We went all out for last Saturday night's cocktail party. The Bloke assembled an amazing outdoor bar with lots of fake flowers and vines, flaming torches, and swivelling barstools. He even provided leis for everyone, and the first couple of rounds of drinks. Later on, Master Mixologist Len presided over the bar. I recall a planter's punch, and a lime rickey, and a margarita, and several Campari based drinks...
And when you're going retro, you've got to have retro food. I went for the classic cheese & pickled onion hedgehog; egg & caviar dip; and devils on horseback. With Jatz for the dips, of course. We also had melon balls in a basket, and french onion dip, and coconut cherry cupcakes, and mini sausage rolls (home made), and lots more. All good for soaking up the cocktails. I made up a smoky variant on the devils on horseback, which people seemed to like quite a lot. But man, this is not something you want to do too often! See the recipe for more detail...
Here the divine Miss Em models with a hedgehog and one half serve of the egg dip. I'm sure you don't need a hedgehog recipe - put cheese cubes on sticks with luridly coloured pickled onions; shove into half grapefruit. It may look tacky, but it gets eaten - who doesn't love a bit of cheese and pickle?
Recipe 1: Egg & Caviar Dip
10 free range eggs
250ml sour cream
2 tsp finely chopped fresh dill
1 tblsp finely chopped green spring onion
1 small jar black caviar (lumpfish)
1 small jar red caviar (salmon or lumpfish)
additional finely chopped herbs to garnish
Hardboil the eggs.
Peel and cool.
Mash eggs with herbs and sour cream.
Put into a bowl, and decorate the top with the caviar and herbs.
Serve with Jatz biscuits to dip.
Notes: To hardboil eggs straight from the fridge, put them in the saucepan and fill with hot tap water. Leave for 5 minutes to warm up. Then drain, refresh with more hot tap water, and put on the stove. Leave to simmer for ten minutes. Bash them around under cold water to break the shells thoroughly, and then you can leave them to peel later if you like. If you put cold eggs in boiling water, they crack easily. If you leave boiled eggs sitting around hot for too long, then they go grey around the yolk.
I actually made this with light sour cream and it didn't work quite as well as I'd intended. It was too sloppy. Oh well. I sat the leftovers in a sieve for a couple of hours and got some very nice egg salad for my lunch.
Recipe 2: Smoky Devils on Horseback
500g large pitted prunes
1 kg bacon rashers
250g smooth smoked cheese
packet of melba toasts
1/2 cup red wine
Pour the red wine over the prunes and leave to soften for an hour or two, stirring occasionally.
Cut the smoked cheese into short straws, about 1cm long and 3mm in other dimensions.
Stuff each prune with a piece of cheese.
Remove the bacon rind and eyes. Use short lengths of the streaky bacon to wrap each prune, securing with a toothpick. Cutting it lengthwise may hep if they're wide rashers.
Lay the devils on a baking sheet, and bake at 180C for 15 minutes, or until bacon is crisped.
Put each one on a piece of melba toast.
Notes: Yes, you do have to be slightly insane to stuff and wrap 70-odd prunes. The 1950s were a very strange time, much better in fantasy than reality, what with all the segregation and unequal pay and McCarthyism going on. By the time I'd finished putting these together, not to mention all the cheese and onion skewering, I was thinking of adopting a gin-and-valium soaked desperate housewife persona. But luckily I recovered by the time of the party.
The cheese needs to be the smooth kind, not a crumbly cheddar. The dimensions are, of course, general guidelines to what makes it easier to stuff. Try one or two to see how big they should be for your prunes. It's not as bad as it sounds; the machine pitted prunes have a hole at each end that you can shove your cheese in quite easily.
I didn't have quite enough streaky bacon so had to use some of the eye pieces to wrap the last dozen or so. The rest of the lean bacon went into BLT sandwiches for us on Friday dinner (we weren't too hungry after our lunch out), and into the lasagna.