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Retro dishes that deserve a holi-every-day comeback

Retro revival-- Can you tell the difference between a Salisbury steak and a steak Diane? Do you remember cheese cones? Many dishes that graced dinner tables from decades gone by have fallen by the wayside and out of fashion. However, I think some should be given a second chance.

Here are a few retro dishes that I would like to see make a comeback...

Peach Melba- Peach Melba is a simple dessert of sweet poached peaches and tart raspberry sauce, served with vanilla ice cream. Created by Auguste Escoffier at The Savoy in London at the end of the 19th century, it was named after Australian opera star Dame Nellie Melba. These days you’re unlikely to find it on dessert menus but the simple fruit and ice cream combination is timeless.


Ambrosia- In the early 20th century, ambrosia was a ubiquitous fruit salad found at celebrations throughout the Southern US states. Sliced pineapple and orange were mixed with whipped cream. But there are many variations including ones that use tinned fruit cocktail, marshmallows, maraschino cherries, bananas, strawberries, grapes, yogurt and cream cheese. At a time when citrus fruits were only just becoming readily available, it was a luxury dish. Nowadays, the dessert is far from upmarket, but makes a quick and tasty treat.


Bananas Foster- In the early 1950s, New Orleans was a major import hub for bananas and the story goes that a chef at local restaurant Brennan’s was challenged to create a dish using the fruit. Needless to say, it was a roaring success. The dessert comprises of bananas flambéed with brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, dark rum and banana liqueur, and served with ice cream. The decadent dessert is still served at limited today, but it should be brought back everywhere.


Steak Diane- Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Steak Diane was one the most luxurious dishes you could order at restaurants and epitomized ‘Continental glamor’. During wartime America, dairy and meat had been rationed so it was a treat to enjoy butter and meat in the same dish. It was flambéed tableside and also contained shallots, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, stock, Cognac and black pepper. The dish fell out of fashion in the late 1970s but I think it should grace homemade menus more.


Cherries Jubilee is a theatrical dish generally credited to Auguste Escoffier, who created the dish for Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee celebration in 1887. Whole cherries are cooked in liqueur, flambéed and served with vanilla ice cream. Cherries Jubilee hit its peak in the 1950s and 1960s with adventurous home cooks wowing friends by making it a spectacular dinner party finale. It’s fallen out of favor but I think it makes a wonderful rich, wintry dessert. Deck the Halls y’all!


Root beer float- Throughout the 20th century, root beer floats were a popular summertime treat. Legend has it that the first one was created in 1893 by Frank J. Wisner, owner of a gold mine and tavern in Cripple Creek, Colorado. The story goes that the snowy peaks on Colorado’s Cow Mountain made him think of ice cream floating in soda so he decided to try it. We like the idea of homemade root beer floats with a shot of bourbon, crumbled brownies and pretzels, so say-ith my daddy!


Cheese Balls- If, wait, WHEN my mother had a party (and she entertained quiet often)back in the 1970s, she would whip up this snack inspiration cheese ball for everyone of her gatherings. After all her guest would leave, I found myself grabbing a cracker and finishing up every cheese ball unfinished and was surprised as a kid that I loved them. Mom would blend cream cheese, Port wine cheese or Cheddar, pink salmon or crushed pineapple, shape into balls and would cover them in walnuts or pecan nuts and parsley. You can make up your own recipe based on your favorite ingredients and can make them ahead of time, storing them in the fridge until guests arrive. Amazingly, they freeze well.


Vol-au-vents- It was once the height of sophisticated hosting to make puff pastry case vol-au-vents and fill them with cooked mushrooms, coronation chicken or prawn mayonnaise. I think pastry-based starters or snacks are always in fashion so give this retro dish a makeover by updating the filling.


Chicken à la King- Invented at the start of the 20th century, chicken à la King was often served at weddings throughout the 1950s and 1960s. It reached its peak in the 1970s and 1980s, the topic of food writers such as James Beard and The New York Times’ Craig Claiborne, but soon after that it dropped off. Chicken is cooked in a creamy sauce with peppers and served with rice or over toasted bread. It makes a convenient and quick family-friendly midweek meal.

Snowball Cocktail- One of the most popular drinks of the 1970s, the snowball cocktail would always make an appearance at Christmas parties. “Advocaat is a traditional Dutch beverage, and is the Dutch word for “lawyer”. It is short for advocatenborrel, or “lawyer’s drink”, where borrel is Dutch for a small alcoholic beverage consumed slowly during a social gathering.

According to the 1882 edition of the Dictionary of the Dutch Language, advocatenborrel was so named as a good lubricant for the throat, and thus considered especially useful for a lawyer, who must speak in public. So simple to make, fresh lime juice is shaken with advocaat – a creamy Dutch liqueur made with brandy, sugar and eggs. It’s then poured into a martini glass and topped up with lemonade.

A maraschino cherry or mini meringue is the final festive touch.


Ice cubes

2 parts Warninks Advocaat

1 part lime cordial


Maraschino cherry for garnish (optional)


Fill a tall glass with ice cubes.

Add the Warninks Advocaat and lime cordial and stir.

Top up with lemonade.

Add a cherry on a stick for garnish.


To make a big batch of this cocktail, as long as you use the same size measure for 1 part, the ratios will be correct. Just follow the recipe above. If you prefer measurements for this drink, to make 1 use:

1oz/25ml lime cordial

2oz/50ml Warnicks Advocaat

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