, those crazy days of the ’60’s.  I bet he feels a little silly about wearing that costume now….

Then again, maybe not.

Paul Revere 2007

Paul Revere 2007

Returning to the prevalence of ground mince, there are also 3 recipes for Sloppy Joe Type Creations:

  • Sloppy Joe A La Sam The Sham
  • A Jones Delight by Jack Jones
  • Snick Snack Hamburgers by Lesly Gore. Lesly Gore was famous for her song “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To”. She must have self catered because these sound repulsive.
Lesly Gore's Snick Snack Hamburgers

Lesly Gore’s Snick Snack Hamburgers

There is an equally revolting concoction called Robb Stew made by one of the three Robb brothers from the band called….you guessed it…The Robbs…They appeared to operate on the principle that if you can’t be original, be consistently unoriginal.   Surprisingly, all members of this band were not wiped out by food poisoning in 1968 but 3 of them went on to have illustrious careers in the music industry by founding Robb…I mean…Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles.  This studio has produced artists such as The Gogo’s, Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Devo, Public Enemy and Jane’s Addiction to name but a few!  Quite possibly this is truly a case of what doesn’t kill you making you stronger.

Robb Stew

Robb Stew

There are also 4 instances of minced meat with pasta:

  • Carol Lawrence’s Lasagne
  • Noel Harrison’s Bolognese Sauce
  • Paul Anka’s Party Spaghetti
  • The Buckinghams‘ Spaghetti and Meatballs

Whilst their recipe does sound delicious, some of those Buckinghams look a little druggy around the eyes if you ask me!

The Buckinghams

The Buckinghams

Not like these clean living young men from groovy London town!

Rolling Stones 1967

Rolling Stones 1967

Wow! Look at the young Keith Richards in 1967 (middle row on the right).  And look at him now:

Keith Richards 2012

Keith Richards 2012

If you ever needed a reason not to take a bucket load of drugs look no further!

 The Stone’s recipe is one of the six that contain frankfurters as one of the key ingredients.

  • Chili Dog Chili by the aforementioned Paul Revere.  That man sure did love his chilli!
  • Golden Joys
  • Hurry up Casserole
  • Frankfurter Casserole
  • Hot Dogs on The Rocks by the Rolling Stones
  • Frank Pops by The Cyrkle.  I have no idea who The Cyrkle were.  And  if this recipe is anything to go by, I’m not surprised that they have faded into obscurity. Placing battered franks on a stick doesn’t make them more fun, it only adds insult to injury!
The Cyrkle's Frank Pops

The Cyrkle’s Frank Pops

Mind you, the recipe from The Rolling Stones is not up to much either…although…with the right sausage, a proper gourmet one, and proper mash, this could be a perfectly acceptable meal!  It can, can’t it?  Or have I just been married to an Englishman for too many years?

Hot Dogs on The Rocks

Hot Dogs on The Rocks

I love a recipe that comes with its own warning! In case you were wondering

“Mick Jagger invented the potatoes and franks; Charlie Watts added the beans”

There is a tone to some of the entries that suggests there may not have been much love lost between Ms Ashley and some of the celebrities. Here is Ashley’s introduction to Liza Minelli’s recipe for Crepes Suzette:

“Liza Minelli is a little girl who’s come a long way despite a terrible handicap”

The part of me that craves gossip and scandal read on with an overly avid “Wow, really?  What’s she got?”

The so-called terrible handicap?

Famous parents.

Unless they had different meanings for both the word “terrible” and the word “handicap” back in the late ‘60’s that is a nasty thing to say about someone! Poor old Liza doesn’t even get a proper photo, just a teeny thing on the cover!

Carol Lawrence also gets short shrift (even if she does get a very glamorous photo).

Carol Lawrence 001

We are told that Carol is:

“Making a rather nice name for herself in Hollywood; not as a star but as a lasagne-maker”

Ouch! 

Not really how a Tony Award Winning Actor would want to be known!  Mind you, she did go on to write a best-selling cookbook about Italian Cooking so maybe Ashley’s comment is more prescient than catty. 

 You may have noticed whilst reading this that there have been no pictures of food.  That’s because the book doesn’t contain any. This, as with most celebrity cookbooks, is long on celebrity, short on food.  That some of the recipes sound super is a bonus.  That some of them sound absolutely vile will be the subject of the next post.

In the meantime, put some flowers in your hair, light some incense and groove out to some fabulous sounds of the sixties. It’s what I’ll be doing!

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Retro Food for Modern Times: Everything Old Is New Again

So Retro Food is the new trend for 2013….I always knew I was ahead of the curve 😉

http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/retro-food-comeback-ocado-artic-roll-prawn-cocktail-heston-173344802.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2260358/Chicken-Kiev-followed-Arctic-roll-glass-Soda-Stream-How-sales-1970s-food-soared-thanks-nostalgia-things-retro.html

What a perfect retro meal this would make:

Prawn Cocktail

Prawn Cocktail

Chicken Kiev

Chicken Kiev

Arctic Roll

Arctic Roll

All washed down with some delicious Sodastream:

SodaStream

You know, they can bring back as much food as they like…but those hairstyles?  They need to stayed buried in the past!

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Strawberry Fields Forever Part 2 aka Strawberries Gangland Style

I have some weird little strips of paper in my “recipes to be made” folder.  They are not so much recipes as hints, maybe even whispers of things to make.  I have no idea where they came from – they are numbered and printed so I presume from a list of some sort.   Anyway, each of these is an absolute gem, if a little vague.

Take for instance, strip #58.

“Hull and quarter some strawberries; at the last minute, combine with a little chopped tarragon, black pepper and balsamic vinegar.  Goat’s cheese is good too”

That’s all folks.

I had strawberries galore (huh, sounds a bit like the name of a Bond girl), I had tarragon, black pepper and balsamic…

Ingredients for Strawberry Tarragon Salad

Ingredients for Strawberry Tarragon Salad

I know it’s only just over a week into the year but I strongly believe this salad will be one of my top ten finds of the year.

This was soooooo good.  The sweet strawberries, the aniseedy tarragon, the sticky sweet sour balsamic and the warming zing of pepper are…mindblowingly awesome!

I neither hulled nor quartered my strawberries…who can be bothered following so many steps in a recipe…

Strawberry, Tarragon, Black Pepper, Balsamic Salad

Strawberry, Tarragon, Black Pepper, Balsamic Salad

The recipe suggests that goat’s cheese would not go astray here.  I didn’t have any (why would I? I didn’t have sugar.  Why on earth would I have goat’s cheese?) but I mixed up some sour cream and mascarpone and dobbed that on and it was delicious.  Goat’s cheese would be amazing.  I also would like to try blue cheese.

Strawberry Tarragon Salad with Mascapone

The vinegar that the strawberries soaked in went all thick and syrupy and took on a pinkish tinge from the strawberry juice.  I siphoned this back into a small bottle for later use as it seemed too good to throw out.

Strawberry Balsamic

Strawberry Balsamic

And speaking of awesome, my White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo for Mark’s birthday?  Amazing!!! Another good contender for top ten for the year.  I hope I haven’t peaked early!

I used this recipe from a Delicious Magazine:

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/6801/strawberry+cheesecake+semifreddo

with the addition of White Chocolate into both the base and the filling.

Why white chocolate?

I was leafing through one of my favourite food books, Niki Sengit’s Flavour Thesaurus to see if she had anything to say about strawberries and tarragon (she doesn’t, although there is a section on strawberries and anise).  This book is a must have for any serious foodie and even the not so serious ones as some of the entires are hilarious!

Flavour Thesaurus

Flavour Thesaurus

Niki has the following to say about strawberries and white chocolate:

“In fancy chocolate shops, I sometimes see slabs of white chocolate spattered with clots of freeze dried strawberry, like stucco after a shoot out.  White chocolate makes for a better combination with strawberry than milk or dark because, like strawberry and gangland comparisons, it’s a little cheesy”

I couldn’t resist.  So I bought a family block of white chocolate and melted half into the biscuit base and half into the filling.  It was sensational.  And just right for a birthday celebration on a hot night.  We had dinner at our favourite Thai restaurant then came home for some bubbly and the semifreddo.  It was a delightful way to end a lovely day!

And in honour of Niki, and with a slight nod to the K-pops, but mostly because  White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo is too much of a mouthful, from now on, in this house at least, it will be known as Semifreddo Gangland Style.

White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo aka Semifreddo Gangland Style
Happy birthday darling!
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Retro Food for Modern Times – Strawberry Fields Forever, Part 1

Let me take you down ‘cos I’m going to...

…my local green grocer where they are currently selling trays of strawberries for $6.  My sincere apologies to John Lennon for that absolute travesty but just in case you are not utterly awestruck by this, let me reiterate.  A tray of strawberries for $6.   That’s 16 punnets.  For $6 dollars. The world may have not ended on December 21st but it has surely gone mad! 

Strawberries

How do farmers make any money when the (literal) fruit of their labour is being sold off at about 40 cents a punnet?

Maybe because the week before Christmas punnets of strawberries were selling for $4 each!

I know,  it’s not the farmers, it’s the wholesalers and the grocery shop owners and all the people in between who add their mark up.  The farmers probably got paid the same for the $4 strawberries as they did for the 40 cent strawberries.

My joy at my bargain buy lasted until I had to carry, not only all of my regular fruit and veggies,  but an additional four kilos of strawberries,  from the shop to my car.  By the time I reached the car (it was a hot day and I had parked some distance away from the shop to get a spot in the shade), I’d stopped thinking “I’m the best shopper in the world! ” and “I’m in berry heaven” to “What  on earth am I going to do with four kilos of strawberries?”  and  “How can four kilos of strawberries actually weigh a ton?”. 

Strawberries Waiting To Be Sorted

Strawberries Waiting To Be Sorted

My first task, on getting home, was to sort the strawberries – a few in each punnet were overripe and were starting to get a bit manky.   The perfect  ones went into a colander and the fridge for eating.  We have been feasting on these all week.

The  almost perfect berries went into a bag and into the freezer whole.  I puréed the somewhat bruised berries and placed them in 6 containers in the freezer where they will be great for smoothies, muffins, etc later in the year. Finally, my kitchen helpers, Oscar and Lulu, were on hand to dispose of the fourth group being the few badly bruised  berries that were left.

Oscar

Oscar

Lulu

Lulu

We have been eating  strawberries all week – by the handful whenever we feel a bit peckish;  for dessert with cream (Mark) and ice cream (me) and for breakfast with mango and vanilla yogurt:

Strawberry, Mango and Vanilla Yogurt Breakfast

Strawberry, Mango and Vanilla Yogurt Breakfast

I have started making a strawberry liqueur based on the link below with some tweaks inspired by other recipes, most notably, I am putting the sugar in from the start.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/06/homemade-strawberry-liqueur-recipe.html

 I searched high and low for tarragon yesterday; I went to three greengrocers and I could not find it  for love or money.  I decided to use basil instead.


Strawberry Basil Liqueur

Strawberry Basil Liqueur

 I was so excited about making the liqueur and trying to track down the tarragon, that I completely forgot to check the other ingredients.  I knew I had strawberries, I had vodka.  I was searching for tarragon.  And who particularly someone who bakes regularly, doesn’t have caster sugar?  Me apparently.  Grrr… Such a newbie mistake!!!

So today, I ducked into the supermarket to pick up the caster sugar and found piles of tarragon.  As I had another recipe for tarragon and strawberries I was aching to try, I bought a bunch and pulled the basil out of my would be liqueur and popped in the tarragon and sugar.   All the sugar sank to the bottom and when I tipped it upside down to mix it in, it made these drippy pale pink stalactite type things that looked awesome!  The mixture is also already a fabulous pink colour. And it’s only Day 2.  Imagine Day 30.

Strawberry Tarragon Liqueur

Strawberry Tarragon Liqueur

It’s Mark’s birthday tomorrow and the temperature is set to soar.  Baking in my tiny kitchen when it’s anything above 30 degrees outside  is not something I relish.  So, I’ve decided that he will get a White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo in lieu of a traditional birthday cake. I’m aiming for quirky but cool.  We’ll see how that works out.  I also need to get busy making it.  Which means that my strawberry and tarragon salad recipe will have to wait until the next post.

On a more sombre note, and speaking of temperatures soaring, many parts of Australia are currently experiencing devastating bushfires and my heart goes out to all those who have lost loved ones, homes and belongings in this tragedy and to the brave people, many of whom are volunteers, who are so valiantly fighting the fires. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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Retro Food For Modern Times – Holiday Wrap Up

Happy New Year!

Here’s whats been going on since I last posted.

On Christmas day, we gathered at my mum’s for a family lunch.  I made the carrot and orange flower water salad featured in the last post and a lemon and lime tart with limoncello as my contribution to the meal.  The tart was meant to look like this….

Lemon and Lime Tart With Limoncello

Sadly, it didn’t.  I lack confidence with pastry so thought I would make it with a crumb crust.  But I  didn’t let the crumb set long enough so when I poured the filling in it all came loose and mixed in with the filling.  I ended up covering it with a meringue (thanks again for that idea Monica) but when it was cut it didn’t have a nice sharp line between meringue, filling and base.  It tasted wonderful; it looked terrible.  I hate that.  Why is it  always when you have to cook for a large group of people that things go awry?

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/6694/lemon+and+lime+tart+with+lemoncello

I was lucky enough to get lots of lovely vintage and vintage inspired presents – a selection of some are below!

DSC01682

Over the break I finally got to visit the Gusto exhibition at the State Library which explores the culinary history of Victoria.  Among other treasures, they had an amazing array of vintage cookbooks which I was just itching to get my hands on!

Gusto: A Culinary History of Victoria

The days between Christmas and New Year are tinged with sadness for me as my Nana passed away during this period a few years ago.  In memory of Nana, I cooked some devilled eggs which was a dish she used to make quite often .  My devilled eggs weren’t nearly as good as Nana’s stuffed eggs but they weren’t terrible….maybe  next year I’ll get Nana’s recipe and do it properly!  In the meantime, the recipe I used is here:

http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/deviled_eggs/

Devilled Eggs

Devilled Eggs

Asparagus rolls were another of Nana’s specialties.  Nana’s asparagus came straight from the tin, the rolls were made with white bread with the crusts cut off, and the asparagus was melded to the bread  with a mixture of butter and finely grated cheese.  There may have been some mustard in there too…again, I’ll have to snaffle the exact recipe, if such a thing exists, off mum for next year.  Ribbon sandwiches were another of the lovely, dainty things she made…..it’s funny, for someone who had a very sweet tooth, all of the best of Nana’s recipes were savoury high tea type delicacies.

On a more mundane level, I remember school holidays sitting in front of the television watching Days of Our Lives eating  hard-boiled egg and tomato sauce sandwiches that Nana had made for me.  Just in case you were wondering, these were eggs mashed into tomato ketchup on white bread. I kind of shudder at the thought of them now but back in the day….delicious!

Every year in the school holidays Nana would take me into the city and we would have Frog in a Pond at the Coles Cafeteria.  I think Frog in a Pond maybe a uniquely Australian dessert so for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about here it is…

Frog in a Pond

A link to the recipe is here:

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/18303/frogs+in+the+pond

I made us some mushroom vol au vents…can you get more retro than a vol au vent?  They were light and lovely after the rich  food at Christmas.  The recipe I used is here although I cheated and used bought shells. One of my goals for this year is to master pastry!!!

http://www.cookitsimply.com/recipe-0010-02605q.html

Mushroom Vol Au Vent

In between some house renovations, we had a boozy lunch and some fabulous cocktails with  some girlfriends one day.  The cocktails were served in jam jars and look almost as good as they tasted!

Cocktails 001a

Ended the day on the couch watching Bond on the telly.  The Spy who Loved Me…which has to be the best Bond song ever if not quite the best movie.

We had a very quiet New Year’s Eve as the dogs get frightened by the fireworks and we didn’t want to leave them alone at home.  I lit a tea light – in one of these gorgeous candle holders made from vintage doilies – and reflected on the year gone and the one to come. 2012 was a turbulent year for many reasons and in some ways I was glad to see the back of it. I have a feeling 2013 is going to be a fabulous year!  I also wish the same for everyone reading this and hope all your hopes and wishes come true.

DSC01688

 

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