Thursday, 30 April 2009

Waiter there is something in my retro 70’s Charlotte...

Interesting challenge – Cooksister’s blog. The popular food blog Cooksister published an interesting challenge... To time travel back to the 70’s and try out a retro 70’s dish which you remember. Boy did this challenge inspire me. I wanted to do a whole menu, but will not be able to accomplish that before the closing date on the 4th of May. What I did is do a bit of writing on what I can remember and some inspiration I’ve found doing informal research (browsing in a dusty bookstore really) Non internet research In addition to what I remember, I decided to do some research in a retro way – without the internet. I went to our local book exchange’s recipe book section for inspiration. I found a series of magazines called ‘Supercook’ which was published in the seventies and I include scans of two photos further in the post. What I, J. Hardspear de la Azotea remember, what I associate with the 70’s and SA steakhouses & restaurants What did we (in my case – white middle class Afrikaner family) eat in South Africa in the 70’s? I first went to school at the age of 7 in 1980. I was a very fussy eater as a pre-schooler (something like little Nigel Slater in his book ‘toast’). I remember that our menu’s consisted mostly of gekookte kos or boerekos which was cooked meals and consisted rys, vleis en aartappels, rice, meat and potatoes. Rice was served with the gravy of the mutton (baby sheep weren’t the thing back then), beef (roast silverside) or chicken. Potatoes were either peeled and boiled or peeled and cut into thick chips and cooked with the meat. The meat was very often a roast (how did my parents afford it then?) Veggies were sweet pumpkin with cinnamon, green beans cooked with diced potato and onion – slightly mashed, very sweet sweet potato, very sweet carrots, very sweet peas – overcooked cabbage, overcooked spinach or overcooked cauliflower. Quick and easy meals were chops baked in the oven – also served with the above veggies, fish & chips, spaghetti bolognaise, stew or curry and rice. Saturdays were hamburgers or braai. Dessert used to be baked brown pudding or jelly and custard. My Grandmother was fond of making sago pudding. Of the above I only ate roast chicken (breast without skin), peas, fish & chips, spaghetti, hamburgers, and braaivleis. If anything else was on the menu, I only had cooked rice. I remember that I liked Weetbix, Pro-Nutro, soft white bread (crust removed) with cheese spread. I loved Coke and Salt & Vinegar crisps and Nicknacks. I didn’t eat eggs. I didn’t drink milk and I still don’t, unless if it is with tonnes of chocolate Nesquick. I didn’t eat custard, baked pudding and definitely no sago. I didn’t eat boerewors. I loved eating stiff or phutu pap like our domestic – eating with your hands, making balls with the pap and dipping it into the tomato relish (sheshebo). I loved polony. I loved KFC then already. Though it was called Kentucky Fried Chicken and the menu was limited to pieces, mash & gravy, coleslaw – which I didn’t eat - and those funny little loaves. Today there is very little I don’t eat. I do not eat tripe or offal of any kind. I don’t like peas but I’ll eat it and the one time I tasted abalone I did not like it. I still love rice and any rice dish: Pilau, paella, pilaf, nasi goreng, jambalaya, risotto. I like basmati, Thai fragrant, brown, wild, long grain, short grain, sticky, loose and yes – good old Tastic, whatever type that might be. So what do I associate the 70’s with? I cannot think of anything more 70’s than a fondue. I know the origins of fondue in Switzerland are shrouded in age old myth and legend, but the fondue came to the pinnacle of its popularity in the 70’s. In SA the fondue bourguignonne (small beef fillet cubes cooked on spears in a metal fondue pot filled with oil) were just as if not more popular than the cheese fondue. For me as a child, there was nothing more fancy and impressive as a fondue. My mom would do a fondue for the family if she planned one for a dinner party in order to keep us kids satisfied not being able to attend the dinner party – the family one usually a few days before the dinner party. Flambéing things from steaks to puddings were all the rage during the 70’s. Steak Dianne (as remembered by Cooksister), Crepe Suzettes, flambéd cherries – and they came to prepare it at your table! What can be more impressive? Never again after the 70’s did people serve entire meals in aspic. All the salads were set in rings. Avocado ring, cucumber ring, mustard ring etc. My Grandmother’s standard starter was steamed and flaked haddock with whatnot else, set with gelatine in a square dish. She served small squares in shells on a bed of shredded lettuce and topped with a mayonnaise sauce and curled carrot shavings as garnish. Also ever popular was the salmon mousse set in a large fish mould and turned out on a bed of shredded lettuce. Mains meant Chaudfroid beef, -chicken or –venison, which is meat and elaborate garnish set in a glaze of sauce/gravy and aspic. For desert – strawberry jelly mixed with a can of evaporated milk and whisked with an electric mixer till frothy. It used to set to a weird frothy mousse-esque something. Snacks in the 70’s were prunes / olives / cocktail sausages wrapped and baked in bacon; bread spread with margarine coloured with food colouring, wrapped around viennas (wiener sausages) and sliced in rings; pieces of cheese, viennas and green / yellow / red cocktail onions and gherkins skewered onto toothpicks. You could spear basically anything onto a toothpick and stick it into those green blocks florists use wrapped in foil. Oh, and can you forget the stuffed boiled eggs? My favourite though was called Wolmuise, woolly mice if you must translate directly. It was made by cutting rounds with a cookie cutter from slices of soft white bread. The rounds of bread were spread with a mixture of margarine and marmite. The one side was stuck to a Bacon Kip cracker and the other dipped in powdered biltong. For very long SA restaurants were stuck in the 70’s and some still are. You’ll find the following on the menu: chicken liver pâté; prawn cocktail; melon balls with parma ham; garlic snails; Chicken Fricassee; Chateaubriand; Chicken Kiev; Roquefort Steak; Fillet of Sole Mornay; Peach Melba and Cherries Jubilee. But admit it – how lekker do you eat at such a restaurant. Pork chops with apple rings, chicken terrine, braaibroodjies, slaphakskeentjies, this-or-that-Au-Gratin, Quiche Lorraine, French onion soup, beef olives and horribly sweet punch at weddings made with cheap white wine, crushed pineapple and lemonade. Devilled meant adding a shitload of pepper. I do not remember freshly ground black pepper in the 70’s - it used to be fine white pepper and it made you sneeze. No Shell UltraCity or Engen OneStop next to the roads – on long road trips lunch was packed. Padkos consisted of hard boiled eggs, frikkadelle, biltong sarmies, chicken legs and tea in a flask. This I remember and associate with the 70’s. My Entry (with authentic 70's pic) The Seventiest of 70’s puddings to my mind must be a Raspberry Charlotte (Charlotte aux Framboises) Ingredients: 28-30 finger biscuits 115 g castor sugar 8 egg yolks 15 g gelatine dissolved in 2 tablespoons of water 750 g fresh raspberries, hulled, washed and drained 750 ml fresh cream stiffly whipped. Line the sides of a 2 litre mould with dampened waxed paper. Place a row of finger biscuits upright all around the inside of the mould. Do not line the bottom with biscuits. In a large mixing bowl beat the sugar into the egg yolks with a whisk. Continue beating until the mixture is pale yellow and will form a ribbon trail on itself when the whisk is lifted. Place the mixing bowl over a saucepan of just-simmering water and continue beating, over moderate heat, until the mixture is thick and hot. Remove the mixing bowl from the heat and stand it in a basin of cold water. Add the dissolved gelatine. Continue to beat the mixture until it is cold. Place the bowl in the refrigerator and leave it to chill for 30 minutes. Sieve 500 g of the berries into a small bowl and place the puree in the fridge to chill. With a metal spoon, fold the puree into the chilled egg yolk mixture and add 2 ½ cups of the cream and stir until well blended. Pour mixture in a lined mould and arrange the remaining sponge fingers over the top to completely cover the mould. Trim off any protruding sponge fingers. Cover the mould with waxed paper and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or overnight. When you are ready to serve the Charlotte, remove the paper from the top and run a knife around the edge of the mould. Place a serving dish over the mould and turn it upside down, giving a sharp shake. The Charlotte should slide out easily on to the dish. Decorate with the remaining berries and cream. Although it is a lot of trouble – it can be made the day before – leaving you more time with your guests.

6 comments:

elizabethnoire said...

I feel like the person in the restaurnant who ordered the dish that looks less delicious than everybody else's. Your charlotte looks fantastic. As soon as I have eight people for dinner again I am going to make it. I might have to have a Kook en Geniet retro dinner evening. Will post pics of the beetroot ring. Byt vas with the insurance thing. What a bore.

angel said...

heh heh... it looks delicious!

Jeanne said...

Oh wow - a total feast of 1970s food!! I think there are probably quite a few restaurants in PE still stuck in the 1970s ;-) Although I must admit to still having a fondness for cherries jubilee and crepes Suzette prepared tableside...

Have never encountered wolmuise, but an ex-boyfriend's mom used to make nibbles by cutting a sheet of puff pastry into little squares, sprinkling them liberally with Aromat and baking them - the height of sophistication. Not!

Thanks v much for contributing to the WTSIM event this month. The roundup featuring your post will go live tonight.

Paula Maack said...

Oh, that's just gorgeous!!

It's interesting how versions on the same theme play out on different continents. I hadn't heard of the Charlotte until your post, but I have seen several desserts from around the world with the same Bavarian Cream filling. All of them delicious.

Your Charlotte is by far the most decorative version I seen to date. What a perfect retro looking and sounding dish!

My Raspberry Bavarian Cream is like a simpler version of this with a few less calories, but we were clearly on the same wavelength. Yum!!!

Cheers,

~ Paula

Jeanne said...

The WTSIM retro classic round-up has now been posted! Come and take a look:
http://www.cooksister.com/2009/05/waiter-theres-something-in-my-retro-classic-the-roundup.html

Anonymous said...

Merci d'avoir un blog interessant