Fun and Games

Winners are Grinners: my winning team for Tasty Trivia on Monday night

Well what fun it was to start my week with Tasty Trivia at the Terminus Hotel with some dear friends on Monday night. A core group of three of us attended last month, and with a couple of others came second and this time, though not everyone at the table was into food as much as some, we won! It was so much fun. We debated and laughed, had great food designed by Colin Fassnidge and reasonably priced drinks from the bar and a good time was had by all.  Highly recommended if you live in Sydney.

Yet such sadness to hear this morning of the terrorism in France. As if rising numbers of Covid cases were not enough. It is so sad and soul destroying – avec amour à la France.

On a more cheerful note, a big hello, gratitude and respect for everyone in Victoria who has endured lockdown so valiantly, now with reduced restrictions. I do so hope that businesses can get back on their feet.

On Sunday night I will be again be hosting Facebook Live at 6:30 pm Australian Eastern Daylight Saving time, 5:30 pm QLD time and 7:30 am BST, when I create a fast and delicious Spanish recipe to match a trophy winning wine from the McLaren Valey Wine Show. More below, including ingredients.

Our team presented with the golden fork – with Annie the organiser in front

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:
YouTube video
Recipes of the Week
Facebook Live
Ask Me????

Next Week and Last
Travel with me in 2021 or 2022?

YouTube video

My Cheat’s Microwave Mushroom Risotto

I know I have shared this recipe before, but my risotto dem on Facebook was very popular last week with 1300 people watching it so far. I showed how to make basic Risotto Bianco  and then transform it into myriad flavours. Therefore I thought it a good idea to show you this ridiculously easy Cheat’s One – 5 minutes prep, then in the microwave for 20 minutes and you’re done. You can watch me make it on YouTube here You’ll find the written recipe here. You can subscribe to my channel here, so you can see other videos including my meals in a minute.

Recipes of the Week

Tuna Pate with Melba Toast

Ahead of the weekend I thought a delicious, but very easy do-ahead Tuna Pate with Melba toast might appeal? Here is the recipe. Did you know that Melba toast was reputedly created by the famous French chef Escoffier for the opera singer Dame Nellie Melba? This is my version which is much lighter than cutting the bread into triangles and rolling with a rolling pin. It’s simple and inexpensive to make your own and can be stored in an airtight container for up to a week.

Berries are so glorious and in season at the moment, here is a recipe to feed a crowd, my Very Berry Trifle from Taste of Australia TV series and book.

Very Berry Trifle

Facebook Live

Risotto with Anything you Like – in this case chicken, mushrooms, asparagus and baby spinach

As mentioned above, I cooked a classic Risotto Bianco to teach the basics. Then I showed how you can make it into any sort of risotto you like.  You can watch how I did it here as well as the Robert Oatley 2018 Margaret River Chardonnay which I matched with it.

Remember the time of 6:30 pm Australian Eastern Daylight Saving Time, so 5:30 pm in Queensland and an early 7:30 am in the UK. I hope you can all still join me.

This coming Sunday I’ll show you all the tips and tricks to making a simple Risotto Bianco (or white risotto) which happens to be vegan too if you use vegetable stock. then I will explain how to transform it for vegetables, seafood or meat. Simply like my Facebook page and at 6:30 pm to click here to join and be part of Facebook live on Sunday night.

If you are planning to cook with me on Sunday, here’s what you will need for Salmon with Warm Romesco Salad for 2
2 x 180g salmon fillets, pin boned – or tuna or swordfish
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
½  (120g) red capsicum, cut in 2cm dice
Half punnet cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 crusty bread roll, cut into 3cm dice
½  red onion, sliced
40g blanched almonds
1 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
50g  hot chorizo, sliced thinly
3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
Mixed green leaves of choice, or watercress
Dressing – make enough for 6 so you have some on hand
1/3 cup (80ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons (30mls) sherry vinegar
1 ½ tablespoons (30mls) honey
1 eschallot, peeled and finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

See you then?

Ask Me???????

Barmbrack – made with self-raising flour

Questions and Answers
I am often asked about the difference between plain flour and self-raising flour. If you care caught short, it is simple to convert your plain flour to self-raising flour.

To be highly technical,  if a recipe calls for 250g of selfraising flour, and you only have plain, you need 5% of that 250g to be baking powder. That’s 12.5g of baking powder. So 12.5g BP added to 237.5g plain flour makes 250g stand-in selfraising flour.

However, I prefer to keep things simple 
Add two teaspoons of baking powder to every cup (150 grams) of plain flour and sift together to ensure they are well combined. Alternatively add one teaspoon each of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar. Remember, though, that baking powder is activated by heat, so will only release the gas that makes the bubbles in the batter when the mix is heated. However, bicarb and cream of tartar react as soon as they are mixed with water, so o once mixed a bicarb and cream of tartar batter should be baked very soon after mixing.

What questions do you have? Just email in response to this newsletter.


A fun way to let the kids in your neighborhood know that you are willing to participate in a trick or treat on the 31st October is to place a glowing jack o lantern at your front door or gate.

Halloween the festival for thrills, chills and scares as well as trick or treating, began in Ireland. Take yourself back 3,000 years to pagan Ireland when the belief was that at Halloween or All Hallow’s Eve, the boundary between our world and the otherworld is at its thinnest, allowing spirits to easily pass between the two. It began with the ancient festival of Samhain (meaning the end of summer), a festival of fire and feasting to mark the change of season and celebrate the harvest with a huge feast of the season’s produce.It is the end of the season of light and the beginning of dark days.

The morphing of Samhain into Halloween came about in the 7th century, when Christianity declared All Saints’ Day or All-hallows for 1 November. This made the night before it All-hallows Eve, which changed over the years to Halloween.

It has many modern interpretations and, like it or not, it seems to be growing in popularity around the world. Trick or treating comes from poor Irish children going door to door to ask for food, money or kindling. They sang prayers in reward and were given a soul cake which was a bread that contained fruit.

Your celebration can be as low key as making pumpkin recipes like my Couscous-stuffed pumpkin. Or why not go instead for a couple of traditional Irish recipes?

Barmbrack is a light tea fruit cake or bread
The name comes from the Irish ‘bairín breac’, which means speckled loaf. It
 could also contain certain items, ready to tell the future of the person who finds something in their slice. So caution is required when biting into a warm slice!
The three most common items found in a barmbrack are a ring (meaning an impending wedding), a coin (symbolising wealth) and a piece of cloth (predicting a period of poverty or bad luck).
In some parts of Ireland, bracks are packed with even more unusual objects. You may find: a stick/matchstick (an unhappy relationship or major argument), a thimble (a period of independence/singlehood) and a button (bachelorhood). Years ago, religious medals could also be found in bracks, predicting a life in the Holy Orders.
Try this recipe here.

Traditionally, many believed that colcannon could be the key to success for single women seeking a husband. Varying versions of this mashed potato dish passed through generations seeing rings (marriage), thimbles (spinsterhood), and coins (wealth) added to the finished recipe.

One legend has it that unmarried women would put the first and last spoonful of their colcannon into a sock and hang it on the door. The first man that passed through the door would then be their husband.

Others say unmarried women would go blindfolded into their garden to handpick the cabbage they would use for their colcannon. A batch of colcannon would be made with the chosen cabbage and a ring would be added. The woman who was first to find the ring in their portion would also be the first to marry.
My recipe for Colcannon is here.

It’s all a bit of fun and I did indeed have some fabulous food when I was shooting my TV series, Taste of Ireland.

 Thanks to Tourism Ireland for information on Halloween. Lots more information and ideas here.

Couscous-stuffed Pumpkin

Next Week and Last

Flourless Chocolate Cake

As usual I have been busy on social media. I shared some sweet recipes like my Flourless Chocolate Cake and Caramelised Lime Tart

My Fast food fact this week I shared my blog on Keeping It Fresh.

Lots on next week including some new recipes and another food fact, so join me on Facebook and Instagram!

Travel with me in 2021 or 2022?

Sea urchins fresh from the sea in Puglia


I am full of hope for next year – but also realise we may not be travelling internationally that soon. So we have  delayed my planned Moroccan trip from May to October 2021, straight after the planned one to Puglia. Makes it worth being that side of the world and it will be fun to do back-to-back. Many more details to come, but here’s a heads up, although it is too soon to be thinking about travelling overseas again. Here are the dates:
Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata: 10-16 October 2021

Full details and prices here,
Morocco culinary tour probably mid or late-October 2021 but we are still fine-tuning the exact dates – some information here.

Colourful tagines, Morocco

Stay safe, healthy and happy. Keep up to date  on all my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Pinterest and my YouTube channel.

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