July Newsletter

Old friends are best friends – Tets (Tetsuya Wakuda)  and I have known each other since 1987 and it’s always a joy to catch up – but you’ll have to wait to next week to see where we ate as this newsletter is full!

Back in Australia now, it has been cold, very cold, though warm today – and in London it is 25 – 30’C. Crazy world. What’s even more crazy is the way once humble ingredients have become expensive superstars. Coming back to the cold, I thought I would make some warming, nourishing food and decided to make oxtail stew, just like my Mum did. However, I am still reeling from the butcher who wanted over $33 for 800g. Needless to say, I didn’t buy it and instead put some dried beans for soup to soak in water and defrosted ham bones left over from summer to make a winter soup. I’m pleased to say since then I found a butcher who charged just over a third of that first one, so I;’ll be having both soup and oxtail.
It has made me think about good value recipes. I recall in 2010 creating a menu for the international children’s charity, Plan Australia.
I came up with pearl barley and apple porridge for breakfast, 60c, rice and vegetable patties for lunch, $1.07, and a $1.33 dinner of spiced chicken wings with dahl. This, of course, also leads into thinking about waste and the opportunity of re-inventing recipes and using left overs to reduce the amount thrown out. OzHarvest has a fantastic campaign Fight Food Waste which releases a different tip every week. Well worth subscribing to. I like this week’s statement Cooking is where you can be a true food waste warrier”.

Jump ahead to see:
What’s In Season?
The sweet earthy flavours of beetroot and sweet potato brighten up winter dishes 
Cara Cara Navel Oranges
In Season Recipes
Five Fun Winter Food Facts
Tip of the Month 
Lollaproducer – For the Love of Producers
World Chocolate Day
Wine of the Week
Three fabulous tours next year
Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants

What’s In Season?

Beautiful Beetroot (left) and Fabulous Sweet Potatoes (right)
Images thanks to the Sydney Markets

Custard apples
Oranges: Cara Cara Navel
Oranges: Navel

Brussels sprouts
Jerusalem artichokes
Sweet potato

 The sweet earthy flavours of beetroot and sweet potato brighten up winter dishes 

I love colourful food and these vegetables deliver not only colour but flavour and winter comfort. Both are in good supply in Australia throughout winter. They are also very affordable and a great inexpensive way to bulk up meals.


Salad of beetroot feta and walnut from Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece cookbook.
Photography Chris Chen
Available for purchase here

The sweet earthy flavour of beetroot and its versatility make it one of my favourite veggies. It’s available year round with its peak season from mid winter to early summer.
In the last ten years there has been a colourful mix of beetroot varieties developed, many of them found at farmers and growers markets. Aside from regular beets look out for these smaller types, they’re little sweeter, you’ll find them tender and perfect for a salad without having to cook them first.
Baby beets are mini version of regular beetroot.
Small golden beetroots have a sweet taste and bright yellow appearance.
Target beetroot, also called bullseye beetroot are aptly named, when sliced they have a pink and white target pattern on the inside. Very attractive in salads.
How to buy and store
When buying fresh beetroot always look at the leaves, they should be fresh looking – bright and not wilted. You can eat leaves, just like silverbeet. They have a distinct earthy taste, great in salads when young or sauté them in extra virgin olive oil with a little garlic.
Check that the bulbs are firm and not overly large, the roots should be fairly smooth.
Beetroot  will keep well for a week or two in the fridge in a perforated plastic bag. The leaves will only keep for a day or two.
Good for you
Beetroot is a good source of folate, a B vitamin that contributes to normal growth and development in children as well as the formation of blood cells.
One medium beetroot provides about half an average adult’s recommended dietary intake of folate.
For a healthy start to the day juice it raw with apples, carrot and ginger.
Good things
Sprinkle roasted beetroot with goats cheese, crumbly blue cheese or salty creamy feta
A classic salad combo – beetroot with thinly sliced roast beef, water cress and creamy horseradish or cider vinegar, mustard dressing. Top with toasted pecans.
Make a shredded carrot and beetroot slaw for barbecued beef burgers
Garden pesto herb  with roasted, steamed and raw garden beetroots
Try this Epic chocolate and beetroot cake from Jamie Oliver
Some of my beetroot recipes that I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I do:
I would call kangaroo and beetroot a national Australian dish. Try my Kangaroo with native spices, beetroot and rosella sauce.
Quinoa and beetroot ‘risotto’, beetroot tzatziki and goat’s cheese
Salad of beetroot, feta and walnuts
And some great ideas from the Sydney Markets
Garlic roast beet, red onion & haloumi salad
Roasted beetroot soup

Is it kumara or sweetpotato?   

They’re actually the same thing. Sweetpotato are Native to Central America and the Pacific Islands. Kumara, is the Maori name for sweetpotato.
Sweetpotato is one word and despite having “potato” in its name sweetpotatoes do not belong to the same family as potatoes.
Sweetpotato is a storage root (an enlarged root) whereas potatoes are tubers (swollen underground stem or shoot). They come in gold, red, purple and white. Information from the Australian Sweetpotato Growers shed some light on this fabulous veggie.
Storage and prep
Like other types of potato they need to be stored in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place (for up to one week). There’s no need to peel sweet potatoes, just scrub their skin, slice and roast or bake. There also great on the barbecue, slice them thinly and brush with oil, cook on the char-grill.Try my Barbecued Beef Sirloin with Native Flavours and Barbecued Kumara

Sweetpotato, bacon & spinach bake
From Sydney Markets 

Sweet potatoes add sweetness to any dish. These ideas from Sydney markets show them at their best.

Sweet potato, bacon & spinach bake
Sweet potato wedges with avocado dip
Spiced kumara, fennel & chicken tray bake

Cara Cara Navel Oranges

Cara Cara look like any other navel orange, but behind their familiar orange skin lies a difference. Once cut, you’ll discover their pinkish- red flesh, eat them, and you’ll find an orange with a lovely sweetness, with just a hint of tang, similar to cranberry. Low in acidity, they are a very juicy and delicious eating orange.However, they are different from blood oranges which come later in the year.
Grown in Australia, they’re a cross between two navels and were first discovered in the mid-70s in Venezuela. Their exceptional flavour develops in the winter months, they thrive in the cool yet sunny days and chilly frosty nights in South Australia’s Riverland and Griffith in NSW’s Riverina.
Find them in markets and at some larger fruit and veg stores. They are only in season from mid June to early August.
Try this 
 Winter fruit tray bake

In Season Recipes

Steamed banana & ginger pudding with coffee ginger glaze & bruleed bananas

Slow roasted sage & thyme beef rump with winter vegetables
Luxe Irish stew of goat
Rag pasta with pumpkin and sage
Steamed banana & ginger pudding with coffee ginger glaze & bruleed bananas
Banana bread
Grapefruit delicious pudding

Five Fun Winter Food Facts

  1. Broccoli contains twice as much Vitamin C as an orange 
  2. Apples give you more energy than coffee
  3. Pecans are one of the richest sources of antioxidants
  4. Seaweed boasts higher levels of iodine than almost every other food
  5. Cheese has one of the highest protein-to-calorie ratios

Tip of the Month 
Season to taste

Seasoning is important in my Upside down salted caramel cheesecake with macadamia pretzel praline

Definition of season to taste to add as much salt or pepper or as much of a spice or herb as one likes so something tastes good

If only it was that simple! It can be a confusing measure. What it doesn’t mean is make it salty, rather make it tasty.
Recipes will often say ‘season to taste’. Learn to use your palate and remember that while under-seasoning may ruin your carefully constructed dish, it can be corrected while over-seasoning for the most part, cannot. Proceed with caution and taste, taste and taste again. It’s always best to season during the cooking rather than adding afterwards, except for something like a risotto where you are adding stock, as some stock can be quite salty. Also, some people should exclude added salt from their diet so this advice is not for you. Let me know if you want some tips for reducing salt and still making your food taste good. The easiest one is to use lemon juice at the end of a dish instead of salt.

My seasoning tips include
Try a three fingered pinch rather than a teaspoon – this supports my you can always add more approach. don’t have wet fingers or you will add too much.
Taste as you go, then taste again, and again. It’s all about tasting and adjusting to bring out the best in what you are cooking.
Choose your salt wisely. While I like salt flakes – always Australian please, like  Murray River, at the table, for your health you should use iodised salt for cooking. Iodine is very important for our thyroid function and although we can get it from seafood it’s simple if you use iodised salt.
Remember salt takes many forms – don’t add salt if you are using soy sauce or fish sauce
Think about the saltiness of your ingredients like olives, anchovies, capers or bacon, as then you may not need any salt
Consider the temperature you are serving you end dish at. Cold suppresses flavour, so you may need a little more for something served cold

Lollaproducer – For the Love of Producers
connecting primary producers to chefs in Australia

The calm before the storm – all set up and ready to go in Carriageworks, Sydney

Brainchild of John Susman from Fishtales and Alexandra Olsson from Olsson’s Salt Lollaproducer is  a food show like no other. Born from their shared love of the diversity and excellence of the region’s produce, John and Alexandra rounded up 60 of the cream of the Australian food crop to present their products to the food industry at this “best-in-class” food show.Targeted specifically at the food service sector, John & Alexandra’s raison d’etre is to connect industry professionals directly to the people who produce the ingredients they love to use.  

Amazingly large sea urchins and fabulous display of clams from Australian Live Seafood

 It was categorised loosely into six areas: Green Grocer, Meat Alley, the Wet Market, Lollalactose, The Bar and Hardware. I was familiar with many of the producers, especially those displaying their Sydney Royal medals and ribbons. I was delighted to meet some that I didn’t know. First stop was at Australian Live Seafood.

A  family-operated company,the director Emmanuel Simitzis  is a Marine Biologist(UNSW 2000) with a passion for sourcing and delivering the highest quality LIVE seafood sourced from Australia. what caught my attention was their focus on NSW seafood. They are the sole distributor of many Live seafood products harvested from The NSW Coastline in a sustainable manner such as Strawberry Clams(the season currently closed between May and August) Flame Cockles ,Chocolate Surf Clams, Live Eastern King Prawn, Pippies, Live Blue swimmer crabs, Black Lip Abalone, Sea Urchin (purple long spine, red short spine species), oysters and many other species.

They supply both wholesalers and retailers (like Nicholas seafood, Peter’s Seafood at Sydney Fish Market) locally and interstate. All their products are purged on their premises using commercial live seafood tanking systems so they are free from sand and grit.
They supplied Noma with the Flame Cockles, Strawberry Clams and Pipis that were used in the signature dish in their Sydney pop up restaurant at Barrangaroo in 2016.
They also supply such reputable restaurants as Quay, Bennelong,  Firedoor, Rockpool Bar and Grill,  Otto, Manta, Cirrus, The Star Casino, Jonahs and Golden Century..
They constantly strive to find unique species for the marketplace and work directly with local fishermen in training them to use techniques to catch, handle and hold live specimens and pay them more for their live catch as opposed to them selling it as fresh or frozen product. This in turn allows for a more sustainable practice as less live-caught product is required to be caught for the same amount of money. Impressive.

L: Display from Marine Greens and R: native produce from Outback Pride Fresh

Anyone who has followed my work in the last 30+ years would know I am a long-time advocate of Australian native produce. I was taught b y my friends Jennice & Ray Kersh who opened Edna’s Table Restaurant in 1981. They opened up a whole new world to me. they were pioneers and, as is so often the case, not recongised at the time except by a handful.

Now the food world is abuzz with the joys of local, and of foraging, something the First Australians did instinctively. So I was thrilled to renew my friendship with Gail Quarmby from Outback Pride Fresh, who supply native greens and other produce to chefs around Australia. The Outback Pride Project was created by Gayle and her husband Mike from Reedy Creek, South Australia in 2001. Their aim was to provide opportunities for remote Aboriginal communities to access an industry where their traditional knowledge would be valued. The focus of the project was their vision of “Jobs and Training for Indigenous Australians”. They saw that the bush food industry should be operated as a parallel to the aboriginal art industry. Both these industries have a unique cultural and commercial ownership by Indigenous Australians.

Fast forward many years and they have been joined by government and others and have added a co-op like value adding arm . Combining the knowledge of traditional uses of the bushfoods with western food practices, the end use products are available under the brand name “Outback Pride”.

The group of aboriginal communities that form the Outback Pride network represent the largest bushfood growing organization in Australia. The range on display included Ice plant, karkalla (a succulent seaf vegetable), saltbush, seablite, sea parsley and warrigals along with lemon aspen, Davidso plums and wild hisbicus or rosella.

Beside them were Snowy River Station with their Marine Greens. Beginning with samphire in 2008, they now have a range including Beach Bananas, Sea Spray, Sea Parsley, Oyster Leaf and 3 different types of seaweeds I was also fascinated by their Sea Noodles and Neptune’s Beard, a tender, fine textured and nutritious seaweed with an incredible crunch.

There’ll be more about Lollaproducer in coming weeks.

World Chocolate Day
7 July

Chocolate sponge kisses with rose and raspberry filling.

World Chocolate Day causes me to recall that quote “Nine out of ten people love chocolate, the other is lying”. Well, whether you are a chocolate lover or not, it’s a bit of fun to think there is a world chocolate day. I created these Chocolate sponge kisses when I created a High Tea in front of Albury Railway Sttion to recall the glory of times gone by in the days of grand rail travel when filming Taste of Australia

Wine of the Week

Tahbilk 2016 Shiraz

Coming home to colder weather meant a perfect time to get into some shiraz. this one from the Nagambie Lakes from Tahbilk, previous winners of the Royal Agricultural Society of NSW President’s Medal comes from a company established in 1860 and still in the same Purbrick family. While it certainly fruit-driven,m it is more subtle than that may sound and has an appealing savouriness along with spice and black pepper as well as varietal dark cherry. Iff only I hadn’t drunk it, would go perfectly with my oxtail stew.

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. https://www.maryrossitravel.com/lyndey-milan-japan/. We have an upper limit of 20 people and there is a reasonable single supplement.Should you be interested there is an information night on 10 July where I will cook some food, and specialists from Japan will go into the itinerary in depth. Claudia is so excited she and her husband are coming too! While there is obviously no charge for this, you do need to book – information and booking here  https://www.maryrossitravel.com/information-night/

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 https://www.travelrite.com.au/food-wine-tours/gourmet-nz-jan-2019.html . 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 will be very similar to what we did this year and will be available shortly.

Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants

Australia’s Top 100 Restaurants Awards were announced on 2 July, with Dan Hunter’s Brae in Birregurra taking out the top spot.

Now in its fourth year, the final list is selected by Australia’s top chefs and restaurateurs from a selection of 500 restaurants.

Sydney’s Ester and Saint Peter took the number two and three positions respectively, with Attica taking fourth and Africola in South Australia rounding out the top five.

Saint Peter chef and owner Josh Niland took out the award for Australia’s Top Chef and Tasmania’s Agrarian Kitchen Eatery was named Australia’s Top Newcomer. Brae was the recipient of the Top Service Team award and the Rare Medium Award given to Firedoor in Sydney.

Meanwhile, short segments from my Taste of Ireland TV series can be seen on SBS Food Network – program times here.
What are you cooking,eating and drinking?

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