Ok…call me Captain Obvious but subtlety has never been a strong suit of mine or this blog. There was one and only ever one choice for the appetizer for my Devil party. And here they are in all their bright pink glory – beet dyed deviled eggs!
I have wanted to make these for ages but in a weird twist of fate, I am not a huge fan of the beetroot whilst the fussiest eater in the world is quite fond of it. We’ve had a few months of
“Can you please save me your beetroot juice*”
“What do you want beetroot juice for?”
“Where’s the beetroot juice?”
“Oh. I forgot”
(*We know it is not actually juice)
Finally all our stars aligned. Just in time for the blogiversary I had beetroot juice! And I was not afraid to use it!
I cannot tell you how much I love a deviled egg!!! In fact I am going to make a deviled egg part of the annual alphabetical blogiversary party. That way I can make them at least once a year!
Given the brightness of the eggs, the filling here is very simple – just Dijon Mustard and mayo. The topping is a slice of pickled chilli, a slice of green olive and a knotted chive, straight from the garden!
These were so much fun to make. The “white” eggs you can see in these photos are actually also very slightly pink. I had them in the beetroot mixture for only about 5 minutes. Quite clearly not enough. The dark pink eggs were in for about an hour.
And for anyone who shares my dislike of beetroot, these do not taste at all like beetroot or vinegary from the pickling liquid.
Oh and in blog news, I think the incredibly smart and handsome team at WordPress have fixed the issue with my comments so, if you are of a mind, please feel free to test this out and drop me a line!
Some Devilish Recommendations
I can’t recall if I have spoken about my love for The Black Tapes and Tanis Podcasts, both from Pacific North West Stories previously but they are pretty much my favourite things to listen to at the moment.
And The Black Tapes in particular…..is one of the scariest things I have ever listened to. I am a bit lot of a coward but I can only listen to this during the day on days when the fussiest eater in the world is home because if I listened to it on the nights when I am alone in the house I might never sleep again! If you’re missing the X Files, this might be the remedy!
Beet Deviled Eggs
What's better than a deviled egg? A pink deviled egg!
Have you ever read a recipe where the ingredients seem right….but the execution just seems horribly wrong?
The other day I was looking for something in…you know THAT room? Otherwise known as the room where we dumped all the crap we didn’t have a specific home for when we first moved in. Nearly a year later? It’s all still there. Thank the Lord for whoever invented doors. It makes it so much easier to metaphorically close the door and walk away from the room when you can literally close the door and walk away from the room.
I didn’t find what I was looking for in the room, because most things that go in there don’t come out. What I did find was a manilla folder full of old recipe clippings which included one for something called for Trout and Mascarpone Triangles.
Before we get to the point does anyone else have problems spelling mascarpone? For some reason in my mind it’s marscapone. I also can’t say the word “Preliminary” – that one just ends up a hot mess of r’s and l’s where they shouldn’t be.
But anyway, immediately in my head, (yeah the same one that can’t spell ma-scar-pone or pronounce pre-lim-in-ary) I had a vision of what these would be. They would look like exactly like these:
Hmm…except….maybe a little more triangular.
So, I was bitterly disappointed when I actually read the recipe and found it was nothing like that.
In fact, that whole recipe annoyed the hell out of me. In most cooking circles when you call something an X & Y triangle it’s pretty much a given that the X and Y are IN the triangle. Take these delicious looking cheese and spinach triangles from taste.com.au. Spinach and Cheese both EXACTLY where they should be i.e. inside the pastry triangle.
That is what I wanted from my trout and mascarpone triangles! Golden puff pastry filled with chunks of gorgeous pink smoked trout, creamy mascarpone, fresh herbs, a touch of chilli….that was what my mind told me a Trout and Mascarpone Triangle could, and should, be.
At best the original recipe is for trout and mascarpone ON triangles. And who the hell wants that? No one that’s who. I’m calling shenanigans on that recipe.
In some circles they say, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. In my circle I say if you think their recipe is a crock, make it like you think it should have been. And while we’re in the spirit of rebellion – the fancy pants Italian cheese I can’t be bothered writing the name of (because I would only have to re-write it to spell it correctly) can go fuck itself too. I’m using good old Philadelphia Cream Cheese. Which I forgot to take a photo of. The rest of the stuff is here:
I used a smoked trout, you could sub in smoked salmon if you prefer or cook a fillet of fish as per the original recipe. Or even used canned salmon or tuna to make these. Up to you. And I had an empanada maker thing but you could make triangles as per the original recipe. Or embrace the spririt of doing it your way and make them any shape you want!
If you are going to use an empanada maker, here’s how you do it from an expert,Connie Veneracion. Shame I didn’t read this until after I had made mine and hence some of mine were a little…shall we call them rustic? 😉
I think it’s kind of weird that it’s taken me this long – I love to read and I love to talk about books I have read. However, this is a rather special club catering to those of fairly specific tastes. Don’t worry, I am not about to get all 50 shades of weird on you; it is a food lovers book club where, instead of novels, we discuss cookbooks.
I am a cook book junkie. Here is part of my collection. .
There is also another shelf in a different room that has most of the retro food books. Then there are the hundreds of magazines…..and regular trips to the local library.
So, given this problem predilection when I read in their weekly newsletter that my local book store was starting a food lovers book group, I did a little dance of joy. No, not quite like this…well…maybe a little.
The First Rule of Book Club
Each meeting will have a theme. The first theme was Winter warmers. Members have a choice of three books that they could purchase related to that theme. The books were really well chosen by the owners in terms of both variety, audience and price point.
Whoo, hoo….new cookbook fix guaranteed. And to those annoying people who ask “Don’t you have enough cookbooks?” (you know who you are) you can genuinely say. “I had to buy it, it was for book club”.
I chose Slow by Valli Little which was actually the cheapest option but I love her work in Delicious Magazine and I knew there would be plenty in here I could, and would, make outside of the group. I was not disappointed on this count – it jam packed with great ideas for everyday cooking. And, incidentally, this book was rated the best on value and practicality as well as being visually alluring.
Second Rule of Book Club
You must cook from the book you have chosen.
This is utter genius. So, not only do you get your cookbook fix but you also have none of that guilt of buying a book and never actually making anything from it.
I made the Autumn Rosti from Valli’s book, my slightly adapted version of the recipe below.
Third Rule of Book Club
You must have evidence of cooking from the book.
This could be in photographic form or, as I and some of the others chose to do, you could bring evidence of your cooking to the meeting for the group to sample.
Best. Idea. Ever.
I took along my rosti. We also had an amazing Chicken Liver and Porcini Pate, a killer Carrot and Lentil Soup, a super tasty Lamb and Apricot Tagine with couscous and we ended the evening with a delicious Carrot Cake. The following pictures of the soup and the tagine are from Valli’s book. I did not take pictures of the food on the night because “Hey, I’ve just met you and this seems crazy but I’m going to take photos of your food and put them on the internet” is no song I want to be singing. However, in both instances, as with my rosti, the actual product looked a lot like the picture.
Working within the theme allows you to step out of your normal comfort zone and try something new and or different. And tasting other people’s goodies can also expand your horizons. I generally do not like cooked carrots and one of the worst soups I have ever eaten was full of bits of grated carrot. So I did not look twice at the Carrot and Lentil Soup recipe in Valli”s book. Not interested. Not even remotely. In fact, I could not turn the page fast enough.
Luckily for me, someone else did give it a second look.
DISH OF THE NIGHT. Who knew carrot soup could taste so good. How good? I’m making it as we speak. Damn it was good! Make it. Make it now! (Recipe below). You will not be disappointed. And even if you are? Firstly what is wrong with you? And second, get over it. By my reckoning this costs about $2.50 to make. At around 40 cents a serve even if you hate it, which I’m pretty sure you won’t, you’ve lost less than the cost of a cup of coffee.
Fourth Rule of Book Club
You must talk about your book.
This has to be the fourth pleasure of cooking – the buying, the preparing, the eating and finally, the talking. You got to speak about what you did and didn’t like about the book and learned about the good and bad of the books you didn’t buy as well. It’s really interesting to see what people do and don’t like. For instance, this was one of the other books we could choose from:
Let me tell you, this cover was controversial. People had opinions. I had opinions. I didn’t know I had opinions but it turned out I did. I quite like it but other people thought the dirty spoon was kind of gross.
The other great thing was that you got to share war stories. You know how sometimes you make something and despite following the recipe to the minutest degree it just doesn’t work? And you automatically assume it was something you did wrong? Well two people from the club made the exact same recipe and had the exact same problem with it. Coincidence? I think not.
It was awesome. I can’t wait for the next one, where the theme is Middle Eastern. I have chosen Persiana as my book and it looks amazing!!!!
Autumn Rosti with Smoked Salmon (adapated slightly from Slow by Valli Little)
1 sweet potato
1 large potato
1 small parsnip
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp chopped thyme leaves
1 egg, lightly beaten
20g unsalted butter
1 tbsp olive oil
80g creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp lemon zest
175g smoked salmon
2 tbsp chopped chives
Cut the vegetables in half and parboil in boiling water for 4 minutes. Drain and leave until cool enough to handle. Grate the vegetables on the coarse side of a grater into a large bowl and add the egg, thyme and smoked paprika. Season well and stir to combine.
Roll into 12 patties and chill for 15 minutes.
Place half the butter and 2 teaspoons of oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add half the patties and cook until golden and crispy (about 3 minutes each side).
Keep warm in a low oven while you repeat with the rest of the butter, oil and vegetable mixture.
Combine the creme fraiche with the lemon juice and some salt and pepper.
To serve, add a dollop of creme fraiche onto each rosti, top with some smoked salmon, then sprinkle with the lemon zest and chopped chives.
My favorite thing to eat is finger food. And it doesn’t have to be fancy – I’m just as happy with a mini-quiche or a party pie as with a teeny Peking duck pancake or a tempura prawn on a stick with a wasabi mayo.
If I was ever going to open a restaurant, all it would serve would be tiny bites. And champagne. Cocktails of course. But the entire menu would be finger food. It would be a cocktail party restaurant. Anyone wishing to fund this establishment…you know where to find me.
Finger food has been on my mind recently as I have been drooling over the contents of Lydia France’s Party Bites which is like setting a child loose in a sweet shop – I want that one! And that one! And I REALLY want that one!
I was also not the only one who thought this book was looked delicious. Oscar’s been suffering from a little bit of separation anxiety since I have gone back to work and I came home one day to find the book, which I had left on the couch was not exactly how I had left it….
I then had to go fess up to the library – the upside of which, after exchange of some financial compensation, the book, albeit slightly chewed now belongs to me!
There is a recipe in Party Bites which is a modern take on the old retro favourite of a cube of cheese on a stick with a bit of something. This is often to be had with pineapple in the fabulously kitschy Cheese and Pineapple Hedgehog:
Then there is the equally retro but less whimsical Aussie Staple of kabana and cheese….
No Australian barbeque of the 1970’s or 80’s would have been complete without a tray of this. Often, the kabana and cheese was topped with chunk of pineapple, a gaudily coloured cocktail onion or, if you were really classy, a stuffed olive.
The idea is actually sound. Who doesn’t love a meaty cheesy snack? And if topped with something sweet or sour or salty…well, so much the better. We here at Retro Food For Modern Times are not subscribers to the minimalist maxim that less is more. We believe that more is more. With a cherry on top!
The main problems with kabana and cheese is that kabana is kind of gross and although this combination might be tasty, it is drop dead boring. So, how do you give the ubiquitous kabana and cheese a modern twist whilst still retaining some of the kookiness of the cheese and pineapple hedgehog? Hello Lydia France’s Spanish Men…or should that be Hola los hombres españoles!
Here’s Lydia’s Version:
And here are mine…my Spanish men look a little drunk and definitely more chunkier. I think my Spanish men may have been hitting the Rioja a little too hard….
For all their wonkiness, I loved them. These were sooooo good! Serrano ham, where have you been all my life? If you weren’t so damn expensive I would be feasting on you non-stop.
The salty olive, the sweet quince paste, the meaty deliciousness of the serrano and the creaminess of the cheese combine to create a little piece of heaven on a stick!
Spanish Men I love you!
And you’re not bad either Mario Casas…
I’m going to be spending my week checking out Spanish cinema. Enjoy your week whatever you do!
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
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.