Ham and Bananas Hollandaise

“Nice with a green salad for brunch or lunch”

There’s a reason why some flavour combinations which, at first glance, seem odd have survived the 1970’s and others died a timely, natural and not particularly sad death (devils on horseback being a perfect example of a plucky survivor – yum!).  Bananas, ham, mustard and hollandaise sauce is not a combination that quickly comes to mind and I am pretty sure I have never heard anyone say “I remember an amazing cooked banana and ham dish from my childhood that I MUST recreate”. We set out to find out why.

A few people had sent the idea to us (thank you) and we found the full recipe on a vintage food cards site. There it sat, in all its yellowy glory.

Credit: vintagerecipecards.com

The recipe was one of the easiest we have ever had to make with only five ingredients.  In keeping with the retro theme of including as many instant/ tinned ingredients as possible the hollandaise sauce specified was a packet mix. We then just needed bananas, ham, lemon juice and mustard.  The mustard was smeared on the ham slices.  The lemon juice was sprinkled on the bananas and then the mustardy ham was wrapped around the bananas.  The result was baked.  The hollandaise sauce was made and poured over and the end result was then baked again for 5 minutes.

I am a huge fan of unexpected fruit/ meat combinations and was really looking forward to this one.  The smell of cooking banana filled the house and with great anticipation we pulled it out, dressed it up with some retro accompaniments and served it up.

ham and banana

It didn’t look all that appetising.  Despite careful application of lemon juice (both the specified sprinkling AND brushing to ensure even coverage) some of the bananas looked a bit, well, crap. The rest of the bananas shone with a lemony gleam, the ham curled up slightly and the mustard lurked under the surface – unseen but prepared to torpedo your tastebuds.  We sliced it up and tucked in anyway.  

The result?  It wasn’t that bad. There was plenty left over but there were a few surprised noises of appreciation.  Probably the worst bit was when you got too much mustard and banana together in a mouthful but other than that it was… ok.  On this blog that’s a ringing endorsement.

Christmas pudding

If you close your eyes and imagine a Christmas pudding you probably think of warmth, brandy, plump sultanas peeking out from between folds of glistening pudding.  So now take the warmth and the glistening pudding and replace it with gelatinous wobbly jelly… and you have Christmas pudding, Bad Jelly style.

photo - recipe

The recipe is that you take a bunch of stuff that probably shouldn’t be cooked, then you cook it, then you mix it with some sherry and some gelatine and leave it to set.  The smell while it is setting is horrible.  It’s so hard to describe except to say it’s the smell of something that shouldn’t be cold, quietly being cold and resenting it.

“Decanting” was so hard and we ended up dropping it from a height on to a breadboard, so the photos below look slightly worse for wear.

photo 6

Yes, those are bananas

We looked at the bad jelly.  The bad jelly wobbled slightly and dared us to taste it.

photo 2 - slice of puddingWe tasted. It was bloody awful.

photo 3 - single slice

Almondine Avocado Meringue

“The subtle flavour of avocado seems to be retained quite well in cooked desserts…”

So the challenge for this post is going to be to write about a meringue with an oozy green centre and not use the word “snot”.  Here goes.

When we decided that it was time to finish up avocado month (because none of us could stand avocado anymore) then the obvious recipe to finish on was a dessert. And when it came to dessert we were spoilt for choice – starting our browsing at a lush green “Tropical Crème Caramel”, meandering past “Banavo crepes” and “Creamed Avocado Puffs” and finally settling on the Almondine Avocado Meringue.

Avo meringue recipe

What sold us on the meringue was that it seemed like a last ditch attempt on the part of the author to fill the dessert section.  You can imagine this poor woman desperately searching for an avocado recipe that’s not too obviously a prank on humanity and then just thinking “Fuck it, everyone likes meringue, just stick it in a meringue.”  I bet she was as sick of avocado as we are.

To make it you basically make two meringues (thanks Emma and Rose) and then put cream and avocado in the middle.  To make it real fancy then pipe a bit of chocolate and sprinkle some almonds on the top, like so:

Avo meringue

And in its green gooey goodness in a gratuitous close up:

Avo meringue scary close up

Then just find a willing victim and serve up a slice:

Avo meringue slice

After bracing ourselves for inevitable disappointment, the taste test bit of this was actually not too bad.  We did all find ourselves trying to scrape the avocado off the meringue and just eat meringue and cream, so the verdict (like most of the recipes in avocado “month”) is “Not bad, would have been better without the avocado.”

Sour Cream Avodamia Pie

The Complete Avocado Cookbook

“It may be difficult to imagine natural green desserts…”

True statement. It is difficult to imagine natural green desserts, even after you’ve seen the recipe and whipped up the green “Sour Cream Avodamia Pie”. In fact even when you are sitting in front of it willing yourself to taste it.

pie recipe

The pie started off well, a sugary, buttery crust packed with crushed macadamia nuts, and then went downhill from there.  The pie filling is set with gelatine and there is a very small window between the avocado remaining green and the pie being set.

Too soon and it’s a good green colour (tough to write this with a straight face) but the filling is sort of sloppy:

sloppy pie

But then if you wait a bit longer then it is set but goes a disconcerting browny green colour:

pie slice

It tasted ok, sort of like avocado mashed up with sugar and spooned in to a pie base.  Maybe it would be ok with some ice-cream, cream and no other options.

Avocado Meatza

Bon Appetit, June 1976

Easy, nutritious and attractive. 

I can’t tell you how excited I was to discover the Avocado Meatza.  This was everything that I had been hoping for in retro cooking – meat, cheese, bacon and a healthy dose of weird.

Meatza-recipe

The meatza was featured in a Bon Appetit article about the joys of cooking with convenience foods or, as Bon Appetit likes to call them, “those magic packets and cans“. And this is where the difficulty lay in making the meatza.  There were two key ingredients that (despite searching through and around all those ridiculous fresh vegetables) I couldn’t find.  One was instant minced onion and the other was condensed cheddar cheese soup.

A search online opened my eyes to an incredible injustice.  Campbells Cheddar Cheese Soup, while readily available in the US, hasn’t made it to little old Australia.  Muttering to myself and mentally writing letters to Campbells, we made it from scratch.  The result probably wasn’t as condensed as it could have been but it tasted ok and I thought bacon would probably float on it.  You know your cooking has taken strange and disconcerting path when you are judging your food by how well bacon will float.

So to make the meatza, make a little bed of baked meat, carefully pour in your cheese soup, float on the avocado and bacon, perch cherry tomatoes at a slightly rakish angle and then bake.

It didn’t turn out completely as planned.  The avocado went a bit brown, the bacon did sink a bit and the meat wasn’t completely cooked through.

Our meatza

Here’s the scary thing though.  It didn’t taste that bad (although Emma hated it).  Sort of like a McDonalds Cheese Burger on the way home after a big night. That said, I am pretty sure I wouldn’t make it again  (or if I did I would pull down the blinds, not tell anyone, gorge in meaty cheesy craziness and pretend it never happened).

Close up meatza

Meaty cheesy craziness close up

Date Avocado Tango

The Complete Avocado Cookbook

The Date Avocado Tango marks the start of Avocado month (which may take longer than a month, depends how long it takes to get through all these Avocado recipes). Probably the first thing you thought of when I mentioned avocado month is “that’s all well and good but I hope there’s some awesome avocado desserts, that’s where avocado really comes in to its own”.

And it’s exactly that question that led us straight to the dessert section of the Complete Avocado Cookbook. And then straight to the Date Avocado Tango.

“This dish is similar to a mousse, but with more goodies” 

DAT recipe

A short summary of Date Avocado Tango is dates, avocado, cream, honey and egg whites mixed together, whipped a bit and then put in a glass with cream on top.

DAT

At this stage in the bad jelly experiment we realised that tasting order is important in any dish served in a glass.  Unfortunately after I tasted then the super excited four year old snuck in, took a big spoonful and then spat it back in the glass.  No-one was that keen on tasting after that, even after I (rather kindly) spooned out the spit. So, it’s reliant on me to tell you that it tasted not unpleasant but just slightly odd.  There’s a reason why avocado and date is not a classic combination.

PS – Thank you to Lou for giving me “The Complete Avocado Cookbook”.  For the sake of our working relationship I will assume you were being nice.

PPS – To go completely off topic, after checking the google search terms that led people to this site, a quick shout out to the confused young man who searched for “how to pot ham in my penis” and arrived at this blog.  I am sure you didn’t find what you were looking for, here’s hoping one day someone will sit you down for a chat about what your penis is used for.

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.

celery-octopus-recipe

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

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!