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Monday, March 29, 2010

The most popular of all slices

I've spoken before about my old faithful Australian Women's Weekly Cooking Class Cookbook and how it has served my Mum, my sister and I well over the years. One of the heroes of this cookbook is the Vanilla Slice, which I am sure my Mum has made over a hundred times since that magical day she first made them - I can picture her now, swaying along to the Bee Gees and getting cornflour all over her flares.

The Vanilla Slice is an Aussie classic, and is basically our version of a Mille-feuille. The name Vanilla Slice may not be quite as sexy as Mille-feuille, but it is infinitely more sexy than its nickname Snot Block. Can you imagine if we did call it Mille-feuille though?....
A hungry tradie strolls through the hanging plastic stripped door of his local bakery, winking at Gladys across the counter..
"Yeah g'day love, give us a Coffee Chill and two o' those milly fuelies"
A Vanilla Slice consists of two layers of puff pastry sandwiching a nice thick filling of vanilla custard and is finished off with icing (normally plain white or passionfruit) or a dusting of icing (powdered) sugar.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Happy 101

Are you happy? It's a question that is difficult to answer in one word, unless you are currently in a very polarising situation (just been given a piece of delicious cake, just had your scoop of ice cream plummet from your cone etc). We all have periods in our lives when it is necessary to consciously think of the things that really make us happy and that we should do our best to remember when life is giving us lemons. Think of these things as the rest of the ingredients for lemon meringue pie, if you will.

Luckily for me I have a reason to think of those pie ingredients without having to dodge lemons thanks to Gina from Simply Life. Gina has a great blog going in Simply Life, although I have to fight frustration when reading it as she often writes about new products that she has discovered that aren't available in Australia, and her recipes make me hungry. Gina must know that surprises make me happy, and she surprised me by passing on her Happy 101 Award to me recently. Thank you, Gina!

I'll now share 10 of my personal pie ingredients with you...

1. Enjoying a feast with my family (this Easter is going to be particularly awesome - our usual Good Friday seafood extravaganza and the usual extended family get-together on Easter Sunday PLUS my Nephew's first birthday party on the Saturday!);
2. Having a laugh with my mates, especially on a weekend, when the night is young and fun a-plenty awaits;
3. Enjoying a cold beer on a warm day in the bush or down the beach - bonus points if the stubby has trivia questions under the bottle top and I get a particularly tricky one correct;
4. Finding out that someone I had no idea even knew my blog existed is a regular reader;
5. Hitting a killer tennis shot that I actually did on purpose, especially if I do so by hitting the ball with that sweet spot on the racquet that makes the perfect noise;
6. Waking up in the morning and realising I am on holidays - even better when in a foreign location;
7. Going out for a well deserved breakfast after a punishing gym session;
8. Getting some totally super exciting results after struggling through confusing statistical analyses;
9. Seeing someone's face when they open a present that I totally nailed;
10. Receiving comments on my blog (wasn't going to put this one in case everyone rolled their eyes at the apparent comment fishing, but it's certainly something that makes me super happy so here 'tis!).

Now to finish off this big pile of happy, here are 10 bloggers that make me happy too:
If you click on these links your happiness meter will go up and you might finally beat the happiness top score and get to enter your initials! Actually, I always felt ripped off with this as I have lame initials and never wanted to enter "CON" because that made me think of Con the Fruiterer. It was a happy day when gaming technology improved such that you could enter more than three characters for your name.

Happy day everyone! May your cakes be moist and your socks dry.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's nobody's business but the Turks

Unfortunately my knowledge is not in fact boundless, and Turkish food is one of the many things I am quite ignorant about (like rugby, and imperial units). In my defence there isn't exactly an overabundance of Turkish restaurants in Perth beyond the usual takeaway döner kebab and gözleme places, and these days I'm not the late night kebab consumer that I once was. I was pretty happy therefore to learn about a new Turkish restaurant located quite conveniently in Subiaco, called Alaturka.

According to their website Alaturka is pronounced "a la too ka". Does this mean I have been pronouncing "Turkey" wrong? Should it be "too kee"? Mind you, Turkey probably isn't even called Turkey in Turkish (nope, is called Türkiye apparently). I've had an issue with this for a while. If a place is called Torino or Göteborg or Nihon then I think everyone should call it that. It shouldn't be changed to Turin or Gothenburg or Japan just so us Angophones can get our tongues around it. This would also do away with the English word "Dutch", which is "Nederlands" in Dutch (erm, in Nederlands, I mean), and prevent that confusing period when you first learn about this Deutschland place when you're young and assume it means Dutchland, until you make some remark showing your ignorance and someone mockingly corrects you.

Before I can rule the world and bring about such changes however, I must first gather my strength and what better way to do it than with food. Türkçe food.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

It's a rocky road to brownie town

In the white marshmallow corner, William Dreyer, one of the founders of Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream Holding. In the pink marshmallow corner, George Farren of Fenton's Creamery.

Which of these likely lads actually invented rocky road ice cream? Dreyerists believe he created it in March 1929 by adding walnuts (later almonds) to his chocolate ice cream, then chopping up some marshmallows with his wife's sewing scissors and mixing them in too. Farrenists don't seem to have such a touching tale to back up their claims, but I'm inclined to believe them anyway as it is very difficult to believe a seemingly intelligent man who is capable of running a successful ice creamery would be foolish enough to cut up marshmallow using his wife's good sewing scissors.

Limited reading on the topic reveals the rocky road candy bar was later invented, but according to the candy bar makers it has nothing to do with the ice cream. Yes, just a kooky coincidence. I have not had one of these apparently very popular US candy bars, but I can barely contain my enthusiasm after reading on the Annabelle Candy website that it "literally melts in your mouth".

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Something's cooking in the kitsch'n

When asked by the West Australian in July last year about the new small bar he was planning to open in Leederville, Iain Lawless said it was going to be a bit more bohemian and interesting than what was currently on offer to Perth eaters and drinkers, saying
"Unfortunately, most of the bars and restaurants here look as though Jamie Durie did the fit-out. You look at it and go, 'Oh that's nice - for me house!' People can do what they like but for me I don't want that, I want people to either love it or hate it, not just think it's all right."

Monday, March 8, 2010

Polly wants a pastry house

One of the big hits of the food I made for my pirate party were the Parrot Pies. I made 72 of them and they disappeared before you could say yo ho ho (though not before some of my guests were able to drink a bottle of rum).

This is a pretty easy, cheaty and yet delicious peanut satay mix that you could put to a few different uses. I might possibly have eaten some of the "excess" mix with some vegies for lunch on the day I made the pies.

As the chicken mix is fully cooked before forming these pies, you can make these in advance and stick them in the freezer until you're ready to bring them out again, which is great when you are serving many dishes for a party and don't want to be doing too much work in the immediate lead up. This is particularly useful if you are like me and like to go barefoot around the house, leading to aching feet and legs after spending hours standing in the kitchen before berating yourself and putting on some sneakers (for sneaking), by which stage it is too late and you have wiped your feet out before even putting on your nice party shoes.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Is that a fig in your pocket?

While I've been busy at home eating my bowls of porridge in front of my computer screen, my list of breakfast places I want to try has been growing longer and longer. On top of the list was Greenhouse, which I managed to tick off in fine fishy fashion on my birthday, and next on the list was The Naked Fig Cafe in Swanbourne.

Since it opened fairly recently, I have heard quite mixed reviews on this place. The real issue seems to lie in the service, with many people reporting it to be inattentive with very lengthy waits, and this is reflected in the Urbanspoon rating which is currently sitting at "50% like it". I was hoping that this was just a teething problem, and would be sorted by the time I eventually made it down to Swanbourne to sample their wares.

The Naked Fig is run by the same team behind The Wild Fig Cafe which has been a popular Perth breakfast spot for some time, although I am yet to make it up there (too busy eating porridge, apparently). The "fig" part of the name thus is accounted for, and I can only assume the "naked" is in reference to Swanbourne Beach being home to Perth's unofficial nudist beach. Interestingly, there is also a live rifle range behind the dunes at Swanbourne Beach. Sorry to disappoint any Girls and Guns subscribers, but neither of these aspects can be experienced from the cafe. You can rest assured however that should you eat too much, you can go and work off the calories dodging bullets or simply lie and digest unencumbered by a pesky waistband.

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About Me

My love of cooking is surpassed only by my love of eating, though I never quite recovered from the beef I was served at college. I'll try almost anything once, but it takes a very special piece of offal or beef to get me to try it again.

Read more about me here...

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