Thursday, 21 April 2011

Surprise Package

Those of you who regularly read this blog (as in the first two posts) would know that there are many things that I miss about Aus. Mostly, it's the sunshine. Fortunately, the sun has been shining in the UK of late, so my thirst for the sun has been quenched and my Vitamin D levels restored. Another thing I miss are certain Australian biscuits and lollies (sweeties to you Brits). It is not that these are the tastiest or finest biscuits and lollies I have ever had but I love them because they evoke fond memories and remind me of times gone by. 

Take the humble Clinker for example. The quality of the chocolate coating is actually quite poor and the candy center isn't anything to write on a blog about, but one bite and I am transported back to my grandparents kitchen, sitting around the table with them drinking a lemonade. You see my Grandma had a lolly jar, and she ALWAYS kept it stocked with Clinkers for her children and grandchildren when they visited. 

Or the Chico Baby. Which to many is just a simple chocolate lolly, but when on your request your Mum drives down to the shop late at night because you are frantically studying for an exam and need some sustenance, it is the most delicious lolly of all. 

You can imagine my excitement then when a packaged arrived yesterday stocked with all my favourites. Mum had gone absolutely overboard, the price of sending them far outweighing the cost of the treats themselves.

All my favourites were there. 


And the best (and most surprising) treat of all - Saos. Just one Sao with a good lathering of butter and vegemite and you know everything is going to be ok.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Cabbage Roll Success

Last week the real Phil n Jack posted a recipe for Lebanese cabbage rolls. I had requested the recipe as I was making them as part of a small Lebanese feast to share with our friends Robert and Laura. Here's how it went.

I took one extra special cabbage...

I then boiled a big pot of water, and plunged the cabbage leaves in until they were soft and pliable. I cut  the leaves into squares (that's why I needed a nice big cabbage you see) and placed some mince mixture (lamb mince, rice, cinammon, allspice, onion) in the square, folded in the ends and made a neat little parcel.

(Boy I didn't think it was so hard to follow a recipe!) Before I did the rolling bit, I took another saucepan (because I had one) and lined it with cabbage leaves..this prevented all sorts of bad things happening (so I was told).  

I then placed the little rolls in the cabbage lined saucepan, packing them tightly. 

But I forgot to mention one extremely important step...I placed lots and lots and lots  (though perhaps on reflection not enough) of unpeeled cloves of garlic in amongst the cabbage rolls.  I did not mean to be timid with this. 
I topped the saucepan up with water and forgot to add some salt.

I took some tomatoes, I used as many tomatoes as I had people coming to dinner, and scoop ed out the fleshy bits which I put on top of the rolls. 
Oh, and I forgot to reserve some of the mince mixture to stuff the tomato shells. The stuffed tomatos (with their little cut off tops back on) were to go on top of the cabbage rolls. Oops.  

I covered with a tight fitting lid and gently simmered for about one hour. I then added some lemon juice and simmer ed for another 30 minutes or so   I ensured a gentle simmer because I didn't want to burn the bottoms layers. 
And Voila!

 I made some Tabbouleh to accompany the Cabbage Rolls using another Phil n Jack recipe. 

We enjoyed the cabbage roles and tabbouleh with a lovely slow cooked lamb shoulder (thanks h-bomb). A small feast  indeed. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Choc Cross Buns

Despite much initial trepidation and many, many tears, the decision to live abroad has been the second best decision I've ever made.* That is not to say that I don't miss home because I do, but more often than not I am able to keep this feeling in check. At certain times through out the year though - Christmas, birthdays, and at the moment Easter - I feel myself missing home more than usual. If we were living in Australia, my husband and I would probably be gearing up for the East Coast Blues and Roots Festival - a five day music festival in Byron Bay, and a highlight of our year. Instead we are off to France (which of course is amazing), but I think a part of both of us would rather just be lying on the grass in the sunshine listening to some live music. It is on these these 'religious' holidays that I crave certain foods. Right now I long for a Darrel Lea Nougat Egg** and an unconventional, but exceptionally tasty, 'choc cross bun' (which I suspect are lining every supermarket and bakery shelf back home right now). The genius of omitting the mixed spice and swapping the raisins for choc chips has been lost on the English.

I was commenting on their absence to my dear friend Bek who, after an unsuccessful search of the supermarkets, arrived at my house on Saturday night with a dozen homemade ones. They were absolutely delicious and were the perfect remedy for my homesickness. It is meeting friends like Bek that have made this decision the second best I have ever made. 

*The best decision I ever made was to marry by husband
** The year Darrel Lea decided to put their staff on Australian Workplace Agreements (AWA) causing a husband inflicted boycott of the chocolatier was a terrible year