04.22.11

That '70s Food

It may have been a decade of fashion and music disasters but the ‘70s also had some seriously funky food. Lydia Brownlow rediscovers classics like Baked Alaska.

It’s time to dig out your bell bottoms and pull on your platform shoes as the '70s are back! It may not have been the most memorable decade, but in the food world it is strangely popular again as we are being urged to once more sample such culinary delights as Chicken Kiev, Beef Stroganoff, and Chili Con Carne. So brush down your sideburns and light up your lava lamps while you listen to a little Manhattan Transfer or Demis Roussos on your music center and puzzle over your Rubik’s Cube. You may want to skip the cheese and pineapple cubes on cocktail sticks and pass on the wines of the day, Mateus Rose, or Blue Nun, but please do sample these '70s delights all brought bang up to date to wow your guests!

All recipes serve 4

PRAWN COCKTAIL
This is also delicious if you replace the shrimp with smoked salmon or cooked crab.

1 cucumber
1 gelatin leaf (soaked) or 1 teaspoon powdered unflavored gelatin
1 lime
Salt and ground black pepper
½ cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons sour cream
¼ iceberg lettuce, shredded
1 pound medium cooked shrimp
Chopped chives

Peel and deseed the cucumber, juice it in a juicer. Place half of the juice in a small pot, bring to a boil, add the soaked gelatin and whisk until smooth. Then stir in the remaining cucumber juice, lime juice, and season with salt, ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Pour into four tall glasses and chill to set. In a bowl mix together the mayonnaise, ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce to make the cocktail sauce.

To serve, top each of the set jellies with a spoonful of the sour cream and some of the shredded lettuce. Place a spoonful of the cocktail sauce on the lettuce and some of the prawns. Finish with another spoonful of the sauce and a scattering of chives.

DUCK A L’ORANGE
This just needs some garlicky spinach and roasted celeriac to counterbalance the sweetness of the duck and sauce.

1 tablespoon corn syrup
2 fluid ounces wine vinegar
½ pint orange juice
2 sticks lemon grass
1 ½ pints chicken stock
2 teaspoons crushed coriander seeds
4 ounces kumquats, sliced
Salt and ground black pepper
4 duck breasts, about 2 pounds in total weight

Place the corn syrup in a large skillet and cook to a golden caramel. Add the vinegar and juice and bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Then add the lemon grass, stock, and coriander seeds, bring to a boil and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the sauce is reduced and syrupy. Pass through a fine sieve, stir in the sliced kumquats and season well.

Place the duck breasts on a baking tray and cook under the broiler for 5-10 minutes or until the flesh is just cooked through and the skin crispy. Slice the duck breasts and serve with the sauce and kumquats.

BAKED ALASKA
I made this using homemade cake and ice cream, but that makes for a very lengthy recipe! Instead use store-made cake and your favorite brand of ice cream to save time.

8 ounces rhubarb
7 ounces superfine sugar
1 vanilla pound cake
8 ounces raspberries
1 tub white chocolate ice cream
2 egg whites
2 ounces hazelnuts, chopped and toasted

Roughly chop the rhubarb and place in a small pot with 3 ounces of sugar and 4 tablespoons of water, simmer gently until the rhubarb is tender. Pass through a fine sieve, reserve the syrup and leave to cool. Slice the pound cake and stamp out four 2 ¾-inch circles and place on a nonstick cookie sheet. Top each cake circle with a handful of the raspberries and a scoop of the ice cream. Place the cookie sheet in the freezer while making the meringue. To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until stiff then fold in the remaining sugar and chopped toasted hazelnuts a spoonful at a time. Remove the cookie sheet from the freezer and cover each ice cream-topped cake with the meringue. Dust with powdered sugar and cook at 450 degrees for 3-4 minutes until the meringue is just colored. Serve the Baked Alaska immediately with the rhubarb syrup and extra raspberries.