Stuffed curried eggs and Afghan biscuits are old favourites that I think are perfect to share with friends and family as part of an Australia Day picnic. Be sure to make plenty of both as they will be popular and disappear quickly.
The curried egg recipe is especially for my friend Peter Johnson, who loves curried eggs. As I have worked on the recipe, he has been my chief taster and has given it his tick of approval.
Afghans are little chocolate biscuits topped with chocolate icing and walnuts. They contain cornflakes, which make them a bit crunchy. Some recipes also have coconut in them. I am not certain of the biscuit's origin and history, but think it likely they were named after the Afghan cameleers and camel trains that were so important in opening up and developing the Australian outback from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.
I think the small mounds of biscuit, with icing and walnuts on top, resemble a camel's hump with saddle and luggage; anyway it is a good story. The earliest recipe I can find for the Afghan biscuits (with coconut) is in the Country Women's Association Coronation Cookery Book, first published in 1937.
Stuffed curried eggs
7 free-range eggs at room temperature
¾ to 1 tsp curry powder to taste
½ sea salt, ½ tsp sugar and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp sweet mango chutney or other fruit chutney, chopped
1 bunch of chives, cut fine
2 tbsp mayonnaise or as needed
1 generous pinch sweet paprika to sprinkle
A few lettuce leaves for serving
1. Place the eggs in a saucepan and cover well with cold water. Place on medium heat and bring to the boil. Stir the eggs carefully and occasionally while the water comes to the boil to help keep the yolks centred. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes depending on the size of the eggs and how you like them. (Use a timer.)
2. Drain the eggs and immediately run under cold water to halt the cooking and then leave them in the water. To peel, tap the shells all over with a teaspoon or tap on the bench to break the shell. Peel off the shell from the broad end, using a teaspoon to slip under the skin and shell. Rinse as necessary. Return the eggs to fresh water to cool.
3. Take a sharp knife, dip the blade in water and cut the eggs into halves lengthways. Ease the yolks out with a teaspoon into a dish and keep the whites in water until needed. Mash the yolks with a fork and add the curry powder (I used one teaspoon), salt, sugar and pepper. Add the chutney, chives and as much mayonnaise as needed to make a mixture of piping consistency. Taste and adjust as you like. Fill one of the less-than-perfect whites for tasting - the cook's perk. Add a pinch of cayenne if you want the stuffing hotter.
4. Stuff the curried yolk mixture into the whites using a piping bag or simply with a teaspoon. Finish the eggs with a sprinkling of paprika and chives and arrange on lettuce leaves or shredded lettuce. Serve cold.
Afghan biscuits are an old favourite that I think are perfect to share with friends and family as part of an Australia Day picnic.
Afghans are little chocolate biscuits topped with chocolate icing and walnuts. They contain cornflakes which make them a bit crunchy. Some recipes also have coconut in them. I am not certain of the biscuits' origin and history, but think it likely they were named after the Afghan cameleers and camel trains that were so important in opening up and developing the Australian outback from the mid-1800s to the early 1900s.
I think the small mounds of biscuit with icing and walnuts on top resemble a camel's hump with saddle and luggage – at least it is a good story. The earliest recipe I can find for the Afghan biscuits (with coconut) is in the Country Women's Association's Coronation Cookery Book, first published in 1937.
Makes 36 small biscuits
200g butter at room temperature
1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar
225g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
2 tbsp Dutch cocoa, sifted
2 cups (55g) cornflakes
1 tbsp butter at room temperature
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp Dutch cocoa, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
hot water as needed
2 handfuls of walnut halves or quarters
1. Toast the walnuts on a tray in a 180C oven for five minutes.
2. Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor, mixer or by hand. Then work in the sifted flour, salt and cocoa. Lightly crush the cornflakes in your hands and mix into the mixture.
3. Line a large tray with baking paper. Preheat the oven to 180C.
4. Drop the mixture by the teaspoonful on to the tray and press into mounds with your fingers. An easier method is to use a mini ice-cream scoop if you have one. Of course you can make them bigger if you like. Place the biscuits about 2cm apart as they do not spread during baking.
5. Bake for 15 or 20 minutes depending on size. Turn the oven tray around after 10 minutes so they cook evenly. Allow them to rest on the tray for five minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool.
6. To make the icing, beat the ingredients by hand and add as much hot water as is needed to bring it to spreading consistency. Use a spatula to spread a little icing on the top of each biscuit and then place a piece of walnut on top. I like to use half a walnut, but quarters are fine too. It is easy to make a bit more icing if you run short. Leave the biscuits on the rack for the icing to set. Store the Afghans in an airtight container; they will keep for about a week. I think they are actually better after a day or two.
7. Variation with coconut: Add a tablespoon of coconut to the biscuit mixture.
- Diana Lampe is a Canberra writer, firstname.lastname@example.org