What's the best recipe you got from your mom?
We want to hear the story behind the best recipe you got from your mom (or another mother figure). Did she teach you to make it? Or do you only have the recipe card and you've had to muddle through perfecting it over the years? If the recipe is on Food52 please share a link (and if not, maybe upload it?)! Many thanks!
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Right, 😚 happy mother's day to all!
She's always been an anxious cook (her mom, Anyu, was the kitchen rock star), but she did introduce me to the glories of Gourmet Magazine and I'd help her prep for dinner parties during my youth. We both grieved when Gourmet folded.
Perhaps my all-time favorite dessert was a peach cake she made with a cookie like crust topped with peaches baked in custard. I lamented not having that recipe! Not being a baker, I never tried to recreate it. Maybe 10 years ago I discovered Arthur Schwartz’s recipe for Peach Crostata. Not 100 % my Mom’s version but close enough that with a bit of tinkering I recreated the best dessert of my childhood. I have no idea where this recipe originated but my Mom died well before the internet and cooking sites so I know she did not get it from Arthur. It looks like Arthur’s food blog “The Food Maven” is no more alas but I did just find his recipe at http://www.food.com/recipe/peach-crostata-377024
To make it just like my mom’s: cut the sugar a bit, use only cream ( no yogurt or sour cream), slice the peaches and lay close together, flavor with nutmeg not cinnamon.
This was my favorite dish growing up. I first tasted it in my great grandmother's kitchen. She taught it to my paternal grandmother, who then taught it to my mother, who finally taught it to me. All of these women put their special stamp on this recipe. My paternal grandmother's sauce was thinner. My mom's sauce contained more tomatoes and was meatier with more sausage and bones. She sometimes would even add meatballs to it.
When I first started tinkering with this Sunday ragu recipe, my mom and I talked a lot about which methods yielded the best results. (My mom wrote down her version of the recipe for me, but my grandmother and great grandmother passed down this recipe verbally and by having the next generation watch them cook it.) My mom and I discussed should the sausage be removed from the casing? Should the sausage be sweet or hot? Should the sausage be cooked in the oven or the stovetop? What cut of bones work best in the sauce? There have been times in my life when neck bones, which this recipe calls for, have been difficult to source. (Pork spare ribs or side ribs are an acceptable substitute.)
I have played a bit with the original recipe. (I prefer to use less tomato paste than my mom does and I use fresh herbs -- her version uses dried.) And even on the days when I try to make this sauce exactly as my mom does, it still doesn't taste precisely like hers. But regardless, it is still a much-treasured heirloom recipe and always reminds me of happy, chaotic multi-generational Sunday dinners. https://food52.com/recipes/11544-sunday-pork-ragu
Unexpectedly, two dishes stand out. A portobello mushroom main dish (whole mushrooms, spinach, garlic, tons of fresh herbs) she found and mastered when I went vegetarian even though she couldn't really approve or understand the switch And an odd 60s jello dessert we had for holidays...it was called Broken Glass Jello and had three flavors, cut into cubes, that peekd out from an inedible oil dessert whip product (it shall live in anonymous infamy). She made it for all our holidays (Passover, Rosh Hashanah, Thanksgiving) and I thought I hated it. But later, I remade it with real cream and pure fruit juices and it was a gem.
We use this for Boston Cream Pie :)
First of all, her cherry-crumb bars, which I get a lot of saves on: https://food52.com/recipes/14877-sossie-beile-s-little-cherry-crumb-bars
Her honey cake, which includes orange zest is sweet and mellow, not at all bitter like some: https://food52.com/recipes/25363-gentle-orange-scented-gingered-honey-cake
Her scrumptious ice-cream "cake": https://food52.com/recipes/25452-mrs-owen-s-unchurned-ice-cream-cake
Her noodle kugel, also mellowed with orange zest: https://food52.com/recipes/25400-sweet-lokshen-kugel
These were the reason I splurged and bought a Kitchen Aid mixer (which I still have--35 years later). Making white cookies that all my friends loved and requested made me feel like I could actually bake, and started what has turned out to be a lifelong love of baking. Thanks, Mom!