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!

3 thoughts on “Celery Octopus

  1. I just spent the last hour collapsing in laughter at this blog. It’s fantastic! I’ve always wondered how those awful recipes could ever result in real dishes and you’re doing it! Brilliant!

  2. I can remember some of these favorites, served by my mother and her friend when it was their turn to host “Parents Without Partners” (or PWP as it was affectionately called) No wonder they couldn’t find “partners.” Ahhh, such gastronomic delights from the culinary enlightened 70’s.

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