Traditional pavlova

Pavlova is an Australian classic which is favoured in summer as a light and delicious treat.

Pavlova

Ingredients:

  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsps cornflour, sifted
  • 3/4 tsp white vinegar
  • 300ml thickened cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 110g tin passionfruit pulp
  • 250g punnet strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 2 mangoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 kiwifruit, peeled and sliced
  • 1 peach, sliced

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 140°C. Fully grease a deep, 7 inch springform tin, then line the base and sides with baking paper.
  2. Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Add sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until sugar dissolves and the meringue is thick and glossy.
  3. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until just combined.
  4. Spoon the meringue into the tin, and place on the oven’s lowest shelf, ensuring there’s plenty of room above for the meringue mixture to rise.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, or until the pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn the oven off, but leave the pavlova in the tin inside the oven for 1 hour to slowly cool.
  6. Just prior to serving, whip the cream to dollop consistency and spoon it onto the top of pavlova. Top with fresh mango, peaches, kiwifruit, strawberries, and passionfruit.

(photo credit: TLV and more via photopin cc)

Light and fluffy pancakes

Pancakes with Berries and Maple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tabs white vinegar
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 2 tabs white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tabs butter (melted)

Method:

  1. Measure the milk and stir in the vinegar. Set it aside.
  2. Melt the butter.
  3. Sift the flour with the bicarbonate of soda. Combine flour and sugar in a bowl.
  4. Beat egg and milk together. Add the melted butter.
  5. Prepare medium-hot frying pan.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry, combining quickly and gently until batter is smooth.
  7. Put a little butter into heated pan and pour in a ladle of mixture spreading gently so not too thick as these will rise well if not too dense. If too thick they may not cook thoroughly.
  8. Turn pancakes once a good crop of bubbles appear, and edge looks a little dry.
  9. Enjoy with favourite topping while still warm.

Tip: Delicious toppings include maple syrup, fresh seasonal fruit, icing sugar and melted chocolate. For added flavour, try adding chocolate chips or blueberries into the pancake batter prior to frying.

(photo credit: matheusswanson via photopin | license)

Damper

Damper is an easy-to-prepare Australian bread, traditionally cooked in a campfire or camp oven. Similar to puftaloons, damper is great served with a generous spread of butter, or with golden syrup.

Damper

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 25g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 175ml milk

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C.
  2. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  3. Use a butter knife to stir in the milk to make a soft, non-sticky dough.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, shape the dough into a soft, smooth ball.
  5. Set the ball of dough onto a baking tray and flatten it to a 17cm round. Cut a deep cross in the dough and brush lightly with milk.
  6. Bake the damper for 30 minutes or until golden. Best served warm.

Lamingtons

Love sponge cake? Then you will love lamingtons – an Aussie treat that always makes me think of Possum Magic, a celebrated children’s book by Mem Fox (my favourite author as a kid).

Lamingtons

Ingredients for the sponge cake:

  • 3 cups self-raising flour, sifted
  • 180g butter, softened
  • ¾ cup caster sugar
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Ingredients for the chocolate coating:

  • 4 cups pure icing sugar
  • 1 ½ cups cocoa
  • 1 cup milk, extra
  • 4 cups desiccated coconut

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Grease a 28cm x 18cm slice pan, and line the base with baking paper.
  3. Use an electric mixer to combine the butter, sugar and vanilla into a light and fluffy cream.
  4. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Fold in the flour and milk until combined. Spoon the mixture into the slice pan.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until cooked and golden. Leave in pan for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. While the cake cools, sift the icing sugar and cocoa together.
  8. Add the milk and stir until combined.
  9. Divide the coconut between 2 bowls.
  10. Trim and then cut the cake into 12 rectangles.
  11. Dip each piece in the cocoa mixture, allowing the excess to drop off. Use 2 forks to toss in one bowl of coconut. Set aside on a wire rack and repeat with remaining cakes.
  12. Use the second bowl of coconut to repeat step 11, so each cake has a clean white finish. Store in an airtight container until required (up to 4 days).

(photo credit: nicodemo.valerio via photopin cc)

Traditional Greek dolmades

My husband loves dolmades, but none are quite so satisfying as those made using his YiaYia’s recipe, which she was kind enough to share! These dolmades are so much tastier then any I’ve had from a restaurant or store, and healthy too.

Traditional Greek dolmades
(photo credit: Tania.Paz via photopin cc)

Ingredients:

  • 500g mince
  • 1 1/2 cups rice (uncooked)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 spring onions
  • 3 dill leaves
  • 2 parsley leaves
  • Handful of mint
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grape vine leaves
  • Olive oil

Method:

  1. Rinse the rice in a sieve to remove excess starch, then place in a bowl with the cup of water to soak.
  2. Wash and finely chop the spring onions, removing the roots.
  3. In a saucepan, bring a tablespoon of oil to medium heat and cook the onions.
  4. Add the mince and stir. While this is cooking, wash and finely chop the dill, parsley and mint.
  5. Once the mince has browned, add the rice and water. Stir.
  6. Add all other ingredients and stir. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.
  7. Test and make sure the rice is soft, then remove the saucepan from the heat and stir.
  8. Cover the saucepan and allow to sit for 30 minutes (off heat) to allow the liquid to absorb.
  9. The rice should now be very soft, and the mince a good consistency.
  10. Roll the dolmades, using 1-2 tablespoons of mince depending on the size of the vine leaf.
  11. Use a saucepan with a strainer in it for cooking the dolmades. Put a small amount of water in the pan and cover the strainer with lettuce leaves. Lay in circular layers. When you are half way sprinkle a small amount olive oil over them. Do this again once you’ve finished laying all dolmades.
    Traditional Greek dolmades
    (photo credit: The Shifted Librarian via photopin cc)
  12. Place a plate on top of the layers and pour 1 cup of water over plate.
  13. Once water boils put on low with lid on for 30 minutes.
  14. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then serve.

Note:  For a flavour boost, soak the rice in 1 cup of beef stock instead of water.

Slow cooked chicken and pumpkin curry

The weather is getting quite fresh in Queensland – winter is drawing nearer and the air is cool and crisp. I really love this time of year because it’s the perfect time to cook hearty comfort food, such as this delicious chicken and pumpkin curry.

Slow cooked chicken and pumpkin curry

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1/4 Jap pumpkin (also known as Kent pumpkin)
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tab ginger paste*
  • 1 tab lemongrass paste*
  • 3 tabs yellow curry powder
  • 1 tab garlic powder
  • 1 tab onion powder
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 3 tabs fresh lime juice
  • 1 x 398ml can light coconut milk
  • 1 red chili (optional)**

Method:

  1. Remove the chili top, and finely chop the chili.
  2. Pour the chicken stock and coconut milk into your slow cooker.
  3. Add the salt, ginger, lemongrass, curry powder, onion powder, garlic powder, turmeric and chili.
  4. Stir until all ingredients are combined.
  5. Peel the pumpkin piece, cut it into medium cubes and add it to the slow cooker.
  6. Cut the chicken into large cubes and add it also.
  7. Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.
  8. Prior to serving, add the lime juice and stir in thoroughly.
  9. Serve with rice.

* If you prefer to prepare your own ingredients, you can instead use one tsp freshly grated ginger and 1 tab chopped lemongrass. I find that I have less waste when using the pastes, and it also cuts down the prep time. I use the Gourmet Garden brand which they sell at most grocery stores.

** The chili adds heat to this dish. To reduce the heat you can remove the seeds before chopping it, or you can increase the heat by adding more chili.

Cheesy Vegemite scrolls

Keep these cheesy Vegemite scrolls on hand as a great addition to any lunchbox, handy afternoon snack or tasty grab-and-go breakfast when you’re short on time.

Cheesy Vegemite scrolls

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 2 tabs Vegemite
  • 200g grated tasty cheese
  • 50g butter
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/8 tsp table salt

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  2. Sift flour and salt into a large bowl. Rub the butter into flour mixture until consistent in texture.
  3. Add enough milk to make a soft dough. Knead the dough gently on a lightly floured surface, and then roll it out to rectangle (25cm x 40cm in size).
  4. Spread the Vegemite over the dough, then sprinkle evenly with cheese.
  5. From the long side, roll the dough to enclose the cheese. Cut the rolled dough into 10 sections place close together on a greased baking tray.
  6. Bake in a hot oven 220ºC until golden brown (approx. 15-20 minutes).

Note:  You can make a variety of scrolls by replacing the filling. E.g. to make pizza scrolls, fill with tomato paste spread, sliced mushrooms and chopped ham. To make dessert scrolls, fill with Nutella spread and cinnamon sugar (replace the salt in the dough 1 tsp sugar also).

(photo credit: stratman² (2 many pix!) via photopin cc)

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