Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Mulberry pie

About this time last year my mum called me to tell me she'd had a bumper crop of mulberries. She'd freeze them for my next visit, she said, so we could make pie, a favourite dessert of mine from childhood. For anyone who grew up in Brisbane like me, mulberries will be a major memory. The sprawling trees were found in most backyards, their leaves fed the silkworms we had as our first pets, their berries stained school uniforms and little fingers purple... no matter how many items of clothing you ruined you could never resist. They were delicious. Sweet, fat and juicy. Perfect for pie. Mum never used a recipe so in her absence I cobbled together one from two excellent sources - Bill Granger for pastry, and Smitten Kitchen for filling (those Americans know what they're doing with berries). Technically I suppose this is more of a galette than a pie as it's free-form and open, but I was teaching my dad how to make it and I knew he'd never be bothered rolling out two lots of dough, let alone sealing and crimping a crust. The proportion of pastry to fruit is better too, and without a lid you get to see the berries in all their beauty. I'd been up to Brisbane many times since Mum died, but not been able to face the freezer. But a new crop of mulberries had appeared on the tree since last November. It was time. Mum picked these berries. I made the pie. So it was a joint effort. I like to think we did it together.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Forgotten cookies

Some things are worth making just for the name alone. Or in this case if you're travelling north to work with a colleague who's gluten-free and you need something sweet to power both of you through two days of script meetings. I was tossing up between lime polenta cake (made in a bar tin) or little lemon polenta cakes (small, stackable) when I remembered forgotten cookies. This recipe, from Chicago chef Sarah Gruneberg infuses beaten egg whites with sugar, cardamom and vanilla and winds through sour cherries, dark chocolate and toasted pecans. The dough - such as it is without flour or even, miraculously, dairy - is dolloped into spoonfuls onto a baking tray, sprinkled with sea salt, baked for five minutes and left in the oven overnight. In the morning, you're rewarded with little boulders of meringue. Crisp on the outside, with a chewy, marshmallow-like interior containing crunch, combining sweet and sour... once tried, never forgotten.