Category Archives: 1970’s food

Retro Food For Modern Times – My Super Power…and a Tomato Consomme

I had a bit of a shock last week when I published the Pimms Post and a little message came up saying “You have published 50 Posts”  Wow!  Really?  I completely forgot!  Good thing it was a cocktail post, we can take as a celebration had. BTW, just between us, I discovered later in the week that if instead of ginger ale or lemonade, you happen to mix  Pimms with some elderflower cordial and soda water the result is like heaven in a glass!  So, so good.

Oh and less than a week after I posted about all things British and tennis, Andy Murray finally won Wimbledon….coincidence?  I like to think not.

Tomato Consomme

Tomato Consomme

My ability to influence major sporting events is not actually my super power.   No, mine is a lot spookier.  I’m telling you this just so, when things happen over the next few weeks, you won’t be surprised.  And here it is…whenever I go on holiday…famous people die.  Seriously.  Here are just some people who have shuffled off this mortal coil when I have been elsewhere:

Princess Diana (long weekend in Warnambool)

Kurt Cobain (Sydney)

Michael Jackson/ Farah Fawcett (Surfer’s Paradise)

Amy Winehouse (Malaysia)

There have been others, I just can’t remember them off the top of my head but really…that’s 4 of the big ones right there. Weird right?

I was also in Barcelona the day Lehman Brothers went down, signalling the start of the GFC….

Tomato Consomme 2

Tomato Consomme 2

I’m just about to go on holiday so I thought I would love and leave you with a classic retro recipe, the tomato consommé.

I was an unadventurous eater as a child.  I took a vegemite sandwich to school every day for 4 years running.  Mum still laughs that I was the only vegetarian who didn’t actually eat vegetables.  So, last week when I not only whipped up a concoction made of tomato juice, chicken stock and gelatine but ate it without a second thought, it was a bit of a victory for me over my old habits.

So…if my life was a Hollywood movie this would be the bit where I bring  a spoonful of the consommé  to my lips…maybe I hesitate just to build some dramatic tension….then I would slurp that sucker down, give a sexy little wink to the camera and mouth the word “Delicious.” Next up there would be a montage of me finding new appreciation of all the other food I don’t like – boiled peas, boiled carrots, beetroot, pork chops, any mix of chocolate and orange, the list goes on.  And on.  And on.

Tomato Consomme 3

Tomato Consomme 3

To be honest though.  It wasn’t that good.

It tasted like slightly chickeny tomato juice.  It wasn’t disgusting.  Just not awesome.  It LOOKED gorgeous.  Which I guess is like saying that someone you’ve been on date with had a great personality.  No, I’ll tell you exactly what it was like.  I once read somewhere (let’s face this, this next…ahem…”fact” more than likely came from Cosmo or the Huff Post or another source of dubious reliability) that men fall in love with women because of who they are. And women fall in love with men for who they could be.  That’s how I felt about this consommé.  It was kind of a loser in its current state but given a little time and patience it could probably become something awesome.

As I ate my way through the massive amount of consommé the recipe produced, I found myself thinking…huh..what if I also made a basil jelly and made little cubes of the consommé and little cubes of basil jelly and made a really cute caprese?  Or what if instead of the bitters (which added nothing) I subbed in some Worchestershire and Tabasco and made a Bloody Mary Consomme?  What if I piped that jelly onto celery sticks?  Or teeny cubes on oysters?  What if I added more gelatine and spices and made it into something akin to a quince paste to have with cheese?

Tomato Consomme Recipe  taken from Woman's Day All Colour Book of Cooking for Slimmers (1978)

Taken from Woman’s Day All Colour Book of Cooking for Slimmers (1978)

Tomato Consomme. Taken from Woman's Day All Colour Book of Cooking for Slimmers (1978)

Tomato Consomme.
Taken from Woman’s Day All Colour Book of Cooking for Slimmers (1978)

For the right girl (or boy) there is some real potential here to take this and turn it into something truly awesome. Not me though.  I’ve been eating consommé for about a week.  I’m consomméed out….and…I’m going on holiday!

I’m going to be spending the next 4 weeks in Vietnam and Thailand, two fab food hangouts.  I  booked a Street Food tour in Hanoi today and I am so excited about it! And there was a little Banh Xeo place I didn’t around to visiting last time we were in Saigon that I’m dying to try. I can’t wait to revisit the wonderful Morning Glory in Hoi An…and I’ll going to try to do a cooking class in Phuket…in between lounging by the pool sipping cocktails! So food will be high on my agenda and, when I get back, I’m sure I’ll have some stories to tell!

Enjoy your month whatever you get up to!  I’ll be back mid August.  And stay safe, even if you’re not a celebrity or an investment bank.

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Let’s See How Far We’ve Come – Cheesy Meaty Goodness On a Stick – 1970’s vs 2010’s

My favorite thing to eat is finger food.  And it doesn’t have to be fancy – I’m just as happy with a mini-quiche or a party pie as with a teeny Peking duck pancake or a tempura prawn on a stick with a wasabi mayo.

If I was ever going to open a restaurant, all it would serve would be tiny bites.  And champagne.  Cocktails of course.  But the entire menu would be finger food.  It would be a cocktail party restaurant.  Anyone wishing to fund this establishment…you know where to find me.

Finger food has been on my mind recently as I have been drooling over the contents of Lydia France’s Party Bites which is like setting a child loose in a sweet shop – I want that one!  And that one!  And I REALLY want that one!

Party Bites

I was also not the only one who thought this book was looked delicious.  Oscar’s been suffering from a little bit of separation anxiety since I have gone back to work and I came home one day to find the book, which I had left on the couch was not exactly how I had left it….

No so much dog eared....

No so much dog eared….

I then had to go fess up to the library – the upside of which, after exchange of some financial compensation, the book, albeit slightly chewed now belongs to me!

There is a recipe in Party Bites which is a modern take on the old retro favourite of a cube of cheese on a stick with a bit of something.  This is often to be had with pineapple in the fabulously kitschy Cheese and Pineapple Hedgehog:

Pineapple and Cheese Hedgehog

Then there is the equally retro but less whimsical Aussie Staple of kabana and cheese….

Kabana and Cheese

Kabana And Cheese

No Australian barbeque of the 1970’s or 80’s would have been complete without a tray of this.  Often,  the kabana and cheese was topped with  chunk of pineapple, a gaudily coloured cocktail onion or, if you were really classy, a stuffed olive.

The idea is actually sound.  Who doesn’t love a meaty cheesy snack?  And if topped with something sweet or sour or salty…well, so much the better.  We here at Retro Food For Modern Times are not subscribers to the minimalist maxim that less is more.  We believe that more is more.  With a cherry on top!

The main problems with kabana and cheese is that kabana is kind of gross and although this combination might be tasty, it is drop dead boring. So, how do you give the ubiquitous kabana and cheese a modern twist whilst still retaining some of the kookiness of the cheese and pineapple hedgehog?  Hello Lydia France’s Spanish Men…or should that be Hola los hombres españoles!

Here’s Lydia’s Version:

Spanish Men - Lydia France

Spanish Men – Lydia France

And here are mine…my Spanish men look a little drunk and definitely more chunkier.  I think my Spanish men may have been hitting the Rioja a little too hard….

Spanish Men - olives, quince paste, serrano ham and manchego cheese

My Spanish Men

Spanish Men Recipe

For all their wonkiness, I loved them.  These were sooooo good!  Serrano ham, where have you been all my life?  If you weren’t so damn expensive I would be feasting on you non-stop.

The salty olive, the sweet quince paste, the meaty deliciousness of the serrano and the creaminess of the cheese combine to create a little piece of heaven on a stick!

Spanish Men I love you!

Mario Casas

And you’re not bad either Mario Casas…

I’m going to be spending my week checking out Spanish cinema.  Enjoy your week whatever you do!

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Retro Food For Modern Times – 7 Days Of Eating For Love And Beauty… Part 1

I figured after the alcoholic debauchery of the last post, it was time for some restraint and a bit of  detoxification.  So, I spent the last week eating for Love and Beauty.  Not exclusively mind you but at least one dish per day…and, it was pretty good.  Actually, it was better than that – I felt great!  I was full of energy, more alert, I was focussed, I steamed through tasks at work, I lost about a kilo in weight, my skin looked great, a cute boy held a door open and winked at me…seriously this shit worked!  Imagine if I lived like this…I’d be invincible!

So, this is how the week went down.

Day 1 – Balinese Rice

I know this dish better as a Gado Gado and it is delicious.  Mind you, peanut sauce is a bit like bacon…or cheese for me….you could drizzle it over a stick and I would not only eat it but ask for seconds…

I chose to keep my vegies and rice separate because I liked the way it looked on the plate, but you could choose to mix them as suggested by the Swami.

The colours in this are so pretty and fresh as well!

Balinese Rice with Peanut Sauce

Balinese Rice with Peanut Sauce

Balinese Rice Recipe

Day 2 – Vitality Bread
I baked bread!

No wait…

I.  BAKED.   BREAD.

You have no idea how happy this made me.  It looked like bread, it tasted like bread, the entire house was filled with the delicious aroma of freshly baked..happy days!

Vitality bread

Vitality Bread

You also have no idea how my heart sank when Mark said  “Wow, this bread is great, you can bake a loaf every week.”  That won’t be happening anytime in the foreseeable, but I will bake more bread…I really want to do a walnut loaf.  But not every week. Life’s too short and yeast is a temperamental little fucker.

Vitality Bread 2

Vitality Bread 2

In the interests of full disclosure, there were two failed attempts before the loaf of success.

Here is how not to go wrong baking bread.

When they say mix the yeast with warm water…don’t use boiling.  Yeast doesn’t like heat.

When they say leave for one and a half hours, don’t think “Well overnight will be even better” and go off to bed.  Particularly, in winter.  Yeast also doesn’t like cold.

See what I mean? Yeast.  It’s the Goldilocks of food.

Vitality Bread & Butter

Vitality Bread & Butter

Vitality Bread Recipe

Day 3 – Chive Relish Sauce

Chive Relish Sauce

Chive Relish Sauce

I’m not sure what the original recipe for this would be like…minus any pictures from Eating for Love and Beauty, I didn’t really have a guide.  Mine turned out like an Egg Salad.  It tasted great with the Vitality Bread so I’m not complaining  but I suspect it might have been meant to be a bit more mayonnaise-ish.

Chives Relish Sauce

Excuse the plastic wrap, I took this to work for lunch and took the picture at my desk whilst eating on the fly!

Chive Relish Sauce with Vitality Bread

Chive Relish Sauce with Vitality Bread

Day 4 – Lover’s Blush

It’s Rhubarb, fool!

Maiden's Blush - A Rhubarb Fool

Maiden’s Blush – A Rhubarb Fool

So much for my (bad) Mr T.  impersonation…this is super delicious!

Mind you, in my mind, rhubarb belongs in the Pantheon of Foods That Can Do No Wrong (Bacon, Cheese, Peanut Sauce…) so there was more than likely not going to be a downside with this recipe.  I did substitute some Amaretti’s for the wheaten biscuits though and added some orange zest for extra zing!

This was just lovely  – tangy, sweet, creamy…and (relatively) healthy.  And just look at that gorgeous colour!

Lover's Blush

I’m going to be spending the week doing more eating for Love and Beauty, I have some salads, an eggplant dish and another (jello) dessert! on the menu.  In my spare time I’ll be planning how to use my newly bestowed Eating for Love and Beauty super powers to take over the world, for good, not evil.  Enjoy your week whatever you do!

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Retro Food For Modern Times – Liptauer: Lunch, Lunacy and Death By Cheese

Let’s face it, cottage cheese exists for one reason and one reason only.  I call it “The Posts” as in post-Christmas, post-New Year, post holidays, birthdays, Easter, you get my drift.   Pretty much post anything that is fun (i.e. involves large volumes of eating and drinking).  Mondays feature strongly.

The symptoms of The Posts are a glance in the mirror that is quickly averted, followed by a groan of “I really need to go on a diet”. The effect of The Posts is a lightening of the wallet as you race down to the supermarket and fill your trolley with carrots, celery and the aforementioned cottage cheese.  Which will be thrown into the rubbish about three months past its use by date.  Sometimes, it may have even been opened. It’s not so much the lack of taste it’s that curdy texture which is just…ewwww….And yet, I keep buying it.

I have, in the past, resorted to other methods of getting rid of The Posts. One such event saw me popping down to the local health food shop to pick up some magic thinness bullets a.k.a diet pills.  Of course, they were hidden so I had to ask the weightlifter type who was stacking shelves where I might find them.

He was one of those muscle-bound creatures with prominent veins, a shaved head and a tattoo on his neck.  I have nothing against tattoos in general.  I have one myself.  Neck tattoos, however, are generally skanky.  No one looks good with a neck tattoo.  Except maybe George Clooney in from Dusk til Dawn.  His was kind of hot.

Clooney

Most other people look like trailer trash or like they just got out of prison.

 “WHAT DO YOU WANT DIET PILLS FOR?” the possible ex-convict snarled back at me. And he didn’t ask it in a “Because you’re so svelte you don’t need them” tone either.  He started off belligerent.  And it went downhill from there.

Why do you think I want diet pills, idiot?  Because I read on the internet that if I shoved them up my arse the alien rectal probes couldn’t get me? What kind stupid question is that?  It’s the equivalent of asking an adolescent boy why he’s buying condoms.  There is pretty much only one reason.  To be asked to explain that reason out loud, in a crowded shop, is just humiliating.  Actually, I take that back.  It’s worse than questioning a boy buying condoms.  At least in that instance he could snap back “To fuck your mother.”  I had nothing.

Prisoner 845 had one volume.  Annoyingly loud.   “DIET PILLS DON”T WORK”

You really don’t understand the nature of retail do you Sunshine? It’s probably why you got sent to prison in the first place.  So, here’s how it should work:

  • I ask for diet pills.
  • You give them to me.
  • I give you money. (That bit’s important.  It’s probably the part you forgot last time)
  • I leave happy.
  • Your shop stays in business
Liptauer Lunch

Liptauer Lunch

YOU DONT NEED DIET PILLS. YOU NEED TO EXERCISE”

Really?  I never realised that steroids made you stupid as well as shrinking your penis.  If I was that way inclined I wouldn’t be here asking for diet pills would I?  I’d be out…skipping… or whatever it is that people do when they exercise.

I didn’t say that.

He was big. And mean looking.  And one of the veins in his neck was starting to throb alarmingly.  I started to back away from him because he was quite clearly suffering from some sort of ‘roid rage.  I didn‘t even understand why he was there.   Health food shops should be run by aging hippies not steroid abusing, serial killers.

Eventually I was backed into a shelf of herbal tea. He then leant over me and said in the most threatening voice I have ever heard. “YOU EAT DAIRY DON’T YOU?”

Yes I do and whilst we’re on the subject of dietary habits you should probably lay off the red meat.  There’s a box of Sleepytime Tea digging into my left shoulder.  Maybe you should try a cup.

I didn’t say that either.

Liptaur Ingredients

He then leant down so he was about a centimetre away from my face.  He was all red and his eyes were bulging out; he looked like he might be about to have some sort of apoplexy.  He was also one of those people who spit when they talk and he was so close it was getting all over my face which was….I give up…there are no words to describe how utterly, utterly repulsive that was.

And then, as I was trying to surreptitiously wipe my face he bellowed (and spat) at me:

“CHEESE… IS… DEATH.”

Nothing in my life had prepared me on how to deal with a spitting neck-tattooed lunatic in my face and screaming about how dairy products would kill me.  I was also slightly more concerned about my impending death at the hands of the psychopath in front of me than any damage a camembert could inflict.  So, I did what I usually do when I don’t know whether to shit or go blind.  I started to giggle.  Then I ran.  As fast as my chubby little legs could carry me.  All the way down the street to the next health food shop where a lovely aging hippy had absolutely no qualms about selling me some piece of crap, expensive diet pills that didn’t work.

Liptaur Recipe 001

An easier way to get rid of The Posts and to thus avoid health food shop sociopaths would be to make Mary Meredith’s recipe for Liptauer (or as she calls it Liptaur).

This was good.  Really good.  Both as a dip and as a healthy lunch.

However, I don’t understand the point of mixing cottage cheese and butter.  Next time I make it I’ll use a low-fat cream cheese instead.  This will also remove the cottage cheese curdiness which was the only downside of the recipe.

Mary Meredith mentions that the Liptauer is also really good with baked potatoes.  I wasn’t about to bake a potato as we were having bangers and mash for dinner.   Hang on…potato is potato right?  Should I?  Dare I?  I’ve put cheese, chives and mustard into mash before – maybe not all at the same time but they all worked.  Anchovies are mostly salt.  What could go wrong?

Liptaur Close Up

Yeah, ok, you can all stop facepalming.

The gherkin.  The gherkin could go wrong.  I know that….

Now.

I put it down to temporary insanity caused by finding a delicious use for cottage cheese.

Here is a picture of the Liptauer mash.  Don’t try this at home.  It was revolting.

Liptauer Mash

Liptauer Mash

So, I ask you.  Is cheese death?

And if so, outside of the Liptauer Mash debacle of 2013, could there be a better way to go?

Have a great week!
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Retro Food For Modern Times: Good Cooking for (Almost) Everyone (1981)

Hello there, time to take a look into a new book.

Welcome to Mary Meredith’s Good Cooking for Everyone.

Good Cooking For Everyone by Mary Meredith 002

Let me just start with a little quibble.  When i think of 1981, I think of this:

1981’s finest.

And not so much this:

Mary Meredith 001

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a go at Mary here.  This book was first published in 1970 and this was a probably a perfectly acceptable photo back then.  Eleven years later, you’d think that maybe the publishers could have forked out for a new publicity photo.  Maybe one using that new technology of  colour.

The 500 “specially selected recipes” in this book do address a wide audience, if not exactly everyone.

In keeping with the Livvie theme above, there are sandwiches that would suit people watching their weight:

Lettuce and Lemon Sandwiches 001

And recipes for those who are most definitely not.

Mary calls this  “California Stuffed Forehock.” I prefer to think of it as “The Reason Elvis (Permanently) Left the Building”. The prunes in the recipe could explain why he was found on the toilet.

Californian Stuffed Forehock 001

Enough for 4 people or one bacon lovin’ popstar!

From The King, to proper royalty, Mary Meredith also provides us with a dainty dish to set before a king. Four and twenty blackbirds anyone?

Cutlet Pie

In fairness to Mary, it’s not actually blackbirds but a mix of lamb kidneys and cutlets.  In fairness to modern sensibility, I was staring at this picture wondering how to describe the sheer awfulness of a pie with bones in little bootees sticking out of it.  Mark looked at it over my shoulder. “You’re not making that are you?” he asked, sounding a little shaky.  I assured him I was not.  “Good” he said. “Because it looks fucking horrible.”  Description problem solved.

Then, there are recipes for people who want their cakes to look like footwear.  (Why? WHY???)

Shoe cake - who doesn't want to eat an old boot on their birthday!

Shoe cake – who doesn’t want to eat an old boot on their birthday!

And recipes for people who want to traumatise their children.  Never mind the chocolate-roll cats at the front, what are those weird shiny pink things with faces ? Apart from the stuff of nightmares?

Children's Party Food

Children’s Party Food

I did however manage to find one group of people for who Mary was not catering for.  I was searching the index of this book when, in the B’s,  I came across:

  • Baked Lemon Potatoes
  • Batch of scones

It’s an odd way of listing these items but there were corresponding entries under L, P and S so whilst kooky, they weren’t entirely random. (But again, maybe something that should have been corrected in the 1981 edition.)

I also noticed under M:

  • Making a jug of cocoa

Using this logic surely every recipe should be listed under M?

  • Making Lettuce and lemon sandwiches
  • Making Elvis Has Left The Building, etc.

And just to be really irritating there is no corresponding entry under C listing:

  • Cocoa, Making a jug of

I’m sorry cocoa drinkers of the world, I guess if you were of a logical mind in 1981 and wanted to find out how to make a jug of your favourite drink (without having to scan through 499 other recipes), you were S.O.L.

I’m spending the weekend with a jug of margaritas… it was going to be cocoa but the recipe was too damn hard to find!

So much for an alcohol free April!

Whatever your tipple, have a great week.

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Retro Food For Modern Times – Let’s See How Far We’ve Come – 1971 vs 2013

I have spoken previously about my abhorrence of food made to look like animals. It’s one of the reasons why Easter isn’t my favourite holiday.

Chocolate?  Good.

Chocolate posing as rabbits and chickens? Not so much.

Not to mention the Easter Bilbies…

Easter Bilbies

I have nothing against bilbies, I think they’re kind of sweet when they are found in nature where they belong.  Where they do not belong is in my Easter Basket.

However, given the time of year and the predilection for animal shaped food items I thought I would have a quick look at two recipes, one from the Party Cookbook (1971), the other from a modern book to see how our tastes have changed.

Let’s start with the 1971 recipe for White Mice in Jelly.

White Mice in Jelly 001

I didn’t make this because

a) It’s food made to look like rodents, and

b) I’m not fond of pears.  I find them largely tasteless and a little gritty.

But imagine these sans lettuce leaf and cheese and drowned in a vat of Lucozade and you get the general idea of the White Mice in Jelly.

,

1971 verdict – I guess they’re kind of cute.  If you like eating facsimile vermin and gritty fruit, knock yourself out.

Moving to 2013, I found the following recipe in Luke Nguyen‘s Greater Mekong Cookbook. I assumed his Chargrilled Coconut Mice would be an Asian version of the above, maybe made from a tropical fruit dipped in coconut.  A cutesy way to end the book, like the puppy story at the end of the news.

Then I actually read the recipe and..oh….oh…OH!  For the love of hopscotching Jesus…no!

Chargrilled Coconut Mice 001

Don’t get me wrong Luke,  I like you.  I think you are charming television host and a great chef.  I follow you on social media.  But seriously?   REAL FUCKING MICE? Have you lost your mind?

I didn’t make this one either because

a) It’s food made of rodents and

b) Telling me to not freak out and use quail doesn’t work.  The word mice has already been mentioned. Several times.  I don’t give a crap if they are naturally clean I’m not throwing a few mice on the barbie!

2013 Verdict – Is this really what we’ve come to?  We’ve had the foams and the bacon ice-cream and the molecular gastronomy, we’re now eating vermin? Bring back 1971!

Just in case the recipe wasn’t bad enough you can watch Luke cooking the mice here:

http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/15919/Chargrilled_coconut_mouse_or_quail

Gross.

So…in deference to the ethos of 1971, bring out the bilbies and hand me the rabbits;  this Easter I’m eating vermin.  But only of the chocolate variety!

Chocolate Bunny red ribbon

Happy Easter everyone!

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Retro Food For Modern Times: Angels, Devils and Cheesy Devils on Horseback

No, it’s not my review of the new Dan Brown blockbuster, it’s bacon! Lovely, crispy, salty bacon wrapped around…stuff that isn’t bacon.

Angels, Devils and Cheesy Devils on Horseback

Angels, Devils and Cheesy Devils on Horseback

I love bacon even though it was my undoing.  I was a very happy vegetarian for two years in high school.  If my mother is reading this, right about now, she will be having a little snicker to herself and muttering “Huh…The only vegetarian in the world who didn’t eat vegetables.”  And there is a grain of truth in that.  I did spend two years eating not much more than tomato and cheese sandwiches and the occasional omelette.

Until I was brought down by bacon.

(Cue dramatic music…wow, this could be turning into a Dan Brown novel).

Angels on Horseback

Angels on Horseback (picture from The Party Cookbook).

I used to have tennis lessons, very early, every Sunday morning.  The family that lived next door to the tennis courts would, without fail, have a fry up for breakfast every week.  The smell of bacon would drift out over the tennis court in a haze of mouth-watering deliciousness.  “Eat me, eat me, ” it taunted.

Over weeks of this, bacon came to represent so much more than a tasty breakfast dish, it became a symbol of a better life.  The kind of life where, on Sunday mornings, people had leisurely cooked breakfasts and listened to Mozart and spoke French whilst doing the Sunday crossword in less than twenty minutes.  It represented a glamour and sophistication utterly removed from my reality of huffing and puffing around a glorified field, still half asleep, wearing a polyester track suit that did not so much keep the cold out as keep the sweat in and having someone repeatedly yelling at me to hit a damn ball over a stupid net.  I began to yearn for bacon in the same way I yearned for Paris and champagne and pink Sobranie cigarettes in one of those long cigarette holders like Audrey Hepburn’s in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

I was a weird child.

Angels on Horseback - Ingredients

Angels on Horseback – Ingredients

I have no idea whether the neighbours were the glamorous types I imagined them to be or a bunch of suburban lard-arses who are now appearing on The Biggest Loser so that their fat-clogged arteries can be given a second lease of life. I suspect the latter.  If so, can I suggest that the producers of the show make them play tennis.  At seven.  On a Sunday morning.  In winter.  I’ll be lurking somewhere near by with a portable grill and a couple of rashers.  Let’s see how they like it.

Anyway, I lasted about three months before I caved.  One cold wintry morning I came home from said lesson.  Mum asked if I would like my tomato and cheese sandwich plain or toasted.

“I want bacon” I snapped in the snotty way only a 16-year-old can.  Then I stomped upstairs to my room and listened to The Smiths until mum called me back downstairs for a plate of lovely, lovely life-affirming B & E.

History lesson over.  And that’s about all the history I can give you because the reasons oysters are linked with angels, prunes with devils and either wrapped in bacon is termed “on horseback” are lost in time.  Maybe that could be the subject of the next Dan Brown… an obscure culinary term could lead Robert Langdon on a search that reveals the long hidden conspiracy behind whether Elvis really did die on his toilet. (If you’re reading this Brown, back off now.  I know what you’re like.   The Fried-Peanut-Butter and Bacon-Sandwich Code is mine.)

Angels on Horseback

Angels on Horseback

Inspired by the Angels on Horseback recipe in The Party Cookbook I recently went on a bacon rampage and made three versions of this classic hors d’œuvre.

Angels on horseback recipe 001

If you like it spicy, adding a dash of tabasco sauce to the Angels only makes them more delicious!

For Devils on Horseback, substitute Prunes for the Oysters above and leave out the paprika.

Devils on Horseback and Cheesy Devils on Horseback - Ingredients

Devils on Horseback and Cheesy Devils on Horseback – Ingredients

For Cheesy Devils, stuff the prunes with Goat’s Cheese before wrapping in the bacon.

Devils and Cheesy Devils

Devils and Cheesy Devils

Some people like to serve their Devils on Horseback with Mango Chutney.  I’m not a big fan but I did have some Kashmiri Date Chutney in the fridge and this was quite nice as a dip for the Cheesy Devils.

Devils on Horseback with Chutney

Devils on Horseback with Chutney

These were all delicious and I would make them all again.  In order my preference was  Angels on Horseback, Cheesy Devils, then Devils on Horseback but I would not discount any of them.

I no longer desire the Sobranies, but Angels on Horseback with a Glass of champagne and the Sunday Cryptic crossword?  C’est parfait!

Have a great week!
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Retro Food For Modern Times Invites You To The Worst Cocktail Party Ever

I have a bone to pick with Louis Ferguson who wrote the Cocktail Party Section of the The Party Cookbook.

Let’s get one thing clear Louis.  A cocktail party is called a cocktail party for one reason, and one reason only.  And that is the presence of cocktails.  So, by rights, given that your chapter contains absolutely no recipe for, or indeed barely a reference to, these alcoholic delights, it hardly warrants the title.

Whilst I’m on the subject  – for any workplaces that happen to be reading?  Wine and beer are not cocktails.  Stop calling events where these beverages are served cocktail parties.  It’s annoying and pretentious.  Alternatively, keep the name and actually serve cocktails.

That I am even bothering to talking about Louis is because I wanted another chance to use this delight of 1970’s food photography.

Pinapple Prawn and Parsley Pot

Pineapple, Prawn and Parsley Pot

Unfortunately, Louis lets us down here too.  In addition to not having any cocktail recipes he also does not offer any details on how to construct the Zig Zag Pineapple, Prawn and Parsley Pot.

What we are given, ad nauseam are Louis’ instructions for canapés – some of which you can see in the photo.

These include:

  • Spread a slice of toast with softened cream cheese.  Cover the entire surface with drained sweet corn kernels.  Press well onto the cheese.  Cut into diamond shapes and garnish with small diamonds of red capsicum.
  • Spread a slice of toast with softened cream cheese.  Cover with finely chopped red and green capsicum.  Cut into diamonds with a wet knife.
  • Cut buttered toast into rounds with a one inch cutter.  Cut thin slices of salami the same size.  Place onto croûtes and garnish with three peas held in place by a dab of French mustard.
  • Cut buttered toast into rounds with a one inch cutter.  Cut thin slices of beetroot the same size.  Place onto croutes and garnish with halved cocktail onions

I’m sensing some trends here.. Oh, ok, here we go, something different…

  • Cut buttered bread into small crescents.  Cut crescents from slices of mortadella sausage and place them on the croûtes.  Garnish with “zig zags” of creamed butter.

Crescents and zig zags.  Just when you thought the canapé could not get any better Louis gives us crescents and zig zags.  Genius.

However this genius was short-lived.  I suspect that by the bottom of the second page of canapé suggestions, Louis was pretty much phoning it in vis a vis:

  • Spread a slice of toast with mustard butter.  Cut into rectangles and cover with several thin slices of cooked frankfurter sausage,

There’s no love in that suggestion. Cold frankfurters on cold toast is not the offering of a man passionate about his craft.  It’s the offering of a man who has lost the will to live.

Louis also suggests that once you have assembled your bread-in-a-shape + protein + garnish that you then coat the entire combination in either aspic or a mixture of gelatine and chicken stock.  He doesn’t actually explain why.  I suspect it has something to do with making his readers and their cocktail party guests as miserable and life-loathing as himself.

Apparently, no booze, cold frankfurters, peas cemented to salami with mustard and a beetroot and pickled onion combo weren’t bad enough. Chicken-flavoured gelatine also needed be added into the mix. Yecchh!

The lack of cocktails has given me a thirst, I’m off to hunt down a tipple (or two) and work on the party food for next week’s post.

Hint…it contains bacon.  Lots and lots of lovely bacon.

Have a great week!

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Retro Food For Modern Times – The Party Cookbook (1971) – Part 1

We are suffering from a mini heatwave at the moment.  You know it’s hot when your candles melt before you even light them!

Bathroom Candles

It’s far too hot to turn on the stove, the oven, the toaster or even to move to the phone to order a pizza.  So, instead of cooking this week, I thought I might take a little stroll through Anne Marshall and Elizabeth Sewell’s  1971 work “The Party Cookbook.”  And why not?   If there is a hell, I’m already well on my way there, so what’s the harm in setting my dial to mock and taking a few steps closer to the flames….

I don’t even know where to start in this feast of rich pickings.  So I’m just going to let this picture speak for itself…because nothing screams party like this good time gal!

Elah Lowe's Luncheon Party

Elah Lowe’s Luncheon Party

This is Elah Lowe who wrote the Luncheon Party section of the book.  Elah’s menu for lunch consists of Chicken Cacciatore, Noodles, Pears Vinaigrette, Cheese and something called Malakoff which sounds a bit like a tiramisu.

Elah has this to say about her luncheon menu

“The following menu is suitable for a special person one has invited to lunch, for any group with a guest speaker or for a party of friends 1.  The luncheon suggested is light2 and interesting and can be prepared in advance, which is essential for the hostess who can then be with her guests.  She can be relaxed and entertaining, rather than hot and flustered, in the kitchen.3

  1.  So….pretty much any reason to hold a lunch then.
  2. Quiche and salad are light.  Chicken cacciatore and noodles?  Not so much.
  3. Elah might be good on lunches.  She’s not so good on grammar.  My understanding is that if you remove the clause separated by commas the sentence should stand.  So, that last sentence would read,  “She can be relaxed and entertaining in the kitchen”.  Hmm…presumably getting stuck into the cooking sherry and cracking a few gags for the benefit of the vegetables.  Meanwhile the guests in the dining room are trying not to reel from the shock of that wallpaper.  No wonder Elah’s holding out a chair, she’s probably used to people staggering and feeling faint as they walk into the room.  The curtains and matching table-cloth?  Are just putting out the fire with gasoline.

Moving on to another party girl, let’s have a look at the Morning Coffee Party.  This über babe is Enid Wells.

Enid Wells Morning Tea Party

Enid Wells Morning Coffee Party

Enid tells us that the hostess of the Morning Coffee Party needs to:

 “Make sure the coffee is piping hot.  Percolated coffee is preferred by most people.  Instant coffee is preferred by some people because of the short preparation time1.  For a Morning Coffee Party, the hostess should be prepared to serve percolated coffee.”

  1.  The shrunken head of the last person who served me instant coffee is now hanging on my wall along with my bow, my arrows and my machete.  Be afraid.

Enid also advises that:

“The food should be simple, varied in flavour, attractively presented but never elaborately decorated”

You got it there, sister.  Rarely have I seen two more atrociously decorated cakes than the ones in this picture.  What is going on with the cinnamon nut bun in the front?  Did Enid just throw the icing at it?  Also, it’s lopsided to say the least.  The icing on the gingerbread in the mid-ground also leaves a lot to be desired….that’s one wobbly line….I dread to think what the other 3 sides look like if that’s the one they chose to show to the camera.

Wow!  No sooner than the words “atrociously decorated cake” come out of my mouth than I turn the page and….oh boy….

Kangaroo Cake for a Children's Party

Kangaroo Cake for a Children’s Party

I have never really understood the penchant for cakes shaped like animals.

“Here you are Grandma, have a bit of Skippy’s arse on a plate. We saved it specially for you….now, who wants an eyeball?”

Why would anyone choose to do that?  It’s weird and gross.

That’s enough for today, there will be more, I’m only about a third of the way through the book.

I’m going to practice my newly discovered skill of making things happen just by saying them.

Must go, Ryan Gosling’s at the door… and bless him, he’s brought pizza.

Enjoy your week!

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Bring on The Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer – The Hot Weather Cookbook – Kim MacDonald (1971)

Summer has arrived in the Southern Hemisphere.  As I write this it is nudging 40° outside. So, as it is too damn hot to do anything else, I thought I would seek some cooking inspiration from the Hot Weather Cookbook. The book promises:

“Cool easy to prepare meals, featuring luscious fruits, crisp salads, refreshing appetisers, barbecues, light desserts and long, icy drinks”

 Bring it on.  As I sit here sweltering, I could do with some of those, particularly the long icy drinks!  The back blurb further advises that the author Kim MacDonald

“fully understands the problems and potentials of summer food preparation”

As she should, given she has written a book about it.  I would expect nothing less.  However, the blurb significantly does not claim that Ms MacDonald fully understands the problems and potentials of attention to detail or the problems and potential of colour coordination because there are some shockers in here.

Cover - Hot Weather Cookbook 001

It starts off really well with this lovely artwork.  This is not only very pretty but it also has a “Where’s Wally” / hidden object game feel to it. I’ve amused myself for a considerable amount of time locating a garlic crusher, a trident style fork, the ever-present pineapple, a cocktail with an olive in it etc.  I’m easily amused.  Or possibly  delirious.  Did I mention how hot it is? 

Hot Weather Cookbook 001

Sadly, the pleasure brought on by that picture doesn’t last long – 14 pages to be exact because that’s when this photo appears. 

Florida Cocktail 001

Did no one involved in this think to take those oranges out of their plastic netting?  At first I thought that maybe they couldn’t fully understand the problems of how to photograph a round object without it rolling all over the place.   However, other pictures in the book demonstrate that some bright spark realised that oranges can be prevented from rolling by being stacked on top of each other:

Tomato Salad with Orange Segments

Tomato Salad with Orange Segments

Or by being placed in a more appropriate receptacle:

Orange souffle 001

I can only conclude that someone from the art department thought that leaving the oranges in their netting was a creative, citrussy version of fish nets hanging from the ceilings in seafood restaurants.  It’s not.  It just looks like someone left their shopping on the table. 

The styling in this book is BONKERS.

I’ll start with one of the milder examples.  I don’t understand why anyone thought this table-cloth would look good with this collection of icy drinks.  It clashes with everything else on the page, particularly that purple drink.  Although, there’s probably not many places where that drink would fit in.  Maybe a circus. One where the clowns kill people. 

Cocktails 001a

The next one scares me. There is a distinct “beware of what’s lurking in the dark” vibe.  That ivy has a very creepy Evil Dead / Day of The Triffids aura, not to mention the menacing looming shadows.  I honestly believe that if you  tried to help yourself to some of the Banana Rum Mousse that ivy would wrap itself around your wrist and drag you up the wall kicking and screaming before you could even wonder why the mousse is being served in such inappropriate  glasses.   And, surely, the only reason for the existence of that tablecloth must be that those colours and swirls do a really good job of hiding the bloodstains left behind by the victims of the evil ivy. 

Banana Rum Mousse 001

The next photo has an equally hideous tablecloth but there is some  internal logic to it.  Curry is tropical.  Batik is tropical.  (But then, to paraphrase  my man Martin Lampen, so is dengue fever).  You can have too much of a good thing.  Which could explain why they chose jonquils for the vase instead of a tropical flower.  Personally, I would have gone with a frangipani and a less leery table-cloth but I probably don’t fully understand the problems and potential of theming  table coverings and floral arrangements. It’s a good thing Ms MacDonald and team do.

beef curry 001

I recently listened to a very entertaining and informative podcast on Stuff To Blow Your Mind about Stendahl Syndrome which is a reaction some people have to great works of art.  They can faint, become intensely anxious, or even hallucinate – in short they are utterly overcome by the sheer beauty and magnificence of the works around them.  If you want to know more about this fascinating disorder, you can link through to that podcast here:

http://blogs.howstuffworks.com/2012/03/15/stendhal-syndrome-kicked-in-the-brain-by-art/

The reason I mention this is because I had a similar reaction, for the absolute opposite reason, with these next two pictures.  Similar in that I started to feel dizzy, headachey and slightly nauseous.  Opposite because my reactions were in response to sheer unadulterated ugliness.  I honestly felt like these pictures were screaming at me. They not only made my eyes hurt, they made my ears hurt!

I haven’t been able to find existing references to an Anti-Stendahl Syndrome.  So, I may have just invented a disorder.  Fryer’s Syndrome – what happens when people have an intense physical reaction to something really ugly.

Gazpacho 001

I can’t tell you what appalls me most about this picture of gazpacho.  The hideous green tablecloth? The sieved egg yolks that look like maggots? The the ice-cube sitting on the egg?  I suspect all of the above.  I can tell you it inspired an acute attack of Fryer’s Syndrome.  It was however, nothing to the bout of Fryer’s syndrome caused by this:

Greek Salad 001

Oh boy, I don’t even know where to start with this one.  I don’t think I can.  Being rendered entirely gobsmacked in the face of the fugly must be a symptom of Fryer’s Syndrome.

Ok, I’m now going to try to convince my family that having their previously good name associated with people wanting to throw up in the sight of really ugly stuff is actually a good thing.

As soon as the cool change comes.

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