A girly get-together - a first recipe

Updated: Jul 21, 2021

"From book club meetings to baby showers, Valli Little's light menu is perfect for girly get-togethers." delicious


This is going to be a quickie because I have said I will cook a David special dinner - perhaps more about that tomorrow. Anyway I shall have to go and prepare it soon on this wet and miserable day, so I have taken a coward's way out and am doing a first recipe.


So here's the book - one of those free booklets I got every now and then when I was subscribing to delicious Magazine. This one is split up into separate menus, most of them devised by various well-known cooks - Jill Dupleix, Belinda Jefferey, Thomasina Miers, Tobie Puttock and Luke Mangan. There are couple of anonymous ones as well, doubtless devised by delicious staff (and none the worse for that I might say). I actually believe these were the glory days of delicious - I have bought the occasional one since I stopped my subscription but either I have become blasé or they are just not as good these days. More like an upmarket Coles Magazine. Perhaps I should try again.


These were the days when Valli Little was their food editor. And I have only just discovered that, in fact, she died of cancer in 2017. Which I did not know. And which would explain why her name disappeared from delicious. So sad. As well as her work for delicious she wrote a number of cookbooks and was a star of the Australian foodie world. No wonder delicious is not the same anymore.


So it is fitting that the first menu in the book is from her:

It is also fitting that of the few stickers I have attached to this little book, one of them belongs to the rather gorgeous looking Crab and salmon cheesecake. I have always been tempted to have a go at a savoury cheesecake - Delia has a recipe for a Savoury feta cheesecake which has been at the back of my mind to make for many years now. Maybe I should try the crab and salmon one instead, next time I have a party. If that ever happens again.


The pretty flavoured waters shown above are also intriguing - borage, lemon and cucumber, orange and rosemary or rose - yes rose. The mineral water is flavoured with dried edible rosebuds (I have no idea where you find them), and rose syrup. Ditto. Maybe in a Middle-Eastern food shop? Intriguing and pretty though.


Then there is a Blue-cheese dip with spring vegetables, and a Prawn, potato, bean and watercress salad to accompany that cheesecake. And finally a cup of tea with Pistachio biscuits and Chilled lemon puddings (which also merits one of my four stickers for the book). All gloriously sort of pink and green, light and girly. The sort of food you would eat in summer outside in a beautiful spot with friends. Would men like it too I wonder? Why not? One mustn't be sexist about food after all. Although now that I think of it food writers often are. They assume that men like barbecues and women like salad and cheesecake.

The rest of the book has several other menus - each with some kind of theme whether it be a national cuisine, a location, an occasion or a mood. My two other stickers go to an Indian flavoured chicken dish from Jill Dupleix and a lamb rack recipe from the delicious staff - although I'm not quite sure why I chose this one. Obviously it's how you feel on the day that dictates your choice. Today I would be looking for something warming, not salads and cheesecakes.


As to the first recipe concept - does this first recipe suck you in? Well yes I think it does - especially if it's a sunny day. I assume that this was published in spring or summer or else they surely would not have featured such a summery meal as their first offering.


Girly get-togethers. What does that mean? Is it only for the young? I'm really old and I would appreciate this. And why is it mostly women who join book groups? Don't men read? Still it is indeed hard to picture a group of men sitting around this particular table.


So sad to hear that Valli Little died though, although it does indeed explain why she disappeared from view.


POSTSCRIPT

This is not a postscript to the above - just something I wanted to report - sort of.


For tonight's meal I needed tarragon and tarragon vinegar. I could not find any tarragon, which was not really a surprise as it is definitely out of season. But you never know these days so I tried. It was interesting to note the range of herbs available in our three supermarkets and the greengrocers. Not a lot to choose between Woolworths and Coles although Woolworths did have an empty rack labelled tarragon. Aldi has a very limited range of fresh herbs as did the greengrocer, which was rather more surprising. Our local greengrocer is right next door to Coles and so you would think you would try to differentiate your offerings in some way would you not? Just like the second iteration of Farmer Joe's Market next to Aldi, which has, unsurprisingly to me, gone bust for the second time.


It was a similar story for my second shopping failure - tarragon vinegar. I tried them all to no avail. Heaps of variations on balsamic vinegar, and cider vinegar seems to be creeping back into popularity, but no tarragon vinegar. And like the greengrocer, we have a delicatessen - also just a couple of doors away from Coles, which as far as I can see sells more or less the same things as Coles at a higher price. Tarragon is obviously not fashionable. I'm not quite sure what I shall do when I make my Béarnaise sauce. Dried tarragon - well Nigella did say to use that, but she also wanted fresh at the end, and there's nothing really like tarragon. So maybe some chives instead. As for the tarragon vinegar - it will just have to be lemon juice or cider vinegar. Frustrating. When my tarragon blooms again I shall have to make my own tarragon vinegar.

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