Monday, 7 March 2011

Grandmothers Day / 'Grand Fête des Mères'

 The sun shone brightly on Sunday and we all enjoyed blue skies and a feeling of release as we walked to the Mondemont [The Great War memorial on the hill overlooking Oyes] via the vineyards. I cycled and the kids ran and walked alongside...there was still a chill in the air but if we forgot the bite of the breeze we could imagine it was a summers day. We are all ready for summer and are willing it on...spring flowers are pushing through and the days are longer...not long to wait for a return to our outdoor life...the garden and the fun activites that the sunshine prompts..picnics, BBQ's, long evenings under the stars and the freedom of few clothes and sandels after the removal of the weighty winter coats and long leather boots!
There is a cookbook in my collection that came to me recommended by my great friend Julia, who happens to be my favourite person to dine with, especially if she is cooking! Her food is always divine and so well executed that I learn something from her every time we talk and eat home from home in London her house is a warm hug to me...full to the brim with the most amazing array of cooking implements, exotic ingredients, baskets of fresh fruit, vases of flowers and bowls of tasty aperitifs...always ready for a chat over a matter the time of day...I perch on the wooden stool and watch Julia effortlessly prepare a feast for all and sundry that grace her door and her table!
The book is called 'Falling Cloudberries...a world of family recipes' by Tessa Kiros. Tessa takes you on a journey of her life and travels through her family cuisine from many different parts of the world.... This book speaks summer to me...Greece, Cyprus, Italy, South Africa...beautifully photographed the food looks fabulous...every carefully considered plate, tablecloth and napkin in gorgeous textures and colours...fresh flowers and fruit, family portraits in black and white...and all tied together by the food shared by Tessa and her family. You will love everything you try and go back to make it will become a staple in the kitchen bookcase...
 I revisited 'Pork Schnitzel' over the weekend. It was a childhood favourite but it has been years since I have felt inclined to go there again...I had simply just forgotten about it until when browsing through 'Falling Cloudberries' I was tempted by a photo of Tessa's Finnish version...the simple addition of a crushed garlic clove, 1/2 tsp of sweet paprika and a teaspoon of chopped rosemary to the beaten eggs the pork loin is coated with then marinated in takes this dish to another level. The loins are then crumbed and fried in butter...great hot the first night and my family finished them off cold for lunch the next day after the big walk washed down with Ginger Beer...just as we used to as kids!
 For dessert I finally made a recipe from Tessa's book that I have often admired and the whole family was so enthusiastic about the result that I am going to share it! These little biscuits should be popped into the mouth whole where they melt with such a pleasant sensation that they take you by surprise...and then you just have to have another!
makes around 45...

250 gm of butter
2 tbsp icing sugar [plus about 300gm for dusting]
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp brandy or similar
300gm plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Pre heat the oven to 180 deg [350F]

1. Beat softened butter for 8-10 mins until pale and thick.
2. Add 2 tbsp icing sugar then egg yolk, vanilla and brandy. Mix well.
3. Add sifted flour and baking powder mixing till you have a thick dough.
4. Scoop into a ball, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 mins.
5. Roll into balls the size of cherry tomatoes [mine were a little larger as Liliana was assisting!]
6. Bake for 18 - 20 mins.
7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 - 15 mins.
8. Line a tray with baking paper and cover generously with icing sugar then place biscuits on the tray and sprinkle with the balance of the icing sugar...they should be almost buried in the sugar.
9. Enjoy with coffee, tea, champagne or a glass of iced water...dessert or afternoon tea! 

The children delivered a plate of these wee treats for Madam Paris to enjoy in celebration of 'Grand Fête des Mères' / Grandmothers day!!

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