A fantasia cocktail awaits you at the end of this retro recipe, which sounds utterly magical until you realise it’s really just a fancy salad. But, having made it, we can confirm that it is both tasty and fairly low in calories. In my new quest to find recipes of old I am inexorably drawn once more to the comfortable, modest busom of Sonia Allison, the utter maniac from the previous retro recipe entry for cheesy bananas on toast. I was going to try out a Fanny Craddock recipe but the book hasn’t arrived so, and you’ll understand this is a sentence I thought I’d never say, I’ll be saving the fanny for later.
What caught my eye about this recipe is the way she presents it: in a giant wine goblet. Now I know there’ll be people out there already mooing and wanting to shake me by the shoulders and say there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not too dissimilar to a prawn cocktail, and listen, perhaps you’re right, but prawns are absolutely gopping so you can shove that argument. No, I’ve never sat down to a plated salad and pushed my tomatoes around with a tittylip and imagined how delicious the meal could be if only I could pour it straight into my mouth or see at a moment how it would look all layered up in my belly.
I suppose we ought to be thankful she hasn’t served the bloody thing on a teaspoon because lord knows she’s tried to do that with most of the other recipes. Teensy tiny mouthfuls of food all served on an array of shiny teaspoons. I’m not suggesting for a moment that she was on the gear but I can’t conceive of any other reason why one might own so many bloody teaspoons. Check the underside for scorch marks, I say. I mean we’ve got three teaspoons to our name and two of those were only recently acquired from a Premier Inn breakfast. Maybe I’m onto something though: maybe this book was at the start of her dangerous slide into addiction and that’s why she ended up doing the Microwave for One book: she’d pawned everything else. Someone ring Cash Converters and see if they’ve got an AGA kicking around from 1982.
Everything that doesn’t fit onto a tiny teaspoon has been stylishly decanted into a seemingly never-ending pile of serving dishes that are shaped like the food they contain. Got a salad that’s heavy on lettuce? Why not impress your guests by serving it in a giant ceramic lettuce leaf! Have you tried serving your eggs from a giant chicken – your visitors will barely be able to eat for laughing uproariously and slapping their legs. Spaghetti bolognese (or spaghetti neapolitan as she rather primly calls it: I bet Sonia voted leave so hard she cracked her pencil in two scratching in the ‘X’) is served in a dish painted with spaghetti as though she is expecting a party of visually impaired folks to turn up unexpectedly and she wants to leave clues. It really is a colossal amount of tat.
Perhaps I’m only jaundiced because it brings back memories of a bloke in Doncaster who I ‘visited’ in my late teenage years. He promised me a rough time and no mercy, what I actually got was gently troubled in his living room. And even that’s stretching it, although you mustn’t worry, it tends to snap back after an hour or so. Anyway, his rough butch exterior didn’t quite marry up with the exhaustive and highly visible collection of Clarice Cliff cookware and plates that he had dotted around his entire house. It was like making love in a nursing home whilst peering through a kaleidoscope and I can’t pretend I had a great time. Mind you, nor did he – at one point I exuberantly kicked a leg out as though I was Edele from B*Witched doing the Riverdance bit from C’est La Vie and knocked a saucer clean off the side table and onto the floor. We agreed there and then that it was perhaps best I left as we were never going to be best friends.
I have no regrets even now: I might have wasted a good chunk of my disposable income on the train tickets but I did steal a fancy looking spoon rest off the side as I departed, so we’ll call that a win. I used it to keep my change in for a couple of years before it was lost – Mother is probably holding onto it so she can sell it at the right moment and nick off to Greece.
But it is certainly an era of cookware that has passed us by. Frankly, unless someone can find me an entire set of those soup bowls that had the recipe emblazoned on the side, I’m happy with that.
Shall we get to the fantasia cocktail then? For the novelty we did indeed serve this up in a wine glass like Sonia suggests, but I don’t think it will impair the flavour too much if you serve it on a plate. Oh and just one further note: Sonia suggests using tongue, but you’d expect that from a goer like her. I can’t bring myself to eat tongue, not least because I know where my own has been, but if you were so inclined you can pick it up in most major supermarkets. Not for me though: I don’t like to think that my food can taste me as I eat it.
Hosting a swingers party? Try this fantasia cocktail to get the conversation started!
Remember, you don’t need to serve it in a glass, a plate will do just fine for your fantasia cocktail
You’ll note I put my key in a bowl for this fantasia cocktail photo – it just seemed somewhat fitting
Yield 4 glasses of salad
I mean, let's not pretend that this fantasia cocktail is anything more than a salad in a wine glass, but it's a good salad none the less and the homemade dressing actually had a good bit of kick to it. If you were so inclined you could swap out the dressing for a ready made one and no-one would be any the wiser.
We have worked the calories out via the NHS app at roughly 350 calories, but of course it depends on the meats and cheese you use. So do make sure to double check.
- one large little gem lettuce (a contradiction I know, so feel free to use two little little gems (I ought to explain, that doesn't mean use a tiny lettuce either) (fuck it, use an iceberg lettuce for all I care) (why use lettuce at all - just cos)
- of course, you're not making a honeymoon salad here, which is lettuce alone
- get out
- of course, you're not making a honeymoon salad here, which is lettuce alone
- 225g of small ripe tomatoes (Sonia says use firm tomatoes, but firm tomatoes are always watery and tasteless, so listen to me), sliced fine
- 225g of chopped cooked chicken
- 125g of chopped ham or tongue
- 225g of cucumber, sliced fine
- 125g of button mushrooms, sliced fine
- a green pepper, sliced so fine you blow my mind
- one teaspoon of mixed herbs
- 1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
- 125g of mild cheese - we used a mixture of Gouda and Edam
For the dressing
- six tablespoons of mayonnaise (full fat, mind you)
- one teaspoon (level) of mustard powder
- two tablespoons of lemon juice
- pinch of salt and pepper
Or, controversially, just buy some salad dressing.
- line the bottom of your glasses with lettuce leaves or finely chopped lettuce
- layer the tomatoes on top
- season with a bit of salt and pepper
- add equal amounts of chicken into each glass
- in a separate bowl, add the sliced cucumber, mushrooms and pepper and douse with the vinegar, herbs and another pinch of salt
- spoon that mixture on top of the chicken
- top that with ham and cheese
- top cat, the indisputable leader of the gang
- whisk all the dressing ingredients together, thinning with water if needed, and then pour over the top to (in Sonia's words) moisten your ingredients
- serve, and then present yourself alluringly on the banquette so one of your neighbours can have a go to say thanks for such an amazing dinner
- get yourself a reputation on the street for being a filthy slattern who steals husbands
- turn to a life of crime
- fall from grace
- end up making a book of Microwave for One meals
The circle completes!
- as mentioned, you can swap the tongue for ham
- after dinner, you can swap the tongue for pork if you're nasty
- we have a few salads in our second cookbook which is a treasure and contains nothing served in a wine glass other than your dear author's morning gin: order yours here!
- the berry cheesy salad we made (well, tried to make) on James Martin is in the first book, and it's really quite delicious: click here to order
- want some motivation and wish we were there to help assist you with your weight loss - why not try our planner - it's like having us with you only without Paul blowing pastry crumbs all over you: here
- I have nothing to really put in here today save for this ABSOLUTELY GIANT WINE GLASS I found on Amazon - I think this would be perfect for the school run, but then that's why I'm not a school bus driver
Disclosure: the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. Which is handy, as Paul's boobs need another layer of scaffolding
Cuisine retro recipes
Now, if you’re in the mood for another salad, may we point you in the direction of our fabulous mixed bean salad? Worth a try!
We could have been stardust.