Food brings back lasting memories and many of our greatest family discussions were held around the kitchen table over a cup of tea in the afternoon, or at the dining table where the television was definitely turned off. For dinner parties with friends from neighbouring farms, our mother would pull out all the stops and spend the day in the kitchen preparing for the big event. She was never one to do anything by halves, so the numbers were always large. Usually a trip to the city would be planned before such a dinner to pick up delicacies that couldn't be found at our local Four Square or sent via rural delivery. A visit to Wah Lee in Hobson St (the only place to buy Asian spices) was always included. Dinner on these occasions was usually a change from the regular piece of mutton.
Scallop mornay has been around for years and is rich and delicious. Traditionally made with cheddar cheese, gruyere here adds a delicate flavour. Fresh dill or chives, if you can buy them in winter, are fabulous but parsley is equally as fresh. If you have scallop shells, they are perfect for this, or use ramekins. A wedge of lemon on the side adds zing.
I love using parcels when cooking my food. They save on mess. Growing up on the Kaipara Harbour these included snapper, more often than not, and herbs grown in the garden - along with spinach, beans and spring onions. We hadn't yet heard of bok choy - but we did get hoisin sauce from Wah Lee.
The salmon recipe that follows is a mixed rendition, and very tasty, too. I use a wooden peg to close the parcels.
Rum babas are a real adult dessert. All the alcohol! I must admit my teenagers aren't too keen. Guaranteed to fill any hearty eater, these delights are soaked in a wonderful syrup of rum, orange and vanilla. It looks like an awful lot of liquid but the babas will soak it all up, so do use it all. I have opted for raisins, but currants or dried apricots are equally as delicious. Serve with lashings of cream and enjoy a taste from your past.
For more fabulous recipes from Angela Casley visit foodhub.co.nz