Wednesday, 28 November 2012

My 50s dinner party

In only own one true historic cookbook, which has made it all the way from the 1950s (all my others are reprints of old texts).  So I was excited to put it into use and terrorise delight a friend with a 1950s style dinner.

Good Housekeeping's Cookery Compendium from 1955 brings 3 books together in one trusty volume - Basic Cookery, Picture Cookery and Picture Cake Making. The book has lots of black and white photos to help illustrate every recipe, and even more exciting some colour pages, where you can gaze on dishes in lurid technicolour. 

Covering breakfast, lunch and dinner, it gives a real window on what people were eating.   Dishes are generally fairly plain fare, with directions for roasting, grilling and boiling meat.  Pies, stews and the occasional curry also feature.  In terms of salads and cold dishes, aspic is big news.  Why serve your ingredients fresh when you could encase them in jelly?  Pastry and cake making were part of even the basic cookery requirements back then

The book also highlights some of the continuing post war hardships.  "Cream, which formerly played so important a part in the making of cold sweets, is unfortunately now decidedly expensive".  Alternative mock creams and ice cream recipes feature heavily, using margarine, gelatin or evaporated milk.  But what they may have been lacking in ingredients, they certainly made up for in presentation.  Elaborate vegetable carving and moulded desserts were the order of the day.

I leave you with just the Hors d'Oeuvre as a taster for now - celery tassels, radish roses & lilies, with gherkins and pickled beetroot.

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