The last Australia Day I hosted was back in Australia and it involved beer, cricket, couches in a park and a TV with a looooong extension cord. I’d yet to host one in the United States, so I thought this year would be as good as any. Planning the full menu for a party of around eight people turned out to be a bit of a huge task, but I think it turned out fairly well (even though I was preparing and cooking food for nearly four hours… although I must admit, that time did fly). I’d nearly forgotten how many fantastic dishes there were to choose from, and thanks to the Internets, choosing the right recipe was made so much simpler.
For the starters I chose two dishes: Vegemite scrolls; and pork and fennel sausage rolls.
The sausage rolls turned out to be really light on the palate, and they tasted even better with a hint of tomato sauce (yeah, ok, ‘ketchup’). I nearly doubled the amount of spices in the mix, due in no small part because I was having so much fun with the pestle and mortar.
Vegemite scrolls are pretty easy to make. You just have to use a cheese with a lot of taste, and not lay the Vegemite on too thick on the puff pastry. Glaze the cut pastry rolls with egg, pop ’em in the oven and 15 mins later, Bob’s your uncle: tasty appetiser.
The main meal was the awesome ‘Aussie burger’. I chose to go with Bubba burgers with the following: egg, bacon, caramelised onions, beetroot, slightly fried pineapple, and tomato. Oh, and lettuce!
Preparing dessert is always my favourite part. I have made the golden syrup dumplings enough times that I’ve modified the recipe enough to be my own. For one thing, you can’t get (or it’s difficult to find) golden syrup over here, so I substitute in corn syrup instead. Secondly, I double the amount of the syrup mix that the dumplings cook in. Thirdly, I make the dumplings dry enough that you can roll them into balls. I find that this combined with the ice cream makes a nice set of complementary textures, tastes and temperatures (alliteration FTW).
Finally, the pavlova. I’d made the meringue base the previous night (with help from Adriana – thanks dear) but unfortunately the non-stick base it was cooked on was not exactly non-stick. Removing the meringue from its cooking pan captor unfortunately caused a few fractures. I’ve figured out what to use instead next time, at least, so lesson learned. Regarding the cream, you can buy whipping cream over here but it’s god-awful sweet (at least the ones I’ve tried are). After a bit of experimenting I made my own using heavy whipping cream, gelatine, and a wee bit of icing sugar (just enough to give a hint of sweetness). That was spooned over the top of the meringue, which was then topped with kiwi fruit and strawberries.
I think the night turned out to be a success, and a special thanks to Adriana for helping me prepare the food and putting up with my self-deprecating humour.