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Retro Food For Modern Times – Liptauer: Lunch, Lunacy and Death By Cheese

Let’s face it, cottage cheese exists for one reason and one reason only.  I call it “The Posts” as in post-Christmas, post-New Year, post holidays, birthdays, Easter, you get my drift.   Pretty much post anything that is fun (i.e. involves large volumes of eating and drinking).  Mondays feature strongly.

The symptoms of The Posts are a glance in the mirror that is quickly averted, followed by a groan of “I really need to go on a diet”. The effect of The Posts is a lightening of the wallet as you race down to the supermarket and fill your trolley with carrots, celery and the aforementioned cottage cheese.  Which will be thrown into the rubbish about three months past its use by date.  Sometimes, it may have even been opened. It’s not so much the lack of taste it’s that curdy texture which is just…ewwww….And yet, I keep buying it.

Liptauer Dip
Liptauer Dip

I have, in the past, resorted to other methods of getting rid of The Posts. One such event saw me popping down to the local health food shop to pick up some magic thinness bullets a.k.a diet pills.  Of course, they were hidden so I had to ask the weightlifter type who was stacking shelves where I might find them.

He was one of those muscle-bound creatures with prominent veins, a shaved head and a tattoo on his neck.  I have nothing against tattoos in general.  I have one myself.  Neck tattoos, however, are generally skanky.  No one looks good with a neck tattoo.  Except maybe George Clooney in from Dusk til Dawn.  His was kind of hot.

Clooney

Most other people look like trailer trash or like they just got out of prison.

 “WHAT DO YOU WANT DIET PILLS FOR?” the possible ex-convict snarled back at me. And he didn’t ask it in a “Because you’re so svelte you don’t need them” tone either.  He started off belligerent.  And it went downhill from there.

Why do you think I want diet pills, idiot?  Because I read on the internet that if I shoved them up my arse the alien rectal probes couldn’t get me? What kind stupid question is that?  It’s the equivalent of asking an adolescent boy why he’s buying condoms.  There is pretty much only one reason.  To be asked to explain that reason out loud, in a crowded shop, is just humiliating.  Actually, I take that back.  It’s worse than questioning a boy buying condoms.  At least in that instance he could snap back “To fuck your mother.”  I had nothing.

Prisoner 845 had one volume.  Annoyingly loud.   “DIET PILLS DON”T WORK”

You really don’t understand the nature of retail do you Sunshine? It’s probably why you got sent to prison in the first place.  So, here’s how it should work:

  • I ask for diet pills.
  • You give them to me.
  • I give you money. (That bit’s important.  It’s probably the part you forgot last time)
  • I leave happy.
  • Your shop stays in business
Liptauer Lunch
Liptauer Lunch

YOU DONT NEED DIET PILLS. YOU NEED TO EXERCISE”

Really?  I never realised that steroids made you stupid as well as shrinking your penis.  If I was that way inclined I wouldn’t be here asking for diet pills would I?  I’d be out…skipping… or whatever it is that people do when they exercise.

I didn’t say that.

He was big. And mean looking.  And one of the veins in his neck was starting to throb alarmingly.  I started to back away from him because he was quite clearly suffering from some sort of ‘roid rage.  I didn‘t even understand why he was there.   Health food shops should be run by aging hippies not steroid abusing, serial killers.

Eventually I was backed into a shelf of herbal tea. He then leant over me and said in the most threatening voice I have ever heard. “YOU EAT DAIRY DON’T YOU?”

Yes I do and whilst we’re on the subject of dietary habits you should probably lay off the red meat.  There’s a box of Sleepytime Tea digging into my left shoulder.  Maybe you should try a cup.

I didn’t say that either.

Liptaur Ingredients

He then leant down so he was about a centimetre away from my face.  He was all red and his eyes were bulging out; he looked like he might be about to have some sort of apoplexy.  He was also one of those people who spit when they talk and he was so close it was getting all over my face which was….I give up…there are no words to describe how utterly, utterly repulsive that was.

And then, as I was trying to surreptitiously wipe my face he bellowed (and spat) at me:

“CHEESE… IS… DEATH.”

Nothing in my life had prepared me on how to deal with a spitting neck-tattooed lunatic in my face and screaming about how dairy products would kill me.  I was also slightly more concerned about my impending death at the hands of the psychopath in front of me than any damage a camembert could inflict.  So, I did what I usually do when I don’t know whether to shit or go blind.  I started to giggle.  Then I ran.  As fast as my chubby little legs could carry me.  All the way down the street to the next health food shop where a lovely aging hippy had absolutely no qualms about selling me some piece of crap, expensive diet pills that didn’t work.

Liptaur Recipe 001

An easier way to get rid of The Posts and to thus avoid health food shop sociopaths would be to make Mary Meredith’s recipe for Liptauer (or as she calls it Liptaur).

This was good.  Really good.  Both as a dip and as a healthy lunch.

However, I don’t understand the point of mixing cottage cheese and butter.  Next time I make it I’ll use a low-fat cream cheese instead.  This will also remove the cottage cheese curdiness which was the only downside of the recipe.

Mary Meredith mentions that the Liptauer is also really good with baked potatoes.  I wasn’t about to bake a potato as we were having bangers and mash for dinner.   Hang on…potato is potato right?  Should I?  Dare I?  I’ve put cheese, chives and mustard into mash before – maybe not all at the same time but they all worked.  Anchovies are mostly salt.  What could go wrong?

Liptaur Close Up

Yeah, ok, you can all stop facepalming.

The gherkin.  The gherkin could go wrong.  I know that….

Now.

I put it down to temporary insanity caused by finding a delicious use for cottage cheese.

Here is a picture of the Liptauer mash.  Don’t try this at home.  It was revolting.

Liptauer Mash
Liptauer Mash

So, I ask you.  Is cheese death?

And if so, outside of the Liptauer Mash debacle of 2013, could there be a better way to go?

Have a great week!
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Retro food For Modern Times – Yes, We Have No Bananas

Bananas are not my favourite fruit.  I put it down to an ill-advised visit to a…(please don’t let my mum be reading this)… “show” in Amsterdam when I was, younger and more prone to drunkenness peer pressure than I am now.  It took many a year before I could even look at a banana (or anyone dressed in a Batman costume) without an inward cringe and a slight sense of shame.

But, even a banana-phobe like me could not resist trying out the recipe for Rhubarb and Banana Pie in Good Cooking For Everyone.  Here is a sneak peek at how that turned out before we turn to some less appetising uses.

Rhubarb and Banana Pie
Rhubarb and Banana Pie

OMG that pie was good!!!

I’m conquering my fears in more ways than one this week – bananas and homemade pastry!  If only Christian Bale would drop by we could go for the hat trick. Anyway, I had a little flick through Good Cooking for Everyone whilst I was waiting for my pastry to  chill and there seemed to be a lot fewer recipes containing bananas than I remembered.

Here is what was listed:

Listed Banana Recipes
The Listed Banana Recipes…

However, my eagle eye soon discovered out the recipes Mary Meredith tried to hide.  So, today, allow me to present the Banana File of Shame (and a really, really, good pie recipe)!

Mary Meredith seems to have had quite the predilection for bananas and bacon as they feature in three recipes.  I had no idea this was a thing but Niki Sengit gives the combination a stamp of approval in her Flavour Thesaurus (one of my favourite food books) so I guess it must be.  Like Mary, Niki also gives a recipe for Bacon Wrapped Bananas.  However it is the cheese sauce in Mary Meredith’s recipe that moves it from what Niki calls “fun”  to what I call “Ewww”!

Flavour Thesaurus
Flavour Thesaurus

Bacon and Banana Corkscrews

Then there are Bacon, Kidney and Banana Kebabs.  I have never cooked with, or even knowingly eaten, kidneys.  And after reading the second sentence in this recipe which made me gag, it will probably stay that way!  The faint of stomach may want to skip recipe.

Bacon, Banana and Kidney Kebabs 001

Bacon, Banana and Kidney Kebabs
Kidney, Bacon and Banana Kebabs

There is also a sneaky use of bananas in the Sunrise Breakfast.  I initially thought the things on the serving platter with the tomatoes were sausages.  But who ever heard of people eating sausages for breakfast?  Crumbed bananas make far more sense.  If you’re insane.

Sunrise Breakfast
Sunrise Breakfast

Mind you, I’m obviously a bit slow because I made the same mistake with the Sunday Chicken which also features bananas cunningly disguised as sausages.

Sunday Chicken
Sunday Chicken

Another combination I would never have thought of but Niki assures me that breaded chicken with banana was served on the Titanic  and features in F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s novel Tender is the Night!  Mary Meredith also features chicken and bananas in her recipe for Stuffed Boned Chicken.

I would have included the pages on how to bone a chicken.  Unfortunately, the 13-year-old boy whose sense of humour I stole was snickering so hard at the phrase “boning a chicken” that I had to let it go.

Stuffed Boned Chicken
Stuffed Boned Chicken

Mary is also not afraid to take food from other climes and destroy them with the inappropriate inclusion of the banana.

A recipe called Flamenco Rice should invoke Spain. It should bring up images  of a glamorous Spanish woman, holding the edge of her brightly coloured ruffled dress and twirling, or clicking her castanets to the tune of a classical guitar.  Or, at the very least,  Paella.

Fried eggs and fried bananas  on a bed of rice served with tomato sauce is not flamenco.  It’s not even the Macarena.

flamenco 001

France also does not fair well.  Bananas as an accompaniment to Fondue?  No thanks.

Fabulous copper fondue pot though!

Fondue Bourguignonne
Fondue Bourguignonne

Finally, the hidden gem in the shape of a Rhubarb and Banana Pie.  This was awesome!

I made a few small changes to the recipe as given.  I wanted a really short, almost a shortbread, crust so I used the Almond Sweetcrust Pastry in Alan Campion and Michelle Curtis’ In The Kitchen instead of that suggested by Mary. If you are scared of large quantities of butter look away now.

Pastry ingredients
Pastry ingredients

I mastered the pastry only to discover my pie dish had disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle that hovers over my house.  But, in the spirit of keep calm and carry on, I crossed my fingers and rolled the pastry into a soufflé dish.

Souffle Dish Pie!
Souffle Dish Pie!
Rhubarb and Banana Pie Ingredients
Rhubarb and Banana Pie Ingredients

I added 1 teaspoon of Orange Flower Water into the mix before I loaded it into the Pie Crust.  I love the mix of rhubarb and orange!

Banana and Rhubarb Pie ingredients loaded into crust
Banana and Rhubarb Pie ingredients loaded into crust

The pie was fabulous, the flavours worked beautifully together and the pastry was light and crisp. I kept my rhubarb and my banana relatively chunky which made for an interesting mix – one mouthful would be heavily rhubarb in flavour, the next would be almost entirely banana.  If you wanted less sharply defined flavours, you could cook the rhubarb to soften it, then mash be bananas in.

I may be biased but I think mine looks pretty good, despite the use of a soufflé dish!!!

Mary's Rhubarb and Banana Pie
Mary’s Rhubarb and Banana Pie
My Rhubarb and Banana Pie
My Rhubarb and Banana Pie

Rhubarb and Banana Pie Recipe

Almond Sweetcrust Pastry

Slice of Rhubarb and Banana Pie
Slice of Rhubarb and Banana Pie

They say the best way to get rid of your phobias it to face them.  So, this week I’m going to be spending a lot of time looking at pictures of Christian Bale on the internet.

Bale /Batman
Bale /Batman

And no, it’s not pervy.  It’s therapy!

Enjoy whatever catches your eye this week.

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Retro Food For Modern Times: Good Cooking for (Almost) Everyone (1981)

Hello there, time to take a look into a new book.

Welcome to Mary Meredith’s Good Cooking for Everyone.

Good Cooking For Everyone by Mary Meredith 002

Let me just start with a little quibble.  When i think of 1981, I think of this:

1981’s finest.

And not so much this:

Mary Meredith 001

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a go at Mary here.  This book was first published in 1970 and this was a probably a perfectly acceptable photo back then.  Eleven years later, you’d think that maybe the publishers could have forked out for a new publicity photo.  Maybe one using that new technology of  colour.

The 500 “specially selected recipes” in this book do address a wide audience, if not exactly everyone.

In keeping with the Livvie theme above, there are sandwiches that would suit people watching their weight:

Lettuce and Lemon Sandwiches 001

And recipes for those who are most definitely not.

Mary calls this  “California Stuffed Forehock.” I prefer to think of it as “The Reason Elvis (Permanently) Left the Building”. The prunes in the recipe could explain why he was found on the toilet.

Californian Stuffed Forehock 001

Enough for 4 people or one bacon lovin’ popstar!

From The King, to proper royalty, Mary Meredith also provides us with a dainty dish to set before a king. Four and twenty blackbirds anyone?

Cutlet Pie

In fairness to Mary, it’s not actually blackbirds but a mix of lamb kidneys and cutlets.  In fairness to modern sensibility, I was staring at this picture wondering how to describe the sheer awfulness of a pie with bones in little bootees sticking out of it.  Mark looked at it over my shoulder. “You’re not making that are you?” he asked, sounding a little shaky.  I assured him I was not.  “Good” he said. “Because it looks fucking horrible.”  Description problem solved.

Then, there are recipes for people who want their cakes to look like footwear.  (Why? WHY???)

Shoe cake - who doesn't want to eat an old boot on their birthday!
Shoe cake – who doesn’t want to eat an old boot on their birthday!

And recipes for people who want to traumatise their children.  Never mind the chocolate-roll cats at the front, what are those weird shiny pink things with faces ? Apart from the stuff of nightmares?

Children's Party Food
Children’s Party Food

I did however manage to find one group of people for who Mary was not catering for.  I was searching the index of this book when, in the B’s,  I came across:

  • Baked Lemon Potatoes
  • Batch of scones

It’s an odd way of listing these items but there were corresponding entries under L, P and S so whilst kooky, they weren’t entirely random. (But again, maybe something that should have been corrected in the 1981 edition.)

I also noticed under M:

  • Making a jug of cocoa

Using this logic surely every recipe should be listed under M?

  • Making Lettuce and lemon sandwiches
  • Making Elvis Has Left The Building, etc.

And just to be really irritating there is no corresponding entry under C listing:

  • Cocoa, Making a jug of

I’m sorry cocoa drinkers of the world, I guess if you were of a logical mind in 1981 and wanted to find out how to make a jug of your favourite drink (without having to scan through 499 other recipes), you were S.O.L.

I’m spending the weekend with a jug of margaritas… it was going to be cocoa but the recipe was too damn hard to find!

So much for an alcohol free April!

Whatever your tipple, have a great week.

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Retro Food For Modern Times – Party Tips from 1971

Every good hostess knows that there’s more to throwing a good party than just great food.

You also need loads of booze.

No, seriously…you do.

But you also need to set your scene and today we’re going to at some suggestions on how to do just that from the authors of The Party Cookbook.

Let’s start with some dubious advice for hosting a dinner party given to us by Ted Moloney.

Dinner Party a la Ted Moloney.
Dinner Party a la Ted Moloney

“Paid casual help has become very expensive and few people can afford to employ more than one person.  Which should it be?… a waiter is the answer…find the right man and use him always.  Have him come early.  He will be able to give your glasses a last minute polish and set out the drinks for you…any party will run more smoothly when a man serves the drinks and waits on the table”.

Does anyone else find the sentence “Find the right man and use him alway” just a little bit smutty?  Particularly when followed by a sentence suggesting that you get him to come early?

I’m a little disappointed that Ted didn’t suggest hiring a buxom serving wench who may have been up for a bit of slap and tickle between courses whilst Yakety Sax played in the background.  (In my mind, the whole of the ’70’s was just one long episode of  Benny Hill). I’m also gobsmacked that people found it necessary to hire staff for a party for eight people!

Ted’s admiration of the male at the dinner table doesn’t extend to the host whom he seems to assume is some sort of simpleton.

“Give the man of the house his share of the spotlight.  If your first course is soup, let him serve it from a tureen at the table”.

“Give him a chafing dish and encourage him to take up table cooking. It is easy and fun”

He also provides a menu called the Man Takes Over which:

“Is an easy dinner menu…which any man can cope with successfully.”

Awww….now kiddies, can we spell patronising?  Is anyone else imagining the host as Cousin Ruprecht from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels?

How I imagine the host

Here is the photo of the “Man Takes Over”.

The Man takes over 001

Yep, it’s a cheeseboard.

And by the look of that Edam, maybe the man shouldn’t have taken over.  Did he go at that with a shovel?  No wonder they need someone to help with the drinks!

Moving from the bumbling to the utterly awesome, meet Greta Anne Teplitzky and her Summer Buffet Party.

Summer Buffet Dinner Party
Summer Buffet Dinner Party

How utterly amazing is this photo?  When I grow up, I want to be Greta Anne Tepliztky.  I want to live in her house with that awesome copper hood for the fireplace.  I want the colours on my kaftan to exactly match the colours in the flowers, the candles and the napery.  That kind of co-ordination doesn’t happen by accident!  Greta has planned this party to the nth degree and yet she looks cool, calm and collected.  Greta exudes a kind of European sophistication where you know that she will shortly be lighting a pink Sobranie and having a glass of champagne.  She’s not hovering over her food, nervously worrying that you won’t like it. Greta is content to sit back and allow her summer buffet party to speak for itself.  Greta is chilled out.  She’s zen.  I think I love her.

Just as Greta’s buffet says all the right things, the open house party says all the wrong things…

Open House Party
Open House Party

This table has a distinct lack of serving implements.  Bad enough picking up the bread and meat with your hands, what are you meant to do with the mustards and condiments? Stick your finger into the jars? And whilst we’re on that don’t leave your pickles in the jar they were bought in.  Do you want people to think you’re common?   Oh wow…I just channelled my mother.  However, not having serving implements isn’t just lazy, it’s dirty.  We’ve all heard about the peanuts in the bar containing nine types of pee.  This table may as well be lit with a neon sign that says “Hi folks, welcome to dysentery.”

And speaking of signs…If you are planning any sort of buffet extravaganza DO NOT EVER put up a blackboard that tells people to help themselves.  If your guests do not have sufficient wits about them to know that the whole idea of a buffet is for people to help themselves, you probably need a new set of friends.  Moreover, do not do this in faux olde worlde phrasing.  It’s not cute, it’s obnoxious.  And yes, I am perfectly aware I just used the same old-fangled wording I’m complaining about.  If you haven’t figured out by now that obnoxious is my stock in trade, welcome to Retro Food for Modern Times, I hope you’re enjoying your first visit, do come again.

Decorating your house for a party is also important. It not only provides something interesting for your guests to look at, it reflects your personality.  If you have no personality, one way in which you can still make your house interesting to guests is to copy interpret ideas from your favourite books and magazines.  Take this picture from The Party Cookbook, which is a sans chafing dish view of Ted Moloney’s dinner party. Ted was holding out on us because, this picture gives rise to the second best bit of decor in the entire book.

Decor
Decor

I love that vase with the twigs and the birds.

So much so that I made one myself!

The birds are Christmas decorations, the twigs came from the park next door and I had the vase.  Too easy!

I think this is very cute and if I had more space I would probably leave it in place permanently.  Unfortunately, wherever I put it, it’s in danger of taking someone’s eye out so it will shortly have to be dismantled.

Bird and Twig Vase
Bird and Twig Vase
Bird and Twig Vase 2
Bird and Twig Vase 2
Blue Bird
Blue Bird
Red Bird
Red Bird

I’ll be spending my week working on my craft skills by hammering a sheet of copper into a hood.  Have a great week whatever you do!

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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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