A Lot Can Happen in a Week

How lucky I was to get into this amazing show despite increasing Covid safety measures


Now Sydney is experiencing restrictions due to Covid and, understandably, other states have closed their borders to us. All because an unvaccinated chauffeur did not wear a mask, nor have regular tests, when driving international air crews. Of course, we really need accelerated vaccination roll out so the Federal Government should make that a priority – and then open the international borders to vaccinated travellers and allow those returning who are vaccinated to isolate at home. Too few Australians are vaccinated. My hope is that this might move the fence sitters from a “wait and see” position to realising the necessity for us all to be vaccinated. Until then the borders will not reopen, individuals, families, communities and businesses will continue to suffer. My family and friends in the UK are all fully vaccinated and with even the next generation starting vaccination next week. From a slow start it’s been incredible to see the roll out there. Wherever YOU are, I hope you are safe, healthy and vaccinated.

I had the most uplifting experience on Wednesday night, going to see the moving musical Come From AwayThis Tony® and Olivier Award winning musical tells the remarkable true story of thousands of stranded passengers in the small town of Gander in Newfoundland, Canada that welcomed them all.  Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, friendship and gratitude which has endured ever since. The Capitol Theatre handled the whole thing brilliantly with the increasing restrictions: we were given different arrival times making it seamless getting into the theatre and masks were worn. I am so grateful I was able to go. It is on around the world, and I encourage you to go online and learn more about the story first.

I’m still in the slow process of sorting things out and going through my office and memorabilia, but I am also planning some Australian-based activities in the next couple of months, a Moroccan Cooking Dem & Lunch at the Cooks Shed in Sackville on 14 AugustHunter Valley Writing and Wine Weekend at Wandin Valley Estate in Lovedale (tickets will be released next week so more then) and also, a hosted tour to some of my favourite spots in South Australia (still in the very, very early stages so more when that is finalised). However, the good news is that my Moroccan tour in September 2022 is finalised with all the accommodation confirmed – see more below.

I’m back on  Facebook and Instagram and this is where you will see photos of some of the delicious things I have eaten. Enjoy.


Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.

Jump ahead to see:
The Cook Up on SBS
Recipes of the Week
Baking Tips of the Week

More on EVOO
Moroccan Tour 2022
The Truth About Expiry Dates

Reading and Watching
Puglia Tour October 2022

The Cook Up on SBS

My version of the theme “cheese on top”:  Open Lasagne with Cheese

I’m back on the lovely TV show The Cook Up with Adam Liaw on SBS Food on Monday night 28 June at 7pm. If you miss it you can always catch up at SBS On Demand. The theme we were given this time was “cheese on top” . I made suggestions and they chose my Open Lasagne with Cheese. It is a truly indulgent recipe of porcini and fresh mushrooms, onion, garlic, thyme and rocket under seductively melted washed rind cheese. The recipe will go up after the show on sbs.com.au/thecookup

Here I am with charming host Adam Liaw and chef Hugh Piper. We had fun.

Recipes of the Week

Chicken Kofta with Tomato Passata

Here’s something a bit different as you can use these light chicken balls as finger food, entree or main or even with pasta or couscous Chicken Kofta.

Similarly, these Aromatic Vegetables can be eaten as a side dish, entree or as part of a vegetarian main. You could try them over pasta too.

Aromatic Vegetables

Baking Tips of the Week

Individual Orange Cakes with Spiced Orange Blossom Syrup, Pistachios & Rose Petals

I thought given some restrictions on movement in different parts, and the fact that it is school holidays in many places, that there might be a recurrence of interest in baking. Therefore, this week, I thought you might like some baking tips.

Baking Individual Cakes
When baking individual cakes or pies, it’s easiest if you place them all on an oven tray rather than straight onto the oven rack. It’s not only easier to turn around and access during baking, but easier and much less chance of burning yourself when removing them from the oven.

Baking Pies
I really don’t like soggy bottoms …… anywhere. Have you ever had a pie or a tart which is lovely on top but the pastry underneath is insipid, pale and not properly cooked? Then try “blind baking”. This means pre-baking the crust before it is filled, until it is dried and golden. Simply prick the base of the uncooked pastry in the tin to help any steam trapped between the pastry and the tin escape during baking and also to prevent the pastry rising. Then line the pastry shell with a sheet of baking paper and pastry weights or dried pulses to cook the base without shrinking, Remove these and put the shell back in the oven for a few minutes to dry out the middle and allow it to colour. Then brush the crust with a beaten egg white before you add the filling. This creates a protective layer.

My favourite cheat’s blind baking
Prick the uncooked pastry shell and then freeze. Bake in the oven from frozen.

Let me know if you have any questions or other tips you would like me to share?

More on EVOO

EVOO is Extra Virgin Olive Oil
As regular readers know, my culinary oil of choice is EVOO. There are many different types (and I don’t mean “extra light olive oil” which is no such thing, just highly processed to remove the flavour and the goodness, while leaving the same amount of calories and fat but not in such a healthy form). Rather, I refer to those pure extra virgin olive oils which have different flavour profiles because of the olive variety or when they were picked and pressed.
You can read my latest piece “Which Oil is Best For Each Style of Cooking” on Happy Ali News if you click on the link.

Moroccan Tour 2022

I am thrilled this postponed Moroccan trip is now planned for September 2022 by which time we should all be able to travel againBy Prior Arrangement is highly experienced and well-known in Morocco and I have confidence in working with them to bring this very special tour into being. I also value the safety of group travel in the world as we now find it Talk to them about the trip, or feel free to email me with any queries. I am excited!
Read Where to Eat Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Rabat.

The Truth About Expiry Dates

Just What do Expiry Dates Mean?
One of my pet hates is people throwing out perfectly good food when there is nothing wrong with it. I still remember when I was moving house some 15 years ago and a helpful friend offered to pack my pantry. She was dyslexic and misread the dates on some precious cans of foie gras. So double check the labelling.
The difference between use-by and best-before dates
A use-by date indicates that the safety of the product cannot be guaranteed after the displayed date. It is therefore illegal for retailers to sell food after its use-by date for health and safety reasons. This is important where any spoilage is not clearly discernible before consumption, e.g. fresh foods like milk, chilled ready-to-eat foods or deli meats. These dates can be two years hence so canned goods often don’t carry this on them, though some do.
Best-before dates indicate that the product may suffer some loss in quality after the displayed date – but should still be safe to eat as long as the packaging is intact and/or it has been properly stored. Retailers can still sell food after the best-before date provided it is still fit for human consumption. These are usually shelf-stable foods like pouches, low moisture foods like confectionery,  tea, freeze-dried coffee, sugar, salt, cereals and dried fruits. Then there are also fermented products like yogurt and sauerkraut or frozen products.
Personally, I often find that cheeses like brie, camembert and washed rind are often better as they are then truly ripe.
Whatever it is  look for signs of deterioration, spoilage and/or damage such as mould, slime, rancidity, off-flavours or odours, gas-production or broken packaging.

And while we’re on the subject of avoiding waste, I love this piece on Five Innovative Ways to Cook with Broccoli Stalks. I always use them but got a couple of new ideas here.

Reading and Watching

At last some good news for the Australian wine industry as The Shout reports on the FTA (Free Trade Agreement) between the UK and Australia. Although details are still to be finalised, in principle, 99% of Australian imports, including Australian wine and spirits, will enter the UK duty free when the agreement comes into force. This will also help other producers and farmers who are ready to export to the UK. Additionally the deal  sees changes to working holiday visas with the cut-off age increased to 35 and provide up to three years of working rights and specific provisions around agriculture-specific visas. Hopefully this will help address the skills shortage.

Alice Waters, founder of Chez Panisse
This is a lovely piece to read: The 10 Dishes That Made My Career. Not only a restaurateur and chef but champion of local sustainable agriculture for over four decades and founder of the Edible Schoolyard Project, which advocates for a free school lunch for all children and a sustainable food curriculum in every public school.

Wolfgang Puck Documentary
This follows the life of the celebrity chef and is premiering on Disney Plus today, 25 June.  Read about it and see the trailer here.

Puglia Tour October 2022

Hands-on making fresh mozzarella in Puglia

Puglia in the boot of the heel of Italy is still relatively unspoiled. A secret Italians tend to keep to themselves, it is a wonderful place to visit and so much less crowded than Tuscany. After Morocco I’m going on to host Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata 8 – 14 October 2022. Join me and share an unforgettable week of culinary and cultural exploration. Think hands-on bread, cheese making and cooking class; visits to wineries, olive farm, tours of UNESCO sites Alberobello & Matera & other cultural centres with local guides. All sensational meals and wines included. You only need money for the very inexpensive shopping you will find there.

Group size: an intimate 8-16 places only
Lodging in authentic, family-run noble estates and palaces
Operated by: Local Puglia specialist Southern Visions Travel: the leading experiential travel company in Southern Italy
Full brochure

Read more about my adventures in Puglia
Explore Puglia in House & Garden Magazine
Seven dishes you must try in Puglia, Italy in the Sydney Morning Herald
Puglia, the undiscovered heart in Selector Magazine

Beside an olive tree which is over 3,000 years old in Puglia

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