Category Archives: Dessert

Retro Food For Modern Times – Never Mind Eating For Beauty, This Week is All About the Love!

So last time we left off, I had been eating for love and beauty for 4 days and loving it.

However, through the week, I began to see a certain theme running through my dishes…

Day 5

I made two recipes from Eating for Love and Beauty.

The first was a delicious Egg Curry. 

Egg Curry

Egg Curry

This was very tasty, spicy and quick to make.  I will definitely make this again.  Also, I didn’t have fenugreek because…well who has?  However, I noticed my Garam Masala contained fenugreek, cumin and coriander so I used that in lieu of all individual spices.

Egg Curry

Egg Curry

I think we all know eggs are a symbol of fertility…I had my egg curry with a Rice Exotica – Saffron & Lime Casserole.
Rice Exotica huh?  I think the Swami might be getting a bit saucy!

Rice Exotica

Rice Exotica

Sadly, the Rice Exotica, was the least sexy dish of the week.  Probably because in my first mouthful of it, I bit directly into a clove which spoiled entire dish for me  Yes, it was my fault and I should have been more careful when I was counting them as I fished them out but still, not good.  I was also not happy with the texture and I only par boiled my rice initially!  I like my rice light and fluffy and this was a bit too mushy and stuck together for me.  I dread to think what it might have been like had I cooked it all the way through the first time as per the recipe.

If I was going to make the rice again, which is unlikely, I would probably not cook it at all before bunging it in the oven with the nuts and spices.  Hmmm…maybe I will try it that way.  Sans the cloves!

Next up was an Eggplant Dish….and lo and behold, the internet tells me that eggplants are a symbol of abundance or fertility, passion and devotion.  See what I mean about a theme beginning to develop?

Day 6 – Eggplant Gourmet

This was AWESOME!…

Earthy eggplant, sweet, sour..all sorts of deliciousness rolled into the one dish.  The flavours reminded me very much of a Sri Lankan Eggplant dish that sometimes contains cashew nuts…and maybe dates?

(Dear mother given you have started to chime in on here, maybe you could offer some insight into the constituents of an eggplant moju???)

Either way, I had some cashews left over from the Rice Exotica  so I dropped them in for extra flavour and crunch. I’m definitely making this again….

I also ate it more as a side dish than as a main.  It’s also pretty good cold on crackers or some tzatziki on pita bread.

Eggplant Gourmet

Eggplant Gourmet

Eggplant Gourmet Recipe

Day 6 – Lovers Dandelion Salad

If you’ve read my earlier post…(here)…you know I have a bit of a penchant for a bit of foraging.  So the Swami’s Lover’s Dandelion Salad was as good a reason as any to go comb the local environment for some dandelion leaves which, luckily, were plentiful.

I loved this salad.  There is something about bitter greens that makes me feel incredibly virtuous and just oozy with health! Again, I had no fenugreek sprouts so I just used a sprout combo.  I was becoming curious about why the Swami used fenugreek in so many dishes so I did a bit o’ research and hello…fenugreek is sometimes used to cure erectile dysfunction.

When the Swami wants you to eat for love, she doesn’t muck about!

She also says this salad is good for those suffering from mental or sexual debility.  I ate mine for lunch a the office and it kind of worked.  It certainly gave me a mental boost for the afternoon!

Lover's Dandelion Salad

Lovers Dandelion Salad

Lovers Dandelion Salad 0

Day 7 – 21 Essences of Kama Sutra

I followed the Lovers Dandelion Salad with the 21 Essences of Kama Sutra Salad although I guess I only had 19 Essences as I subbed a yellow pepper for the red and green peppers and could not find soy sprouts for love or money.  Then again, I used my handy sprout combo per the last recipe so maybe I had more than 21 Essences of Kama Sutra!   The Swami offers no comment on what the 21 Essences of Kama Sutra is good for.  I think she’s letting the name speak for itself.

21 Essences of Karma Sutra

21 Essences of Kama Sutra

This was also a very nice salad, although if I made this again, I wouldn’t bother with the Lotus Nuts. In the first pack I bought there were two dead moths.  That made me gag and I had to throw them out.  The second lot of lotus nuts was, thankfully, mothless but also largely tasteless.

I read on the internet Lotus Nuts are good for irritability.  Well guess what?  After the moths, and having to make two trips to the Asian food store to buy them, then finding they taste of sweet F.A. I guess they are.  I was certainly a lot more irritable after all that palaver than I was before I started!

And quelle surprise, also apparently good for impotence!

1 21 Essences Of  Kama Sutra

Day 8

It’s Plum Wonderful

I ended my week with the Swami’s recipe for an uncooked  Plum Pudding which is basically dried fruit held together with jello.    It’s really tasty, and has all the flavours of a plum pudding but is fruitier and not so heavy.  It would be a perfect alternative to a heavy pudding, particularly here when it is warm at Christmas.

Plum Wonderful 2

Plum Wonderful 2

Plum Wonderful 3

Plum Wonderful 3

Plum Wonderful Recipe

I recently read that a good maxim to use when trying to moderate your alcohol intake is to abstain one day a week, one week a month, one month a year.

It doesn’t work for me alcoholwise as I am aiming for far more than one AFD a week but it’s certainly a philosophy I can embrace when it comes to adopting the principles behind Eating For Love and Beauty.

That book, which also had a whole host of other good advice was:

Dangerous Women

Apart from the moths and the failure of the Rice Exotica, Eating For Love and Beauty has been fun and I feel really healthy.  It is winter here now and whilst people around me have been dropping like flies with all sorts of horrible lurgies, I  have never felt haler or heartier!

I really want to go to the Swami’s retreat now….

I’m going spend my week trying to find a yoga class I can do at lunchtime so I can exercise for health and beauty as well as eat for it. Enjoy your week whatever you do!

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Retro Food For Modern Times – Happy Healthy, Sparkly Birthday to Me!

We had a little birthday celebration at Retro food For Modern Times last week.  I also spent the week reading a bit more of Swami Sarasvati’s Eat Your Way to Love and Beauty.   Whilst none of the recipes here are from that book there is certainly more than a hint of nourishing my inner goddess about the recipes I made as part of the celebrations. And yes, I did just write the words “nourishing my inner goddess”.  Feel free to vomit.

I kicked off the celebrations with a hefty dose of booze.  No lame Swami Sarasvati mocktails here.   When this blog celebrates we turn straight to the Goddess of entertaining Martha Stewart for inspiration (and alcohol content).  And her cucumber and lime gimlet got the festivities off to a fine start.

Cucumber and Lime Gimlet

Cucumber and Lime Gimlet

Now, you may be wondering how I can justify the whole nourishing the inner goddess thing (Ok, I’ll stop saying that now) whilst guzzling gin?  Well, it turns out my inner Goddess is a bit of a booze hound.  Who knew?

Secondly, I figure the health affirming properties of the cucumber must go some way to counteracting the negative effects of the alcohol.  Yin and yang right?

The recipe is here:

Martha Stewart’s Cucumber and Lime Gimlet

There is a bit of pfaffing around with this recipe in that you need to make up a mint simple syrup and steep some cucumbers in gin beforehand but it is worth the effort.  It is delicious and an amazing colour!  And we had sparklers!

Next up…was my Green Gazpacho.  Now, I don’t think I have banged on about my love of this Spanish delight yet but believe me, summer without gazpacho is, in my opinion, not summer at all.  It is no longer summer here but luckily all the ingredients were still readily available.  I also really wanted to try this with some of the super tasty Black Russian tomatoes I love so much!

Green Gazpacho ingredients

Green Gazpacho ingredients

If you are planning on making a gazpacho, green or otherwise, please do not go all Atkins and leave out the bread – it really is integral to the texture of the dish.  Gazpacho without bread is glorified tomato juice.  And no one wants that.

The basic gazpacho recipe follows but you can play with the quantities of ingredients as much as you want.  It’s pretty forgiving.  And sometimes you need to play around with it.  Strangely enough, I wanted my green gazpacho to be green.  So, imagine my utter dismay when I blitzed the above  and the result was a horrible looking baby pooh brown.  It tasted good but looked atrocious!

Classic Gazpacho

I had some watercress in the fridge and I kept adding sprigs of it into the mix until it became greener.  The watercress also added to the flavour!

Green Gazpacho with an Avocado Garnish

Green Gazpacho with an Avocado Garnish

That, along with my dessert was going to be it.  Three dishes and done.  However, my greengrocer was selling tarragon this week which is a rarity in itself.  I love tarragon but it seems to be fairly scarce so I buy it whenever I see it, then figure out what to do with it.

And what better use for tarragon on a week when we are nourish…(I can’t bring myself to repeat it but you know what I mean) than making a Green Goddess Dressing.  This is an awesome dressing zingy with tarragon, lemon, chives, yoghurt…lots of my favourite flavours….

Green Goddess Dressing Ingredients

Green Goddess Dressing Ingredients

And it looks like this:

Green Goddess Dressing

Green Goddess Dressing

It’s a gorgeous pale green and it looked super cute in the jug my friend Ali gave me for a birthday present last year.

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To go with the dressing  I made a salad of steamed asparagus, broccoli and beans with some raw zucchini, mixed sprouts, avocado and some toasted pine nuts and pumpkin seed kernels and I also made a rice and quinoa mix.

Healthy lunches here I come!

Veggies, Seeds and Sprouts with mixed rices and quinoa

Veggies, Seeds and Sprouts with mixed rice and quinoa

May 065

This salad is amazing, you can almost feel the health bursting out of you as you eat it.  And again, just use whatever vegetables you have.  The Green Goddess recipe is here:

Green Goddess Dressing

Finally, I wanted a retro style dessert.  I recently bought Wobble by Rachael Lane which is filled with delicious sounding recipes for lovely jellies.  I love the old-fashioned look of these jellies so they seemed a perfect finale to the celebrations.

I made a version of Rachael’s Persian Delight (below) but with a straight jelly, not a blancmange for the rose layer and a third layer of pomegranate.  I would have liked to top mine with the candy floss as per the picture in Wobble but the only place I could find it was a high-end department store who wanted an arm and a leg for it.

Seriously, where is a fun fair when you need one?  Although I always find those places a little creepy.  I’ve read way too many books where bad things happen in places like that to be entirely comfortable.  And don’t even get me started on clowns…. Thanks Stephen King et al, for another innocent pleasure ruined…

The rose layer got a little lost but all in all this was a very pretty dessert and it tasted amazing!

Pistachio, Rose and Pomegranate Jelly

Pistachio, Rose and Pomegranate Jelly

In lieu of candy floss we had more sparklers…

Pistachio, Rose and Pomegranate Jelly 2

Pistachio, Rose and Pomegranate Jelly 2

The recipe for the Persian Delight is found here.

Persian Delight Jelly from Wobble

Finally, I thought we might have a little look at what we might  expect over the next 12 months. This is what PBS has to say on the subject of one year olds:

“One-year-olds are just discovering their creative abilities”

And

“They experience a wide range of emotions and have tantrums when they are tired or frustrated.”

And

(They) have no understanding of true “writing,” but many enjoy experimenting with marks and scribbles on a surface.

Hmm…sounds suspiciously like the next 12 months may be quite similar to the first 12!

Thanks to everyone who reads this for a fabulous year!  It has been heaps of fun at this end and incredibly satisfying to watch this grow from an idea into actuality.

I’ll be spending the week marking and scribbling on surfaces and some of it might even end up in here.

Thanks again, I hope you continue to enjoy this for the next 12 months and beyond!

Have a great week!

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Retro Food For Modern Times – Not Eating My Way To Love and Beauty

Can you believe I’ve been doing this for nearly a year?

And as the anniversary approaches, I’ve been thinking about how to celebrate.  Somehow my normal process of pulling one of the many vintage cookbooks from the pile under my bed at random doesn’t seem quite joyful enough.  Primarily because this invariably involves me knocking the pile over, uttering some sustained invective as I pile it all back up then muttering “I really should Hoover under there one day”.  That is not the stuff of celebration!

I had planned to sift through the pile to find something special.  However, when I found “Eat your Way To Love and Beauty” by Swami Sarasvati in my local charity shop I thought I had found my birthday book!  Who doesn’t want to be loved and beautiful?  Especially on their birthday? And, why not eat my way there?  It beats getting there by the other “e” word.  You know, the one we try very hard not to mention here.  Hint:  it rhymes with…mexercising.  Yes, I know that’s not a word.  If you’re so smart, you try coming up with a word that rhymes with exercising.  Anyway, it’s obviously working for The Swami.  She’s cute.  And limber!

Eat For Love and Beauty 001

The caption to this photo says

“Swami Sarasvati, her youth and vitality living proof of her cooking, exercises among her health dishes”

Please note: Retro Food For Modern Times in no way condones its readers exercising among their health dishes.  Nor will I bear any responsibility for damages incurred if you decide to do so.  To put it bluntly, if you end up with a pineapple up your clacker by engaging in this you’re on your own.  And be aware that hospital staff will mock you behind your back.  “Of course you slipped over whilst exercising among your health dishes… that’s what all the deviants say.”  You have been warned.

Swami Sarasvati was a tv icon on Australia in the 1970’s, where she taught a generation of early morning tv watchers the art of yoga and the delights of a vegetarian lifestyle.  I wish she was on the telly now.  I would totally watch her.  Well, I probably wouldn’t get up that early but  I would record her shows, meaning to get around to doing some sun salutations one day…right after I vacuum under that bed!  She also still runs a yoga retreat in New South Wales.  It is currently ranked the number one hotel in Kenthurst on Trip Advisor.  That it is the only hotel in town is by the by.

http://www.swami.com.au/

Speaking as someone who has been on a yoga retreat, the Swami’s looks pretty good.  I had a miserable time the last one I was on.  It was freezing and in lieu of heating, my room came equipped with a massive spider.  I thought it would be not in keeping with the yoga/vegan/hippie vibe of the place to beat the ugly fucker to death with my shoe.  This meant I was too scared to sleep for the entire time I was there in case, during my slumber, the spider decided to break our unspoken entente cordiale to crawl into my hair or lay eggs in my face.

You will be disappointed, though if you click through the link.  Eat Your Way To Love and Beauty is no longer on the list of the Swami’s books available for purchase.  We’re about to find out why.

Some of the sensibilities of the book feel very modern.  Take for instance the Swami’s response to the question:

“What is healthy food?”

“It is food as fresh as possible and eaten as soon as possible.  Refining, preserving, canning or colouring food should be avoided wherever possible”

That doesn’t last long…we descend into the land of the loony almost immediately.

Q – “How can food make me more loving?”

“A well nourished woman will have the strength to be patient and understanding and loving even when life seems impossible.  Your children won’t turn to drugs”.

Q  – “My Husband won’t eat health foods”

“Girls, to keep your marriage fresh and exciting, you must keep yourself and your husband youthful and vital….there are enough tangy gourmet health dishes in this book to tempt your husband.  Before long he will be better at business and sport.

You know what Swami?   You had me at love and beauty…let’s not bring my husband and non-existent children into it.

But despite all this…despite dooming Mark to bankruptcy and failure on the sporting field (by which I mean his PS3 breaking) and the poor dogs to having to sell themselves to strangers for Schmackos…I will not be celebrating this birthday by eating my way to love and beauty.  Eating for hatred and ugliness has got me thus far, I guess I can continue for another week or so!

I  have made a few recipes from “Eat Your Way To Love And Beauty” being  a celery soup, an eggplant bhurta and a carrot halva.

Here they are:

Celery Soup

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Celery Soup 001

Eggplant Bhurta

Eggplant Bhurta

Eggplant Bhurta

eggplant bhurta 001

Carrot Halva

Carrot Halva

Carrot Halva

Carrot Halva recipe 001

These all tasted ok.  Actually, the carrot halva was really good once I added a bucketload of brown sugar – kind of like carrot cake without the cake.  And the eggplant was also pretty good.  The celery soup was average.  There was nothing wrong with any of them. They were just a bit drab.  Look at them.  They’re not screaming party are they?  They look, earnest, well-meaning, brown.  The food version of Coldplay. Worthy but kind of boring…

Which brings me to the second reason, we will not be celebrating Retro Food For Modern Times first birthday by eating our way to love and beauty.

Here is a the Swami’s recipe for a Gimlet:

Lime Gimlet

Now, for those of you who are not au fait with the gimlet, it is defined by the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia, as:

“A cocktail made of gin and lime juice”

Two ingredients.  One of which is missing from the Swami’s recipe.

Never mind, I thought, the next recipe is called Singapore Gin.  Maybe I’ll make that as my birthday cocktail.

Singapore Gin

Or maybe I wont…we like our booze here at Retro Food For Modern Times, celebrating anything without booze is anathema.

No wonder this book isn’t for sale anymore, it was probably banned for false advertising.  I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to call a cocktail Singapore “Gin” when it contains not the slightest whiff of a juniper berry!

Next week we’ll party like it’s 1969. I won’t give too much away but there will be gin and there will be gelatine; if I can get sufficiently organised there maybe something else starting with a “g” to make up a full three course meal…cocktail and dessert count as 2 courses don’t they?

I’ll be spending my week frantically trying to think of that third course…

Grapes?

Grapefruit?

Gorgonzola?

Have a fabulous week whatever you do!

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Retro food For Modern Times – Yes, We Have No Bananas

Bananas are not my favourite fruit.  I put it down to an ill-advised visit to a…(please don’t let my mum be reading this)… “show” in Amsterdam when I was, younger and more prone to drunkenness peer pressure than I am now.  It took many a year before I could even look at a banana (or anyone dressed in a Batman costume) without an inward cringe and a slight sense of shame.

But, even a banana-phobe like me could not resist trying out the recipe for Rhubarb and Banana Pie in Good Cooking For Everyone.  Here is a sneak peek at how that turned out before we turn to some less appetising uses.

Rhubarb and Banana Pie

Rhubarb and Banana Pie

OMG that pie was good!!!

I’m conquering my fears in more ways than one this week – bananas and homemade pastry!  If only Christian Bale would drop by we could go for the hat trick. Anyway, I had a little flick through Good Cooking for Everyone whilst I was waiting for my pastry to  chill and there seemed to be a lot fewer recipes containing bananas than I remembered.

Here is what was listed:

Listed Banana Recipes

The Listed Banana Recipes…

However, my eagle eye soon discovered out the recipes Mary Meredith tried to hide.  So, today, allow me to present the Banana File of Shame (and a really, really, good pie recipe)!

Mary Meredith seems to have had quite the predilection for bananas and bacon as they feature in three recipes.  I had no idea this was a thing but Niki Sengit gives the combination a stamp of approval in her Flavour Thesaurus (one of my favourite food books) so I guess it must be.  Like Mary, Niki also gives a recipe for Bacon Wrapped Bananas.  However it is the cheese sauce in Mary Meredith’s recipe that moves it from what Niki calls “fun”  to what I call “Ewww”!

Bacon and Banana Corkscrews

Then there are Bacon, Kidney and Banana Kebabs.  I have never cooked with, or even knowingly eaten, kidneys.  And after reading the second sentence in this recipe which made me gag, it will probably stay that way!  The faint of stomach may want to skip recipe.

Bacon, Banana and Kidney Kebabs 001

Bacon, Banana and Kidney Kebabs

Kidney, Bacon and Banana Kebabs

There is also a sneaky use of bananas in the Sunrise Breakfast.  I initially thought the things on the serving platter with the tomatoes were sausages.  But who ever heard of people eating sausages for breakfast?  Crumbed bananas make far more sense.  If you’re insane.

Sunrise Breakfast

Sunrise Breakfast

Mind you, I’m obviously a bit slow because I made the same mistake with the Sunday Chicken which also features bananas cunningly disguised as sausages.

Sunday Chicken

Sunday Chicken

Another combination I would never have thought of but Niki assures me that breaded chicken with banana was served on the Titanic  and features in F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel Tender is the Night!  Mary Meredith also features chicken and bananas in her recipe for Stuffed Boned Chicken.

I would have included the pages on how to bone a chicken.  Unfortunately, the 13-year-old boy whose sense of humour I stole was snickering so hard at the phrase “boning a chicken” that I had to let it go.

Stuffed Boned Chicken

Stuffed Boned Chicken

Mary is also not afraid to take food from other climes and destroy them with the inappropriate inclusion of the banana.

A recipe called Flamenco Rice should invoke Spain. It should bring up images  of a glamorous Spanish woman, holding the edge of her brightly coloured ruffled dress and twirling, or clicking her castanets to the tune of a classical guitar.  Or, at the very least,  Paella.

Fried eggs and fried bananas  on a bed of rice served with tomato sauce is not flamenco.  It’s not even the Macarena.

flamenco 001

France also does not fair well.  Bananas as an accompaniment to Fondue?  No thanks.

Fabulous copper fondue pot though!

Fondue Bourguignonne

Fondue Bourguignonne

Finally, the hidden gem in the shape of a Rhubarb and Banana Pie.  This was awesome!

I made a few small changes to the recipe as given.  I wanted a really short, almost a shortbread, crust so I used the Almond Sweetcrust Pastry in Alan Campion and Michelle Curtis’ In The Kitchen instead of that suggested by Mary. If you are scared of large quantities of butter look away now.

Pastry ingredients

Pastry ingredients

I mastered the pastry only to discover my pie dish had disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle that hovers over my house.  But, in the spirit of keep calm and carry on, I crossed my fingers and rolled the pastry into a soufflé dish.

Souffle Dish Pie!

Souffle Dish Pie!

Rhubarb and Banana Pie Ingredients

Rhubarb and Banana Pie Ingredients

I added 1 teaspoon of Orange Flower Water into the mix before I loaded it into the Pie Crust.  I love the mix of rhubarb and orange!

Banana and Rhubarb Pie ingredients loaded into crust

Banana and Rhubarb Pie ingredients loaded into crust

The pie was fabulous, the flavours worked beautifully together and the pastry was light and crisp. I kept my rhubarb and my banana relatively chunky which made for an interesting mix – one mouthful would be heavily rhubarb in flavour, the next would be almost entirely banana.  If you wanted less sharply defined flavours, you could cook the rhubarb to soften it, then mash be bananas in.

I may be biased but I think mine looks pretty good, despite the use of a soufflé dish!!!

Mary's Rhubarb and Banana Pie

Mary’s Rhubarb and Banana Pie

My Rhubarb and Banana Pie

My Rhubarb and Banana Pie

Rhubarb and Banana Pie Recipe

Almond Sweetcrust Pastry

Slice of Rhubarb and Banana Pie

Slice of Rhubarb and Banana Pie

They say the best way to get rid of your phobias it to face them.  So, this week I’m going to be spending a lot of time looking at pictures of Christian Bale on the internet.

Bale /Batman

Bale /Batman

And no, it’s not pervy.  It’s therapy!

Enjoy whatever catches your eye this week.

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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 – 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.

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Signature x

Retro Food For Modern Times: Three Sweet Treats inspired by a Luscious Liqueur

I was recently strolling around my local purveyor of fine alcoholic beverages (or as we like to call  it, our second home) when a retro looking bottle caught my eye.   A very glamorous  Elke Sommer looking woman is being draped in a fur coat by a man who looks like a  1970’s tennis player or a porn star (possibly both).  The label promised  “an experience of elegance and lingering pleasure” which only further reinforced the boom chicka wah wah soundtrack that was going through my head.  The name: Kellermeister Sable.  According to the back of the bottle, Sable is a

“base of  ruby tawny into which we have steeped dark German Chocolate, special spices and three year old brandy”

You know those moments when Homer Simpson goes into the donut fugue state?  I think I lapsed into something very similar.  Standing there mumbling to myself  “Ruby Tawny…dark chocolate….special spices….brandy…ruby tawny…..”  Ruby Tawny may well become the name of my first-born child.  I hope it’s a girl.

The bottle, in all it’s gorgeous  retroness did give me pause though.  I honestly wasn’t sure if it was meant to be retro chic.  Or it just came from South Australia.  If anyone from South Australia wants to dispute the implication of this statement  I suggest they first go and count the people with mullets walking down Rundle Mall.  They can lodge their complaints when they have a number less than ten.  

Ok, we may have lost South Australia forever so the rest of us might as well get on with it.    Sable is meant to be retro chic and forms part of the Kellermeister Retro Range which includes this and two Moscatos which I am very keen to try.  One is called Pink Minx.  This may become the name of my second born child. Again, a girl would be good.

The Sable is great on it’s own as a little tipple – rich, silky, porty, chocolatey loveliness in a glass.  If I was prone to swooning I would.  However, as I do not live in a Jane Austen novel  I will remain upright and advise that this is utterly delicious and is likely to become a staple on my drinks trolley for some time to come!  This will be my go to product for those days when you just want a little something sweet and lovely after dinner! Or mid afternoon….or…you know…whenever….

The loveliness of the Sable does not stop with drinking though.  It is equally good in food.

I’ve now made three recipes with it and they were all gorgeous (even if I do say so myself).  If you cannot get Sable, your liqueur of choice can be substituted in all of these.

First up was a Raspberry Meringue Roulade  which I adapted from a Bill Granger recipe.

Raspberry Meringue Roulade

Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Raspberry Roulade and a glass of Sable – a lovely afternoon tea tipple

I then made a Strawberry and Mango Zagablione where I used the Sable instead of marsala.   This tasted divine!   The zabaglione was also lovely swirled into some plain yoghurt the following day.

Finally, I used some Sable  in my version of the Australian Gourmet Traveller Chocolate and Caramel Tart. I adapted the original recipe as I am not that good with pastry and I used a bought caramel.  This is a truly decadent recipe and tastes like heaven!  My only word of caution is give yourself plenty of time to make this.  I started mid afternoon.  I added the final layer at midnight.  This takes a LONG time to make as you have to let each layer chill before adding  the next one.  It is worth it though as this is absolutely delicious!

I love the ombre effect of the four layers!

If you really want to make your own pastry and caramel, the original recipe can be found here:

http://www.gourmettraveller.com.au/chocolate_and_caramel_tart.htm

Enjoy!

Retro Food For Modern Times: The Knickerbocker Glory Years – Martin Lampen

“The Knickerbocker Glory Years” is Martin Lampen’s hilarious homage to all that is awful in British food.  From A – All You Can Eat £5.99 to Z – Zest, the book lays out the dark side of British cooking.

I really liked this book.  Lampen’s humour is of the very dry British style.  If you do not like my excerpts you will probably not like the rest of the book.  If you do like them, try to hunt down this book as you will thoroughly enjoy the rest of it.  Also, the same book is called “Sausage in A Basket” in some parts of the world.

Many of the entries are short.  For instance, the entry for Wood Fired Pizza  is:

“Big Fucking Deal”

The longest entry is 13 pages and documents Lampen’s first dinner party in all it’s excruciating awkwardness. This is the type of book you can dip in and dip out of as you require, it doesn’t have to be read from cover to cover.

Given that I touched on the 1970’s fondness for Ham Steak and Pineapple in the last post, Lampen’s take on Gammon is:

“The pig is slaughtered, its hind legs are removed, cured, glazed in honey and sliced into steaks.  If this isn’t indignity enough, the steaks are then topped with a single wet pineapple ring from a dented tin and a waxy maraschino cherry.

Yes, gammon steak when topped with egg or pineapple is a peculiarly British dish: a bloated pink slab of fatty meat, topped with a garish fruit hat. Rather like a ‘Nikita’-era Elton John”

On the subject of pineapple, the entry for Tropical is:

“In Britain, any food or drink – be it a concentrated juice, cordial or sugary carbonated fizz – containing lemon, lime, pineapple or mango is tagged as ‘tropical’.

It’s important to note that other items included in the taxonomy ‘tropical’ are tuberculosis, typhoid, tularemia, (and) tropical storm Arlene”

Or, this for Guacamole:

“A filthy Soylent Green-style dip, guacamole is usually served with stale Doritos,  a mountain of melted Cheddar cheese and mayonnaise on  chain-pub’s nacho platter . It’s made from dead people.”

As for the eponymous Knickerbocker Glory Lampen has this to say:

“The knickerbocker glory, a layered dessert served in a tall glass and made with ice cream, tinned peaches, chocolate or fruit sauce and strawberry puree was the first post war dessert to be made in Britain that did not contain suet.

For a young male aged between eight and fourteen in the 1980’s, the knickerbocker glory was the greatest sensual experience one could imagine.  Greater even than being interfered with by Bananarama”

For those of you who have no idea what Bananarama is, firstly it was a they and they were an immensely popular girl band of the 1980’s.

In homage to this book I made my own Knickerbocker Glory and it was about the funnest thing I have eaten all year!!!  And I know full well funnest isn’t a word, but it was so much fun I lost all thoughts about grammar.

My version of Knickerbocker Glory differs from Lampen’s in that I always thought Knickerbocker Glory should contain jelly.  My version contained the following layers:

  • Strawberry jelly (Jello)
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Chocolate cookie crumbs
  • Sliced Banana
  • Strawberry Jelly
  • Strawberry Ice-cream
  • Frangelico Fudge Sauce (Recipe follows or you could just use your preferred chocolate sauce)
  • Chopped nuts
  • Rosewater & Almond Tuile (Recipe follows or you could use a bought wafer)
  • Strawberry Garnish

For something that is largely put together from bits and pieces, this looks spectacular! And tastes even better!!!

Enjoy!

Recipes:

Frangelico Fudge Sauce

This makes 6 cups, you can obviously adjust quantities down if you do not want this much. This is so easy to make and absolutely delicious!

1 litre cream

250g dark chocolate

200g marshmallows

Frangelico to taste

  1. Heat the cream, chocolate and marshmallows slowly until melted and well combined.
  2. Stir in Frangelico to taste.

Almond and Rosewater Tuiles

These are a little troublesome to make but are worth it in the end!

50g caster sugar

30g unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing

1 egg-white

1/4 tsp rosewater

Finely grated rind of 1/2 an orange

35g plain flower

30g flaked almonds

pinch of salt

  1. Make a template by drawing a triangle, circle or any shape you want on a plastic lid or a sheet of firm plastic, then cut the shape out.  The shape should be no larger than 5cm in diameter.  Set the template aside.
  2. Beat sugar and butter with an electric beater until pale and creamy. Add eggwhite and beat on lowest speed until incorporated.
  3. Add rosewater, orange rind, flour and a pinch of salt.  Mix lightly until combined, then refrigerate for 1 hour to rest.  (The batter will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.
  4. Preheat oven to 180°.  Place template on a baking paper lined tray, add a teaspoon of the batter into the template and spread the mixture with an offset palette knife so that it fills the template in a thin even layer.
  5. Repeat until the baking tray is full.  Scatter almond flakes over each until tuiles are golden brown on the edges (8-10) minutes. While still warm you can shape around a rolling-pin if desired or cool on tray and carefully remove.
  6. Repeat with remaining batter.
  7. Tuiles will keep in an airtight container for 3 days.

Retro Food For Modern Times: The Busy Woman’s Pineapple Soufflé

All eras have their food fads – remember when everything was daubed in pesto? And/ or sun-dried tomatoes?  What about Tandoori chicken served ad nauseam outside of its natural habitat of an Indian restaurant? Tandoori Chicken Caesar Salad, Tandoori Chicken Pizza, Tandoori Chicken Pie, Tandoori Chicken Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Pesto…for the love of God, stop.  Just because something tastes good doesn’t mean it has to be used in every known recipe in the world.

Back in the 1970’s pineapple was the weapon of choice.  It was everywhere!  It was stabbed on toothpicks with a cube of generic cheese  and possibly a brightly coloured cocktail onion to form the signature hors d’oeuvre of the decade, it was grilled with ham steaks to provide the first course of the generation and, combined with the glacé cherry, formed the classic upside down cake.

It was also:

Made into Salads:

Used as a receptable for prawns:

In increasingly odd ways (also note the ubiquitous curly parsley):

For main course, there was the exotic appeal of a sweet and sour:

Or a  pineapple and pork casserole:

For dessert, apart from the classic upside down cake, pineapple was also a favourite topping for cheesecakes:

Or, as in the case of this post, made into a  pineapple soufflé. The recipe for pineapple soufflé appears in a number of cookbooks of this vintage so must have been a popular dish of the time.  Also, just to be really confusing,  this is not a soufflé as in the French baked dessert but is more a mousse type concoction.  I have no idea why this is also called a soufflé.  Maybe in the ’70’s “foreign” terms were interchangeable. I guess we should consider ourselves lucky it’s not called Pineapple Bourguignon…

This recipe is so easy to cook and goes a mad, almost flourescent yellow when you first mix the jelly and cream together:

The end result is lovely.  The tanginess of the lemon and the pineapple cut through the heaviness of the cream so you don’t get that horrible creamy coating on your tongue.  It is a lovely light and refreshing dessert.  I’ll definitely be making this again and am already thinking about how I could use the same techniques with different fruit and jelly combinations – strawberries with strawberry jelly?  Maybe my favourite rhubarb with raspberry and rosewater jelly…  In the meantime though, just enjoy this as is!

The Italian Cuisine I Love – Moccha Mousse

There is something delightfully retro about  chocolate mousse.  And this recipe is right up there with the best of them  Gooey, luscious chocolate kept from being too sweet by a shot  of coffee and a hefty dose of alcohol.  The recipe called for Strega and rum.  I didn’t have either of these  so I used kahlua and amaretto.  You could really use anything you have on hand!

This looked so cute served in a  demi- tasse cup!

180g dark chocolate
1 tbsp sugar
4 eggs (free range please)
1/4 cup strong espresso
2 tbsp strega cordial
2 tbsp rum
1 cup whipped cream

Separate eggs.
Beat whites until stiff.
Beat egg yolks with sugar until light and creamy.
Melt chocolate in top of a double boiler over simmering water.
When melted, remove from heat, blend in egg yolks, coffee, strega and rum.
Fold in egg whites and whipped cream.
Put in serving bowl, small individual bowls or demi-tasse cups.
Chill well, preferably overnight.