I’m not sure I’ve changed that much over the last 25 years. I mean, I’ve been to a lot of places, sure, but changed? My best friend from primary school says I look exactly like I did when I was 5. I’d like to think I’m kinder than I was as a teenager, more tolerant and less self-conscious now, but I’m not at all sure.
I met Anna when we were both 15. She asked me if I wanted to wag school and go and hang out up the road. Just having switched from a uniformed Catholic girls’ school to a new, more liberal school with mufti, I was rather flattered.
We were sort of opposites. Anna was never too confident in class but in the playground, she was the cool girl everyone wanted to be like. School, for me, was a cinch but outside the classroom I wasn’t always sure of my footing despite my bravado.
We used to eat all sorts of things together on the occasions we ought to have been in school: mini-pizzas on pita bread, bananas dipped in yoghurt, pistachio nuts that mum put in my lunch. I remember feta was a great favourite of hers.
For a while after school finished, I think Anna felt that she wasn’t *good* at school. I went to university and discovered that being good at passing tests doesn’t mean you’ll do well when you actually have to analyse something.
We’ve known each other a long time now and those sorts of distinctions have become unimportant: she’s found what she loves to do and believe it or not, it’s about as academic as it gets. She’s really come into her own. I’ve uh, set up house in lots of countries and started this blog.
Something that has never changed though, is Anna’s good taste in food. Whenever we get together we eat and the last time we met, she mentioned that as a child she loved semolina pudding so when I came across this recipe for pistachio, semolina and citrus slice, I knew I would make it and post it for her. I’m sure that when she is old, she will be just as fun to cook and eat with and full of a lifetime of grace.
What quality do you hope to have when you are old and look back on your life?
Pistachio, Semolina and Citrus Slice
I’m afraid this is also just stuck into one of my scrapbooks but if anyone happens to know where it’s from, feel free to chime in.
This slice is sticky and sweet like baklava. Unless you’re in the market for that type of thing I wouldn’t recommend it. If you are, it’s heaven. Since there’s so little flour, I imagine it wouldn’t be too difficult to make it gluten free, though I haven’t tried it.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (350 Fahrenheit) and grease a 20 x 30 cm slice tin, lining it with pieces of baking paper that are too long so that they overhang on the sides to make it easier to remove the baked slice.
For the slice
100 grams (2/3 cup) shelled unsalted pistachios
200 grams (4/5 cup) butter
160 grams (2/3 cup) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon orange zest (I used lemon zest)
60 grams(1/2 cup) all purpose flour
1 scant teaspooon baking powder
125ml (1/2 cup) orange juice (blood orange would be nice here, just to be really fancy)
185 grams (1 1/2 cups) fine semolina
Toast the nuts in the oven for 10 minutes, cool and chop quite finely – not a powder but you don’t want great chunks either.
Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes with a handmixer. Add the vanilla, zest and eggs and beat again until light.
Add the flour, baking powder, semolina, orange juice and chopped pistachios and fold in carefully.
Spread into the tin evenly and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and coming away from the sides a bit.
Cool on a rack for a few minutes and pour over the following syrup:
For the syrup
and bring to the boil. Simmer for a minute and pour over slice.
NB: I found the syrup to be far too much so you could probably halve it unless you want toothache.