Sunday, August 14, 2011


I made Melting Moments last weekend. If you don’t know what they are, they’re a butter kiss – or kiss of death – in a biscuit, stuck together with lemon butter cream. In this case, though, I used peppermint spiked pink icing, because it’s the way I used to make them as a teenager, bored in the suburbs, just wanting to grow up quickly, please...
To pass the time I taught myself to bake. I made these a lot, along with anything deliberately fanciful like marble cake, and coconut ice, and toffee... it was an area of the kitchen I could own while my mum made all the grown-up things like breakfast, lunch, dinner, round the clock, day in, day out.
Old enough to learn to cook, and try on one of the aprons we were implicitly told were the uniform of womanhood. Young enough to turn up my nose at lemon cream and choose peppermint instead. You’re in luck. In the old days I used green food colouring for the icing. 

Melting Moments
Makes 15 biscuits
250g butter
1/3 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 cup cornflour
60g butter
1/2 cup icing sugar
1/4 tsp peppermint flavouring, or to taste
1-2 drops of red food colouring
Heat oven to 180C. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add sifted flours, mix well. Roll into balls the size of 20 cent pieces, place on a greased biscuit tray, and press with a fork. Bake for 12-16 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack, and then sandwich with peppermint icing.
Icing: Beat butter until smooth, and gradually add sifted icing sugar, beat until mixture is light and creamy. Add peppermint flavouring and food colouring.
At some point baking got replaced by things like boys and beaches, P plates, parties and all the tomorrows my girlfriends and I spent plotting together... Then the world, and all there was to conquer. And suddenly it’s 25 years since I last made a batch of these.
I went to an all-girl’s school that told us we could be anything. We were kind of ladylike in our pleated skirts, but really we were warriors with our bow and arrows hidden in our hockey bag. Our female teachers, however, forgot the qualifier: yes, you can do anything, but only within reason because you can’t do it all at once.   
Being in touch with those old school friends over these years – many of them mothers now – some are rueful, some grateful that we were never told then we couldn’t do it all. We didn’t even know what that meant, but in our neck of the woods it has come to look like the career, or family, or the freedom to have a room of one’s own. Hardly a new discovery, but only because it’s turned out to be so common, and suddenly we understand our mothers more than we ever anticipated when we were slamming the door in their faces.   
Meeting up with the amazing women I once knew as girls at our 20 year reunion last year, that fierce determination looks more like stamina choreographed into an intricate ballet of grace. Most of us have been lucky, no matter the road. Not just because in Australia being a girl does not make you a second class citizen, but also because of the gift of education and self belief we were given as girls: You can do anything. You can be anything. That is our bow and arrow.
Not so for all girls. Check out this, I Am A Girl, and pass it on.
And to close, a taste of summer, just around the corner. 

Prawn Salad with Omelette, Peanuts and Honey Basil Dressing
 Angasi in Binalong Bay, Tasmania
Serves 6
3 eggs
2 tbsp pouring cream
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
1/4 cup peanut oil
30 green prawns, peeled, deveined with tails intact
2 cups mixed baby salad leaves
3/4 cup roasted (unsalted) peanuts
Honey basil dressing
1 1/2 cups basil leaves
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
Place eggs, cream, and parsley in a bowl, season with sea salt and black pepper and whisk to combine. Heat 1 tbsp of peanut oil in a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and pour in the egg mixture, ensuring it coats the entire base of the pan. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until the underside of the omelette is golden and the egg is set. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towel. Roll up and slice into thin strips.
For the dressing combine the honey, vinegar and oil. Stir until the honey is dissolved, and then add 1 cup of basil leaves, finely sliced. Season and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a large fry pan over medium high heat. Cook the prawns in 2 batches, stirring until just cooked through.
In a large bowl combine salad leaves, nuts, omelette, prawns and 1/2 cup basil leaves. Toss with the dressing and serve immediately.