Australia Day at the Strawberry Patch
January 21, 2011 § 4 Comments
This is The Strawberry Patch’s last post from the land of Aus before the lovely Mr Branson jets me to the States for a new adventure. Excited butterflies!! But do you know what I’ve realised? I’ll be in transit for Australia Day!! NoOo! Thongs and shorts, sizzling sausages on the BBQ, a cold stubbie of VB and Triple J top 100, what a day to miss! (Or perhaps I should amend thongs to flip flops, BBQ to grill and a cold stubbie of VB to, ummm, Miller Lite??!).
So in honour of my beautiful country, and please if you’ve never visited you really must come down, I dedicate this post to the food that makes Australia great!
Now I won’t say Australia invented the meat pie (I believe the lineage goes back through Scotland to ancient Rome?) but we sure do it well! In fact, if you google ‘meat pie’ you will see that there IS specific mention of the Australian meat pie, like this excerpt from Mitsubishi 4WD Owners Club of QLD:
THE AUSTRALIAN MEAT PIE – A NATIONAL TREASURE
“Australians eat 260 million pies a year, that’s around 13 a year each, and on top of that we munch our way through an additional 20 other pastries such as pasties, sausage rolls and party pies.
In fact there would not be a town in Australia where you could not buy a hot pie, either pre-packaged or freshly baked. Hot pies remain the biggest selling favourite at sporting events and festivals throughout Australia.
The actual origin of the popularity of the meat pie in Australia is not known but the first recorded mention of the ‘pie’ appeared in 1850 in the Melbourne Argus which reported that the Councillors preferred a meat pie from the pub opposite rather than the food provided in the chambers.”
Personally, I love pies! Apart from the delicious taste, tummy-rumbling aroma and finger-lickin’, tomato sauce drippin’ goodness, I spent my first year after high school working full time in a bakery in Armidale, so pies paid my way to Sydney and university! Moxon’s Bakery, where I worked, won New South Wales bakery of the year again this year (yet oddly they don’t have a website!), and it probably has to do with their popular array of pies: Plain, steak and kidney, steak and mushroom, cheese and bacon, pepper steak, low fat, chicken curry, chicken mornay, pea and potato and the Ned Kelly (steak, cheese & bacon with a layer of egg poured through). But the best pie I’ve ever had was at the Dorrigo Wood Fired Bakery, 39 Hickory St, Dorrigo, where I had a lamb shank pie with red wine jus, sounds fancy but it’s all flavour no pretension (which is really why I love the humble parcel in the first place!)
Now to the eating! I like to peel off the lid and keep it until last. Then sauce goes on top of the meat and I eat it out with a teaspoon. I leave enough mince to coat the base and then munch my way through the pastry, sides first and then base. Finally, I peel that fine layer of soft pastry from the bottom of the lid with my teeth, and roll the rest up like a cigar, dunk it in tomato sauce and smoke it down! How do you eat yours?!
Aussie’s are also a fan of the lamington – vanilla cake, chocolate and coconut, what’s not to love? I baked a batch of lamingtons at Thanksgiving, the Australian contribution, and NB’s brother kept referring to them as Lemiwinks…it must be my thick accent 🙂 but I think it’s a pretty cute name!!
The lamington is believed to be invented by accident over 100 years ago by Charles Wallace Alexander Napier Cochrane-Baillie, I’m not even kidding (!) aka Lord Lamington, eighth governor of Queensland. The maid for Lord Lamington accidently dropped a sponge cake in some melted chocolate, so to stop the sponge cake from being messy, they added coconut. The result was a delicious new invention, named after Lord Lamington. The Duck and I have made our fair share of lamingtons over the years but we’re unanimous in our decision that David Herbert’s recipe in ‘The Perfect Cookbook’ is the best (see below).
Another classic Aussie dessert is the Pavlova (shhh, can you hear the New Zealanders yelling in protest?). I haven’t had time to make a pavlova recently but my friend Anna has recently posted a scrumptious looking Pavlova Burger, so check it out!
Finally, the Australian breakfast would never be complete without two things. The first is Vegemite and the second, Weetbix. NB teases me mercilessly about my soft spot for Vegemite, he just can’t get on board no matter how hard I’ve tried. Nor can any of his family or any of our friends from overseas, I think it’s one of those things that you have to be born into – like the Royal Family. Fortunately he really likes Weetbix and we’ll usually have a bowl or two before bedtime. Remember, Aussie Kids are Weetbix Kids!
Of course there are many other Australian favourites. I could have photographed a works burger with meat patty, beetroot, bacon, egg, pineapple, cheese and salad. Or maybe ANZAC biscuits, macadamia nuts or our myriad of bush foods. But I think what makes Australian food really Aussie is eating fresh produce, drinking a cold beer, sharing great company and enjoying the great outdoors!
Happy Australia Day everyone!
150g (5oz) unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups SR flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 180°C (350F). Grease a 20cmx30cm (8x12in) shallow cake tin and line the base with baking paper.
Place all the cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth. Spoon into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
Bake for 30-45 mins, or until golden and firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool completely.
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
30g unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup milk
3 cups dessicated coconut
Sift the icing sugar and cocoa into a heatproof bowl. Stir in the melted butter and milk. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until smooth and shiny. Remove from the heat. The mixture should be thin – add a little boiling water if necessary.
Place the coconut in a shallow bowl.
Trim away the edges of the cool cake and cut cake lengthways into three even strips. Cut each strip into eight even pieces. Using two forks, dip each piece of cake into the chocolate mixture then roll in coconut. Transfer to a wire rack to dry. Repeat with the remaining pieces of cake.