Animals Australia: the voice for animals

Animals Australia: the voice for animals
Love life? Love all of life

Friday, August 10, 2007

A step up to a start-up: social enterprise catering

Clockwise from top left:
1 & 2: AfriTas Restaurant, Hobart; 3 La Cocina, San Francisco; 4 Smart Cuisine, Clayton; 5 & 6 Sorghum Sisters, Carlton
Reading about La Cocina in San Francisco has stimulated this post. How many women and men who are interested in food and who are good cooks have not dreamed about a restaurant or a coffee shop? Somewhere between few and none is Miss Eagle's guess. For immigrant women for whom English is not their first language, who have limited or no resources, and risk social isolation, one of their exits could be the communal commercial kitchen.
Refugee organisations have assisted in this regard in Australia. African immigrants and refugees put their energies into AfriTas in Hobart in a very systematic operation which has had great success.
But Miss Eagle would like to know more. Where are there other social enterprises such as these operating in communal commercial kitchens? Are there business incubator enterprises such as La Cocina operating in Australia for women who are not immigrants or refugees who may want to consider starting up a food enterprise? How easy and how cheap is it to rent a commercial kitchen - say in Melbourne or Sydney - for a short period (say one day per week)?
In a world that appears dominated by celebrity chefs, can we explore together, dear Reader, the world of the start-up?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Jam Drops - from thumbprints or fingerprints

Woof Nanny recently posted on what she referred to as an American Classic - the thumbprint cookie. I knew immediately what she meant and the photograph confirmed it. Because, after all, it is an Australian Classic - the Jam Drop. And the recipe I am about to give is from that other Aussie Classic, Amy Schauer, in my family's cooking bible: The Schauer Australian Cookery Book.
Cream 4oz butter and 4oz sugar to a cream, add 2 well-beaten eggs, beat well in. Add 6oz sieved flour and 6oz cornflour, 1 level teaspoon of cream tartar, 1/2 teaspoon crush bi-carb. soda. Mix well through, roll into small balls with the fingers, and make a smal well in the centre of each with the finger-tips; in this put 1/2 teaspoon of raspberry or apricot jam, and place on cold floured tray. Bake in quick oven 10 to 15 minutes until a golden brown.
Miss Eagle's Notes
  • I prefer a little less cornflour and use 8 oz plain flour and 4 oz cornflour
  • I place the biscuits on a greased and floured tray
  • A quick oven is a hot oven - so about 200 or 220 degrees Celsius - and keep any eye on them
A must for the biscuit barrel or cookie jar

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Apple Puddings

Come, dear Reader, and let's grapple with an apple. My father told my mother that he married her because of her mother's Apple Pie. There is nothing quite like an Apple Pie to win the heart of a traditional male. It never fails. But one needs some variation and Miss Eagle is always on the look-out for dishes that meet the same criteria as the Apple Pie. These two recipes, the Boiled or Baked Apple Pudding (I steamed mine) and the Bread and Butter Apple Meringue Pudding, meet the criteria:

  • traditional qualities
  • plain
  • substantial and filling
  • full of flavour


From The Schauer Australian Cookery Book

Well grease a pudding basin with butter substitute. Coat well with brown sugar. Line basin with suet or short dripping crust. Fill basin 3 parts full with peeled, cored and thickly sliced apples. Mince 2 pieces of candied peel. Spread over apples with a grating of nutmeg. Cover with 1/2 cup of sultanas or currants and large tablespoon of butter substitute in small pieces. Cover closely with pastry lid pinching wet edges together well. Cook for 2 hours in slow oven or steam 3 hours.

When turned out has a nice brown crust and is delicious eating.

Miss Eagle's Notes

  • There is nothing quite like suet or dripping as the fat component in a shortcrust pastry. Suet is particularly good in boiled puddings such as the Christmas Pudd in a cloth. However, I am no longer prepared to kill animals for this purpose and use butter or a substitute.
  • The pastry I used was 6oz Plain Flour; 1 tablespoon of butter; 1 dessertspoon of lemon juice; salt; water.
  • When stretching the pastry in and across the steamer, I put some of the apples in the base of the steamer to hold the pastry in place. I then stretched the pastry into place across the steamer. The apples, sultanas and candied peel (read mixed peel), were then added. I used all the apples I had and the steamer was probably more than three parts full. I then put the pastry lid on and tucked the pastry above the apples on the sides of the steamer in and around in a pinched edge.
  • As the apples cook, they sink and this is responsible for the wrinkly look of the pudding.


The basic format for this is the Bread and Butter Custard which itself is based on the traditional Baked Custard. Back in Miss Eagle's early life when imperial measure was all the go, Baked Custard was made with 1 pint of milk, 2 eggs, 2 or 3 tablespoons of sugar, and a capful of vanilla. These are the proportions I still use. Bread and Butter Custard is made by adding 2 slices of buttered bread cut into quarters. Queen Pudding is a further variation on the Baked Custard in that the eggs are separated and the whites whipped into a meringue with caster sugar. The Baked Custard when cooled is spread with jam and then topped with meringue and baked in a slow oven to lightly brown.

So to this variation. The dish in which I baked the Pudding is quite large. I used lots of apples - about 8 to 10 Granny Smith's although they were not large. Layer the apples with buttered bread cut into quarters sprinkling brown sugar and sultanas between as you go. I used 5 eggs, separated. Beat the yolks and milk together with vanilla. Fill to the brim. Sprinkle with grated nutmeg. Place Pudding dish in a baking dish of water and bake in a slow oven. When Pudding is baked and cool, spread with jam and cover with meringue made from the whites of the 5 eggs and caster sugar. Bake in a very slow oven until cooked and coloured. Absolutely scrumptious!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Watermelon surprises : Lychee mysteries

Over at Jugalbandi the A Fruit A Month Round-up is up. The focus is Watermelon. I have to tell you, dear Reader, that I will be surprised if you are not suprised by what is there - and it is there in quality and quantity. Whoda thunk of a constructive use for watermelon rind? Would you use a watermelon as a vase? And did you know about square watermelons because I certainly did not?

A Fruit A Month is the brainchild of Maheswari at Beyond the Usual.

This month, A Fruit A Month has the hospitality of Sig over at Live to Eat. The fruit is lychee and Sig has kicked us off with some wonderfully scrumptious recipes. Oh dear! A culinary stretch exercise once again!

Touring the suburbs of my life

Whew! I've made it back. Began to wonder. Where does the time go? How life does intervene in the life of a blogger? There was a UFO to be finished. There was crafting to be done. There were shops to be visited. Housework to be done. You see my sister, The Director, was visiting - although briefly - from Brisbane. Then of course the visiting itself. Fitted in quite a bit in 24 hours. For the crucial eating bits, I forgot to bring the camera. How could I have done that? Miss Eagle forgetting her camera? Well it happened.
We commenced at Brown's Bakery in lovely Maling Road as a preliminary to a window-shopping stroll which turned into a bit of expenditure on the part of The Director. Along with my hot chocolate and her latte, we had cupcakes. Brown's will have to keep trying. They are not up to Crabapple Cupcake standard. The violent electric blue of the cupcake decor is not very appealing. So the verdict is nice - but keep trying.
Then it was off for the stroll. We detoured ever so slightly into that beautiful by-way, Theatre Place. Now I can't recall the name of this establishment but if, on entering Theatre Place, dear Reader, you steer to the right and go down to the end you will come to a little shop which is part eatery, part homewares. This is where The Director purchased these for me:
These are oven mitts which will withstand temperatures of 300 degrees Celsius. I look forward to a burn free future and being able to withdraw hot, heavy baking dishes with much greater dexterity and confidence than previously. Thank you, dear Director.
Then there was the charming Ring of Roses where The Director found some lovely gifts to take back to Brisbane.
This was followed by dinner at Box Hill. On the corner of Station Street and Whitehorse Road stands an amazing edifice. It has large red double doors. And above the large red doors is a huge poster portrait of Chiang Kai-shek. For quite a while, Miss Eagle has wondered what it all meant. Was this a beachhead for Taiwan in downtown Box Hill? Is factional politics alive and well among the Chinese community of the eastern suburbs of Melbourne? And what on earth did Chiang Kai-shek have to do with Chinese cuisine? And was the food any good?
On Friday night, we walked through the red doors under the portrait of Chiang and had the last two questions answered for us. The restaurant is devoted to Chiang and there are large images and explanations around the restaurant. Miss E is familiar with this history. The part she has always been fascinated with has been the history of Madame Chiang. You see, dear Reader, Madame Chiang (Soong May-Ling) is one of the three legendary Soong Sisters. It is said that one married money (Ai-Ling), one married power (May-Ling), and one married China (Ching-Ling). The residence of Sun Yat Sen and Ching-Ling in Shanghai is said to be the most harmonious house in terms of Feng Shui.
The Post-Chiang restaurant celebrates the cuisine of Zhejiang Province in mainlaind China. Chiang was a native of Zhejiang and maintained a preference for the cuisine. We were three: The Director, Miss Eagle, and herself. And I think it safe to say that we, too, now have a preference for the cuisine of Zhejiang. We had prawns in a stir-fry and Beijing duck (they wrap the duck in pancakes at the table for you). Be-yoot-i-ful. Best Beijing duck ever. The restaurant is licensed so no need for BYO. The tablecloths are crisp and white, the waiting staff are subtle and constant. The decor is great. The prices are reasonable. If you want cheap Chinese chow, this is not for you. But, for a dash of Chinese elegance and excellent, well-served and presented food and value for money, then the Post-Chiang fills the bill. I'm dreaming of Yum-Cha now. Anyone else want to come?