'Gyere kislányom, a hideg meggyleves nagyon finom! (come my little girl, this cold cherry soup is really delicious!),' my mother, Irén, would say as she beckoned me to taste her freshly made, ice-cold soup. Clearly she loved it, and indeed it must have been very good. For with each spoonful she would close her eyes, form a smile, raise her shoulders towards her neck (as you do when something is immensely pleasurable), and make the 'Mmmm' sound. Actually I can still see the look of bliss on her face... it was as though this lovely lady, who had lived a much harder life than most of us could imagine, had just died and gone to heaven.
Christmas Day lunch — a table laden with season's eatings. Roast leg of pork with crunchy crackling and a drizzle of apple sauce. Orange marmalade-glazed ham studded with maraschino cherries, pineapple and cloves. A platter of prawns with thousand island dressing. Dauphinoise potatoes and baked sweet yam with maple syrup. Sponge cake trifle layered with custard, peaches and jewel-like blobs of jelly. Bowls of cherries and a berry-topped pavlova. And, best of all — crisp and delicious green beans. Yes, green beans.
'Somehow I was never told that rhubarb was good for me, so I grew up loving it. I loved its beautiful rose-pink colour, its sharp and surprising flavour, and the way I could trail a spoonful of proper custard through my bowl of rhubarb and admire the patterns I made.'
'Cheese courses are too often overlooked, which is a crime when you have [such good] camembert. Half the cheeses were split lengthways and layered with the earthy lushness of local truffles, while the others were drizzled with honey and thyme before being baked. Both lifted the already beautiful cheeses, but for me the oozing joy of the baked version was really hard to beat.'
With the approach of the festive season, I'm literally tickled pink to share this recipe for creamy coconut ice with you — mainly because it's the best, creamiest coconut ice I have ever tasted and I know that once you've tried it you and your taste buds will love it too!
Kellemes Karacsonyi unnepeket kivanok, Froehliche weihnachten, Prejeme vam vesele vanoce a stastny Novy Rok, Zalig Kerstfeast, Buone Feste Natalizie, Kala Christouyenna, Nadolig Llawen, Feliz Navidad, God Jul, Joyeux noel.
The first time I tasted Florentines was in the late 1970s. The husband of a family friend kept a pile in his cookie jar and it was always such a treat when we visited. I'm not sure which bakery he bought them from, but they were they size of my hand and, with an assortment of dried fruits, nuts and rich chocolate coating, they were seriously good.
However, they were also rock solid and, as such, a bit hard to bite into. 'Tooth Crackers', I call them. I've eaten some other 'tooth cracker' biscuits over the years, regretting it instantly when I felt that certain crunch, knowing in my gut that the little nugget I just chomped into wasn't part of the biscuit! Ouch! This unplanned activity has kept my dentist, Dr Fang (true), happy for a time. Needless to say, I've been longing to experiment with my own version of Florentines that are kinder to the teeth.
'Why do we need more cherries?' Peter asked when I stopped to buy two large packs of plump cherries from sellers at the Capital Region Farmer's Markets on Saturday. After our recent weekend in Young for the Cherry Festival, you might think that I'd had enough of the fruit. Not so... despite de-stoning and preserving about four and a half kilos (and devouring another kilo or so fresh from the hand, I am still merrily playing with them in my kitchen.
For a deliciously fun, festive indulgence, try dipping some cherries or strawberries in melted chocolate. Chill them until ready to serve, and there you have it... little choc-cherry ballerinas waiting to dance on your taste buds.
My kitchen has been filled with the aroma of various fruit preserves lately due to something of a cooking frenzy! If you've been reading my recent posts, you'll know that I made some jam from bargain-priced Summer strawberries bought at the farmer's market. After a weekend in Young for the Cherry Festival, I've been busy preserving cherries for Winter pies and clafoutis. And when I saw mangoes selling at two for $2.50 at one of the independent grocers in the city, I knew what I had to do. And a girl has to do what a girl has to do, right?!
My father, the gentleman barber, who liked to be known as 'Andre the Great', grew several grapevines and fruit trees in our back garden, among them nectarines, apricots and peaches. The fruit was plump, succulent and full of flavour. The peaches, for instance, were the size of a tennis ball and, though dad pruned the trees diligently, sometimes we needed a ladder to reach the biggest and best specimens at the top of the tree.
Under one of the peach trees in the back corner near the fence was the compost heap, where lawn clippings and kitchen scraps were piled before being dug into the garden. And, for some reason, we had a small pet turtle that lived at the base of that tree. It was a long time ago now, and my parents and two of my older siblings are no longer around, so I can't really say why or how the turtle came to live in that spot, but it did. I can remember playing with it occasionally (when my siblings would allow it) and can still recall the smell it had and how I loved to run my little fingers over the etched outside shell. One day, apparently the turtle escaped the back yard when someone left the gate open. And that was that.
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
Join me as I share with you my favourite recipes; postcards and morsels from my travels; conversations with cookery writers
and chefs; and news on food, cookbooks
- Liz Posmyk
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.