A Taste of Home

1 Jun

By John Fitzgerald

On a trip back to see my family in the UK, I started thinking about what to eat first. Friends had also asked me, “What do you think you’ll eat first?”

So, with thoughts of my first English food in a year there was a lot to choose from: Fish ‘n Chips, full English breakfast, Roast Dinner, Indian takeaway. I hoped to try them all. I also hoped I would eat some of my mum’s cooking. For me this food holds some of the best memories and is most enjoyable.

When I think of which food I associate with home, my first choice would be something my mum used to make that she calls a “Special”. This really reminds me of being at home. I know my sister loves these too.

The ingredients are simple: cheese, bread and eggs. I don’t know much about the history of the dish. I asked my mum where the recipe came from and she told me that it was something that her mum used to make for her when she was growing up. I really love these as they are easy and quick to make and can be eaten for any meal.

I can’t remember how old I was when I first had one but it really reminds me of my family. I knew if I had been off school due to illness, a sign of my recovery would be the ability to eat two of these by myself. Real comfort food!

I haven’t made one for myself since I have been back in Toronto. To think of one of my mum’s makes my mouth water, so eating one is now at the top of my to-do list.

Another favourite is Trifle. This is one I remember my nan and mum making. It was a dessert we would usually eat a Saturday night when family was visiting and finish up the rest on Sunday. We would eat this sitting around watching television together. I would try and save the cherries – my favourite part – until last. This is also easy to prepare and the results are worth the effort! Don’t worry about exact meI do not know exact measurements for this one but you will get the idea.

Mum’s “Special” (for one serving)

Two pieces of bread (I prefer white. I don’t think I’ve tried brown)

Grated cheese, enough to cover two pieces of bread (more if desired)

One egg (gently beaten)

Margarine or butter

Under a broiler, melt the cheese onto the toast, remove from broiler and put the two faces of cheese together forming a sandwich.

Pour the beaten egg onto a shallow plate.

Dip the sandwich into the egg, covering both sides.

Place sandwich into a pre-heated pan; pour remaining egg over the sandwich.

Cook both sides until egg is set.

Remove from pan and serve.

I usually top mine off with Tomato Ketchup but that’s optional!

Mum’s and Nan’s Trifle

There are many different styles of this recipe but this is how I remember my nan making it.

1 large bowl (glass preferably)

1 Swiss Roll or sponge cake

1 glass of sherry (optional)

1 packet of jelly (I like strawberry)

1 large tin of custard

1 tub of whipped cream

1 medium tin of fruit cocktail (not including pineapple)

A tub of hundreds and thousands (aka sprinkles in North America)

5-6 Glace Cherries

Break the cake into pieces and place in the bottom of the bowl (at least 1-2 inches deep). Pour the glass of sherry onto the cake.

Drain off the fruit and pour this the cake.

Make the jelly in a separate bowl and before it sets pour over the cake and fruit, then place this into the fridge until jelly has set.

When the jelly has set remove from fridge, empty the tin of custard over the top of the jelly and place back in the fridge until a thin skin forms on the custard, this can take about an hour. (If you are using powdered custard cool the mixture before pouring over the jelly.)

Once the skin has formed you can now whip the cream and spoon over the top of the custard.

To garnish, sprinkle the top with hundreds and thousands and cherries.

Serve

John Fitzgerald is originally from Peterborough, UK, and now lives in Toronto.

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