With a full time job, secondary projects, and a constant effort to work out, time spent on cooking and hanging have become a privilege awarded for the weekend. The past two weekends have been mostly spent at home with family. Friends have been busy either traveling, working, and even the ones who were in town had their own crises. This along with an ailing grandma at home allowed with a lot of quality time inside my own house. With a personal aim to cook with summer fruits, both weekends soon became a wormhole of time spent learning, making, and eating a lot of carbs.
Mom and I were talking about what to make for lunch when we somehow realized that she has never really taught me any of her recipes and techniques. Mom is a great cook and can whip up whole feasts. She has little plating sense and serves in a serial Indian family style-- large bowls of food with garnish from where you self serve. She has an acute sense of flavors, spices, and techniques. She can eat a new food and start thinking of what and how it's made while also taking jabs at how it can be better. Upon our realization, we decided on taking over our Sunday family lunch-- arhar dal (yellow lentils), sookhe aloo, and moti roti. Dal, pan fried starch, and a fat laced bread is a typical North Indian meal. Ma specializes in moti roti. A thick unleavened bread made with whole wheat flour filled with ghee and red chili powder, rolled, and then pinched by hand all over the top to make a pattern. I can make pasta, pizza, and even samosas by hand but a round roti is still something that alludes me. Alas, I show puppy dog eyes and melt her motherly heartstrings to feed me until I burst from the seams, or she begins to count calories— whichever comes first.
Fathers’s day fell on a Sunday that I devoted to cooking and being at home. I picked up 4 boxes of amazing cherries on Saturday for cherry oatmeal cream scones (recipe to follow soon). Later that day, dad too saw cherries in the market and picked up four more boxes. With 8 boxes and effectively three people eating these fruits, I decided that a new cherry based recipe needs to be made. Mom and I decided that dad needs to contribute in the kitchen and asked (relegated) him to make us a family favorite— fruit cream.
Fruit cream is exactly what it suggests to be, chilled vanilla flavored sweet whipped cream draped over fresh and canned fruit. My grandmother was the fruit cream queen. Every time we went to meet her, she would whip up a batch. Dad too learnt it and periodically made some during summers. There is a touch and feel about this recipe. To be honest, I don't think there is a set recipe. You kind of just go with the flow— test, taste, correct, and taste again. While the recipe is simple, according to dad, there was a time that tinned pineapples and cherries were so expensive that this was considered a luxurious dessert. He was flaunting this factoid while inching towards the can of pineapple to drizzle some of the sucrose brine in which the almost candied fruit was preserved. I acknowledged his statement while swatting his hand away from the can and adding a vanilla bean paste to achieve truly luxurious speckling.
Dad and I spent time post lunch on Father’s day making this cream. We used a large steel bowl, filled it with ice, and placed a smaller bowl in the middle, filling with double cream. Dad whipped for a good 30 minutes while I slowly added a cup of granulated sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste and a pinch of salt. We weren’t going for stiff peaks, but rather just getting enough air that the cream gets light and the vanilla flavor clings to every molecule of fat in that bowl. I don’t think I even wished my dad a happy father’s day. Mostly because the only thing that makes him feel loved, is time spent with family. I missed such weekends. Truly blessed.
Glimpses from the week
350 ml of double cream or whipping cream
1 cup of granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
3 peaches, sliced thin
1 can of pineapple, cubed
1 can of cherries
250 grams of fresh cherries, pitted
a pinch of salt
Keep all cream in the freezer for an hour before actually whipping
In a large bowl, add ice. Then take a smaller bowl and place in the middle of the larger vessel.
Add the cream and begin whipping using a whipping machine (handheld or stand). As you incorporate air, slowly add sugar, salt, and vanilla paste. Whip for at least 30 minutes. Taste often.
Once you achieve a desired taste and texture, stop whipping and serve individually over fruit!