A guide to Straya Day food

Omit the beet­root at your own peril

Central and North Burnett Times - - EASY EATING - Mered­ith Pa­pavasil­iou mered­ith.pa­pas@apn.com.au

WE AUSSIES have come a long way since Paul Ho­gan first threw a shrimp on the bar­bie. And thank good­ness. Not that there is any­thing wrong with prawns (let’s call them what they are). And if you choose to have them on the bar­be­cue, then more power to you. Like lam­ing­tons, wa­ter­slides, snags, blowup pools, a trop­i­cal pav and the Hottest 100, prawns are an Aus­tralia Day sta­ple (although I am al­ler­gic, and that just means more for ev­ery­one else – but I di­gress). Th­ese days we have seen a tremen­dous out­pour­ing of na­tional pride. There were al­ways the cit­i­zen­ship awards and the civic par­ties or con­certs, but th­ese days the best shindig to be had on this most fab­u­lous of days is right in your own back­yard. And that means there is to be food. Lamb is on the menu. Pe­riod. Let’s face it, would you ar­gue with Sam Kekovich? And you’ll need to of­fer up a few nice, fresh bar­be­cue bread rolls. And then along with the steak and prawns and chicken sticks, you’ll need a ba­sic but de­li­cious sea­sonal green salad with the crispest ice­berg let­tuce (don’t go all fancy), sliced or cherry toma­toes, cu­cum­ber, some sliced shal­lots, cel­ery, chopped car­rot, a bit of red cap­sicum and then sides of asparagus and some dress­ings to taste. Then: beet­root. Vi­tal. No Aussie bar­bie is com­plete with­out the old-school tinned beet­root. And don’t be go­ing all whole or baby beet on your guests. Only sliced will do here. For pud­ding, keep it sim­ple – and light if pos­si­ble. A pavlova with vanilla whipped cream, lash­ings of pas­sion­fruit and fat juicy mango slices are a bit of a fave (and I’ll gladly ad­mit to buy­ing a pav to dec­o­rate, if it means I am not labour­ing over stiff peaks and fluffy meringue on a day when I’d rather be drink­ing some­thing cold and bub­bly). And for a bit of fun, there is noth­ing like an icy, fruity bowl of punch – a la Christ­mas, and with or with­out the booze (go for a white rum, vodka or gin, tequila at your peril, or a fruity moscato – but keep it su­per cold). And well, beer and cock­tails for the grownups, then sar­sa­par­illa, lemon­ade and ginger ale for the kids never goes astray! Keep it sim­ple. Keep it cool. Keep it light. Sim­ple as that. And from us to you … Happy Straya Day!

Old-fash­ioned punch bowl

In­gre­di­ents

Ice, one large tin trop­i­cal juice, bot­tle of ginger ale, bot­tle of lemon­ade, pas­sion­fruit pulp, tinned fruit salad, booze (op­tional)

Method

Half fill a punch bowl with ice and then embed the bowl in a cooler or tray with ice in it. Pour tinned fruit and pas­sion­fruit pulp over the ice, spread­ing as evenly as pos­si­ble. Pour in the fruit juice. Add ginger ale and lemon­ade to taste. Pour in your choice of al­co­holic naugh­ti­ness to de­sired taste and strength and gen­tly stir.

Vanilla cream (to top a pav)

In­gre­di­ents

Two large bot­tles of whip­ping cream – full fat! (Low-fat won’t whip!) A cup of ic­ing sugar – more if you like it su­per sweet, a tea­spoon of vanilla paste (essence and ex­tract could be used here but it’s just not the same).

Method

Pour the cream into a cold metal mix­ing bowl. Throw in the ic­ing sugar and dol­lop in the vanilla. Whip with an elec­tric hand beater un­til the cream is thick and form­ing soft but still peaks. Slather it over the top of a pavlova and leave some in the bowl for lick­ing … that is the cook’s treat!

Mar­i­nated lamb for the bar­be­cue

In­gre­di­ents

Lamb chops (as many as you need to cater), olive oil, red onion (su­per finely diced), honey, mint sauce, rose­mary sprigs

Method

Lay the lamb onto a shal­low tray. Driz­zle olive oil lib­er­ally – but don’t drown it. Like­wise, honey and mint sauce. Sprin­kle red onion and tear the pines from the rose­mary sprigs, sprin­kling them evenly across the lamb. Then, with your hands, knead the lamb, al­low­ing the flavours to squelch to­gether and coat the lamb un­til it glis­tens with the mari­nade. Turn it into an air­tight con­tainer or cover the tray with cling film, press­ing it down on the meat to min­imise air get­ting in. Al­low the mari­nade to in­fuse the meat for as lit­tle as 30 min­utes or as long as overnight. Cook the lamb on the bar­be­cue, not too hot, and re­move from the heat when the lamb is cooked through, with just a hint of pink in the cen­tre.

PHOTO: THINK STOCK

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