Month: January 2016

Two Turtledoves

Sometime last year I became obsessed on Pinterest with an American candy called a turtle.  I went from never having heard of them in my life to seeing them all over the internet.  And holy moly did they sound good!  For those of you, like me, who have spent our lives in ignorance of this delight, just listen to this:

  • A chocolate base.
  • Toppped with pecan nuts
  • Topped with caramel
  • Topped with more chocolate

There is no way on God’s green earth that they could be bad.  Supposably.  As Joey Tribbiani would say.  And depending on your definition, they were really good.  Well, they tasted delicious. 

Before we get into them, just a word of explanation.  The recipe I used called them turtledoves because they used Dove Chocolate.  We used to have Dove Chocolate here – apparently not anymore.  I wonder when that happened? 

My turtledoves started really well. 

TurtledovesIt all started to fall apart with the caramel.  I could not get it to sit on the pecans the way I wanted it too.  I wanted it to be a perfect dome, surrounding my pecans but leaving a little bit of chocolate on the base visible.  Not ONE of them looked like that.

Turtledoves2And the more I tried to meddle with it, the worse it got.  In the end, I thought. “Nevermind.  It will all be covered with the rest of the chocolate.  It will be fine”. 

Not so.  I was already on a slippery slope and the only way was down.  The final chocolate layer was a disaster!  I could not get it smooth, it was a hot day and the second I touched it, it would either melt or crack.

Before I show you the wreck of the Hersperus that was my effort, let me show how these babies should look  (via candy,about.com)

Turtles from candy.about.comAnd, oh Lord, here are mine….

Turtledoves3I know.  I’m sorry.  Two fails in a row.  Although these tasted delish, my turtles may not have been teenage or ninjas but they were mutant. Technically they weren’t even turtledoves because I could not find Dove chocolate. 

They did taste good.  Really good.  Even the fussiest eater in the world was a fan. 

Turtledoves4But you know food blogging can be very much style over substance so that sometimes I think it doesn’t matter how things taste as long as they look good.  In retrospect, I should have not tried to cover them entirely but just done a little splodge of caramel and one of chocolate over the top.  Next time….

But I wanted to have something that was a success, of only to soothe my wounded self-esteem.  Two fails in a row is no way to write a food blog.  So I needed a turtledove.  Fast.  Guaranteed success.

Hmmmm….

  • Chocolate
  • Caramel
  • Nuts

How about something like this?

Turtledove7

  • Baileys
  • Frangelico
  • Butterscotch Schnapps

Now that’s my kind of Turtledove! 

And it brought F.Scott out of the funk caused by the Bobby Dazzler.

Turtledove6Normality has resumed in Chez Retro Food.  Well, as close as we can get ’round here anyway!

Turtledove
A cocktail shooter that mirrors the flavours of the classic American turtle candy - chocolate, caramel and nuts
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Ingredients
  1. 30ml Butterscotch Schnapps
  2. 30ml Frangelico
  3. 30ml Bailey's Irish Cream
Instructions
  1. Pour the Butterscotch Schnapps and the Frangelico into a shooter glass.
  2. Measure out the Bailey's and pour very slowly over the back of a spoon into the glass.
  3. Enjoy!
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
 Have a wonderful week!

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The Bobby Dazzler – History Happy Hour – 1788

G’day mates,  Happy Australia Day!

Today we are celebrating with a dubious mocktail with a fabulous name – The Bobby Dazzler. 

Australia Day celebrates the 1788 landing of the First Fleet into Port Jackson, New South Wales and the raising of the British flag on Australian soil. 

The day is marked by celebrations both formal and informal across Australia, with many people enjoying the day off work with barbecues, at the beach and otherwise enjoying the lovely summer weather.

Over at chez Retro Food, we are celebrating with this:

Bobby Dazzler1If you had asked me as a six-year-old to design my perfect drink it would have been something very like the Bobby Dazzler.  “I want coca cola with something pink in it and whipped cream and a strawberry and sprinkles….”  Seriously, if the Bobby Dazzler came with some glitter and a unicorn, it would have been my six-year-old idea of heaven. 

Bobby Dazzler2However, according to International Mixed Drinks by Ken Fin (1995) the Bobby Dazzler was created by Maxine Nash at the Bubbles – Wodonga Hotel where it was the runner-up in the Best Border Beverage Competition of 1991.  International Mixed Drinks is silent on whether or not Maxine Nash was a six-year-old. 

F.Scott who normally taste tests all the cocktails I  make wasn’t having a bar of this.  But like  his namesake F.Scott is partial to a sip o’ the hard stuff. 

Bobby Dazzler3So another tester had to be found.  And how more appropriate than our friend the Tasmanian Devil?

He loved it.  But then again, we found him later on gnawing on one of the popper bottles. 

Bobby Dazzler4The Bobby Dazzler  is not so much bad tasting as unremittingly, unrelentingly sweet.  And just when you think you can have no more sweet, you get a mouthful of cream.

Unless you are a six-year-old girl or a Tasmanian Devil you probably will not want to celebrate Australia Day with a Bobby Dazzler!  I still feel a bit ill after drinking it.  I feel like I need to have a little lie down.  Simultaneously, I am so wired on caffeine and sugar I feel like I may never sleep again.

For those who want it, here is the recipe:

Bobby Dazzler
A very sweet and creamy mocktail.
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Ingredients
  1. 60ml Grenadine
  2. 200ml cola
  3. whipped cream
  4. 100's and 1000's or other sprinkles
  5. Strawberry and 2 blueberries to garnish
Instructions
  1. Blend the Grenadine and cola and pour into a glass.
  2. Top with the whipped cream.
  3. Sprinkle with 100's and 1000's and garnish with a strawberry and the blueberries.
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
I am calling this a recipe fail not because there was anything wrong with the recipe, I think it worked out exactly as it should have.  To me the recipe fails because there is no counterbalance to that cloying sweetness. I also did not like that big chunk of whipped cream which pretty much just made your mouth feel greasy.  I think ice-cream may have been a better choice.  What do I know though?  It’s not like I ever came runner-up in the Best Border Beverage competition.

I hope your Australia Day is dazzling, even if this drink is not.

Have a wonderful week.

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Breakfast Cranachan For Burns Night Morning

Och aye laddies and lassies, today we are moving from the lowbrow fish finger to the highbrow as we celebrate the life of  poet Robert Burns with a breakfast version of a Scottish dessert, the cranachan.

Breakfast Cranachantomorrow, January 25th, people all across Scotland will be celebrating the birth of Robert Burns with Burns Night Suppers.  The traditional Burns night supper is an elaborate affair with a strict ceremonial order including pipers piping, many toasts and, of course, a haggis.  A traditional cranachan is often served as a dessert at these functions.

We are not making a traditional cranachan today because it would normally be doused with a liberal dram (or two) of whisky.   Sadly, I am still on my January cleanse so I did not want to include booze in mine. 

Rhubarb and Blueberry CranachanAnd before anyone can cry “But that’s not how you make porridge”….we’re  eating my cranachan for breakfast.  And I’m hoping that even the most patriotic Scotsperson may be happy to forego the single malt for the first meal o’ the day.  And whilst I’m certain whisky would be awesome, oats and fruit and nuts are an equally fabulous breakfast combo!

Breakfast Cranachan2Burns’ love may be like a red, red rose but this girl’s heart skips a beat for ruby, red rhubarb!

Rhubarb for CrananchanRhubarb is one of my favourite fruits.  I love it’s tanginess, and its gorgeous colour.

I cut my rhubarb into pieces, washed it, and sprinkled it with some sugar then popped it in the oven to roast.

Next into the oven was some rolled oats, mixed with a little maple syrup to give them almost a  slightly crunchy granola effect.

Cranachan - OatsWhilst that was in the oven, I whipped some cream then added an equal amount of coconut cream and whipped that in, then added some plain Greek yogurt and stirred that through with a little bit more of the maple syrup.

Traditionally it would just be the cream and whisky here, maybe with a little sugar to sweeten it up a bit.  I pretty much threw in the coconut cream on a whim because I had some leftover in the fridge and had no other use for it. 

Then I roasted some pecans in yes, you guessed it, some maple syrup.  (It feels a bit like I am also celebrating Canada this post). 

Pecans CranachanThe rest is assembly.  Start with a layer of fruit – I had some blueberries as well as the rhubarb. Then a layer of the crunchy oats, a layer of the cream mixture – repeat.  Finish with a layer of oats and sprinkle this with more blueberries and the maple candied pecans.

Cranachan3This is delicious!!!!  You could alter the fruit for whatever is in season but I really liked the combination of what I started calling “rhu and blue”.

And that my friends, IS how you make cranachan!.

And for those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, here is an ad for oats that was on Australian television back in the day:

Breakfast Cranachan
A fabulous and delicious breakfast to fortify yourself on the morning of Burn's Night or any other day.
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Ingredients
  1. 500g (about a bunch) of rhubarb
  2. 1 tbsp sugar
  3. 150g blueberries
For the Oats
  1. 80g rolled oats
  2. 1 tbsp maple syrup
For The Cream
  1. 150g cream
  2. 100g coconut cream
  3. 100g Greek Yoghurt
  4. 1 tsbp maple syrup or honey
  5. For the Maple Spiced Pecans
  6. 50g pecans
  7. 1 tbsp maple syrup
For The Rhubarb
  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Cut the rhubarb into legths of around 4 cm, place in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cold water.
  3. Shake off excess water then tip into a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with the sugar.
  4. Roast 15-20 minutes until tender.
For The Oats
  1. Combine oats and maple syrup, spread onto a lined baking tray and toast until golden (around 4-5 minutes).
For The Cream
  1. Whip the cream until soft peaks form.
  2. Add the coconut cream and whip again.
  3. Stir through the yogurt and maple syrup.
  4. Refrigerate until needed.
For the Maple Pecans
  1. Once the oats are cooked, set them aside.
  2. Mix the pecans and the maple syrup, place on the baking tray that had the oats on it.
  3. Place back in the oven until the pecans are golden (about 6 minutes).
To Serve
  1. When ready to serve, spoon half of the rhubarb and a third of the blueberries into the bottom of a large bowl. (Glass is pretty so you can see the layers).
  2. Top with a layer of oats.
  3. Top with a laer of cream
  4. Top with a layer of fruit, then cream, then oats.
  5. Sprinkle the remaining blueberries and the pecans over the top.
  6. Enjoy
Notes
  1. You can mix up the amounts of cream, yogurt and coconut cream to your taste and the ingredients you have on hand. Don't like one of them? Leave it out and increase the amount of the other two.
  2. To make a traditional cranachan with whisky follow the link to the AGT recipe upon which this one is based.
  3. This also looks lovely served into long glasses for individual servings.
Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller - Cranachan with Roasted Rhubarb
Retro Food For Modern Times http://www.retrofoodformoderntimes.com/
Have a wonderful Burns night, if you are celebrating it!  If not, this cranachan is a delicious breakfast any day!

 Haste ye back!

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Fish and Bacon Whirls – A Cinderella Story

Hello friends, today I am bringing you a fairy tale in the guise of a song.  A song of the sea.  Which as anyone of a certain generation will tell you, can only mean one thing.  Not only are we taking a second dip into the Frozen Food Shortcuts  Section of the A-Z of Cooking but also into one of my childhood favorites and guilty pleasures as a grown up. Yes, Fish Fingers are on the menu!  Yayyyy!!!! 

But not just plain fish fingers..  No way.  The A-Z of Cooking and I are jointly acting as the Fish Fingers’ fairy godmother and getting  them ready for the Royal Ball.  Or, slightly closer to their humble roots, maybe the Over 40’s singles night at the local piano bar. 

Fish and Bacon WhirlsBefore we continue, for my American readers a fish finger is what you more prosaically call a fish stick.  It’s so sad that you are missing out one of the best things about fish fingers.  Which is messing about with small children’s minds – just watch the total look of bafflement when you tell them for the first time they are having fish fingers for dinner.  Even the boldest will pause.  “But…fish don’t have fingers.”  Opportunity lost, America. 

So, what does joint fairy God Mother, The A-Z of cooking have in store for our fishy Cinderella?  Well the name of the post might have spoiled the surprise but it’s bacon.  Which is almost cheese-like in its ability to make anything taste better!  Nice move, A-Z of Cooking!

The idea is quite simple.  Wrap your fish finger in bacon.

Cook. 

Fish and Bacon Whirls2

If the bacon forms the Pumpkin Coach, then the Glass Slippers are my spicy tartare sauce.  ( I only just now realised some places in the world call this tartar sauce. In my world tartar is something gross that grows on your teeth.  So I’m sticking with tartare for my sauce).

My tartare sauce is a fairly fluid recipe, the only absolutes are mayo and a slug of Tabasco sauce.  The other ingredients utterly depend on what I have in the pantry or fridge.

It can include any of the following:

  • Chopped gherkins
  • Chopped Pickled Jalapenos
  • Chopped Red Onion
  • Capers
  • Chives
  • Dill
  • Lemon Juice
  • Tarragon

Fish and Bacon Whirls3Finally, lightly toast two pieces of bread.  Spread one slice liberally with your tartare sauce.

Place some crisp lettuce leaves on the other slice. 

Once cooked, to your liking, place your Fish and Bacon Whirls on the slice of bread with the tartare.  Sandwich together and voila! 

Fish and Bacon Whirls4This can be pulled together in under 5 minutes, the cost is minimal, and Captain Birdseye assures me that my fish fingers are made from sustainably farmed Hoki.

He’s suspiciously silent on what that iridescent orange coating is made from – I’m fairly sure it’s nothing from this planet.  Hey, maybe that’s what the new X-Files is about. 

Fish and Bacon Whirls5Here is the original recipe from the A-Z of Cooking:

Fish and Bacon Whirls origI think we’ve done a good job of prettying her up. 

You can go to the ball Cinderella!

Enjoy.

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A Peacock Cake & The Gala At Yala Part 1

It was recently the fussiest eater in the world’s birthday and I made him a peacock cake!

Peacock Cake1
Isn’t it adorable?  Even if I do say so myself!  And for the non-bakers out there it is all assembly, no baking involved, unless of course you want to bake the cake yourself.

But more about our little peacock friend later. The peacock was a special symbol for us as it reminded us of the time we spent at The Yala National Park when we were in Sri Lanka earlier this year...OMG…last year! 

The National Park at Yala is a huge tract of land at the Southern tip of Sri Lanka that is home to a myriad of wild life.  It is situated in leopard country and whilst we did two Safaris hoping to see one of these magnificent creatures, we were unlucky both times….or were we?  Whilst we did not spot a leopard (pun intended) we saw so many other wild animals, living in their natural habitat that I felt utterly privileged to have been there.

Here was Mr Peacock:

Yala - Peacock2There were monkeys galore:

Yala - MonkeySloth Bears:

Yala - Sloth BearSome jackals playing:

Yala - Jackals PlayingA crocodile, most definitely not playing:

Yala - CrocodileAnd a huge amount of elephants – my favourite part was when we saw two older female elephants and a cub walk down to a pond to have a bath and a drink:

Yala - Mummy and Baby Elephants BathingThen the baby decided to have a little roll in the water:

Baby Elephant SwimmingAfterwards, they came right up to us, crossing just behind the jeep we were in.

Yala - Mummy and Baby Elephants BathingThen there was this little one who decided to head off on his own:

Yala - Baby Elephant BathingThe closest we got to the elusive leopard was these tracks:

Yala - Leopard Prints

On a more sombre note, there is also a monument to the people who lost their life at Yala in the Boxing Day Tsunami of 2004. 

Yala - MonumentI could go on about Yala all day and have thousands more photos of all the animals and all the birds but we have a Peacock Cake to talk about!

The recipe comes direct from the Women’s Weekly Cheat’s Cakes 2. The idea behind these books is that you can buy a cake and then just decorate it instead of having to factor in baking as well. Obviously the cover caught my eye but there are many more treasures to trove in these pages!

Women's Weekly Cheat's Cake 2

Hmm…I don’t think I did too bad a job!

Peacock Cake2I made the cake for the peacock’s body because there was a random box of cake mix in my pantry. But you could totally use a bought cake.  The Women’s Weekly provides a template for the body.  I copied it onto a sheet of paper, enlarging it a bit as it was really quite small and I wanted to use up as much of my cake as possible.

Peacock Cake2One of advantage of cutting around a template is that if a bit of cake “falls” off as you are cutting around it doesn’t really matter and you can have a little taste test as you work.  You can call it being greedy if you must.  I prefer Quality Assurance.

I used the tip of an ice cream cone for my peacock’s beak.  A black jube, topped by a piece of white jelly bean topped by the end piece of a black jelly bean made his eye, with a swoop of licorice creating his cat’s eye.

Peacock Cake Peacock

And you will need something to fortify you because threading all those lollies onto the skewers takes a long time.

Peacock Cake Tail FeathersIf making the Peacock Cake for a children’s party you can place more tail feathers in a glass by the side of the cake if you need too.  Just be sure to remove the lollies from the skewers before handing them out.  

Here’s the recipe for the Peacock Cake, straight from the book.  I had to deviate from some of the sweets suggested because I could not find them – use what you have and let your creative juices flow!!!

Peacock Cake RecipeThis is so fun and colourful and would be a great party cake for a child of any age.  If you want to make it and would like a copy of the template, let me know. 

Peacock Cake3

 Have a wonderful week.  I hope it’s full of pomp and pageantry.  For me, today is the return to work after the Christmas break which is going to be tough!  Back to the dreaded alarm and early mornings.  On the upside, tonight I am seeing one of my food heroes, Nigella Lawson, live in conversation at the Melbourne Town Hall – it should be A-MAZING!

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