One of my favourite cook books of all time has to be Simon Hopkinson & Lindsey Bareham's The Prawn Cocktail Years.
It's packed with really great recipes for all of those dishes that have now been consigned to world of 'food kitsch', the sorts of dishes my Mum would make in he 70's when she was in a flamboyant, hostess kind of mood, heated trolley stylee. Trout with Almonds is one such dish, Russian Salad is another, and what about Sole Veronique or Duck a la Orange? There's a faded exotica about a lot of these recipes as they all use what are now ordinary ingredients, but when in their hey day, these dishes graced many a smoked glass dinner table, hinting at foreign lands and provenance and usually washed down with glasses of wine that came in a bottle that later ended up as a lampshade. Classy.
Being the fool that I am, I can never resist a bit of kitsch and its a healthy antidote to some of the more serious and worthy cooking that can often leave you reeling and in a fluster.
I made this for my friend Twinkle, who will occasionally host a very good drinks party. The kitsch nonsense didn't stop here as I also indulged in making Melon wrapped in Prosciutto, Devils on Horseback, Cheese and caramalised Pineapple sticks, Garlic Portobello Mushrooms and Trifle. Needless to say this was washed down with a Strawberry & Black Pepper fizz...I think you get the picture!
As for the Prawn Cocktail, it was a case of shredding a little gem lettuce, season, on top of that add some small cubes of avocado, squeeze of lemon, then add prawns and crayfish with homemade Marie Rose sauce (Mayo, tommy K, squeeze of lemon juice, cayenne pepper, slug of tabasco) and serve. Silly prawn on the side optional. Babycham anyone?