Our favourite tested recipes for all occasions, 66pp.
recipes by Port Macquarie’s best cooks
St Thomas Mothers’ Union, Port Macquarie, 1972 and reprinted 1979
Cooking on page 32
When I was growing up in Sydney in the 1950s and 60s, every backyard seemed to have a passionfruit vine growing over the fence. Kids who needed sustenance while playing in the backyard, were expert at checking the ground underneath the vine for fallen fruit, inserting a thumb into the side to break it open, and slurping out the contents. For me, it’s still a taste reminder of carefree, sunny summer afternoons.
In the 1960s my mother (and the mothers of most of my friends) made this recipe a lot! I loved it, and Mum and I quickly came to an arrangement where she’d make the pastry case, and I’d do the rest. As it was so easy (and cheap) to make, it was a standard item at any party or function where you were asked to ‘bring a plate’. However, from the 1970s on, when Australian tastes became a little more sophisticated, pavlovas started to take on the role of ways to present cheap bananas and backyard passionfruit.
Pavlovas topped with passionfruit and banana are still popular, and I had all but forgotten about this easy alternative recipe, until I looked on page 32 of this book, which is another of my Mum’s (Alice’s) holiday travel finds, this time from Port Macquarie.
Ingredients and method
Make pastry case. Allow to cool.
Slice 3–4 bananas on bottom of case. Sprinkle a little lemon juice to keep the bananas white. Squeeze 3 or more passionfruit over bananas, then add 1/2 cup lemon juice to 1 tin condensed milk (it will thicken).
Cover over with passionfruit, then whip 150ml (1/4 pint) cream, spread on top. Sprinkle with coconut.
How it played out
I was making this to take to Peggy’s for afternoon tea, and decided I wasn’t going to attempt to make shortcrust pastry in my son and daughter-in-law’s kitchen, with a 3-year old ‘helping’. So, I took the easy option and bought a ready-made tart case, which proved, on opening the packet, to be a little small for the amount of filling.
Unfortunately, few people grow passionfruit vines over the back fence any more, especially in the new suburbs of Canberra, where they would be an otherwise ideal plant, taking up little room in pocket-handkerchief-sized backyards. Sharing the harvest with the neighbours (what drops on your side is yours, what drops on my side is mine—doesn’t matter which side the vine is planted on. And if I get far too many for our needs, I’ll bring some of the excess around to you, or share with the neighbours who don’t have a vine!) might also break down some of the barriers, where no-one seems to know who the neighbours are. So, I needed buy the passionfruit. When I found them, my next job was to check for the gold plating on them—$1.65 each for tiny fruit! So much for a cheap dessert. Maybe that’s why it has lost favour.
The rest of the recipe went fairly smoothly. The condensed milk takes a little while to thicken properly after adding the lemon juice, but it did happen, and the rest is as simple as recipes come.
The result was very sweet, and made me realise just how much my tastes have changed. It was pleasant, though, and my son enjoyed the leftovers that we brought home. I’d like to try substituting lime juice and adding some grated rind to the condensed milk to see if that would cut the sweetness a little more. But that will have to wait until the next time I want to supply a retro dish.
Two cents from Peggy
Another big thank you to Rhonda for contributing a dessert to afternoon tea PLUS a page-32 post. It’s true that the tart was very sweet, but it’s was also very pretty to look at. Wish I’d had this recipe years ago, when the neighbours had a bountiful passionfruit tree, and three families had a total of 10 children running around, who were almost always hungry.
And finally, be sure to check out my Where to Next? travel blog.