If the Topp Twins’ dad Peter gets his way, corned beef will be on the menu this Father’s Day.
“Dad loves a good corned beef with steamed cabbage and boiled spuds,” Jools says. “It’s a really simple and old-fashioned meal but beautiful if it’s cooked the right way. Dad loves to have it cold the next day on a sandwich. We always had home-killed beef on the farm.”
The Topp twins, as most of New Zealand could tell you, were raised on a Waikato dairy farm. Their parents Jean, 84, and Peter, 86, live in Morrinsville.
“Lynda and I sometimes miss Father’s Day because we are away but we always try to go see Dad if we can. He’s getting older and so it’s really important. He likes to sit down and watch races, which is great because we get to stop too. We love just hanging out, talking with him, just being with him. Mum always makes something nice for Dad for dinner and a batch of cookies.”
The twins’ second series of Topp Country (Sundays, TV One) has just gone to air and, like the first, it features inspiring Kiwis across the countryside who share their stories (and meals) in their own kitchens. As Father’s Day approaches we talk food and family with Jools:
Tell us a special memory you have of your dad?
Watching him play polo is a special memory of mine. He's a great rider and he always looked amazing on the horses. Does your father still, or did he ever, cook?
What was his forte?
No, no and nothing!
What did you eat for celebratory meals when you were growing up?
Usually, if we were celebrating, like on a birthday or Christmas, it was a roast with all the trimmings and pudding after. We never really went out to eat. They still don't really go out. Mum cooks fresh every day. It's amazing!
Who does the cooking at your place? How often do you cook?
I do the cooking and I cook when I'm hungry.
Do you have a much-used cookbook or a celebrity chef you follow?
Not a thing — I just make it up myself and chuck it in the crock pot.
Your dad loves corned beef but what is your favourite meal?
You can't beat a good sausage casserole! Sausages are a poor man's steak. As long as it's home-kill meat with a bit of red wine and garlic. Suddenly sausages have become gourmet and if you get a good one, they're bloody brilliant. There are lots of butchers doing some really great flavours now. But, you'd never get Peter Topp eating a sausage — he doesn't like them. He firmly refuses to have a sausage. He must have had one too many filled with mutton fat and sawdust when he was a kid!
Do you have a favourite dish from your new TV series?
The most memoriable dish for me was the goat's cheese with fruit in Kaikoura. It was a beautiful day with really sweet people and sweet goats. It felt like a summer's day with just the right food, and it was quick and easy. There was a lot of work in making the cheese, of course, but my bit was easy and the combination of the cheese rolled in ash and the fruit in alcohol — magic!
Anything else you'd like to add?
It's easy to talk about food and Dad because I love both of them!
Old-fashioned slow-cooked corned beef
Jools shares her corned beef recipe here.