Welcome to Aussie Summer
December Newsletter

Summer is here and I’m home! Palm Beach last weekend. 

I’ve felt the sand between my toes and the water over my head as I dived through the waves at Palm Beach last weekend. It was blissful. There’s something restorative about the beginning of an Australian summer and I was lucky to spend a glorious, relaxing 25 hours with two girlfriends last weekend. I feel I am getting back my mojo after the challenges of international travel.
This week I loved seeing and hearing Bohemian Rhapsody with a girlfriend (though Mike Moran, Freddie Mercury’s Musical Director said the film was inaccurate in that Freddie had many friends and was much loved), laughed at The Wharf Review thanks to Robert Oatley Wines. One of the funniest in years and worth trying to get a ticket. I also went to something so secret, I can’t say until next year!

I can’t wait to get into the Christmas spirit. I am going to put up my tree tonight (first night at home since I returned – shhhhhhhhhh) and Christmas lights on my balcony. Christmas parties are starting and I have three Christmas carols concerts in the diary. I am especially looking forward to the Brandenburg Orchestra’s Noel Noel, always very special. My Mum would play Christmas carols on the record player and radio from December 1, a wonderful tradition carried on by my sister. We love a bit of a singalong. Kris Kringles are planned for our Flame Media Christmas party here in Sydney and also for our large family. I’m off Christmas shopping this weekend too, and excited to be shopping for my granddaughter Isabel who will be two on Christmas Day and is coming to Sydney with her Mum and Dad.  As my son Blair would have said “Happy Christmas Times”.

Jump ahead to see:
What’s in season
The best in fruit and veggies
Focus on Radishes

Recipe of the week
In Season Recipes
How to pick a ripe mango
Sleep – how can we get enough?

Book Club Give-away
Interesting Reading
What’s On
Japan or Puglia?

What’s In Season

The best in fruit and veggies this week in Australia

FRUIT

3 weeks until Christmas and the 2018 cherry season is well and truly underway with a wide range of varieties and sizes. Quality is excellent. 2 kilo boxes make a lovely gift at $15-$50.

With their juicy, luscious flesh and fragrant aroma, peaches and nectarines are a popular choice. Both white and yellow flesh fruit is plentiful and the quality outstanding. 

Go berry crazy with blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Mix up your berries and serve with mangoes or get creative with a summer berry pudding for the festive season. This make a head dessert freezes well. 

Blushing apricots make a scrumptious and nutritious snack, as apricots are rich in vitamin A and C. Serve apricots with turkey or chicken or make tangy relish with these gems or bake a delicious Apricot & Almond Upside-Down Cake

Early Queen, Red Gems and Wilson and the first of the blood plums are now available..

New season grapes are plump and sweet. Select bunches that are plump and firmly attached to stem. Grapes are a good source of dietary fibre and are low in kilojoules. The main varieties at the moment are Menindee and Flame seedless.

Fragrant, sunny yellow fleshed mangoes are sweet eating and plentiful. Perfect for a delicious snack or dessert fruit or use a salsa. Serve diced mango chopped red chilli, lime juice, avocado and chopped coriander leaves. Serve with barbecued pork, chicken or fish.

Chilled, juicy rosy-fleshed watermelon wedges make the ultimate thirst quencher on hot summer days. Choose cut watermelon with deep even colour. Pack icy cold watermelon wedges to take to the pool, beach or on a picnic. Team watermelon wedges with baby rocket, Persian feta and black olives in a cool summer salad. 

For value, convenience and versatility you can’t bet creamy Innisfail bananas. Put them on a paddlepop stick and freeze for a refreshing snack.

The price of juicy, exotic tasting lychees varies with size of the fruit and the seed. Small seed varieties such as Fay Zee Sui are selling for approx. $18-$20 a kilo while large seed varieties such as Bengal have less flesh and can be picked up for $10 -$15 a kilo

Radish, multi-coloured cherry tomatoes and Lebanese cucumber

VEGETABLES
Refreshing and sweet Lebanese cucumbers are good value. These cucumber ribbon salads are perfect for entertaining or a special family meal.

Crunchy Greens & Smoked Salmon Salad
Garlic & Lemon Prawns With Cucumber Salad
Iceberg Lettuce, Cucumber, Bacon & Egg Salad

With its delicious aniseed flavour and crisp texture, baby fennel adds vibrancy to spring salads. It has virtually no fat and few kilojoules, and refreshing raw or cooked. Add fennel to a salad like this Kumato, fennel, bean & haloumi salad.

Tomatoes are at their best in summer with fuller flavour so try a variety: truss cherry tomatoes,  cherry tomatoes, salad  and truss tomatoes, or my favourite heirloom tomatoes. This Tomato, fennel & burrata salad is delicious way to enjoy the colour and flavour of tomatoes.

Zucchini are a great buy.  Try slicing them in half lengthwise, score, then brush with a little olive oil and place on the barbecue or grill plate, cook turning once until tender. 

Full of energy and warmth, kumara is excellent value. Kumara is versatile; it can be baked, fried, boiled, steamed or used instead of potato in most recipes. This festive Mexican Chilli, Sweetcorn & Kumara Salad is packed with goodness and flavour.

Start cool with crispy salads made with versatile Cos and Iceberg lettuce.

Radishes are totally underrated, that’s why I’m focussing on them below; their crisp texture and mild mustard flavour add a delicious pop of flavour and texture to summer salads. Greengrocers offer an ever-expanding range of radish. Whatever the variety, select bunches with firm bulbs and fresh green leaves. 

Focus on Radishes

Radishes

Crunchy radishes with their colourful skin and crisp-white flesh have a unique peppery flavour. Use them in salads and pickles.

They are a good source of vitamin C, which assists the normal functioning of the body’s immune system; provide folate, a B vitamin needed for normal cell division and for blood cells and provides small amounts of iron and other minerals and vitamins

To prepare radishes: 
wash well and trim the leaves. To store, wrap radishes in paper towels and refrigerate in an airtight container. For ultra-crisp radishes, plunge them into a bowl of iced water for 10 minutes before serving.

Add very thinly sliced radish to salads, slaws and sandwich fillings. In the French style, simply serve halved radishes with unsalted chilled butter and sea salt.

To pickle radishes
With their colour and crisp texture, radishes are ideal for pickling. To make pickled radish, place 1 cup white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons caster sugar and ½ tsp black peppercorns in a saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool. Place 2 bunches washed, trimmed and thinly sliced radishes into a sterilised jar. Cover with cooled vinegar mixture. Seal and store in the fridge.

Clockwise from top left: common, golden, French and watermelon radishes

Recipe of the week

Ceviche – as both an entree or as a canape

Servings: 12 as an entrée or 40+ as a canapé
Preparation Time: 15 minutes + 30 minutes marinating

½ sourdough baguette, thinly sliced, cut into 1 cm croutons
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
800g barramundi or kingfish, skin off, very thinly sliced
200 freshly squeezed lime juice
1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 Lebanese cucumber, halved, seeds discarded, shaved into thin strips
4 small radishes, very thinly sliced
1 long green chilli, very thinly sliced
1 bunch coriander, leaves picked
2 avocados, diced, to serve
Nicholson chilli garnishing pearls

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180’C (160’C fan-forced). Place sourdough on a paper-lined baking tray and bake in the oven until crisp and golden, approx. 5 – 10 minutes. Reserve
  2. Place barramundi or kingfish in the centre of each individual plate, drizzle with half the lime juice for 30 mins.
  3. Combine remaining lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  4. Layer onion, cucumbers, radishes, chilli slices and coriander leaves over fish and drizzle over dressing
  5. Top with avocado, finishing pearls and croutons.

Lyndey’s Note: Serve in Chinese spoons for a fabulous canapé.
Wine: The lime juice in this recipe sings with a Riesling.

Gourmet Traveller is also featuring ceviche recipes.

In Season Recipes

Christmas zabaglione semi-freddo

29 Eggplant recipes from Food & Wine
Caper, olive and basil bruschetta
Spiced bocconcini salad
Asian-style sticky mushrooms
Plum, Watercress, prosciutto & goat cheese salad
Cheesy zucchini & carrot “nuggets”
Shakshuka

King salmon with romesco salad
Fish with green chilli
Snapper with mango salsa
Apple coleslaw & Peri Peri chicken burgers
Vanilla poached apricots with almond yoghurt cream
Roasted peaches with pistachio crumble
Ginger cardamom mango crepes

Looking forward to Christmas recipes
Party snack recipes
Roast turkey with native herbs and spices
Christmas zabaglione semi-freddo
Why not make some home-made gifts?
White Christmas
Rum Balls

NOTE:
I’LL BE GIVING YOU LOTS OF RECIPES, HINTS, TIPS AND TRICKS IN THE LEAD-UP TO CHRISTMAS SO WATCH OUT FOR MY WEEKLY UPDATES.

How to pick a ripe mango

The best way to cut a mango above, then lean over the sink and eat or scrape off with a spoon

I look forward to mango season every year as I never buy them imported ones out of season. How to pick a ripe mango?

  1. LOOK at the mango. The ideal mango should be football-shaped, so you should choose mangoes that are full, plump and rounded, especially around the stem. Sometimes ripe mangoes will have brown spots or speckles, which is perfectly normal.
  2. Do not pick flat or thin mangoes because they are likely to be stringy. Avoid choosing mangoes with wrinkled or shriveled skin because they are old.
  3. Touch and feel the mango. Gently feel the mango. Ripe mangoes will be slightly soft to the touch just like avocados and peaches, but not soft or mushy enough to where your fingers sink into or through the skin.
  4.  If you do not plan on eating the mango for a few days, better to choose a mango with firmer skin and let it ripen some at home.
  5. Smell mangoes near where their stems were attached to the tree. Ripe mangoes will always have a strong, sweet, fragrant and fruity aroma around the stem. If it smells like you’d want to eat it, you’re in business. Since mangoes have a high natural sugar content, they will ferment naturally, so a sour smell is a distinctive sign the mango is overripe. Don’t buy it.
  6. Look at colour last. In general, the colour of mangoes is not the best way to look for ripeness. Since the colours of ripe mangoes can be bright yellow, green, pink, or red depending on the variety and season, colour alone won’t necessarily tell you much about the ripeness of a mango. Instead, familiarise yourself with the different varieties of mangoes.

Sleep – how can we get enough?

Image courtesy of The Sleep Council

Sleep is a topic dear to my heart as I often get poor or interrupted sleep with all the travelling I do – especially this last trip home as I flew at night form London to Singapore and overnight from Singapore to Sydney.  Sunlight is a great way to get your body in the right time zone and a couple of years ago a gym instructor told me that not getting enough sleep encouraged weight gain. recent study actually found that short sleep durations lead to a 15 percent increase in the hunger hormone ghrelin and a 15 percent decrease in the satiety hormone leptin.  
Now I have read a very interesting piece by nutritionist Lyn Green and thought it worth sharing. I found the full piece The secret to weight loss is in the bedroom and found it most insightful. In summary her top 5 tips to improving sleep are:
1. Make it 7-8 hours:  To make this easier, try creating a bedtime ritual to help your body wind-down; take a bath, read a book, or meditate.
2. Keep it consist: To support your circadian rhythm, go to bed and wake up around the same time each day, even on weekends. After awhile, you’ll feel your body settle into a schedule and it will become easy to maintain a consistent sleeping pattern.
3. Remove all blue light: Computers screens, phone screens and other technology can have a negative effect on our hormone levels by reducing melatonin production. Shut down your screens at least an hour before bed for a better night’s sleep.
4. Turn off the lights: Darkness tells your body to sleep by releasing the natural sleep hormone melatonin. Light suppresses this hormone so be sure to turn off all lights and close the blinds before going to bed.
5. Watch what you eat: Avoid eating heavy meals, consuming alcohol or foods containing high sugar or caffeine close to bedtime!

Book Club Give-away

Book Club DVD – it could be yours

I absolutely love watching chick flicks on planes. On my way home, I really enjoyed Book Club  Diane (Diane Keaton) is recently widowed after 40 years of marriage. Vivian (Jane Fonda) enjoys her men with no strings attached. Sharon (Candice Bergen)  is still working through a decades-old divorce. Carol’s (Mary Steenburgen) marriage is in a slump after 35 years. These lifelong friends’ lives are turned upside down to hilarious ends when their book club tackles the infamous Fifty Shades of Grey . From discovering new romance to rekindling old flames, they inspire each other to make their next chapter the best chapter. Forget whether you like the book or not (I find it appallingly written) the movie is funny, warm and charming.
To celebrate the release on DVD – and yes, I am an old-fashioned girl who loves DVDs (I still have a video player and record turntable for my vinyls) I have 10 copies of the DVD (or Blu-Ray) worth $39.95 to give away.
Then invite your friends over, open a bottle or two (as they do in the movie) and enjoy.

To enter: tell me your favourite recipe in this newsletter and why OR tell me what recipes you would like to see in my weekly updates in the run-up to Christmas
Email:  lyndey@lyndeymilan.com and the 10 winners will be announced in my weekly update at the end of next week. So be sure to be registered on the website to get the weekly update in your inbox.

Interesting Reading 

A selection of plant-based yum cha dishes at Bodhi Restaurant. Photo: Supplied

Vegetarianism and veganism is on the rise in both the UK and Australia and I am sure other places too. Heaven Leigh, a third-generation restaurateur and owner of Bodhi Restaurant at Cook and Phillip Park, Sydney makes a cogent argument in Good Food Why plant-based is more palatable than vegan.

Just before I left for London in September I had a stunning dinner at Sixpenny. A superb combination of food, wine, service and ambience. I was delighted to read in Gourmet Traveller that when Bridget Raffal became sommelier in 2017, she noticed there were no women on the winelist. Read how A sommelier aims for wine list equality.

Hotter, drier summers mean many wine grape growers have to harvest their grapes earlier, resulting in riper wines with higher alcohol content. ABC News reports Climate change ‘creeping up’ on winemakers and putting pressure on grapes, says scientist.

Gault Millau shares their Top foodie destinations in NSW

Tipping in Australia is discretionary. It is not required as a wage supplement but is a good way of showing one’s appreciation for staff who provide excellent service. But when you add a tip to your credit card account – who gets the funds? Jeremy Ryland explains the complexities in Who is getting your tip.

It amazes me the high cost of pre-cut fruit and veg – not to mention all the plastic. Read Don’t Buy This: Pre-Chopped Fruits and Vegetables Are a Big Waste of Money

Every year, the Paris-based organization La Liste announces its list of the best restaurants in the world, and on Thursday, it awarded two restaurants the recognition of “best:” Le Bernardin in New York City, and Guy Savoy in Paris. Read about it, and the full list here.

What’s On

Brokenwood has a new cellar door complex

Brokenwood Wines, led by Managing Director, Chief Winemaker and former Chairman of Judges of the Sydney Royal Wine show, Iain Riggs AM, is officially opening the doors to its new Cellar Door development this Saturday 8 December. The new Cellar Door will be one of the largest in the Hunter Valley wine region, covering 1,400 square metres and able to accommodate more than 250,000 visitors annually. It replaces the original Cellar Door built in 1975 by the winery’s founders James Halliday, Tony Albert and John Beeston.

The new complex includes a large tasting room with circular tasting ‘pods’, an expansive outdoor terrace, two private tasting rooms, two private dining rooms, a wine museum and a lounge area. The two dining venues led by Andrew and Janet Wright, known for The Cellar Restaurant at Hunter Valley Gardens, will include casual eatery, Cru Bar + Pantry and modern dining room, The Wood Restaurant.

The Wood Restaurant is open for lunch daily and dinner on Friday and Saturday evenings, offering contemporary Australian dishes with a strong focus on seafood,  which will also be available for retail along with condiments.  Located out in the lounge area, Cru Bar + Pantry is open for breakfast, lunch and snacks everyday, serving homemade pies, toasties, wood-fired pizzas and cheese and charcuterie for a more casual dining experience. Premium and iconic Brokenwood wines are available at both venues, including an Enomatic self-service dispenser that will serve rare wines not ordinarily available for tasting at the Cellar Door.
401-427 McDonalds Rd
Pokolbin, NSW 2320
(02) 4998 7559
https://www.brokenwood.com.au

 
Time Out shares 22 things to do in Sydney this weekend including some Christmas markets (I was so sorry to be too early for the one in Munich).

Japan or Puglia?

Japan will be a new destination for me next year, hosting a land content tour here and a repeat of my land content only trip to Puglia in October 2019. Escorted travel takes all the worry and stress away and ensures a great experience.

Come and join me on one of my tours planned for next year:
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.
 She and her husband are coming too and it promises to be an amazing trip. We have an upper limit of 20 people and there is a reasonable single supplement. Details here.

Hand-making bread in the time-honoured traditional way in Basilicata, just one of the authentic experiences

The Food Adventure in Puglia  and Basilicata 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 . Details here.

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

You could join a happy group like this and frolic in Puglia

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What are you cooking, eating and drinking?
Lyndey

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