When I moved into a flat of my own, one of the first things I did was call Mum to ask how to make carrot coins (aka honey glazed carrots) and call Dad to ask him how to make yellow rice (aka turmeric rice). Those were two of my absolute favourite things to eat when I was a kid, and I love making them to this day. There is nothing quite like the comfort and nostalgia of cooking things "just like Mum used to make." So when I saw Rachel Allen's Recipes From My Mother: Delicious recipes filled with memories I was sure it would be just my kind of cookbook.
And I was right!
It is a beautiful book, full of family photographs, memories of mouth-watering meals cooked by loving mums and grandmas, and, of course, a multitude of delicious-sounding recipes that I just couldn't wait to try.
There are simple ones, like "Scrambled eggs back in the shell," and "Sweet eggy bread" (which is a souped-up version of french toast). Classic ones, like "Kedgeree" and "Apricot and cardamom bread and butter pudding." Fancy ones, like "Amma's icelandic kleiner" a sort of knotted doughnut, and "Lemon meringue pie."
I find it fascinating that although Rachel Allen grew up in Ireland with her Icelandic mother and Irish father, many of the dishes she remembers loving as a child sound so familiar to me though I grew up here in New Zealand, with my Scottish mother and English father. The first thing I learned to cook was semolina, back when I was small enough to need a chair to stand at the stove. Mum created a recipe for me that included beautiful pictures for instructions, because I struggled to read till long after I was a dab hand at making semolina. And what do you know, Semolina is the dish Rachel remembers most from when she was very young.
Still now I find a bowlful of this rib-sticking pudding the most comforting food of all
You and me, both, Rachel! Her recipe includes a instructions for making raspberry jam to dollop on the top. I wasn't making jam with mine as a little girl, but it does sound lovely!
The "Beetroot and hazelnut slaw" reminds me of the delicious beetroot salad my foster mum used to make; while "Baked creamy vanilla rice pudding" reminds me of the tasty meals I enjoyed while boarding in my first year of University. Although I've never liked cauliflower cheese, Rachel's description of the memories it invokes makes me wish I did!
For me, cauliflower cheese is serious comfort food. It comes with a shed-load of nostalgia, too, as I think of the round terracotta dish it was always cooked in at home. It would come out the Aga golden and bubbling.
Doesn't that sound delish?
There are so many recipes in this book, I'm sure that you too will find something that takes you back! Not to mention something delicious!
Recipes from my Mother
by Rachel Allen
Published by HarperCollins New Zealand