It’s ‘thyme’ for tea, outback style

Posted on September 9, 2011

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Native Australian ingredients have gained in popularity in the last few years, with many well known chefs finding creative ways to use them. Chefs such as Matt Wilkinson, Ben Shewry and Damien Styles have led the way, cooking with native ingredients, as well as ingredients foraged in their own neighbourhoods. These ingredients are most probably exotic for most, which is unfortunate considering the long history of Aboriginal cuisine in Australia. From native Lemon Myrtle to Quandong fruit, pepperberry and rivermint, native food provides a refreshing change in the food scene.

Lemon Myrtle is a small shrub that grows in wet coastal areas, mainly around Queensland and New South Wales. The leaves of the shrub can be used fresh, or the leaves are cool dried and ground. The essential oil is also used, mainy in beauty products. I adore the creamy aroma of Lemon Myrtle and use it in stirfrys, dry marinades, and baking. The herb works well as an alternative to lemon, and lifts flavours in seafood and chicken. I like using it in baking cheesecake and biscuits as it has a creamy lemon and lime flavour. I have made this recipe before but this time I included Thyme, Thyme works well with lemon flavours and updates a traditional classic. If you’re stuck finding lemon myrtle, try the Oxfam shop, which have a selection of Australian herbs or try Herbies spices. In this recipe I used a brand called Outback Pride which I purchased at the Oxfam shop , just off Bourke Street in Melbourne. They also have an online store which ships around Australia. Eating native foods is all about conserving and protecting our natural biodiversity and creating income opportunities for rural communities. Be sure to check out my recipe for Lemon Myrtle rice pudding with native Australian fruits and syrup on my blog.

Lemon Myrtle and thyme shortbread.

Ingredients:
225g unsalted cold butter, into cubes.
1 1/2 cups plain flour
100g caster sugar.
2/3 cup rice flour.
1 vanilla pod, seeds used.
Pinch of salt.
2tbsp fresh thyme, chopped very finely.
2 tbsp lemon myrtle, ground.
Lemon Myrtle and Thyme shortbread.
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 150C. Cover two baking trays with baking paper. My oven is very hot, so I use two layers of baking paper, to prevent biscuit from becoming too brown on the bottom.
  2. Beat butter and sugar in an electric mixer or a bowl, till creamed.
  3. Gradually add the flour and mix untill the dough comes together.
  4. Remove from mixer, and add the lemon myrtle and thyme, knead with hands in bowl.
  5. Cover bowl with clingwrap and leave to sit in fridge for 10 minutes.
  6. Sprinkle kitchen counter and rollling pin with flour.
  7. Roll out dough on counter, to 1cm thickness. Use a cookie cutter and cut into rounds. Act quickly, it becomes a pain once it starts to soften.
  8. I chose a large cookie cutter and it made 20 biscuits, it’s up to your individual preference.
  9. If you don’t have a cookie cutter, cut into diamonds.
  10. Arrange on a tray, ensuring that there is enough space for the biscuits to expand slightly.
  11. Bake on baking tray for 45 minutes, check after 30 minutes if it looks ready for hot ovens. They should be golden, but not brown.
  12. Cool on a cooling rack and serve with English breakfast tea.
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