Norwich woman recreates her mother's 1960s dinner parties
- Credit: Cooking My Mother
A Norwich woman has paid a time-travelling tribute to her late mother – by recreating the dinner parties she loved to throw.
Patsy Turner, who died in February this year, kept a dinner party planner in which she noted who had attended and what they had eaten across five decades of cooking.
Her daughter, Debbie Money, found she had made meticulous notes of parties dating back to 1967, when the family lived in the Bahamas.
Ms Money said: "I realised that the place I most missed mum was in that kitchen.
"Everywhere I looked was something that she had taught me to use, or a place I would sit or stand while she cooked and I watched or both of us cooked together, or her recipe books and folders of dishes that were part of her repertoire and had become part of mine.
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"So I started to look properly through her books and folders, and pulled out one that I’d been aware of, but hadn’t fully explored – her dinner party planner.
"She and dad had always had people round to dinner, and been to friends’ houses, but I hadn’t seen the whole picture.
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"So, I decided to explore the folder, thinking about mum and dad and their lives, mum’s growing food repertoire and looking at how mum’s food reflected – or didn’t – the changing food of the past five decades."
She plans to recreate some of those dinner parties as closely as she can – and started on June 10 with a Bahamian example from 1969.
The evening with two friends began with a 'moonwalk' cocktail and a pâté and melba toast starter. Fondue was the main course, before a trifle for dessert.
She plans to work her way through the pages and through the decades, on a gastronomic journey through her mother's cooking.
The 58-year-old said: "Reading through the 80 pages of the planner is remarkable because it's such a journey through not just the history of our family but also the way food tastes changed so dramatically over the years in the British household.
"Covid meant that there were only a limited number of guests at mum's funeral so we weren't able to celebrate her life as
well as we'd have wished.
"This is a way for me to do that and it's already brought back so many vivid memories of her even though I'm only just at the start of this journey."
How you can recreate the 1969 dinner
Cocktail: The Moonwalk
How Debbie did it: One measure of grapefruit juice (I used the bigger side of those measuring cups that come with cocktail shakers), one measure of Grand Marnier (well, I used Cointreau, because that was the orange liqueur that I had in the house) a couple of drops of rose water (I don’t know that I’d worry about including that again, because I couldn’t taste it) and two measures of sparkling wine, per person. I got six glasses out of the bottle, and rather happy we were…
Starter: Pâté and melba toast
How Debbie did it: I made the melba toast on the day before, just in case it all went a bit wrong and I had to redo it. Thick slice white bread, in the toaster, LET IT COOL! Then cut the crusts off, slice horizontally through the slice, so you have two very thin slices, cut in half diagonally and then crisp up the middle in the grill…and KEEP AN EYE ON IT! It goes from just done to burnt very quickly. Keep in a tin, not Tupperware. The pâté was easier: a nice shop bought one, but whenever we as a family have pâté, mum always used to mix it up with cream cheese. I’m not really sure why, but it made it a lighter, really spreadable, almost dip-like thing, perhaps better for our children’s palates? So I served half normal, half mixed…nice contrast.
How Debbie did it: I made three dips the day before, a BBQ one, a spicy Marie Rose one and a blue cheese one. On the day I cut up steak, prawns, sausages, mushrooms and halloumi (not something that mum would have had, but I wanted to try it out, and it worked very well!) Potato salad and pasta salad to accompany…all nice. For the spicy Marie Rose sauce, is used ketchup, mayonnaise, lime juice and Tabasco to taste. For the blue cheese sauce, I used Stilton, chopped/crumbled, then creme fraiche and mayonnaise, with a dash of lemon juice and black pepper.
How Debbie did it: Mum’s recipe was really simple, but no mention of jelly! So I did the trifle I remember her doing – swiss roll, then tinned raspberries, using the juice to make up the jelly. Pour the jelly over, let it set, top with shop bought custard, then top with softly whipped double cream…and bits.