If you consider yourself a food purist / food snob or someone who only eats at fine dining restaurants, look away now. Because what I’m about to share with you, might shock you. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been going through my mom’s mountains of cookbooks stored all over our house. I need to clarify first of all that my mom was a hoarder of note. Everything and I mean everything was kept. She even had a piece of paper in the side of her door where she would rub our kisses on when she dropped us at school, so that they could me kept. So it will come as no surprise when you see the amount of books we have in our house. Almost every single door way has a book shelf hanging over it that she made my dad build to house all the books. Then we have two huge book shelves, one in the passage and one in the gym (read : storage room).
I’ve learnt quite a lot about my mom whilst reading these old cookbooks. She didn’t hate cooking like I always thought, she actually really loved it and really tried her best to keep our menu’s during the week quite varied and fun. I do however think this was the one area she did not have much patience with and she probably didn’t like the kitchen as much as she liked the idea of the kitchen. By all the recipes she liked in these books, she would make notes or little tick marks. At the back of the one book she even wrote down the menu planning for my Christening. I quietly wiped my tears away when I saw this and the smile on my face actually hurt my cheeks. It’s so incredible, 6 years after her passing that I’m discovering all these books and all her notes. It’s almost like she’s guiding me. Which is exactly what I needed a few weeks ago. I had been working incredibly hard on a project and I was exhausted and just felt emotionally finished. It was at this time that I looked up at the bookshelf closest to the kitchen and saw all my mom’s favourites. And as I took out the first, a mountain of scraps of paper fell out on my head, all with my mom’s writing on. Things like “easy chicken stew”, “best fast paella” and “sickly sweet marshmallow tart” stared back at me. I couldn’t help but laugh because this was definitely my mom’s handy work. She had a wicked sense of humour and I’m sure she had a good chuckle when she saw me taking out that book and being showered with her cooking notes.
I’ve made my way through about 7 books now and the things I’ve seen have both scarred and inspired me. The 70’s and 80’s were not only fashionably dodgy years but also dodgy in cooking terms. And then I’m not even talking about the photography. But I still love browsing through them and trying to think of ways to upgrade the recipes and make them modern. But one recipe I cannot for the life of me make modern, is this Marshmallow Fridge Tart. When I saw this recipe a whole truck-load full of memories swamped me and I had visions of bright colours, permed hair and my mom’s yellow and white polka dot heels. For me, this is the 80’s in a dessert. Sickly sweet, a little bit kitsch with its light pink and white marshmallows and bright red cherries peaking out but above and beyond all that, it’s charming. And something you can only make for people who have a good sense of humour.
I think my mom loved this so much because it was fast, easy, relatively cheap and the kids loved it (and judging by my dad’s reaction when he saw it in the fridge last night, the adults loved it just as much). The only adjustment I made was to fold in a cup of greek yoghurt to lighten the mixture up slightly. But other than that, this recipe is written down exactly like this in the book. Enjoy!
Makes 1 large fridge tart, serves approximately 10-12
1 packet tennis biscuits (coconut flavoured cookies), crushed
3 tbsn butter, melted
1 tin condensed milk
100ml lemon juice
1 cup plain, greek yoghurt
2 cups marshmallows, finely chopped (you can also use mini-marshmallows)
1 cup red glacé cherries, chopped
- Mix the tennis biscuits with the butter and stir until the mixture resembles damp sand. Press into the bottom of a deep, rectangular dish (or smaller dishes if you prefer to make individual portions).
- In a mixing bowl, combine the condensed milk and lemon juice and beat until thick. Fold in the Greek yoghurt.
- Whip the cream until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the marshmallows and cherries into the condensed milk mixture.
- Gently fold the cream into the condensed milk mixture.
- Pour the mixture onto the biscuit crumb base and refrigerate until set.