Last night as I was writing this my mother was preparing the ingredients to make the Spring Super Salad which she took as an entree for dinner with friends. That doesn't sound very remarkable unless you already know from reading my About Me page that Mum absolutely hates cooking, and always has. I find it really hard to relate to as I love it so much, but I can see that she always approaches it with the expectation that it will be a disaster - yet ironically she really is a good (if panicky) cook (and an incredible gardener). If you are like this too, I'll give you the same advice I always give her - don't panic, keep it simple, follow the instructions carefully and have faith - seriously if you do those things you can't go wrong. (Also if you are not 100% sure of what you're doing, don't 'free-style' with the ingredients...). When I was growing up my Dutch grandparents lived in Australia, so we didn't get to see them very often, but when we did my Oma would always make fantastic chicken ragout and croquette (which Mum makes really well too). A few months ago when I was putting some international dessert recipes together for Dish magazine I asked Mum if she had one for Oliebollen at all. She asked around her five sisters (two of whom are with her in the photo in the top pic) and one came up with the goods - but even better, this recipe is my Oma's Oma's recipe - so truly handed down through the generations, and very traditional! In the Netherlands it is usually served on New Year's Eve, but they're so delicious they're great any time - with a good dusting of icing sugar, and if you fancy, some vanilla bean ice cream.
...and before I go, in other news, Nick is back from Shanghai today, for seven hours before heading to Melbourne for his Dad's birthday (!), Henry is still rocking the Ice-Queen hair at work and uni in Wellington and Rich is looking down the barrel of his last 10 days of school. Ever. Holy shit (excuse me but I feel it's necessary). How did this happen - that Nick is going to his Dad's 80th birthday, Henry is 20 and at uni, and Rich is finishing school! Any young people reading this, take note - enjoy every day, make the most of opportunities that come your way and really try and notice your life, because in about 10 minutes your kids will be grown, your face will be wrinkly (not as bad as it sounds because you won't be able to see as well either, also handy when house-cleaning), your hands will look like your mother's (no offense Mum) and you will be thinking where did it all go??? If you're really lucky, you'll be full of passion for something (family/food/photography/yoga/friends in my case) and enjoying (almost) every minute. Oh my God, so many words - haha - sorry! Go read the recipe...
150 mls lukewarm milk + 1 tsp sugar
2 tablespoons caster sugar
pinch of salt (3g)
1 egg, lightly whisked
100g raisins or currants
1 apple, peeled and finely chopped
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
5 cups Rice bran oil for deep frying
Rice brain oil spray
Mix warm milk with sugar and add yeast. Whisk briefly and leave to sit for 5 minutes. Put flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Stir then add milk mixture with egg, raisins, apple and lemon zest. Stir to combine then cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for one hour. Heat oil in a large deep pot. Use 2 tablespoons sprayed with oil or a small ice cream scoop to scoop out pieces of dough then fry in hot oil, for 1 minute until golden brown. Drain – they should be soft inside and not greasy – if they cook too slowly, or if the balls are too big, the crust will be thick and they will be un-cooked inside. Start with one test ball to get your temperature correct, then cook only 4-5 at a time so that they don’t cool the oil. Roll in sugar or dust in icing sugar to serve. Makes: 15