Retro Prawn Cocktail

A short while ago we celebrated Mother’s Day in the UK. For some strange reason we celebrate on a completely different day from the rest of the world. Never mind, it’s still a great opportunity to get together, eat, drink and laugh.

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We decided to go for a bit of a retro menu, a throwback to decades past, and enjoyed prawn cocktail, steak and chips and treacle tart with clotted cream and ice cream. Perfect! Because it was such a simple menu, and Big Man was on barbecue duty with the steaks, I had the luxury of time to play with ingredients and to make things a little different.

For the prawn cocktail I made a layered and pretty dish with a cucumber and ginger jelly,  avocado mousse and, of course, a spicy Marie Rose sauce. Sometimes it’s fun to have an eye on the future whilst nodding to the past.

Ingredients (to serve 6 in 6 glass tumblers or serving dishes)

  • 1 sachet of gelatine
  • 1 cucumber peeled
  • A teaspoon of fresh grated ginger
  • A few leaves of fresh mint
  • Salt & Pepper

 

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of cream cheese
  • Salt & Pepper
  • A small iceberg lettuce finely shredded
  • 2-3 cups of small cooked prawns (portion sizes are up to you!)
  • 18-24 large cooked prawns

 

  • 4 tablespoons of home made or good quality mayonnaise
  • 1 generous tablespoon of tomato ketchup
  • A few shakes each of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco
  • Salt and pepper
  • Smoked pimentón

 

Blend the cucumber, ginger and mint and drain, you only need the juice. Dissolve the gelatine according to the instructions and leave to cool slightly. Add to the cucumber juice, season lightly and add enough water to make up to 600ml. Divide the jelly between the 6 serving dishes and leave to set.

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Blend the peeled avocados with the cream cheese and a little seasoning and either spoon or pipe over the cucumber jelly.

Add a layer of shredded lettuce. Mix the ingredients for the sauce together and adjust the seasoning to taste. Mix in the small prawns and divide between the serving dishes over the lettuce. Finally decorate with the larger prawns and if you’re feeling really adventurous, dust with a little smoked pimentón.

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Pour yourself a glass of your favourite dry white wine and enjoy a little moment back in time.

 

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Back to the 70´s – Prawns in Lettuce Cups

Getting Groovy with the Prawns

Do you remember the 1970s? Well, I am sure some of you do, even if you were only babes in arms.  I was a young teenager at the end of the 1970s but it was a time in London when great changes were afoot in the world of food.  The height of sophistication at the time for a dinner party was probably something along the lines of prawn and avocado cocktail, steak with pepper sauce and Black Forest gâteau for dessert. And nothing wrong with any of that I say…but the 80s were soon going to herald the advent of Nouvelle Cuisine (or really tiny portions) and strange mixtures of ingredients such as Loin of some Obscure and Almost Extinct Creature Marinated in a Gooseberry and Guinness Jus. Well, you know what I mean.

Having watched a DVD of Abigail´s Party (I wish I knew how to insert video clips), I was clearly feeling nostalgic and decided to go a bit retro with my peeled prawns. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and accept you´re getting old…

Ingredients for 4 people as a starter

  • Two lettuce hearts (use 8 of the bigger outside leaves and use the rest for salad)
  • 1 cup of peeled prawns, cooked and cut in half if large
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, chopped (not too finely)
  • 1 ripe avocado (chopped into small cubes)
  • 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Half a cup of Marie Rose sauce (I made mine using 3 tablespoons of tomato ketchup, 3 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 heaped teaspoon of horseradish sauce, 1 teaspoon of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce and 1 tablespoon of sweet chili sauce)
  • Pimentón to taste

Simply mix all the ingredients together and spoon into the lettuce leaves.  Sprinkle with hot or sweet Pimentón.

Now, put some groovy 1970s dinner party music on the built in Hi-fi, slip into a glamorous kaftan and enjoy the evening….

Skate with Lemon and Capers

 
Retro Skate

So, having had a moment of madness slow cooking pork and beans not so long ago, I have reverted to summer style cooking. Phew!

My lovely Fish man, who is soon going to have his own fan club out here in blogland, came up trumps this week with a delicious skate (or ray) for us.  He knows that Big Man and I both love it, so if he can get hold of skate, he always saves me one.

They´re odd looking fish, a bit scary looking too to deal with, but actually quite straightforward when you know how.

The Skate, the whole Skate, and nothing but the Skate

A skate has two very distinct wings and if you get your knife in between the nodule and the “back bone” it just cuts straight off.  

Slip the knife in so...

Voilá, two perfect portions.

Ready to be coated in flour and fried

And the other bits still have a lot of meat on them so pop them into a pot with some water, bay leaves, peppercorns and any vegetables you have to hand and you´ll very soon have a delicious fish stock and lots of bits of delicious skate trimmings to put into a paella or a seafood stew.

I dusted the wings in flour, seasoned them and then fried gently in a huge frying pan in a very little olive oil (although it would be very good with butter).  When the skate was lightly browned on both sides I put them to one side and kept warm, turned up the heat and fried some capers until brown then added a good squeeze of lemon juice, a dash of white wine and reduced until just a few tablespoons of juices were left. I poured these over the skate, poured two good glasses of white wine and we sat back to enjoy.

When I was very young my parents both worked in the catering trade, but Sunday lunch we sometimes managed to spend time together.  My father´s idea of a relaxing Sunday lunch was to go on a busman´s holiday and check out his pals´ restaurants.  This meant I got to visit some really quite nice restaurants in central London from a very early age.  No concession was made (quite rightly I still feel) to children by preparing “kids meals”, we all got whatever the chef or manager thought was his best dish of the day.  I loved it when we got served skate as the meat slides easily off the bone and there are no tricky bits to get lodge in a small person´s throat.  Memories of this dish take me back to Soho, London circa 1975 – hence my retro photo!

If you like this, check out Tandy´s delicious Hake with Olives, Anchovy Butter and Caper Berries over at Lavender and Lime.