Take me back – Nostalgic Retro Menu Favourites

Retro food is bang on trend right now with consumers clamouring for culinary memories of their childhood. All the top chefs are re-inventing bygone favourites on their menus and giving them a contemporary twist. From prawn cocktail to coronation chicken to spotted dick, retro classics are rocking menus across the UK but how can you adapt them to suit your client base? Here six chefs take a trip down memory lane…

Simon Wood, winner of MasterChef 2015, executive chef at Oldham Athletic FC and private dining chef (www.simonwoodcooks.com) My favourite retro dish is a twist on the classic prawn cocktail. I use crayfish as well as prawns for added flavour and make a Bloody Mary Marie Rose sauce, with celery salt, Worcester sauce, vodka and a tiny bit of horseradish for an extra kick! Serve it in a retro cocktail glass with Gem lettuce. Prawn cocktail is such a classic flavour combination and it’s a really “safe” dish – but the Bloody Mary sauce makes it a little bit naughty!

Kate Henry, Great British Bake Off contestant and brand ambassador for Bennett Opie It’s been widely reported that The Great British Bake Off is responsible for the revival of old school recipes and dinner party classics. The growing popularity of the show has reminded us of some long forgotten retro recipes that, back in the day, we all used to love. Swiss roll, baked Alaska or pineapple upside down cake have all come back in trend but one dish that has seen a real revival is the classic 1970s dessert – Black Forest gateau. We’re now seeing the classic chocolate and cherry combo in all sorts of styles, be it ice cream or brownies and when Opies approached me to develop a recipe, using their black cherries in kirsch, the obvious choice was to create a Black Forest cheesecake.

Emily Watkins, chef proprietor at The Kingham Plough near Chipping Norton, which has won Oxfordshire Dining Pub of the Year in the Good Pub Guide 2016 We do a lot of retro dishes at the pub – people, including myself, love the old flavour combinations and ideas, it is the techniques and ingredients used that have changed dramatically. For example I have just had a delicious blackberry trifle on the menu, which I did for my dessert in the Great British Menu 2014. For me it is really important to have all the components, so in this case the sherry, the custard, the jelly, the syllabus and even sprinkles. But we made it using fresh, seasonal ingredients and presented it in a modern version. We also do savoury dishes – our version of a Wellington is always on the menu due to customer demand. But it changes every month, at the moment we have pork and hodgepodge Wellington on with burnt onion powder, bobby beans in grain mustard, confit potato and gooseberry purée. Next week it will be wild rabbit Wellington with Scottish girolles, runner beans, and sweet corn. These dishes are quintessentially British and a great way to use our ingredients to their full advantage.

Stephen Hemingway, applications chef, HB Foods Jammie Dodgers have been one of the UK’s favourite biscuit treat for over 50 years. Combining jam and crumbly shortbread, our take on the dodger uses salted caramel and fudge which is quickly becoming the new staple flavour across all food areas, becoming a trend rather than a fad. Using colourful sprinkles on ice-cream and mousses adds a different dimension to a familiar dessert, whether they are simply bright colours or different textures or even holding a new zingy taste experience to surprise the palette, they will all add value to the product and enhance a familiar sweet and ensure that it is enjoyed by new customers both young and old.

Luke Thomas, Britain’s youngest head chef, chef patron of Luke’s Dining Room in Berkshire, Luke’s Eating House in Chester, and Retro Feast in Dubai There are lots of reasons why liver is such a classic retro ingredient: it’s cheap, very nutritious and takes just a couple of minutes to cook. It can also stand up to some strong flavours, so I’ve teamed it up with a splash of Marsala to produce a lovely sticky sauce. The grapes give a burst of sweet freshness. Luke’s recipe for Sautéed Chicken Livers with Marsala, Grapes and Shallots on Toast is available in Luke’s Cookbook. Click here for Luke’s full Sauteed Chicken Livers with Marsala recipe

Paul Gildroy, head chef at The Magpie Café, Whitby Scampi, one of the all-time classics with which we probably all have had at some time of our lives. Scampi for me was and is best always served with chips, garden peas, tartare sauce and white bread with lashings of salt and vinegar. We also have a variation that includes these key components and gives the dish a more modern ‘on the go’ way of serving this classic in my recipe for scampi wrap with pea guacamole. Make the guacamole by cooking 200g of garden peas, then blitz them in a food processor with sugar, a squeeze of lime and pickled onions. When smooth, add 2tbsp of mayonnaise and fold in some gherkins, capers, chilli, mustard and parsley.

Click here to read the full feature and the rest of the November/December 2015 issue of Stir it up