Australia Day 2017

You might recall that last year we indulged in a full tasting menu for Australia Day. Yes, 8 courses that took us on a culinary tour around the Country – celebrating fresh, local and seasonal produce.

And while this year was much more ‘low key’, we still filled the day with family and food, and a favourite pastime – a morning hike!

Needless to say after the morning’s outdoor adventures, we were quite hungry when the afternoon rolled around. Our family joined us for an early dinner – and with the temperature exceeding 30 degrees outside, a BBQ seemed to be the most logical, if not sanest, choice.

On the menu?

Some homemade sausages by our local butcher. Served with a few “Aussie-themed” sides.

Starting with a mango macadamia salad – comprising of salad leaves, fresh mango, avocado and macadamias. Dressed simply with a mixture of lime juice, seeded mustard, oil and sliced red chilli.

I also turned on the oven for 20 minutes or so, in order to make another iconic Australian side…damper! Flavoured with camembert and cracked pepper (and these turned out very moreish indeed).

For dessert we kept things pretty simple. Instead of a large pavlova, I went with mini versions instead. Topped with cream, lemon curd and a fresh raspberry.


And to keep us hydrated, we served a fresh fruit cocktail.

Akin to a punch – I guess you’d say – made with vodka, coconut rum, cooled tea, pineapple juice and ginger ale – finished with some frozen honeydew balls, mint and raspberry.

And so another Australia Day came to pass  – and we retired to bed with full bellies and fond memories of the day.

What about you? What did you get up to this Australia Day?

Our Australia Day ‘Tasting’ Menu

This year we decided to celebrate Mr BBB’s birthday on Australia Day – for the whole family had the day off (and his actual birthday is only a day later in any event).

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It seemed only appropriate to go with a very Australian theme, but I struggled to settle on a menu. For every region of this beautiful Country seems to have its own unique flavours, tastes and influences – and it would be shame to overlook them.

Then I had a lightbulb moment. I would create a menu of ‘tastes’, and take our family on a culinary tour of Australia. Inspired by and hopefully highlighting local and native flavours.

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My big goal was to use only Australian produce and ingredients, and I am pleased to report that with the help of the markets, delis and local stores, that goal was met

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Tasmania

We started our tour in Tasmania – a State that I have never visited but heard so many wonderful things about.

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Our first dish was created using Tasmanian Huon smoked salmon, dill crème fraiche (Yea) and cucumber –  resulting in a lovely little canapé to start our meal.

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From there we headed across the Bass Straight to Victoria, where ricotta and Beechworth honey were the key ingredients in our second dish.

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On the menu? Ricotta crostini with ricotta, pear, walnuts and honey.

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Washed down with a Napoleone & Co apple / pear cider from the Yarra Valley.

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Australian Capital Territory

We headed to my hometown next, and I knew that smoked chicken from Poacher’s Pantry had to feature (yes, yes, I know it is technically located just over the border but we can claim it as our own surely??!).

IMG_6311 Our third dish of the day was a smoked chicken tarlet, with a homemade rocket pesto and bush tomato relish from Posh Nosh (a local creator of all things relish!).

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New South Wales

We then continued our journey north, stopping in New South Wales for a salad.

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Created with spinach, apples, feta and wild cherries, dressed with a tasty black genoa fig vinegar from the Hunter Valley.

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Queensland

Next stop – the Sunshine state. With gorgeous Tiger prawns and an abundance of tropical fruit as our focus.

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I marinated the prawns in a little oil and lemon zest, then they were cooked on the BBQ. Accompanied by a fruit salsa – comprising pineapple, mango, nectarine and mint.

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Served with a Pepper Tree Pinot Gris.

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Northern Territory

Then it was onto the Northern Territory – with barramundi as our key ingredient.

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Seasoned with native lemon pepper from Herbies, and cooked on the BBQ. Finished with a little Murrumbooee mango and tamarind chutney on the side.

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On the side? Some freshly baked wattleseed damper rolls.

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Western Australia

We then headed west for our last savoury dish of the day (letting out our belt-buckles as we went). I couldn’t resist including kangaroo on the menu (and it turns out that Little J is a big fan!).

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Marinated in white wine and ground pepperberry, and cooked on the BBQ. Served on a carrot puree with a red wine and pepperberry jus.

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Enjoyed with a glass of Marmaduke Shiraz.

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South Australia

Our last stop for the day was South Australia. With inspiration taken from its gorgeous wine regions.

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To conclude our meal? Sparkling Shiraz jellies – with raspberries and blueberries. A sweet ending.

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And just like that our culinary trip around Australia was complete. Although not before squeezing in a few games of Australia Day bingo (or should that be Australia Day ‘cooee’).

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It was definitely a fun afternoon, sampling so many unique flavours. Not to mention rekindling a love for local ingredients and suppliers, discovering some new favourite products along the way.

What about you? How did you spend your Australia Day?

Taste of Australia (Part 5): Homemade Tim Tams

Today I bring you the final instalment of my Taste of Australia series.


Did you miss the other instalments??

No Taste of Australia series would be complete without a BBB tribute to the iconic Tim Tam.

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This much loved biscuit consists of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by a light chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.

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Named after the winning horse in the Kentucky Derby in 1958, these biscuits have become a popular “staple” in Australian households, so much so 35 million packets are sold each year!

Now THAT is a lot of Tim Tams.

It was with some hesitation that I set myself the task of making a homemade Tim Tam. A gluten free homemade Tim Tam nonetheless. Perhaps it was the slightly sacrilegious task of attempting to copy an Aussie favourite that had me worried. Or perhaps it was the fact I could find no recipe or hint, either online or elsewhere, to give me some guidance in tackling this task.

It was at this stage that I decided a tribute to the Tim Tam would be my aim, rather than a direct copy.
Oh yeah, I went there 😉

As I saw it, there were three elements I needed to recreate. Biscuit, chocolate cream and chocolate covering.

For my biscuit layers, I selected these GF tea biscuits. Although if you weren’t looking for a gluten free version you could easily use regular tea biscuits and / or chococlate biscuits.

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Yes I know…they should have been chocolate biscuits. But after all, this is a tribute right?

The chocolate cream layer was the one that stumped me the most. Did I go with ganache? No – too bold. Did I go with icing? No – probably too sweet. In the end, I decided to make a combination. Starting with this chocolate spread…

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Combined with cream and a little icing sugar, warmed, then allowed to cool in the fridge.

For the chocolate coating, I melted a large block of milk chocolate, stirring until shiny, then removed it from the heat. I also stirred through a teaspoon of coconut oil.

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Then it was construction time….

Biscuit

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Chocolate cream

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Biscuit

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Dipped.

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Repeat.

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The result….

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A homemade tribute to an Aussie favourite…

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Ok – so they may not have been as pretty as the original…

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But they were a tribute nonetheless.

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Side by side…

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And on the inside…

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And the best part?

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They actually tasted pretty close to the original!  I recommend you make a batch.

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ASAP!

They could even be used for the Tim Tam Slam!

Homemade Tim Tams (GF) – makes 14

  • 1pkt GF tea biscuits (or you could use regular plain chocolate biscuits if you wanted to make a non GF version)
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tbs chocolate spread
  • 60g +400g  milk chocolate
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1tsp coconut oil
  1. Heat cream in microwave, then add chocolate spread, icing sugar and 60g milk chocolate, chopped, and stir to combine.
  2. Chill in fridge for 1 –2 hours.
  3. Take one biscuit and spread with chocolate cream. Sandwich with another biscuit. Repeat until all the biscuits and chocolate cream have been used. Freeze for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, melt remaining 400g milk chocolate. Stir through coconut oil and mix until shiny.
  5. One at a time, dip the filled biscuits in the melted chocolate, tapping gently to remove excess chocolate. Place on a tray lined with baking paper. Repeat.
  6. Refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours or until the chocolate has set.

And so concludes my Taste of Australia series … for now at least.  I hope that you have enjoyed reading about some favourite Australian foods. Let me know if you would like to see more!

What about you? Are you a Tim Tam Fan? Ever done the Tim Tam Slam?


Happy Baking 🙂

Taste of Australia (Part 4): Damper

Training: Mountain Biking 15km First – I just want to say a big "Happy Birthday" to my wonderful husband!!!  We have plans to properly celebrate his birthday on Saturday, combined with a housewarming for our new place, but this evening we decided to kick off the celebrations with a mountain bike ride after work. It has been a while since I have been on my mountain bike (hmm or any bike actually), so the trails were both challenging and a little nerve racking at times. It was also 30C + when we headed out, making for a hot and sweaty mountain ride. While we had initially thought of going out for dinner, I think we were both a little weary after the hot ride, and decided to stay in. Thus, the next instalment of Taste of Australia was set to also became a birthday dinner! Have you missed the other Taste of Australia topics? Check them out below:

And part 4…..Aussie Damper! Damper is an Australian bread, traditionally prepared by swagmen, drovers and stockmen who had limited provisions when working away from home for long periods of time. It generally consists of wheat flour, water, salt and sometimes milk,  and is traditionally baked in the coals of a campfire. It was eaten with pieces of fried dried meat, sometimes spread with golden syrup, but always with billy tea. I have fond memories of camping with my family when I was little, often in dense bush areas where there was no power. We would make our own version of damper by shaping the dough onto the end of a stick and ‘baking’ across the campfire coals. The result? Slightly charred on the outside, a little gooey in the middle, filled with smoky campfire flavours and drizzled with butter or golden syrup. Ah yes, those days were a lot of fun! Not having a campfire (or my dad!) handy, I opted to use the oven to make our damper tonight. I also couldn’t resist making a few changes to the original recipe to make it allergy friendly for me 😉 IMG_4995 I decided to make two varieties – original… IMG_5029 And herb and parmesan. IMG_4990 Flour was sifted… IMG_4975 Butter was rubbed in.. IMG_4977 And the dough was kneaded and shaped into a disc. IMG_4981 Baked for 20 minutes, or until the damper sounded hollow when tapped. IMG_4986 IMG_5019 Served fresh out of the oven. IMG_4997 IMG_5016 Warm doughy bread… IMG_5009 Crusty on the outside… IMG_4994 IMG_5010 Soft on the inside… IMG_5006 I decided to serve a few slices of the herb and parmesan damper alongside dinner, IMG_5048 With a little dab of butter. IMG_5041 And I couldn’t resist sampling a piece of the original damper for dessert… IMG_5035 drizzled in golden syrup. IMG_5050 ‘twas  delicious indeed! Spelt Damper (makes 1)

  • 1.5 cups spelt flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 40g chilled butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk or water
  1. Preheat oven to 200C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.
  3. Rub in the butter using your fingers, until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Make a well in the centre and add milk or water. Use a knife to bring the mixture together.
  5. Knead for a minute, then shape into a disc and place on the prepared tray.
  6. Make a cross in the top using a knife, then dust with flour. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and the damper sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.
  7. Serve warm with butter, golden syrup or jam.

Herb and Parmesan Damper: Add 1/4 cup chopped chives, 1/4 cup chopped parsley and 1/2 cup grated parmesan to the mixture before adding the liquid in step 4. What about you? Have you tried damper? Stay tuned for the final post in my Taste of Australia series tomorrow. It is set to be a ‘sweet’ one. Any guesses what the inspiration may be??? Happy Baking 🙂

Taste of Australia (part 3): The Lamington Cake

Happy Australia Day! For my Aussie readers, I hope you had a wonderfully relaxing day, filled with good food and good company! IMG_4909  Mr BBB and I spent the sunny day catching up with family and enjoying a very Aussie BBQ. Complete with steak sandwiches… IMG_4910 Served with swiss cheese, pineapple, beetroot and pickles. Oh and my mother in law’s crowd pleasing potato salad. But it was not only about  the BBQ today. There was also time for part 3 of…

So far I have shared with you two Australian-themed savoury dishes. Today, however, it was all about a sweet treat to serve at our Australia Day BBQ. Last year it was pavlova, but this year I wanted to try something different. The iconic Lamington seemed to be the obvious choice! IMG_4946IMG_4948 Lamingtons generally consists of a cubed sponge cake, coated in chocolate icing and sprinkled with desiccated coconut. Or, if you are feeling indulgent, served as two halves with a layer of jam or cream in between. I have fond memories of ‘lamington’ drives when I was growing up, when packets of these delightful cakes would be sold as a fundraiser by the local Scout or School group. My personal favourite was the jam filled lamington, which I would heat in the microwave for a minute so that the chocolate would melt slightly and it would become a sweet lamington pudding of sorts. In celebration of these wonderful sweet treats,  I wanted to create a lamington-inspired layer cake. Gluten free. Also, rather than dipping individual cakes, I decided to go with one big cake. I was not feeling confident about mastering a GF sponge cake recipe from scratch, so I cheated and used a Basco butter cake mix instead. IMG_4843 I find that these cake mixes are quite tasty and produce a consistent result, so they are a great ‘base’ cake’ when you are short on time! With two gorgeous golden cakes baked, I then set about creating the ever-important lamington layers. IMG_4878 Cake. IMG_4886 Strawberry jam. IMG_4884 IMG_4888 Cake. IMG_4891 Dark chocolate ganache. IMG_4885 Poured on the top, IMG_4892 And spread evenly down the sides. IMG_4893 Sprinkled with coconut flakes. IMG_4899 IMG_4900 Presenting… IMG_4903 My tribute to the iconic lamington! IMG_4904 A Layered Lamington Cake … IMG_4897 That is not only delicious, but also gluten free! IMG_4945 Sliced into squares to reveal the “secret” jam layer. IMG_4938 A new twist on an ol’ Aussie favourite 🙂 IMG_4929 And a tasty end to our Australia Day BBQ! What about you? Are you a fan of lamingtons? Happy Baking 🙂

Taste of Australia (part 2): Vegemite Scrolls

Training: Run 5km So it seems that I am not the only one who has eaten roo! While it doesn’t feature a lot in my meals, being lean and low in saturated fat is certainly a selling point. Part 1: Kangaroo and Macadamia Salad But it is now time for Part 2 of …. A series showcasing Australia from a foodie perspective would not be complete without a recipe using one very "Aussie" staple… IMG_4831 You guessed it….Vegemite! This dark yeast spread, rich in vitamin B, appears regularly at Australian breakfast tables, but is often loathed by many foreigners. Developed in 1922, its medicinal value was endorsed by the British Medical Association in 1939 and included in Australian Army rations during World War II.  By the late 1940s, Vegemite was believed to be used in nine out of ten Australian homes! (source) Perhaps the most iconic connection with vegemite is, however, the catchy jingle "We’re happy little Vegemites" used to market the product from 1954. While I have no doubt that most Australians can sing the jingle off by heart, you can check out a video here. Tomorrow we have some friends coming over for a lunchtime BBQ. Wanting to include Vegemite on the menu, I decided to make a batch of Vegemite and cheese scrolls….also known as Cheesymite scrolls. While sadly these are not wheat free, I am sure that the others will enjoy them! Puff pastry… IMG_4829   Vegemite… IMG_4832 Cheese… IMG_4833 Roll… IMG_4834IMG_4835 Slice… IMG_4836IMG_4838 And bake. IMG_4840 IMG_4852 It doesn’t get any easier than that! IMG_4866 Warm flaky pastry… IMG_4868 IMG_4861 Encasing a cheesy vegemite filling. IMG_4869 Taste tested and approved by Mr BBB 🙂 IMG_4870 I just hope there are some left for tomorrow’s BBQ! What about you? Do you like vegemite? Happy Baking 🙂