Here we go! I’ve been trawling the net looking through my extensive cook book collection and speaking to all of the Aussies that I know in order to give Ben, and you, a nice little selection of typically Australian dishes.
I know that there will be a lot that I’ve missed out, but these are the ones that got the best feedback from my panel of taste testers! Flamin’ galahs (thanks Alf Stewart), I’ve gotta say that it’s been a busy few days of sampling recipes but I hope you all enjoy it and looking forward to seeing which one Ben cooks up.
P.S. I obviously would have loved to have done some barbecuing but London in October is both cold and rainy. Not ideal.
Aussie Meat Pie
This has been described as the “national dish” and apparently every Australian eats around 12 meat pies a year. It can just be served as a fast food for footie games, but I still reckon that it’s hard to beat a good meat pie! As far as I’ve been told, there are certain traditions that should be applied to the Aussie meat pie, see below:
- They should be hand sized and can be made with ground beef or steak cut into small pieces.
- They have a short crust pastry base and puff pastry top
- They’re often served with mashed potato piled on top and lots of gravy
So, here’s my recipe for a good Aussie meat pie. I also made the short crust pastry, just to feel like I wasn’t cheating too much, but the bought stuff is really just as good!
1 large white onion, finely chopped
750g lean ground beef or braising steak, chopped
750 ml beef stock
1 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp ground oregano
1 pinch Paprika
1 sheet shortcrust pastry
1 sheet puff pastry
beaten egg, for glazing
oil, for frying
1. Pre-heat an oven to 200°C. Cook meat in oil in a large saucepan until it is well browned on all sides. Do not overcrowd the pan whilst you are browning the meat; you may have to do this in batches. When the meat is browned pour this into a sieve set over a bowl to collect the juices. Add a little water to the pan and bring to the boil to de-glaze the pan. Pour this water into the bowl with the other meat juices as they will be used later.
2. Lightly fry the onion in the same pan in a little more oil for about 5 minutes until translucent. When ready add the flour, oregano and paprika to the onions, stir and cook for 2 minutes on a low heat.
3. Return the meat to the pan and stir to combine. Add the stock and meat juices and bring to a simmer, then turn the heat right down, cover and allow to cook for about an hour, until the meat is tender.
4. Whilst the meat is cooking, line 4 lightly greased small pie tins with the shortcrust pastry, cover with cling film and allow to chill. This pastry will not be blind baked so be sure to roll it quite thinly.
5. When the meat filling is ready, pour this back into the sieve set over a bowl to collect all the gravy. Return the gravy to the pan and season to taste. At this stage you can reduce the gravy by boiling it or add more liquid to thin it out if necessary. If there is any excess gravy at the end then this can just go on top. Allow to cool slightly.
6. Roll the puff pastry ready for the pie lids and using your pie tins as a guide, cut 4 circles of puff pastry. Fill the prepared pie tins equally with the meat and onion and fill up with gravy, almost to the top of the pastry case. Brush edges of the pastry base with water and top with the puff pastry lids. Press down the edges to seal, make a small steam hole in the middle of the puff pastry lid and brush with the lightly beaten egg glaze.
7. Bake in the oven for about 20 – 30 minutes, until the pastry is risen and golden. Serve with mash, peas and gravy.
Damper Bread & Spiced Zucchini Soup
Damper bread is a very easy recipe but it has some good Aussie history so I decided to include it. Early colonial settlers to Australia often made Damper bread when they were exploring Australia’s remote and harsh landscape for months at a time. The bread was cooked in the hot ashes of a fire, or held over a fire on a stick to cook. The bread is incredibly simple and although I’ve made the simple version, the recipe can easily be updated with the addition of olives, cheese and seeds before you add the water to the flour.
The Zucchini Soup recipe is from Bill Granger, who was introduced to me as the “Australian Jamie Oliver” and whose recipes I love. This soup has great flavour and I also just like the way that Australians call it zucchini instead of courgette. Trying to confuse us Brits!
450g (3 cups) self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
80g butter, chilled and cubed
185ml (3/4 cup) water
1. Preheat oven to 200°C and lightly grease a baking tray. Combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Using just your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Add 2 tablespoons of the water to the flour mixture and use a table knife to start mixing this into the flour mix. Add another 2 tablespoons of water and mix again. Add water until the mixture comes together well but is neither too wet or too dry. You may need more or less liquid depending on your flour. Use your hands to bring the mixture together.
3. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for 1-2 minutes or until smooth. Shape into an 18cm disc and place on tray. Using the long handle of a wooden spoon that has been dipped in flour, make a hole in the middle of the bread and mark 8 wedges on top. Dust the damper with a little extra flour and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the damper is cooked through. It should be well risen, golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the base. Transfer to a wire rack for 5 minutes to cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
4. Served with my soup, I drizzled some extra virgin olive oil over the bread and sprinkled over coarse sea salt.
Spiced Zucchini Soup from Bill Granger
2 small or one large white onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon hot curry powder
1kg zucchini (courgette), sliced
1.5 litres vegetable or chicken stock
freshly ground black pepper
45g (1/4 cup) short grain rice
yoghurt to serve
1. Heat the olive oil and salt in a large saucepan and add the onion. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
2. Add the curry powder and cook out for 2 minutes, then add the zucchini, stock, pepper and rice and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook for another 20 mins.
3. Blend the soup in a blender or food processor until it is fine but not smooth. Serve immediately with a swirl of yoghurt or cream.
When I think of Australian food I always think of Vegemite. Being completely addicted to Marmite myself, I have always been a fan of trying to incorporate it into my cooking so I wanted to give it a whirl with Vegemite and see how it worked out. I think that Nigella’s Marmite spaghetti is completely delicious but it’s essentially just Marmite, butter and dried pasta, so I thought I better choose a slightly more exciting Vegemite dish for the boys…
½ tbsp Vegemite 1 tsp light soy
sesame oil or sunflower oil
½ tsp salt
Lightly beaten egg
1 tbsp Vegemite
1 tbsp soy sauce
4 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp honey
1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
1. Marinade the chicken for at least an hour.
2. Mix the flour and salt well. Lightly beat the egg and coat the chicken pieces in the beaten egg before rolling lightly in the flour mixture, knocking off any access flour.
3. In a large frying pan heat some sesame oil and fry each piece of chicken so that the outside is crispy. When ready, lay the chicken on a greased baking sheet and bake in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for about 20 minutes (depending on how large your chicken pieces are), turning them over halfway through. Check to see chicken is cooked by piercing a thick part with a skewer and ensuring the juices run clear.
4. In a sauce pan, heat through the Vegemite sauce ingredients. At this point you can adjust the taste of the sauce with more Vegemite, honey or water. Once it’s well mixed, heated through and bubbling, remove from the heat.
5. When the chicken is cooked through, serve on a bed of green vegetables (such as tender stem broccoli) and drizzle over the sauce. This is great served with noodles.
Barramundi Fillets with Cucumber and Corn Salad
As Australia has such a famous and beautiful coast line, I thought it was only right to include a bit of fish on the menu and having done some reading, I settled on a bit of Barramundi.
Barramundi is commonly found in Australian waters and is a delicious, meaty, white fish which is sustainable and not over farmed, making it a good green option for all those eco-warriors! The name is derived from an Australian aboriginal word and is very common in the waters around Australia and Asia, making it a perfect Aussie option.
The salad is another Bill Granger adaptation and gives a nice fresh kick to the dish. Yum!
4 thick Barramundi fillets
Juice of 1 – 2 limes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Coriander for serving
1. Season the fish fillets with a little salt, pepper and fresh lime just before cooking. Arrange these on aluminium foil skin up and place under a hot grill. Keep an eye on the fish, after 3 or 4 minutes the skin should be crisp. Turn the fish and grill for another few minutes until the flesh is starting to flake but is not over cooked. Remove from the heat.
2. Squeeze some more fresh lime over the fish and garnish with coriander. Serve immediately.
2 large chillies, seeded and diced
30g fresh picked coriander
½ small red onions, finely sliced
5g fresh mint leaves, shredded
20g mangetout, blanched and finely sliced
1 cucumber, cut in half lengthways and finely sliced
Small tin sweetcorn, drained
For the dressing
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp caster sugar
1. To make the salad, thinly slice the cucumber and blanched mangetout and mix in a bowl with the sweetcorn, chilli, onion mint and coriander.
2. Dress the salad just prior to serving. To make the salad, combine all ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.
So there you have it! Get cooking and let us know which are your favourite recipes. I already have some cracking recipes from New Zealand lined up!