Retro Food Recipes


I grew up in the 1970s. Some of the food that I ate during that time is still remembered today. And it’s making a comeback! Here are some retro food recipes to try.

The 1970s is said to be the decade that fashion forgot. And looking at photos from that time, I have to agree. But the food of the 1970s hasn’t been forgotten. Well, not all of it.

This was when ready meals started to appear in the shops. Vesta made a range of Indian and Chinese-style meals, which you had to mix with water and simmer in a pan, then pour over the rice or noodles, whatever came in the box. I loved Vesta chicken curry but the beef chow mein was not to my liking. The beef tasted like chunks of cardboard!

But there are some dishes from the 70s that I still enjoy today; prawn cocktail, chicken kiev, quiche lorraine, black forest gateau. We are seeing a comeback of some of these recipes, often with a modern twist.

So, I have rounded up my favourite retro recipes from the 1970s. I hope that you enjoy trying them and that it takes you back to a time when life was simpler.

Prawn Cocktail

Prawn cocktail

I couldn’t resist adding this classic retro recipe. In the 1970s you would find a prawn cocktail on every restaurant menu. Properly made, it’s really good. The secret is to use really fresh prawns and thick, good-quality mayonnaise. Serves 4.

500g peeled fresh prawns
150 ml good quality mayonnaise
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon tomato ketchup
A teaspoon of paprika and lemon wedges to garnish
One shredded Little Gem or half an Iceberg lettuce

Place the prawns in a bowl. Mix together the rest of the ingredients, except for the lettuce, paprika, and lemon wedges, then add this to the prawns. Mix thoroughly. Put some shredded lettuce into the base of 4 serving dishes or glasses then top with the prawns and cocktail sauce.

Dust each serving lightly with paprika and serve with a lemon wedge and some buttered wholemeal bread.



This is a true retro classic. If you got married in the 1970s it was highly likely that you would’ve got a fondue set as a wedding gift – or more than one sometimes!  Serves 4 – 6.

200 ml dry white wine
1 teaspoon lemon juice
200g grated gruyere cheese
100g grated Emmental cheese
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
1 tablespoon of kirsch or schnapps

Rub the cut sides of the garlic clove around the inside of a heavy-based pan to add a subtle flavour. Put the wine and lemon juice into the pan and heat gently. Add the cheeses and stir until melted. The cheese should thicken the mixture. Stir in the liqueur and some pepper. If you don’t have a fondue set, place the pan of fondue on a trivet over a lit tea light candle to keep it warm. If necessary, you can whisk the pan back into the kitchen and reheat it, then return it to the trivet.

Serve with gherkins, cooked new potatoes, chunks of crusty bread and cubes of ham to dip into the fondue. If you do have a fondue set, it will come with long forks so that you can dip your chosen items without getting too close to the heat. If not, you can use ordinary forks or skewers.

Oxtail Soup

Oxtail soup

This usually came out of a tin back in the day, but properly made it’s a tasty, economical, and nourishing soup. Serves 4.

Oil for frying
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 oxtail, excess fat removed and cut into pieces
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
3 celery stalks, washed and diced
1 dried bay leaf
Salt and pepper
Fresh chopped parsley and crushed black peppercorns to garnish

Heat the oil in a deep, heavy-based pan and fry the oxtail pieces and the onion until brown, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients and cover with water. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for 3 – 4 hours, until the oxtail is tender. Top up with more water during cooking if the level gets too low.

Remove the meat from the bones (it should come off easily) and use a large spoon to skim excess fat from the surface of the soup. Remove the bay leaf and return two-thirds of the meat to the pan.

Puree the soup in a liquidiser or use a hand blender, until smooth. Add the reserved pieces of oxtail and stir well.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with parsley and crushed peppercorns.



Invented in Paris, these little pastry morsels were popular at parties, where they would be handed around with drinks before the guests sat down to the main meal. The name means ‘windblown’ and refers to the lightness of the puff pastry. Makes about 24.

1 400g block of ready-made puff pastry
1 medium egg, beaten
40g butter
40g plain flour
400 ml of hot milk
Salt and pepper

Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface until it’s about 3 mm thick. Stamp out rounds with a pastry cutter and place them on a baking sheet lined with non-stick baking paper. Brush with the beaten egg and bake at gas 6/200C/400F for 10 – 15 minutes, until the pastry is well-risen and golden brown.

Allow to cool, then slice off the tops with a sharp knife and set aside.

Melt the butter in a pan and add the flour. Stir, and cook for a few minutes until a paste has formed. Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring well between each addition. You should have a thick, smooth sauce. Season and allow to cool.

Use a teaspoon to scoop out any soft pastry from the middle of the vol-au-vents, then fill them with your chosen filling. Sit the pastry lids on top at a slight angle before serving.

Prawn and Cayenne
Chop 120g of peeled prawns and mix with the paprika and cooled white sauce. Use to fill the hollows in the vol-au-vents and top with a whole prawn.

Mushroom and Chive:

Finely chop 120g of button mushrooms. Saute in a pan with 25g of butter until the mushrooms have softened. Mix with the white sauce and sprinkle with some chopped chives.

Ham and Cheese
Finely chop 100g of ham and mix with the white sauce, along with 2 tablespoons of finely grated cheddar cheese.

Crab and Caviar:
Take 200g of prepared or canned crab meat. Mix with the white sauce and add a tablespoon of chopped fresh parsley and a tablespoon of chopped chives. Spoon into the vol-au-vent cases and top with a teaspoon of red salmon caviar. (This is not true caviar but it looks the part!)

Smoked Haddock Kedgeree

This was once served as a breakfast dish, but it makes a better lunch, in my opinion. Try to get undyed smoked haddock if you can – the bright yellow kind has been coloured with turmeric. Serves 4.

250g smoked haddock fillet
30g of butter
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
225g cooked basmati rice (cooked weight)
1 teaspoon of garam masala or madras curry powder
2 medium eggs, boiled for 8 minutes
100g cooked frozen peas
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish
Lemon wedges to squeeze over

Place the haddock in a pan, cover it with water and heat gently for about 10 – 15 minutes. Test the fish by breaking a piece off with a fork. It should flake easily. Drain off the water and break the fish up into chunks, removing any bones.

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan and fry the onion over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until softened and lightly browned. Add the garlic and fry for 1 minute, then tip in the rice, peas, and smoked haddock. Add the garam masala or curry powder, season with salt and pepper and heat through.

Serve with the hard-boiled eggs cut into quarters – 2 per plate – and scatter over the chopped parsley. Squeeze over some lemon juice to taste.

Tournedos en Croute

Tournedos en croute

These are like individual beef wellingtons; fillet steaks covered in pate and wrapped in puff pastry. Very luxurious. This would make a perfect main course for a special dinner party. Serves  4.

15g of butter
4 fillet steaks, about 185 – 200g each
100g smooth liver pate
A handful of fresh spinach leaves
30 ml of brandy or dry sherry
212g frozen puff pastry, thawed
Salt and pepper
1 medium egg, beaten

Melt the butter in a non-stick pan until sizzling, Fry the fillet steaks for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan onto a plate and allow to rest. Leave until cold.

Moisten the pate with the brandy or sherry. Season the steaks and spread the pate over them. Place a few spinach leaves on top of the pate.

Roll out the pastry on a floured work surface to a thickness of about 3 mm thick. Cut it into 4 squares, large enough to completely enclose the meat. Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg and cover the meat completely, leaving no gaps. Pinch the edges together at the top. Flatten out the seam, then pierce the pastry 2 or 3 times with the point of a sharp knife – this allows steam to escape.

Brush the pastry all over with the beaten egg and cook in a preheated oven, gas 6/200C/400F, for about 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve with new potatoes, green beans and, whole baby carrots.

Duck a l’Orange

Duck a l'orange

This was a classic in the 1970s. Roast duck served in an orange sauce. It’s actually very good, as the slight sharpness of the oranges offsets the richness of the meat. Serves 4.

25g butter
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 whole duck, 2 – 2.5kg in weight, jointed
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
150 ml of duck or chicken stock
300 ml fresh orange juice
2 oranges, thinly sliced then cut in half
2 teaspoons soft light brown sugar
Salt and pepper

Heat the butter in a non-stick pan and fry the onion for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Put the flour on a plate and mix in the salt and pepper and ground mixed spice. Use this to coat the jointed duck all over. Brown the duck with the onions, then stir in the stock and orange juice.

Put a lid on the pan and cook in a preheated oven, gas 4/180C/350F for about an hour. Test with a skewer, the duck should feel tender. Remove from the oven and keep warm.

Melt 25g of butter in a frying pan and add the orange slices. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cook until lightly caramelised. Serve the duck with a little of the sauce spooned over and the rest poured into a warm gravy boat or jug. Garnish each serving with the sliced caramelised oranges. Serve with mashed potatoes.

Quiche Lorraine

Quiche lorraine

The original quiche lorraine was a shortcrust pastry case filled with rich egg custard, cheese, and bacon. The recipe is still much the same today. This makes a nice lunch with a salad and some new potatoes. Serves 8.

1 sheet of ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
150g smoked streaky bacon, chopped
2 medium eggs + 2 yolks
150 ml double cream
150 ml of full-fat milk
50g gruyere or cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and pepper

Heat a non-stick pan without any oil and fry the bacon pieces over a fairly high heat until crisp and browned. Line a 23 cm loose-based flan tin with the pastry, pushing it into the sides and trimming off any excess. Chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Beat together the eggs, yolks, cream, and seasoning. Add half of the milk (you might not need all of it) and mix well. Scatter the bacon pieces over the pastry case and pour over the egg mixture. Sprinkle the cheese over the top and put the flan tin on a baking sheet.

Bake the quiche at gas 5/190C/375F for 25 – 30 minutes, until the filling is set and the pastry is golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Toad in the Hole

We used to eat this a lot when I was growing up, I loved the crispy edges on the batter! Its appeal was that you could make a tasty and filling meal from only a few ingredients. Serves 4.

8 thick pork sausages, minimum of 85% meat
Oil for frying
100g plain flour
2 medium eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon dried mixed herbs
300 ml full-fat milk
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and fry the sausages, turning frequently, until brown all over. Transfer to a shallow ovenproof dish. Sieve the flour into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs and about half of the milk. Gradually mix the flour into the eggs and milk, working from the sides.

When all of the flour has been mixed in, add the rest of the milk and beat vigorously, until you have a smooth batter. Stir in the dried herbs and some salt and pepper. Allow to stand for 20 minutes.

Put the dish containing the sausages into a hot oven, gas 7/220C/425F, adding a splash of oil. Pour the batter around the sausages and cook for about 30 – 40 minutes, until the batter is puffy and golden brown and the sausages are cooked through.

This is nice served with some onion gravy, and peas and carrots.

Rice Pudding

This is a sweet rice dish, made with short-grain rice that breaks down to form a creamy texture. You can buy it in cans but nothing beats the real thing. Serves 2.

3 x 15ml spoons of pudding rice
50g caster sugar
600 ml of full-fat milk
Half a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and grated nutmeg
15g butter

Put the rice and sugar into a shallow ovenproof dish. Pour over the milk and add the cinnamon, nutmeg and butter. Bake in a very hot oven, gas 8/230C/450F for 10 – 15 minutes until a skin has started to form on top. (The skin is the best bit!)

Lower the heat to gas 1/140C/275F and cook for a further hour, until the rice is soft and creamy and the skin is golden brown in colour. Serve straight from the baking dish.

Strawberry Souffle

Souffles were big in the 70s, they were what you made if you wanted to show off your cooking skills to your friends. Sweet or savoury, the main thing is that your souffle should rise, the higher the better! Serves 4.

350g fresh ripe strawberries, stalks and hulls removed
150g caster sugar
3 medium eggs, separated
1 x 15 ml spoon gelatine powder
2 x 15 ml spoon lemon juice
150 ml double cream
Fresh strawberries to decorate

You need a 600 ml souffle dish for this (but any deep dish will do) lightly oiled on the inside. Puree the strawberries in a blender, reserving a few for decoration. Stir 50g of the sugar into the strawberry puree.

Put the egg yolks and remaining sugar into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Beat with an electric hand whisk until thick. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue beating the eggs until the mixture has cooled.

Put the lemon juice into a small bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Leave until it’s gone spongy, then place the bowl into a pan of hot water, and stir over a low heat until the gelatine has dissolved. Cool slightly, then stir into the strawberry mixture.

Whip the cream until thick and fold into the strawberry puree, making sure it’s thoroughly mixed in. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, then fold them into the souffle. Spoon the mixture into the prepared dish and chill for a minimum of 4 hours, until set.

Decorate the souffle with the reserved sliced strawberries. The idea is to take the souffle to the table for your guests to admire before scooping it out onto serving plates, with a jug of cream to pour over.

Creme Brulee

Creme brulee

Said to have been invented at Trinity College in Cambridge, England, in 1879. The name means ‘burnt cream.’ But it’s the sugar on top that is burnt, setting to a thin, hard caramel which cracks when you dig your spoon in, to reveal the smooth cream beneath. Serves 4.

600 ml double cream
4 large egg yolks
75g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put the cream into a heavy-based pan and heat until it’s almost at boiling point. Mix together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla in a bowl, then pour on the hot cream, stirring well.

Take 4 175 ml ramekin dishes and stand them in a shallow baking dish. Pour in the custard mixture then half fill the baking dish with boiling water. It should come halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake at gas 4/180C/350F for about 30 – 35 minutes. The custard is done when you shake the ramekin and the custard wobbles in the centre, like jelly. Allow to cool completely.

To finish the brulees, sprinkle them with the remaining sugar in an even layer. The easiest way to melt the sugar is with a cook’s blowtorch. But if you don’t have one, place the ramekins under a hot grill until the sugar has melted and turned dark brown. Allow to cool slightly so that the topping hardens, then serve. Nice with some fresh raspberries on the side.

Summer Pudding

This dish is aptly named, it really tastes like summer! Soft fruits are encased in a crust made from thinly-sliced bread, and when you cut into it a rush of glorious, deep red juice oozes out. Serve in slices with pouring cream. Serves 4 – 6.

750g soft summer fruits, such as blackcurrants, raspberries, blackberries or redcurrants
100g caster sugar
100 – 150g stale white bread, crusts cut off
A teaspoon of butter for greasing

Put the fruits into a pan with the sugar and heat gently until the juice starts to run and the fruit has softened.

Butter the base and sides of a 900 ml pudding basin or souffle dish and line it with the slices of bread, saving 2 slices for the top. Make sure there aren’t any gaps between the bread slices.

Pour in the fruit, reserving 2 tablespoons of juice. Set the bread slices on top and press down firmly, then put a plate on top and weigh it down with whatever heavy items you have available! Tins work well. Chill overnight.

To unmould, put a plate over the top of the basin, hold it down firmly, then turn the basin upside down and give it a gentle shake. The pudding should turn out easily. Use the reserved juice to colour any bits of bread not already coloured. Best eaten on the same day.

Black Forest Cake

Black forest cake

And for a grand finale, this gorgeous gateau. Light-as-air chocolate sponge cake, sandwiched together with whipped cream and kirsch-soaked cherries and decorated with curls of dark chocolate. Pure indulgence! Serves 8 – 10.

6 large eggs
150g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour, sifted
50g cocoa powder, sifted
2 x 390g jars of cherries in kirsch
2 heaped teaspoons of cornflour
750 ml double cream, whipped
250g dark chocolate, 46% cocoa solids
10 fresh red cherries to decorate

Break the eggs into a mixing bowl, add the sugar and whisk until pale and thick. Gently fold in the sifted flour and cocoa powder, then pour the mixture into two 2 greased and lined 23 cm sandwich tins. Bake in a preheated oven, gas 4/180C/375F for 20 – 25 minutes, until the cake is shrinking away from the edges of the tin. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool and peel off the baking paper.

Drain the cherries, reserving the syrup. Chop the cherries into quarters, then put the cornflour and a couple of tablespoons of the reserved syrup into a pan and make a paste. Add the rest of the syrup and bring slowly to the boil, stirring until thickened. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Add the chopped cherries and leave to cool, then chill in the fridge.

Whip the cream until it stands in soft peaks. Divide it in half. Cut the cooled sponges into 2 discs, using a very sharp knife. The sponge is very delicate, so work carefully. You should now have 4 thin layers of sponge. Spread half of the cream onto one of the discs, then top it with the cherries. Sit another disc of sponge on top and repeat the process. Finish with the other half of the cream, spreading it over the top and sides of the cake.

Use a coarse grater to make chocolate shards and sprinkle them over the top and sides of the cake. They should stick to the cream, but if some fall off it doesn’t matter.

Mark the top of the cake with a sharp knife into portions, and top each one with a whole cherry. Chill the cake until needed.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane. If you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

For more retro treats visit candy bars from the 1970s.

Have you ever dreamed of starting your own online business? It’s easier than you think. Try Wealthy Affiliate; it’s worked for me, why not find out if it could work for you too? Best of all – it’s free!

WA banner

4 thoughts on “Retro Food Recipes”

  1. Hi Karen

    It is quite fascinating to know the dishes from the 1970s and Looks like these all are delicious recipes. And the interesting dish I found in the article is Fondue, which is set as a wedding gift.

    Among all the dishes,  Black Forest Cake is one of my favourites. This cake has a special place in my heart. Thanks for sharing the recipe with proper measurements, I can definitely try it at home.

    Sujith 🙂

    • Thanks for your comments, I’m glad you liked the post! You must definitely try the black forest cake, it’s divine!

  2. These recipes really bought back fond memories of growing up in the seventies. I never realized that prawn cocktail was something that came out of those years and I had forgotten all about toad in a hole. 
    Creme brûlée was one of my favorite desserts so thank you for that go to recipe. 

    • Hi Michel, I’m glad the post brought back some good memories for you and reminded you of long-forgotten dishes. You have a 3-course meal right there in your comments; prawn cocktail, toad in the hole and creme brulee! Good comfort food and easy to make. 


Leave a Comment