recipes

Solla Sollew

pavlova

There are spells of time frequently described these days as ‘the zone’. Living in a delightful, even exhilarating parallel universe, is often cited as ‘being in the zone’. Runners coin it and psychologists advise of its pursuit during times of anxiety. Many shake their heads despondently, thinking it unachievable. Not so, every one of us has been there, long before it held its modern-psycho title and simply didn’t recognise it for what it was.

As you sat as a child before a reader, who filled your auditory canals with text, and your visuals with correlating  illustration, your very being travelled to another realm. Objects in the room around you dissolved like Max’s bedroom, where vines grew in it’s place. The reader no longer visible, only fascinating words and intriguing pictures feeding a hungry imagination. And once the story reached its conclusion, only then did you become aware of your delicious absence – some glorious time away like the Pevensie children’s journey to Narnia via the wardrobe’s rear. You were lost (happily) in a book.

Even now, as grown beings, we still disappear into narrative, and how wonderful it is not only to make the excursion, but to reflect on it afterward and will others to do the same, pressing your copy urgently into their hands.

I recall with great clarity, the post-lunch summer afternoon I sat cross-legged as a six-year-old, on a timber classroom floor and made the tumultuous journey to ‘the City of Solla Sollew, on the banks of the beautiful River Wah-Hoo, where they never have troubles! At least, very few’.

Solla Sollew

So absorbed was I by the magic of this tale, that when the teacher closed the covers, I could swear I had just scampered across that exquisite pink bridge and onward to that place of wonder. Even now, when I recall that tale, my memory of Solla Sollew is one of delight. Living in a land of sunshine and colour, smiles and sweetness. And of course snoozing on those billowy pillows …

billowy pillows

Quite marshmallowey don’t you think? Yes, this utopian land I am convinced, is inhabited by Solla Sollewians who dine exclusively on pavlova. What more fitting a dish for this decadent town could there be? Brittle shards of crispy meringue offset with the spongy sweet centre. Topped with rich fresh cream, fragrant banana,  strawberries and a passionfruit tang following through. Make yours on a day when time needs no measure – there is plenty of beating and mixing to be done and of course with the mix-master whirring and the sugar sprinkling definitely an opportunity to get into the zone.

4-5 egg whites at room temperature (or enough to reach 150ml)
1 cup caster sugar
1 tspn white vinegar
small container of thickened cream
1 small banana
2 passionfruit
approx 6 strawberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees celsius.
  2. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  3. Beat the sugar in, 1 tablespoonful at a time and beat well between each addition to ensure it dissolves into the egg whites.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 6 minutes.
  5. Add the vinegar and beat for a further 2 minutes.
  6. Draw an 18 cm circle on baking paper and lay on a flat tray.
  7. Pile the meringue mixture inside the circle – heap it up.
  8. Place in the oven and reduce temperature to 120 degrees celsius.
  9. Bake for 1 1/2 hours.
  10. Leave in the oven to cool with the door open.
  11. When cold top the meringue shell with cream, thinly sliced banana and strawberries, then drizzle passionfruit across it all.

fruit topped pavlova

Postscript: Pavlovas and Solla Sollewians aside, I owe a great deal to Dr Seuss for the enchanting itineraries he devised for me through his pen.

recipes

Miss Drake

Miss Drake's Home Cookery

How wonderful it was for newly married women of the 1950’s (and decades prior) to have the wisdom of Miss Lucy Drake to see them through any cookery challenge that may have presented. Armed with her Diploma of Domestic Economy and a Trained Teacher of Domestic Arts, (awarded in Melbourne no less), this accomplished domestic champion was qualified to see these lasses through any boiled fowl in egg sauce, diplomatic pudding or jellied rabbit situation that may have arisen, without even having to refresh the lipstick. As it happened, my mother was one of those fortunate brides, as evidenced by our well-worn copy of The Original and Only Miss Drake’s Home Cookery, ever at the ready in the kitchen of my upbringing.

I guess then, it was no accident that Miss Drake had a hand in my early cookery development. With Miss D’s guiding hand, I learned the art of the Lemon Meringue Pie, so often in fact that the book would fall open to the spattered page. So for old time’s sake, this millennium family was treated to one this evening. Here is how Miss Drake directs one:

”LEMON TART. This quantity for big sandwich tin; half this for small tin. I lb. plain or good short crust (page 120). Interior for Tart.—2 lemons, 2 eggs, 5 tablespoons sugar, 5 tablespoons cold water, 2 dessertspoons butter, 1 dessertspoon arrowroot blended with 2 dessertspoons cold water. Reserve the whites of eggs to whip stiffly for the top; then fold 3 dessertspoons castor sugar into stiff whites, 1 cherry and little angelica. If eggs and butter are dear, half this quantity of interior is sufficient. Method— 1. Light oven. Make short crust. 2. Shape tart. Whilst it is cooking, get ingredients for interior. Put water, egg yolks, sugar, butter, blended cornflour, grated lemon rind and juice all into a small saucepan. Stir over fire till it boils and thickens. When tart is cold put in the mixture. Whip whites stiffly, fold the castor sugar in. Decorate the top like icebergs. Return to oven just to tint. Decorate with cherry and angelica.”

Miss Drake's Lemon Meringue Pie

For me, following Miss Drake’s directions was an indulgent exercise in nostalgia, but you may not find the vintage terminology as endearing. Therefore, here is a Lemon Meringue Pie in modern terms (from another domestic matriarch, Margaret Fulton), that you may be more comfortable with.

Shortcrust Pastry (frozen sheet)
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tbsp Plain flour
grated rind and juice of two lemons
4 tbsp water
3 egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
1/4 cup caster sugar

  1. Line your pie dish with shortcrust pastry sheet and pinch the edges for decoration. Weight down with rice or dried beans and bake for 15 mins at 180 degrees celsius. Remove weight and bake for a further 5-10 minutes or until golden.
  2. Make filling by mixing the egg yolks, sugar , flour and lemon rind in a heavy based saucepan and gradually stir in the lemon juice and water.
  3. Cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat until the mixture is smooth and thick. Cool, then pour into cooled pastry shell.
  4. To make meringue, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until thick. Gradually add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, beating until the mixture is thick and glossy and the sugar is dissolved.
  5. Spread over the filling in the pie shell, sealing it completely with the meringue.
  6. Bake in a 180 degrees celsius oven for 8-10 minutes or until meringue is golden. Serve cold.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Postscript: I would love to be able to tell you our old ”Miss Drake”‘ lives on in my kitchen, but alas not. All is not lost however, as I have recently discovered that some wonderful people at Swinburne University, have archived this book within their image bank and have made the entire publication available as a downloadable PDF – so Miss Drake can assist you too, with your next Boiled Jam Roly.