You may, or may not, know that I do like a retro cookbook. I have a vast and fantastic collection thanks to my mum’s collection, which I have posted about previously:
Marvel at the wonder, the glory…and the interesting food photos, people.
There are a couple of twitter accounts which celebrate the wonder and the horror that was the retro cookbook, and regular stories about them (when my friends find these stories, they often tag me in them so I can add to my collection):
- 70s Dinner Party recalls the glory days when cookbooks were fucking horrorshows
- The 9 Worst Retro Foods The Holidays Have Ever Endured
- 70s dinner party food: If only we’d had Instagram back then
Again: marvel at the wonder and the horror. I love it AAAAAALLLLLLLL.
My aunt also has (or shall I say “had”) a glorious cookbook collection, one that I explored when I lived at her house for a while. I have dropped hints over the year that they would find a good home in my collection…
…years passed, and the time came for her to rationalise her house in preparation for a new house. Yes, dear reader, she handed her amazing glorious cook book collection onto me. All of the wonder, all of the horror, all mine. My precious.
It’s a wide ranging collection, from classic Australian cookbooks, to celebrity chefs of the time, to curated cordon bleu cookbooks and more. I’ve taken photos of some of the more amazing recipes and books in the collection.
And I do plan to make recipes from this collection, even if they won’t visually be presented in the same way…or will they? Would you mess with the presentation of the Black Forest Bavarois?
On the other hand, not so sure I will make a stuffed cabbage:
The books are a fantastic document of food presentation and techniques of the time, including artful platters of fish with grapes on top (Sole Veronique) or piping (Fish in Spinach Sauce):
Delia does Sole Veronique differently now. And these days Fish in Spinach sauce comes without the fancy piping and artfully placed toppings.
How could you not marvel at the glory of endives, radishes, and a starburst of white asparagus (probably canned white asparagus)? It is majestic:
And then there’s the wonder of some sort of spinach mould, filled with baby potatoes:
While we are still on the savouries, can I get a holler for the chicken and peanut butter stew…ye satay chicken from ye olden days:
And then there’s the variant on beef wellington, which involves stuffing a loin of lamb into a home-made loaf of brioche:
If we leave aside the savouries, there’s always the desserts. Like the Nectarine Cream Mousse, which is now a life goal:
Then a confection of evaporated milk, lemon jelly and glace cherries, served on a bed of EVEN MORE glace cherries:
While we’re on the subject of mousse, gin and lime mousse anyone?
Then from the Australian Women’s Weekly classics, there’s the children’s cake book. Featuring cakes in shapes and sizes to suit every child…as long as they still make the lollies and chocolates used for decoration. If not, find a suitable alternative or risk making a child cry on their birthday, and no one wants to do that, do they?
Cricket pitch (it’s summer in Australia after all):
Soccer pitch (also called football, if you’re not Australian):
Lest we forget, the covers and graphic design of these glorious tomes:
Another Australian Women’s Weekly classic, The Big Book Of Beautiful Biscuits:
I’ve now got two versions of this glorious Cordon Bleu cooking series, one from my mother and one from my aunt (one appears to be the abridged version):
And then lastly, the glorious recipe that started it all. Frosted Green Cheese Mould. This is the photo that was my epiphany about retro cookbooks and recipe. If you want to blame anything or anyone, blame Hudson and Halls and THIS:
If you’re getting a sense of deja vu, you’ve seen this shape earlier in this post: the spinach mould with baby potatoes. Apparently in the 80s everyone was big on the ring shape, with various fillings piled in artfully. And if that’s kale on the right, Hudson and Halls were well ahead of the kale trend of the 2010s. If it’s curly parsley…it’s bang on their era. Perhaps we could update the recipe with kale?
Let me introduce you to Hudson and Halls, TV chefs from New Zealand who made it big in the UK. FYI: They were actually a couple, and were known for the quote “are we gay – well we’re certainly merry”. Love ’em:
There’s a documentary about them: Hudson and Halls: A Love Story.