Month: March 2013

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 – Where Angels Fear To Tread

If you are not already a fan and follower of Emily aka Yinzerella at Dinner is Served 1972, head on over and check out her latest post which features the Rolling Stones recipe for Hot Dogs on The Rocks that  I mentioned in the Franks, Beans and a Saucer of Milk post back in January.

And hats off to her, she’s a braver girl than me and actually made the recipe.  To find out how it tasted and read all of her fabulous posts, click on the link below

http://dinnerisserved1972.com/2013/03/27/wiener-wednesday-hot-dogs-on-the-rocks/

She’s also inspired me to put the Mad Men Cookbook at the top of my wishlist!  Ahh…so many books, so little time!

So, to Yinzerella and everyone who reads, follows and likes what I am doing, a big, big thank you!

I really appreciate it!

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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: 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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