Happy Christmas and Happy Birthday Isabel, with her parents Lucy Milan Davis & Toby Davis

HAPPY NEW YEAR

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and hopefully a relaxing break? I did! It was lovely to be home, enjoying the warm weather and catching up with family and friends. My daughter Lucy, husband Toby and baby Isabel were in town and we celebrated Issy’s 2nd birthday on Christmas Day before Christmas dinner for 24 or our extended family. We share the load with preparation and cooking on the day which makes it easy and stress-free. We enjoy games and all sorts of silliness and the kids (including Issy) all swim before dinner.

I don’t often put personal things in this  update, but I am immensely proud of my daughter and the business she began, solo, from scratch in London in 2009. Lucy Sparkles & Friends now has four branches in South London, one in Canberra and she has just set up in Singapore. She and her trained team teach music, singing, drama and dance to mothers and babies up to 6 year olds. Also amazing birthday parties and special events. Wherever you are, if there are little ones in your life they will really enjoy the Lucy Sparkles & Friends Youtube channel. My favourites are a song Lucy wrote Stinky Sox and all ages will love her latest Mary Poppins arrangement featuring Lucy and other Sparkles.

L: Kerri-Anne Kennerley, me, Jo Casamento on the set of Studio 10. In front L to R chicken stir fry and chicken stroganoff. Jo and I are tasting Asian chicken salad in lettuce cups.

It has already been a busy start to the year as I cooked on Studio 10 last Tuesday with my dear friend Kerri-Anne Kennerley and another mate Jo Casamento. Neither of these ladies is known for their love of cooking, so it was a challenge getting 3 different recipes using left-over roast chicken done but was all a bit of fun, as usual. You can catch up on the segment here. Let me know if you’d like the recipes.

Jump ahead to see:

What’s In Season

In season tomatoes in all their myriad colours and sizes

Fruit

  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Limes
  • Lychees
  • Mangoes
  • Melons
  • Nectarines
  • Oranges: Valencia
  • Passionfruit
  • Peaches
  • Pears: Williams
  • Pears: Paradise
  • Pineapple
  • Plums
  • Rambutans

Veggies

  • Asparagus
  • Beans: Green
  • Beans: Flat
  • Beans: Butter
  • Capsicums
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Okra
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Radish
  • Sweetcorn
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

The best in fruit and veggies this week in Australia

L: top: blackberries, raspberries & blueberries, bottom papya with yoghurt, blueberries and granola and R: limes

FRUIT

Mid-season varieties of peaches and nectarines are aromatic and extremely scrumptious. Both white and yellow fleshed stonefruit are available. Enjoy them fresh or try them in this Peach & Blueberry Skillet Pancake for breakfast, brunch or dessert. 

Juicy and plump with a sweet-tangy flavour, early plums varieties are a good quality and a choice buy. There are several varieties to select from including Queen Rosa, Laroda, Dappled Danny, Black Ebony Treat. Try this delicious Poached Plums With Coconut Chia for breakfast.

Bananas are top value. Keep kids cool with these icy treats Banana & Chocolate Smoothie Pops the recipe makes 10.

Extra-large R2E2 mangoes from Mareeba are a top buy. Mangoes are delicious used in summer marinade a adding a tropical sweetness to chicken and pork. Try this at your next barbecue Char-Grilled Mango, Chilli & Lime Chicken.

Snap up sweet eating late season cherries. Cherries are coming from South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. Cherries are superb quality with a good shelf life.

There’s nothing like a bunch of crisp chilled, glistening grapes as a snack or to complement a rich cheese platter or salad this Grape, Leafy Greens & Pine Nut Salad is quick and easy to make. Select from Menindee, Crimson Flame seedless and Midnight Beauty.

Berries are plentiful, so grab a few punnets this week, blueberriesraspberries, Victorian strawberries  and blackberries. Berries are highly perishable, so use within 1 – 2 days of purchasing for maximum quality.

Luscious, juicy and refresh lychees are a summer favourite.  100g of lychee flesh provides the recommended dietary intake of vitamin C for a day. Team with tropical tasting papaya and juicy limes.

Pick up extra sweet rockmelon or fridge size mini lee watermelons, these small melons weigh about 2-3 kilos each and a super sweet and flavoursome.

L: clockwise from top; butter beans, snake beans, green beans and flat beans; R: tomatoes and sweetcorn

VEGETABLES

Golden cobs of Hawkesbury grown sweetcorn are in season. Add sweetcorn to fritters, salads or burgers. This Mexican Sweetcorn & Bean Salad is packed with flavour and healthy goodness.

Summer is the peak time for richly flavoured tomatoes. With so many different varieties to now available, it’s the perfect time to enjoy a range of tomatoes with different shapes, colours, textures and flavours. These Basil, Spinach & Olive Pesto, Ricotta & Tomato Bruschetta make a fresh lunch.

Sydney grown Cos lettuce is a top buy this week. Add some crunch to your salads with crisp Cos lettuce.

Snake beans are good value,  with a taste and texture similar to a green bean. However they are around 30 cm in length with a slightly flexible texture. To prepare, cut beans crossways into lengths, microwave, boil, steam or stir-fry. Popular in Asian cuisines.

Zucchinis are a breeze to prepare. No need to peel, simply slice, dice or grate. Try this salad Char-Grilled Zucchini, Rocket & Prosciutto Salad .

Machine harvested green beans are a thrifty buy or choose hand-picked beans. Mix it up and try the golden coloured butter beans teamed with green beans as they look and taste superb. Try this Bean, Asparagus & Ham Salad With Basil Dressing.

Summertime is the best time to enjoy locally grown eggplants. Versatile eggplants can be enjoyed roasted, grilled, barbecued, fried or baked. 

Focus on Cherries

Radishes

LUSCIOUS CHERRIES

The Aussie cherry season lasts around 100 days from November through to late summer so don’t miss out on this prized summer gem.

This superfruit not only tastes delicious, it is nutrient rich and contains beneficial antioxidants known to have potential disease-fighting properties.

EASY PREP

It’s hard to beat the sweet taste of a fresh cherry straight from the stalk. Simply rinse in cold water and they’re ready to eat. Use a cherry-pitter to easily remove the seeds – this convenient gadget is available from kitchen shops

WAYS TO USE CHERRIES

  • For picture perfect desserts, top your favourite sponge or pavlova with whipped cream and a crown of glossy cherries. Sprinkle with grated chocolate for added decadence.
  • Plump cherries teamed with soft creamy brie or goat’s cheese and crackers make the perfect cheese platter.
  • For a savoury twist, drizzle cherries with olive oil and caramelised balsamic vinegar and roast until tender. They pair perfectly with roast turkey or chicken.

CHERRY RECIPES
My Roast duck with roasted cherries
Smoked duck with spiced pickled cherries
Cherry tiramisu trifle

Chocolate-dipped cherries
Cherry & coconut ice-cream cake
Italian cherry parfait with sweet basil puree

More cherry information here.

Recipe of the week

Caramelised Stone Fruit Bombe Alaska

This recipe comes from episode 2 of Lyndey Milan’s Summer Baking SecretsThis is a two for one recipe … bake the stone fruit and use half for luscious breakfast fruit or dessert and the other half to make this stunning dessert!

Serves 8 – 10
Preparation Time: 30 minutes + overnight freezing
Cooking Time: 20 minutes for fruit, 10 minutes for Bombe

Baked Summer Stone Fruit
1 cup (220g) sugar
1/3 cup (75g) brown sugar
1 cup (250ml) water
1/3 cup (120g) honey
1 vanilla bean pod, optional
5 medium (approx 1kg) firm white nectarines
5 medium (approx 1kg) firm yellow peaches
4 medium (approx 450g) firm red plums
8 medium (approx 400g) firm apricots

Ice Cream Filling
2 litre rich vanilla ice cream, softened
300g jar thick caramel sauce
12 (100g) savoiardi (sponge or ladyfingers)

Meringue
4 egg whites
1 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar

  1. For the baked summer stone fruit: Preheat oven to moderate, 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Put the sugars, water, and honey and split vanilla bean in a small saucepan over moderate heat; stir to combine, bring to the boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. While syrup cooks, prepare fruit. Wash and wipe dry. Starting at the pit cut each piece in half by cutting all the way around the fruit. Twist the two sides in opposite directions until they separate. Remove stones with a melon baller, if desired. Put nectarines, peaches and plums in large baking dish. Leave room for the apricots. Pour the syrup over the fruit and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Add the apricots after the first 10 minutes.
  3. For the ice cream filling: Line a 10 cup capacity pudding bowl or basin with Glad plastic wrap, leaving a good overhang. Cut half the cooled baked fruit into small pieces. Fold through the softened ice cream. Spoon one third of the ice cream into the basin, drizzle with one third of the caramel sauce, then repeat twice with the ice cream and caramel sauce. Finish with the savoiardi, gently pushing them over the top of the ice cream. Bring the sides of the plastic wrap up and in to cover the savoiardi. Refrigerate for at least six hours or overnight.
  4. Bring the ice cream out of the freezer to the fridge for 1 hour before you would like to serve. Alternatively stand it at room temperature for 30 minutes (if it’s not too hot). Invert it onto a flat heatproof plate or oven tray. Remove the Glad plastic wrap.
  5. Preheat oven to hot 220°C (200°C fan-forced).
  6. For the meringue: Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. The mixture should be thick and glossy. Add the vinegar and beat for a further 30 seconds.Spread the meringue over the top and side of the ice cream, using a spatula to create swirls of meringue. Place it in the hot oven and bake for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. Serve immediately. Cut the Bombe Alaska with a sharp flat bladed knife.

Lyndey’s Note: the baked stone fruit is delicious served warm with ice-cream as a dessert or cold with Greek yoghurt for breakfast.

In Season Recipes

Christmas zabaglione semi-freddo

Quinoa, nectarine and avocado salad
Avocado, sweet corn & tomato salsa cups
Microwave sweetcorn with garlic butter
Avocado salad
Summer salad with asparagus and goats curd

Octopus salad with green beans and potato
Haloumi salad nicoise
Sweetcorn and ham fritters
Muffaleta

Salmon with warm Romesco salad
Cataplana
Prime rib of beef with baby bean, corn and sweet pepper salad
Drop scones with blackberry compote
Nectarine and macadamia tart

New Selector Magazine

Get the best of food+wine+travel with Jan/Feb issue of Selector

 This issue highlights the best in food+wine from 2018 with the centrepiece being the 50 Best wines of the Year as tasted by the expert Wine Selectors Tasting Panel. See who they scored as Wine of the Year.
There’s also the best tastings, recipes and cookbooks of 2018 as well as fresh features with Darren Robertson, Peter Kuruvita and Anthony Puharich from Victor Churchill.
My recipes are Prawn & pineapple salad with lime dressing and Barramundi with lemon myrtle and native spices

Add to that Selector’s list of the best places to eat in the Hunter Valley, a guide to Kangaroo Island’s culinary delights and a trek to the highest winery in the world and you’ve got the best ingredients to welcome in 2019.

It’s Rosé time

L: Bremerton 2018 Racy Rosé  (RRP $17); R: Tahbilk 2018 Grenache Grenache Mourvèdre Rosé (RRP$21.50)

Rosè
The perfect summer wine in many ways and so very versatile especially with food because rosè possesses qualities of both red and white wines. What’s so surprising is that it has taken Australians so long to wake up to the wonders of good rosè.
Hot summery afternoon, sitting in the sun overlooking the view with a glass of cold rosè, what could be better? Four of you out for lunch, nobody wants to drink too much yet the food ordered is salmon steak with an onion marmalade, mustard crumbed sweetbreads, chicken breast with garlic aioli and a Caesar salad. What to drink? Rosè of course.
Traditionally rosè was made as a by product in those years where the berries were big and full and juicy the winemaker had a low fruit to skin ratio and in order to make the “main” wine more robust, shortly after fermentation began some juice was ‘bled’ off the top to increase the ratio. This ‘bled’ wine (the French term is saignee meaning bled) was slightly pink and was rosè. So rosè can be a red varietal wine that has had minimal skin contact during fermentation or it can be wine made in two separate batches (one red and one white) that are later blended. The problem with rosè is that there is a huge range of rosè styles, some very dry, crisp and just slightly tannic (the style we prefer) yet others similar to alcoholic fruit cordial. Grape variety is usually a good guide; Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache and increasingly others. More importantly lack of any varietal naming would indicate a lesser and probably sweeter style. Pedigree has a lot to do with it; if this is a reputable maker with a name for serious table wine then it will probably be a dryer style. Price is also an indicator, there are few dry style serious rosés under $15 so the cheaper the sweeter is also a guide.

Food Matches
Versatility is rosé’s greatest asset but it is by definition a lighter style wine that will not cope with big robust flavours or richness. Chilling wine reduces the oral impact of the hopefully high acid content but also makes fats like butter solidify and get sticky. Good rosè will still have a high degree of fruit sweetness that chilling will also highlight. It’s not the wine for venison stew; remember its light fresh and summery wine that goes with light, fresh summery food, its daytime wine, not for after the sun has set. Fabulous with paella and other Provencal dishes.Extract from Balance. Matching food & Wine. What Works & Why by Lyndey Milan & Corney

Longview Nebbiolo Rosato ($26)

Some rosès I’ve enjoyed recently:
Bremerton 2018 Racy Rosé  (RRP $17); made from estate grown Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz to make a textural, dry style dubbed a “racy little number” by Mignonne, the mother of the sisters who own and run Bremerton.
Tahbilk 2018 Grenache Grenache Mourvèdre Rosé (RRP $21.50): only the second vintage of this wine which won gold and Best Rosé at its first outing to the Royal Queensland Wine Show. 60% Grenache 40% Mourvèdre, it is delightfully savoury and dry with good weight and gentle spice.
Longview Nebbiolo Rosato ($26) : another dry style made from the Italian grape Nebbiolo, this takes on the Italian name for rosé. The bottle (pictued above) is printed with fine, filigreed artwork representing the Queen of the Ancient Roman Gods, Juno – goddess of Heaven, Matrimony and Women and was the daughter of the all-powerful Saturn, God of Harvest. An image of Saturn appears on Longview’s Nebbiolo bottle and is the namesake of the Saturno family, owners of Longview Vineyard.

Interesting Reading 

Cool food in Gourmet Traveller

Gourmet Traveller has something after my own heart. When I was Food Director of The Australian Women’s Weekly I banned the girls in the Test Kitchen from using an oven in February because it’s just too hot. I would also do something on Cool Food. I really like Gourmet Traveller’s Chilled recipes for summer.
There are also recipes for Summertime pickles.
See if you agree with their Top 100 restaurants in Australia for 2019.
Jancis Robinson insists that Fine wine can be white too.

What’s On

360 Bar & Dining, Australia Square, Sydney

Time Out shares Dine like a star with Sydney Festival Feasts
Next Wednesday 16th  I am appearing at the Australia Day media launch from 10.15am at Hickson Reserve so keep an eye out for coverage on all the TV networks and in the newspapers.

I am again an Australia Day Ambassador, this year in the Upper Lachlan shire. If you’re in the region, do come and say hello. As revealed in The Crookwell Gazette, my schedule is:

Gunning, 8am – 9.45am at Barbour Park, Yass Street. 

  • Barbecue breakfast and local awards. 

Crookwell, 8am – 12pm at Crookwell Memorial Park, Robertson Street. 

  • Barbecue breakfast, live music, games and local awards. 

Taralga, 12pm – 1pm at Showgrounds, Bannaby Road. 

  • Celebrations are part of the Taralga Rodeo and will include local awards

Techniques and Know-How

Glorious Summer stonefruit: peaches, nectarines, plums and apricots

Lifestyle shares Tricks to store and ripen stonefruit – also how to select.
Women’s Weekly Food explains How to poach the perfect egg. However, this is a controversial one. I don’t like the addition of vinegar as I can taste. Jamie Oliver has some 3 different tips for How to make perfect poached eggs – well worth a watch on Foodtube.
Pure Wow reveals 12 things professional chefs want you to stop doing in the kitchen.

Travel in 2019

Matera, one of the top places to visit in 2019. Image by Max in Puglia

One writer on Lifestyle food shares a personal list of Best places to travel in 2019.
However, Traveller.com.au asks their experts to name their  Best places to travel in 2019. That’s 19 people who at the top of the travel industry in hotels, package holidays, flight and cruise specialists, tour authorities and bespoke travel designers. They all said the biggest challenge was the incredible range available. “Many agreed, of course, on some of the strongest travel trends, such as the increasing popularity of all-inclusive packages, the hankering to visit ever more exotic and faraway places, and our apparently insatiable appetite for a good cruise.”
It was noted that  “personalised travel experiences that have great stories behind them – a hotel or destination that genuinely immerses you in its history or culture”. Japan is right up there and amazingly popular for many of them and while there were some destinations off the beaten track, Sri Lanka is hot, the Maldives recommended for not being too expensive and Europe remains a perennial favourite. Recommendations were made to travel in should seasons when prices are better and the masses not there.

National Geographic has a list with Matera, Italy placed 15 out of 28. This amazing place also appears in the Travel+Leisure list.
I’m so pleased that my two hosted tours for next year appear on these lists: Puglia & Basilicata and Japan; and satisfy the demand for personalised travel with great stories and immersion in history and culture. Both entirely different destinations but with the same small group, carefully curated content and personal service. 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:
The Food Adventure in Puglia  and Basilicata trip in May with Southern Visions begins in Matera,14 – 20 October, 2019. The program is very similar to what we did this year.
Details here.

Japan will be a new destination for me next year, hosting a land content tour here  in May 2019 

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.

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

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Lyndey

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