Saturday, March 31, 2012

Passionfruit Pavlova

Phryne's pavlova may have been ahead of its time. The earliest Australian recipe seems to be from the Australian Women's Weekly in July 1937, but only a year later Argus readers were writing in with their own recipes for "pavlova cake".

This is my mother's recipe, but it's probably no different to thousands of other mothers' pavlovas.
Where it differs from the classic pavlova is that it omits cornflour and it's the cornflour, I think, that gives the classic pavlova its dryness. This pavlova has a firm top, soft marshmallow centre and, if the sugar hasn't dissolved completely, lightly caramelised bits around the edges.

The essential ratio is 1/4 cup of sugar to one egg white, so the recipe can be adapted to a 1, 2 or 3-egg pavlova. I used four eggs, but since there were only two of us, I cut wedges from the pavlova and topped them individually with whipped cream and passionfruit. One passionfruit has enough pulp for two serves. The remaining pavlova shell will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 -3 days.


4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 teasp vanilla essence
1 teasp white wine vinegar
1 small carton cream
1 tbsp caster sugar, optional

Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C.

Beat egg whites until they form soft peaks, gradually add sugar, mix in well. Beat until the mixture changes size (it does), then fold in vanilla and vinegar. Roughly spread mixture onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Immediately after placing pavlova in oven, turn down to 150 degrees, and cook for one hour. Turn off oven and leave to cool slowly. Do not open the oven door - fast cooling will crack the pav.

To assemble, whip the cream with a little caster sugar; spoon cream onto pavlova; top with passionfruit pulp. Serve as is, or with vanilla ice-cream.

Crumbed Lamb Cutlets with Pommes de Terre Duchesse and Peas

These days, apparently, perfectly whirled peaks of pommes duchesse can be bought frozen, and even the Women's Weekly, as far back as 1970, instructed cooks form their potatoes into little peaks by putting their potato paste in a piping bag with a star tube and piping small pyramids onto greased baking paper. I followed an earlier French recipe from Boulestin where the potato paste is placed on a board and cut into even-sized squares, but my paste proved resistant to shaping so, in the end, I dolloped it onto the baking sheet. Was it worth the effort? Not really. I prefer potatoes mashed with butter and cream.

Crumbed Lamb Cutlets

3 French-cut lamb cutlets per person
1-2 tbsp plain flour, seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper
1 egg white, beaten, with a little water added
fresh breadcrumbs
oil for frying
lemon wedges

Sift flour, salt and pepper into bag containing cutlets; shake gently to dust evenly. Dip each cutlet into beaten egg, brush off excess; coat with breadcrumbs. When all cutlets are crumbed, refrigerate until ready to cook.

Pommes de Terre Duchesse

large floury potatoes, such as Dutch Cream
egg yolks
salt, pepper, nutmeg

Wash, scrub and cook in their skins some large floury potatoes. When cooked, peel and mash them and add the egg yolks (one yolk to every 250g potatoes); mixing well. Add a little butter and work the mixture well; season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Put this mixture on a floured board and let it cool. Cut into equal-sized squares, paint these with the yolk of an egg (or melted butter); and bake until browned on top in a hot oven - about 10 minutes. While the potatoes are browning, put some peas on to boil and cook the cutlets.

In a shallow pan, heat oil and fry the cutlets until golden brown, about 4 minutes each side for slightly pink, turning once. Serve with potatoes and peas and lemon wedges.

Prawn Cocktails

Oyster cocktails were all the rage in the 1920s but it wasn't long before other types of seafood joined the party - lobster, prawn, crab, prawn and crab, oyster and crab - all with zingy cocktail sauces. Interestingly, the Australian Women's Weekly Original Cookbook from 1970 gives much the same recipe for cocktail sauce as the Sydney Morning Herald did back in the 1920s: tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, Tabasco, salt and whipped cream. I changed the Weekly's recipe by using half mayonnaise and half cream, but probably should have kept it as it was and whipped the cream for texture. Any type or size of prawn would do, but Tiger prawns are sweet and juicy and medium ones are bite size.

Prawn Cocktails

750g cooked medium Tiger prawns
1/4 iceberg lettuce, shredded
lemon slices

Cocktail Sauce
2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 teasp Worcestershire sauce
2 teasp lemon juice or vinegar
6 drops Tabasco sauce
1 tbsp fresh cream and 1 tbsp mayonnaise (or 2 tbsp cream, lightly whipped)
Salt, cayenne

Shell and de-vein the prawns. Combine all cocktail sauce ingredients; mix well. If using whipped cream, mix the other ingredients, season, and then fold in the cream. Line cocktail glasses with shredded lettuce, top with prawns and spoon over cocktail sauce. Serve with brown bread and butter and lemon slices. Serves 4.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Episode 6 - Ruddy Gore

For a while there I thought the Ritz French Cafe didn't exist, but in 1928 it was located at 110 Lonsdale Street, the site of Melbourne's famous Fasoli's Restaurant and Wine Bar. In the early 1900s Fasoli's was the centre of the city's literary and artistic life, with regulars including writers, poets, art critics and its own Queen of Bohemia.

"The rendezvous of connoisseurs", according to its advertising, the Ritz offered 5-course lunches and 7-course dinners and was licensed to sell Australian wines (Seppelt's).

So will it be Phryne's apres-theatre French supper at the Ritz with Ruddigore's leading man, Gwilym Evans, or her dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Little Bourke Street with her lover, Lin Chung? Steak and mushrooms, or crab with ginger, salt and pepper squid and lemon chicken? Pavlova and apple pie, or almond soup? Or Mrs B's home-cooked dinner of "excellent bouillion", fricasee of veal and apple crumble with cream. Or the lamb chops and pommes duchesse enjoyed on another night in?

I'm tempted to mix it all together - salt and pepper squid, lamb chops with pommes duchesse, passionfruit pavlova. A pity that Phryne has yet to encounter the duck spring roll.

Prawn Cocktails

Crumbed Lamb Cutlets with Pommes de Terre Duchesse and Peas

Passionfruit Pavlova

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Crumbed Whiting with Lemon

Whiting appeared in a number of French guises on the poisson course of the Hotel Alexander's table d'hote menu - Filet of Whiting Orly, Whiting Joinville, Whiting Napolitaine, Whiting Richelieu, Whiting Fecampoise - but on the a la carte menu simply grilled or fried. Since breaded, or crumbed, whiting was popular elsewhere, I suspect some of those French names meant simply crumbed.

Crumbed Whiting

6 whiting fillets, about 300g
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 egg white, beaten
2-3 slices bread, a couple of days old
oil for frying
salt, cayenne pepper
lemon wedges

Slice the crusts off bread; discard. Cut the bread into small chunks and whiz in a food processor to fine crumbs. Lightly dust the fillets with flour seasoned with salt and cayenne, dip each into beaten egg white and coat with crumbs. Refrigerating for 30 minutes will make the crumbs adhere better. Fry in hot oil a few minutes each side, until golden. Garnish with lemon.

Serves 3 or 6 as an entree, 2 as a main.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fettucine Puttanesca, or Spaghetti with Oysters

Did the Italian Society Cafe serve fettucine puttanesca in the 1920s? The cafe's menu has proved elusive, but Australian home cooks certainly cooked spaghetti - although probably not spaghetti Italians would recognise. (My fettucine recipe is below.)

Heinz and Rosella brands of spaghetti in tomato sauce were available in the 1920s, and in 1930 Hancock's Golden Crust Pty Ltd in South Yarra began producing macaroni under its "Kookaburra" brand, quickly expanding to spaghetti and vermicelli. By 1932 the company was exporting millions of cartons of pasta to England and the "Overseas Empire". Newspaper ads for Kookaburra spaghetti, macaroni and vermicelli included recipe suggestions such as Spaghetti with Oysters, Spaghetti a' L'Indienne (with curry) and Spaghetti with Mushrooms (served on toast).

Most recipes required the spaghetti strands to be broken up - even in the 1970s spaghetti was twice as long as it is now - and boiled in lightly salted water, with none of this "salty as the sea" nonsense, for at least 30 minutes. A Kookaburra recipe published in the Brisbane Courier in 1936 required 3 dozen oysters and their liquor, a double quantity of white sauce and 500g Kookaburra spaghetti. The cooked spaghetti and raw oysters are layered in a baking dish, the white sauce poured over, the whole topped with buttered breadcrumbs and baked in a hot oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

This more appealing recipe from the Sydney Morning Herald in 1936 calls for a dozen oysters, a small amount of spaghetti and a half quantity of white sauce seasoned with lemon juice and cayenne.

Spaghetti with Oysters

60g spaghetti
1 dozen oysters
15g butter
1 level dessertspoon plain flour
1/2 cup milk
juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt, cayenne

Break the spaghetti into 5cm lengths and cook in boiling salted water until tender; drain. In a saucepan, melt the butter, stir in the flour and cook on a low heat for a minute or two. Add the milk and stir until it boils and thickens. Season with lemon juice, salt and cayenne. Add the drained spaghetti to the sauce. Cut six of the oysters in half and add them to the spaghetti sauce. Pour into an ovenproof dish and lightly brown in a hot oven for five minutes. Put six whole oysters on top and serve garnished with parsley.

Fettucine Puttanesca

250g fettucine
1-2 tbsp olive oil
200g canned tomatoes
3-4 fresh ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 small green chillies, finely chopped
12 Kalamata olives, stoned
6 anchovies
1 tbsp capers
Handful of fresh basil leaves, torn
parmesan or reggiano

Cook fettucine in salted boiling water. In a pan, heat the oil and cook the garlic and chillies for a minute or two. Add the tomatoes and simmer while the fettucine is cooking. Drain the fettucine. Add olives, anchovies and capers to tomato sauce and stir in the fettucine. Toss in the basil leaves. (If the basil in the photo looks odd, it's because The Bloke got Thia basil by mistake so I used it for garnish.) Top with grated parmesan or reggiano. Serves 3.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Zabaglione with Fresh Figs

I've lived within spitting distance of Sydney's Italian quarter for twenty years but, not having a sweet tooth, have never tried zabaglione. That was before I discovered how much alcohol is in it. Some recipes call for all white wine or champagne, but with figs, especially, the sweet fruitiness of marsala marries beautifully with the fruit. As Boronia marsala is hard to come by, I used an Australian substitute - Angrove Bookmark crema all 'ouvo. I tried the zabaglione with grilled figs as well, but the fresh ones were better.

This recipe is somewhat more recent than the others: it's based on one from the Australian Women's Weekly Italian Cooking Class Cookbook and before you scoff, I've known Chinese people who use the Women's Weekly Chinese Cooking Class Cookbook. The earliest Australian recipe I found for zabaglione was in Broken Hill's Barrier Miner in 1934, but it used fruit juice rather than marsala.


5 egg yolks
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup marsala
1/4 cup white wine
2-3 figs per person

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in the top half of a double boiler, off the heat, until the sugar is incorporated into the yolks. Place double boiler on top of pan of boiling water and gradually whisk in the marsala and wine. Continue to cook, whisking, for about ten minutes until all the marsala and wine has been added and the mixture is thick and creamy. If it sticks, remove from the heat and beat with a wooden spoon. Serve with fresh figs. Serves 2 to 4.

Grilled Garfish with Creamed Celery and Boiled Potatoes

Mullet is an unattractive fish, so I decided on garfish, cleaned but with the heads on, brushed with a mix of melted butter and oil and grilled a few minutes each side.
"Steamed celery" didn't sound that enticing either, but it could have been a misprint for "creamed celery", which was popular in the 1920s, and not only at Melbourne's only exclusively vegetarian restaurant, the Sanitarium Health Food Co.'s Vegetarian Cafe in Little Collins Street. Boulestin gives a recipe for croquettes de celeri, which involves stirring finely chopped cooked celery into a white sauce thickened with the yolks of one or two eggs. The mixture is then cooled, rolled into croquettes, dipped in beaten egg, coated with breadcrumbs and fried. I've taken his preparation and joined it with bits of a recipe from the Capricornian (Rockhampton). The Capricornian's writer notes that "the addition of the yolks of two eggs makes a richer dish, and a more nourishing one if it is to be served as a separate course".

Creamed Celery

1 head of celery, washed and cleaned
30g butter
1 level tbsp plain flour
1 breakfastcup milk
2 tbsps cream
2 egg yolks (optional)
salt, pepper, nutmeg, parsley

Parboil the celery in salted boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well and chop finely. Make a roux with butter and flour, add the milk, season with salt and pepper, and simmer until thickened. Add the celery and cook a little longer, then stir in two tablespoons of cream, the egg yolks, if desired, and sprinkle with nutmeg.

The celery can also be served in a dish, with the sauce poured over and g
arnished with parsley.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Episode 5 - Raisins and Almonds

I haven't been to the Italian Society Restaurant where Phyrne has dinner with her lover in this week's episode, but I have been to similar places in Sydney and Wollongong. The International Club in Wollongong shared a menu if not an ambiance with the Society. But in East Sydney in the early 1980s there was a restaurant that could have been its pup. No Come Skinnys got its name from the proprietor's description of his attempt to lose weight. Others, apparently, called it The Hole in the Wall. It may have been the original No Names; it certainly didn't have a name, and when I knew it the entrance was through a door opening onto a back lane somewhere near the corner of Stanley and Palmer Streets. Before that the place may have been in Francis Street, one street up from Stanley, closer to College St. Or it may not have moved at all, the location depending where you started from.

No Come Skinny's had maybe a dozen tables, with carafes of red and white wine on red-and-white checked plastic tablecloths and beautiful surly children who looked like they'd been booted into the room to act as waiters when they'd rather be labouring over their homework. "What d'ya want pig trotters for? You already got 'em." The mother was Irish. The wine was included.

The Italian Society Restaurant also poured drinks for free, but at the cost of frequent appearances before the licensing court. In February 1926 Guiseppe Codognotto, the proprietor, gave evidence that he collected money from club members and, when food was served, provided the wine at no extra charge. The Society's president, a M. Genova, got off for lack of evidence, but a singer, Ricardo Torre, was fined a quid for "having consumed liquor on unlicensed premises during prohibited hours".

Phyrne is such a Society regular she leaves it to the waiter to decide her order. He brings a bottle of "wicker-clad chianti", fettucine puttanesca, mullet with steamed celery and boiled potatoes and, to finish, zabaglione and cafe negro.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Filet de Boeuf a la Russe

This is from Boulestin's Recipes of Boulestin, and was probably first published in his Simple French Cooking for English Homes in 1923. An Anglophile, Boulestin (1878-1943) moved in literary and theatrical circles in Paris before heading to London in 1906 where he set up interior-design shops, wrote articles and cookbooks, and opened the Restaurant Francais in 1925 and the Restaurant Boulestin, reputedly the most expensive place in town, in 1927.

I've never made this dish with beef fillet, using rump instead, slicing it into thin strips rather than matchsticks and simmering it gently in the sauce for 30 minutes.

500 g beef fillet
30g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 breakfast cup cream
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp meat stock
lemon juice

Trim the fat from the beef and slice into matchsticks about 5cm long. Heat butter in a pan until foaming, add the pieces of beef and saute them well, and season with salt and pepper. Remove and keep warm.

In a small pan, gently cook the onion in butter until soft but not browned. Add the cream, tomato puree, meat stock, lemon juice, a pinch of paprika, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes until reduced.

Pour the sauce through a fine strainer over the beef, and bind with a small piece of butter. Serve with saute potatoes.

Fried Oysters

From the recipe it seems bottled oysters will do for this dish, but I'm using fresh Sydney rock oysters.

18 oysters
1 egg, beaten
Fresh breadcrumbs
Salt, cayenne pepper
Oil for frying

Remove the beards from the oysters and drain them well. Turn them into a beaten egg seasoned with cayenne and salt, then roll each separately in fine breadcrumbs. Have ready some clear fat smoking hot in a pan. Drop all the oysters in together. Cook for two minutes, turning once. Drain on brown paper, and serve very hot, with sections of lemon and brown bread and butter.

Episode 4 - Death at Victoria Dock

Phryne has a city girl's taste for veal. How else to explain the breaded veal cutlets in the Green Mill Murder, the veal cutlets she shares with her two adopted daughters early in this one and later Mrs B.'s production of roast veal with new potatoes and green salad for Phryne's dinner with her current lover, Peter Smith, a revolutionary and suspected anarchist. 

If Phryne had grown up on a dairy farm rather than the mean streets of Collingwood she would have seen the poddy calves flung into the back of a truck headed for the abattoir the morning after their birth. Further north, in beef cattle country, she would have heard the cows calling through the night after their calves were taken away and seen their wet eyes in the morning. If Phryne were a farmer's daughter, she wouldn't eat veal. And her "battle-scarred, sexy Slav" probably wouldn't either, if he was a true son of the earth.

So for Friday's menu I'm going off a revolutionary tangent to Russia, via France, with Boeuf a la Russe. Oysters are still on the menu and I'm afraid that, like Phyrne's cook Mrs B., I'm not big on desserts so it's quince fool again.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Tomato Soup

In the 1920s tomato soup recipes in the Argus were outnumbered two to one by advertisements for Rosella tomato soup. All the recipes involve cooking a white sauce and the tomatoes separately, and then sieving the cooked tomatoes into the white sauce. 

Rosella tomato soup arrived on the scene in July 1921: "ROSELLA TOMATO SOUP. Made from choicest tomatoes, delicately flavoured. It is highly concentrated, and therefore economical." 

Rosella tomato soup tastes very similar to soup made to 1920s recipes, and the instructions on Rosella soup cans still suggest diluting with half water, half milk or all milk. This recipe published in the Argus on 4 January 1922 is not dissimilar to Rosella Tomato Soup, but it's fresher and lighter.

Tomato Soup

8 or 10 whole tomatoes, cut into chunks
2 tblsp butter
1 teasp sugar
1/2 teasp ground mace
1 cup water
1 cup milk
1 dessertspoon flour
1/2 onion, finely sliced and minced
2 or 3 sprigs of herbs, if available

In a large saucepan, melt 1 tblsp butter, add the flour, cook for a minute or two, then add the milk, stirring vigorously to get rid of any lumps. When the sauce is smooth, season with salt and pepper.

In another saucepan,
put the tomatoes, 1 tblsp butter, the sugar, mace, water, onion, a little salt and pepper and the herbs, if any. Cook until the tomatoes are quite soft, then pass the whole through a sieve and add it to the white sauce. If too thick, a little water may be added. Bring to a simmer and serve with fingers of buttered toast or croutons (dice of bread, fried).

The soup only took 15 minutes to make. I used fresh parsley and oregano but no mace.

Steak and Kidney Pudding

The pudding is based on a recipe published in the Argus on 11 March 1925, variations of which appeared much earlier and continued into the 1930s and later (to serve 2 or 3 rather than the 6 of this recipe). Traditionally, the steak and kidney filling is simply meat, flour, salt and pepper. Maybe half a chopped onion. I was tempted to add the rest of the onion, some carrot and celery, a couple of bay leaves and to substitute the water for red wine, but didn't. I thought the suet might come in a jar, shredded, but the butcher disappeared out the back and returned with a handful of fat. No luck with the ox kidney though, so I'm using two veal kidneys (500g) instead. I've never made suet pastry before, and most of my shortcrust pastries end up being stuck together, like jigsaw pieces, in the flan dish. But women in the 1920s made steak and kidney, and they didn't have the option of running down to the supermarket for some frozen puff pastry to whack on top and bung in the oven if all went terribly wrong. They probably didn't even have an oven.

Suet pastry
240 g plain flour
1/2 teasp baking powder
1/4 teasp salt
120g suet, finely chopped
Water, about 90 ml
Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a basin and add finely-chopped (or shredded) suet. Mix to a dry paste with water, knead well in the basin, then lift on to a floured board, and roll out. Alternatively, whizz everything in a food processor, knead and roll into a smooth ball. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until the filling is ready.

Steak and kidney filling
1 onion, chopped
750g rump steak
1 ox kidney (or two veal kidneys)
1 dessertspoon flour
Salt, pepper

Skin the kidneys and cut the steak and kidneys up into small pieces. Put into a bowl with the onion, flour, salt, pepper, add a little water and mix well.
Grease the inside of a pudding basin or steamer with butter, cut off two thirds of the ball of pastry and roll this out into a round large enough to cover the inside of the basin, and leave a little standing up above the edge of the basin. (I don't know whether it was the lovely soft pinkish suet itself or finally getting the measures of flour, suet and water exactly right, but the pastry was perfect.)
Fill the basin with the meat mixture and add about three tablespoons of water. Wet the inner edge of the crust standing up above the basin. Roll out the other piece of pastry into a round a little bigger than the top of the basin and put it on top, pinching the edges of the pastry together. Completely remove the pastry from the edge of the basin with the back of a knife. This helps it to turn out well when cooked.
If you're using a steamer, place a piece of lightly greased tinfoil between the pudding and the lid, then clip on. Alternatively, flour lightly a dry pudding cloth and tie it firmly over the basin, pinning the ends on top. Simmer, covered, for three to four hours. Fill up the pot with boiling water occasionally. Serve the pudding it the basin to retain heat, with a serviette pinned around it.
Serves 6.

Persimmon Jelly

I suspected when I was making this that it was really a form of jam - a clear jelly-like jam, but jam nevertheless - and that's what it turned out to be. But the taste was interesting and the small amount that's left over can go on toast.

Persimmon Jelly

5-6 persimmons
lemon juice

Wash but do not peel the fruit, cut into quarters and put it into a preserving pan. Cover well with water, and boil it for three or four hours. Strain the liquor through a fine sieve, and leave until next day. 

To each cup of juice, add one cup of sugar and a little lemon juice, and then put the whole into a preserving pan, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Boil till it jellies (about one or two hours), add a little more lemon juice, and pour into pots. 

This recipe is from Question Department of the Town and Country Journal, 27 April 1901.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Episode 3 - The Green Mill Murder

I've lashed out and bought the novel this time, so with six days to research and plan the menu Friday's 1920s dinner should have a less tenuous connection to the action. There's a dancehall, and a death, so while it could be a late night supper it's really time Phryne had a proper meal. And in the novel, at least, she doesn't go hungry.

After an unpleasant encounter, Phryne treats herself to a
"large and indigestible" luncheon of lobster at the Ritz, a restaurant or cafe that fortunately does not seem to have existed. A few pages on her cook, Mrs Butler, produces vegetable soup and breaded veal cutlets for dinner, followed by apple pie and cream.

But the meal that appeals most of all is a clear soup followed by Mrs Butler's "masterpiece", a steak and kidney pudding, made especially for Phryne's sidekicks, Bert and Cec, returned soldiers and red-raggers. Much as she disapproves of their politics, Mrs Butler is impressed by their requests for more: "One [helping] is politeness, two is hunger, but three is a true and cherished compliment".

Mrs Butler makes her steak and kidney in a large, light-filled kitchen with every modern appliance, but other cooks would have made do in flats with a tiny kitchenette and a Primus stove. If they could turn out a velvety stew perfectly encased in suet in those conditions, it can't be that hard.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Currant and Apple Tart

In the late 1920s the Victorian Dried Fruits Board ran a series of advertisements in the Argus encouraging housewives to add sultanas, raisins and currants to common recipes. Their Dried Fruits Recipe on 6 March 1928 - recipe number 36 - added both raisins and currants to apple tart. Rather than giving the tart a pastry lid, I'm using fewer apples and covering them with a cream filling adapted from an Alsatian Apple Tart.


1 1/2 cups plain flour
3 tbsp sugar
90g butter
2 egg yolks

Rub butter into flour and sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg yolks and knead until pastry is elastic and can be formed into a shiny ball. Cover in cling wrap and refrigerate for 20 mins.


3-4 small Granny Smith apples
1 tbsp currants
3 dessertspoons sugar
1 whole egg
1 dessertspoon plain flour
150 ml cream
1/2 teasp ground cinnamon
When ready to assemble the tart, roll pastry thin enough to line a greased 23cm flan tin.Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Arrange apple slices in two concentric circles on pastry base. Fill any gap in the middle with small apple slices. Scatter currants on top.

In a bowl, whisk sugar and egg, add flour and blend until smooth. Stir in cream and sprinkle with cinnamon. Pour cream mixture over apples.

Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 35-40 minutes. Dust with icing sugar if desired. Serve warm or cold.

Roast Sirloin of Beef with Horseradish Sauce

Roast Sirloin of Beef, with Horseradish Sauce was on the Hotel Alexander's menu in February 1928, with vegetable accompaniments of "Vegetable Marrow, French Beans, Asparagus, Vinaigrette". I'm not sure what "Vegetable Marrow" is, but given the beans and asparagus are thin and green, I'll use a couple of zucchini sliced into thin strips.

Roast Beef

Season 1 kg sirloin, roast at 220 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes, reduce to 180 and cook for a further 15 -20 minutes. Rest, covered, for 15 minutes before serving.

If desired, the beef can be served with a thin gravy: Make a brown roux with 30g butter and 1 level tblsp flour, add 1 glass of white wine, the pan juices (from which the fat has been skimmed) and simmer for a few minutes.

Horseradish sauce

2 tblsp grated horseradish
1 tblsp white wine vinegar
1 teasp Dijon mustard
1 teasp white sugar
1 tblsp cream

Mix the grated horseradish, vinegar, mustard and sugar, then gradually add the cream and salt, to taste. The sauce can be served cold, or heated gently until thoroughly hot.

Steamed vegetables

Steam beans (or sugar snap peas), asparagus and zucchini and toss in warm vinaigrette (2 tblsp olive oil, 1 tblsp white wine vinegar, garlic, a little mustard, salt and pepper).