Celery Octopus

From The Better Hostess Series: Hors d’Oeuvres & Appetizers, 1978

There comes a point in everyone’s life where you wake up in the morning and think “Man, I could totally go a celery octopus today,” and today was that day for me.


This is a delightful canape to serve at summer buffet parties.

As luck would have it there was the perfect recipe in our old friend and retro food bible “Hor d’Oeuvres & Appetisers”.

Now, as you can see, the decorative celery in the middle is yellow and bendy, and this is surrounded by yellow bendy celery “sticks” filled with piped creamy stuff. Herein lay the first problem: the celery at Woollies was green and straight. We could have left it out in the sun for a few days, but in the end decided to just make a straighter and greener version, using as many of the yellow bendy bits as we could lay our hands on.

Making the cream stuffing was straightforward, and we approached the piping with gusto (along with heated arguments over who got to do the piping, as this is the best part of making retro food). The toughest part was actually getting celery to stand up in the middle, but with some cleverly hidden architectural toothpicks and judicious piping we managed it without resorting to glue. (This was vetoed as an option by the nervous taste testers. Man up you wimps).

It was at this point that we noticed the cucumber plate in the background of the picture. This wasn’t mentioned in the recipe, so I can only assume that it’s the lesser known “decorative cucumber” variety rather than an “eating cucumber”. To help with slicing this decoratively Anthony introduced Bridget to the mandoline (No, it’s not a fruit, why would you slice cucumber with a fruit? What do you mean a musical instrument? Watch your fingers it’s really sharp. Well, I told you so. Do you have another cucumber, this one’s got blood on it?).


Celery octopus and hardly-any-blood-on-it decorative cucumber

After covering up the blood and taking some photos then we sat down with the now familiar apprehension to taste it. This was where it got weird. It was actually ok. I mean I wouldn’t go so far as saying it was a delightful canapé or that I would voluntarily eat it if there were any other options but it didn’t instantly make me vomit or spit it out which is a massive improvement. I feel like my standards for food have lowered since starting this.

The verdict:

Alister – It’s ok, not as bad as the others have been.

Anthony – Sort of watery and creamy and crunchy. Might be alright without the celery.

Bridget – The smell of the sherry is offputting but I don’t mind it. Like cake icing on a celery stick.

Sarah – Creamy and crunchy at the same time, which makes it sound nicer than it is. I wouldn’t eat it again but I didn’t hate it.

And a bonus close up of the middle to show off the toothpicks and piping miracle:

celery-octopus-close-upNote: Emma was away while this was made, thanks to Bridget for stepping in!


Lazy Daisy Salad

From the Better Hostess Series Hors d’Oeuvres & Appetizers


Is it a cake? Is it a salad? Is it big pile of vegetables covered in craploads of mayonnaise? If you answered with the latter, congratulations. You’re getting the hang of this retro food thing.

The questions don’t stop there, however. What I would like to know is: why do so many retro recipes call for leftover vegetables? Who has leftover vegetables? Why would you keep leftover vegetables? They’re vegetables people. And considering they were probably using frozen or tinned kind, surely they’d only take a few minutes to make.

I guess you’d need them on the off chance someone might pop around and say: “Betty, you know, this Kiwi Café is simply divine! But do you know what I could really go for? Some Lazy Daisy Salad!”

“Well Dot, you’re in luck!” you could then reply. “I just happen to have all these leftover cooked vegetables in the fridge. Just give me a moment and I’ll whip one up”


To make a lazy daisy salad, you simply have to assemble your leftover vegetables and cover with “thick basic” mayonnaise.

But how much Mayonnaise?


Think we’re going need some more….


Surely not more!?


In the end it took 2 x 800g jars of mayonnaise to get it looking right, which is a whopping 11584 calories.  How the women of this era stayed so thin after eating that much mayonnaise is a complete and utter mystery.*


Although we can all agree it looked incredible, there were mixed feelings about Lazy Daisy. Alister didn’t even want to try it but figured if Finn could eat Banana Candle, then he would have to give it a go. Bridget was most disturbed by it and felt that it should only be fed to patients with no teeth. In the end, we all basically decided it tasted like mayonnaise with chunks in it.

“Lazy Daisy Salad for lazy days!” proclaims the recipe.  But one has to wonder, if you’re too lazy to do more than dump mayonnaise on top of leftovers, could you be bothered cutting egg whites into flower shapes or driving all over town to find real fresh daisies? I guess this is just another case for the unsolved retro food files.

*What am I saying? Do I have amnesia? Have I seriously already forgotten about Prawns in a Mould or Salmon Mousse? It’s a bloody miracle they all weren’t all bulimic! And no wonder they all chain smoked; I too would have done anything to disguise the unspeakable taste of my own cooking.