Monday, October 16, 2006

Mum's The Word

Guillermo and I (yes, he was my Juanita on this occasion) made a strawberry cheesecake and a coffee ice cream cake on Saturday. While I thought both were for our Mother's Day lunch at the abuelos, Guillermo couldn't resist the beckoning of the intense aroma of our homemade coffee ice cream so he declared that was my birthday cake, and promptly attacked it with a knife.

I woke up Sunday morning to make an acelga (Swiss Chard) and goat's cheese tart. I deliberately left out salt so Abuela could eat it (no salt for her – doctor's order). At twelve, Guillermo and I with cake carriers in our arms, set out towards Belgrano.

It is always a great joy to me to see the abuelos. Abuelo is a worldly gentleman with lovely manners (sadly, they make too few of them nowadays). I won't be egotistic in saying I am his favourite granddaughter-in-law; his face lights up each time he sees me and of course, he uses the few words of English which at 86, he brushed up by spending a small fortune at Berlitz. Bless this dear man.

My mother-in-law and Abuela were especially appreciative of my vegetable tart because it took the burden off the daughter to prepare special unsalted food for the mother. Not that food wasn't plentiful at lunch anyway; our tio who has been on a 600 calorie diet for the past 4 months, made up in quality what he wasn't allowed in quantity.

The platters of picadas were the most artistic and decadent display of food I have seen in Buenos Aires, outside of a 5-star hotel. Instead of the usual plastic cheeses, there were rounds of French camembert, brie and various goat's cheeses. Italian prosciutto crudo and cotto studded a crown of fresh salad leaves. Even the bread was good. I almost wanted to plant a big kiss on our tio for organising the food; I secretly hope he would take over food duty from now on.

Both Guillermo and I worry about how our tio looks; 600 calorie is basically starving the body and now his eldest son, a wine merchant, is following the same diet. I asked this gentle giant who is on the look out for the latest issue of Club del Vino on my behalf what he planned to do at tastings, he hasn't figured that one out yet.

It was a really lovely get-together, and I don't mean just because of the good food and wine. Guillermo agreed that the group dynamics were better than usual – his tio and his sons were on particularly good form, Guillermo's middle brother and his family are always lovely while the eldest brother, his mouthy competitive wife and their pícaro son and daughter were absent. Of course, none of us wish a family gathering to work out like this but such is life.

After lunch, Guillermo went for the second last round of his chess tournament and I came home for a comfortable afternoon nap. Life is good right now; hopefully it would continue in this direction.
Extremely Easy Coffee Icecream Cake
Cake base:
150g of crushed biscotti
4tbsp melted butter
Ice cream:
500 ml double cream
2.5 tbsp Nescafé Espresso
6 tbsp icing sugar
3 egg yolks
3 tbsp Khalua

Mix biscuit crumbs and melted butter, then press into a cake tin lined with cling film or parchment (easier to lift the cake out out). Set aside.

Whip the cream really thick. Add the coffee powder and the icing sugar. Add egg yolks and the liqueur. Pour the filling over the cake bottom. Cover with plastic film and put the cake in the freezer.

Take out the cake from the freezer 20 minutes before serving and decorate with grated chocolate or fruits.

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