Aussie Cuisine

Fellow blogger Cupcakecache, an American lass with a strong streak of curiosity, recently asked for information about Australian dishes. Hopefully this blog will go towards sharing some iconic Australian party foods that many of us have loved since childhood. Please feel free to contribute……

Every childhood birthday party has FAIRY BREAD on the table. We are no longer supposed to call it Fairy Bread because of political correctness (as is the case with our Fairy Penguins), but who gives a rats. It is what it is: Fairy Bread.

A slice of buttered bread covered with Hundreds and Thousands.

COCKTAIL FRANKFURTS are affectionately known as “Little Boys”. You must dunk them in tomato sauce to render them edible.

THE LAMINGTON

Australians are very proud of their Lamingtons, which are believed to be named after either Lord Lamington, who served as Governor of Queensland from 1896 to 1901, or his wife, Lady Lamington.

They are made from squares of butter cake or sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut. The thin mixture is absorbed into the outside of the sponge cake and left to set, giving the cake a distinctive texture.

It is becoming more acceptable to add a layer of cream and strawberry jam between the two lamington halves but I question the need to fiddle with something that was never broken.

Over the summer months when tropical fruits are in abundance the common cry from women planning a soiree, in kitchens all across the country, is “I’ll bring the Pav”.

The PAVLOVA is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. It is typically covered in fresh cream and fruits, and seems to me to have been designed solely to force people to eat Kiwi Fruit.

The ANZACS may have stood together at Gallipoli and at the Somme but the origin of the pav is widely disputed with our closest neighbours across the ditch.

TIM TAMS are a chocolate biscuit that consist of two malted biscuits separated by a light chocolate cream filling and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate. They are insignificant on their own.

However, the TIM TAM SLAM is the perfect ending to any dinner party and consists of biting the bottom corners off the biscuit, lowering the chewed bottom half into your coffee, and then using the biscuit as a straw to suck up the warm liquid.

Personal Recommendation : For Coffee insert Kahlua or Tia Maria.

Lastly, a SHRIMP in Australia is a colloquialism for a vertically challenged human. We throw PRAWNS on the barbeque, never people, and cover them in crushed garlic and white wine, or strung together on a skewer to make a shishkebab. One glass of wine over the hotplate and one for the cook.

Cupcake, I hope this has in some way gone towards strengthening the bonds of international relations.

This Week In Books

The Friday Night Zoom Book Club discussed the debut novel Lucky’s by Andrew Pippos. As the author is an Australian of Greek heritage who has woven his experiences into this novel, at my youngest daughter’s suggestion we went for hellenic themed snacks.

Enjoyed the snacks more than the book.

My Spinach and Fetta Pie

At Primary School Fridays were Social Science days when we would learn about famous people. They were generally male. I clearly remember the famous females: Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Florence Nightingale and Daisy Bates. So I pounced upon Desert Queen by Susanna De Vries which I found at the Little Community Library in the local parkland.

Talk about shattered. Other than her work with female aborigines in the early 1900’s old Daisy was essentially a nut job. Married three times, including to Harry Harbord Morant (AKA Breaker Morant) old Daisy never bothered to divorce any of her husbands. As well as being a bigamist she was a pathological liar with grandiose ideas. I’m thinking bipolar. Nah, just a nut job.

Don’t you just hate biographies that crush all your long held beliefs?

In Recognition of the Xmas Ham

The pile of books at the end of the bed continues to grow. Alarmingly. Blame all the house guests.

I’ve been cooking up a storm these past few weeks. Lots of fresh seafood, all products of Australia. Why would you buy anything else I have to ask?

Today the house walls have stopped shaking and all is quiet. It is eerily still. I keep listening for a baby ‘s cry. So do we put our feet up on the couch and spend the day reading? Not when there is a ham bone waiting to be boiled for the makings of a hearty broth.

Bizarre really. Millions of Aussies whip up batches of Pea and Ham Soup during the hottest and longest days of summer. Waste not, want not. Everything left over in the fridge gets tossed into the mix, even the scrapings from the Vegemite jar.

I’ve been participating in this Ham Soup ritual since very young. I used to help my mother by pushing the vegetables through the old cast iron mouli attached to the kitchen table top.

Some things have changed over time. Our family ham soup had to be so thick that a spoon could stand up in it. My father would insist. My version is thinner and comes with dumplings. Delicious.

Going into hibernation for the next 72 hours. No tv, blinds drawn, and I will survive on toast and tea, weepy movies and some good books.

Bruschetta is essentially toast, right?

This Week In Books

With summer on the doorstep we are sliding into a heatwave this weekend. Thank God the house is currently spotless and full of both reading material and mangoes.

My Chilli Chicken with a Mango Salsa

The DVD Fairy made a donation to the Little Library last week encouraging a selection of movies not generally considered. These included POMPEII, featuring an abundance of flames and fury with poor little Kit Harrington copping the wrong end of the stick yet again. And then there was OBLIVION which caused a great deal of psychoanalysis on my part. Sci Fi AND Tom Cruise. Why do I self inflict like this?

This facility has become so popular in our local parkland that the Council has agreed to install a separate utility to house books for Little People, allowing them the sensory pleasure of choosing their own books. WOOT WOO!

Read Jane Harper’s fourth novel, The Survivors, based in a small coastal town in Tasmania, unlike her previous books where the harsh Australian outback becomes a stand alone character. Couldn’t put it down though I have lots of “buts”……….

Stephen Fry’s Mythos is a retelling of Greek Mythology and is written the way he speaks making it easy to keep up with who is whom in the zoo.


My garden is beginning to suffer due to the lack of rain ( though the media continues its scare tactics by quoting expected cyclones : Was 15 down to 4). Optimistic, I treated myself to a new addition:

Stay hydrated…….

A Recipe Book For Those With Food Intolerances.

My daughters have eaten all manner of interesting food whilst travelling the world including moose, armadillo, duck tongues and sea urchins. Do you think I’ve ever been able to get either of them to eat cucumber? Not on your life ! It wasn’t until they were both in their early twenties that I could stop hiding Brussel Sprouts in their meals. How I adore the much maligned Brussel Sprout – my favourite all-time veg.

Thankfully my offspring have never suffered from any food allergies. I remember the increasing difficulty of holding celebratory Morning Teas at the Office because of the various food intolerances so many suffered. It became easier to cater for your own needs only and not to share-a-plate.

Blogger, Jillian, from FeedMyFamilyblog.com has a husband and a son who each have 8 food intolerances, 3 of which are shared.

Jillian is one of those “quiet achievers” who knuckled down during the social constraints of the Pandemic to produce a Recipe Book from her years of tweaking meals to better meet the needs of her family. Mothers’ And Others’ Recipes From the Heart has recently been published in both e-book and print format and includes recipes handed down through the generations with variations to cater for different dietary requirements.

Recipes cover Biscuits and Slices, Cakes, Desserts, Dips and Savoury Nibbles, Salads and Main Meals. They are easy to read and to follow. More importantly these are all meals that can be integrated into everyday meal times.

Under the name of each recipe is a colour coded reference to advise which intolerance the recipe caters for : Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Soy Free, Sulphate Free or Nut Free.

At the end of each there are notes should you wish to make further variations such as swapping one ingredient for another.

This book has been produced with much love and with contributions from Jillian’s family and friends.

One disappointment only: not one Brussel Sprout in sight!

Here’s a link for further information:

Mothers’ and Others’: Recipes From the Heart

You’ve got to respect those amongst us who have achieved something other than a batch of sour dough or brownies during ISO, don’t you?

NOTE:

Although Jillian and I both live in Brisbane we have never met, yet we have shared information about local WordPress events and Book Fairs. She asked for an honest review which I like to think I achieved by replicating one of the recipes in her book – the Roast Vegetable Couscous (with tweaks as I’m spring cleaning the pantry and defrosting the fridge in readiness for Christmas).

Delicious – even if I had to hide the pumpkin.

A Rollercoaster Of A Week

What a rollercoaster ride we all experienced last week and that does not even include events on the other side of our world. Two of our most important sporting events were held according to our new Covid World and OMG it was ……….different.

 These were followed by The Junior Master Chef Semi Finals last night. The cooks are aged between 9 and 14 years and lets just say that they decimate my confidence in the kitchen. Grand Final tonight so I’m expecting tears. That’s me – not the contestants.

Take these cooks for example :

Mirror Glazed Carrot Mousse with Carrot Jelly and Biscuit courtesy of 10 play.com
Brownies with Candied Beetroot, White Chocolate and Beetroot Rocks courtesy of 10 play.com

One sweet little thing in pigtails cooked a pumpkin tart with a parsnip flavoured ice-cream. Who eats parsnip flavoured ice cream? Why would you even think of such a flavour? I don’t get it. My favourite contestant, a lad aged 10 whose favourite snack is Pate and Blue Vein Cheese has since been eliminated, though I see he is now giving online cooking classes…..OMG

On a more personal level last week I experienced a couple of Epic Fails.

My attempt at making clay wind chimes, without a lie, almost burnt the house down. Who was the imbecile that declared that creating home made gifts was a positive mindfulness experience ? Unless mindfulness includes a heap of expletives…..

And I had a death in the family. My favourite Rosemary bush carked it, requiring a massive effort for its removal. There’s more to the story including sewerage pipes, Grevillea trees, and several trips to the Dump but you get the gist.

The books by my bedside grew yet again. I’m drowning in them, I tell you.

And then there was this. Bless my cotton pickin’ socks.

Spring, Bruschetta and Toowoomba’s Carnival of Flowers.

Spring in Queensland is delightful and I am suffering from an over supply of tomatoes and basil from the garden. Obvious solution : Bruschetta in front  a  Sunday afternoon movie. ( Shenandoah with Jimmy Stewart for those interested. An old favourite and the tune is hauntingly beautiful).

Spring also marks the Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers, an annual event  for over seventy years that ensures thousands of tourists visit for the magnificent displays of colour, the heritage, culture, food and country hospitality. 

Toowoomba, 2 hours drive west of Brisbane, is Queensland’s biggest inland town, and at 700 metres above sea level has a kinder climate than our capital. The floral displays may not have been as diverse this year because of Covid 19 though the parklands full of garden beds were every bit as beautiful.

Looking out east from the top of the range to Brisbane and the coast
Poet, Dorothea Mackellar got it so right!

There are simply too many places of interest to visit in Toowoomba to mention in one post so I will tackle them in future posts. The Cobb and Co Museum is Number 1 to add to the Must Do List: it takes you back to the times of  horse-drawn carriages and steam trains with its interactive displays and heritage trade workshops in silversmithing, millinery, whip plaiting and blacksmithing. A great place for the Little People to become immersed and the fresh scones are only as country folk can prepare them. ( Question : Why is this ?????)

Bitterly disappointed to discover the Milne Bay Military Museum permanently closed as it requires a new location. When I last visited I was bogged down in school projects and laundry and was clueless about the Kokoda Track. Shame! Shame! Shame! Might be time for a few letters from a garrulous retiree or two….

So good to see you again, Spring….

Food and Music Save The Day.

The times they are a changin’. – Sir Bobness

Music from the 70’s has been my companion this week. When I downsized I tossed the Wedgewood and retained my vinyl collection. When I divorced I tossed the bloke and retained the music. Best decisions I made in years.

The music has kept me sane after having had our Prime Minister declare that there would be no overseas travel until 2024 – by which time, I wailed, that I would be dead- and the Northern Territory will keep its borders closed for eighteen months ( to provide biosecurity for the Indigenous population). I have no issues with being realistic but holy guacamole, a little hope goes a long way.

So lots of Donovan, Carpenters, Carly and Sir Bobness. In a different lifetime Sir Bobness ruled my house. I remember seeing him perform at the Sydney Opera House, one of those dreadful concerts for which he is renowned. I was decked out in smart work clobber, he and the rest of the audience wore cheese cloth. Some months later, having learned my lesson, I wore cheesecloth and little else to the Opera House to enjoy an evening with Donovan. He performed in a three piece suit.

So of course I’ve been cooking 70s style to go with the music. No fondues because I use that these days as a peg basket, though meatloaf stuffed with hardboiled eggs and plenty of stuffed cauliflower. My daughters don’t know whether to be appalled, impressed or alarmed.

No recipe books required – it’s all there in the wings which is a bit of a worry.

Next week we’ll move on to the 80’s. You’ll be pleased to learn I skipped the 90’s.




A New Cookbook In The Works.

Following weeks of Self Isolation I was anxious about the results of my 6 monthly blood tests and was fully prepared for a lecture from my General Practitioner.

You know, weeks of channelling Nigella Lawson cooking comfort food with a wine in hand, scones for morning and afternoon tea, and outdoor activities reduced to picnics by the water and gardening. (I planted vegetables like a madman in case carrots and spuds went the way of toilet paper…..)

It was good to get frocked up for the appointment though I was feeling decidedly blobby. Putting make up on felt really strange and I hadn’t had a hair cut since the week before Christmas. If there’s a remake of The Adams Family on the cards I’m a shoe in for the part of Cousin It.

Plus I was nervous about the pending lecture.

Well blow me down with a feather all test results were damn fine. *Kidneys, Liver, Sugars, Cholesterol, Blood Pressure and I’ve dropped 5 kilos.

Repeat :

Lost 5 kilos in Lockdown.

Forget the Paleo, Keto, Atkins, and Israeli Diets. I’m working on a Covid Recipe Book which highly features Brie and Bordeaux, Shiraz and Salami, and Crackers with Chardonnay.

*Thank goodness there is no test for Brain Cells. That may have been a totally different matter.

Note:

With the easing of restrictions in Queensland enjoyed a Chicken Schnitty at the local this week. Starting to feel human again.

Still need a haircut.

Damn Damper

Home Isolation means that I’m cooking and eating way too much. Mostly good healthy tucker using fresh vegetables from the garden, but it’s the need for “comfort food” like Damper that is getting me in trouble.

Damper is an iconic Australian bread historically prepared by stockmen, drovers and swagmen as flour and salt could easily be carried. Just add water – literally. Damper could be cooked over the coals of a campfire or in a camp oven, and was eaten with salted beef or lashings of Golden Syrup ( also known as Cocky’s Delight or Cocky’s Joy).

According to the Australian Dictionary Centre the name was derived from “damping” the fire, covering it with ashes. This preserved the red coals, ready to re-kindle the fire the following morning. The damper was buried in the ashes to bake. 

Damper has seen a revitalisation and gentrification of sorts. Each Australia Day, the 26th of January, the traditional Damper recipe is tweaked by thousands across the nation and is served alongside prawns, barbecued lamb chops, and lamingtons or pavlova. Ingredients can include goats cheese, chives, dried tomatoes, olives and spinach leaves. Even pistachio nuts. These days the bread base can include baking soda, powdered milk, or beer. No longer is the humble Damper something simply to warm the belly and enjoy with a Billy Tea, but rather a culinary experience. 

I prefer individual Dampers which are cooked and served on a stick. This method was popular as they were just the right size to soak up the meat juices, baked beans or fried eggs when travelling the outback. Yes, my weakness – soaking up the meat juices very a la Henry VIII. No apologies whatsoever to vegetarians. They were hung off a string that went from one side of the fire to the other and cooked over the heat of the fire. That’s the Dampers, not the vegetarians.

They’ve always been a success when I’ve cooked them. And who said we have to wait till next January?

Recipe

2 cups of Self raising flour

1 cup of water

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon of butter

Mix. Divide into eight oblongs. Stick a skewer through the middle. Cook on bbq 15 minutes.

                                                   Or

Place in cake tin, wrap in alfoil, and surround with embers. Cook for 45 to 55 minutes.