Sep 28, 2010

A Family Favourite.... J's Chicken Curry

Well, folks, although this recipe is not strictly Aussie fare, I'm sharing it, because it's a recipe I've grown up with, I've cooked it a thousand times (well OK, maybe not a thousand, but you get the idea!), and I just love it! It's simple, delicious and hearty, and it's been loved by my hubby, all my children, and numerous guests throughout the years. Although my mum passed it on to me, I'm pretty sure I've cooked it a zillion times more than her now, so it is hereby called J's Chicken Curry (sorry mum... nothing's sacred!)

Oct 1, 2009

Busy Day Custard Cake

As promised, although extremely long in coming, I'm sharing with you a wonderful cake from my Aussie childhood. I can smell it now- literally, as it sits cooling on the old wire cake cooler which used to belong to Mum.

Another handed down treasure is the recipe itself. In fact, not just THIS recipe, but her whole old, handwritten, falling apart recipe book- the one she cooked from all the time when I was growing up. All of my favourite childhood recipes are in there: Judith's Little Cakes, Coconut-Curry Chicken, Pumpkin Scones, Boiled Fruit Cake, Honey Joys, Easy One-Whip Icecream, Golden Toffees, No-Bake Apricot Slice and Golden Syrup Dumplings.

I was so honored when Mum chose to give me this bundle of worn pages. Occasional clippings are mixed amongst the handwritten recipes. These clipped recipes hail from the days when all desserts were adorned lavishly with glace cherries, and when groceries were brought home from Jewell in paper bags (which were outmoded in about 1982).

For authenticity - and posterity - I thought just this once I'd bring you the scanned original. So here it is: much cooked, well loved, and in my Mum's handwriting- Mum's Busy Day Custard Cake recipe.
And because I'm such a generous soul, I left in an additional freebie: Apricot Slice. This is also a goodie, although not the fave I mentioned earlier!

Here's my rundown of the recipe above:
Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup Self Raising Flour (or Plain Flour with 1 tsp Baking Powder) and 3 tbsp custard powder. (There it is, I told you it'd be in there!)
Melt 4oz or 125g butter in a saucepan, allow to cool slightly, then add it to the dry ingredients. Follow with the milk- the aim is to make sure the butter is sufficiently cooled before adding the eggs, so it doesn't cook them on contact! Add the eggs and vanilla essence and beat well for 3 minutes. Place into a greased and floured cake tin and bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 deg C/375 deg F for approx 45 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. I always ice mine with a butter icing - butter & icing sugar in roughly equal parts, 1/2 tsp vanilla essence, adding dribbles of milk as needed to bring it to a smooth consistency. When smooth, mix in 1/2 cup of shredded (dessicated) coconut. Spread it on the cake as soon as it's cooled, serve it onto pretty plates, and enjoy!
We did!

Jul 13, 2009

The joys of warm Axle Grease!

Ah, Axle Grease! There's nothing in the world quite like it! Spread thinly on golden buttered toast, maybe accompanied by a cup of strong Bushell's Tea, it makes the perfect relaxing brekkie or after-work snack.

I'm referring, of course, to the world-renowned Aussie spread- Vegemite!
We Aussies have a name for just about everything, and AXLE GREASE is the term of choice for our beloved spread. Another favourite condiment is DEAD HORSE - tomato sauce. We like to make silly rhymes to match the original words, but Vegemite got it's name from it's appearance. I reckon that's a no-brainer, so we'll move on to the intructional section of this piece!

My purpose today is to teach you how to make Vegemite on toast PROPERLY!
I know, PROPER is an adjective normally reserved for the English, but given the masses of people out there who have tried to like Vegemite and failed, I know that they must be doing something wrong. Granted, some tastebuds will never acquiesce to the potent flavour, but a large proportion of these failed gastronomic attempts can be attributed to just one simple thing: lack of knowledge.

Vegemite, folks, is not peanut butter. It is the foie gras of Coonabarabran, the beluga caviar of Yackandandah.
OK, so it's not quite as elite, and thankfully not nearly as expensive, but my point, folks, is that it must be used SPARINGLY!

Step 1: Assemble your ingredients and equipment. If you have a brand-spanking-new one of these on hand, it will help!
(my previous one died a slow death, so I bought this new fangled one three days ago!)

Here are my other equipment and ingredients. Pretend you see some nice fresh slices of white bread too. I forgot to photograph it. Duh. But I'm sure you've seen it before!

Ahhh, toast the bread in your new-fangled toaster (or not), until it is lovely and golden like this!

Now quick as you can, slather it with your very favourite butter or margarine- don't use the low fat variety unless you like that thick chemical cocktail taste. The key is to use plenty of butter or marg, and only a scrape of Vegemite!
Pardon me, I tarried while photographing my naked toast, and now my marg isn't melting properly! Just pretend it looks in every way just like the middle section and upper left corner. Moral of the story, if you want Vegemite toast that is just right, don't waste any time after you get it out of the toaster! Get that butter/margarine on it pronto! And use lots.

We interrupt this post to bring you a public health announcement. Too much butter is bad for your health. So slather it on, by all means. But don't do it every day. Amen.

Now, the secret to good Veg toast...
Just put a smidge, a fine scrape of the Mighty Mite across your toast. And eat it straight away!

Like I did. Mmmmmmmm.

Now after a couple of goes, you might be able to get a cuppa stewing while your toast is toasting. But if the kettle boils at the same time as the toaster pops, remember it is the toast that is your first priority!

As for me, well I had my hands full enough just trying to take photographs of rapidly cooling toast on my 1 megapixel i-Phone camera, while the late afternoon light was waning. So I just ate my toast and got on with the cup of tea later.

Please try this at home soon. Don't let past experiences deter you!

And now for a sneak preview of my next star ingredient....
See you then!

May 18, 2009

Welcome to my wacky world!

Hello everyone, welcome to my new food blog- Downunder Kitchen!
I live on the outer edges of Melbourne, Australia. Not in the country, exactly, but close enough to it to see the occasional boomer (kangaroo) or fox by the roadside! While growing up in the Great South Land, I was nurtured with lots of good Fair Dinkum Aussie food, with a healthy serving of silly Aussie (and English) humour on the side. I'm a generous soul, so I'd like to share the hilarity with you!
Welcome to my wacky world!!!

Over the coming weeks & months, I'll be sharing classic Aussie tips and recipes... goal number 1 is to show you how to make Vegemite on toast PROPERLY! There is a wrong way, folks!
(Humming) All we are saying... Give Veg. a chance!

I'll also share snippets of Aussie trivia, essential Aussie slang definitions, and silly stories to make you laugh. And hey, if I get clever enough on here, I may even get around to some silly quizzes! I hope you'll like it here. Please jump on board and send me lots of comments and questions!

My Story:
Once upon a time, I was in domestic bliss: baking breads, stewing stews and concocting all kinds of wonderful dishes for my hubby and three little ankle-biters. Then came a nursing degree, subsequent full-time work, and the wonderful challenges of parenting school aged children! And somewhere amongst it all, I lost my enjoyment of cooking. (Sob.)
The fun and interest had departed, and I was left with... The Drudgery.
But that all began to change late last year, thanks to three groovy people and a proper kitchen knife!

First up, in November, my darling husband brought home a Jamie's Christmas DVD and persuaded me to attempt a Jamie Oliver-style Christmas feast for his family who were coming over for Christmas Lunch. We both cooked together, produced a delicious spread (including an incredibly moist and yummy turkey), and came through it with a great sense of achievement!
In the planning phase, while I was watching the DVD and madly scrawling the instructions on a notebook, hubby decided it was high time we had a good quality knife. Our new knife (not a Wusthof, by any stretch, but at least a good quality Wiltshire chef's knife) did more for my cooking than anything else to date. After using it for half an hour, I was wondering where it had been all my life! And it brought home the realisation that with good tools and ingredients, cooking can be VERY pleasurable indeed! I've now added a Santoku and a paring knife to my collection... my cooking world is complete! At least until I can get my hands on one of those Kitchen Aid mixers I've got my eye on! And maybe some Le Creuset dutch ovens, aaaahhh!
But anyway, I'm a happy camper!

My other cooking muse was none other than bloggy legend Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman. If you haven't checked out her site yet, I urge you, GO!!! You'll love it! But make sure you come back here in 2013 when you're done browsing over there!
P-Dub, as she's called is so much fun. She has some amazing recipes, such as her Chocolate Sheet Cake, BBQ Meatballs and Whiskey Glazed Carrots, which I've joyfully consumed with friends. But don't stop there- she also shares about daily occurrences on their middle-America cattle ranch, records wacky Scarlett O'Hara and Brittney Spears impersonations, and writes a mean romance story! But enough about Ree- we'll save that for her blog!

So that's it! With my hubby's encouragement and knife-purchasing skills, and with regular inspiration from Jamie and Pioneer Woman, I have now returned to a love of cooking. I hope you'll come on the journey with me- we'll get past the Vegemite quickly, I promise!