As a child we would all be so excited when Mum would make her ‘Chocolate Tutta’ for our birthday cake or for a special event in our family.
It was a dessert considered pretty fancy in the ’70s because you used Greek Savoiardi biscuits, which were hard to source in an era of meat and three veg. Mum’s masterpiece had three layers of chocolate mousse and cream between the lady finger sponge biscuits, all covered in a bucket load of whipped cream with a crumbled Flake chocolate on top. Pretty much a diabetic attack waiting to happen.
I Googled my Mum’s recipe and could find no trace of this groundbreaking dessert we were raised on. There were similar recipes on the web but their cooks have wisely added coffee and alcohol to make more of a tiramisu dessert.
I have been given some homework by my lovely life coach (yes, it is a thing and yes, she is worth every single cent) to find two dishes to cook for my children. This task came after I confessed I had never made a birthday cake for my kids. I outsource. Or Mum makes them.
There seems to be a disconnect between me and food. Let me point out there is no disconnect with eating. Just with the cooking side of things.
Some of my friends spend weeks rolling mountains of marzipan to make perfect dinosaur heads or mermaids swanning on seabeds encrusted with edible pearls and seaweed. I look at these fellow school mums as if they are on the cusp of finding the cure to a horrible disease, such is the mystique to me of cooking.
I can speak in front of 500 people and can navigate my way around just about any city, but I cannot cook. I can make pasta necklaces with my kids for hours on end and I am a bandit when it comes to watching PAW Patrol marathons. I can talk fluent Power Rangers and I know the difference between the Marvel Universe and the DC Empire.
But I want my kids to beg me to cook them their favourite dish. So my humble quest to find my masterpiece is underway.
One of my best friends reckons her homemade chicken coconut schnitzel has her kids applauding. Another friend swears by her beef stroganoff. I am not sure. I am not Martha or Nigella.
I flicked through the Sunday lift-out cooking section of the paper hoping for some inspiration to find a meal I could make. Instead I was slapped with celebrity chef Matt Moran’s idea of a “relaxed and no-fuss meal to share with the family” that is arrogantly titled ‘couscous paella with clams and mussels’.
So my quest continues. At this rate I may be serving up fish fingers and jelly. If you have a sure-fire recipe that will become a family heirloom please send it my way.