Myself and four other friends, who are also foodies, decided at Christmas that we would host our own Come Dine With Me competition, much like the TV series on Channel Four, in the UK. It is where a group of people (usually strangers) get together at each other’s houses and cook a three course meal. They are then secretively scored for their food, hosting and entertainment out of 10. On the last evening the scores are added up and the winner collects £1,000. That is for TV, we are doing it for fun, so just a kitty of £50.
`So, it fell upon me to host last Saturday. As the bar had been raised on the two previous dinner parties, I felt that I had to offer something more than just food. So, what would the theme be? My dilemma for the past few weeks. I’m not sure exactly what triggered my idea for a 1970’s themed Come Dine, but that was decided – an excuse to accompany with 70’s music! I remember the food of the 1970’s being rather bland, quite brown and yellow and certainly nothing exotic! Most people hadn’t seen a microwave, my family certainly hadn’t tried Asian food with huge flavours and ready made meals. Frozen fish fingers don’t count.
Anyway, enough reminiscing and back to the menu…
For the appetisers, I made vol-au-vents; hollow puff pastry cases filled with creamy mushrooms and the other half of prawn and marie rose (a kind of prawn cocktail flavour). These were served with Babycham.
Starter was a lot of fun and lots of cheese – cheese fondue. This was a first for me as I’ve never served or had fondue in the UK. I had a similar thing called a raclette in France. Fondue was VERY popular in the 70’s and quite an easy dish to prepare (all your meats, bread and vegetables cut into manageable pieces can all be done in advance). You just need to prepare your cheese sauce (not in the traditional form, as it doesn’t have cream), but you mustn’t allow it to cool, as it will make the cheese go all stringy and you are looking for a loose, but velvety texture to coat the food. It is perfect for a group of people sitting around the table that can chat and choose their ingredients to dip in, while they chat.
Main course options were beef stronganoff, chicken chasseur, sweet and sour. These were imported dishes that certainly were not part of British cuisine. My main course was coq au vin, the French dish of chicken in red wine, which I left to bubble away gently in the slow cooker, while I got on with fixing up the dessert. The main was incidentally served with garlic and rosemary roast potatoes. Probably not 1970’s flavours, as most roasties were coated in duck fat or lard dripping. The healthier option I went for you might say – they are my favourite, so I couldn’t resist. For colour, which I know wasn’t very 1970’s.. there was green beans. We had all home grown vegetables from the garden and with our chest freezer, we were able to freeze much of our fruit and vegetables.
Then came my decision for the dessert. I can remember baked alaska, Arctic roll (think that was more of a frozen supermarket dessert than homemade – frozen ice cream with a layer of jam, covered in sponge – looking a bit like a swiss roll). Meringues, trifle and black forest gateau were also the order of the day. I chose a black forest trifle, with homemade chocolate brownies for the base, kirsch, cherries and homemade custard.
If you feel the urge to host your own 1970’s dinner party and have guests who can remember that decade, you with find the theme a lot of fun and definitely something to talk about, around the dinner table. The dishes cooked you can find on Chilli Jam.
For more recipe ideas, visit our Recipes page, or subscribe to our FREE monthly newsletter Bitesize for recipes, reviews and cooking tips to help you get smarter in the kitchen. Just enter your email address below.