Four Eager Chefs Create a 4-Course Dinner—’70s style

1. Appetizer     Steve was blessed with the Appetizer course—blessed because the seventies seemed to be about crazy cocktail parties with lots of fun apps. So he came up with a classic retro trio: scallop croquettes (from 1975 Gourmet, touting the revolutionary wonders of the “Phenomenal Food Processor”), bacon-wrapped pineapple, and celery boats. And what better to go with these three bite-sized delights than a Harvey Wallbanger! Hip hip hurray, and away we go! (They don’t call it a Wallbanger for nothing.)

The Seventies lasted a long time . . . a decade, in fact. And the many looks it spawned and walks of life that inhabited its years were wide and varied. So keep on truckin’, free bird, and let your boogie fever loose either at the swinging Greenwich Country Club or The Rambles. The choice is yours, fellow travelers in the world of cocktail cuisine! (From l to r: Steve “Lynyrd Skynard” Schul, Jon “Casual Connecticut” Ottomanelli, Barbara “Babs” Truszkowski, and Paul “Did I Hear Someone Say Leather” Zablocki.

Celery Boats:

celery stalks, washed and cut into 4-inch pieces

hunk of blue cheese, crumbled

1/2 – 1 cup sour cream



Fill celery stalks with a mixture of blue cheese and sour cream according to taste. Sprinkle with salt and paprika. Cut into quarters. (Inspired by “The Bacardi Party Book,” 1976.)

2. First Course     Jon surprised us all with a dish that no one makes correctly, but one which he effortlessly prepared to perfection—Fettuccine Alfredo. The pasta was homemade and as fresh as it could possibly be, the alfredo sauce was the perfect consistency, and to all of our delights, he added pancetta to the sauce. Who doesn’t love pancetta? (Sorry, vegetarians.) And the wine he chose for his seventies classic: Mommessin Meursault “Les Clous” 2003. The dish was surprisingly not too filling. We all could have stopped here, but there were two more courses to go! So we took a little break and danced for a spell.

3. Main Course     Paul loves cooking meat, but what stand-out dish from the ’70s would make an enticing entree? Well, why not take a traditional Steak Diane recipe and make it a little more stewy. Steak Diane uses a carrot-laced brown sauce that is then flambeed after adding a little cognac. Paul toned down the dark brown sauce by not “over-caramelizing” the onions, making it a little lighter in color. He then sauteed various mushrooms and added them as a side dish. To accompany this comfort food: a 2001 Château Batailley Grand Cru Classé. Exquisite.

Harvey Wallbanger:

1 1/2 ounces vodka

3 1/2 ounces fresh-squeezed orange juice

1/2 ounce Galliano

Stir vodka and orange juice in an ice-filled highball glass for 5 seconds. Float Galliano on top. Add a straw if you so desire.  For a twist, try fresh-squeezed tangelo juice.

To read more about our love for the Harvey Wallbanger, click here.

Steak Diane, redux

1 large onion, diced finely
1 carrot, diced finely
2 ounces (4 tbsp) unsalted butter
1/2 ounce (1 tbsp) flour
3/4 pint (12 ounces) beef stock
1 bay leaf
3 parsley stalks
pinch thyme
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 teaspoon salt
1 ounce (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
4 fillet mignons
2 tablespoons brandy or cognac
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnish


Melt 4 tbsp butter in saucepan and saute diced onion and carrot slowly until they reduce, but are not brown. Stir occasionally. Add flour and continue cooking until all are somewhat brown. Pour in beef stock and add bay leaf, parsley stalks, thyme, tomato puree, salt, and pepper. Stir well, and bring to a boil. Simmer for about 30 minutes (until reduced by half). Strain into a bowl, allowing the bits to seep through. Cover the sauce and set aside.

Heat a large frying pan until very hot. Add butter and then quickly the filets, browning each side. Pour over the brandy and as it cooks, ignite the vapors to impress your guests (make sure they are watching or else all is for naught). Cook for 2
–3 minutes depending on how you like your filets.  Now pour over the brown sauce and Worcestershire sauce, bring to a boil, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Serves 4.

(from retrofood,com, based on the Steak Diane recipe in Day by Day Cooking by Marry Berry (Hamlyn 1977)

4. Dessert     Barbara’s philosophy is, Why make only one dessert when you can have three? Well, we love that philosophy. So, inspired by the basics, Barbara decided to make each a chocolate-, strawberry-, and vanilla-centered dessert, which resulted in Wacky Cake, Strawberry Squares (in ramekins, no less!), and Fabulous Aunt Jeannie’s Secret Éclair Torte (it earned its fabulous moniker more than we can say, but Aunt Jeannie won’t share her recipe). She even had the audacity to present us with a dessert amuse bouche while she was preparing some Krazy Kahlua Koffee in the kitchen: Fluffernutter quarters. We all didn’t know whether to bounce off the walls from all the sugar and caffeine, or collapse into sweets-laden lumps in the middle of the apartment.

Wacky Cake:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon mild vinegar

6 tablespoons mild vegetable oil

1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-inch-square baking dish. Sift the dry ingredients directly into the pan.  Make three holes in the mixture. In one put the vanilla, in one put the vinegar, and in the last put the oil. Pour the water over all. Mix well with a fork but don’t beat. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 30 minutes.

Krazy Kahlua Koffee:

2/3 cup Kahlua

1/3 cup crème de cacao

1/3 cup brandy

6 cups, hot strong coffee

Cool Whip

In a decanter mix the liqueurs. For each serving pour a jigger of the mixture into a warm, tall mug and fill the mug with coffee. Top with Cool Whip.

Makes 8 servings.

(1975 Better Homes and Gardens Holiday Cooking & Entertaining)

Fettuccine Alfredo:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream 

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

table salt 

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 

9 ounces fresh fettuccine 

2 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/4 cups)

1/8 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

3 slices pancetta, cut into 1x1/2-in pieces, fried, and drained (don’t fry too long or it will shrivel)


Bring 4 1/2 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in large stockpot or Dutch oven. Using ladle or heatproof measuring cup, fill each individual serving bowl with about 1/2 cup boiling water; set bowls aside to warm.

While water comes to boil, bring 1 cup heavy cream and butter to simmer in 3- to 4-quart saucepan over medium heat; reduce heat to low and simmer gently until mixture reduces to 2/3 cup, 12 to 15 minutes. Off heat, stir in remaining 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.

Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta to boiling water; cook pasta until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1/4 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta. Meanwhile, return cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat; reduce heat to low and add pasta, Parmesan, pancetta, and nutmeg to cream mixture. Cook over low heat, tossing pasta with tongs to combine, until sauce coats pasta and pasta is just al dente and cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in reserved pasta cooking water; sauce may look rather thin but will gradually thicken as pasta is served and eaten. Working quickly, empty serving bowls of water; divide pasta among bowls, tossing pasta to coat well with sauce. Serve immediately.

(Fresh pasta is the best choice for this dish; supermarkets sell 9-ounce containers of fresh pasta in the refrigerator section (see related article for tasting results). When boiling the pasta, undercook it slightly (even shy of al dente) because the pasta cooks an additional minute or two in the sauce. Note that Fettuccine Alfredo must be served immediately; it does not hold or reheat well.