Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Welcome to Australia! This week’s Travelling Tastebuds is especially close to my heart. Australia is my very favourite place in the whole wide world. It’s true! Just ask my friends. They wish I’d stop talking about it. Believe me, they don’t care about what Hugh Jackman’s up to, or about the cliffhanger on the the latest episode of Offspring. But I do. So let’s talk Australia for a little while.

Flinders St. Station, Melbourne

When you think of Australia, what kind of foods come to mind? Vegemite? Pavlova? Lamingtons? For me it wasn’t any one specific ingredient or dish. The confusing part about Australian food is that it appears to be similar to what you are accustomed to at home. But you have to be savvy. There were times when I bought ketchup (they call it tomato sauce), or Campbells soup and while the packaging looked the same, when I tasted them, they were very different.

Acland St. cake shop. A must see/eat!

But one of the best parts of travelling is trying new things. So once I realized I couldn’t rely on old standbys, I started to experiment and explore. It may sound silly to say, but while I enjoyed world class food all over the country, my very favourite Australian food, the thing that I miss the most now that I am home, is sausage rolls.

There really is nothing like a sausage roll (with tomato sauce, of course) and a peerless Melbourne coffee to dust the cobwebs away after a big night out. Or, as a mid morning snack. Or even for dinner for that matter. Sure, you can get sausage rolls here, but they are mostly sold as cocktail style nibbles. I want a big one. Not 10 little ones (should I have only had 5?) These things should be on every corner, like hotdog vendors. Am I right?

This week’s Travelling Tastebuds was the perfect opportunity to take my palate back to Melbourne cafés with this recipe from the divine cookbook, Bourke Street Bakery: The Ultimate Baking Companion. You got that right. This book has more treasures than a kangaroo’s pouch. The real ones, not the ones you find in souvenir shops;) Plus it’s a cookbook born from a Sydney bakery so the recipes are true Aussie treats.

There is a recipe in the book for puff pastry, but I used the store-bought stuff. There is no need to make your own. Seriously. I’ve been there. No need at all. Just remember to defrost the pastry overnight in the fridge or on the counter for at least 2 hrs.

With the pastry out of the way, this is a fairly easy recipe. You make a soffritto (a flavour base of onions, celery, carrots and in this case thyme and fennel) and let it cool. Then you add the veggie mixture, some bread crumbs, salt and pepper to the ground pork and give it a good old mix with your hands for about 2-3 minutes (it does something to the texture of the meat, apparently).

**I find overall this cookbook goes a bit heavy on the salt. This recipe calls for 1 Tbsp but I started with 1/2 Tbsp and fried up a bit of the meat mixture to test the seasoning. It was just right. But it’s important to remember that you want the meat slightly saltier than normal to take the pastry blanket into account **

Once the meat is ready to go, roll out your pastry and cut into sections as instructed. The puff pastry comes with two packages. I used one. I should have used both as there was a lot of meat. I will probably just make sausages out of the leftovers (the flavour of the mixture is delicious!).

Give it a bit of an egg wash and into the oven! Preheat to 400F and then turn down to 375F and cook for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and oozing juicy goodness. I can’t believe I’m saying this but…these may even be better than the ones I’ve had in Oz? Is that possible?!

Well, I hope you enjoyed that small part of Australia that I love. Have you been? What’s your favourite Australian meal? If you haven’t been yet, what do you dream of trying once you’re there?

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