Toffee, Tiramisu and Truffles


Family Food Fare and Favourites

Join me as I dig through my memories, and recipes, to rediscover my family’s food “back in the day” and how those food habits have changed over the decades to today’s diverse and multi-cultural cuisines. This is my theme for the 2021 A to Z challenge.

THEN

My childhood thoughts turn to Toffee! Always found at the church fete were home made toffees in patty cake cases and sprinkled with hundreds and thousands like the ones in this recipe. And then there were the deliciously appealing toffee apples with their shiny red glaze – it’s a wonder we didn’t half expect the wicked witch to be tempting us. Caution was needed though as toffee in all its guises is pretty deadly on the teeth and especially fillings/amalgam.

Image from Panoramio.
Mum’s toffee apple recipe.

Tarts in all their guises would often appear on the dessert menu: coconut, raspberry, apple, rhubarb. Tapioca was commonly used “then” and was sometimes on our family food list, but rarely. It took my friend’s recipe to convince me to try it again. Trifle was popular for more special occasions with its combination of cake, jelly, custard and cream. Always yummy! A simple teacake was often an afternoon tea snack at home as well. You just don’t see them available as much these days.

Tripe never darkened our family’s door for which I’m grateful – just the appearance puts me off. No one has ever convinced me to try it – I just don’t do offal. Is it any wonder that a phrase you’d hear challenging someone’s veracity or nonsense “don’t give me that tripe!

NOW

You’ve well and truly got the picture that we love curries and Thai food. In fact, it would be a rare week when we didn’t have one or two dinners featuring Thai cuisine. So why have we never been to Thailand I ask myself?

Speaking of curries, tandoori chicken kebabs cooked in the tandoor and arriving bright reddish-orange on your plate are hard to beat as an entrée.

Another weekly regular at our house is a chicken tagine cooked in its own tagine dish. Think preserved lemons, vegetables, chicken and stock. So easy to cook and looks and tastes great. I have to admit, though, that we were just about tagine-d out after 10 days on our Moroccan tour. Guess what’s on tonight’s menu?

A tagine from our Moroccan holiday.

Tacos are another easy-peasy weekday meal we have regularly – you really have to eat them in privacy at home because they’re just about impossible to eat tidily – or that’s what I find. The grandkids also love them and they will always just about eat their body weight in tacos, butter chicken or Nona’s cheerio plonk.

Tiramisu is our 21st century version of trifle, glammed up. Sponge fingers, coffee flavours, cream. It’s become a family tradition for Christmas since our daughter put it on the menu, and has displaced the traditional Christmas pudding because it’s more suitable for the hot weather.

Take-aways were occasional treats when our kids were teens and our favourite was the local Chinese take-away. Without fail, when you rang, the timeline would be “Ten minute okay?!

NEW FOOD FARE

Did you even know real truffles existed as a child? Or were you like a colleague who swore blind they were only chocolates and the other person was scamming them? Now they appear in truffle oil, truffle risotto, cheese etc – and they come at a price. We were hoping to see a truffle farm in Stanthorpe recently and then….2 weeks lockdown! Luckily for us they have a shop outlet nearby…memo to self, have an excursion. Let’s face it, that’s closer than tracking them down in Tuscany.

Truffle wikimedia commons wise geek

Tamarind appears regularly in our curry recipes and is now readily available in stores. You’ll even find it at the market stalls in Darwin. It has such a distinctive flavour and smell.

Tangelos are a tasty addition to the fruit options today. I really like their flavour, and peel-ability. In PNG we also got tamarillos from the markets but you don’t typically see them here, or at least I haven’t.

Lots of changes between then and now for this letter of the alphabet.

What food changes have you seen in this category?

Do you eat any of the foods I’ve mentioned, then or now?

Did your church, school or community fete sell toffees and toffee apples?

Mum’s truffle cakes – the chocolate version, not with real truffles.

21 thoughts on “Toffee, Tiramisu and Truffles

  1. We visited a truffle farm in Oberon about ten years ago. We saw how the dog sniffed until he found one and the owner dug it up. Then we were given tastes of various foods infused with truffles. Finally we bought half a truffle and tried it with eggs and also butter. I’m not crazy about it but don’t dislike it either. It was a memorable experience.

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  2. At last you mention some food my Mum could cook – toffees, toffee apples and coconut ice which she always cooked in abundance for school fetes. There was no offal served from Mum’s kitchen but my dear Nanna would cook tripe or brains for Mr GeniAus when she came to visit.

    Thai and tacos are regulars on our menu with Tiramisu for special occasions.

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    1. You make it sound like your Mum couldn’t cook Jill, or that the recipes are strange 😉 you’ve reminded me that Mum was good at coconut ice which I love. The man across the road made the best fudge I’ve ever tasted. I liked toffee as a child but preferred the other sweets.

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  3. I am a fan of Thai food — curries, stir fries, and noodle dishes, as well as appetizers like mang khum and fried spring rolls. I especially like Thai iced tea, or at least the version of it that’s served in the restaurants where I live.

    You mention tacos, which made me wonder: do you have taquitos in Oz? Rolled corn tortillas surround a filling — I do bean churrizo because I’m a vege(pesca)tarian but chicken or beef is common — and fried crispy.

    As for toffee apples, I grew up knowing those as “candied apples.” There are also all kinds of caramel apples, from the simple to the ridiculously decadent. In the US, there’s a place called The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory that serves up quite a variety, with layers of chocolate, nuts, crushed Oreo cookies, pretzels, etc. They are delicious but NOT nutritious! 😉

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    1. My daughter has started serving up what sounds like taquitos in lieu of tacos…same filling but soft wrap. I still like the crunch of tacos though.
      That sounds like a lot of variations of sweets so I think I’d need to avoid the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. I loooove sweet treats but they are not only not nutritious (surely not!), they go counter to losing weight. Oh well, what’s a few kilos.

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  4. Pauleen your posts have me drooling, and also bring back memories. I remember the Chinese takeaway that was a real treat. We would take our saucepan and queue up on the footpath to get it filled with a traditional Chinese meal. Those were the days.

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  5. You’ve brought up some memories here Pauleen. I did so love those toffees at school fetes. How good were they? I’m ashamed to say I’ve never got around to cooking tagines.Always wanted to but just never got there. Don’t have a tagine for starters. And yes, I rarely see tamarillos. I wonder if taquitos would be like our burritos?

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    1. Alex, toffees and fetes are a golden combo in memory as well. Tagines are dead easy and while a tagine could go on your gift wish list, I reckon you’d get a similar effect with a HUgh lid casserole dish. Consulted the chef who agrees. Taquitos or burritos…not sure.

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  6. Toffee apples were such a treat at fete time. Tarts, yes we had those in every guise possible but I never really liked trifle with the soggy cake layer. We once served tacos to the parents in law, he was very proper about food and really did not appreciate that experience! Take-aways were unknown to me until after marriage, we now indulge occasionally. We do like a tagine but like Alex have never got around to cooking one, I shall encourage the chef.

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    1. Toffee apples were part of childhood weren’t they? I had a laugh over the f-i-l and tacos 😉 do tell the chef tagine are actually really easy to cook.

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  7. I am one of those rare people who loves tripe – especially the way my mother cooked it. I haven’t perfected it and you can’t buy it fresh anymore so i don’t bother. I do like just about any kind of offal but I can’t do ox tail – I like the taste but I can’t handle the bones being in it.

    Toffee – loved toffee apples and I always remember fete day at primary school with toffees in patty cake papers – I especially liked stick jaws and we would try and figure out which ones they would be. Won’t touch them now. 🙂

    Lyn

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    1. I guess learning to like any food is all about the way it’s cooked Lyn. Seems we are all cautious about toffees these days and preserve them in memory. Stick jaw ones weren’t my favourites though.

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