In my pantry (they won't fit on the bookshelf) I keep two battered folders. Their plastic sleeves hold pages torn out of the Listener – Lois Daish's food columns, which she wrote for 23 years. One is for meat and savoury dishes, the other for desserts and sweet things. I have her book A Good Year too, but many of my favourites aren't in it, so the folders are essential. It's not just the recipes, wonderful as they are – it's the context she puts them in. She always seems to manage to be both down-to-earth and inspiring.
Last Friday, Lois was honoured by her peers, who made her a Life Member of the New Zealand Guild of Food Writers (which she had helped to found in 1987). She's only the third Life Member to be elected – her predecessors were Tui Flower, former Women’s Weekly Food Editor and author, and Sue Wakelin, a past Guild President and retired food writer.
The award was presented at a high tea at Wellington's Museum Hotel, on 25 June, by Lauraine Jacobs, who says she regards Lois as her New Zealand food hero. “Lois is an inspiration to many other food writers. She has always cooked and written with sincerity and simplicity, and empowers people to cook well every day...Her contribution to the New Zealand food scene has been outstanding." Hear hear.
To add my own small tribute to Lois, here's a stand-out recipe from my collection – a simple winter dessert with remarkably rich and complex flavours, using the beautiful tamarillos in season now. You need to make it several hours before you want to serve it. If you don’t like prunes, just make the syrup to have with ice cream. The combination of that distinctive tamarillo flavour with the port and chocolate is amazing.
Lois Daish's prunes in tamarillo and chocolate syrup
(NZ Listener, 5 July 1997)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
splash of port or marsala (Lois kindly says this is "optional", presumably to cater for non-drinking cooks, but take no notice)
1 tbsp cocoa
12 pitted prunes
Plunge the tamarillos into a pot of boiling water, leave for a minute, drain and peel. Slice finely and put in a pot with the water, sugar and port or marsala. Simmer for 10 minutes, then strain, pressing some of the tamarillo pulp through the sieve. Put the cocoa in a small pot and graudally stir in the syrup. Bring to the boil and add the prunes. Simmer for 5 minutes, then leave to steep for several hours. Reheat and serve warm with vanilla ice cream. Serves 2-3.
PS - 6 June 2011 - Susan (see last comment below) asked for the recipe for Gina's No-Knead Bread and I've managed to get it, so here it is:
GINA’S NO-KNEAD BREAD
Lois Daish ((Listener Food Column 17 September 1994 - This recipe came from Gina Jelaca who worked with Lois at Brooklyn Café and Grill)
1 tablespoon dried yeast granules
2 teaspoons golden syrup
300 ml warm water
4 cups white bread flour
2 cups wholemeal flour
Half cup wheatgerm
Three-quarters cup bran
Half cup kibbled wheat
2 teaspoons salt
Half cup or more, sunflower or pumpkin seeds or mizture
600 ml warm water
Warm a small mixing bowl by rinsing with hot water and place in it the yeast ferment ingredients. Leave in a warm place until it starts to bubble. Meanwhile take a large mixing bowl and combine the dry ingredients for the dough. Mix thoroughly and make a well in the centre. Pour in the yeast mixture and the water. Use your hand to combine just until all the dry ingredients are thoroughly wetted and mixed. The less mixing, the better. Lightly butter 2 large loaf tins and scoop the dough into them. Let stand in a warm place for about 40 minutes until well-risen. Bake in a preheated 180C oven for about 40 minutes until firm and hollow sounding when loaves are lifted from the tin and tapped on the bottom. Tip out and cool on a rack. Best eaten when completely cold. Even better the next day.