Hey, hey – it’s five o’clock somewhere in the world, which means it’s cocktail time! And today I am taking a twist on the cucumber and mint gin cocktail called the Old Maid and adding some floral notes to make a gorgeous Rosy Old Maid!
And taking that as our cue, how about we kill this beast of a myth of the Old Maid?
Bachelor has the connotation of someone being footloose and fancy free, a playboy, a man about town. Old Maid and it’s sister word, spinster have no such positive associations. Take for instance, this discussion I had with my beloved mother some time before I met the fussiest eater in the world. I had to pick her up from some function – church group, art group, book club, some place where I knew not one of her cronies. And this happened:
“So when you get there, come in and you meet everyone. But don’t worry; I’ve told them you’re not a lesbian.”
“Ooooooookayyyyyyyyyy……eeeeeerrrrrmmmmmm…..I guess I’m not a lot of things….any particular reason you chose to share that one?”
“Well. You’re thirty years old and not married. I thought they would think there was something wrong with you”.
“Well, they probably still think that. But now they know I’m not getting any girl action as well as any boy action….you actually made it worse”
“So what should I tell them?”
“Either that I have a genetically inherited obnoxious personality disorder or to mind their own business”.
So, the Rosy Old Maid is pretty as a picture, sexy, sassy, sweet to look at but also with a powerful kick! This Old Maid is bold and confident This is a drink that knows it’s worth and is comfortable with its place in the world. And that’s the image we want to take with us when we talk about Old Maids in future.
I used Hendricks in this because it totally matched the rose and cucumber flavours in the cocktail. If not using Hendricks, I would suggest using an extra drop of rosewater.
Here’s the recipe:
Rosy Old Maid
A delightful rosy pink take on the Old Maid Cocktail
Something a little different this week. The best thing I made was a super summery, super fun, super colourful drink – The Summer Punch Cup.
The Summer Punch Cup was inspired by two things. First Schweppes has some limited edition “inspired by London” lemonade in the shops at the moment and it is delicious. Also, I have been meaning to try the drink that most definitely is not Pimms (tastes almost identical to Pimms) from the cheap European supermarket.
Put them together, add a splash of sherry and you have the Summer Punch Cup.
Cole Porter said it best – “It’s delightful, it’s delicious, it’s de-lovely”.
You could use normal lemonade, just muddle a bit more cucumber in the shaker. And, of course, you could also use Pimms . However, I did do some research on the Austin’s Summer Punch before I bought it and the general consensus was that, particularly if you are using it with a lot of other flavours, the Summer Punch from the cheap European is almost indistinguishable.
The Summer Punch Cup is fresh from the cucumber, tangy from the lemon, sweet from the Summer Punch and lemonade with a touch of dryness from the sherry. And it looks so pretty. This is surely going to become my go to for summer!
Also right up there was the Passionfruit Coconut Custard. I bruléed the top to make it even yummier!
No real disasters this week but I broke one of my main rules of cooking and regretted it both times. The rule is never to buy an ingredient for a recipe if I have no other use for it. I bought pickled mustard leaves for a Thai Khao Soi recipe and Doenjang for a Korean Steak dish. Neither were great and now I am stuck with a whole tub of Doenjang. It looks a lot like miso, I wonder if I can use it interchangeably? If anyone knows, please advise!
This week I am looking forward to cooking:
Starter /Lunch / Salad – Crab and Watercress Finger Sandwiches….so pretty! This recipe comes from a special they did on retro food. I’m pretty sure there will be more recipes from this feature in due course.
I’ve been on a bit of a cook book buying binge – all of these were delivered this week. I’m very excited about all of them. I think they are all going to be great fun! Stay tuned, no doubt you will see some of the recipes contained within in due course!
I also bought a spoon. And not just any old spoon. An official retro food for modern times spoon. Check it out!
I found another game. I have only played about ten minutes but already loving:
If you read my last post you would have already seen these amazing cucumber candlesticks…now you get to learn how to make them yourself!
I found the original recipe in, yep, you guessed it, the delight that is Salads For All Seasons by Rosemary Mayne Wilson, because that book never gets old. Well, technically yes it does but you know what I mean.
I fancy pantsed mine up a bit by adding a little bit of hot sauce into my crab and mayo mix but you could use wasabi or tomato paste or chilli sauce, chopped herbs, chopped up sun-dried tomatoes, or pretty much any flavouring you liked. You could also swap out the crab for canned tuna or salmon if that’s how you roll.
I also added a strip of sun-dried tomato as a flame.
The only bit of making these that was even a little bit difficult was scooping out the flesh of the cucumbers and not having them break. I don’t have a grapefruit knife as suggested by Rosemary Mayne Wilson so I ended up using a 1/4 teaspoon measure and scooping out a little bit at a time.
These were really tasty and pretty easy to make. And a pretty cool retro canapé to kick off the celebrations.
To eat these you can slice them either across into rounds down the middle into half or quarter moons.
But before the recipe, I thought I might do a quick “retro” spective. I spent some time the other day going through some old posts and one thing became clear. If there was going to be a sub-sub title for this blog, it would surely have to be “I like round food. And I really, really like small round food”
May 2012 – Cucumbers Stuffed with Cream Cheese
July 2012 – Moccha Mousse
July 2012 – Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes
February 2013 – Barbra Streisands Coffee Ice Cream
April 2013 – Devilled Chestnuts
April 2013 – Rosé Wine Cup
May 2013 – Television Eggs
September 2013 – Ice Cream Muffins
September 2013 – Vietnamese Inspired Aubergine
Minh Mang-o Daiquiri
November 2013 – Kale and Onion Pies, Smoked Salmon Frittata
December 2013 – Pepperoni Pizza with Boccocini, Olives and Mint
December 2013 – Cabbage Rolls with Meatballs
January 2014 – Saffron Risotto Balls
April 2014 – Ox Eye Eggs
August 2014 – Autumn Rosti With Smoked Salmon
August 2014- Meatball Sandwich
November 2014 – Cheesy Eggplant Sandwiches
November 2014 – Chargrilled Aubergines from Persiana
And now, in the spirit of a Russian Doll, imagine a smaller catamaran. Maybe one that could be placed on the catamaran table, filled with some cheesy balls o’ goodness.
The cucumber catamaran.
Now, I”m not saying she’s the best looking boat in the world. She’s a bit wonky. But she is quite obviously a boat.
In case you need some work for your idle hands, here’s how to make your own:
The paprika carrot balls weren’t bad either…recipe below…
The Smiths are one of my favorite bands ever. I spent countless hours of angsty teenage emotional turmoil locked in my bedroom listening to “How Soon Is Now” and “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”, countered only by and the sheer manic malicious exuberance of “Panic”.
So here’s a little treat for me you!
This week, I’ll be “spending my warm summer days indoors, writing frightening verse to a buck tooth girl in Luxembourg”…
Otherwise known as doing this. Which I guess makes you my bucktooth girl.
Where ever you are.
Have a great one!
Paprika Carrot Balls
A yummy retro appetizer, best served in a Cucumber Catamaram
One of the reasons I love old cookbooks is sometimes you get a little insight in to the lives of the people who owned them previously. My latest favourite vintage find, Salads For All Seasons is no exception.
There is an inscription on the front inner cover that reads “To Ann, Happy Christmas 1985. Love Aunty Ev & Uncle Bill.
Thing is…the book was published in 1971. I don’t want to judge but I dunno….unless it’s an absolute classic, giving someone a 14 year old cookbook makes me think that some regifting may have been at play here.
I suspect Ann may not have been the favourite niece.
In the foreward Elizabeth Durack Clancy O.B.E. says:
“I commend this book because it is so useful and practical. “The wilful extravagant maid” can learn some fresh devilment from these pages but the “housewife that’s thrifty” is equally catered for.”
Hmmm…I’m thinking Aunty Ev may have been one of those “thrifty housewives”. And good old Ann, a maid of will and extravagance. It’s all starting to come together….it certainly explains the parsimony of the Christmas present. And the lack of a term of endearment in the greeting.
Next up, the introduction where author Rosemary Mayne-Wilson tells us:
“Salad used to something served on Sunday evenings. It consisted of neatly shredded lettuce, tomato wedges, hard boiled eggs and a slice of cheese. It was served with the sliced leftovers of the Sunday roast. Generally it was put straight on the plate, but when there were visitors it was served in a crystal salad bowl. To make it daring, a blob of mayonnaise was added, but this ‘extra’ was confined to adults”
Personally, I’d be quite happy eating that salad. But more importantly, who knew mayo was a rite of passage?
Then again, have you heard of those Menarche Parties that people are throwing their daughters these days? I swear, if my parents had ever done anything like that to me, I would still be locked in the bathroom, listening to The Smiths on repeat and sobbing “You hate me don’t you? You really fucking hate me.”
You can view the full horror by clicking on the link below but just to whet your appetite, included in the party pack provided by…
wait for it…
Menarche Parties R Us…
(I swear you couldn’t make this shit up if you tried)
…are 2 games. One of these is called “Pin the Ovaries” and the other is called the “Puberty Marshmallow Game”.
Pinning ovaries sounds like something a serial killer would do. And I never want to know what a puberty marshmallow game entails.
For the love of God, bring back the dob of mayo on the Sunday Night Salad. “You’re a woman now Ann, have some Hellman’s”.
“Gee thanks Aunty Ev. Any chance of some tips on frugality?”
Wow,that was a spectacular digression. Where we we? Salad. Yes. Right. Ok. Sorry, I’m still being gobsmacked by the puberty marshmallow game.
Salad. We’re here to talk about salad.
Back to the Introduction of Salads For All Seasons – after dropping in the comment about the mayo, in a lovely piece of randomness, Rosemary Mayne-Wilson tells us:
“Of course this has all changed and now nearly everyone owns a wooden salad bowl”
Bear with me while I nip across to Ebay because I am one of the few who own nothing of the sort. And now I desperately want one. I really want one that looks like this:
But I’m guessing I might have to make do with something a little more mundane.
And it will come in handy because I’m thinking that this could be a long haul. There is so much that is both amazing and godawful in Salads for All Seasons, that I think it’s worth spending some time here.
I was going to work through it from start to finish…until I read some of the recipes and paused for a moment of sanity. So we’ll be kind of working our way through in a fairly random order but skipping some of the truly awful and the just plain boring.
But just to get us off to a to an extravagant and devilish start, put your hot pink dancin’ shoes on, because your tastebuds are going to be doing the Rhumba with this awesome Cuban inspired salad.
Handful of leafy Greens (I used Wasabi Leaves just because I found them at the greengrocer and was dying to use them in something - you can use any variety of lettuce, baby kale, spinach, rocket (arugula) etc.
Small block of Feta Cheese
Chives to garnish
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 pinch brown sugar
1 tsp rum
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Make the Dressing:
Mix Ingredients in a jar and chill.
Stone the avocado and slice. Place in a bowl and pour the chilled dressing over.
Slice the cucmber. I like mine peeled but you can leave the peel on as you prefer.
Wash and spin the leaves.
Place the leaves into your bowl, add the cucumber and avocado. Toss well.
Sprinkle some feta over the top.
Garnish with chopped chives and some finely sliced chilli if you like it hot!