I was lunching in The Belvedere in London's Holland Park, enticed by my goddaughter, Nell, and by the chef Billy Reid and that's where I saw it - kipper pâté, that ancient staple of bistro and dinner party. It was like bumping into an old friend and it got me thinking about other dishes I once ate with relish and which food fashions have swept away. Prawn cocktail and rum baba have made the grade among today's retro-chefs, but whatever happened to vol-au-vents, fondue, chicken Maryland and pavlovas? Escalope of veal with cream and mushrooms? Beef Wellington? All gone. Well, mostly.
This, my last column in this slot, is a little homage to dishes of memory. I could have chosen a dozen others. Nay, two dozen. But all of them once gave me great pleasure and will do so again. Of necessity, they aren't original, but they are tasty.
All recipes serve four.
Billy Reid's kipper pâté
As you might expect, this is a rather more sophisticated version of the boil-in-a-bag kipper fillet blended in the food processor with cream version that did the rounds so effectively in the 1960s.
1 mild onion (diced)
115g cooked potatoes
Salt and pepper
Lightly grill the kippers and remove bones and skin. Cook the onion and bacon in the butter without colouring and allow to cool. Whizz all the ingredients in a food processor until smooth, check the seasoning and put the mixture into a terrine in a roasting tray, pouring boiling water halfway up the sides of the terrine. Bake at 130C/ 250F/gas mark ½ for around 40 minutes or until firm to the touch. Cool and chill. Serve on buttered wholemeal toast with a few mixed leaves.
I hadn't given Russian salad a thought in years until I went to Sicily recently and there it was in the help-yourself selection in several decent restaurants. Heaven knows what the provenance of this once-staple of the side table is - I strongly suspect it was some desperate chef using up leftovers. I still find it wonderfully satisfying in a lowbrow kind of way. This version appeared in the 1953 edition of Cuisine Et Vins De France, by Curnosky.
1 large cauliflower floret
100g petits pois
100g haricots verts
100g flageolet beans
Salt and pepper
100ml vegetable oil
Cut the root vegetables into batons and the cauliflower into individual florets. Cook the vegetables one after another in salted water, refresh in cold water and drain. Slice the ham and cornichons into strips. Put all ingredients, except the mayonnaise, into a bowl, season and sprinkle with oil and vinegar. Just before serving, mix in the mayonnaise.
Commenting on the authenticity or otherwise of the dish, Simon Hopkinson and Lindsey Bareham rightly say in Roast Chicken And Other Stories, "Obviously, one can't do it without the eggs - and the better the eggs, the better the dish - but the other ingredients should be allowed the odd substitution or even left out. After all, this is a simple affair and not something that requires precise detail." (This is not the Roast Chicken recipe.)
4 slices ham
250g green and/or red peppers
2-3 firm, ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic, mashed
Speck of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley or mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
Cut the ham into strips and brown in 30g butter in a frying pan. Set aside. Thinly slice the onions and peppers and fry in the same butter until tender but not browned. Peel, deseed and slice the tomatoes. Mash the garlic and stir into the butter with the cayenne pepper. Lay the tomatoes over the onions and peppers and sprinkle with salt. Raise the heat and boil for a few minutes, shaking the pan occasionally until the juice from the tomatoes has almost evaporated. Break the eggs into a bowl, season and beat lightly. In another pan, heat the rest of the butter until foaming. Pour in the eggs and stir rapidly with a fork until they have just set into a creamy mass. Remove from the heat and spread over the hot piperade, laying the warm ham strips on top. Sprinkle over the chopped herbs.
I sought my mother's advice on forgotten puddings. "Posset," she said. "Not forgotten enough," I said. "Spotted Dick," she said. "Not in high summer," I said. "What do you never hear about these days?" "Junket," she said. The trouble was that I couldn't find a recipe , so I went to the Constance Spry Cookery Book.
565ml full cream milk
1 dssp caster sugar
1 tsp rennet
A little thick cream
Heat the milk gently to blood temperature. Add the sugar and stir to dissolve. Stir in the rennet, decant into a china dish or ramekins and leave to set. Serve with a little cream poured over. Spry writes, 'Junket should not really be flavoured, but some old recipes call for the addition of a little brandy. Nutmeg is a later and foreign addition.'