Retro Food For Modern Times – Singers and Swingers – Roberta Ashley (1967): Ladies Night

Last week I mentioned how much I loved the tv show Get Smart.  Thinking back, the main attraction probably wasn’t the humour, the wacky contraptions, the escapades or the resolution where good always triumphed over evil.  The main reason I loved this show was Agent 99, played by Barbara Feldon

She was my first inspirational role model.  She was smart, sassy, and gorgeous; she wore great clothes and had fabulous hair.  More importantly, not only was she  a woman forging a career  in a male dominated arena, but she would often get the better of the boys (and look glamorous as she did so).  Plus, she was a secret agent!  What a woman!  I so wanted to be her!

Who am I kidding – I still want to be her!

But, having been very disappointed in the recipe offerings from Don Adams, the worst of which is mentioned in the last post, I was a little wary about looking at the recipe from Barbara Feldon. 

Barbara Feldon's California Triumph Salad 001

No fear needed, this is a super salad recipe.  I have never understood why cauliflower isn’t used raw more often.  I think it has a lovely, nutty flavour.  I also love radishes and cucumber and the other ingredients in this salad.  I happened to have some celery and some cherry tomatoes in the fridge so I threw them into my mix but this would be delightful as is!  I also did not let the ingredients sit in the dressing for half an hour as suggested but dressed the salad and ate it immediately.  The addition of the egg is a nice touch and makes this more of a “meal” than a “side”.

California Triumph Salad Ingredients
California Triumph Salad Ingredients

If you are looking for a salad dressing to have with this, Sybil Burton Christopher’s Salad Dressing  from Singers and Swingers perfectly fits the bill.

She was also quite the female role model. Ms Ashley has this to say:

“When Richard Burton took up with Elizabeth Taylor, everyone felt sorry for Sybil.  But not for long.  She packed up and moved from England to Manhattan, where she was instantly one of the most popular girls in town.  She opened Arthur, a fabulously successful discotheque, and married the lead singer of group she booked into the club”

 Talk about living well being the best revenge!

I made a minor change to this recipe, as I am not a fan of raw garlic in a salad, so I smashed up a clove of garlic and let it sit in the other ingredients for about an hour so the flavour would infuse the mixture but I fished it out before I dressed the salad.

Sybil Burton Christopher's Salad Dressing 001

Sybil's Salad Dressing
Sybil’s Salad Dressing
Salad + Dessing=Delicious!
Salad + Dessing = Delicious!

Finally, after feeling very virtuous about eating the salad, you can splurge on dessert by making Barbra Streisand’s Instant Coffee Ice Cream.  A word of warning though, the mix tastes overly sweet before freezing.  This is lessened, once it is frozen but you might want to reduce the marshmallow content from the original recipe depending on your sensitivity to sweetness. 

Barbra Streisand's Coffee Ice Cream 001

The pretzels work really well, adding some crunch, some toastiness and some saltiness which further reduces the impact of the sugar.  Given the current predilection for salted everything, Babs may have been displaying some  culinary prescience in this combination!
Not only is she a singer, actor, film producer and director, she’s got some cooking nous as well!!! If I didn’t admire her so much, she’d be kind of irritating!

Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand's Instant Coffee Ice Cream
Barbra Streisand’s Instant Coffee Ice Cream

So let’s hear it for this trio of  fabulous women of 1967, not only for their fabulous food offerings but for acting as role models to generations of young women who have been inspired to forge their own careers as hard-working, independent, successful and glamorous women!

I’ll leave you today with a little gem I found on the youttubes of Barbara Feldon singing a song called “99”.  I have been listening to it obsessively all week.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find an original video – everything I found was stills or clips from the show.  This does have a good selection of great hair and clothes and also some goofy dancing from my favourite ever Get Smart Episode, the Groovy Guru.

Enjoy!

[youtube=http://youtu.be/NDhhdG-nslg]

Signature x

Retro Food For Modern Times: Singers and Swingers – Roberta Ashley (1967) – Sorry About That, Chief!

Last week  I mentioned that there was surprisingly little to mock in Roberta Ashley’s Singers and Swingers.  Never fear though, little doesn’t mean nothing and today, I’m turning my unflinching gaze to a few of the less palatable gems contained therein.

I have a strange relationship with cold soup.  Until 5 years ago, I can honestly say, had never eaten it, and had no intention of doing so. I started to come round after a trip to Barcelona in 2008 and a bowl of the most amazing gazpacho I have ever eaten.  I have become a fan of this delicious Spanish concoction, to the point of whipping up a batch or two of my own...

Homemade Gazpacho...I can do cold Soup
Homemade Gazpacho…I can do cold soup

So, whilst reconciled to gazpacho, cold creamy soups and I aren’t even friends on Facebook.  You know how sometimes, if you eat something creamy you get a film in your mouth from the fat in the cream? That’s the thought that puts me off.   Well, it’s that thought that puts me off  a cold soup made from the freshest cream and vegetables.  I have seen what cold canned soup looks like and believe me, it’s not going anywhere near my mouth!  Gross!  So, this recipe from Leonard Nimoy is designed to push all the wrong buttons for me.  As far as I’m concerned this one can go back to Vulcan, Spock!

Leonard Nimoy's Cold Soup..not for me!
Leonard Nimoy’s Cold Soup..is not for me!

The next recipe designed to have me gritting my teeth and muttering swear words under my breath is called Homemade Canned Beans. As mentioned in the last post, I am not averse to a can of beans.  Beans on toast is one of my go to meals when I want something quick and healthy after a trip to the gym or a lazy breakfast.  My issue with most of the popular brands of beans on the market is that the sauce can be overly sweet.  So I was very excited to read the name of this recipe.  Imagine if I could make my own beans that tasted like canned beans but with less sugar?  Happy days….

Unfortunately, as I read on, it turned out that the universe had another fate in store for me

 

Homemade Canned Beans?
Homemade Canned Beans?

Remember in the wacky races when Muttley used to mutter under his breath?  I did a lot of that whilst reading this recipe.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/gf_IH3rj0hY]

If you want a better recipe for beans, check out Erica over at Retro Recipe Attempts.  If, like me, you have an aversion to an overly sweet sauce for your beans, I think the mustard and tabasco in Erica’s recipe would cut through that  sweetness.

http://retrorecipe.wordpress.com/2013/01/28/zingy-baked-beans/

Next, on my hit list,  we have Southern Fried Chicken À La Mrs Bobby Goldsboro. Personally, I would call this heart attack on a plate but Mr Bobby Goldsboro informs us that:

“I like it because I like Southern Cooking, but another reason is that fried foods are fattening and I am always trying to put on some weight”. 

Mr Bobby Goldsboro needs a good hard slap if you ask me. The man must have had the metabolism of a hummingbird!* Just looking at a plate of something that contains bacon fat, oil and cream and is served with mashed potatoes or biscuits, butter and honey would be enough to derail my weight loss efforts for a year!

Southern Fried Chicken A La Mrs Bobby Goldsboro
Southern Fried Chicken A La Mrs Bobby Goldsboro

As a child, one of my favourite tv shows was Get Smart.  I  would race home from school every day to see which episode was on, I swear I have seen every episode a dozen or more times and, if push came to shove, I could probably recite some of them almost verbatim.   

The hero of the show was the bumbling, wise-cracking secret agent called Maxwell Smart, played by Don Adams.   Given my love for the show, I was delighted to see that Singers and Swingers contained recipes by both Don Adams and Barbara Feldon who played Max’s colleague (and eventually his wife), Agent 99.  More about Barbara Feldon next time but I desperately wanted their recipes to be good.  Hers is great.  However, in the words of Maxwell Smart, I believe this recipe “missed by that much”.  If by “that much” you mean the distance from here to the moon.  I can’t even think what this mix would begin to taste like…if anyone is brave enough to make it, please let me know!

don adams peanut butter cheese spread 001

I’ll leave you to  ponder the utter weirdness of the Don Adams recipe.  I’m off to search for episodes of Get Smart….

Enjoy your week!

Signature x

*Hummingbirds have an incredibly fast metabolism. At any given moment they are only hours away from starving to death.  

Retro Food For Modern Times: Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen – Roberta Ashley (1967) – Franks, Mince and A Saucer of Milk!

Whilst I love all old cookbooks, there is a special place in my heart for the celebrity cookbook and finding Roberta Ashley’s “Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen” was like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

Subtitled

“The Scene Makers Cookbook Dozens of Nutty Turned On Easy-To-Prepare Recipes From The Grooviest Gourmets Happening” 

Singers and Swingers is a collection of recipes from The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Leonard Nimoy, Barbra Streisand, Liza Minelli and other icons of the ’60’s  “that will keep you grooving with the greatest.”

Life really does not get much better than this!

Front Cover - Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen
Front Cover – Singers and Swingers in the Kitchen
Back Cover - Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen
Back Cover – Singers and Swingers In The Kitchen

As teenage columnist for This Week Magazine, Ms Ashley often asked bright young things of the day what their favourite foods were.  She advises that many of these dishes were:

“Worked out while they were quietly starving or working in a “pass-the-basket” coffee-house.  That means that most of these dishes can be cooked on allowance type money…or very little bread as they say”

Which just makes me love it more…star studded AND thrifty is one of my favourite combinations!

And for those readers who may be new to the kitchen, or hesitant cooks, Ms Ashley offers the following words of encouragement.

“Give it a try, the recipes are mostly easy ones and remember a year ago, Barbra Streisand couldn’t cook at all”

Adorable!

The recipes in the book are mostly solid, with only the occasional piece of  WTFery  thrown in.  If there is a real problem with the book it is that there is a certain degree of repetition in the recipes.  Of the 68 main recipes in the book, minced meat features in 11.  These include:

3 recipes for Chilli:

  • Chili by Paul Revere
  • Chili Esperanza by The Mamas and The Papas.  They liked to eat this with scrambled eggs…the thought of that makes me gag a little. (Then again, maybe they should have stuck to softer types of foods like chili and scrambled eggs and avoided the types of food that can get stuck in your throat like sandwiches.)
  • Chili for Chums.  This is not name checked but to my mind is actually the best of the lot.

Paul Revere was the lead singer of a band called Paul Revere and the Raiders who liked to dress up in period costume and presumably precede all of their gigs by repeatedly shouting “The British are coming, the British are coming”.

Paul Revere 1967
Paul Revere 1967

Ah, those crazy days of the ’60’s.  I bet he feels a little silly about wearing that costume now….

Then again, maybe not.

Paul Revere 2007
Paul Revere 2007

Returning to the prevalence of ground mince, there are also 3 recipes for Sloppy Joe Type Creations:

  • Sloppy Joe A La Sam The Sham
  • A Jones Delight by Jack Jones
  • Snick Snack Hamburgers by Lesly Gore. Lesly Gore was famous for her song “It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To”. She must have self catered because these sound repulsive.
Lesly Gore's Snick Snack Hamburgers
Lesly Gore’s Snick Snack Hamburgers

There is an equally revolting concoction called Robb Stew made by one of the three Robb brothers from the band called….you guessed it…The Robbs…They appeared to operate on the principle that if you can’t be original, be consistently unoriginal.   Surprisingly, all members of this band were not wiped out by food poisoning in 1968 but 3 of them went on to have illustrious careers in the music industry by founding Robb…I mean…Cherokee Studios in Los Angeles.  This studio has produced artists such as The Gogo’s, Aerosmith, Lenny Kravitz, Devo, Public Enemy and Jane’s Addiction to name but a few!  Quite possibly this is truly a case of what doesn’t kill you making you stronger.

Robb Stew
Robb Stew

There are also 4 instances of minced meat with pasta:

  • Carol Lawrence’s Lasagne
  • Noel Harrison’s Bolognese Sauce
  • Paul Anka’s Party Spaghetti
  • The Buckinghams‘ Spaghetti and Meatballs

Whilst their recipe does sound delicious, some of those Buckinghams look a little druggy around the eyes if you ask me!

The Buckinghams
The Buckinghams

Not like these clean living young men from groovy London town!

Rolling Stones 1967
Rolling Stones 1967

Wow! Look at the young Keith Richards in 1967 (middle row on the right).  And look at him now:

Keith Richards 2012
Keith Richards 2012

If you ever needed a reason not to take a bucket load of drugs look no further!

 The Stone’s recipe is one of the six that contain frankfurters as one of the key ingredients.

  • Chili Dog Chili by the aforementioned Paul Revere.  That man sure did love his chilli!
  • Golden Joys
  • Hurry up Casserole
  • Frankfurter Casserole
  • Hot Dogs on The Rocks by the Rolling Stones
  • Frank Pops by The Cyrkle.  I have no idea who The Cyrkle were.  And  if this recipe is anything to go by, I’m not surprised that they have faded into obscurity. Placing battered franks on a stick doesn’t make them more fun, it only adds insult to injury!
The Cyrkle's Frank Pops
The Cyrkle’s Frank Pops

Mind you, the recipe from The Rolling Stones is not up to much either…although…with the right sausage, a proper gourmet one, and proper mash, this could be a perfectly acceptable meal!  It can, can’t it?  Or have I just been married to an Englishman for too many years?

Hot Dogs on The Rocks
Hot Dogs on The Rocks

I love a recipe that comes with its own warning! In case you were wondering

“Mick Jagger invented the potatoes and franks; Charlie Watts added the beans”

There is a tone to some of the entries that suggests there may not have been much love lost between Ms Ashley and some of the celebrities. Here is Ashley’s introduction to Liza Minelli’s recipe for Crepes Suzette:

“Liza Minelli is a little girl who’s come a long way despite a terrible handicap”

The part of me that craves gossip and scandal read on with an overly avid “Wow, really?  What’s she got?”

The so-called terrible handicap?

Famous parents.

Unless they had different meanings for both the word “terrible” and the word “handicap” back in the late ‘60’s that is a nasty thing to say about someone! Poor old Liza doesn’t even get a proper photo, just a teeny thing on the cover!

Carol Lawrence also gets short shrift (even if she does get a very glamorous photo).

Carol Lawrence 001

We are told that Carol is:

“Making a rather nice name for herself in Hollywood; not as a star but as a lasagne-maker”

Ouch! 

Not really how a Tony Award Winning Actor would want to be known!  Mind you, she did go on to write a best-selling cookbook about Italian Cooking so maybe Ashley’s comment is more prescient than catty. 

 You may have noticed whilst reading this that there have been no pictures of food.  That’s because the book doesn’t contain any. This, as with most celebrity cookbooks, is long on celebrity, short on food.  That some of the recipes sound super is a bonus.  That some of them sound absolutely vile will be the subject of the next post.

In the meantime, put some flowers in your hair, light some incense and groove out to some fabulous sounds of the sixties. It’s what I’ll be doing!

Signature x

Retro Food for Modern Times: Everything Old Is New Again

So Retro Food is the new trend for 2013….I always knew I was ahead of the curve 😉

http://uk.lifestyle.yahoo.com/retro-food-comeback-ocado-artic-roll-prawn-cocktail-heston-173344802.html

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2260358/Chicken-Kiev-followed-Arctic-roll-glass-Soda-Stream-How-sales-1970s-food-soared-thanks-nostalgia-things-retro.html

What a perfect retro meal this would make:

Prawn Cocktail
Prawn Cocktail
Chicken Kiev
Chicken Kiev
Arctic Roll
Arctic Roll

All washed down with some delicious Sodastream:

SodaStream

You know, they can bring back as much food as they like…but those hairstyles?  They need to stayed buried in the past!

Signature x

Strawberry Fields Forever Part 2 aka Strawberries Gangland Style

I have some weird little strips of paper in my “recipes to be made” folder.  They are not so much recipes as hints, maybe even whispers of things to make.  I have no idea where they came from – they are numbered and printed so I presume from a list of some sort.   Anyway, each of these is an absolute gem, if a little vague.

Take for instance, strip #58.

“Hull and quarter some strawberries; at the last minute, combine with a little chopped tarragon, black pepper and balsamic vinegar.  Goat’s cheese is good too”

That’s all folks.

I had strawberries galore (huh, sounds a bit like the name of a Bond girl), I had tarragon, black pepper and balsamic…

Ingredients for Strawberry Tarragon Salad
Ingredients for Strawberry Tarragon Salad

I know it’s only just over a week into the year but I strongly believe this salad will be one of my top ten finds of the year.

This was soooooo good.  The sweet strawberries, the aniseedy tarragon, the sticky sweet sour balsamic and the warming zing of pepper are…mindblowingly awesome!

I neither hulled nor quartered my strawberries…who can be bothered following so many steps in a recipe…

Strawberry, Tarragon, Black Pepper, Balsamic Salad
Strawberry, Tarragon, Black Pepper, Balsamic Salad

The recipe suggests that goat’s cheese would not go astray here.  I didn’t have any (why would I? I didn’t have sugar.  Why on earth would I have goat’s cheese?) but I mixed up some sour cream and mascarpone and dobbed that on and it was delicious.  Goat’s cheese would be amazing.  I also would like to try blue cheese.

Strawberry Tarragon Salad with Mascapone

The vinegar that the strawberries soaked in went all thick and syrupy and took on a pinkish tinge from the strawberry juice.  I siphoned this back into a small bottle for later use as it seemed too good to throw out.

Strawberry Balsamic
Strawberry Balsamic

And speaking of awesome, my White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo for Mark’s birthday?  Amazing!!! Another good contender for top ten for the year.  I hope I haven’t peaked early!

I used this recipe from a Delicious Magazine:

http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/6801/strawberry+cheesecake+semifreddo

with the addition of White Chocolate into both the base and the filling.

Why white chocolate?

I was leafing through one of my favourite food books, Niki Sengit’s Flavour Thesaurus to see if she had anything to say about strawberries and tarragon (she doesn’t, although there is a section on strawberries and anise).  This book is a must have for any serious foodie and even the not so serious ones as some of the entires are hilarious!

Flavour Thesaurus
Flavour Thesaurus

Niki has the following to say about strawberries and white chocolate:

“In fancy chocolate shops, I sometimes see slabs of white chocolate spattered with clots of freeze dried strawberry, like stucco after a shoot out.  White chocolate makes for a better combination with strawberry than milk or dark because, like strawberry and gangland comparisons, it’s a little cheesy”

I couldn’t resist.  So I bought a family block of white chocolate and melted half into the biscuit base and half into the filling.  It was sensational.  And just right for a birthday celebration on a hot night.  We had dinner at our favourite Thai restaurant then came home for some bubbly and the semifreddo.  It was a delightful way to end a lovely day!

And in honour of Niki, and with a slight nod to the K-pops, but mostly because  White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo is too much of a mouthful, from now on, in this house at least, it will be known as Semifreddo Gangland Style.

White Chocolate Strawberry Cheesecake Semifreddo aka Semifreddo Gangland Style
Happy birthday darling!
Signature x
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