In all the moving over the past nine years, so many treasures have taken a severe beating – including my heart, and I have cried hot tears over ruined family treasures; water damaged Coffee books, moulded photographs and of course my collection of Recipe books.
I am the avid reader and once collector of recipe books supreme. Who would forget the essential Wedding present from my mother-in-law ‘Kook and Geniet?’ (Cook and Enjoy) No self respecting new bride would be without one and believe me, I needed it badly. For one who never eats eggs, boiling one or unable to boil one was embarrassingly disastrous for me. The most patient husband ever.
As the little ones grew, my home and garden and little family were all. I was happiest with Iceberg roses in a vase on the kitchen island and Delia Smith’s ‘Piedmont Peppers” recipe open on the page whilst darling was barbecuing outside. I could do this! Ended up being rather a dab hand in the kitchen thanks to the best friend recipe books.
And then there was my mother’s recipe book. Mom may not have taught me to cook, but she sure could bake. Every Friday in our home, and I continued the tradition, was baking day. Day for stocking the shelves; bowls of sweets and flowers throughout the house day.
Truth be told, my grandmother was a baker rather than a cook also. The Croxley exercise book handed down to me contains recipes they both loved, primarily baking, but also many Dutch recipes. Over the years I added my own, with entries from Prudence, Philomena and friends …
Few escaped the move. Heartbroken to pry pages stuck together, mouldy and forgotten in the garage for a too small kitchen in the flat. It was as if my heritage, my history and a happy part of my life were as mouldy and water logged as my favourite books were.
Which is why I am starting a new one! No time like the present to create for the future and my children. It is time to stop sobbing over what is lost and cherish was was, add to it and plan for those seventy cupcakes required when grandchildren have their birthday parties.
This will be my Lieflingskos – my collection of loved food and memories.
It will be simply. My Grandmother, My mother, mother-in-law, my housekeepers and my friends recipes will be restored and written about. With a story to share in the future. More than capture their recipes I am adding our cultural favourites, Dutch and Afrikaans. Add all the others I love, that marked a special occasion, tried and tested by my family. It will be my gift to my children, just as I received from those I love and continue to be part of who I am.
As a gesture of just how awful I was as a young bride about to cook, I will share Delia’s recipe for Piedmont Peppers. Still a favourite, always my first attempt. Yay!
PIEDMONT ROASTED PEPPERS
This recipe is quite simply stunning: hard to imagine how something so easily prepared can taste so good.
Its history is colourful too. It was first discovered by Elizabeth David and published in her splendid book Italian Food. Then the Italian Chef Franco Taruschio at the Walnut Tree Inn near Abergavenny cooked it there. Simon Hopkinson, who at it at The Walnut Tree, put it on his menu at his great London restaurant Bibendum, where I ate it – which is how it comes to be here now for you to make and enjoy.
Begin by cutting the peppers in half and removing the seeds but leaving the stalks intact (they’re not edible but they do look attractive and they help the pepper halves to keep their shape).
Lay the pepper halves in the lightly oiled roasting tray. Now put the tomatoes in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them for 1 minute, then drain them and slip the skins off, using a cloth to protect your hands. Then cut the tomatoes into quarters and place three quarters in each pepper half. Watch How to Skin Tomatoes here.
After that, snip one anchovy fillet per pepper half into rough pieces and add to the tomatoes. Peel the garlic cloves, slice them thinly and divide the slices equally among the tomatoes and anchovies.
Now spoon 1 dessertspoon of olive oil into each pepper, season with freshly milled pepper (but no salt because of the anchovies) and place the tray on a high shelf in the oven for the peppers to roast for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
Then transfer the cooked peppers to a serving dish, with all the precious juices poured over, and garnish with a sprig of basil leaves.
These do need good bread to go with them as the juices are sublime – focaccia would be perfect.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).