Lazy Daisy Salad

From the Better Hostess Series Hors d’Oeuvres & Appetizers

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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”

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

But how much Mayonnaise?

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Think we’re going need some more….

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Surely not more!?

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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.*

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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.

Ham Mousse

From the Better Hostess Series Hors d’Oeuvres & Appetizers

Ham Mousse has been a long time coming.

We were first drawn to this recipe a few months back when, on flicking through the book, my mother-in-law exclaimed: “But, that looks like a penis.” My mind was filled with questions – “Which bit looks like a penis? Which bit of a penis?” – none of which I asked because I wanted to be able to look my father-in-law in the face at some point in the future.

So Ham Mousse was put on the list, and then once Alice had had broken the “food that looks like a penis” barrier with Banana Candle, it moved to the top.

Ham Mousse called for one of the most unpleasant tasks thus far in our Bad Jelly adventures: pushing blended ham through a sieve.*  There wasn’t much more to it other than blending, sieving, mixing in gelatine and then popping in a mould to be “decanted” (this is our fancy term we have coined for getting stuff out of moulds).

We then needed to make the accompaniments, and were momentarily thrown by the fact there were no recipes provided for the pink and green piped eggs next to the ham mousse. But no matter. We decided we had enough Bad Jelly experience under our belts to guess the ingredients, and so mixed together mayonnaise, cream cheese, flour, water, cream and food colouring to create something that looked good even if it wasn’t edible**.  And if I do say so myself, we did a bloody good job of the piped eggs, ham and parsley stick things and decorative ham shapes.

Preparing the “decorations:

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Matching up to the picture:

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The final product:

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The final verdict? Actually not too bad. No-one went back for seconds but I didn’t spit it out which is a big step forward. It still tasted a bit like ham, and I could definitely imagine this being put in sandwiches for the 1970’s school lunchbox.

*Thanks to Bridget, who “volunteered” for this and had to fight off the cat (who was pretty sure that sieved ham mousse was for him) the entire time.

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Kirby the cat very intently keeping an eye on ham mousse

** Just like everything else on this “food blog”.

Banana Candle

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I tried to make something else.

In all honesty, I flipped through all my other books – past whipped spam and curried ham and dishes with alarm-bell words like “surprise” in the title – looking for something that was not so… R rated.

But like a moth to a glacé cherry flame, I could not resist the pull of the mighty Banana Candle.

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Of all the recipes in Be Bold with Bananas, I would suggest that this one is the boldest. It’s hard to put my finger on why exactly, but there’s just something about the way the mayonnaise drips down from the shiny cherry head that shocks me to the core. I mean it really looks a lot like a candle.

The version that sister Rosie and I put together did not look quite as much like a candle as the one in the book, sadly. I thought a lot about why this was, and decided what we should have done was squirt the mayo on to the tip, then let that melt, over time, down the sides of the banana to give it a life-like glisten.

Nevertheless, the effect was not completely lost:

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Everything we’ve blogged so far has been of questionable edibility, but Banana Candles stand alone (or rather with the help of two pineapple rings) in that they were never intended to be eaten. They were destined to be table centerpieces and, I imagine, surefire conversation-starters at dinner parties:

“Say, is that a banana candle I see on the table?”
“Sure is, Granny Ethel – bet it’s a while since you’ve seen one like that!”

Although the BC is not technically classed as a food, this is a food blog (just), and so a taste test was going to be necessary. There was no way in hell Rosie or I were getting anywhere near that thing, but after much coercing and bribery and eventually threats regarding the future of his own banana candle, Finn took a bite.

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Afterward he looked slightly ashamed, then confused, before eventually declaring that it tasted “a bit salty.”

Prawns in a Mould

From the Better Hostess Series Hors d’Oeuvres & Appetizers

Sarah and I have now tried to ‘cook’ (I use the word loosely) a few recipes from this book, and can safely conclude that it should be thrown back into the depths of hell whence it came. I would be intrigued to meet the author, the lovely Miss Elizabeth Price (should she even exist), because there are so, so many questions I would love to ask her. Above all else: “why?”

Prawns in a Mould. Oh Dear Lord, Prawns in a Mould. Where do we start?

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Let’s take a look at the ingredients shall we:

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Simple enough – just your everyday caramel/prawn/jelly combo, nothing too offensive there – now on to the recipe…

It’s safe to say it’s probably the easiest dish you could ever attempt (although I’m not sure why you would, after reading this), and you could probably substitute the prawns for any shellfish, meat, fruit or – let’s not forget what era we are in –  anything vaguely edible you find lying around your kitchen.

We read it several times thinking that surely there should be more steps. Weren’t we meant to sauté the prawns? Season the aspic? Or perhaps add some kind of flavouring other than fish stock?

Nope. That was definitely it.

Aesthetically stunning, it had been given every chance to succeed in life. The sounds of admiration were plentiful as we presented the dish to our loved ones, but the oooohs very quickly turned to arrrrghhhs as one by one, we tasted and fell down to Prawns in a Mould.

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The verdict:

Sarah: (After she gagged, ran to the laundry and spat all contents into the bin, slowly regained some colour and possibly consciousness, could only manage) oh……

Emma: After watching Sarah’s reaction and thinking she may have been “slightly overreacting”, I could only make it as far as the sink, where I ran cold water into my mouth for at least 15 minutes, trying to wash away the unspeakably horrendous taste.  Everything was wrong with it, but the fishy jelly (both texture and smell) was too much to bear. Even now, as I write this post, I have a look of disgust on my face, and  queasiness in my belly.*

Anthony: From the Kings of the Devil.

Alister: That’s exactly what I expect cat food to taste like.

Max: Even the prawn tasted funny. I may be turned off prawns for life.

Alex: I love it! Can I have it for dinner?! (Note: Alex is 8, and is currently undergoing tests for Ageusia).

*To be fair, we did not try Lizzy’s recommendation of eating it “with thinly sliced brown bread and butter”, because after the first bite we were Googling the fastest route to the Emergency Room to get our stomachs pumped. 

Note well, note very, very well: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME!

Jellied Gazpacho

From Australian Women’s Weekly Dinner Party Cookbook No 2, 1970’s

“Take a new look at entertaining and delight your friends with your new found cookery skills”

The Better Hostess Series: Hors d’Oeuvres & Appetisers

Enough said! The time was ripe to delight my friends with some gazpacho. And not just any old gazpacho… One that was strong but flexible, stable but giving, manly but just a little bit wobbly… That’s right, I’m talking about jellied gazpacho! And better still, I was going to take that sucker, turn it upside down and serve it in an avocado.

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So far I’ve  found it surprisingly hard to find the bog standard stuff that retro recipes call for.  Take tomatoes for example.  At Woolworths they had vine ripened tomatoes, truss tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes and lots of little tomato varieties, but there were none just labelled “plain”.  Eventually I settled for the optimistically-named “gourmet tomatoes”.

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10 maraschino cherries and a decoratively sliced gerkin to anyone who can explain why these are gourmet.

While making the gazpacho I couldn’t help but recall The Castle.

“Whatya call this love?”
“Gazpacho.”
“Yeah but it’s what you’ve done with it”
“Scooped it into an avocado.”

Ta da!

Looks like everybody’s kicked a goal!

Sadly, there were no Dale Kerrigans at the table. Here are the verdicts:

Bridget – not that bad, kind of like salsa. 2 and a half out of 5 radish flowers.

Al – yeah, like bad salsa. 1 out of 5 radish flowers.

Anthony – is it supposed to have that weird aftertaste? 1 out of 5 radish flowers.

Sarah – like cold jellied watery tomato soup. 2 out of 5 radish flowers.

Note: The weird thing  is that although no-one else went back for a second spoonful, the kids ate the rest of it. Clearly their standards have been lowered by all this retro food-testing.

Rainbow Seafood Casserole

Have you ever thought of setting noodles in a ring mould? Turning chicken into mousse? Putting potato chips atop a fish casserole?

No, nor have I. But some adventurous women did, and we have them to thank for the national treasure that is The New Zealand Radio and Television Cookbook, 1974.

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This delightful cookbook contains family favourites, sent in to Dame Alison Holst  by “farmers wives and city women” from all over the country.  It’s an eclectic collection to say the least. The Asian and Polynesian section is quite ahead of it’s time (think soy and pineapple-based dishes with names like “Ming Ling”), and then there’s lots of practical, child-friendly stuff like this:

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It’s a clever guise, see? Trick the kids into eating tinned fish swimming in powdered chicken soup layered with corn, peas and tomatoes by hiding it all under potato chips. It’s genius! We had to make it!

I don’t need to really describe the cooking process (layered, baked), so instead let’s talk about food styling in this book. It is amazing. I especially like the photographs at the beginning of each section, which illustrate very clearly what lies ahead:

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Dead fish = Seafood

I refrained from posting the “Poultry” photo on here, which is just hunks of raw chicken on a chopping board.

With the recipes pictures they really went to town, often creating themed still lifes with candles, velvet backdrops and again, the raw ingredients. Me and Olivia were short on casserole-related props, but we did our best to emulate the style:

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I’ll be honest and admit I was quite looking forward to eating this. It was dinnertime, I was hungry, and potato chips scattered in melted cheese is my idea of a good time. Besides, none of the ingredients were overly offensive by themselves… How bad could they be combined?

Pretty bad, it turned out. Here are the verdicts:

Alice: Wow. Much, much worse than I was anticipating. The fish is so fishy, like cat food, and instead of the creamy white sauce that this needs, there’s just this limp chicken soup liquid that does nothing except make the chips soggy. I was expecting a poor man’s fish pie, but it was more like a very depressed  man’s fish pie. Only someone who wears trackpants outside the house and has completely given up on life would enjoy this. That said, it’s better than the cucumber soup.

Olivia: *gagging noises* I can’t. I can’t eat this. *spits*

Even Finn,who once ate an entire bag of chrysalises, could not have more than a mouthful. “There’s no point”, he said. “There’s just nothing of value in there.”

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Anchovy Cream Stuffed Apricots

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

To be honest it’s hard to even write this post as it brings back such revolting memories, so I am approaching this as really more of a community service announcement to stop other unwitting cooks from going down the same path. (You’re welcome).

The recipe we picked was stuffed apricots, and this was selected on the basis of the picture and the excuse to buy pink food colouring rather than any in-depth analysis of the ingredients.

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No idea what the bowl of orange stuff in the background is, I can only assume it’s the liquefied souls of those stupid enough to be around when they made this up to photograph.

At the supermarket I had trouble with fresh apricots (what the hell, tinned will be fine) and anchovy essence.  I should have been warned off then and there, but instead after wandering around several shops, texting the NZ team for advice (thanks Alice for pointing out that anchovy is in fact already the essence of fish) and muttering, “what the f**k IS anchovy essence anyway?” under my breath several times, I decided to make some from scratch.

After mushing, cooking and straining (yes, straining with a sieve) the anchovies I had to stop for a break to escape the smell.  Here I made a  list of the top ten things there should not be an essence of:

Number 1: Anchovies

Numbers 2 – 10: Other anchovies.

The stench was horrendous, and the result was a small container full of a black, crumbly, foul smelling substance that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a Year 11 drugs education class.  Don’t try this at home. No, really.

Undaunted, we took a deep breath (regretted it) and mixed the anchovy essence with cream cheese, mayonnaise and pink food colouring.  Yeah, you read that right.

The end result looked like a cross between a Dr Seuss illustration and the sort of poo you can imagine coming from a very sick poodle (if you have a very good but misdirected imagination).

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Close up shot, warning you can’t un-see this.

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The verdict is below.  This was the point in this project where we decided that it was ok to give zero out of five when the smell and taste was so bad it outweighed the effort points.

Alister: Geez I’d love some salmon mousse about now.  0 out of 5 paprika sprinkles.

Anthony: That’s absolutely disgusting.  There is no way that can be right?  0 out of 5 paprika sprinkles.

Bridget: I’m not eating that.  0 out of 5 paprika sprinkles.

Sarah: This is hideous.  I feel like I should try and describe it for posterity given that surely it never was made and never will be made again.  So… imagine if you got cat food, mushed it up with old cheese, blended that with a mango smoothie and then strained it through a sock Meatloaf had worn consistently without washing for a six country concert tour and you would be getting close.  0 out of 5 paprika sprinkles. And that’s only because I can’t give a negative score.

Note: Emma was away for this, thanks to Bridget for stepping in!  I think in this case Emma should be thanking us all, dodged a bullet there.