Category Archives: Lemon

Retro Food For Modern Times: Lessons Learned From Masterchef and Two Ways with Oysters

“It’s a brave man who first ate an oyster”

Jonathan Swift

Oysters

Oysters

I had a dilemma this week.  I was reading  “The Party Cookbook” and found a recipe for a little dish called Osborne Oysters.  Now, it just so happened that with the half dozen oysters we buy as a little treat each Saturday, I had all the ingredients on hand to make this dish.

But, let’s face it. Oysters aren’t cheap.  And this recipe consisted of a few ingredients that I would never have put together – what if it tasted as bad as it sounded?  On the other hand, what if it turned out to be a magical combination that would have the likes of Heston Blumenthal lamenting “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Just to be clear on what I was up against, here are the ingredients for Osborne Oysters:

Oysters Osbourne Ingredients

Oysters Osbourne Ingredients

No, you don’t need to adjust your screen….that is an oyster, a banana and some Jarlsberg.  Now you see my dilemma?  My gut instinct is that those are three things that should never even be seen together (which is why one lives on the land, one in the sea and one on a tree) let alone combined into a dish.   I was still torn though, a little Heston Blumenthal devil on my shoulder was urging me to do it.  Then a tiny angel looking suspiciously like Marco Pierre White jogged my memory of a more recent seafood – banana melange.

Early in the current series of Masterchef: The Professionals, one of the candidates made a name for himself by serving Marco Pierre White a fish stew with a banana flavoured aioli.

That name was buffoon.

Marco described it as one of the worst things he had eaten. Ever.

So the big question.  Did I make and eat Osborne Oysters?

Not on your life.  I listened to my inner MPW and ate those oysters in my preferred fashion…with lemon, Worchestershire sauce and Tabasco.  And they were delicious!

Oysters My Way

Oysters My Way

My preferred Oyster mix (although I don’t usually measure it out) is:

½ teaspoon lemon juice

3 drops Worchestershire sauce

1 drop Tabasco

Et Voila…down the hatch!

Oysters My Way - Good to Go

Oysters My Way – Good to Go

I always follow this up with some bread and butter.  I have no idea why but Oysters make bread and butter taste even better than normal!

Oysters My Way With Bread and Butter

Oysters My Way With Bread and Butter

For anyone more stupid braver than me…here is the recipe for Osborne Oysters:

Osborne Oysters Recipe

For everyone else, if you take one thing away from this week’s post it’s to always listen to your inner Marco.

Enjoy your week.

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Retro Food For Modern Times – Singers and Swingers in The Kitchen – Roberta Ashley (1967): Lemon Cake, Orange Jello and Confusion

Hello and welcome to the new look Retro Food For Modern Times.  I’m still tweaking the design so feedback would be greatly appreciated!

I also know I have gone overboard on this book.  I promise this will be my last post from it.  For the moment.

Finally, if anyone has come to this page by Googling “swingers” and “jello”, this probably isn’t what you’re looking for.  It’s about cake. Seriously, stop reading now.  You’ll only be disappointed.  It wasn’t even a particularly nice cake!

Lemon Orange Cake

Lemon Orange Cake

Ok, so now that the perverts are gone, lets talk cake.  Although, maybe I should have let them stay.  It worked for that “Fifty Shades of Grey” lady. Maybe I should become the E L James of smutty cooking.  I could go all breathy and talk about “Beating the eggs and whipping the cream” whilst heaving my bosom about. Or would that just make me Nigella?  (Who I absolutely adore.  Please don’t sue me.  I love you).

Anyway, back to the cake.  The recipe comes from Chad Stuart.  And before you even start to think “Who the f…” let me interrupt you right there. Chad Stuart is one half of the British folk duo Chad And Jeremy.

Same question huh? I thought so.  Click the link if you really want to find out. It doesn’t really matter but just for the hell of it, Chad Stuart is the speccy one in the photo below, not the one who looks a little bit like a young Ryan Gosling if you squint and look at the screen on the correct angle.

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So, the cake.

I had never heard of a cake that used Jelly / Jello as an ingredient but was not averse to trying it. There were only a few ingredients and I have an incredible fondness for a lemon syrup cake!

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Orange-Lemon Cake Ingredients

Lemon Orange Cake Ingredients

The batter turned a bright orange and went quite bubbly. It tasted slightly chemical and overwhelmingly of oil.  The oil was my fault. The recipe states vegetable oil. I should have used a more neutral oil like canola instead of a fruity olive oil. There was still too much of it though, you can see it pooling around the edges of the bowl in the picture below.

I think the slight chemical taste probably came from the cake mix.  It could also have been some sort of weird mental effect – my mind thinking that it wasn’t “real” cake so should not taste like one. I’m someone who often likes the raw batter better than the cooked cake so the initial taste was disappointing.

Orange Lemon Cake Batter

Lemon Orange Cake Batter

The first weird thing happened when I took the cake out of the oven.  There was a white….(I want to say bloom but that reminds me a little too much of mould or algae)….froth?…on the surface of the cake, about an inch in from the border of the tin.  This was probably caused by all those bubbles in the mixture, although these had not been as prevalent when I’d spooned it into the pan.

Raw Cake Batter

Raw Cake Batter

White Froth on Cake

White Froth on Cake

The froth didn’t impact the taste but it was unsightly and as the cake wasn’t iced, it meant I had to keep looking at it.

There was also some sort of Jedi mind trick going on with the taste of the cake.  It was an orange cake in colour so in my mind, it should have also tasted of orange.  It didn’t. It tasted pretty much of nothing. I’m not sure why, maybe the excess of oil neutralised the other flavours.

Adding the syrup, if anything, made it even weirder.  Not the least of which because I have no idea what a poultry nail is.  I poked my holes with a skewer like a normal person.  What I ended up with was an orange cake that tasted of lemon.

This cake caused my brain to melt.  Seriously.  It messed with my head.  The oily batter, the weird froth, the colour not matching the flavour, it was not a pleasant experience or one that I am likely to repeat without significantly changing the recipe.

If I was going to make it again I would use a more neutral oil and cut down on the amount.  I would have the colour of the cake match the colour of the syrup – if using orange jelly/o, I would use orange syrup.  How awesome would this look with a blood orange syrup?  Alternatively, I could just make this modern version that I found on the Aeroplane Jelly site:

http://aeroplanejelly.com.au/Recipes/Original/Easy-Jelly-Party-Cake.aspx

What I like about this modern version is the sprinkling of the jelly/o crystals on the icing.  That would be awesome! I love the crystals nearly as much as I love raw cake batter.

I’m off to hunt for a new book for next time.  Enjoy your week!
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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!

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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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