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Australian Recipes

03 February 2008

Saturday Afternoon Scones

Scones

It is Saturday afternoon, it is 4 degrees, the sun is shining and I can see the snow-capped Coast mountains through my open window. The crisp February air is mingling with the warm scent of baking from the oven.  It's 3 o'clock. Time for some afternoon tea.

I discovered this particular scone recipe on one of the first blogs I ever stumbled upon three years ago - Baking Sheet. Incidentally, Baking Sheet now goes by the name Baking Bites.

I have made these scones ever since and have always been pleased with the delicious results. I think it's the buttermilk that makes them so special. Unlike some scones I have eaten since living in North America, these taste and feel more like Australian scones - they are light, moist and most importantly, they are fluffy.

Scones, which originated in Scotland, are little round cakes that go by the name of 'biscuits' in North America. In England and Australia, they are usually served in tea houses where they are eaten with clotted cream and jam. This is known as a Devonshire Tea or Cream Tea.   

My jam of choice is Bonne Maman. I usually get raspberry but this time in my haste, I grabbed the cherry and didn't realise until I bit into the scone. But this was one of those good mistakes.

Continue reading "Saturday Afternoon Scones" »

06 December 2007

Kale & Smoked Bacon Quiche

Quiche1_s

Kale; not only is this winter green high in Vitamins C, A, B6, K, Magnesium and various antioxidants, it is also delicious. In fact, the health benefits of Kale sound pretty incredible. It is touted as reducing the risk of various cancers, reducing the risk of skin and eye diseases, and generally keeping the immune system healthy. Popeye would certainly approve.

So after reading about all these benefits, I raced out and bought me some and made a Kale and Smoked Bacon Quiche. Its dark green, curly leaves have a lovely texture somewhere in between English Spinach and Seaweed. Kale can be eaten in a variety of ways: steamed, raw, in soups or as in this case, sauteed and then baked.

I cheated with the pastry. I didn't make it. Instead I bought it from the A La Mode pie shop at Granville Island Public Market. Their pastry is of course excellent, being a pie shop, and it saves me the hassle of making my own when I want a quick and no-fuss dinner.

I just spent an hour trying to come up with a clever name for this story. I came up with things like 'Hail, Kale!', which I dismissed for its Nazi connotations. Or 'If Popeye was alive today, he'd choose Kale', which is clearly way too long and unwieldy, and lastly 'Kale: health and vitamins' Holy Grail', which, seeing as we are talking about a leafy vegetable, may be overstating things a little.

So after tortuous deliberation, I settled on 'Kale & Smoked Bacon Quiche'. Pretty clever don't you think?

I have submitted this post to Weekend Herb Blogging being hosted this week by Simone of the blog Briciole.

aaWeekendHerbBlogging

         

Continue reading "Kale & Smoked Bacon Quiche " »

23 November 2007

The Sunday Roast

Sunday_roast

My mum grew up on a small farm in rural Queensland, Australia in the 1950s. She had a horse, several cows and a flock of chickens. Each Sunday the family would get together and have a Sunday roast. It was an all-day affair that began at the crack of dawn.

Her dad would kill a chicken at first light, soak it and then it would be mum's job to pluck it when she woke up; a task that still haunts her to this day.

Her mum would milk the cows and with the fresh cream, she'd make butter for the table. The potatoes, carrots, peas and herbs would be picked fresh from the garden. Another one of mum's jobs would be to shell the peas, which she'd do till her little fingers were sore. She needed enough for four people, after all.

By the time the meal was served it would be would be two o'clock. Then came afternoon tea at four with a sponge cake, fresh out of the oven. And then it would be time for supper. A weekly ordeal!

While it sounds idyllic with all that fresh produce, what a hell of a lot of work! All but the beheading was done by the women, while her father and brother would retire to the couch to read. Pah!

What a long way we've come: I whipped up this roast in an hour and a half with only 20 minutes of prep time - and, to show how far women have come, I made Nic do all the chopping while I read the latest issue of Gourmet.

And so it was that an hour an a half later we tucked into a delicious roast chicken with a lemon herbed butter. The butter consisted of fresh thyme, rosemary, parsley and grated lemon zest.

When I roast a chicken, in order to get really crispy skin, I bake it on top of a wire rack that I fit over the baking pan. This way, all the juices run into the pan instead of having the chicken sitting in them while its cooking. The result: deliciously crispy skin!

This week I will be submitting this recipe to Weekend Herb Blogging which is being hosted by Truffle at What's On My Plate.

aaWeekendHerbBlogging

Continue reading "The Sunday Roast" »

16 November 2007

The Humble Lamington

Lamingtons

The humble Lamington: a squarish piece of sponge cake dipped in chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut. They can also come with a cream or strawberry jam filling.

The Lamington is a quintessential part of every Australian's childhood, because they are sold at tuck shops (canteens) around the country and they are the most popular treats to sell at school fairs.

Lamingtons are believed to have been named after Charles Cochrane-Baillie, 2nd Baron Lamington, Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901.

Governor Lamington is reputed to have been highly displeased with his name being lent to the little sponge cake due to his rude utterings about them. I won't repeat what he was alleged to have said but let's just say he would have preferred to have been remember for other things.

I found an excellent recipe for Lamingtons on the Joy of Baking website. The sponge cake, which I was a bit apprehensive about making, turned out perfectly. It was light, moist and delicious.

Continue reading "The Humble Lamington" »

01 November 2007

Upside Down Caramel Banana Cake

Banana_caramel_cake1

I saw the recipe for this cake in a Delicious magazine a few years ago and promised myself I would make it one day. Well that day came and last Sunday was my Caramel Banana cake day. The recipe was measured in metrics which drives me nuts.

I understand how neat the metric system is when you're converting cubic centimetres to litres and I far prefer Celsius to Fahrenheit (0°freezes, 100°degrees boils - Mr. Fahrenheit must be kicking himself: "Why didn't I think of that?"). I'm sure the metric system is very useful when you're building a house, but I have a very hard time trying to work out what 180 gms of flour is. Cooking lends itself to measurements in cups or teaspoons - we have cups and teaspoons just lying around... Why complicate matters?

So to aid me in my cooking conversion crisis, I use the site ConvertMe.com. It's pretty handy and will help you convert measurements from anything from butter to shelled walnuts.

Anyway, the Caramel Banana cake was a success. I added a touch of pure Mexican vanilla which gave the cake a deliciously rich aroma. Another addition was a big dollop of freshly whipped cream.   

Banana_caramel_cake_slice

Continue reading "Upside Down Caramel Banana Cake" »

25 July 2007

Pavlova: The Great Aussie Creation...or is it?

Thepavlova2

The Pavlova is a much celebrated Australian creation. Or is it? This delicate desert is part of a great debate between Australians and New Zealanders who both lay claim to its invention.

The Pavlova, with its thin meringue shell and marshmellowy centre, was aptly named after Russian prima ballerina, Anna Pavlova who visited New Zealand in 1926 and Australia in 1929. Some evidence seems to point to a chef in Wellington creating the Pavlova after being inspired by the prima ballerina's tutu. The Pavlova is New Zealand's national dessert.

Anyway, kudos to whomever the inventor was and thank you for creating such an extravagantly light dessert. Light in weight but perhaps not calories so much.

The most important thing to remember when preparing the 'Pav' is that you MUST use scrupulously clean utensils. Even the tiniest bit of grease or egg shell will hinder the meringue-making process and result in a messy disaster.

This was my second attempt at making a Pavlova and needless to say, I was very pleased with the result. It was touch and go however though because when I opened the oven door to let the Pavlova cool, the top of the base just sank. Just like that. It was a VERY stressful moment as I had been proudly watching its magical metamorphosis for several hours, only to have it collapse in three miserable seconds.

Thankfully, this development was not a catastrophic one as we simply piled on some extra whipped cream to fill the hole. Joy.

Continue reading "Pavlova: The Great Aussie Creation...or is it?" »

01 July 2007

My favourite breakfast

Dippy_egg_breakfastsl_2

I am not one for fancy breakfasts. The most indulgent thing I have ever eaten in the mornings are scrambled eggs from Bills in Sydney. Bills is a popular breakfast and lunch establishment owned by Bill Granger, otherwise known as 'the Eggmaster'. And rightly so. His eggs are famous for being terribly rich and fattening - a combination that I can't cope with in the morning.

That's why I love a dippy egg and vegemite soldiers...I usually have this for brekkie every weekend. Sometimes Nic manages to coerce me into having French toast with smoked bacon or crepes but not today. It's dippy egg time! Yes, I am almost 30 and I still love dipping my soldiers into my egg! It can't be too runny though. It has to be hardening on the outside with a little golden liquid in the centre. Delicious.

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