Friday, January 20, 2012

Strawberry Lamingtons

One of the strange things I enjoy doing while traveling abroad is touring supermarkets.  I want to see if there are any interesting goodies or ingredients I haven't seen before.  I was strolling around a supermarket in New Zealand when I came across this new treat that I haven't heard of before: lamingtons!  Lamingtons are an Australian/New Zealand specialty that's a sponge cake dipped in chocolate or a fruity layer, then covered in coconut.

They were so pretty and the description just sounded so scrumptious that I just had to pick up a package. I got the mixed flavors package that contained chocolate and raspberry lamingtons. I always like to try as many things as I can. =) Oh my goodness, I was not prepared for them to be as delicious as they were. I'm usually a chocolate lover, but I felt like the raspberry lamingtons were better.

Well, I'm back in the US now and trust me, lamingtons aren't exactly a staple at your neighborhood grocery store. Of course, the only thing to do is to just make them myself. I found a wonderful sponge cake recipe from David Lebovitz's Blog and I modified the rest of the recipe to turn them into strawberry lamingtons. I also omitted the middle layer of chocolate, jam or frosting, as some recipes call for because I felt like the plain ones were the best. I suppose if I was in the mood, I may add in the middle flavor layer in the future.

I suppose if you wanted to make it easy on yourself, you could also use store-bought sponge cake.  That would definitely make lamingtons super easy to make.  It's also something fun to make with kids as well, since they would get to have their little fingers messy and the colors are so bright. ^_^

Strawberry Lamingtons

Makes 16 lamingtons

1 sponge cake (or store-bought sponge cake)
1.5 package of strawberry flavored jello (this comes out to 9 oz total)
1.5 c boiling water
1.5 c dessicated coconut (unsweetened)

1) Combine the strawberry jello and boiling water in a medium sized bowl.
2) Stir until all the crystals have dissolved completely.
3) Let the jello cool down to room temperature. If the jello starts to firm up before you're ready for the next steps, put the bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds and stir. Repeat until the jello is liquid again. Then cool the jello again.
4) Place the coconut onto a dinner plate. It may be prudent to only put half the coconut on the plate and refill the coconut plate when the coconut supply runs low.
5) Cut the sponge cake into 16 squares.
6) Dip each face of a sponge cake squares into the liquid jello mixture until it is submerged by 1/8 inch for about half a second.
7) Then roll the sponge cake square around in the coconut to cover it completely.
8) Place the sponge cake on a wire rack to dry and set (approx 10 minutes).

Enjoy! =)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

How to enjoy Vegemite

Disgusting, repulsive, gross - all words I've heard people use to describe Vegemite. Of course, being the adventurous foodie I am, I don't take anyone's word for it and I MUST try it myself before passing any judgments. It's honestly not bad at all. It's incredibly salty and has really wonderful umami. I've actually grown to like it a lot. As with most strongly flavored condiments, where people go wrong is when they use too much of it! If you take a shot of soy sauce straight, of course it tastes awful! But a few dashes into a dish could add just the perfect amount of savory depth.

I have to say I didn't have the best first experience with Vegemite. I was on a boat on the Great Barrier Reef and the Aussie crew members were hazing Americans (as a lot of foreigners love to do for some reason) with Vegemite. They told me to take an M&M sized chunk of Vegemite straight. It was really salty, but I didn't find anything repulsive about it at all. Even Aussies don't like Vegemite when eaten in that manner. I learned later that the typical method of enjoying Vegemite is to spread a layer of butter on toast, then follow with an incredibly thin layer of Vegemite on top. It's really quite delicious! The initial flavor is salty, but it coaxes out a really nice sweetness out of the sourdough bread I spread it on. Follow with a good umami lip smack and that's exactly how I enjoy Vegemite!

I highly suggest you give Vegemite a chance before throwing it on your food blacklist. =)