Mother’s Day Retrospective:
This time of year is hard for those of us who have lost their mothers and yet don’t have children of their own. The shops and restaurants are full of things for Mothering Sunday and I get slightly overwhelmed by enquiries about what I will be covering here on London-Unattached. Will there be a gift round-up? Would I like to take my mother for afternoon tea? To stay in a posh hotel in London? Or perhaps a night out at the theatre?
It’s now 7 years since my Mother passed away, though it seems like yesterday. And, while I am still sad and I still miss her, I have always felt that she was ready to die when she did. She passed away on her wedding anniversary, March 1st. By the time she died, she had lost most of her short-term memory, though she seemed to remember every moment of my own childhood and could recite the poems she’d learnt at school.
What I remember most about my Mother was her love of life. She painted – mostly flowers – initially taking her inspiration from the fields and hedgerows of the Somerset countryside where she grew up.
She loved botanical paintings. If she’d had the chance I’m sure she’d have trained to be a botanical artist herself.
And, it was her love of Portmeirion Botanic Garden china that encouraged me to take part in a celebration for Mother’s Day with Portmeirion. She did have some of the original Botanic Garden collection but, I don’t believe the pretty Botanic Blue design was around during her life. I am sure that she, like me, would have loved this particular design which reminds me of her own flower paintings.
I decided to celebrate Mother’s day and everything that I learnt from my own Mother by doing something which I used to share with her. For the last eight years of her life, I used to cook lunch for us both. A sit-down, semi-formal meal with nice china, a glass of wine and three courses of food. Mum told me that she preferred my cooking to eating out. She WAS a great champion of us all and I couldn’t honestly say whether that was true or just her way of being supportive. But I enjoyed cooking for her and I focussed on producing dishes that she would enjoy. Nothing too rich, nothing too fancy. And, if possible something that would provide leftovers she could take home and have on another day by herself.
My Mother’s day menu then, is a mixture of old favourites and new dishes. Homemade leek and potato soup was something I’d make regularly. A small bowl at the start of the meal and a large tub for mum to take home. Given half a chance, my mother would add a generous swirl of cream. Only on Sunday though;)
For the main course, I’ve made goats cheese and pink peppercorn stuffed Chicken Paupilletes or Chicken Parcels. It’s the sort of dish my Mum would have loved, though not something I remember making for her. I’m sharing the recipe though, and if you want to try for yourself, it’s a dish you can experiment with. I like a wild mushroom stuffing too and it works well with red pepper, cheese and chopped kale too.
For dessert – well, Mum liked nothing better than fresh strawberries or raspberries with a little cream and sugar. The blue of the china really offsets the raspberries beautifully doesn’t it?
Finally, and just because I always would send mum home with food to eat during the week, I’ve made raspberry muffins with the remainder of the raspberries. Mum was diabetic, but, by making muffins and cakes for her myself I could adapt them to be more suitable for her – adding oats, reducing the amount of sugar while trying to make something perfectly delicious. I have to admit, I just made these using a normal recipe. But, I still think home-made cakes can be healthier, with a controlled amount of sugar and fat.
Now, I know my Mother would have loved eating her Sunday lunch on this china from Portmeirion. So, whenever I use it I will remember her.
- 2 chicken breasts
- 70 g soft goats cheese
- 10 pink peppercorns
- 4 pieces serrano ham
- 100 ml white wine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- Take each chicken breast and put between two pieces of cling film. Beat out with a rolling pin till the breast is as thin as possible and the shape is as square as possible. Pre-heat the oven to 180c
- Crush the peppercorns and chop up one piece of ham. Mix the peppercorns and ham with the goat's cheese
- Put half the cheese in a heap just to one side of centre on each
- Fold up the sides of the chicken breast, over the stuffing - start with the long sides, then pull the top and bottom over.
- Turn the paupilletes over and wrap with the remaining strips of ham.
- Using kitchen twine, wrap the paupilletes up as if wrapping a parcel first so that each parcel is divided into quarters, then with two more turns of the string, so that there are eight segments.
- Put the oil in an ovenproof skillet and heat. Put the parcels in the pan and seal on all sides for a minute.
- Pour the wine into the skillet and bring to a gentle simmer. Put the skillet into the oven and cook for 15 minutes
- Remove the string before serving.
Thank-you Mum for everything you gave me. You can find out more about the china, which was sent to me by Portmeirion for the purpose of this feature, on their website