Hope and Cheer

Relieved to have received my second AstraZeneca vaccination


How are you? Another week of lockdown, and stricter this time, in Greater Sydney and certainly it seems we need it to really get on top of the Delta strain which is so contagious. But I want this post to be about Hope and Cheer. I am so grateful to have received my second AstraZeneca vaccination. So far so good and I believe that you are more likely to get a reaction the first time. Fingers crossed but so thankful to have been able to access vaccination and the hope that it will bring me one step closer to visiting my daughter and family in Singapore. Gratifying to see Melbourne and Victoria opening up. They did the hard yards and have had no new cases for 5 days and so deserve some freedom.

It’s NAIDOC weekan Australian observance lasting from the first Sunday in July until the following Sunday. The acronym NAIDOC stands for National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee. I was lucky enough to attend a breakfast zoom with Ronni Kahn from OzHarvest, along with Brad Banducci CEO of Woolworths and Christine Holgate ex-Australia Post. What an inspirational trio they made. The two guests were open, honest, respectful and shared their feelings and how they assisted feeding the vulnerable during the early stages of the Covid pandemic. In closing Ronni mentioned Isaiah Dawe, who shared the Butchulla Lore with the OzHarvest team the day before. It is worth sharing:

  • Whatever is good for the land comes first
  • Do not take or touch anything that does not belong to you
  • If you have plenty, you must share

In honour of NAIDOC Week this week, I shared my recipe for Okkah-crusted Barramundi with Coleslaw to encourage us embracing the flavours and produce of our own land. The “okkah” v dukkah is inspired one of our native cuisine pioneers Ray Kersh from Edna’s Table who honoured indigenous ingredients. SBS advises 13 Ways to use bush food in your baking.
You can join in NAIDOC events online as reported in The Urban List.

Look out on  Facebook and Instagram. Next week I will post some recipes for Bastille Day. It’s also where you will see photos of some of the delicious things I have eaten.



Okkah-crusted Barramundi with Coleslaw

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
Sir David Attenborough
Food Tips
Upcoming Events
Wines to Enjoy
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

Pork with Blood Orange Glaze, Fennel & Blood Orange Salad.

I love this recipe using seasonal blood oranges, however, it can also be made with normal oranges so is suitable for anywhere in the world. Pork with Blood Orange Glaze, Fennel & Blood Orange Salad.  You can watch it here. Subscribe to my YouTube channel here for all my other videos including meals in a minute. You can find the written recipe on my website here. There are quite a few other risotto recipes there too. Enjoy.

Recipes of the Week

Chicken Pie with Celeriac Mash

I know many of you are in the Northern Hemisphere, and while I am enjoying wintery dishes here in cold Sydney, my daughter in steamy Singapore requested this recipe as something which will appeal to her 4 1/2 year old, 2 year old, husband and her alike: Chicken Pie with Celeriac Mash, so it can suit us all. 
Here is also my blog on How To Prepare Celeriac.For something sweet, Steamed Fresh Ginger Pudding . Using fresh ginger rather than dried really makes a difference. Serve it with Greek yoghurt, cream or ice-cream

Steamed Fresh Ginger Pudding

Life In Colour – note the specialised camera

Second episode of Sir David Attenborough and Life in Colour this Saturday, July 10, At 7.30pm On Channel 9 & 9now.
Already on BBC in the UK and on Netflix Worldwide (except Australia)

Did you watch episode one with Sir David Attenborough, the world’s most famous wildlife TV presenter?   I was enthralled. The colour and the quality of the filming was peerless. I especially loved the special camera developed to film the fiddler crabs out of Cairns. And the patience of the cameraman lying there in the sand for hours on end to get the extraordinary footage. If you missed it, watch on 9NOW.  There will be a third episode on Saturday 17th and then the following week a “Making Of” episode which I think will be fascinating. On Saturday night there will be time to watch this before switching over to the tennis to see our Ash Barty in the Wimbledon women’s final. Go girl! And so charming that she is wearing a uniform which is a tribute to her hero, another indigenous tennis player,  Evonne Goolagong Cawley  who won the women’s singles 50 years ago.

Back to the Attenborough Show, as you know if you read last week’s newsletter, this is particularly special to me as my partner John introduced, nurtured and advised the two production companies Humble Bee Films in the UK and SeaLight Pictures in Australia. And I was immensely chuffed to see John’s name at the top of the list of thank you’s.

The end credits for Life in Colour

Food Tips

Delicious lemon curd and lemons – where are the egg whites?

Getting the Most Out of Lemons
I recently picked a whole lot of lemons in an orchard which I always appreciate as I have hot lemon drink first thing every morning. However, if you have too many to use, zest the rind and freeze it in a snap lock bag, then juice the lemons and freeze in ice cube trays. Once frozen they too can be bagged to take up less space in your freezer.

Egg Whites
A friend who was with me in the country decided to make her lemons into lemon curd. She was musing about the leftover egg whites and I shared my trick. I have an ice cube tray which has recesses in it big enough to hold one whole egg white. Again, once frozen, they can be bagged. It’s easy to see how many there are and you can take them out as needed and thaw. In face experience has shown me that egg whites whip up better when they have been frozen.

Odds and Ends of Cheese
Cheese rind is amazing when put in the microwave on high for a minute. Let it cool and it’s like a giant cheesy crisp. It’s also great added to a soup like minestrone. Grate any cheese you can’t eat before it gets mouldy and freeze, ready to use in cooking.

Cooking with Garlic
I love garlic and put it into a lot of my food. I find the flavour is best when it is crushed in a mortar and pestle with some salt. This is because the active ingredient, allicin, which gives garlic its pungent flavour, is enhanced by crushing. If you want a more delicate flavour, you can blanch peeled cloves in boiling water briefly then refresh, or roast whole in its skin. Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the cloves and it will be mellow and delicious.
Food and Wine share their tips for crushing garlic in a mortar and pestle.

Perfect risotto
I shared my basic Risotto Bianco video and recipe in last week’s newsletter. Now I have come across a lovely piece in Food and Wine Gazette The art of making the perfect risotto with Carlo Cracco which I enjoyed. I have enjoyed the food at his various restaurants in Milan so was pleased to read this with so much fascinating information.

Some trivia for you 

Before 2012, kale wasn’t the trendy salad food some people find it today. In fact, in the US the biggest kale buyer was Pizza Hut, which they used as a garnish on their salad bars. But not in the actual salads.

Upcoming Events

Chicken in a Pot with Preserved Lemon

Do you like Moroccan food? Above is a Moroccan inspired recipe which I love.
With overseas travel probably not an option this year, I am teaming up with my long term friend  and fabulous chef, Martin Boetz from 
The Cook’s ShedBy Prior Arrangement and multi-award-winning winemaker Neil McGuigan who will be presenting wines under his own personal label. I have worked with everyone before and it will be huge fun.
We will begin around 11am with a welcome drink, then sit down for a cooking demonstration from Martin and me, then a three course meal, eating what we’ve demonstrated, with accompanying wines. We will wrap up around 3.30pm.  The Cook’s Shed is a bespoke events space, recently refreshed. It’s located at  2 West Portland Road Sackville where Martin first set up Cook’s Co-op growing and supplying outstanding produce. It’s all Covid-safe. Think wood-fired oven, bubbling pots of warming food, recipes to take home and fun, fun, fun. An absolute maximum of 50 people.

Cost is $145 all inclusive and all bookings here.

It should be fun, friendly and informative at the inaugural Hunter Valley Writing & Wine Weekend at beautiful Wandin Estate September 11-12. The weekend is planned as an antidote to all we have endured in the last 18 months. You can buy one or two day tickets, plus a seat at the Chef’s Table Degustation Dinner featuring a performance by the one and only Wendy Harmer. I’m speaking on the Saturday about building a life around food, wine and travel and, of course, will be attending much more including the dinner. Book now to avoid disappointment. Thoughtfully, tickets can be cancelled with 7 days’ notice.
Ticket options are flexible : one or two day tickets or just the dinner.

Full programme and tickets here.
Book accommodation here
In case you can’t make it to the Hunter Valley, we’ll be live streaming parts of the event via the Wednesday Night Book Club facebook page.

Kirrihill Regional Series Riesling 2020 and Shiraz 2019

I haven’t written about wine for a while, though I have to say I have been grateful to try some during lockdown! this is the Cheer part of this post! Recently I have tried two which punch well about their weight. They are both from the Kirrihill Regional Series and in new branding. The series showcases classic Clare Valley varieties and are soft and approachable.

Kirrihill Regional Series Riesling 2020 RRP $19
Riesling is the premier white grape in Clare. This wine is dry, light-bodied, bright and crisp, balanced with fragrant citrus, mandarin and blossom notes. Concentrated flavours finishing with a clean,  fresh acidity.

Kirrihill Regional Series Shiraz 2019 RRP: $19.00
This is not too big a wine, probably because of maturation in tanks with only a small percentage seeing some French and American oak. It is nevertheless a plush and vibrant shiraz but not jammy or unbalanced.  Think aromas of  berries, pepper spice and hints of vanilla. Then its all  blackberry fruit, well-integrated oak, and a smooth lingering finish. Great value for money.

Let’s go overseas in late 2022?

I like to look ahead and not backwards, to a time when most of us are vaccinated, borders are open and we can look forward to travel again. I am a great fan of the fun and security of group travel. The security of travelling with a company specialising in its area, with a local guide fills me with confidence. So that’s what I’m doing. 

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Colourful traditional slippers beckon in the medinas in Morocco

Moroccan Culinary Tour begins in Rabat on Friday 23 September til Tuesday 4 October
This trip will see us travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and to Marrakech the red city. On the way you will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, visit a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. You’ll discover the delicacies of Moroccan and French food, dine in local eateries through to upmarket restaurants, and experience the making and flavours of Moroccan dishes during cooking classes. Luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads. sometimes in exclusivity. Only 10 – 12 guests.
By 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. 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.

Puglia Tour October 2022

Small group travel in Puglia is certainly fun

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

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