I regard myself as English, and I do not go in for indulging in St Patrick’s day festivities, I simply do not see the need, or want, to use it as an excuse to party. Anyway, if I desire to paint the town green during March I have the rather lesser known St Chad, who occupies a special place in my heart.
Like both Oxford and Cambridge, Durham University is run on a collegiate system, although unlike Oxbridge teaching is all done in the department. Your college is where you live, play and make life long friends. I am proud to have gone to Durham for 4 years (I stayed an extra year for my masters) and am even more proud to have been a member of St Chad’s College, where the college colour was green.
Not that much is known about St Chad, he was one of 4 brothers, (the other three were rather marvellously called Cedd, Cynibil & Caelin). He is featured in the works of St Bede and is widely thought to have bought Christianity to the Mercian kingdom. Chad spent some of his early years at the monastery at Lindisfarne when St Adian was abbot. He travelled to Ireland and was also abbot of the monasteries of Lastingham and Litchfield. Chad died of plague on the 2nd of March 672.
The names of these Northumbrian Celtic saints trip off my tongue, and in Durham there are also colleges named after both Adian and Bede. I wonder how many alumni have more than a scant knowledge of their lives and history.
Being students, St Chad’s day was invariably alcoholic, we started off by drinking and so continued. The kitchen rose to the spirit of the occasion and provided us with a green breakfast, with copious quantities of green food colouring added to porridge, milk and scrambled eggs (invariably when coupled with the excessive drinking first thing this did lead to some members of the college producing piles of green vomit).
The green meal is a tradition that I have continued with university (and other friends) over the years, and this year I made a green Pavlova. Green meringue, green cream and green fruit.
Because you cook meringue at a low temperature it keeps its colour well, tint it a shade darker than you want your baked meringue to be. It is worth investing in gel food colourings, they give deeper and richer colours.
I filled with elderflower cream and topped with green fruit, for a pudding fit for a saint.
Recipe: Green Pavlova for St Chad
Serves 8 – 10
4 egg whites
180– 200g caster sugar – 1.5x the weight of the egg whites
few drops green gel food colouring
200ml double cream
4 tbs icing sugar
4 tbs elderflower cordial
few drops green gel food colouring
Whisk the egg white with 1/2 tsp of the sugar either in a stand mixer, or with a hand held electric whisk until white and frothy. Add the sugar gradually whisking all the time until the meringue stands in soft peaks. Add a dab of food colouring, and whisk to check the colour, you want the mix to be a shade darker than you want your finished meringue.
Turn out the meringue onto a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray and shape into a next about 10″ accross.
Sprinkle with some edible glitter and place in an oven pre heated to GM2 / 300F / 150C, immediately turn the oven down to GM1 / 275F / 140C. Cook for about 40 – 50 mins. When the pavlova is hard and sounds hollow when lightly tapped then turn the oven off and allow to cool inside the oven.
Whip the cream, cordial and icing sugar until it holds soft peaks and fill the meringue, then decorate with sliced green fruit.
The unfilled pavlova will keep for a week or so in an airtight tin.
If you must, you could make a green pavlova for St Patrick too.
I leave you with the college hymn, we used to sing cross dresser rather than confessor at the end of the first line!
Sons of St Chad
Sons of St Chad, great Bishop and Confessor,
Called to the Ministry of Christ your Lord;
Sons of St Chad, His love is watching o’er you,
From all eternity the Heavenly Word.
Sons of St Chad! His love is watching o’er you,
As in his worship bright you take your part.
Oh! Let His cross go, all your life, before you:
Bring joy and gladness to His Sacred heart.
Sons of St Chad, while life and health are given to you,
Work: and your minds with sacred learning store.
Through Jesus’ Blood, your sins have been forgiven you;
For you His agony and wounds He bore.
Sons of St Chad! Ambassadors for Jesus,
Ever be firm and true in heart to Him.
From the right hand of the Father still He sees us;
In manhood’s strength, and when the eyes grow dim.
Sons of St Chad! Eternity is dawning;
And soon our glorious Lord shall come again;
Worship and Work; till breaks that wondrous morning
When Chad, and all the Saints, with Him shall reign.
And to Gimme Green at Chef Al Dente
And lastly, I am sending this to Flavours of Russia hosted at Serna’s Garnish Food. I know that Pavlova is not a Russian dish, but given it was created in honour of Russia’s greatest ever ballerina, Anna Pavlova, I think that it is a suitable submission.