Words and recipe by Lucy Tweed.
Sunlight on warm skin reminds me of my mum. She would spend hours in the garden, tossing compost with a pitch fork, tending to her vegetables. Chatting to the fat hens who were picking hors d'oeuvres from her silverbeet. We picked our own corn, pulled our own carrots, rummaged for herbs beneath the garden chairs, and always popped the first ripe thing of each season straight into our mouths, from beans to blackberries. I always thought gardens just grew. But I realise now that it requires love, patience and nurturing almost like a child.
Mum would always bundle a selection of herbs and young harvest into a tight roll and insist we taste it, smell it, "munch on this!" she would demand as we would run or ride our ponies by.
Rhubarb season - or Barbarhu as she called it - was always my favourite. It comes all year but its favourite time is late summer/autumn months. The bush heat had started to subside which meant cooler mornings and warmer breakfasts. Summer was for drying stone fruits on the trampoline, and winter was for poaching with spice.
This is one of the reasons I enjoy cooking so much. You can be immersed in past moments and create new ones simultaneously. The hands of your departed family can reach down and guide your own, while you can see tiny fingers of your own kids joining to touch and feel what you are doing. For me, cooking is where all my memories are preserved and kept safe. This is where all the stories are. Where in a single cut or searing scent I can suddenly feel sun on my back and hear my mum's voice.
If mum were still alive I would make this for her for Mother's Day. It has all the custard softness she craved, a delicious crisp toffee edge and the tangy sweet punch of rhubarb and raspberry. My son recently made French fruit toast for us for breakfast... so I feel like we are half way there to the moment someone makes this for me.
Happy Mother's Day to all you memory makers. xo
French toast brioche with rhubarb and yoghurt.
4 brioches - I had a baker make the old school fluted buns. If you can't do that just get a nice loaf and slice thickly.
1 cup of cream
1ts vanilla extract
4 eggs - beaten
1/2 cup of brown sugar
100g unsalted butter
Rhubarb compote - make ahead
1 bunch rhubarb - stalks only cut into 2cm chunks
1 orange - zest and juice
2cm piece of ginger - grated
1 cup of brown sugar
1ts vanilla extract
250g frozen raspberries
1. Combine the eggs, cream and vanilla to make your custard dip.
2. Slice each brioche in half and allow to soak in the custard mix. If using sliced fresh bread, don't soak, just dip.
3. In a non stick pan over medium heat allow the butter to foam with a bit of oil.
4. Empty the sugar onto a flat plate and dip the egg soaked side of the brioche into the sugar, allowing a thick crust to form.
5. Gently lower this into the bubbling butter and allow to cook on low, checking after 5mins.
6. Remove from heat once desired crust colour has been achieved and place in a warm oven while you complete the rest.
7. Combine all the compote ingredients, except for the frozen berries, in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until softened - I like to retain some form to the rhubarb and not make it completely mushy, but that is up to you!
8. Turn off and add the frozen raspberries to soften in remaining heat.
9. Set aside until serving, can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for the week.
10. To serve, top the toffee side of each brioche with a big spoon of rhubarb compote and finish with a dollop of natural yoghurt or switch to ice cream for a decadent dessert.