August Newsletter

KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show: L to R: Chair of Judges PJ Charteris, Chair of Show, Sally Evans, International Judge Fongyee Walker MW and me (Past Chair of Show)

The KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show is over for another year: 2400 wines judged blind over 4 days by  6 judging panels, each comprising panel chair, 2 senior judges and 2 associate judges and facilitated by an army of stewards. Judges and stewards, like the Councillors who make up the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW wine committee, are all volunteers. It’s a wonderful tradition but constantly evolves to be relevant and contemporary.
All will be revealed at the Wine Show dinner at KPMG next Thursday night and members of the public are welcome to come and taste the wines at the Grape, Grain and Graze Festival on the Saturday 11 August from 2-6pm.

Jump ahead to see:
What’s In Season?
The Difference Between Globe & Jerusalem Artichokes
Spotlight on Pears
In Season Recipes
Tip of the Month 
Interesting Reading
What’s On
Three fabulous tours next year

What’s In Season?

Eggplant, golden squash and fennel
Images thanks to the Sydney Markets


  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Banana
  • Cumquat
  • Grapefruit
  • Kiwifruit
  • Lemons
  • Mandarins
  • Oranges: Blood
  • Oranges: Navel
  • Pomelo
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Tangelos


  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celeriac
  • Celery
  • Fennel
  • Jerusalem artichokes
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Okra
  • Onions
  • Parsnips
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Silverbeet
  • Spinach
  • Swede
  • Sweet potato
  • Turnips
  • Witlof

Veggies reign supreme in Australia this August. Brimming with fresh produce, stir-fries are the ideal meal for busy people. Toss a medley of Asian leafy greens such as bok choy and choy sum with marinated beef, chicken or tofu.
Eggplant is a versatile Mediterranean vegetable that is easy to prepare. No need to salt eggplant any more, simply slice, brush with olive oil and grill until tender. Add cooked eggplant slices to pizza topping, sandwiches and antipasto or try this miso & chilli roasted eggplant. while they do soak up a lot of oil, try blanching them first in boiling water and drain well and they won’t soak up so much.The best-known member of the cruciferous family of vegetables, broccoli is a rich source of antioxidants and a good source of fiber, folate, and potassium. Raw, it goes well in salads. Steamed is another good way to absorb broccoli’s many nutrients. If you are cooking it make sure you use the stem – also great in soups and cut up in stir-fries. Alternatively broccolini sold in bunches is also 100% edible, with tender stems.Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, muscles and overall health. Mushrooms are a source of vitamin D. I also eat them raw in salads. ThisMushroom Meatballs In Cherry Tomato Sauce is a family favourite.Mild flavoured golden yellow squash are right in season.  Try them sliced and pan fried with garlic and chilli or roasted.English spinach is a fabulous this week. Toss spinach into a hot wok with crunched garlic and toss until just wilted.  If the kids don’t like the eat their greens hide them in this Spinach & Zucchini Chocolate Cake.Fennel has been used in French and Italian kitchens for centuries and has increased in popularity in Australia, its delicate aniseed flavour, and celery like texture making it suitable for adding to soups, casseroles, risottos, pastas and salads. Try this Radicchio, Fennel, Pear & Blue Cheese Salad. I have dealt with fennel in one of my weekly updates.

Blueberries, tangellos and Hass avocados

Queensland grown grape and cherry tomatoes are flavoursome and good value this week.

Blood oranges are ultra-juicy. Segment fruit over a bowl and reserve the juice. Use blood orange juice in marinades, salad dressings or drizzle over pan-fried fish, chicken or pork .

Premium Hass avocados from Southern Queensland and Northern NSW are plentiful. Yummly has assembled a list of avocado recipes in celebration of National Avocado Day in the USA.- on July 31.

Tropical tasting pineapples are tangy and sweet.Toss pineapple pieces into a stir-fry with pork and vegetables. For a quick dessert; warm chunks of pineapple in butter and brown sugar and serve with a dollop of cream.

Aromatic and flavoursome strawberries are also a good source of fibre. Some of the most memorable desserts ever created include strawberries, like these easy to make Strawberry & rhubarb crumblesFor another stunning quick dessert, toss tangelo segments with halved hulled strawberries. Squeeze over tangelo juice and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Serve with a scoop of mascarpone and a drizzle of liqueur. 

Sweet eating blueberries make a change at this time of year with prices easing.

Seville oranges are bittersweet in flavour and are most commonly used for making marmalade. So if you like to make your own spreads you had best get cracking while the price and quality are at their best.

The Difference Between Globe & Jerusalem Artichokes

Globe artichokes
As vegetables go, this artichoke is perhaps one of the most intriguing. With its beautiful armour-like exterior and delicious savoury-sweet heart, it is technically not really a vegetable but the bud of a flowering plant from the thistle family. As with all flowers it has petals – just thick green ones on the outside and the edible pale yellow ones inside. At the centre is the thistle-like choke, a hairy ball which you don’t want to eat. Under that is the heart and the stem which are the tender, flavoursome part.Globe artichokes are an excellent source of dietary fibre which helps the intestine to function normally. They provide vitamin C and folate, both of which are important for the normal functioning of the body’s immune system. They are a stunning vegetable with a unique, sweet and subtle flavour. Early supplies of artichokes are from Victoria and growers in the Sydney basin. They can be  steamed, grilled, roasted, or sautéed. If you have not prepared globe artichokes this recipe is a great starting point.Globe artichokes with prosciutto.You can also watch an excellent video from BBC Good Food on How to prepare globe artichokes.
Jerusalem artichokes
These are not truly artichokes but a variety of sunflower with a lumpy, brown-skinned tuber that often resembles a ginger root. Contrary to what the name implies, they have nothing to do with Jerusalem but are derived from the Italian word for sunflower, girasole.

The white flesh is nutty, sweet and crunchy and is a good source of  potassium which helps to balance sodium from salty foods and provides vitamin C which helps us absorb iron from foods. They also supply dietary fibre, including a soluble fibre called inulin, which may benefit healthy bacteria in the large intestine.

To prepare place the peeled vegetable in a bowl of acidulated water until ready to cook. Because they are so knobbly it is easier to peel artichokes after boiling. They can be cooked in much the same way as potatoes or parsnips and are excellent roasted, sautéed or dipped in batter and fried, or puréed. Try this Jerusalem artichoke leek & bacon soup.

Spotlight on Pears

Packham, corella, Beurre and Josephine Pears
From Sydney Markets 

Pears were my favourite fruit from an early age when, as a toddler, I would say “more pear” to my Mum. They are perfect for all ages, easy to eat raw or cooked and work beautifully with sweet or savoury recipes.

Choose pears without cuts and bruises; soft, ripe fruit for eating and firm fruit for cooking. Ripe pears yield to gentle pressure around the stem end. Store in a single layer at room temperature for several days depending on ripeness. Once peeled, they will quickly brown but can be put in water with a dash of lemon juice to prevent this.
Pears deliver all the benefits of a low-GI food – sustained energy and improved appetite control. Pears are an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of fibre. 100kJ/100g. They are also non-allergenic.
have juicy white flesh and a subtle, sweet flavour. Firm fruit takes 3 – 8 days to ripen at room temperature and remains green when fully ripe. Good to eat or cook. Available March to December.
Corella are very small pears with pale flesh and a mild flavour and can be eaten firm and crisp or ripe and soft. Available March to September.
Beurre Bosc have firm, yellow-ish white, slightly granulated flesh with a rich lingering flavour. These take up to seven days to ripen. The skin changes from greenish brown to a distinctive russet brown when fully ripe. Great for cooking. Available March to November.
Josephine have yellowy white flesh which is delicate, aromatic and juicy. Cook or eat raw. Available April to August.
Sensation have creamy-white flesh with a buttery texture and good flavour. Their red skin changes to bright crimson over yellow when fully ripe. Cook or eat raw. Available February to December.
Williams, once known as Bartlett, have a smooth, white, juicy flesh with a mild flavour. Ripens in one to three days changing from light green to clear yellow. Good eating pear. Available January to late May.
Paradise, Faccia Bella or cocktail pears, are often less than 5cm long. They change from green to gold with a red blush when ripe. Available December to February.

In Season Recipes

Salmon and blood orange in cartoccio with smashed potatoes: L ready to cook, R: cooked

Aperol and Red Grapefruit Cocktail
Salmon and Blood Orange in Cartoccio with Smashed Potatoes
Redbelly Blood Orange Citrus Pickle
Hidden Onion and Cheese Quesadilla
Rag Pasta with Pumpkin and Sage
Mushroom Strudel
Luxe Irish Stew of Goat
Roast Beef Rib with Spiced Salt and Anchovy & Parsley Bearnaise
Slow Roasted Sage & Thyme Beef Rump with Winter Vegetables
Grapefruit Delicious Pudding

Ricotta Pancakes with Blood Orange Compote
Chocolate Cabernet and Rhubarb Dessert

Tip of the Month 
How to store ginger

Ginger preserved in Shaoxing rice wine

Ginger gives a zing to so many recipes. Select ginger that has smooth skin with a firm texture, and is heavy for its size. Avoid pieces that feel soft, wrinkled, or look mouldy.

Correct storage helps optimise the natural juiciness, flavour and crispness of fresh ginger. There are quite a few different methods for storing fresh ginger — everything from soaking it in a jar of vodka or sherry, to storing it in the refrigerator wrapped in a paper towel.

Alternatively, store the whole, unpeeled ginger root in a resealable plastic bag, with the air pushed out, in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. If part of the ginger has been cut or peeled, blot it dry with a paper towel before storing. You can do the same with peeled ginger but it won’t keep quite as long.

You can freeze ginger in a whole piece but it can be easier to first peel and mince, or grate it. Then spread or scoop the ginger onto a parchment-lined tray. Heap into teaspoon-sized portions. Freeze until solid and transfer to an airtight container. It should keep for about six months.

To store in Shaoxing rice wine (pictured)

  1. Place fresh scrubbed and dried unpeeled ginger into airtight jars.
  2. Cover with Shaoxing rice wine (also called  Chinese cooking wine) or dry sherry.
  3. Use the ginger as required in recipes or add a splash of the ginger-infused rice wine or sherry to your stir-fries.

Ginger recipes
Lemongrass, Ginger & Lemon Cordial
Asian Oysters with Shallot, Ginger and Sesame
Indian-Spiced Winter Vegetables
Gingered Rack of Pork
Self-Saucing Spiced Ginger Pudding

All About Milk

Designed by Freepik

Regular full cream milk 
Contains about 3.8% milk fat. It is pasteurised and homogenised and has a rich, creamy texture.
Reduced fat milk
Has about 2% milk fat with a good texture.
Skim milk
Has no more than 0.15% milk fat. Milk solids are added for taste.
Modified milk
May be protein or calcium enriched, iron fortified etc to cater for different dietary needs.
Lactose reduced milk
Some of the lactose is removed making it more digestible for those that have lactose intolerance.
Or cultured milk has a tangy flavour and is excellent for baking. A starter culture is added to the milk to develop the flavour and acidity. (In a recipe you can substitute with milk mixed with a little lemon juice or yoghurt.)
Longlife milk (UHT)
Ultra Heat Treatment ensures that all micro-organisms and heat resistant enzymes are inactivated. It is shelf stable but must be refrigerated once opened.
The water is evaporated gently to concentrate the milk solids. It is canned and sterilised to give long shelf life. It also causes a slight caramelisation of the milk sugar giving the evaporated milk its colour and flavour.
Sweetened condensed milk
Sugar is added to evaporated or condensed milk and gives a thick smooth texture.

  • What makes milk white? Casein (milk protein) is present in the form of very small complexes which reflect light, giving milk its whiteness.
  • Milk is one of the world’s most complete foods and the richest dietary source of calcium.
  • Pasteurisation is the process where milk is partially sterilised. It is heated to 72’C for 15 seconds and cooled immediately, to destroy any harmful bacteria and micro-organisms.
  • Homogenisation passes the milk under pressure through very fine nozzles, evenly dispersing the fat globules to create a smooth, creamy texture and taste.
  • Keep milk refrigerated at 4’C in the original package as changes in temperature will shorten its shelf life.
  • Milk containers should be covered as milk will absorb other flavours.
  • Freezing milk can destabilise the main protein, casein. The milk may appear slightly curdy when thawed.

Interesting Reading

Jock Zonfrillo who has won the Basque Culinary World Prize 2018

Scottish chef, Jock Zonfrillo from Restaurant Orana in Adelaide, has been acknowledged for his work in preserving the memory of native peoples of Australia through their food. The Basque Culinary World Prize 2018 is an award for chefs improving society through gastronomy, in areas ranging from innovation to education, health, research, sustainability, social entrepreneurship and economic development. Reported in The Australian and many other outlets.

The revamped Quay has been glowingly reviewed by Terry Durack in SMH Good Food and Pat Nourse in Gourmet Traveller.
Also in Gourmet Traveller, Will Studd explains that in a quest for perfection, Australian cheesemakers are embracing the ageing process.

Karen McNeil in Winespeed debates Women or Men …who has the better tasting ability?

What’s On

Fun for all the family at Italian Wine + Food Festival Sydney

Everything that’s good about eating and drinking in Italy comes together under one roof in August with the Italian Wine + Food Festival. Just as the appeal of Italian food runs from street-style pizza-fun for the whole family to fresh-pasta finery for the connoisseur, the festival has food and drink, entertainment and information to suit everyone from spaghetti-loving kids to the most engaged Italian-speaking wine lover. Program, tickets and details here.
Sunday 26th August 2018, 10.00am-6.30pm
Australian Technology Park – Bays 10-14, 2 Locomotive Street, Eveleigh NSW  2015
(Next door to Carriageworks, only 200m from Redfern Station)

Sydney Good Food Month presented by Citi, will celebrate 20 years this October. The program has been released and will see the return of Hyde Park Palms, Good Food Month’s inspiring and vibrant pop-up restaurant, in the heart of Hyde Park North. From 4-21 October, the custom-made Palm Springs-inspired restaurant will play host to conversations with Australian culinary masters Neil Perry, Bill Granger, Christine Manfield, Stephanie Alexander and Ross Lusted, dinners with hotly-tipped international talent – Italy’s Isabella Potì and LA’s Jason Neroni, pumping nineties and noughties lunches with Andy Bowdy, Victor Liong, Mitch Orr and Kate Reid, a celebration of Australia’s women of culinary influence, flavour-packed pasta battle, and vegan Italian feast. The Night Noodle Markets return to Hyde Park setting Sydney alight with the smells, sights and sounds of over thirty sizzling stalls.
Information and early tickets here.

Three fabulous tours next year

Japan will be a new destination for me next year, hosting a land content tour here in May, a cruise with land content too to New Zealand in January and a repeat of my land content trip to Puglia in October 2019.

 I am hosting three tours next year (2019) all very different. They are always fun, full of lovely people and it would be great if you wishes to join me.

1. Japan – A Culinary & Cultural Adventure 14-25 May 2019 with Mary Rossi Travel. I have known the MD, Claudia Rossi since high school and we have worked to come up with a very special itinerary. We have an upper limit of 20 people and there is a reasonable single supplement.

2. Closer to home, for those who don’t want the long flight, I am again hosting a cruise and tour, this time beginning in New Zealand and returning to Australia from 14 – 31 January 2019 . I hosted the media onboard Celebrity Solstice last year when she was in Australian waters and found her a lovely ship with some great activities on board including “Taste of Film” where you sit on the top deck, watch a foodie film and eat the food in the film. I will again be researching special experiences for our group when ashore.

3. The Food Adventure in Puglia trip in May with Southern Visions was a great success and so we are going to repeat it 14 – 20 October, 2019. The program is very similar to what we did this year

It would be wonderful to have YOU on one of these.

What are you cooking,eating and drinking?

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