I’ve decided to make the Weekend Cooking meme, hosted by Beth Fish Reads a regular monthly post at Book’d Out. Cooking is something I enjoy and I have been making more of an effort again lately, so I am looking forward to sharing some of my culinary adventures.
The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook is much more than just a compilation of prize winning recipes and cooking tips, it is also a wonderful collection of heart-warming personal stories laced with Australian agricultural show nostalgia.
Agricultural shows have been a staple of Australian society for 200 years and around 580 are held across the country each year in cities, regional towns and small rural communities. While the noisy battle for first place in events like sheep shearing and wood chopping draws the crowds to the main show ring, an equally fierce but quieter competition is being fought in the grounds pavilions where cakes, biscuits, slices, pastries, jams and relishes are laid out on trestle tables being judged on strict criteria in relation to appearance, consistency in shape, size and colour, taste and smell.
Within the pages of The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook you can find award winning recipes for entries such as Eileen’s Apple Jelly, Charlie’s Rosella Cake and Rod’s Bloody Hot Tomato Sauce as well as classics like scones, pikelets and sausage rolls, teamed with the personal stories of their maker and the histories of the shows they compete in.
This recipe book is as much a pleasure to read as to cook from. The only disappointing element is the lack of photographs showing the winning recipes, though the pages are illustrated with reproductions of show ephemera, winners portraits and scenes from past and present shows.
I’m too slapdash a cook to ever enter in a show competition where the standards are close to perfection but I’m looking forward to trying several of the recipes in The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook.
One of the categories in show competition is ‘Slices’ so I thought I would share my favourite recipe.
- 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
- 300ml milk
- 600ml thickened cream
- 2 packets vanilla instant pudding
- 1/4 cup pure icing sugar, to sift over the pastry
Preheat oven to 210°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Bake pastry sheets for 10-15 minutes or until puffed and just golden. When you remove them from the oven, place a tray on top of the sheets to make them flat and leave to cool.
Line a slice tin with baking paper and set aside.
In a bowl, using a mixer, add the milk, cream and pudding mix together and combine until thick.
Cut one pastry sheet to fit the base of the slice tin and place in the tin.
Pour the custard mixture into the slice tin and smooth out evenly.
Cut the second sheet of pastry and place on top.
Refrigerate until chilled through (about 3 hours) and sprinkle with sifted icing sugar before serving. Remove from tin and slice into squares or rectangles using a serated knife.
The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook by Liz Harfull is available to purchase from: