Australia Day is the national holiday of the Australian people. The day marks the anniversary of the first British ships arriving to Australia in 1788 and landing at Port Jackson in New South Wales, and has been celebrated since the early 1800’s.
Today, Australia Day is a celebration of all things Australian, including the diverse people and landscape that this country is so proud of. The public holiday is marked by gatherings and parties everywhere, where traditional dishes along with some new and modern takes on old classics are consumed en masse.
For my first ever Australia Day, I have been invited to a fellow Pom’s house for an all-day party/barbeque and thought this was a fabulous opportunity to showcase my cooking skills with my versions of popular Australian dishes.
The Cob was first introduced to me when I was in Australia as a child and my aunt made a cob dip for a barbeque we were having. The cob is a round rustic loaf, filled with a dip or soup, generally served at parties. We loved it so much that my mum got the recipe from her and we’d managed to wow many friends at different English barbeques we went to, who had never really seen cobs before. For my first Christmas in Australia, Erin’s mum made the most delicious cob with spinach and water chestnuts which Erin and I pretty much took on single-handedly. At a party just after New Year’s Eve, another cob appeared, this time, with a very creamy consistency, but I was unable to try it as it had bacon in it. Since then, I have been desperate to try making my own cob.
For my Australia Day Cob, you will need…
1 reasonably large cob loaf
500 g cream cheese (Woollies own brand is particularly good)
4 Spring onions, diced
80 g grated Tasty cheese (or Cheddar, if you’re not Australian)
30 g chopped fresh mozzarella
Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
- It is best to prepare the dip the day before the party to allow it to mature in the fridge overnight. Add all ingredients to a bowl and mix with a metal spoon. If you would like a thicker dip, leave it as it is, but if you’d like it to be creamier, add 50 ml of milk and mix in well.
- Place the bowl in the fridge overnight.
- Carefully cut the top off the cob and set aside. Hollow out the cob with your hands and shred the insides into small pieces. These pieces can either be set aside and served fresh with the dip, or they can be crisped up in the oven.
- Add the dip to the hollowed out cob, place the top on and wrap in tin foil. Bake at 200°C for 2 hours.
- Remove from oven and serve on a chopping board. As the dip goes down and the bread from the middle runs out, guests can begin to rip the sides from the cob, therefore meaning very little washing up.
Vegemite is something all Australian children seem to be brought up on, along with Weetbix and Milo (whatever that is). I got the idea for my next creation from some of the bakeries over here which produce a sort of Chelsea bun type roll, but with Vegemite and cheese instead. However, I always think these look so huge that you couldn’t consume them at a party as you’d be full almost instantly. I had made pinwheels using puff pastry in the past, but making bread dough is much less time-consuming than making puff pastry, so I used this as my base.
400 g strong white flour
2 sachets of dry fast action yeast
3 tsp sugar
60 g vegetable oil
240 ml warm water
½ tsp salt
50 – 70 g Vegemite
250 g Tasty cheese (or Cheddar)
- Place flour, yeast, sugar and vegetable oil into a bowl. Using your hands, rub the flour and oil together to make breadcrumbs. Add the salt and mix with a spoon.
- Add the warm water – I tend to use about half, mix and then add the other half. Begin mixing using a wooden spoon and then your hands. Once all of the dough is combined, tip out onto a floured surface and knead the dough for about 8 minutes until smooth and elastic. Leave to rise until doubled in size.
- Cut the risen dough in half and form two rectangular shapes. Roll each out into oblongs, about 6 mm thick. Spread each oblong with Vegemite (depending on the thickness you want it), then sprinkle evenly with cheese.
- Roll the oblong from the longest side, so that it becomes a long, thin sausage shape. Wrap in cling film and place in the freezer. Do the same with the second oblong. Do not forget about your tastymite sausages as they will be rock solid when you eventually remember them. The reason for putting them in the freezer is to firm them up so that they stay in a coin shape when they are cut. Cut each coin about a centimetre wide and lay on baking paper, on a baking tray.
- Spray or brush with olive oil. Bake at 190°C for 10-15 minutes. Keep an eye on them and take them out of the oven as soon as they begin to go brown. Leave to cool and then peel off the parchment.
Both of these recipes turned out very well and I’m sure they’ll be a hit at the party. Let me know in the comments if you decide to give them a go. Each recipe takes less than an hour to make and couldn’t be easier. They’re also cheap – all of the ingredients for both recipes together cost less than $25.
Happy Australia Day!