Although we moved house nearly three years ago we still have a number of unopened boxes with labels such as ‘kid’s videos’, ‘lamp shades’ & ‘kitchen stuff’. Surely after three years, if they’ve not been opened they’re never going to be, but that’s a different story. I came across one such box whilst tidying my shed the other day labelled ‘books’ & decided to open it up & have a look through.
Amongst others that caught my eye was a book called ‘Toast: the story of a boys hunger’ by Nigel Slater. It’s a book that retells the authors childhood based around food invoked memories in a way that I can personally identify with, suffice to say the hours passed & tidying of the shed was left to another day.
The book got me thinking and wondering why what seem to be perfectly good dishes or recipes become forgotten about or deemed old-fashioned and sneered at by todays would-be food connoisseurs. Dishes that once stood proud on High Street menus & in top hotels like Chicken Kiev, Cod Mornay, Beef Wellington, Chicken Chasseur & the good old vegetarian favourite – The Nut Roast or if you were really upmarket the ‘Nut Cutlet’ have disappeared to the annals of culinary history.
For my 21st birthday I prepared a meal for twenty of my friends & family, the menu for which would have been deemed fairly cutting edge at the time: Melon boats drizzled in Ginger wine (with a ‘sail’ cleverly crafted by skewering a slice of orange with a cocktail stick), Beef Bourguignon & Black Forest Gateaux.
I was attending Bournemouth Catering College at the time & was anxious to impress. My Mum, however, not being one for too much fuss, chastised me saying it was all too posh & people would feel uncomfortable eating all that ‘foreign food’. If I’d called the Bourguignon, beef stew & the Gateaux chocolate cake she felt that there would be no such problems.
I remember at the time debating whether to start with grilled grapefruit or Waldorf salad & whether for dessert I should make profiteroles or individual syllabubs in wine glasses. The resulting menu was well received & no one looked too uncomfortable tucking into their Bourguignon, which, much to my annoyance, my Mum continued to refer to as ‘the stew’ throughout the duration of the meal.
I’ve recently taken a little time off work and had time to reflect on our current offerings in La Bucca. I was hoping to put a seventies or eighties inspired recipe in this weeks Echo, but alas time has been against me, so I will save it for the next edition. It will be based around another timeless classic, the ‘Vol-au-Vent’.
Vol-au-vent, quite literally means ‘flying in the wind’ due to the lightness of the puff pastry used to make the pastry case. They are incredibly versatile & can be used either in finger buffets, filled with Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup (a la 1970), filled with creamy seafood as a timeless starter or if made larger will make a great vestibule for a decent Bourguignon or beef stew, which is the recipe that I have in mind for the La Bucca specials board.
As I said, I haven’t made my Retro Vol-au-vents yet, but if they are a success I will include the recipe in the next edition.