Dishes Down Under: Part 2

Cynthia Stone
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I ran out of space before the ideas dried up last week, so here we are again on the other side of the world.

Maybe I enjoyed it so much I don't want to leave, but for those of you who pointed out that Canada Day was ignored, what can I say? How about, stay tuned next year?

Everyday Kitchen -

I ran out of space before the ideas dried up last week, so here we are again on the other side of the world.

Maybe I enjoyed it so much I don't want to leave, but for those of you who pointed out that Canada Day was ignored, what can I say? How about, stay tuned next year?

Vegetable Herb Bake

Australians enjoy many of the same vegetables we love up north - lots of potatoes, turnips, cabbage, and carrots. Although we often associate root vegetables with cooked Sunday dinner, this dish is ideal for a summer picnic or barbecue in the backyard. It is delicious hot, warm and icy cold the next day, and goes with absolutely anything grilled, broiled, fried or roasted.

Just about any fresh herbs you have on hand will be delicious, but I'm partial to this combination - thyme and parsley are classic, while the oregano gives it a summery touch. A pinch of savoury added to the frying onions will make it especially good with barbecued chicken. The richness of the cheese dictates modest portions, so this recipe serves about 6.

2 large onions, finely diced

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 eggs

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 cups chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley

4 each sprigs fresh thyme and oregano, leaves stripped and chopped

2 cups grated old cheddar cheese

3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (divided)

2 cups shredded cabbage

1-1/2 cups grated carrots

Fry onions in oil until soft but not brown. Cool slightly and whisk onion into eggs with pepper and salt. Stir in herbs, cheddar and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan and toss with cabbage and carrots. Spoon into a greased baking dish and pat down firmly. Bake at 325 F 30 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan evenly over the top and bake another 30 minutes, until bubbling hot and golden on top.

Spiced Chocolate Fudge Snacking Cake

Maybe these flavours say Christmas in North America, but on the other side of the globe, cinnamon and cloves are common year round. In fact, this cake is perfect for little fingers to grab and go after a family barbecue.

The flavour is deep and rich and the texture is moist, so it stays fresh a long time. It doesn't need icing, but feel free to dust with icing sugar or spread some chocolate ganache on top if you like.

The raisins make it even more moist, and I think they go perfectly with chocolate, but if your family would prefer, by all means substitute chocolate chips. Real butter adds a layer of flavour that is wonderful, but hard margarine would be fine. If using unsalted butter, increase the salt to half a teaspoonful. Before you ask, there are no eggs in this recipe. You know the best thing of all? You don't have to drag out and wash up the mixer.

1-1/2 cups cold water

1 cup butter or margarine

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup raisins

3 tbsp. cocoa

1/2 tsp. each ground cinnamon and cloves

1/4 tsp. each ground allspice and salt

2 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup boiling water

1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups flour

Combine water, butter, sugar, raisins, cocoa, cinnamon, cloves, allspice and salt in a large, heavy pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, stirring often. Set aside to cool to lukewarm. Stir in vanilla.

Stir baking soda into boiling water and add to chocolate mixture. Sift flour and add to pot, stirring until well-combined. Pour into a greased 9-inch square baking dish and bake at 350 F for 30 minutes or until a tester in the middle comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a rack before cutting into pieces.

Lemon Custard Sponge Puddings

Even though Australian cuisine is obviously influenced by its British roots, the country doesn't deny its location. Many desserts feature tropical and citrus fruits, combined with the traditional northern puddings. This one is the very best of both worlds.

Serve these delicious little cakes with whipped cream or fresh berries, or both, for the perfect summer evening dessert. If you're wondering about the odd measures, Australia is truly a metric country so I converted to what we are used to here.

Be sure the butter is not too soft, but it should not be icy cold, either. A food processor is perfect for this recipe but you can use a mixer if you prefer.

6 tbsp. cool unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

1 tbsp. finely grated lemon rind

1-1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp. sugar

4 eggs, separated

1/3 cup flour

1/4 tsp. baking powder

2 cups less 1 tbsp. full-fat milk (or 1 cup coffee cream and 1 cup skim milk)

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 tsp. vanilla (white vanilla if you can find it)

1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

Pulse butter, lemon rind and sugar in the food processor until well-mixed. Add egg yolks and process until smooth, scraping down the sides. Whisk together flour and baking powder and add half to the batter, pulsing until incorporated. Add milk and mix for a few seconds, then add remaining half of dry ingredients. Again, scrape down the sides to make sure the mixture is homogenous. Combine and add the lemon juice and vanilla slowly, in a steady stream with the machine running, until smooth; set aside. In a clean bowl, beat or whisk egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form.

Fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the yolk mixture then fold the yolk mixture back into the remaining whites, mixing just until there are no white streaks. Pour into 8 greased ramekins or small pudding dishes and place in a large baking dish. Pour hot water half-way up the sides and bake at 400 F 30 to 35 minutes, until tops are spongy and starting to change colour.

Cynthia Stone is a writer, editor and teacher in St. John's. Questions may be sent to her c/o The Telegram, P.O. Box 86, St. John's, NL, A1E 4N1.

Organizations: The Telegram

Geographic location: North America, St. John's, Australia

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