Good eye might: An Australian education

Shameful admission time: until this week, I had never made a pavlova before.

I can only put it down to mum not being a fan of them, and as such, I never thought to make them either. The pavlova can be a tired, worked cliche, however a well made one is still a thing to marvel.

With Eat Drink Blog being such a big event, there were plenty of other duties to partake in. First of all, was welcoming our fantastic international blogger Adam Roberts from Amateur Gourmet, all the way over from LA. We arranged a BBQ beach dinner for him, in conjunction with the brilliant team from Tourism WA, Experience Perth and Rich Keam, WA’s Taste Master. You can check out Adam’s post on our dinner here – and yes, it was me who taught Ads to ruin the English language, in true blue, ocker style.

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I told our international guests to be kind with their evaluations of my first pavlova; that if I failed at making one, then I’d be sent to Tasmania as penance. Yes, if you do badly in this life, you get shipped to the penal colony, and if you do bad in the penal colony, you get shipped to Tassie. I’m not sure they realised I was kidding.

I used this fool-proof recipe from SBS Food – it was gorgeously crisp on the outside, and chewy on the inside. I split the mix in half and made two pavs, then stacked one on top of the other, but whichever way you do it, it’s all good!

Mixed Berry Pavlova

Adapted from SBS Food

6 egg whites
330 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp cornflour, sifted
600 ml thickened cream
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 handful strawberries, sliced
1 handful blueberries
Handful of mint leaves, shredded
Strawberry syrup, recipe here

Preheat oven to 130°C.

On some baking paper, draw around a large plate or cake pan as a template for the size of your pav. Turn the baking paper over, then line a baking tray.

Using a mixer, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Continue mixing, adding a tablespoon of sugar at a time, until the mixture is glossy and thick. Gently fold in the vanilla paste and cornflour until combined.

Pour the mixture onto the baking paper, and smooth to the edges of the circle you’ve drawn. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn off the oven, and leave to cool with the door closed. I left mine overnight.

Whip the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Spread the cream over the pavlova, then decorate with berries, syrup and mint leaves.
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We will remember them.

I’m not really one for your major public holidays.

I’m vocal about my Christmas unease. Easter isn’t much better. Australia Day irks me, because frankly I know too many vocal bogans, although I love my country. I don’t know anyone who understands what Labour Day is about.

But ANZAC Day. ANZAC Day is my day of days, the one that I revere above all else.

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Let me introduce you to this guy. His name is Roy Udy, and he’s my great grandfather. He fought in North Africa in World War Two, leaving behind my grandmother and her 3 younger siblings to care for themselves. He died when I was 9; sadly his stories went with him. So instead, I learned for myself. Shelves of books, Hitler History Channel, museums, pretty much anything I could get my hands on.

I get up in the dead of the night, make coffee, rug up and join the masses that attend Dawn Service in Kings Park. It’s cold, dark, crowded and incredible. You’d be surprised just how silent 40, 000 people can be. The energy in the air is so thick, you could cut it with a knife. But you have to be there to truly understand.

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Everyone has an ANZAC biscuit recipe. Maybe your grandmother gave it to you, or hers before her. Because of that, I won’t give you another. What we have here, is all the flavours of those biscuits, but in cake form. I imagine it would be a great pre-service snack, so that your rumbling tummy doesn’t break the silence of the Last Post.

Lest we forget.

ANZAC tray cake

Adapted from The Bake Project

125g butter
1/2 cup golden syrup
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 cups self raising flour
1/4 cup caster sugar

Crumble
1/2 cup porridge oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, room temperature, diced
1 cup plain flour

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a brownie tray (or cake tin, if you prefer) with baking paper.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt together the butter and golden syrup. Stir together the flour, sugar, milk, eggs and coconut. Add the syrup mixture, and fold until combined. Pour into the prepared cake tin.

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In a smaller bowl, combine the flour, oats, and brown sugar. Smush the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers, until a crumble mixture is formed.

Place the crumb over the cake mixture evenly. 

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Bake for 40 minutes, until golden. Cool on a wire rack.

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This would be exceptional with custard. though, to be fair, I love custard with everything.

Australia: A study in numbers and biscuits

Australia. Lets crunch some numbers!

Home to:
22,620,600 people
8 of the 10 most venomous snakes
4th richest woman in the world
3 of the world’s most livable cities
3 of the world’s top 50 beaches
160 kinds of shark (these last two are clearly related)
4 of the best restaurants

Then of course, there are the things that instantly scream ‘Aussie’.
Our sporting prowess. Current losing streak.
Vegemite.
Stubbies. In both short and beer form.
Hoges.

From there, we can break it down further. Our stories, told by Bryce Courtney, Tim Winton, May Gibbs, Kate Grenville and Caroline Overington. Growing up, my favourite was John Marsden. Tomorrow When The War Began was the first series to completely consume me; I loved it. I badgered my dad into taking me to the book store the day it was published, and didn’t leave my room until is was finished.

Of all the details to stick in my head, I remember very clearly how the characters specifically requested Iced Vovos to be dropped to them by possible rescuers. Of all things, WHY Iced Vovos? To be fair, I’d never had one, so what would I know?

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Iced Vovos are a magical, magical biscuit. Your life will be changed, just like mine. Like Tim Tams, the are uniquely Australian. And awesome. 

 

Arnott’s Iced Vovo Tart

From Good Taste Magazine

Base
100g Iced Vovo biscuits
150g plain sweet biscuits (I used Marie ones)
130g unsalted butter

Marshmallow layer
150g pink marshmallows
1 tbsp milk
200ml thick cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Raspberry Jam
2 gelatine leaves
125g frozen raspberries
80ml water
1 tbsp caster sugar

Topping
400ml thick cream
2 drops pink food dye
1 tbsp coconut flakes

To make the base, process (or bash with a rolling pin the biscuits to a fine crumb. Melt the butter, and combine with the biscuit crumbs. Grease a tart tin with a removable base, then firmly press the biscuits into the base of the tin. Place it in the fridge for an hour to firm.

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For the marshmallow layer, over medium heat in a small saucepan, stir the marshmallows and milk until they are smooth. Transfer into a bowl, and stir occasionally for 6 minutes, until cooled slightly. Beat together the cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Mix half the cream into the melted mallows, folding to combine. Add the rest of the cream and fold together. Spread the mixture over the tart pan, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

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Jam time! Throw the raspberries, water and sugar into a saucepan and bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, until the raspberries are super soft, and the sugar is dissolved  Remove from heat and set aside. Place the gelatin leaves in a bowl of cold water for 4 minutes or so to soften (but not go mushy, like I did the first time), squeeze out any excess water, then into the raspberry mix, stirring until dissolved. Press the raspberry mix through a fine sieve, discarding the seeds, and reserving the jam. Leave the jam for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cool. Pour the jam evenly over the marshmallow, and then back into the fridge until set.


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To make the topping, beat together the cream and colouring until it forms firm (but not stiff) peaks.  Spoon into a piping bag with a star shaped nozzle, and pipe two long rows along the edge of the tart, then sprinkle with coconut.

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Keep in the fridge until ready to serve, to keep it firm and easy to cut. Trust me, It goes soft and gooey really quickly.

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Oh, and happy Australia Day.