Ask Peter: Cooking for my mothers
You talk of your mother and her cooking a lot (we only use your/her pavlova recipe now). I am wondering what you would cook for her on Mother’s Day if you were together. Tatiana Reece
I’m super lucky as I have two mothers. My mother Timmy, whose pavlova recipe you refer to, lives in Gippsland in Australia and she is a fabulous baker and makes the most delicious slow-cooked joints of pork and lamb.
When she lived in Takapuna I remember eating fries that she’d cooked in sunflower oil (not the beef dripping we used back home in Whanganui), and it was a transformative moment in my early culinary life. I remember wondering how on earth these deep-fried chips could possibly taste so different to the ones I was used to.
When I visit Mum she always has the pantry and freezer full of ginger crunch and various slices that she’s been working on.
My other mum is Rose, who has been my gorgeous step-mum since I was 7, and lives with my father Bruce in Whanganui. Rose makes a legendary bacon and egg pie that I put in my second cookbook and that I still get feedback on via my website.
It is delicious although it contains peas and tomatoes and some B&EP purists (Kim Acland I hope you’re reading this) find that a step too far. Personally I love the twist! Rose also makes a great birthday cake and the best corned beef.
So, I’m lucky as I have two extraordinary women in my life. Both Timmy and Rose have great palates but cook far more simply than I do. They love fresh produce and roasts and almost-swimming fish.
While Mum is an amazing baker she doesn’t eat a lot of what she cooks and doesn’t have a sweet tooth — so I guess I inherited mine from my father (although he oddly would prefer an oyster over a doughnut. How odd!) Rose really only eats a sweet treat if I’m in town and we head to a local Whanganui cafe — there are some good ones in my old home town.
I’d like to think that we’ll have a joint Mother’s Day sometime soon as they get on really well even though they live on opposite sides of the Tasman. But what would I cook?
I guess I’d have to make them something inspired by them but honed by me, so it’d likely be this. We’d start with a little salad of deep-fried oysters (for Rose) and deep-fried prawns (for Mum) with wasabi mayonnaise and a green mango and chilli salad on the side.
Then we’d each have an individual little bacon and egg tart — fairly shallow and made with sauteed bacon lardons, there’d be some roast cherry tomatoes, of assorted colours, in there too (cut in half and semi-dried in a low temp oven) and some grated parmesan on top. It would also have peas!
The next course, not too large, would be slow-cooked shoulder of lamb (cooked in Mum’s crockpot) with kumara miso mash, roast baby carrots, buttered silverbeet and minted yoghurt. I’d enrich the cooking juices/gravy with a little tamarind for its tanginess and grate a little lemon zest over it as well.
Dessert would have to be Mum’s pavlova which I’d serve with passionfruit curd, whipped cream and berries — even if they had to be frozen ones that I’d defrosted and mixed with a little icing sugar. Then we’d finish with cups of tea, lots of laughs, and I’d ask Mum to bring along her latest baked slice so we could all voice our opinion!
In our Ask Peter series, executive chef Peter Gordon answers your curly culinary questions. If you're stumped over something food-related, send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org and keep checking in for answers. You can read more on Peter on his website, have a read of his Ask Peter articles or check out his recipes on our site.