Family from away

Cynthia
Cynthia Stone
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They arrive with such great expectations, and we want to fulfil all their wishes for the perfect holiday back home. A big part of that is serving everyone’s favourite family dish.

I’m fortunate enough to have some of my little sweethearts visiting and here are a couple of the dishes I’m thinking of serving this week.

Raisin Buns

My mother would say I should be embarrassed to include a recipe for something as simple as raisin buns, but I’ve eaten enough bad ones to know the difference. Apply a light touch and take your time and the result is sublime — I would serve these to royalty for breakfast or afternoon tea.

This recipe will make about 16 nice-sized buns.

2 cups all-purpose flour

4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup (scant) granulated sugar

1/2 cup cool unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup dark raisins

1 egg

1/2 cup milk

Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut in butter with a pastry cutter or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in raisins.

Beat together eggs and milk. Add all at once to dry ingredients and stir very gently until flour is mostly incorporated. Gather the scraggly bits into a ball and cover tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate half an hour.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and roll or pat into 1/2-inch thick slab. Cut into two-inch rounds with a floured glass or cookie cutter. Place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake at 425 F for 15 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top.

If you prefer a glossy finish to your buns then brush the tops lightly (before baking) with cream, milk or egg wash (one egg beaten with 1 tbsp. water).

Fishcakes

I can’t believe I’m seeing salt fish on cooking shows lately. I always knew it was a delicious gourmet treat but it has been looked down on for so long by the rest of the country I wasn’t expecting it to become chic.

I always start two days in advance because some fish is so salty it will set your teeth on edge. Taste the water after the first 12 hours of soaking and if it’s really salty, you need that second day. If it’s got only a mild relish then pour off most of the water, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to cook.

Plan on making 8 to 12 fishcakes, depending on how big you like them, with this amount.

2 lbs. skinless boneless salt cod

3 lbs. yellow-fleshed potatoes

1 large onion, minced

1/4 cup soft unsalted butter

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley, optional

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup (approx.) vegetable oil, for frying

Soak cod in lots of cold water in the refrigerator for about 12 hours, changing the water when you think of it. Repeat if fish is still salty. Rinse and place in a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, place the cover about halfway over the top of the pot, and simmer over low about 10 minutes. Lift out a piece of fish and see if it flakes easily. If not, continue cooking another few minutes.

Drain thoroughly and cool until you can handle it comfortably. If you cool completely it becomes harder to flake. Break into small pieces. Taste it now for salt. If it’s perfect for eating just as it is you need about 1/2 tsp. more salt for the final fishcake mixture before frying. If it is on the salty side, follow the recipe as it is.

Boil potatoes in lightly salted water until very tender and mash well; set aside to cool.

Fry onion in butter until soft but not brown. Place in a large mixing bowl and cool. Add cod, potatoes, egg, parsley and pepper. Form into three-inch cakes, about 1 inch thick. Refrigerate for an hour if you have the time — they will hold their shape better.

Fry on both sides in hot oil in a non-stick pan until brown and crispy on both sides. Drain on paper towels and keep hot in the oven at 325 F until all are cooked. Serve with tartar sauce or just as they are. Pickled beets or onion relish would be perfect on the side.

Screech Pie

I can’t bring myself to drink Screech but it sure is delicious in this pie.

Crust:

1-1/4 cups graham crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup melted butter or margarine

Filling:

12 oz. best quality dark or semi-sweet chocolate

1/3 cup Screech

1/4 cup unsalted butter, no other

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. unflavoured gelatin

1-3/4 cups whipping cream (divided)

For the crust, combine crumbs, sugar and butter and press evenly into a greased 9-inch pie plate.  Bake at 350 F for six minutes.

For the filling combine chocolate, Screech, butter and vanilla in a bowl over hot — not boiling — water and melt together, stirring constantly but gently. Cool to lukewarm. Stir gelatin into 1/4 cup of the cream and allow to sit 10 minutes to soften. Heat it for a few seconds over low heat or in the microwave just until gelatin is dissolved — don’t let it boil.

Stir gelatin and cream mixture into cooled chocolate. Whip remaining cream until stiff and fold gently into filling. Pour into pie crust and chill at least three hours or until firm. Serve with more whipped cream.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John’s. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John’s, NL,

A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

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