Thursday, 2 January 2014

Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race and Don't be Crabby Quiche

Happy New Year! Did 2013 fly by for you as fast as it did for me?! I am behind on my blogging; it has been about one month since I have written anything. The past month can best be described by the famous Charles Dickens' line, 'it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' I think most ex-pats would agree that the holiday season is the worst time of the year for homesickness, loneliness and feeling isolated. For me, it is a time of mixed emotions. It is the best of times because I love the holiday season - festive events, holiday parties, shopping for gifts and seeing Christmas through my daughters' eyes. It is also the end of the school year here and my daughters will be home for the next 7 weeks which means a more relaxed schedule and more time at the beach. It is the worst of times because we are so far away from our US families, Christmas traditions are a bit different here and the weather can be pretty stinking hot since it is summer. Growing up and having spent most of my life in the northern hemisphere, Christmas meant cold weather and sometimes even snow and a white Christmas. Heat, humidity and swimming in the ocean are very different than the nostalgic memories I have of Christmas. While waiting in the long line to buy our seafood for our Christmas dinner, I heard Nat King Cole and Bing Crosby crooning away their holiday songs about being home for Christmas, chestnuts roasting on a fire, etc. I was about to get teary but then laughed out loud in the seafood shop. I looked around and felt like I was in a mirage -  90 humid degrees outside, a crowded smelly seafood shop, people dressed in summer clothing and a busy beach down the street. There was no snow, snowmen, nor chestnuts roasting (does anyone really eat chestnuts?), and my extended family was no where to be seen. They were in the US, a very expensive 20-hr flight away. It was one of those moments that made me snap back into reality and remember that when you are in Rome, be a Roman. The decorations are still up in our house but I am glad Christmas is now over and a new year has begun.

The day after Christmas, December 26, is Boxing Day, a public holiday here in Australia and most Commonwealth countries. It is also the start of the Sydney to Hobart sailing race, one of the world's most watched and most difficult sailing events. In terms of sporting events, it is as big and popular as the Melbourne Cup horse race, the Australian Open tennis and the cricket tests between Australia and England. The race starts in Sydney and finishes in Hobart, Tasmania. The course covers a distance of 628 nautical miles from Sydney Harbour, down the east coast of Australia, across the Bass Strait, along the east coast of Tasmania and finishes up in Hobart, Tasmania. It is considered a difficult event due to the high winds and rough seas of the Bass Strait. In 1998, there was a huge storm in which 5 boats sank and 6 people died. Of the 115 boats that started the race that year, only 44 completed it.

The Sydney to Hobart race has been going since 1945 and this year, 94 boats from all over the world competed. It's an egalitarian event, with sailboats as small as 30 feet and as big as 98-feet. The sailboat crews also range from weekend hobby sailors to professionals from the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race circuits. For most sailors who live in Sydney, it's a dream that they may some day be on one of the boats for this race. My husband is one of them and he hopes he'll get that golden opportunity one day. As with any race, the focus is generally on which yacht crosses the finish line first. Surprisingly, this boat is often not the overall winner. It is a handicap race where a sailboat's finish time is adjusted based on several factors set down in the prevailing rules. So, the fastest boat may not be the overall winner. There are several awards based on finishing times and handicaps. For 2013, Wild Oats XI was the line winner and Victorie was the overall winner. All but 10 boats finished the race.

I'd heard of this race while living in the US because my husband loves to sail. It's a big event in Sydney on Boxing Day with local residents rushing to the many coastline vistas to watch the start of the race and watch as the boats leave Sydney Harbour. News helicopters are on hand and all types of boats wait in a what appears to be an orchestrated aisle in the harbour to see the boats race out to sea. My neighbourhood park is a popular venue with people arriving at the park early in the morning to get a good view for when the race starts at 1pm. I arrived at 12:45 but still had a decent view. Yes, all those "dots" on the water are boats.

In line with the ocean, the summer and sailing, this blog's recipe is Crab Quiche. I love dairy products so it is no surprise that I like a quiche since it combines eggs, cheese and cream into a savoury custard pie. I've found the dairy products here to be excellent. The eggs have a bright yellow/orange yolk, the milk tastes much creamier and I use 1/2 the amount of sour cream I use when I bake because the sour cream is very rich.

Quiche is popular at the cafes and restaurants here. It's very versatile - you can eat quiche alone or make a lunch or dinner out of it with fruit or salad. For dinner, it is nice with a salad, crusty bread and a glass of white wine. It also can be made with many meat and/or vegetable combinations. I have not seen crab quiche since I moved here so I thought I'd share this recipe.

adapted from Gourmet magazine recipe

*please see cooking notes at bottom of blog*

1 Pie Crust (frozen or fresh, see easy pie crust recipe from  last blog)

1 small White Onion, chopped fine

1 clove Garlic, chopped fine

3 tbsp Dry Sherry (optional)

4 large Eggs

1 cup Heavy Cream

1 1/4 cups Swiss Cheese, grated

1/2 tsp each, Salt and Paprika

1/4 tsp each, Black Pepper, Dry Mustard, and Nutmeg

1 cup of lump Crab meat, packed

1) Preheat oven to 190 C/ 375 F. Poke pie crust bottom with the fork several times and put in the oven for 15 minutes.

2) Meanwhile, brown onions in a skillet until translucent. Then add garlic and sherry (if using) and stir for 1-2 minutes more. (Be careful; garlic burns easily.) Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3) Remove pie crust from oven. While cooling, grate cheese.

4) In a medium bowl, mix eggs, cream, cheese, seasonings/spices and onion mixtures together well.

5) Add crab meat and stir thorough.The mixture will be very thick.

6) Pour into cooled pie crust.

7) Cook for 45-60 minutes. Quiche should be set and not "jiggly" in the middle.


  • CRAB - if you like crab, you'll love this quiche! The synergy of the crab, cheese and spices is delicious. This recipe is very thick with crab. If you'd like smoother texture and less crab, I'd use only 1/2-3/4 cup crab and add 1 additional egg. I also could not find canned crab meat in my local store and had to buy crab meat from my seafood shop. It was $ but delicious.
  • SEASONINGS - it is important to use seasonings for this quiche as Crab and Swiss cheese can be bland. I did not have Old Bay nor Seafood Seasoning on hand but was happy with the spices I did use. The sherry adds a nice touch if you already have it.
  • OPTIONS - you can add some julienned sun dried tomatoes and/or red capsicum/pepper to the quiche. Just cook them with onions and remove any excess liquid. You can also add herbs - a little chopped parsley, some basil/coriander, a squirt of lemon juice. It can also be spiced up with red chili flakes or a little minced red chili (jar)

Photo and information credits from this blog-,,,,,

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