Thursday, July 1, 2010

Honouring Lois Daish

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.

From right to left: Mary Daish, Lois's daughter; Mary's husband Paul Schrader; Lois; and Kelda Hains, who runs Nikau Cafe with Paul.

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)
2 tamarillos
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:

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.


Deborah said...

I have a couple of her books. One is a compilation of Listener columns and it is spattered with cooking stains. It is a much used and much loved book, which I figure is the best kind of tribute to a great cook.

Mary said...

What a lovely recipe. I really enjoyed reading some of your earlier posts and thoroughly enjoyed my visit here. I'll be back. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

Trudi said...

What a lovely tribute. Good on you.
I wrote about her Life Membership to the NZ Guild of Food Writers:
Thanks Anne.
Take care,
Trudi, Fresh In The Kitchen

AWOL said...

Thank you for your tribute, Anne. I too have a bulging folder of Lois's Listener articles, and refer to them often for old favourites and fresh ideas - some pages are so stained and annotated that the recipe is almost illegible. As someone who loves good food and good writing I really miss her weekly column, but she's still very much a presence in my kitchen. So thank you, Lois, and congratulations on your award!

Susan said...

I don't suppose you have "Gina's no-knead bread" which I THINK was one of Lois's recipes! [definitely from The Listener]. It had wholemeal, wheatgerm, seeds etc. I have the cutting somewhere, I think, but cannot find it and it's driving me mad!!

Susan said...

Anne, thanks SO MUCH!! Talk about the power of the internet! I have just found the recipe you posted today (having been away a bit lately) and I am absolutely thrilled and very grateful to you for taking the trouble to respond. I will go straight to the kitchen to start making it! Kind regards, Susan

Boomergran said...

There was a great tomato soup recipe too - my husband is the cook round here and we have lost it over moves from Wellington to Hawke's Bay and now to Auckland. Do you have it by any chance? Boomer

Anonymous said...

Hello Anne, I discovered your blog(s) while searching for a copy of Lois Daish's book A Good Year. I understand that she has some recipes for fruit cheeses and perhaps other fruity treats which I would love to try. As I haven't been able to find the book (out of print), I'm wondering if you would be kind enough to post some of her fruit cheese recipes on your blog.

Then again, if you know where I can find a copy of her book...

Many thanks in advance!

AnneE said...

Haven't found the tomato soup recipe, Boomer, sorry! Michelle, I've had a look on line and yes, copies of A Good Year seem impossible to find. But I'll try another tack...

Anonymous said...

I am so upset that I have lost Lois Daish's wonderful recipe for Currant Scones, so light and flaky. Can anyone help please? This was in the Listener.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I have a pristine copy of Lois's "A Good Year" that belonged to my late mother. It is as new, with no stains or marks. I was Lois's food editor at the Listener for almost her whole time as a columnist so I am looking to sell the book to a good home where it will be treasured by someone who loves her recipes as much as I do.

AnneE said...

Can I post this message on my Facebook food memoir page?

Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you.

AnneE said...

I want to send you a friend's email, she'd like to discuss buying the book, but I don't know your email address!