I fear both that I am running out of month and Old Bay….I had two more posts planned and then, on the weekend I found another awesome Old Bay recipe…the Octoberfest may well spill into November! I’m totally ok with that. The Germans start their Octoberfest in September, why shouldn’t I end mine in November?
Have a great week. And remember, viva la vol au vent!
As much as I have loved Salad’s For All Seasons and there are many, many recipes still to cook from there I felt I was due for a change. There are only so many salads a girl can take.
A little dig through my pile of vintage cook books revealed this gem – The A-Z of Cooking from Octopus Books, 1976.
Just the cover sent my retro food antenna twitching that this was going to be gold. Because right from the get-go, there were some mad quirks. It’s called the A-Z of cooking. And yet….only Appetizers to Wine are listed. What, no zucchini, zabaglione or…wait for it, my new favourite food name….zuurkoolstamppot. ( I don’t care what’s in Z…trust me, we’re eating zuurkoolstampot that week!).
The inside cover of The A-Z of cooking tells me:
This is the compulsive “look up and learn’ book, where every cook, because of the original approach of the book, will find something new. More helpful than a standard cookery book, more enjoyable than a cookery encyclopedia, the book is packed with 190 recipes which have been specially grouped to give the ideas and situations when you are needing them”
Does anyone else think English may not have been that writer’s first language?
I’m not going to go into the special groupings yet. We’ll get to them in due course.
I did however just want to spend this post pointing out a few of the maddest bits of The A-Z of Cooking right from the get go.
Let’s start with page 13. I have never actually screamed with fright when viewing a retro food photo before.
Welcome To My Nightmare
Oh. My. God. This thing looks like it wants to kill you. Don’t be fooled by its supposedly fun little parsley toupé. This nasty little fucker has got a backbone of prawns and it wants you, and your family, dead. In the most painful way possible.
Mango Mousse…Or Is It?
Moving very swiftly away from the psycho-killer trout, we come to page 30 of The A-Z of cooking and a Mango Mousse.
Anyone care to address the elephant in the room?
Who knew that back in 1976 mangoes and passionfruit were actually the same thing?
Little known fact* for you all. It was only in 1977, as his first piece of business as newly elected President, that Jimmy Carter deemed that henceforth they would be distinct pieces of tropical fruit.
*I swear on a stack of wikipedias that this so-called fact is not something I just made up.
Good Health…Good Grief!!!
Who remembers the great cucumber shortage of 1976? No, me either but it is surely the only explanation for this picture of Burghul Salad on p 31. Even worse when you read the recipe and it says it feeds 8. I’m sure everyone enjoyed their half a piece of cucumber. I just hope that fisticuffs didn’t break out over which half of the family got a black olive.
And also….I hate to bring things down to the level of the toilet. But are little black ovoid shapes really the best garnish for a salad that already looks like kitty litter?
Expecting The Unexpected
I’ll leave you with possibly the worse recipe in the book. Filed under U for “Unexpected Guest” this Chilled Ten Minute Potato Soup sounds utterly revolting. Although, maybe there is a method to this madness. Maybe it’s actually a warning. Do not turn up unexpected to the anonymous writer’s house and want a meal. Because you’ll be given some disgusting concoction made from instant mash and dehydrated onions. And it will be cold to boot.
Kind of makes the kitty litter salad seem not so bad.
I think the A-Z of Cooking is going to be a hoot! Coming soon…Adventurous Appetizers!
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
No, it’s not my review of the new Dan Brown blockbuster, it’s bacon! Lovely, crispy, salty bacon wrapped around…stuff that isn’t bacon.
I love bacon even though it was my undoing. I was a very happy vegetarian for two years in high school. If my mother is reading this, right about now, she will be having a little snicker to herself and muttering “Huh…The only vegetarian in the world who didn’t eat vegetables.” And there is a grain of truth in that. I did spend two years eating not much more than tomato and cheese sandwiches and the occasional omelette.
Until I was brought down by bacon.
(Cue dramatic music…wow, this could be turning into a Dan Brown novel).
I used to have tennis lessons, very early, every Sunday morning. The family that lived next door to the tennis courts would, without fail, have a fry up for breakfast every week. The smell of bacon would drift out over the tennis court in a haze of mouth-watering deliciousness. “Eat me, eat me, ” it taunted.
Over weeks of this, bacon came to represent so much more than a tasty breakfast dish, it became a symbol of a better life. The kind of life where, on Sunday mornings, people had leisurely cooked breakfasts and listened to Mozart and spoke French whilst doing the Sunday crossword in less than twenty minutes. It represented a glamour and sophistication utterly removed from my reality of huffing and puffing around a glorified field, still half asleep, wearing a polyester track suit that did not so much keep the cold out as keep the sweat in and having someone repeatedly yelling at me to hit a damn ball over a stupid net. I began to yearn for bacon in the same way I yearned for Paris and champagne and pink Sobranie cigarettes in one of those long cigarette holders like Audrey Hepburn’s in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
I was a weird child.
I have no idea whether the neighbours were the glamorous types I imagined them to be or a bunch of suburban lard-arses who are now appearing on The Biggest Loser so that their fat-clogged arteries can be given a second lease of life. I suspect the latter. If so, can I suggest that the producers of the show make them play tennis. At seven. On a Sunday morning. In winter. I’ll be lurking somewhere near by with a portable grill and a couple of rashers. Let’s see how they like it.
Anyway, I lasted about three months before I caved. One cold wintry morning I came home from said lesson. Mum asked if I would like my tomato and cheese sandwich plain or toasted.
“I want bacon” I snapped in the snotty way only a 16-year-old can. Then I stomped upstairs to my room and listened to The Smiths until mum called me back downstairs for a plate of lovely, lovely life-affirming B & E.
History lesson over. And that’s about all the history I can give you because the reasons oysters are linked with angels, prunes with devils and either wrapped in bacon is termed “on horseback” are lost in time. Maybe that could be the subject of the next Dan Brown… an obscure culinary term could lead Robert Langdon on a search that reveals the long hidden conspiracy behind whether Elvis really did die on his toilet. (If you’re reading this Brown, back off now. I know what you’re like. The Fried-Peanut-Butter and Bacon-Sandwich Code is mine.)
Inspired by the Angels on Horseback recipe in The Party Cookbook I recently went on a bacon rampage and made three versions of this classic hors d’œuvre.
If you like it spicy, adding a dash of tabasco sauce to the Angels only makes them more delicious!
For Devils on Horseback, substitute Prunes for the Oysters above and leave out the paprika.
For Cheesy Devils, stuff the prunes with Goat’s Cheese before wrapping in the bacon.
Some people like to serve their Devils on Horseback with Mango Chutney. I’m not a big fan but I did have some Kashmiri Date Chutney in the fridge and this was quite nice as a dip for the Cheesy Devils.
These were all delicious and I would make them all again. In order my preference was Angels on Horseback, Cheesy Devils, then Devils on Horseback but I would not discount any of them.
I no longer desire the Sobranies, but Angels on Horseback with a Glass of champagne and the Sunday Cryptic crossword? C’est parfait!
I have a bone to pick with Louis Ferguson who wrote the Cocktail Party Section of the The Party Cookbook.
Let’s get one thing clear Louis. A cocktail party is called a cocktail party for one reason, and one reason only. And that is the presence of cocktails. So, by rights, given that your chapter contains absolutely no recipe for, or indeed barely a reference to, these alcoholic delights, it hardly warrants the title.
Whilst I’m on the subject – for any workplaces that happen to be reading? Wine and beer are not cocktails. Stop calling events where these beverages are served cocktail parties. It’s annoying and pretentious. Alternatively, keep the name and actually serve cocktails.
That I am even bothering to talking about Louis is because I wanted another chance to use this delight of 1970’s food photography.
Unfortunately, Louis lets us down here too. In addition to not having any cocktail recipes he also does not offer any details on how to construct the Zig Zag Pineapple, Prawn and Parsley Pot.
What we are given, ad nauseam are Louis’ instructions for canapés – some of which you can see in the photo.
Spread a slice of toast with softened cream cheese. Cover the entire surface with drained sweet corn kernels. Press well onto the cheese. Cut into diamond shapes and garnish with small diamonds of red capsicum.
Spread a slice of toast with softened cream cheese. Cover with finely chopped red and green capsicum. Cut into diamonds with a wet knife.
Cut buttered toast into rounds with a one inch cutter. Cut thin slices of salami the same size. Place onto croûtes and garnish with three peas held in place by a dab of French mustard.
Cut buttered toast into rounds with a one inch cutter. Cut thin slices of beetroot the same size. Place onto croutes and garnish with halved cocktail onions
I’m sensing some trends here.. Oh, ok, here we go, something different…
Cut buttered bread into small crescents. Cut crescents from slices of mortadella sausage and place them on the croûtes. Garnish with “zig zags” of creamed butter.
Crescents and zig zags. Just when you thought the canapé could not get any better Louis gives us crescents and zig zags. Genius.
However this genius was short-lived. I suspect that by the bottom of the second page of canapé suggestions, Louis was pretty much phoning it in vis a vis:
Spread a slice of toast with mustard butter. Cut into rectangles and cover with several thin slices of cooked frankfurter sausage,
There’s no love in that suggestion. Cold frankfurters on cold toast is not the offering of a man passionate about his craft. It’s the offering of a man who has lost the will to live.
Louis also suggests that once you have assembled your bread-in-a-shape + protein + garnish that you then coat the entire combination in either aspic or a mixture of gelatine and chicken stock. He doesn’t actually explain why. I suspect it has something to do with making his readers and their cocktail party guests as miserable and life-loathing as himself.
Apparently, no booze, cold frankfurters, peas cemented to salami with mustard and a beetroot and pickled onion combo weren’t bad enough. Chicken-flavoured gelatine also needed be added into the mix. Yecchh!
The lack of cocktails has given me a thirst, I’m off to hunt down a tipple (or two) and work on the party food for next week’s post.
Hint…it contains bacon. Lots and lots of lovely bacon.