I am looking at a dilapidated botany book crammed with handwritten recipes, torn newspaper articles and food ideas. This is a book well travelled and covers my life -“ as told in food memories -“ from well before I even created a kitchen and dared to call it my own.
I have favourite recipes which have proved incomparable for dinner parties, midnight snacks and drop-ins, and even if we’re not all self-confessed foodies, there are comfort foods which give sustenance and meaning to our lives -“ perhaps even more so when we’re recovering from the rigours of a big party weekend. Whether you share recipes amongst friends at dinner parties or inherit goodies from grandma, even a simple chocolate slice can be known as your very own recipe.
Here are some very easy pieces from Bite’s much-loved but flour-strewn and stained food bible.
They’re the bites to fall back on, the tastes to share with the best of friends, and above all, the tried and the true.
Forget about Anzac bikkies, sterling national staple though they may be. This slice goes well with a good brew, keeps well and makes a great play lunch. Most of all, you get that same Anzac taste with a chewier consistency.
– 1 cup Uncle Toby’s Quick Oats
– 1 cup shredded coconut
– 1 cup self-raising flour
– 1 cup raw sugar
– 125g butter
– 2 (overflowing) tablespoons golden syrup
– 1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 150C. Melt butter with golden syrup until slightly bubbling. Beat egg and add to dry ingredients. Add butter and syrup mixture. Mix till combined. Press into greased swiss roll tin (lamington tin) and cook for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool in tin before slicing into bars.
GERMAN POTATO SOUP
Ah, a real comfort food, this one. It makes lots, freezes well (good for winter lunches if work has a micro-wave) and is fab with crusty bread. It’s also very hard to stuff up.
– 4 rashers bacon, diced finely
– 4 medium onions, brown or white, diced finely
– 75g butter
– 2 tablespoons plain flour
– 4 cups chicken stock or 4 stock cubes and 4 cups hot water
– 4 to 5 large peeled sliced desiree potatoes
– 2 egg yolks
– 1 cup sour cream
– 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
– salt and pepper to taste
Saut?acon and onion and butter in large saucepan until the onion is transparent and the bacon curly. Add flour and stir well. Add stock (or cubes and water), stirring constantly. Season with salt and pepper and, lastly, add potatoes. Simmer 20 minutes or until potato is tender. Mix egg yolks and sour cream in separate bowl. Add a little hot soup mixture to sour cream mix, stir, and then add sour cream mix to main saucepan. Add parsley. Stir, bring to bubbling point and then serve.
An oldie but a goodie. Lots of people have variations on this favourite, but I like to think this one is the easiest. Serve it with lashings of greens and gravy. It’s also delicious on sandwiches the day after.
– 2kg leg of lamb
– 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and slivered
– 6 sprigs of rosemary in 3-inch pieces
– 3 tablespoons olive oil
– 1 to 2 cups chicken stock
– juice of 3 lemons
– potatoes -“ 1 large potato per person, chopped into small cubes
Preheat oven to 200C. Rub salt and pepper over lamb, pierce it with a small sharp knife evenly all over and insert garlic slivers and rosemary sprigs. Place it in a roasting pan and surround it with potato cubes. Grind pepper and salt over the potato and pour lemon juice over the lamb and potato pieces. Roast for an hour to an hour and a half or until cooked to your satisfaction. The lamb is cooked when juices run clear, not pink. Remove it, cover with foil and make a gravy with chicken stock, flour and pan juices.
CHOCOLATE CHERRY SLICE
It would be nice to say that this slice keeps, but it’s so scrummy, that’s hardly likely. Suffice to say, you can sneak it into your lunchbox for a snack, smother it with cream for a dessert, and there’s no cooking involved.
– 400g chocolate chip biscuits chopped roughly (Arnott’s Maryland Cookies are best)
– 200g dried apricots, chopped
– 75g flaked almonds
– 300g quality dark chocolate
– 3/4 cup thickened cream
– 1/2 cup cherry jam or jelly
– icing sugar (for decoration)
Line a swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper leaving a few inches of paper over the edges. Mix biscuits, apricots and almonds in a bowl. Put chocolate, cream and jam into a saucepan and stir over a low heat until melted and smooth. Add chocolate mixture to biscuit mixture and stir until combined. Spoon into the tin and flatten surface. Refrigerate for two hours. Cut into slices or bars. Dust with icing sugar or serve with chocolate butter cream icing sprinkled with coconut.
MUM’S CREAMY TUNA MORNAY
I was brought up on this little dish and it’s still a number one comfort food -“ whether winter or summer. For some reason, Mum -“ when the mood struck her -“ added sultanas and even green grapes. I’ve never had an explanation as to why, but she never had any complaints.
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
3 tablespoons Madras curry powder (or to taste)
1 green capsicum, de-seeded and chopped
1 large can (440g) tuna in brine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup milk (or thereabouts)
2 eggs, boiled and then peeled and chopped
Saut?nion and garlic in oil. Add green capsicum and curry powder. Cook for a minute, then gradually add flour and milk until thickened slightly. Add tuna and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Serve with boiled rice.