Thanks to everyone who sent in family recipes this week – beloved biscuits, great-nan's pickled shallots (currently maturing below the sink) and the kind of simple soup that's so much more than the sum of its humble parts. I loved them all.
Indeed, spaghetti and fried eggs might well become a bit of a regular treat when the fridge is bare, but in the end, I was powerless before the magic of Carolyn George's saucy American pudding. It's a delicious dessert and children's entertainer in onesuper-sweet package – adults might well want to add a little tangy creme fraiche ... but then again …
The winning recipe: fudge brownie pudding
This was a favourite when I was a child growing up in the US in the 1950s. It was a wickedly delicious science lesson – in that the sauce ended up on the bottom but had started on the top. I can still recall the thrill of watching the pudding bake through the glass window of the oven.
Carolyn George, Heaton
110g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 tbsp melted butter or margarine
For the sauce
160g soft light brown sugar
4 tbsp cocoa powder
400ml boiling water
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Butter a 20cm baking tin or dish deep enough to hold the cake and sauce.
2 Sift the dry ingredients together into a bowl. Add the wet ingredients and stir to mix. Spread the mixture into the prepared tin and put to one side while you make the sauce.
3 Mix the brown sugar and the cocoa powder in a heatproof bowl. Carefully add the boiling water and stir to mix. The sauce will be thin, but it thickens as the cake bakes. Pour over the cake mixture and carefully place the cake into the hot oven.
4 Bake until the cake has risen through the sauce and a skewer comes out clean: 30 minutes or thereabouts.
5 To serve, flip portions of the warm cake into bowls and spoon sauce on top. Delicious with cream or ice-cream.
Nan's pickled onion recipe
This is my Nan's pickled onion recipe. My nan lived to 102, and I have fond memories of making these with her each autumn as a child, and later as a young adult. She would grow the shallots herself. Her kitchen was the happiest place to be. This recipe is from her own mother, so it's very old: the onions are crunchy and hot, and I still make them today.
Sue King, Sheffield
Makes 4 medium jars
900g shallots or pickling onions
24 dried red chillies
4 tbsp coriander seeds
4 tbsp mustard seeds
4 tbsp black peppercorns
4 tbsp crushed bay leaves
1 Peel the shallots or onions. Dissolve the salt in 450ml water, add the shallots/onions and leave for 24 hours, then drain and rinse.
2 Divide between four sterilised jars, packing the shallots in tightlythen add 6 chillies, 1 tbsp coriander seeds, 1 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tbsp black peppercorns and 1 tbsp crushed bay leaves per jar.
3 Pour vinegar over to cover the shallots and seal. Leave for at least 4 weeks before using. These will keep for 6 months.
Gertie's dried apricot jam
I was honoured when my late mother-in-law, Gertie, gave me her recipe book. This was no ordinary recipe book but recipes cut out of wartime newspapers and pasted into a fragile manuscript written in Hebrew. "You can make the jam this year," she said, a little tired, pointing to the page. Newly married, I was thrilled and I've treasured those battered pages ever since.
This year my daughter Sarah and I made it for the Passover and loved its sweet sharp taste, lusciously enhanced by my husband Merv's one and only lemon grown in his greenhouse. We used it sandwiched between our Passover sponge cakes, and it was thickly dolloped on matzo crackers and made them almost palatable.
Ruth Joseph, Cardiff, veggischmooze.blogspot.com
Makes approximately 1.5kg jam
500g dried apricots
1.35kg jam sugar
Juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 Chop the apricots finely and place in a large bowl. Pour over 1.8 litres water. Leave for 24 hours.
2 The next day, sterilise some jars, and put a saucer in the freezer to chill. Put the fruit and water in a large pan along with the sugar and lemon juice and zest. Stir well until the sugar is melted, then bring to the boil, and boil strongly for 25-30 minutes. To test if it's ready, take the saucer from the freezer and put a small dollop of jam on it. Leave for a minute or so and then drag your finger tip through it: if the surface wrinkles, it's ready.
3 Bottle in sterilised jars while still warm and cover with waxed discs and cellophane tops.
This old-fashioned buckwheat biscuit was one of few sweet treats I enjoyed as a child before soft, colourful western-style cakes arrived in Japan. It's said to be one of those "southern barbarian" foods, like escabeche and kasutera, that were brought to Japan by 16th-century Portuguese merchants.
It may seem odd, but the strong taste of baking soda is just what makes this biscuit nostalgic to many of us Japanese.I even suspect that when I was a child they might have used vegetable oil and not butter, which is still quite expensive there. For a truly nostalgic soba-bolo, the texture should be brittle, the taste simple and the appearance plain.
Sakura Nishimura, Cambridgeshire
Makes about 40 small biscuits
100g buckwheat flour
80g plain flour, plus extra to dust
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g light brown soft sugar
30g melted butter
1 Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Beat the egg in a mixing bowl, then add the flours, bicarbonate of soda and sugar and mix well.
2 Stir in the melted butter and knead the dough into a ball. Roll out on a floured surface to a 5mm thickness and cut into shapes, ideally using a daisy-shaped cutter and making a small hole in the centre.
3 Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and place them on it, leaving a little space between them, then bake for 10 minutes until lightly coloured.
Spaghetti and fried eggs
I grew up in a world where spaghetti came in tins. Then, some time around 1960, our mother bought some "real" spaghetti – the dried sort. It came full length, wrapped in dark blue paper and sealed with a (to us) Italian label. My teenage sister found a way of cooking it that imitated the tinned sort but tasted better. I add a fried egg on top for good measure. The yolk melts into the spaghetti as you cut into it – oh yes, I use a knife and fork for this, just as I did back in 1964.
Chris Russell, Shropshire
½ tsp dried marjoram or mixed herbs
80–100g spaghetti, depending on appetite
Oil or butter, for frying
1 or 2 large eggs
A knob of butter
A generous squeeze of tomato puree
Freshly grated parmesan
1 Boil a pan of water and add the herbs at the same time as the spaghetti.
2 While the spaghetti is cooking, warm some plates, then heat the oil or butter in a frying pan and gently fry the eggs.
3 When the spaghetti is cooked (so you can easily cut a strand with the back of a knife) drain it and return to the pan. Stir in the butter, then the tomato puree and some salt and pepper.
4 Serve with the fried egg(s) on top and sprinkle/smother with grated parmesan. Eat with a knife and fork!
Nonna's pasta soup
This recipe has been passed down through many generations of nonnas (grandmother in Italian). It encompasses simple and delicious home cooking, using ingredients that every nonna has in her store cupboard. My mum is the current nonna, and as a lady who was born in Italy, raised in Australia then settled in England, this recipe always transports her – and now her grandchildren – to our Italian roots.
Karen Schucan Bird, London, broccoliandricecakes.wordpress.com
½ onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stick and a handful of celery leaves, finely chopped
1 potato, peeled and cubed
1.2 litres vegetable stock
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp olive oil
100g small pasta shapes
100g frozen peas
1 Put all ingredients except the pasta and peas into a pan. Stir, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
2 Add the pasta and peas to the soup and continue cooking, with the lid on, for a further 15-20 minutes. The soup is ready when the veg and pasta are soft.