Sunday, January 29, 2023

Pork Egg Foo Young (Chinese Omelette)

Healthy Egg Foo Young is a delicious Chinese omelette which was created by the economical Chinese kitchen cooks to use up meat and vegetable leftovers, as was Fried Rice. Most Chinese restaurants generally have omelettes on the menu, and they are also delicious as a takeaway, however you can easily make them at home, as a welcome change to the normal cheese and herb omelette.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The Typical Foods that Australians Love to Eat

 I've been "flat out like a lizard drinking all day", but I wanted to write something about typical Aussie food today and a few slang expressions just might get thrown in as well. Aussies, except for vegetarians and vegans have always loved a good beef steak, and throwing a lamb chop on the barbecue, as well as the prawn. Sorry but I refuse to call it a shrimp, despite Paul Hogan's best intentions to "throw a shrimp on the barbie". However, now it seems that delicious seafood is very popular and is more affordable than red meat, depending on where we buy it. A high percentage of us are favouring seafood at Christmas time now, instead of chicken and pork, it's easy and it's fresh. To mark the day I'm not going to mention just yet, I bought enough fresh prawns today from the supermarket to make a prawn sandwich on very fresh bread and butter, I adore seafood, even more that Mr. HRK. I was raised by my Mother to love it, as she grew up by the beach in Central Queensland with access to lots of lovely seafood. Give me a plate of fresh oysters, Queensland Mud Crabs, and prawns, and I am in Heaven.

These Crystal Bay prawns, which I bought this morning, were farmed in the pristine waters of the Hinchinbrook Channel near Cardwell, in Far North Queensland, and made a delicious sandwich for lunch today, after being peeled and cleaned of course. Many are being sustainably farmed, and sold at quite reasonable prices in supermarkets. However if you like to eat them with a delicious seafood sauce, I have a few favourites to suggest. This is my Seafood Cocktail with Marie Rose sauce.  My mouth is watering at the thought of it. Long live the Prawn Cocktail, with fresh oysters on the side.

Vegemite is 100 years old, and is a black spread like Promite, that Aussies have been trained to love almost from the cradle. None of us can remember when we first tasted it, but it's always been in the refrigerator. Many a Mum has dipped her finger into a jar of vegemite while they are eating it spread on toast for breakfast and given their young child a taste even before they started on solids, just so they would grow up loving it, and most of us do. We've all grown up being "happy little vegemites". It celebrates everything fun and unique about being an Aussie. One of the amusing things we love to do with overseas visitors, is to give them a taste of vegemite on toast just to see their reaction. Even though we eat Australian made Weet-bix most mornings for breakfast during the week, it's often vegemite on toast that is my first food craving for the day, along with a cup of tea. Now that is an honest confession from a foodie. 

Vegemite, the brand, is celebrating 100 years this year, such an Aussie icon. Besides having it on toast, we love to add it to savoury mince dishes, beef stews, and Mr. HRK insists it's his secret ingredient when he's cooking. Pizza companies have now developed a frozen vegemite pizza, to be released soon. Mr. HRK will be trying that out, he loves making pizzas.

The Royal Australian Mint has released a Vegemite edition of the $1 coin which will feature a piece of toast with vegemite smeared on it. Some Vegemite stamps are going to be released as well. Vegemite is a trademark of the Bega Cheese Limited, we've been to BEGA.

So what else do we Aussies hold dear to their hearts as favourite foods? Weetbix has always been around as a breakfast cereal, we've been eating them since we were kids. After all, Aussie Kids are Weet-Bix kids, well they were, I'm not so sure now. It's a totally Australian product made by Sanitarium, and besides eating it for breakfast, it has been used as a basis for biscuits and slices and Rum Balls at Christmas, oh yes Rum Balls. I dare not mess with that recipe, or there will be a family revolt.

Recipe can be found at: HAPPY RETIREE'S KITCHEN : Christmas Rum Balls and Chocolate Rum Truffles ( As far as I'm concerned, these taste great at any time of the year, and made with lots of Queensland Bundaberg Rum of course.

The LAMINGTON is the national cake of Australia, that's fair dinkum. There I've said it, it's a big claim, but true.  It is a slab of sponge cake cut in large squares, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled liberally with desiccated coconut. It was first invented in Queensland with the first recipe appearing in the Country Life newspaper as early as 1900. The story goes that it was created by a cooking accident at work by a maid-servant to Lord Lamington, the very British eighth Governor of Queensland.

Many of us who have had children attend primary school in Queensland, participated in Lamington Drives at the school, which were a major annual fundraiser, and a very messy experience. All the slabs of cake that had to be cut up into squares, all the runny chocolate icing in large bowls which the cake had to be dipped into, and all those trays of coconut which the chocolate covered cake had to be rolled in. I'm sure we wore gloves, but you can imagine that it could get quite messy. I think it turned me off actually making Lamingtons. I prefer to buy them now from a very good local bakery, but recipes are available if you want to give them a try. They really are delicious, but the cake has to be like the real sponge cake that lamingtons are traditionally made from. That's the secret. I've ordered a dozen chocolate lamingtons for tomorrow, it's traditional, I had to. We'll share them with neighbours and friends. There are plenty of varieties to choose from now, pink ones, ones with cream and jam in the middle, ones coated in hundreds and thousands and various kinds of sprinkles, the list is endless.

The lamingtons in the photo above were bought from the supermarket today, and are actually a good size for children to eat. They are white cake coated in chocolate icing and rolled in coconut, however they don't taste as good as the bakery product which is larger and with a softer cake. However these are quite affordable for many families and capture the spirit of the lamington for Australia Day.

Call us strange, but something else we love to do here Down Under is eat the humble pumpkin when cooked, in many ways, and at any time of the year. It is such an earthy and economical vegetable to eat whether baked, boiled, mashed, or made into sweets. Not many other countries in the world grow it and eat it like we do. 

Some of you will remember my Pumpkin Scone recipe from International Scone Week last year, but I just checked my blog recipes and I have cooked quite a few pumpkin cakes over the years too.

Here's a batch of Aussie Damper scones just out of the oven.

Did I say damper? Real rustic damper is what we love to cook in a cast iron Camp Oven over a fire when we go camping in the bush. Eating it hot with butter and smothered in Golden Syrup is a must.

The Camp Oven cooking the damper in the smouldering coals of the fire. Hot Coals must also be placed in the lid of the pot.

Damper Ingredients:

2 cups SR Flour
Pinch of salt

Let's make Damper:

  • In a bowl, add 2 cups of self-raising flour and a pinch of salt
  • Slowly add water from the jug and mix gently with a wooden spoon until the ingredients start to combine and form a dough
  • The dough now needs to be mixed together, not kneaded. Using your hands, yes your clean hands, cup the ingredients in your hands, and slowly work the dough until you get a nice round damper shape.

Back to the pumpkin recipes.

Rosemary Pumpkin Spice Cake with Cream Cheese frosting

Golden Pumpkin, Olive and Zucchini Loaf

And this is one of my all time favourites, Pumpkin and Apricot Fruit Cake. We love a good fruit cake.

There are more but you can find them I'm sure if you feel inspired.

Many of the classic Aussie dishes have a British, Irish or Scottish origin, Meat Pies, Apple Pies, Hearty stews. Fair shake of the sauce bottle, who doesn't love a good pie?

I can hear you saying, what about the famous Aussie Pavlova? The Pav smothered in fresh cream is a favourite dessert here in Oz, and we definitely claim it as our own, however our friends across the ditch in New Zealand, also hold it dear. Anyway it's a debate that still hasn't been resolved, and might never be. Here's the link to my pavlova recipe. In an ideal world, fresh passionfruit would have been added to this pav as well.

Pikelets are a popular morning tea treat here, something like mini pancakes, but served with jam and cream, or Golden Syrup, another Aussie favourite,  they are always a winner. The Aussie sheep shearers love 'em, and they are entrenched firmly in shearing history. I love whipping up a quick batch of pikelets and so do kids.

What I've written is just the tip of the iceberg, as we Aussies love our food, however we must remember that many can barely afford to put a meal on the table, and need help from charities working in those areas. We are so fortunate here to have such a diversity of foods, spices, herbs and cuisines to choose from.  I've listed some of the typical Aussie foods here, but we have such a rich history of immigration in this country, resulting in a diversity of cuisines to choose from.

What are you eating tomorrow my friends? A BBQ is always popular, or will you be laying back and enjoying some seafood? What are your Aussie favourites? I couldn't possibly mention all of them.

For my overseas readers, Australia Day has become very controversial and political, with a change of name and date being proposed because of the history associated with it. There I've mentioned it.

Anyway, have a good one.

Warmest wishes

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Leek and Stilton Quiche

Leek and Stilton Quiche is typically a British style quiche, mainly because of it's signature ingredients, Leeks and Stilton cheese, and will be a memorable dish for a special occasion. It is quite rich, but oh so delicious. Stilton is the creamiest and tastiest of all blue cheese varieties, with the most amount of fat, but doesn't contain any gluten. To be honest, I've never eaten much Stilton before, even when we lived in England for 12 months, but now it is readily available in Australian supermarkets, at a very reasonable price. To be authentically Stilton, it must only be made in the English counties of Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, and Derbyshire. It's been that way since 1996, as Stilton is a protected Destination of Origin cheese.

Thursday, January 12, 2023

Beating the Heat with a Summery Mixed Bean Salad


Dear Friends, Reach into your pantry, hunt down that tin of Mixed Beans, and whip up this simple bean salad. This salad serves 4-6 people. If you are doubling the quantities, use a red and a green capsicum, as the two colours look attractive and give a nice contrast in flavours. I just love the tang of this salad in Summer. I originally made this just with white Cannellini beans and it was delicious, so it is versatile regardless of what type of beans you choose. I have also lightly blanched some green beans, and added them chopped to the mix as well. Whilst I love a healthy grain salad at the best of times, this bean salad requires no cooking at all, such a bonus at this time of year.

Happy New Year to you all. We are just back from our Summer holidays at the Gold Coast and I am gradually easing back into cooking, blogging and everything really. January is such a transition period, don't you think? Did I say cooking? Up until yesterday, we were experiencing maximum temperatures here at home of 35 deg. C. with high humidity, so salads and easily prepared meals involving little to no cooking were my preference. That's how this recipe came about, as during the heatwave I was craving something really tasty, a little bit sweet, sour and tart that required no cooking. However, thank goodness the heavens have opened up and the heat has been followed by very heavy rain today, over 100 mm, which we just love. Hopefully there won't be any serious flooding. It's predicted to continue over the next few days.  The heat and humidity came as a bit of a shock to us after a cool beach holiday at the beautiful Gold Coast, and Gold Coast hinterland in Southern Queensland. 

These are photos of Tugun beach on the Gold Coast, with the Life Guard Tower on the right, complete with cute Christmas decorations and solar panels. We found this to be the best swimming beach, and whilst our holiday accommodation wasn't at this beach, Mr. HRK swam here during family holidays as a child. The rule is to always swim between the flags. The Life Savers (Guards) do a wonderful job looking after swimmers and surfers on the beaches at this time of year.

This is how I make my Mixed Bean Salad.
Serves 4-6

400g (1-16oz) can Mixed Beans (or any white bean such as Cannellini if you prefer)
1 red or green capsicum, or use half of each for colour
2 spring onions, finely chopped or 1/2 medium very fresh brown onion 
1 large tomato, deseeded and finely chopped
6 tbsp. good quality red wine vinegar (I used Jamie Oliver)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt to taste
1 clove garlic finely chopped(optional)

(Preparation time 10 minutes)

  1. Rinse and drain the can of beans
  2. Chop the capsicum and spring onions very finely and place into a medium size mixing bowl. Add the beans and any other fresh salad ingredients that you choose and mix it all together.
  3. Mix together the red wine vinegar, the olive oil, and whisk with a small whisk to emulsify.  Add the salt, a light grinding of black pepper, and pour into the beans. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary, although the flavours will develop so you could do this closer to serving the salad.
  4. If you have some very fresh garlic and you love it, peel and mince 1 clove of garlic, and add it to the mixture and stir. 
  5. There is plenty of dressing for this salad so if you wish to add a few extra salad ingredients, see my notes below for ideas, then there will be plenty of dressing for a larger salad.
  6. Add a teaspoon of mustard and a little sugar to the dressing if that is more to your taste for a vinaigrette dressing.
  7. If you are entertaining dinner guests, the whole recipe can also be mixed together early on the day of serving and kept in the refrigerator, so that is one less thing to do close to the event. 

Cook's notes:
  • Omit the tomato if you wish, it wasn't in my original recipe, but I like tomato in this salad.
  • This salad is perfect just with the ingredients listed above. I am always careful not to add to many ingredients to recipes however with salads, which are so versatile, it is generally quite simple to add extra ingredients that you have on hand. Add 2 celery sticks for some extra crunch, and if you intend to serve all of this in one sitting, add some finely chopped cucumber just before serving if you wish.  However, the cucumber won't last well in the salad if refrigerated.
  • Add some herbs such as chopped fresh tarragon and chopped fresh parsley for extra flavour.
  • The quantities can easily be doubled to serve more people. A tin of extra chickpeas can be added, and another chopped capsicum of a different colour, green or yellow.
  • Leftovers will keep well covered in the refrigerator for 2-3 days, and even improve in flavour. Unlike some fresh salads which wilt after adding a dressing and being refrigerated, this one will last beautifully.

We ate this salad last night with my delicious Rustic Greek Halloumi and Spinach Pie that I love to make and eat. It's very easy to bring together and it had started raining so the kitchen was cool, bliss.

 I needed to use up some frozen spinach and halloumi so it was a perfect match, and ideal for a vegetarian meat free Monday, even though it wasn't Monday. This salad also contrasts perfectly served with Spanish chicken and chorizo casserole. However, it can stand on it's own just served with a green salad.  I would also happily serve it with any Mexican style meals.

Thanks for dropping by,
Have a great weekend, 

I'm adding a little p.s. to my post today, as I'm having trouble replying to your comments but I am reading them, and trying to catch up on your lovely comments on previous posts. Hopefully Blogger will rectify this problem . After all it is Friday the 13th. Take care everyone.