Tag Archives: Recipe

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

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

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

Homemade Gazpacho...I can do cold Soup

Homemade Gazpacho…I can do cold soup

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

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

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

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

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


Homemade Canned Beans?

Homemade Canned Beans?

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

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


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

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

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

Southern Fried Chicken A La Mrs Bobby Goldsboro

Southern Fried Chicken A La Mrs Bobby Goldsboro

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

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

don adams peanut butter cheese spread 001

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

Enjoy your week!

Signature x

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

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?


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


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:


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:


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!!!


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.



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:



The Australian Vegetable Cookbook (1972) – The Redemption

After harping on about the awful recipes contained in this book last time, it was only fair to showcase some of the better recipes.  Three of them will be included here (I actually made 4 however this week is all about being positive so we won’t mention the Asparagus Italienne.  Ever.)

I chose the Stuffed Celery Curls as my first course.  This was jam-packed with flavours I love – celery, walnuts, chives, cream cheese and Tabasco so there was everything to like.  I chose not to add the red food colouring.  I’m hyperactive enough without it and I could see no earthly reason why it should be there.  I think the “au naturel” version looks much prettier anyway!


Sadly, my celery did not curl as per the picture in the book.   I read the recipe as saying you needed 15 pieces of celery 5 cm long.  Which is what I did.  In retrospect, I think it may mean an unnamed number of pieces of celery 15 cm long by 5 cm wide.  Although that doesn’t seem quite right either – 5cm seems too wide.  If you really want your celery to curl, here is a link:


It didn’t really matter though because whilst mine did not look as fun, they tasted amazing!  We had these as our starter however they could just as easily be a lunch box snack or as finger food.  Blue cheese would be an amazing variation.


Mine – with obligatory knife but no curls 

Next up, for our main dish I made a Farmhouse Potato Bake.  This dish contains potatoes, Hungarian sausage (I used salami), sour cream and paprika so I guess is Eastern European in tone.  It was damn good wherever it came from.  If you weren’t fond of salami you could make this with ham, bacon, or left over roast beef or chicken or for a spot of luxury some smoked salmon.  As you will see from the picture, I subbed in basil for the oregano.  I think it is one of those recipes that you could pretty much use whatever proteins and herbs as you wanted. You could layer in other vegetables as well.  Asparagus, green beans, spinach would all be great!


Salami and Onion Sauteing, Potatoes Par-Boiling in the background


Crumb Mixture

I made a Panama Radish Salad from the book to go with this.  Well, I sort of did.  There is no intended slur to the recipe for my changes,  I think you could follow it absolutely and the result would be delicious.  I just happened to have no red onions and a bucketload of chives and rocket that I needed to use.  So I swapped these in.  I also used my favourite Black Russian tomatoes so my salad is probably “greener” than it should be….it still looks pretty good though.


Panama Radish Salad

These worked really well together, the pepperiness of the rocket and the radish in the salad, the freshness of the mint and the lemon in the dressing cut through some of the creamy, potato, salami induced richness of the Farmhouse bake.  Two big ticks here, will definitely be making both of these again.

The Meal – Delicious!

Bon Appétit.

The Australian Vegetable Cookbook (1972) – When Good Vegetables Turn Evil

The Australian Vegetable Cookbook, sponsored by the food companies Edgell and Birdseye, has its fair share of vegetables turned evil – specifically vegetables turned scary, lazy, nasty and just plain bonkers.   First, for a vegetable cookbook there is a distinct lack of fresh vegetables.  Nearly all of the recipes suggest using either canned or frozen vegetables of the type produced by…oh…I see….let’s move on. I’ve already annoyed the Australian Women’s Weekly.  Multinational food companies also have test kitchens. I need a job.  We’ll leave it there.

I will not be silenced on some of the truly terrible recipes contained in here though.  Maybe if these companies chose their recipe collators more carefully, snafu’s like the ones to be discussed wouldn’t happen.  Recipe collator is a job right?  If not, it should be.  I am available.

Lets start with scary.  In one of the many million Saw films, there is a scene where a girl has to throw herself into a deep vat of syringes.  I have an almost irrational fear of needles, and up until recently, that image from the film was my own private version of hell.  It is still top o’ the list however, the use of the…liquid….accompanying canned vegetables as a food ingredient creates a very similar reaction of visceral disgust in me.

It may be the word liquid that does it.  It’s so….unspecific.  The stuff that other canned food comes in has a name. Tuna comes in spring water or olive oil.  Don’t get me wrong, there is no way I’m using that as an ingredient either, but at least I know what it is.   Similarly, tinned fruit comes in syrup or juice. So why does asparagus come in….liquid? Does the conversation in the lab go a little bit like:

“Well…we know it’s wet….as for the rest…we’re really not sure…to be on the safe side, how about we just go with liquid?”

Yeah, I don’t know why asparagus is being canned in a lab either.  Anyway, the use of the “liquid” is why I found this recipe for Asparagus and Egg Mornay repulsive.  And somehow, the idea of mixing the “liquid” with milk just makes it worse.  Asparagus shake anyone?  Gross.

The next scary item is the Asparagus Mousse.  I made this as I wanted to understand the ’70’s obsession with moulded food. Despite making it I still do not understand the ’70’s obsession with moulded food.  It was horrible.  The best thing was that it moulded well.  I thought this would taste like slightly gelatinous asparagus and cream.  It tasted of tin and mint.  I have no idea where the mintiness came from.

I accidentally dropped the cracker I spread with some of this mousse on the ground.  The dogs loved it.  Mind you, they also eat excrement. I didn’t bother making myself another cracker.

Moving on to lazy we find the recipe for Celery Soup and Cheese Croutons.  The first ingredient listed is a can of celery soup.   Let me make one thing perfectly clear.  If you are making celery soup according to the directions on the can you cannot claim that this is a recipe for celery soup.   It is, at best, a recipe for Cheese Croutons.  Adding parsley or any other herb does not count as cooking.  There is absolutely no reason for this recipe to be listed under celery.

Huh?  What was that you were muttering cynical subconscious?

Given that celery is usually used fresh, using it its canned soup form may be a way for the book’s sponsor’s to recoup some of their outlay?  I thought we weren’t going there.  I thought we’d made a decision not to annoy the multinationals.  They have test kitchens and possibly require the service of recipe collators.  So button it.  We’re going with lazy.  Not with shameless display of self promotion.

Moving swiftly along in the list of crimes we come to the nasty food. Potato Gems aka Tater Tots in the U.S. are made from a blend of potato and….I don’t know what…I’m pretty sure the crusty outside does not contain diamonds but whatever it is, it probably comes a pretty close second in terms of hardness.  Potato Gems / Tater Tots are one of the few foods that actually hate you.  Their sole purpose is to tear the top three layers of skin off the roof of the mouth of anyone stupid enough to eat them.

The Potato Gem Pizza is a repulsive concoction created by pressing cooked potato gems into a cake pan and covering them with pizza ingredients.  Sadly, if you Google image Tater Tot Pizza, you get a lot of hits.  I’m not naming and shaming anyone here, but seriously WTF? Here I am thinking I have found a new culinary low and people are not only making it, they are so proud of their creation (and mostly not in an ironic hipster way) that they are posting pictures of it onto the internet.  Admittedly most of these pictures use the Gems /Tots as a pizza topping, not as the pizza base per the suggestion here but really people?  Stop it.  Stop it now.  You’re depressing me.

I would also like to point out that there is absolutely no way the Potato Gem Pizza takes 5 minutes to cook.  It says right at the start you have to cook your Potato Gems for 5 minutes.  You then have to:

  • Press your Gems into a flat cake
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Add all your toppings including carefully laid out spoke-like anchovies and between spoke olives
  • Then grill until the cheese melts

Do these last actions happen in a time warp?  Can Potato Gems tear through the fabric of space–time as easily as they tear through your gums?

And finally, the piece de la resistance, the mec plus ultra of food getting weird.  Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to present the Peach Cheese Fiesta.  What?  You’ve never heard of it?  There’s a reason for that.  In the words of Gwen Stefani:

“This s**t is bananas.  B – A – N -A – N -A -S”  

I like to think an editor hid this recipe deep within the section on Swedes and Turnips, thinking quite rightly that it would never be found. And up until now, it has remained in the obscurity it deserves.  The Peach Cheese Fiesta even had Google stumped.  Until now of course, because by the very act of writing that Google can’t find Peach Cheese Fiesta, I am creating the conditions that will allow Google to find Peach Cheese Fiesta…oh….that’s making my head hurt.  So without further ado, here it is:

I know they took a lot of drugs back in the ’70’s but wow, someone must have stoned out of their mind for this to make sense.  I like the way they suggest alternative receptacles for the cheesy vegetable mix.  I like it even more that instead of these alternatives being fruits and vegetables that are routinely stuffed (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplants) that they continue the looniness by suggesting  pears and pineapple. I just wish they’d suggested bananas, it would have made as much sense and made my Gwen Stefani reference all the more meaningful.

The Australian Vegetable Cookbook is not all bad though.  I am about to make what will hopefully be a lovely  3 course dinner from recipes contained within the book. I’ll talk about that next time.  Until then, blot the thought of Peach Cream Fiesta from your minds and enjoy your week!