Sunday, October 30, 2011

Aunty Nina’s Green Pie

Nina was determined that nothing should ever be wasted, and so recipes that used leftovers were vital to her repertoire. Yesterday's cold rice, for example, became today's Green Pie.

It was one of those odd, gimmicky recipes that I recall 70s and 80s home cooks being fond of ... Nina used to chuckle over the way it was an inside-out pie - with the protein in the crust and the carbs in the filling.

(Around this time I also remember Nina, my mother, and their friends discovering self-crusting quiche - great excitement!)

a couple of cups or so of cold rice
green veges including a decent handful of spring onion
grated cheese

Mix salt into the mince.
Press the mince around the edges of a casserole dish, so it lines it like a pie crust.
Blanche green veges - except for spring onions.
Drain green veges and chop into pieces.
Finely chop spring onions.
Mix all green veges into rice. Add salt too, if necessary.
Fill the raw mince crust with the rice/vege mix.
Grate cheese on top.
Bake in oven until meat crust is cooked through. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rochelle Corn's Shortbread

(from Petra Frank, nee Corn)

My Mum, Rochelle Corn was a wonderful singer and a pretty good cook too.  I helped her bake often (mostly by licking the bowl) and learned many of her recipes this way. 

Her proudest baking achievement was her shortbread which all admired and craved, especially her elderly  Mother, my Nana. Mum's shortbread melted in your mouth.  It was sunshine yellow with sparkling sugar pressed into the top. Nana just loved it and Mum would take her carefully wrapped parcels of fresh shortbread when we went to visit her at Deckston Home.  Nana would carefully store this in a tin inside a locked drawer in her room, no doubt for happy nibbling later on! 

So, if you would like to share the secret of making the lightest shortbread biscuits; here it is:

6 oz flour
2 oz icing sugar
pinch salt
6 oz butter
2 oz vanilla custard powder

Rub the butter into the flour and other dry ingredients. 

Roll out the dough and sprinkle with sugar, then roll the sugar into the dough very lightly with the rolling pin. 
Cut into oblong biscuit shapes and slide a baking tray underneath.  
Bake at 150 C for 20 minutes.  
(Handle carefully once baked as they are delicate!)

I have one more tip...When cutting the biscuits into nice neat shapes, your daughter should eat the jagged offcuts! 


Petra Frank (nee Corn)


Sunday, October 23, 2011

Shirley Wiseman’s Fruit Loaf

(from Belinda Aarons Gerber)

As a single mother with three kids and three jobs, plus a set of extended family commitments and volunteer activities my mother was an expert economizer – of both time and money. Mum’s baking is an excellent example. She never baked one thing. What was the point of heating the oven for just one cake? Better to pop in two or three baking tins and an extra one for the freezer at the same time.

In order to have multiple cakes ready to go into the oven, Mum usually mixed one cake in the Kenwood mixer and another one in a pot on the stove. The machine-mixed cakes varied, but the mix-in-a-pot cake was often fruit loaf.

How I loved Mum’s fruit loaf! Thick slices, often with a slather of butter on top, were a regular after-school snack. (In 1970s New Zealand, we hadn’t yet heard that high fat was a bad thing.) Now, thirty-plus years later and several continents away, I make this cake every few months, enjoying this taste of my childhood – albeit without the extra butter.

Making this fruit loaf is a two-part process, as the hot mixture needs to cool before the egg is added. For Mum, that was the time to mix another cake in the Kenwood. For me, it was the opportunity to surreptitiously skim my finger across the top of the mixture and grab a big dollop of the sweet froth. Several times, if I could get away with it. Mum surely knew I was doing it; just as surely as I – and my kids – continue to do it now.

Bake the fruit loaf in a ring tin or a couple of loaf pans. In true Shirley Wiseman fashion, you can easily make a bigger cake by using an extra-large egg and multiplying the rest of the ingredients by 150%. Or, do as I do, and double the whole recipe, so there’s always a cake in the freezer. I learned well.

Shirley Wiseman’s fruit loaf recipe
As she dictated to me 20-or-so years ago, hence the imperial measurements.

1 cup sugar
1 cup sultanas / dark raisons
¼ cup chopped moist dates
1 cup water
1 tsp. baking soda
2 oz butter
1 egg
½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)
2 cups plain white flour
1 tsp. baking powder

Put sugar, sultanas, dates, water, baking soda and butter in a saucepan and bring to boil. 
Set aside to cool and then beat in the egg. 
Add nuts and sifted flour and baking powder. 
Pour mixture into a greased 8-inch ring tin and bake 45 minutes at 350 deg. F.

Shirley Wiseman, early 1987. A rare moment when she actually sat down.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ouma Babsie's Soetkoekies

(From Marietjie Swart, who has kindly lent us this recipe from her wonderful blog - Rainbow Cooking - full of culinary memories from a South African childhood.)

If I think of Ouma Babsie, my grandmother on my mum's side, I picture her in her farm kitchen with the wood-burning stove and the wooden kitchen table which took most of the space.  

The generator power on the farm was mainly used in the evenings for lights or to use the meat cutting machine after a slaughter.  Water for bathing was heated with a "donkey boiler". (The water was a bit muddy as it came directly from the Orange River).  Drinking water had to be pre-boiled and was stored in containers on the floor in the dining room (the coolest room).  

The fridge and freezer ran on parrafin and the stove ran on wood/coal. If my grandfather was away, my grandmother didn't bother with the generator and only used parrafin lamps as lighting.  

Where my grandparents lived on an irrigation farm in the North-West Cape on the Orange River, temperatures soared in summer and you can imagine how hot and sweltering a kitchen would become whilst baking, as the heat from the wood burning stove inside the kitchen as well as the outside temperatures (that were usually in the high 30s - 40C) was quite something.  

But thankfully my grandmother braved the heat and we had lots of biscuits to eat, as she loved sweet treats. 
Helping my grandmother baking was fun - she shared many stories of the old days over the kitchen table. She didn't really need help as she was a very capable women. She worked  with large quantities of meat, making her own butter and baking on large scale on her own as she filled big containers with her baking - but we both enjoyed the company. 

I have fond memories of these Soetkoekie biscuits.  My grandmother rolled the dough, and then rolled over the dough with rolling cookie cutters, cut in different patterns. My two favourites were the heart and diamond cookie cutter forms.

She glazed her biscuits by washing them with egg (possibly egg white) before baking, and it gave it a lovely shine.  I adjusted her recipes to a much smaller batch as I don't want to bake biscuits with 12 cups of flour at a time.  

In later years, I tasted a soetkoekie which was baked by a lady from a home-industry.  (In South Africa many good bakers / jam makers / needlework boffs would sell their products via a "tuisnywerheid" as it is called in Afrikaans. Translated to English it simply means a coop-shop called a home-industry where people would sell the stuff they made - usually at home.  The name of the baker is not written on the product, but all members of the home-industry would be alloted numbers to differentiate between them.)

Back to the biscuits - the soetkoekie biscuits were so tasty that I phoned the home-industry to ask for the name and phone number of the person  who baked them.  They gave it to me and I complimented the lady about the biscuits and asked her if she would mind sharing the recipe and she gave it very kindly to me.  

Lo and behold - her recipe and my grandmother's recipe were very similar! The only difference was that the biscuits I bought were very elegant as they were very rolled out very thinly and cut out in circles, and all looked the same.  My grandmother rolled her biscuits out a bit thicker.  I must admit, I do not get them excactly so thin like the lady from the "tuisnywerheid", but I love them.

In the past, many people decorated the biscuits with red stripes by using  "rooibolus" (I guess a sort of old fashioned red food colouring) - but neither my grandmother and the kind lady from the home industry  used it as far as I can remember and therefore I don't bother.

This is my variation of soetkoekies, a very traditional and well-loved South-African biscuit. It is spice biscuits, flavoured with sweet wine.  The original recipe asks for pork lard and butter - but I just settle for butter as it is not so easy to get pork lard.


  • 2 cups (500 ml) flour
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon (2 ml) ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • zest of an orange or mandarin (naartjie)
  • ¾ cup (180 to 200 ml) sugar
  • ½ cup (110 gram) butter
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ teaspoon (4 ml) bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ cup (50 ml) sherry, port or sweet wine (or replace with 2 tablespoons brandy and 2 tablespoons milk)
  • Egg white for glazing


  1. Dissolve bicarbonate of soda in sweet wine.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients.
  3. Add the butter and cut into the flour mixture.
  4. Add the beaten egg and bicarbonate of soda mixture, and mix dough together until it is a firm dough.
  5. Preheat oven to 180°C.
  6. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to approximately 5 mm thick.
  7. Cut the dough into forms with a cookie cutter.
  8. Arrange them about 3 cm apart on a buttered cookie sheet.
  9. Brush each biscuit gently with the egg white.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes- until golden brown.
  11. Remove to a rack to cool completely.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sunday Morning Eggs with Dad

(from Emma Levy)

There are many women being remembered on this blog, including many by me.  But the first significant person in my life who died, and who cooked for me, was my dad, Phil Levy.  He died a long time ago – in 1987.  I was only 19.  He was one of the kindest men you could ever meet, and terribly trusting.  Once I told him I was collecting signatures and asked him to sign a blank piece of paper right down the bottom.  He did it. Above it I wrote “Emma cannot participate in PE class today” in my best Dad handwriting, and felt so guilty for duping him that I tore it up and did PE.

I really wanted to give Dad a spot in the blog, but the only things I could remember him making were whiskeys at the end of each work day, and barbeques, in the great NZ tradition of the 80s where men suddenly became the cooks in that single circumstance of the backyard barbie. 

Then I remembered Sunday mornings before going to Hebrew School.  Every week he made us poached eggs on toast.  Much effort went into them.  He told me it was crucial that you boil the water, but only put the in egg when you've removed the pot from the heat, and that you must put vinegar into the water.  That’s a recipe, isn’t it?  

The other thing that happened every week, without fail, was that he would break a yolk. Much swearing accompanied each breakage - one of the few times this mild-mannered man broke out into a litany of language no child should hear. It was so inevitable that I sat at the breakfast table each Sunday morning, tensing myself, waiting for the break and the swearing that ensued. I sat quietly, wanting to yell out “why don’t you break it into a bloody teacup first so at least if it breaks it’s not in the bloody water"?? But I'd have got told off for swearing.
So here ‘tis – a tribute to a beautiful man who was lost to us far too young, and who put more effort into his kids’ Sunday eggs than anyone I know.

Poached eggs on toast for your kids on a Sunday morning
1.     Boil water.
2.     Take it off the element.
3.     Pop bread in the toaster.
4.     Put a dash of vinegar in the water. 
5.     Break an egg into the water. 
6.     Break the yolk. 
7.     Swear for up to a minute. 
8.     Start again. 
9.     Put toast onto the plate and butter if desired. 
10.   When the egg white has just turned white and solid, get a slotted spoon and take out the egg,  
        hoping it doesn’t splosh through the slots or plop over the side back into the water, probably 
        breaking, in which case add more swearing here. 
11.   Spoon the egg onto the toast.  
12.   Hand dish to your child who is both relieved the weekly routine is over, prepared to eat the 
        egg in whatever state it’s in, and is quietly filing away the language they’ve just learned.


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Freda Beder’s Fabulous Fruit Cake

(from Ruth Ketko)

“I always wanted to stay at home and bake cheesecakes”!  So said Mum, but life’s journey took her on different paths. 

My Dad died in 1946, just seven years after they were married, and Mum went from being a “balaboosta” (a Yiddish term meaning the perfect housewife, homemaker, wonderful mother, cook, and gracious hostess) to becoming a successful business woman, opening her own “Finchley Wool Stores”. Her life took her from England to New Zealand, to Israel, then back to New Zealand. A much-loved person, always making sure to have plenty of “nosh” and loads of “wisdom” to dish out.

I don’t remember Mum making many cheesecakes, but she became well-known for her delicious fruit cake. Made for birthdays, bar or bat mitzvahs, weddings, and many other special occasions, as well as making sure to keep one for home, for years she used to make three at a time!

One of my very special memories of this successful fruit cake was when, on one of her last birthdays, at a time when Mum was unable to continue to make fruit cakes, our son and daughter-in-law, Paul and Sue, surprised her with a birthday cake that they had made using her “never-fail” recipe!  We were so proud of them, and the pleasure on Mum’s face said it all!

Here it is – enjoy!

1  lb. mixed fruit                                         1 lb. sultanas
½ lb. butter                                                 ½ lb. sugar
12 oz. flour                                                 1 tbs. Golden Syrup
4 eggs                                                          ½ tap. Baking Soda
¼ cup milk                                                 Nuts as desired

Melt butter and mix with sugar. 
Add 1 egg at a time. 
Add golden syrup, then flour, then fruit and nuts. 
Lastly bring the milk and baking soda to boiling point, then stir it in. 
Bake in a 9" round tin greased and lined with greaseproof paper of 3 thicknesses, and 1" above the tin. 
Place nuts on top. 
Bake in moderate oven 3000 for 3 hours. 
When removed from oven, add brandy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chicken Veronique

(from Richard Bright)
Mum was a good cook, though in a very Anglo-centric way. I remember enjoying everything she put in front of us and, despite her menu being very meat-and-three-veg oriented, I never had to endure over-cooked greens or grey meat. But, with only a couple of exceptions, our food was essentially British fare. It wasn’t until I went to university that I discovered curry, tacos, kebabs, or garlic. Or that 6000 years of Chinese culture had produced anything other than sweet and sour pork. 
Thus the meals in Mum’s repertoire that hinted at a world beyond the English Channel (and bear in mind that I grew up in New Zealand) were truly highlights that remain memorable to this day.
One of those highlights, and it seems so quaint today, was Chicken Veronique. It was chicken. With fruit! It was like some mad alchemy and I was always excited when the standard after-school question - “Mum, what’s for dinner tonight?” - elicited the chook-and-grape answer.
This exotic dish came from the magnificent 72-part magazine series ‘The Cordon Bleu Cookery Course’. This prized collection, complete with blue binders was acquired by my parents in the late sixties and it is still in the possession of my Dad today. It seemed very daring and authoritative, and I spent many hours poring over its step-by-step photos and lists of fabulous ingredients. And without it I would have probably made it to university without having tasted spaghetti bolognese or beef stroganoff!
So, here's how to make Chicken Veronique, with precise instructions from the Cordon Bleu Cookery School, c1968.
1 chicken
2 knobs of butter
3-4 sprigs of tarragon
1/2 pint of chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot
2 tablespoons double cream
1/2 cup white or muscat grapes, peeled and pipped
  1. Season the inside of a trussed chicken.
  2. Rub the chicken with butter, and put 3-4 sprigs of tarragon inside, along with a further knob of butter.
  3. Place the chicken in a roasting tin, with 1/4 pint of chicken stock, cover with buttered paper, and roast for an hour at 400 F.
  4. After the first 15 to 20 minutes, the chicken should be removed from the oven and basted; and then basted again after another 15-20 minutes, turning the chicken around, each time.  The buttered paper should be removed a few minutes before the end of the cooking, to brown the bird. 
  5. The hot chicken is then removed to a wooden board, jointed and carved.
  6. The remaining juices in the roasting tin are reduced over a steady heat until brown and sticky.  Add ¼ of a pint of chicken stock to the pan to make a gravy.
  7. Strain the gravy into a small saucepan and thicken with ½ teaspoon of arrowroot mixed with a little water. Add the arrowroot mixture away from the heat, and then stir until boiling.
  8. Stir two tablespoons of double cream into the gravy.
  9. Add the grapes to the gravy.
Audrey Bright aged 16

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mrs O’s Marshmallow Balls

(from Sam Treister)

At the tender age of nine, my parents' marriage dissolved.  My father, as well as running a busy business, was also left to ‘carry the can’ and manage our hectic household.  I was the youngest of four children.  My siblings, being much older, came and went as they travelled & flatted.

My Dad wisely enlisted some home help.  This help came in the form of a wonderful Catholic woman who we fondly called Mrs O.  As far as I’m concerned, Mrs O was a marvel.  Not only did she raise her own six children, including a set of twins…… but she came three times a week to us, arriving at 8.30am, and leaving at 5pm. She ironed, cleaned, dusted….. and……… also, ( to our collective delight), BAKED. 

Every Wednesday I would arrive home from school, knowing the biscuit tins would be full. Somehow, on top of all she did, she managed to fill those tins with an array of goodies…… these included, Caramel Slice, Louise cake, Chocolate Crunch, Sydney Special, and best of all, Marshmallow Balls.

You need to make these balls when you have a bit of extra time….I usually double the recipe (as that way you can use up all of the condensed milk in one hit). I then leave the balls in a container in the freezer.  This is for two reasons; I think they taste better when eaten frozen, and secondly, my husband can’t find them!

These balls are perfect to serve when visitors pop in unannounced, or as an after dinner treat. As they tend to be a tad sweet, consume them with a strong cup of coffee .

‘Here’s to Mrs O’ (who sadly passed away last year.)

Mrs O’s Marshmallow Balls
100 grams butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tin condensed milk
1 dessertspoon cocoa
1 packet of  wine biscuits (or any other plain biscuit). You need to crush these until they resemble breadcrumbs.
Fine coconut, enough to roll the balls into.
1 packet of marshmallows (not the tiny baking variety, or the very large ones, the middle sized ones!)

Melt the butter in a medium sixed pot, but don’t let it boil.
Add the crushed wine biscuits and all the other ingredients except the coconut.
With wet hands get a marshmallow, and coat it on all sides with the biscuit mix. (This can get messy, but persevere!)
Roll the ball into the coconut to coat.
Freeze- with wax paper between each layer of balls.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Aunty Nina's Party Leftover Rolls

(from Johanna Knox)

My Aunt Nina loved parties and festive food. At her burial we ceremonially threw liqueur chocolates onto her coffin - the ones my Mum was going to give her for her birthday in two weeks' time.

In Nina's younger days, she used any excuse to invite a bunch of friends round for a celebration.

Although everyone always brought a plate, she loved to provide plenty of food herself, and spent the day before the event making punch, chocolate eclairs, and more.

I was fascinated one time when, faced with left-over ingredients from making quiche, sausage rolls, and a cheese log, she threw them together and made a whole new plate of savories:

A few frozen peas
A handful of chopped cooked bacon
a couple of spoonfuls of cream cheese
Leftover flaky pastry

To make
Roll the pastry and cut into strips as if you were making sausage rolls.
Smear down the middle of the strips with cream cheese.
Scatter on the bacon and peas.
Roll up like sausage rolls.

I periodically had cravings for these for years afterwards!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Granny Rosie and the Wonderful Baked Cheesecake

(from Sue Berman)
My granny Rosie used to make a wonderful baked cheese cake. On numerous occasions my mother asked her for the recipe but she would never give it up, always preferring to just ‘make it’, it never got written down before she passed on.  I can remember the cheese cake (as well as tongue sandwiches, trifle, pickled fish and pickled cucumbers!) even though we left South Africa and Granny Rosie’s baking treats when I was only nine years old.

Many many years later in Wellington, New Zealand, I was lucky enough to be at an occasion which had me at Dani Levy’s lunch table. Dessert included the most superb baked cheese cake – it took me back to the cheesecake my Granny used to make – except that Dani had created a beautiful boysenberry coulis which was poured over the top - divine.

I asked Dani if I could possibly have the recipe and she very kindly typed it up for me adding a hand note on the biscuit quantity.  As per Dani’s note at the bottom I often do ‘play around with the ingredients’.  No matter what combinations of cheeses I use or number of eggs it is always a success and loved by everyone. I really treasure this recipe for all the special connections it has.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

We've been mentioned!

Pass It On is very proud to have been mentioned as a "New NZ blog" that caught the eye of NZ food blogger, Bron Marshall, whose delightful looking blog includes an article entitled "Would you like pencil sharpenings in your salad?".  Hmmmm we really might have to check out this recipe!

See Bron's blog (and our mention at the TOP of her page!) at:

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Can I really give away this little gem?

(from Emma Levy)

Plonk Cake - easy to make, and always impresses!

5 eggs
2 cups sugar
2 cups self-raising flour
50g melted butter
2 teaspoons baking powder
140g sliced tinned/fresh fruit or mixed berries

Mix in the above order (except the fruit/berries).
Pour into a greased tin.
Place drained and sliced fruit/berries on top of the mixture.
Bake at just over 200C for 30 mins (check till done).
When cold, sprinkle with icing sugar.

My mum was known as being a great cook and baker – my friends loved to come to our house because they knew the cake tins were always full of goodies!  At her funeral in 2004, people came up to me and talked about how they remembered coming over and eating cake and biscuits after school – what a great legacy!!  I’m not sure if she just loved to bake or thought it might help my social life!

This was one of the cakes she often made if we were having people over – Mum called it “Plonk Cake”, because you just plonk everything in the bowl, plonk the mixture into the cake tin, then plonk fruit or berries on the top. 

I have made it many times since and the greedy side of me really wants to keep it as a secret, as it’s such a gem of a cake – it takes a few minutes to make and everyone always comments on it.  But in the spirit of sharing of precious recipes and precious people on this blog, here it is.  Just don’t make it if you know I’m coming to the same gathering – it was MINE FIRST!

Thanks Mum for the memories and for greatly furthering my social standing as a child.