Sunday, October 28, 2012


In 1864 Australia’s first cookery book was published. It was written by the audacious Edward Abbott. Born in Sydney, Edward Abbott, when still a small boy, moved to Hobart with his family. His father, Edward Snr had taken up a post of Deputy-Judge-Advocate – which was a bit of a mouthful for one so small; so, I guess that’s why Edward Jnr called Edward Snr, “Dad”.

Edward Abbott, Senior, (1766-1832) was a soldier and public servant. Born in Montreal, Canada, Abbott Snr ended up in Australia in 1799 after a stint in England recuperating. Abbott had been here earlier in 1790.

After a few hectic years in Sydney; some of which included his opposition to Governor William Bligh (yes...he of the Mutiny on the Bounty saga);and a few more in England - a long, long story - he returned to Sydney.

Abbott Snr., then sailed on board the "Emu" for Hobart Town,in Van Diemen's Land (now known as "Tasmania") where he arrived with his wife and three children in February 1815.

Who knew that emus could swim! But then, I suppose with those long legs of theirs emus could walk across Bass Strait at low tide; perhaps, the Abbott family hitched a ride on the emu's back!

When of a suitable age, Edward Junior became a clerk to his father aka "Dad" in the court until 1824. Fifteen years later in 1839, Ed Jnr., founded the “Hobart Town Advertiser”. He was its editor and publisher until 1842. Edward then became a landowner on the Derwent River. Actually he set up camp on the banks and surrounding area of the river. It’d be a difficult to own and operate land in the river! He was a busy boy, our Ed! His cook book combined recipes of the Old Country with techniques from the developing colony down under.

Back in England many who purchased the handsome, leather-bound volume shuddered when they saw kangaroo recipes leaping off the glossy pages! Scratching their heads, they tweaked their imperial moustaches and pulled at their mutton chops. In the meantime, their harried cooks sweated in the galleys wondering if they had a cauldron large enough in which to scald an emu before its plucking! Added to their quandary was trying to locate a frying pan broad enough to fry an emu egg or two. After much deliberation, it was decided numerous omelettes were better options by far for the families’ breakfasts.

Not deterred by the book’s peculiarities, curiosity overcame its readers. In overwhelming wonder, they continued to turn the pages, many of which depicted brilliant colour-plates illustrating the exotic, unusual recipes therein.

After greasy fingerprints and flour particles (and the odd emu feather) were removed, the books were strategically placed onto shelves in the elegant libraries of the stately homes; rooms of opulent grandeur, additionally embellished with sculptures, paintings and ornate furnishings. There the books sat, never to be opened again until a century or so later when the National Trust stepped in.

That’s my take on it; but, it doesn’t mean it’s true! The parts about the book being the first of its kind in Australia and written by Edward Abbott Jnr, and the tale about his Dad are factual; the rest – take with a grain of salt!

Way back in 1864 Ted shared his asparagus recipe with readers. Our ancestors enjoyed the succulent green shoots long before we did. Those of us who grew up post World War ll only knew the canned variety because all the fields of asparagus had been cultivated for the visiting American forces. Fortunately, over the past few decades fresh asparagus has returned to our green groceries, and onto our plates; plates of the porcelain kind, that is; not those colour-plates in Ed’s cookery book!

A bit of trivium to amuse, and then, promptly forget! “Trivium”…singular for “trivia”! Don’t get me started! I love trivia; bundles of trivia. Trivia is fun. Why my brain is riddled with so many trivia is a conundrum! No wonder my head feels heavy at times!

Roasted Asparagus Soup: Place 900g trimmed thick asparagus spears on paper-lined baking sheet; roast 10mins in 230C oven; turn spears; sprinkle with ½ sliced onion and 2 garlic cloves; roast 10-12mins. Less cooking time if spears are thin. In blender, blend 1/2c warm veg or chick stock with 1 heaped tablespoon raw cashews and 1/8tsp white pepper. Select several of the best-looking spears; remove tops; set aside for garnish. Cut remaining spears into pieces; add to blender along with onion and garlic and 1-1/2c stock; blend until smooth. Heat in saucepan; pour into bowls; garnish with grated lemon and reserved asparagus.

Wok-Seared Chicken & Asparagus: Heat 1tbs toasted sesame oil in wok over high heat; add 700g fresh asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces; cook, stirring, 2mins; add 455g chicken strips; cook, stirring, 4mins; stir in 1-inch pieces of four shallots, 2tbs minced, fresh ginger, 1tbs oyster sauce and 1tsp chilli-garlic sauce; cook, stirring until chicken just cooked through. Stir in 1/4c shelled, salted, coarsely-chopped pistachios; serve immediately.

Beer-Battered Asparagus: Dipping Sauce: Combine 1/2c mayonnaise, 1tsp lemon juice, 1/2tsp zest and 1/4tsp pepper in bowl; chill, covered, until ready to use. Whisk together 1c plain flour, 1tsp salt, 1tbs finely-grated lemon zest and 1/4ts pepper; add 1c lager; whisk until smooth. Heat 4c vegetable oil in deep saucepan to med-high. Cut 455g trimmed, medium asparagus into 3-inch pieces; submerge spears into batter; let excess batter drip off; transfer spears, one at a time, to oil; stir gently to keep spears from sticking together; cook 2-3mins; keep warm in oven on paper towel-lined tray.


  1. Oh wow...I am going to have to try out the Beer-Battered Asparagus and Dipping Sauce, sounds good!

  2. G'day there, Debra! Nice to meet you! Thanks for popping in...please don't be a strange. My door is always open; and the coffee machine is always at the ready! :)

  3. Battered asparagus - that's a new idea! (for me)

  4. Beer battered asparagus. Hmm. I'll think about that for a while. I like my asparagus treated very simply. Lemon juice makes a fine dressing for it.
    I have always liked the recipe for galah stew.
    Take galah put it into a pot of boiling water together with a rock. When the rock is tender, throw away the galah and eat the rock.

  5. Hi Cosmo and EC...battered asparagus is new to me, too. I like my asparagus prepared simply, but I'm willing to give the battered variety a go, too. It'd be a good accompaniment for afternoon drinks; finger-lickin' good!

    Scrub turkeys are done that way, too, Elephant Child...and plain turkeys. I've had a couple simmering away for a few years now! ;)

    Thanks for popping in both of you! :)

  6. Interesting about swimming emus. Good eating, emu- or so they say. Not for me. Beer battered fish for me. A simple man.

  7. me and asparagus are not very good friends
    i'm afraid this may never change
    very interesting post though, hobart - who would have thought?

  8. Hi there RM...I've cooked emu...when I was cooking professionally in a restaurant up north...and I had a table full of American bankers and financiers...and they lapped it up...and loved it! I marinated it in red wine, fresh herbs and a touch of garlic...then grilled it. They devoured all my stock of it that night!
    Nice to see you again, Relax Max :)

  9. Thanks for coming by, Josefa. Very nice to see you. Don't be a're always welcome. :)

  10. Funny but I didn't know you could eat kangaroo meat either until we went on our trip recently and had four Australians as travel companions. They said that kangaroo is quite healthy for you.

    Mmmmmmm, asparagus. We won't find fresh asparagus here in Michigan until next spring, but your recipes sound wonderful.

  11. Hi Lee,

    Love asparagus canned or boiled, fried or however I can get it. :) Never had emu or kangaroo, but they do raise emu and ostrich here in my home town.

    I've had an ostrich burger, tastes like chicken.


  12. Hi Big Dave...yes, kangaroo meat is very healthy's a very lean meat.

    It's our spring here now, so fresh asparagus is readily available.

    Nice to see you, as always, Dave. :)

  13. G'Day, Janice...that surprise me to hear ostrich tastes like chicken. Emu is quite a "strong" meat/flesh, not at all like chicken.

    I love asparagus, too. I must get a bunch for myself when I go out later!

    Thanks for popping in, Janice. Take good care. :)

  14. Hi Lee, You really surprised me. I have failed to look at your Blog in a while and said to myself, Self! check out your friend down under, Thank you, you are back. You must had gotton a second wind and sound like the Lee I first read, several years ago. Stopped rambling and setteled down, Sounds like you may have found what you were looking for. Welcome back. Williebill

  15. G'day Lee ~~ The recipes sound delicious as always. Thanks for sharing them with us. And a big Thank you for all the comments you leave me and articles you send. I get so far behind in my replies and you are one of the very faithful friends, Thanks Lee I really do appreciate you.

    Did you finally get enough rain up there? We need more down here now.
    And I am still sleeping my pain away - not always in bed but in a chair which isn't as comfortable. I like your philosophy about the only good thing about growing older (and I am hanging on tight to that also) is we can do what we like and when we like and no one can tell us what to do, So like you my friend That's my story and i'm sticking to it.
    Take good care Lee, and enjoy every day of your life. Love, Merle.

  16. No rain to speak of up here, Merle, unfortunately. A couple of misty drops and that's it. We need rain badly.

    It's always good to hear from you, Merle.

    You take good care of yourself. Hugs. :)

  17. G'day Willie...I hope you're still fighting the battle and winning! Keep those thoughts positive ones. I wish you all the best.

    Thanks for popping in. :)