CLASSIC dinner party food from the 1970s is making a comeback, with demand surging for old favourites such as baked Alaska.
Online searches for beef stroganoff rose by 300 per cent this month compared to April, while the number of Waitrose customers looking for prawn cocktail recipes is up by a third.
Alex James gives his verdict on the ’70s faves that are proving popular today[/caption]
It’s a throwback to an era when cooking experts such as Delia Smith were helping the nation fall in love with cooking again.
Although the comforting familiarity of all these dishes is perhaps what appeals now, it is hard to overstate just how exotic they seemed in their heyday.
Yet dishes such as coronation chicken became unmentionable for years until some of them quietly tiptoed out of obscurity, finding their way back on to smarter menus ahead of the pandemic.
And with very good reason. When properly prepared, they are all delicious. Anyone who, like me, was a kid in the ’70s will always have room for another slice of Arctic roll.
But we’re only just starting to give the era of Black Forest gateau the credit that it deserves for transforming our approach to eating.
I reveal the increase in net searches for some of the retro meals making a return, and give my verdict on taste.
33% rise last month
TV chef Fanny Cradock established its popularity in the UK in the 1960s, but the appetizer has its roots in 19th century San Francisco[/caption]
THIS dish seems so perennially British that it is difficult to accept that it was actually invented across the pond.
While legendary TV chef Fanny Cradock established its popularity in the UK in the 1960s, the appetizer has its roots in 19th century San Francisco.
Legend has it that the sauce was first concocted when a gold miner bravely poured a mix of ketchup, horseradish, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper over an order of oysters and declared it a “cocktail”.
VERDICT: Yum! The Marie Rose sauce is what makes this really special. It is basically mayonnaise and ketchup mixed together – so simple, but it never fails.
FRENCH ONION SOUP
46% rise last month
Popular here in the 1960s but waned in recent years, possibly due to its waist-busting calorie content[/caption]
THE modern version of this soup originated in Paris in the 18th century, made from beef broth and caramelised onions.
It gained popularity here in the 1960s but waned in recent years, possibly due to its waist-busting calorie content.
VERDICT: Covered in gooey cheese, it’s one of the all-time greats. Hearty, warming and deep. Needs beef stock to give it some heft.
80% rise last month
Classic recipe with mustard and paprika[/caption]
DATING back to ancient Rome, these eggs were boiled, seasoned with spicy sauces and served at the start of meals.
In the late 19th century, mayonnaise was used to bind ground egg yolks, which leads to today’s classic recipe with mustard and paprika.
VERDICT: Triumph of simplicity with hard-boiled eggs. Use pickled eggs for more oomph – and even less washing-up.
300% rise last month
Basically a rebranded beef stew, but still extremely good[/caption]
ONE theory says it was created for an 1891 cooking contest by a French chef working for a wealthy Russian family.
Following custom, he named the prize-winner after his employer, Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov.
VERDICT: Basically a rebranded beef stew, but still extremely good. The essential splodge of soured cream at the end is the clincher.
100% rise last month
It’s the Queen’s go-to staple…and who can disagree with her?[/caption]
SALMON has been a staple part of the European diet for centuries, having been fished all over since caveman times.
This dish really took off in the Seventies and Eighties, where a whole poached salmon became the centrepiece for summer celebrations.
VERDICT: As anyone who has watched The Crown will know, it’s the Queen’s go-to staple. And who can disagree with her?
STRAWBERRY ARCTIC ROLL
137% rise last month
A sweet take on the beef Wellington[/caption]
THE dessert – a sponge-covered tube of vanilla ice-cream – was invented in the 1950s by Czechoslovakian immigrant Dr Ernest Velden.
During the 1980s more than 25 miles of Birds Eye’s Arctic roll were sold each month.
VERDICT: A sweet take on the beef Wellington. The textures of ice cream and sponge combine brilliantly. Serve it so cold that your whole head tingles.
200% rise last month
It’s hard and soft, freezing cold and boiling hot all at the same time[/caption]
THIS dinner party favourite was created by French chef Charles Ranhofer in New York.
It was said to have been served to celebrate the US buying Alaska in 1867.
VERDICT: The ultimate rock and roll dessert – all the good stuff you want with your after-dinner brandy. It’s hard and soft, freezing cold and boiling hot all at the same time. Oh, and it’s on fire. Boom.
21% rise last month
King, or Queen, of the entire buffet[/caption]
THIS curried concoction was created by renowned florist Constance Spry and cordon bleu chef Rosemary Hume to celebrate the Queen’s coronation in 1953.
Many now substitute turkey to use over the festive season.
VERDICT: King, or Queen, of the entire buffet. Who knew that mayo, mango chutney and raisins could make leftover chicken so delicious?
48% rise last month
A snazzy take on the good old sausage roll[/caption]
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THE hearty staple is said to have been created in celebration of the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, and his victory at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Gastropubs have introduced the ’70s classic to a new generation.
VERDICT: It is basically the very best cut of beef wrapped in pastry, a snazzy take on the good old sausage roll. And what could be finer than that?