Tomorrow is Mother’s Day – a tradition that started in the early 20th century in America but has been celebrated for thousands of years within different cultures.
The Greeks honoured their mothers in the festival of Cybele and the Romans in Hilaria. In the UK, Ireland and Nigeria it falls on the fourth Sunday in Lent but in most of the rest of the world it happens on the second Sunday in May, including America where it originated in its modern form.
When I was young, Mother’s Day usually started with my brother and I making breakfast in bed for our Mum – tea and toast with an egg cup filled with freshly picked garden daisies on the side for decoration. We’d have made our own card – no profits for Hallmark in Aghadowey - and a bouquet of flowers would also have been hand picked from the garden. Nowadays Mother’s Day can be a feeding frenzy for advertisers - something to fill the gap between Valentine’s Day and Easter in the commercial calendar. If you don’t give your Mum a custom made card, have flowers delivered, organise a spa day, afternoon tea and a present of jewellery, perfume and accessories, then you’re an unfit child!
Like Christmas, so much emphasis is placed on materialism that we’ve almost forgotten what this day is supposed to be about – cherishing our mothers and making them feel appreciated. It is possible to do this without re-mortgaging the house. Ask any Mother and they’ll tell you it’s the little things that mean the most.
Marshmallows are pretty trendy at the moment with lots of artisan companies making them. The Gourmet Mallow Company and Camran Mallows both create exciting and innovative confections. Gin and Tonic mallows, Prosecco and salt caramel are among a myriad of varieties on offer. Mallows are essentially egg white with a sugar syrup whipped to a billowy fluff. They’re a great way of using excess egg white and they freeze successfully to boot.
My first recipe is for a variation using sparkling wine and raspberries. A hot sugar syrup is poured over egg whites and whisked and then set with gelatine. You can add what you like to make a lovely gift that you packaged up yourself.
When you’ve finished whisking the mallows there are egg yolks left. A good way to use them up is by making crème brulee. Literally meaning burnt cream, a set custard is topped with sugar and grilled to caramelize. My version has the addition of white chocolate or you could do this and use dark chocolate if you prefer. Crème brulee is delicious and when it’s served with something with crunch, the texture balance this adds to the creaminess makes it sublime. I’ve included a recipe for chocolate shortcake that has the added decadence of some rum soaked raisins. As a bonus, it’s great to dip into the brulee.
At this stage I should say Happy Mothers Day to my own Mum, Rae. As the song says ‘A mother’s love’s a blessing, no matter where you roam, keep her while she’s living, you’ll miss her when she’s gone’.