CHEF JP CELEBRATES MOTHERS DAY UNDER THE BELGIAN SUN
WORDS AND IMAGES: CHEF JP LE ROUX
Traditionally, Mother’s Day is celebrated (or not celebrated) across the globe, in many a different ways and according to different cultural and religious beliefs and even different calendars!
For example, Islam does not recognise Mother’s Day as a holiday as they believe that it should be a memorable day every day – my thoughts as well.
But, as always, there are different opinions, and while the Christian faith uses Mother Mary (or the Virgin Mary) as a reference point, in the Hindu tradition, Mother’s Day is called “Mata Tirtha Aunshi” and the sacrifices made by mothers are celebrated in April / May by honouring mothers with
special foods – gain, that’s just up my street.
Buddhists, on the other hand, not only celebrate the universal affectionate sacrifice of motherhood but also remember the story of the woman who birthed the great Buddha.
Our take is to both acknowledge and celebrate all these different views as well as those who simply see mothers for what they are – givers of life and love, comfort and understanding. We’ve all heard of that time honoured phrase – a mother’s instinct, the kiss on a new born baby’s head, the lingering fragrance and feel of a mother’s touch and even Mom baking up a storm in the family kitchen.
Many are terribly clichéd and often anything but true. What is important, though, is that we celebrate that life giving force that equips us to cope with the day to day realities whilst providing the support and even the discipline to negotiate the straight and narrow.
That is why, the O&A team has decided to bring this Mother’s Day celebration down to earth a little – and then to add some sunny fun.
GOING BACK TO MOTHER NATURE
Talking about the sun – on Mother’s Day, we can’t forget the influence of Mother Nature which is often symbolised through the sun – the giver of life and the beginning of the cycle that gives us all the wonderful foods that find their way into my kitchen.
Mothers, like the sun, are, after all, the centre of our galaxies. As those of us in KZN who experienced two weeks of bleak grey days and flooding can bear testament, the sun is a constant in our lives. Everything evolves and is drawn to it like a beacon of our life and hope.
On a slightly sombre note, this Mother’s Day, we bear testament to precious mothers lost in the recent tragedy as well as those amazing ladies who have not only kept their families together during the toughest of times but reached out to the many in need.
To add a lighter note and to remind everyone – especially Mom’s – that the sun always comes up the morning after the worst of days, we have dedicated this blog to a comfort food that actually exemplifies the shape and colour of the sun – the waffle.
My editor and I decided that this was the perfect opportunity to add a tad of colour and fragrance to celebrate Mother’s Day – and to inadvertently suggest a little spoiling with a special meal and heaps of imagination.
During my research, I discovered that this was more applicable than even I had realised. Apparently, during the 1900’s a French / Belgian lady by the name of Ann Jarvis lost her mother due to unforeseen circumstances. In 1905, she proclaimed one day of the year as Mother’s Day in remembrance of and to honour to her mother. And so the beautiful journey of Mother’s Day started across the globe …
Apart from being home to the legendary Belgian waffle, this little country that is tucked away in the cornucopia of northern Europe and nurtured by four bordering countries, has become the sweet pearl of the Continent when it comes to culinary delights.
Tipping my hat to the sweet legacy of Belgium, today we are approaching waffles in a whole new way just as we pay tribute to each individual mom who is different in her own way and in her own right with five totally different waffle toppings.
SOME HISTORY TO WAFFLE ABOUT
Although, as its name suggests, the Belgian waffle, traditionally hails from Belgium, it has also been called the Brussels Liege Waffle, a traditional street food that came with no toppings. Even the inventors – the Vermersch family – refused to let their kids to have any toppings on their waffles. The unique recipe, which has pearl sugar as its secret ingredient, was deemed to be so rich in colour and sweetness that any additions were, quite simply, not needed.
Another idiosyncrasy was that the traditional Belgian waffle was never to be eaten with a knife and fork.
By the way, it also started out round like the sun – and was only squared off when it became a global treat – only to be rounded again, when specialised electric waffle makers made their debut.
With the Westernisation of the good old waffle came the sweet tooth of the Americans and the addition of ice cream or cream and maple syrup. Enter the age of the mega topping.
As the culinary saying goes… “God created the apple and the oyster, there is no recipe, we can only try to perfect it in our own way”. The same goes for waffles and, just as this wonderful street food became a vehicle for a world of different toppings that are both sweet and savoury, I’ve added my take on some slightly more unusual ones. So, get ready to take this crispy, crunchy, almost candy coated treat with its pillow soft-interior to a whole new level.
Below is my classic waffle mix- and if you don’t have a cast iron Belgian waffle maker, drop me a line and, if I’m feeling very kind, I might even send you my address!
FROM MOM’S PANTRY
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of warm water
8 grams instant yeast
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
4 Tablespoons of brown sugar
2 x large eggs, beaten
1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
800 grams cake flour
a pinch of salt
2 cups pearl sugar/ granulated
Whisk up your golden sun shine by combining all ingredients and then let it bloom for 10 minutes. When you are ready, pour your mix in to your cast iron waffle maker, 5 minutes on each side.
TO TOP IT ALL
THE COPENHAGEN – salmon gravlax, Danish feta, fresh rocket, with a mustard, dill drizzle. Pink salmon, slivers of salted gravlax and Danish cream cheese just melt in your mouth and, to zest it up a notch, I added more zing in the form of a peppery rocket and the dill infused mustard.
BELGIAN INDULGENCE – chocolate flavoured peanut butter, gratin of Belgian dark chocolate, Oreo biscuits, and orange zest. If you a peanut lover like myself, then you have to try the inimitable Belgian waffle with true silky smooth Belgian chocolate. To balance out the richness, the crispy Oreo biscuits and fresh seasonal golden oranges provide that perfect Autumn snack.
MEDITERRANEAN MUSE – grilled halloumi, figs and a fynbos and wild flower honey drizzle. For me, halloumi and fig are the perfect marriage with the taste and feel of the salty, crisp cheese perfectly balanced by the sweet figs.
BLUEBERRY SUNDAY – crispy back bacon, fresh blueberries, drenched with maple syrup. Who doesn’t like crispy bacon and who can honestly can resist fresh blueberries? To top it all off, apply copious amounts of maple syrup… irresistible!!! (…and don’t forget to lick your fingers when Mom’s not watching!)
FUNKEE MAMMA – deep fried crispy chicken fillets, chocolate honeycomb and a maple praline. Take it from me, there’s nothing better that crispy southern fried chicken – yes, on a waffle! Chicken and chocolate may sound like a truly crazy idea but this combination makes this waffle both unique and decadent.
SUNNY SIDE UP – perfect sunny side up eggs served with grilled tomato, Ementhal cheese, turmeric and Worcestershire sauce. Turmeric doesn’t just add colour and fragrance to your sunny side up eggs but is a great anti-inflammatory and does what Mom’s do best – kisses away some of those aches and pains. Seriously, though, when combined with the saltiness from the Worcestershire sauce, there’s a perfect balance to the sweetness of the Belgian waffle. Couldn’t think of a better way to start the day!
So, here’s to sending a sunny smile to all mothers across the globe …
P.S.There’s nothing like ending a glorious day with a calming cup of tea… a Melissa leaf (aka lemon balm) and, of course, a traditional colonial lamington. I served my Mother’s Day tea in my Mom’s Royal Albert tea set, known as Dimity Rose. Nothing could have been more elegantly appropriate.