November Column 2006

I am reminded of the Victorian idea of banquets, or of celebratory dinners.
In the older days, Victorians stuffed on two or three times too many dishes at the groaning table.
There had to be a soup, and a wine with the soup. Bread and rolls came with the soup. The roast bird was stuffed with yet another meat, or even with a smaller bird.

Excess and glamourous, fussy decoration were considered to be polite, and expected of a household.

One of my favourite things to do, these days, is to serve a table with a bowl of fruit salad first. A refreshing appetizer, simple and luscious fruit salad is not stuffy, like too many rolls with butter. For a starter dish, when celebrating, a few fruits cut into a fresh fruit salad will do.

My favourites are a combination of fresh pineapple chunks, blackberries, strawberries, and a small hint of Kiwi fruit. I cut up a whole pineapple, add a half pint of blackberries, half a basket of sliced strawberries, and then one kiwi, for some extra colour and tanginess. I preserve the fruit with freshly squeezed lemon juice, and a dash of lime juice.

I never stop enjoying the mouth-watering burst of fresh taste, at the beginning of a meal.
I use a punch bowl, which has a pedestal base, and set it, glamourously at the end of the table. Coupled with flowers and candles, the colours are warm and inviting.

You cannot go wrong with the benefits that Blackberries will give to you. The Blackberry is very good for your respiratory system, and also for your bloodstream.

All of these fruit offer plenty of protective Vitamin C, a must as we begin to suffer from less sunshine and fresh air, more stale indoor air, and definitely less raw foods.

For some reason, salads just don't get prepared so often as soon as the cold weather hits, and that steaming macaroni and cheese, or stir-fry looks a lot more tempting, since it is warming.

Strawberries will never stop being an important food for the health of your digestive system. Pineapple might even be a factor in maintaining and rebuilding your musculature.

There is no need to check for all the healthful qualities that fruits can give to you - just eat, and enjoy them!


Sparkling Gingered Apple Slices

Buy a bottle of Ginger Wine (you will love it!) from the LCBO.(or, your Liquor store, since LCBO stands for the Liquor Control Board of Ontario!)

You will only need to pour a few dashes of this onto peeled and cored apple slices, kept about half an inch wide as chunky shapes.

After tossing the apples in Ginger Wine, toss again with a capful of Roses Syrup, or Rose Water, obtainable from the pharmacy.

Take each apple slice and dip three quarters of this into strawberry-flavoured sparkle sugar.

Arrange the slices onto a sparkling platter, and garnish according to your sense of mystery and romance.


FRESH CRANBERRIES When you are decorating your platters for a savoury buffet, try tossing some glowing cranberry fruit around a plate, with a few mint or basil sprigs.

TANGERINE ROSES Carefully unwind the peel from a tangerine, in one continous peel. Then, fairly tightly, wind these into a spiral form, which will make a scented tangerine rose. Secure this with a toothpick. You can arrange scented tangerine roses around your platters, or skewer them to add to a formal, arranged centrepiece

STAR FRUIT If you add slices of star fruit, the combination of the three is very appealing.


Whatever fruit pie you make, consider first boiling a handful of St. Johs' Wort and Goldenrod flower tea. I make mine in the summer, and freeze the tea into ice cubes. The lipid, sensual quality that the flowers add to fruit in any pie, will offer the juiciest pie experience you've ever had!

Always keep Orange Flower Water on hand, for festive occasions. The taste of this, or of Rose water , added to fruit salad, is sophisticated and exquisite.

Victorian Excess

Who doesn't want something expensive and luscious, when party time rolls around?
For this dessert, you can buy a flat of meringues, flavoured vanilla, coffee, lemon; your choice.

I remember from my childhood, though, how Mom used to make really large, home made meringues, not the tiny and dry shaped meringue one finds in the bakery.

To make real, sumptuous, gooey-on-the-inside meringues, you will need:

  1. Half a dozen egg whites, separated carefully from the yolks.
  2. A cup of white sugar, or enough to deeply stiffen beaten egg white.
  3. Cream of Tartar
  4. Bakers' Parchment

Beat the egg whites until they "peak", that is, until they are so white and stiff that, raising the beater from the bowl will leave a point of egg white foam, standing firmly.

As you are whisking the egg white, gently add the refined sugar plus a quarter of a teaspoon of Cream of Tartar, until the egg whites are very glossy, and very firm.The Cream of Tartar hardens the egg white mixture when it is baked, so that the outside of the meringue is brittle and crunchy.

Prepare a length of parchment paper, lightly buttered, and stretch this over the base of a medium long pan that will fit into a large, long pan. You are going to fit the medium pan into a pan full of water. This prevents the meringue from burning on the bottom.

Place large scoops, about five inches wide, of meringue mixture onto the parchment, and bake until hard in an oven pre-heated to 400 degrees.

Watch your meringue- if it minutely browning, it is more than ready.

When the meringues are cooled, carefully slice the top from the base, and the inside should be still moist and lusciously chewy. Fill these with unsweetened , real, stiffly beaten whipping cream. You could add a tablespoon of Syrup of Roses , if you want a sweet cream.
On top of this, toss in a few fruits- dark cherries, small, seedless grapes and blackberries.On top of this, toss in slivered, blanched almonds.

Serve with more cream, fruit and nuts on top of this. My Mother added dark chocolate shavings as a garnish.
You can try a variation using coffee-flavoured store-bought meringues, crushed into a dessert base, and layered with cream, fruit and more meringue. To the whipping cream, add a hint of coffee flavoured liqueur or Masela wine (walnut-flavoured), and chopped walnuts with chocolate shavings, instead of almonds.

Adding the delicate taste of banana slices, plus some mashed chestnuts into the cream might be a bit more sophisticated.

Have a nourishing, and above all else, happy and peaceful holiday time!

Bye for now,



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