friday feast: a christina rossetti poem + a scrumptious peach danish recipe

Please help yourself to a cup of tea and a bite of peach cream cheese danish.

Happy first Poetry Friday of April, and Happy National Poetry Month!

Though I always look forward to Poetry Month, April is now bittersweet because it’s the month my mother died. Even a year later, it hasn’t fully sunken in. I think of her daily, remembering so many little things — her love of stripes, her big laugh, the sound of her chopping garlic and green onions in the kitchen.

I don’t think about the thin frail woman she was at the end, but the strong, energetic, busy person she was throughout most of her life — always a good sport, the one everybody could depend on to get things done.

It’s true what many people say — part of you fears you may forget the person you lost, and sometimes you feel guilty for happily getting on with things. This universal feeling is beautifully expressed in Christina Rossetti’s poem. Remember when the Dowager Countess Violet shared a line from it with Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey Season 4? Even as we happily celebrate holidays such as Easter with loved ones, we inevitably think of those we miss.

REMEMBER
by Christina Rossetti

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you plann’d:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

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Last year Julian Fellowes read the poem for National Poetry Day. It held particular resonance for him because of his own mother.

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A GOOD FRIDAY TREAT

In honor of my Mom, I wanted to bake something I know she would have liked. She was especially fond of bread and pastries and would rarely turn down a butter roll or fruit danish.

I’d never made a danish; it always looked too complicated and time intensive. But what about something that called for store-bought puff pastry? After all, I was happy with how Paddington’s Apple Tart turned out. Hmmm, a little internet sleuthing and I stumbled upon a Peach Cream Cheese Braided Danish at Natasha’s Kitchen.

Just as she said, this danish looks fancy but is deceptively simple to make — which means it’s perfect for an Easter holiday brunch, especially if you’re having last-minute guests and you’re short on time. Very pretty and festive on the table and oh, so good!  You basically need just three key ingredients — a 15-oz. can of sliced peaches, 6 oz. of cream cheese, and a box of frozen puff pastry.

Oh, I can hear the purists among you right now: “canned peaches?!” “store-bought puff pastry?!” Well, hopefully you know by now that we’re not food snobs here, and as we approach near fossilization dignified maturity, we’re happy for shortcuts. You can always make your own puff pastry from scratch (but with good quality frozen out there why would you want to?) and use fresh peaches, but I couldn’t guarantee that your danish wouldn’t turn out too oozy-juicy.

Besides, I love the 50’s vibe of canned peaches — remember how Ramona Quimby’s family always had canned fruit for dessert? I especially loved those peaches and my mom always seemed to have them on hand. If Beverly Cleary can vouch for them, so can I.

So, I first drained the peaches in a colander, then sliced them in half so they were about 1/4 inch thick.

Then I made the cream cheese filling by beating together 6 oz. softened cream cheese, one egg yolk, 1/2 tsp vanilla, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, and 1/4 cup sugar.

Next I rolled out the puff pastry to make a slightly longer rectangle about 1/4″ thick.

I spread my cream cheese filling down the middle third of the pastry, then arranged my peach slices on top.

I clipped off the top corners of the dough, cut notches on the bottom edge, then cut 1″-wide strips diagonally along each side (forgot to take a photo as I was so excited to start braiding). To form the braid, I then folded the strips over the filling, alternating sides.

After brushing the pastry with an egg wash and sprinkling on a little brown sugar, I transferred the danish onto a cookie sheet and baked it for about 25 minutes. The recipe calls for parchment paper — rolling the dough on it would make it very easy to transfer everything onto a baking sheet later — but I was out of parchment, so I substituted non-stick foil and it worked out fine.

After the danish cooled completely, I made the simple confectioners’ sugar and milk glaze, then drizzled it on.

Oh my goodness! This was soooooooooo yummy — lightest, airy flakiness, melt-in-your-mouth buttery, and there’s just something wonderful about the combination of peaches and cream cheese.

All I know is, puff pastry is my new best friend. It’s simply magical!

Well, now you know what you must do. Get thee to the supermarket and buy some frozen puff pastry (remember to thaw it overnight in the fridge before using). You could assemble everything Saturday night, refrigerate it, then come Easter morning, brush on the egg wash and bake your danish baby. A nice warm peach cream cheese braided danish will make your Easter extra delicious (the Easter Bunny will probably be so impressed he’ll leave you extra treats).🙂

The full printable recipe can be found at Natasha’s Kitchen. I highly recommend watching her video so you can see how easy this recipe is, and you can see how she braids the pastry.

*   *   *

Have a fabulous holiday weekend, friends!

hippity hop hop

*   *   *

poetry fridayPoet, Author, and Stray Kitty Finder Amy Ludwig VanDerwater is hosting the Roundup at The Poem Farm. Hop on over, take her a piece of peach danish and check out the full menu of poetry goodness being shared in the blogosphere today.

🎊 Big Congratulations to Buffy Silverman for winning the 2015 March Madness Poetry Tournament!! 🎊

*whisker twitch*

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Copyright © 2015 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

57 thoughts on “friday feast: a christina rossetti poem + a scrumptious peach danish recipe

    1. Dear Jama, what a lovely poem to remember your mother. So much of life is bittersweet, isn’t it? You make that danish look SO EASY! I wonder how it would do with fresh peaches?? AND I need to get a plate with feet for a very good friend of mine who would absolutely love it. (she’s super hard to shop for, so you don’t realize the gift you have given ME today!) Happy National Poetry Month! xo

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      1. I worry that fresh peaches might have too much juice that would ooze out of the pastry while baking — but it’s worth a try as I love fresh peaches🙂.

        The footed plate dates back to the 70’s — I got it when I lived in London (it’s made by Carlton Ware). It can even stand!

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  1. My daughter wants some of your jelly beans. She loved all your bunnies and bears.🙂 And that Danish, yum! I lost my mother when I was 4, and I still remember her. I keep her photograph by the sink, where I can see it and remember what her love felt like. I am sad for your loss, Jama, but I know she is proud of you and watching over you. That is a beautiful poem. Hugs, Brenda

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    1. Sorry to hear you lost your mother at such a young age, Brenda. My mother lived to be 89 and had a good long life.

      Your daughter is welcome to help herself to those virtual jelly beans. The bears and bunnies send their best wishes and hugs🙂.

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  2. I’m going to try that peach danish, Jama! Your comment about “near fossilization” made me laugh. I’m afraid to click on the video of Julian Fellowes because I figure he will make me cry. Sending you a hug!

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    1. Yes, Julian’s reading is tear-inducing — and he talks about his mother afterwards which makes it even sadder . . .

      Happy to hear you’re going to try the danish, Tabatha! Lots of yumminess for so little effort.

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      1. Can you believe my weird luck (if that’s the word) to be stopped for that segment? I wish there had been a get-in-free-to-see-Fallon prize for making an idiot of myself on national TV.🙂

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      2. I think you deserved that prize too! I LOVE Jimmy Fallon. LOVE. Seeing you in that segment was the kick to end all kicks, though.🙂

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  3. Oh, peaches. Fresh ones make summer bearable, but I also like them canned, frozen, and dried, so I think I would love your peach danish! I remember when I was young we used to get canned freestone peaches. Then, when they started canning fruit with less sugar, you were only able to get cling peaches canned that way. The freestone ones are packed in heavy syrup, which is too bad, because I think freestone have a better taste.

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    1. I’m glad for fruit canned in juice rather than heavy syrup, but I’m not “too” disappointed that freestones don’t come that way. I remember my mother buying them at times and I didn’t like them because they were too hairy. They could have tasted better than the other kind but what’s up with that fringe?

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  4. Jama – This is such a sweet and sad post both. I adore that you baked something your mom would like, and I think I will bake this for my mom. Thank you. I know that I always say this….but you just weave pictures and food and kindnesses so artfully. Happy Poetry Friday, and may your April be full of unexpected surprises. xo, a.

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    1. Thanks for your sweet, kind words, Amy! Glad to hear you plan to bake this for your Mom. Whenever this time of year rolls around, I think back to those Poetry Potlucks and your famous pineapple slices recipe. Will your family be enjoying that this weekend?

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      1. Jama…that cake is a two time a year cake. For Mark’s birthday in December…and not too far away, on Father’s Day, also for Mark! I am hoping that this new danish recipe will become our family’s Easter tradition. We will make it today. Thank you again! xxoo

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  5. A beautiful poem by one of my favorite poets, Jama. It resonates with me, too, as I lost my mom two and a half years ago and miss her every day. Happy National Poetry Month back to you!

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    1. Didn’t realize Rossetti was one of your favorites, Toby! Guess no one ever stops missing a parent — it takes some major emotional readjusting to a new reality, doesn’t it?

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  6. Rossetti’s poem hit the mark today, Jama. Sending you hugs as you remember your mom fondly. It has been +25 years since I lost my dad and I can honestly say you remember the things that mattered most. BTW, my mouth literally watered over the Peach Cream Cheese Braided Danish…must mop up my keyboard now. Happy Easter! =)

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    1. It’s comforting and reassuring to know that the good memories, the things that really matter, have such staying power. You do gain a good sense of perspective.

      Happy mopping :D!

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  7. What a lovely poem to remember your mother by, Jama. And I am so glad that you now think of her as strong and energetic–I remember the relief I felt when I realized I was remembering my mother as she was before her illness. Oh canned fruit for dessert–that was my mother and Ramona Quimby’s mom’s standard.

    And thank you for the congratulations!!

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    1. Nice to hear you have the same experience of remembering your mom when she was in good health — proof that the vital essence of a person never dies.

      I bow to you, Poet Extraordinaire . . .🙂

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  8. Thank you for the beautiful poem, Jama. April is special to me too because my mother’s birthday is April 10th. I’m always remembering how much she loved springtime, & planting the garden. You made this Danish look so easy that I’m going to have to try it. My husband would have loved it, too. His favorite fruit was always peaches, in the flesh, pies, any where! Thanks for a loving post. It’s hard to believe it’s been a whole year since your mother died. Hugs to you.

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    1. Thanks for the hugs — the year passed quickly, didn’t it?

      Nice to know your husband loved peaches so much and that this time of year is filled with fond memories of your mom’s love of gardening and springtime. Sounds like you definitely take after her🙂.

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  9. Darling, let NO ONE disparage your store-bought puff pastry or your canned peaches – any Mama for whom this was made would eat this with joy – and so they should. It’s BEAUTIFUL. May the memories of your mother always bring joy.

    Meanwhile, that poem got several things in my eye. Been listening to Beltshazzar’s Feast, the performance of which we did around Easter in Glasgow, and the soaring baritone solo, If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth… is just so poignant – that’s about missing a homeland, of course. I agree so much with the sentiment of the poem that the softening of forgetting is better than the heart-convulsion of continued grief.

    Thank you for this. ♥

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    1. Thanks for the support! My Sis the expert just confirmed that fresh peaches would give off too much liquid, so my hesitation was justified.

      Yes, I think the poem gets it right. Reassuring to know it’s as true back in Rossetti’s time as it is now.

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  10. Oh, Jama — that poem, and the memories of your mother … so sweet and sad and lovely. And that you buoy us all up with that recipe, well, it’s so Jama of you.🙂 I think store-bought puff pastry is a gift from God. And any post (or recipe) that mentions Ramona Quimby has my heart.🙂

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    1. Yay, glad you feel the same way about store-bought puff pastry (so many possibilities, so little time), and Ramona, whom I love!! Happy Easter!

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  11. In Myra’s post this week, Wendell Berry reminded me not to “tax (my life) with forethought of grief,” but I couldn’t help but begin again to dread my mother’s passing. Now reading your words and hearing John Fellowes read this poem, I know that mixed with my pain, there will be lots of joy remaining, and I am better able to take Berry’s advice.

    (PS — save the black jelly beans for me!!)

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    1. It’s very difficult not to dread the passing of loved ones — I think it’s human nature to always think ahead like that. Part of our dread may be not knowing just how we’ll react, as everyone grieves differently.

      You can have all my black jelly beans. I never cared for licorice (I was a red vines/whips girl when I was little).

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  12. This is all so beautiful, Jama. I love the picture of your mother, and the Rossetti poem is perfect. My mother-in-law passed away three years ago, also in April, and she is never far from my thoughts during this month. She was a terrific baker, and would also have loved that danish. (And she wouldn’t have given it a second thought to use canned peaches!)

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    1. Your mother-in-law sounds like such a special person — I like knowing that she would have approved of canned peaches and that she loved danishes🙂. Sending ((hugs)) your way this month as you think of her.

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  13. Jama, thank you for Rosetti’s poem and the fond remembrance of your mother that made me think of mine today. Easter always reminds me of the Easter lily plant she bought for the house (my plant bloomed today) and the magnificent crosses she created out of sacred Palms (I put the ones she gave me out every year). The dessert you created in honor of your mother would have intrigued mine who was an amazing baker. How yummy your recipe looked throughout the process but the photo of the braiding was splendid. Unfortunately, there were no delicious recipes at my table today-the stomach bug invaded our house and although this was the tail end, a bland diet was the fare of the day. This bug also is delaying Winter Whisperings from being unveiled. (PS: I rarely look at Word Press so you replies to me were not viewed until yesterday.) I will let you know when I am ready to unveil the Gallery so you can post it on the month’s calendar. Thank you.

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    1. Sorry to hear about the stomach bug, Carol. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about your mom’s Easter lily plant and the crosses she made.

      Just let me know when the WW Gallery is up and I’ll update the listing. Feel better soon!

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  14. Hugs to you dearest Jama. Your mother sounds like a formidable and beautiful woman who was the light in her family’s life. To be that loved is a gift.

    I just shared the youtube link to dearest husband who promises to at least try doing this (he is looking over my shoulder as i type).

    Happy Easter, beautiful!

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    1. You’re lucky to live with a talented cook — I’m sure your husband would find this recipe very easy to pull off. Perfect with a cup of tea🙂.

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    1. People come into our lives at different times for different reasons, and once we’re connected to them, they stay with us always. It would be interesting if there was a time machine that would enable us to know certain people in other phases of their lives. For example, what was my mom like when she was in grade school?🙂

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  15. Such a beautiful post, Jama, before or after Easter. I love that you wanted to make something in honor of your mother, and that you allowed yourself a little grace and ease with the frozen pastry! [I’ve always loved canned peaches, too, so will give this a try.]

    I can hardly believe it’s been a year. Time plays tricks on me as each year passes, I think! Wishing you much comfort in those beautiful memories. XO

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  16. I never ever imagined I could make a danish, but you make the impossible seem possible for this short-cut loving lass. Sending love your way as you celebrate, with each delicious bite, the strong and beautiful presence that your mother enjoyed in your life.

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  17. This is beautiful Jama. I love that you baked to honor your mother. I still have my mom but she has dementia. She is known by family and friends for her cooking and she still remembers enough to be sad that she isn’t the “main” cook nowdays. I was with her earlier this year and we made apple dumplings together. It’s a simple recipe that she can still handle with just a little guidance. The poem is touching. Thanks for sharing it.

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