Last week four of my five siblings gathered together in McKinney for an impromptu reunion. Sadly, my one brother who lives in France could not attend.
Although two sisters live in Dallas, my second brother lives in Oregon and third sister lives in New York, which means these gatherings have been rare but very treasured.
So I decided that our Friday night dinner would be a Meal Down Memory Lane – recreating some of the dishes we enjoyed growing up on the farm in Cape Town.
Here is the menu – and some of the recipes:
➢ Hors d’Oeuvres – My mother always started with an arranged salad plate on a base of lettuce, topped with herring, cold fish, boiled egg, asparagus, tomatoes and salmon mousse.
➢ Chicken Soup with Matzah Balls
➢ Roast Chicken – On the farm, these were generally raised and killed by Mom!
➢ Fresh vegetables - From our garden.
➢ Roast Potatoes
➢ Challah to celebrate the Friday night Sabbath
➢ At least three desserts
In the case of our re-union, the chicken came roasted courtesy of Sam’s Club. The fresh vegetables and berries were ‘picked’ at the local market. The Roast Potatoes were sadly substituted with mashed since the unforgiving Texas 104° temperature did not encourage heating the oven to 425° for an hour!
For desserts, we presented my brother with a recreation of the car cake I made for his 21st birthday [49 years ago!] and a Garden Gateau for my green thumbed sister. Fresh Berries were a reminder of the ongoing battle my Mother waged with the birds who always managed to pick her lovingly grown berries before she could!
To finish - Chocolate covered Ginger.
Herewith are a few of my family’s recipes:
1 env. Gelatin
¼ cup cold water
½ cup boiling water
½ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated onion
A dash of Tabasco sauce
¼ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
2 cups drained canned salmon [you can substitute fresh cooked]
1 cup cream – whipped
Soften the gelatin in cold water until spongy. Stir in boiling water and stir until gelatin is completely melted. Cool to room temperature.
Place the gelatin with all ingredients except the cream in a food processor and process until smooth.
Fold in the whipped cream.
Pile into an oiled mold and refrigerate until set. This can be made up to two days ahead. (Note I use a mold with a flat base and set parchment paper on the bottom – which makes the unmolding a lot easier.)
Fish in Ginger Sauce [believe me – this is DELICIOUS and EASY]
2 lbs firm fresh fish [I used Tilapia]
2 cups water
1 onion, quartered
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup BROWN vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
½ cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground ginger [or 1 tablespoon freshly grated]
½ cup Golden Syrup [Or you may substitute honey]
Combine the water, vegetables, bay leaf and peppercorns and salt and pepper and bring to the boil.
Add the fish and cook gently until the fish is opaque – about 20 minutes.
Remove the fish to a serving dish.
Strain the stock and add the sauce ingredients.
Boil for five minutes then pour over the fish.
Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours before serving.
Ladyfinger Chocolate Gateau
1 large package ladyfingers
¼ cup milk
Chocolate ganache [see recipe]
1 pint whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
Arrange a row of ladyfingers on a long serving platter – dipping each ladyfinger in milk before placing it on the plate.
Lay down as many ladyfingers as you wish determined by the number of guests you will have [My cake was about 12” long].
Spread with half the chocolate ganache* (recipe below).
Dip more ladyfingers in the milk and arrange them ACROSS the ganache.
Spread with the remaining ganache.
Dip more ladyfingers in the milk and arrange on top going in the first direction.
Allow the gateau to ‘set’ in the refrigerator.
Whip the cream until stiff, adding the sugar as you whip.
Spread it on top of the gateau and around the sides.
Finish the sides by placing meringues on top of the cream.
Decorate the top as you please.
Chill in the refrigerator.
This gateau can be prepared up to two days ahead.
*Note: You may also layer the gateau with preserves, lemon curd or berries instead of the ganache, if preferred.
Chocolate Ganache2 cups heavy cream
8 oz DARK chocolate, chopped into small chunks
Melt the chocolate in the cream in the microwave at one minute on high.
Stir until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
Refrigerate until starting to set – then whip the mixture until stiff.
Chocolate Covered Ginger - [Beware these are addictive!]
1-2 cups sugared ginger cubes [available at good markets]
12 oz DARK chocolate, cut into chunks
Melt the chocolate in a medium bowl on High for about one minute.
Stir until smooth.
Drop the ginger cubes one at a time in the chocolate [I use a couple of forks].
Allow the excess to drip off and set on a baking paper covered tray.
Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve in a small candy dish.
About the Author
McKinney resident Kyra Effren is a contributing writer for TownSquareBuzz.com's "Food" section. She is a retired food stylist and contributing writer for the "Food" section of Dallas Morning News. In 1975, Effren opened Cours de Cuisine Cooking School in Dallas and in 1978, she was awarded The Commanderie des Cordon Bleu in France for her contributions to French cooking. She has edited multiple cookbooks and served as recipe tester for a number of cookbooks including both of the Mansion on Turtle Creek cookbooks by Dean Fearing and baking books by Nick Malgieri.
Kyra welcomes any and all reader comments and suggestions. What would you like to have for dinner?