Australia Day, January 26, is a contentious date because it celebrates white settlement in Australia. We raised this issue in an earlier blog post here. We feel it is important to have a national day so until our leaders come up with an alternative we will probably continue to celebrate on the 26th with a gathering of friends.
We started at 5.30 pm, with the barbecued food to be presented at around 7.00. The weather was superb. We would become so engrossed in conviviality that none of us noticed the sunset taking place over Hampton Beach just across the road. This photo and the one above were taken by our neighbours, Anna and David!
Menu for Australia Day, 2019
As in earlier years, we asked guests to contribute to the food. They all did enthusiastically and expertly, meaning that we ate (and drank) rather well. Australians are cooking amazing food these days, with fewer and fewer people claiming that they can’t cook. In fact it is quite the opposite with people really keen to make a favourite dish. Our role – as hosts – was attending to the barbecue.
Following is our “menu” for the day, along with some recipes and/or guidelines for some dishes.
– Smoked salmon and accoutrements
– Cheese board
– Hummus with olives
Hummus with olives
This was one of the real surprises of the night, one of the more delicious versions of hummus any of us had come across. Thus, Chris had made a fairly standard hummus, from tinned chick peas (crushed with a potato masher), garlic, cumin, tahini, lemon juice and olive oil. But he also added a dash of Moroccan spices and chopped black olives to taste.
– Grain salad
– Quinoa salad
– Indian-style semolina and chilli salad
– Green salad
– Corn cobs cooked in their husks
– Grilled red capsicum
– Thai garlic chicken
Corn cobs cooked in their husks
These have a lovely smokey flavour. Get the freshest corn cobs as possible from your greengrocer or supermarket, with their husks still on. An hour or two before required, peel back the husks trying to keep as much on as possible. Roll your hand around the cob to remove the fronds covering the kernels. Spray the cob with oil (olive oil, canola or rice bran oil) then drag the husk back to re-cover the corn. Barbecue with the lid down on medium to low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, turning twice to cook on three sides. (If your barbecue doesn’t have a lid, cover the cobs with a metal bowl or lid of some sort.) Watch that the husks don’t catch on fire. Serve with their husks on; chop each one in half for smaller serves. Pass around fresh butter.
Grilled red capsicum
Wash the red (or other coloured) capsicums and allow to dry. Remove the stem, seeds and veins. Slice into suitable sizes allowing at least one per person. When ready to barbecue, spray with oil (as for the corn) or toss through some oil. Barbecue on each side for several minutes. Serve as is, or dress with extra oil (and flavourings if desired).
Thai garlic chicken
Is this the best ever chicken recipe? It has been a standby for us for years since Rhonda discovered it. The recipe appeared in two of Charmaine Solomon’s cookbooks: The Complete Asian Cookbook and Gourmet Barbecue Cookery. She has had much praise heaped on her writing but this recipe in particular has achieved much attention: when The Complete Asian Cookbook was first published, one reviewer wrote that the recipe alone was worth the price of the whole cookbook!
The chicken can be prepared a day or two ahead – you will have a wonderful smell in your fridge. Charmaine Solomon advises that while there may appear to be a lot of garlic and pepper the results are so unusual and so delicious. Use chicken with the skin on. For entertaining, rather than use a whole chicken chopped up, we use ‘chicken chops’, that is, thighs with the bone in and skin on. Do not substitute ground pepper as the result will be somewhat hotter and quite different. Cracked pepper can be used but crush a little more if too coarse. Don’t omit the salt. The chicken is straightforward to cook and is equally delicious hot or cold. Best results are obtained by cooking it over hot coals or a barbecue. However, very good results can be obtained using a kitchen grill or baking in the oven. Our photos are typical “cook and shoot” quality, taken at the beginning and end of barbecuing.
– One 1.5 to 1.8 kg roasting chicken or equivalent in thighs and/or breasts
– 6 cloves garlic
– 2 tsps salt
– 2 tbsps black peppercorns
– 4 whole plants fresh coriander, including roots
– 3 tbsps lemon juice
Cut chicken into suitable sized serving pieces. Crush the garlic with the salt. Coarsely crush the peppercorns: use a mortar and pestle or strong blender or place the peppercorns in one or two plastic or paper bags and crack with a hammer. Wash the coriander well and chop finely, including the stems and roots. Add the lemon juice. Combine the seasonings well then toss through the chicken pieces. Cover with cling wrap and set aside for at least an hour but preferably refrigerate overnight, tossing occasionally.
To barbecue, cook over low coals or gas so the chicken does not burn. Or start off on the hot plate before finishing off over coals or the grill. Cook skin down first, and turn part way through. Cook until the chicken is tender and the skin is crisp, 15 to 20 minutes. (Rest in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes if you think it is necessary.)
Serve: Serve the chicken with boiled rice and tomato and onion salad if desired, or whatever you feel will match it. Serves 4.
Degree of difficulty: 2/5 (not difficult).
– Orange and almond cake
– Chocolate ripple cake
– Fruit platter
Chocolate Ripple Cake
This now seems to be a tradition, where Mickey brings along a chocolate ripple cake, a rather large and elaborately decorated version. Recipes for this great dessert are easy to find. We think his contribution deserves two photos!