to mum, with love

 

 

little passionfruit cheesecakes 

It’s amazing how life can still take you by surprise. One moment it’s Christmas and your mum has found a lump in her breast. The next moment it’s early February and she is coming home from hospital after having a mastectomy. In spite of all the worry and anxiety there are a few positives to this scenario. It certainly makes you reconsider your relationships and what you hold as important, and it makes you treasure your mum all the more.

My mum is an amazing lady, an inspiration. From her heroic childbirth record of five healthy babies all born naturally without drugs or epidurals, she has selflessly devoted her life to raising her kids. While at the same time, keeping my dear old dad on the straight and narrow and managing the financial side of our family farm. She is the linch pin that has kept our family together.

My mum is fit and possesses better arm muscles and a much more slender figure than me. All her walking and tennising have kept her in amazing shape. As has her passion for gardening. Digging, watering, planting, weeding, my mum is always on the go.

My mum is an inspirational cook. Her Christmas cakes are legendary as are her jams and her lamingtons. She does a mean roast leg of home grown lamb with all the trimmings and a lemon meringue pie that is worth driving all the way across the Nullabor for, just ask my brother Dom.

My mum is always generous with her big country kitchen and happily lets me take over whenever I’m home. Happy to play the role of chief Champagne opener and herb picker, she is always there to gossip and keep me company. And while my siblings tolerate my cooking, I know they look forward to when mum is back manning the pans and churning out our favourite comfort food: tuna dish.

So with my mum coming home from hospital this weekend past, I made the journey to ‘Mount View’ in eager anticipation of trying to fatten her up with all her favourite things. Although there is a fish man who visits our closest town once a week, I still always like to bring home seafood from the Sydney Fish Markets as a treat for my fish-ophile mum.

We love smoked trout, so some smoked trout rillettes, a kind of chunky pate seemed like the perfect place to start. With all it’s omega-3 goodness, salmon is just the right fish for someone fresh out of hospital. Teamed with a simple anchovy and rosemary sauce and some broccolini, my mum’s favourite veg, this was a sure fired winner to help get her back in shape.

My mum loves dessert. So much so that my snow-bunny sister,  mum and I once ordered four desserts between the three of us over a long leisurely lunch on Henley Beach in Adelaide. And the so aptly named passionfruit, sweet passionfruit,  is her all time favourite fruit. My mum loves cream in general and marscarpone in particular so a passionfruit cheesecake with a generous helping of that gorgeous Italian -style cream cheese made for the perfect finale to her first dinner back home. We’ve still got a long way to go but I know that by taking things one day at a time and one meal at a time…this cancer episode will soon be something we speak of in the past tense…all good things…

a homecoming dinner for my mum
smoked trout rillettes with crisp bread & celery
BBQ salmon with broccolini & rosemary & anchovy sauce
passionfruit cheesecakes with marscarpone

smoked trout rillettes with crisp bread & celery
makes approx 3cups
Adapted from a Karen Martini recipe published in Sunday Life.

In my family we love smoked trout. The lovely thing about this pate version is that the white fish works to even out the intense smokiness of the trout while keeping the texture lovely and light. Will keep in the fridge for about a week or so.

300g blue eye or other firm fleshed white fish such as cod or kingfish
1 smoked rainbow trout
100g unsalted butter, softened
80g natural yoghurt
1 egg yolk
juice 1 lemon
1/2 bunch chives
2T extra virgin olive oil
additional lemon juice, optional
crisp bread to serve
celery sticks to serve.

Bring a frying pan full of salted water to the boil. Add blue eye and reduce heat. Simmer for 1 min then remove from the heat and allow to stand for approx 8mins or until fish is cooked. Allow to cool and then flake into fine pieces.

Remove skin and bones from trout and combine with butter, yoghurt, yolk and lemon juice in a food processor. Whizz until well combined and slightly chunky.

Stir through chives and blue eye and season with salt, pepper, and additional lemon juice. Serve in small bowls with crisp bread and celery sticks on the side.

BBQ salmon with broccolini & rosemary anchovy sauce
serves 4
Adapted from Jamie Oliver in Cook With Jamie.

This is an example of why I love Jamie Oliver. A simple idea that is quick to prepare, nutritious and tastes amazing. Jamie uses purple sprouting broccoli. I went for broccolini which I think is just baby broccoli. The stems are lovely and tender, a little like a cross between asparagus and broccoli and just bursting with green goodness. Feel free to substitute in regular broccoli if you can’t get your hands on broccolini.

4 salmon fillets, approx 200g each
3 bunches broccolini
for the sauce:
1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked and chopped
10 anchovies in oil, finely chopped
juice and zest 1 lemon
extra virgin olive oil
lemon halves, to serve

Heat a BBQ over high heat. For the sauce: combine all ingredients adding enough olive oil to give it a good oozy saucing consistency. Season with pepper and set aside.

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil. Cook broccolini for 3-4mins or until just tender. Drain and toss through about half of the dressing. Keep warm.

Meanwhile, rub salmon with olive oil and season well. BBQ for 3-4mins each side or until cooked to your liking. Which for my dad is extremely well done and dried out and for my mum is still nice and pink in the middle.

Divide broccolini between 4 plates. Top each with a piece of salmon and drizzle over remaining sauce.

little passionfruit cheesecakes with marscarpone
serves 6
Adapted from Emma Knowles’ mango cheesecake recipe in the Feb07 Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Individual cheesecakes make a lovely dessert. If you were in a more mango mood just replace the passionfruit with 120g mango flesh and up the lime juice to 2 limes and serve with sliced mango on top.

120g digestive biscuits
30g butter, melted
250g cream cheese, softened
250g marscarpone
2 eggs
90g caster sugar
2T lime juice
180g passionfruit pulp
extra passionfruit to serve
marscarpone to serve

Preheat oven to 150C. Line 6 cups with squares of baking paper to cover the base and sides. Whizz biscuits in a food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add melted butter and mix until combined. Divide between cups, pressing down to line the base of each. Refrigerate until required.

Combine cream cheese, marscarpone, eggs, sugar and lime juice in a food processor and mix until very smooth. Add passionfruit pulp and process until just combined. Divide filling between the cups. Bake for 30-40mins or until just set.

Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove from the cup and paper and place each cheesecake on a plate. Top with passionfruit and serve with marscarpone passed separately.

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