With wine communicator & TV host, Amelia Singer at Leiths School of Food and Wine, London

It was Samuel Johnson who said “He who is tired of London is tired of life”. Or she, of course and how true that is. While we may miss family, friends and events at home, how incredible to be able to appreciate all that London and farther afield have to offer.
Last Saturday I attended Leiths School of Food and Wine for a food and wine matching lunch session Wines from Around with World with Amelia Singer. Amelia is a presenter on The Wine Show, as is Joe Fattorini who featured in last week’s June newsletter. She is a wine consultant, teacher and communicator with a freshness about the approachable way she talks about wine. She introduced four wines blind for us to taste and comment on, along with a dish especially for each, to taste and then see how our opinion of the wine may change. We came away with recipes and tasting notes. I won’t write more now as I hope to publish a full article on the experience, but was a highly enjoyable 2 1/2  hours and I would recommend both the superb set-up at Leiths and the presenting skills of Amelia.More about this week in London below, and apologies that I am unlikely to get an update out next week as I am cooking for a cocktail party for 60 for our TV company Flame next Thursday, I have the AGM and Summer Garden Party for the Australian Women’s Club  and I return to Australia the following week, hopefully in time for the birth of my daughter’s second baby in Sydney.  Exciting times.

Amelia with the starter, Cod with wild garlic puree and barbecued asparagus and Alpine strawberry Eton mess cheesecake

Jump ahead to see:
This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
Recipe of the Week
Focus on Kohlrabi
Special Offer in Japan
My TV Shows on SBS Food

This Week in London
Interesting Reading
What’s On
How to …..

Join me in Morocco 16 – 28 April 2020

Strawberries, mandarins and quinces


Dress up a winter salad with sliced or diced avocados. The nutty flavoured Hass avocados are in plentiful supply. Team avocados with winter citrus, peppery baby rocket leaves and a drizzle of olive oil for a quick salad.

Fill your fruit bowl with vibrant orange coloured mandarins. There are several varieties to choose from. South Australian fruit is firm skinned and juicy.

Supplies of Queensland strawberries are increasing. Enjoy a strawberry dessert, like this scrumptious Rhubarb & strawberry meringue pudding.

Tangy lemons are plentiful and a great buy in winter. Soothe sore throats with warmed lemon juice and a spoonful of honey or add lemon juice and rind to puddings and cheesecakes. Tangy lemon tarts are delicious or add a squeeze of lemon juice to a soup to sharpen the flavour. This Greek lemon & chicken soup is a classic.

Crunchy like an apple and juicy like a pear, flavoursome nashi is a winter favourite. No need to peel before using, their tender skin is rich in fibre and softens when cooked. Nashi is also perfect for enjoying raw as a healthy snack or try poaching them for a fruity dessert. 

Delicately scented, exotic quinces are in good supply in June and July. Closely related to apples and pearsquince can be stewed, baked, poached or used to make jams, jellies and pastes. They are superb slowly simmered in a sugar and cinnamon syrup. 

Purple cauliflower, Jerusalem artichokes and leeks


Nutty tasting Jerusalem artichokes are a winter treat. Delicious roasted or boiled and pureed for a full flavoured soup or peel and use in similar ways to water chestnuts. Tip: When using to make soup leave the skin on, this gives the soup a rich caramel colour and adds to the fibre content.

The natural goodness of Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage shines in winter. Sautéed, steamed or tossed in a hot wok, these easy-to-prepare vegetables require minimum cooking. Chinese cabbage also is known as Wombok is also good value. Keep and eye out for vibrant purple cauliflowers.

Roast, chopped orange sweet potato (kumara) with red onion wedges in olive oil flavoured with cumin and coriander for 30 minutes or until tender. Mashed kumara is a delicious and vibrant coloured topping for a cottage pie

If you like cauliflower, you will adore Fioretto. Also known as cauliflower blossom, this new veggie has succulent, tender long stems and edible white florets which have a delicate cauliflower flavour. A great alternative to cauliflower or broccolini, it is best enjoyed, steamed or stir-fried. 

What celeriac lacks in appearance it certainly makes up for in flavour and versatility. Celeriac has a delicate celery flavour and starchy texture which makes it ideal for making a heavenly mush or creamy soup. Small to medium sized bulbs are the better buy.

Vibrantly coloured with a sweet earthy flavour, beetroot is delicious roasted and blended into a soup. It has an amazingly rich colour and is packed with flavour. The purple pigments in beetroot, known as anthocyanins may act as antioxidants. 

Serve shaved fennel in salads, add to curries, serve them roasted or create a flavour packed pasta dish like this Fennel, tomato & Italian sausage spaghetti

Loved for their soft, oniony flavour and lovely aroma, leeks are used as a base for a stew or braise, as you would onions. Leeks are perfect for featuring in a vegetable pie or team with potato, pumpkin, carrot or celeriac to make a creamy soup. 

Recipe of the Week

Three Level Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe comes from episode 1 of Lyndey Milan’s Baking Secrets, which screens on SBS Food (Channel 33) at every night at 6pm from Sunday 16 June until 21 June. It is part of SBS Food Channel 33’s Sweet Treats month, with shows packed with sweets, baking, and chocolate 6pm every night from June 3, then on SBS On Demand.

Serves 6
Preparation 35 minutes
Cooking 45 minutes

1 tablespoon (20ml) extra virgin olive oil
500g lamb mince
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 sprigs rosemary, leaves finely chopped
2 tablespoons plain flour (optional)
250ml (1/2 cup) chicken stock
400g tinned chopped tomatoes

1 tablespoon (20ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon (20g) butter
4 large red onions, peeled and cut into 1cm rings
¼ cup (60ml) balsamic vinegar
2tablespoons brown sugar

Vegetable mash
1.5kg assorted vegetables (parsnips, sweet potato, cauliflower, celeriac – whatever is in season)
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add lamb mince, finely chopped onion, carrot, garlic and rosemary.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to break up the mince, until the mince is cooked and the vegetables are tender.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  (If desired for a quicker, thick result, add flour and cook, stirring to incorporate, for a further 2 minutes.)  Stir through stock and tomatoes and when it comes to the boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 15 – 20 minutes or until the sauce is thick.

For caramelised onions: Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan over a low to medium heat. Add onions and cook stirring from time to time, for 10-15 minutes, or until onions have softened and are just beginning to colour.  Add the vinegar and sugar and cook for 2 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

For  the vegetable mash: Cut all vegetables roughly into 5cm pieces.  Bring a large saucepan or stockpot of salted water to the boil, add vegetables and garlic, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.  Drain well, return cooked vegetables and garlic to saucepan and toss over low heat to evaporate any excess moisture.  Add  the olive oil and mash using a hand or stick blender. Don’t  worry if a few lumps remain.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To assemble: Preheat oven to 180’C.  Spoon cooked lamb mixture into a greased heavy 30cm x 20cm baking dish and smooth the top.  Sprinkle with the caramelised onions and top with dollops of vegetable mash.  Using a fork, gently smooth the mash out towards the edge of the dish leaving a little of the onions lamb uncovered. Create rough peaks over the mash with the fork and drizzle with a little extra olive oil if you like.  Bake for 45 minutes or thoroughly hot and golden.

Focus on Kohlrabi


This crisp nutritious veggie is stepping into the spotlight this winter. Super-healthy, it’s from the same family as cabbage, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts. Kohlrabi is high in dietary fibre and vitamin C. It is crunchy like broccoli stems and tastes similar to sweet mild turnip.

To buy: Select kohlrabi with a vibrant, firm bulb and crisp leaves. Avoid ones with yellow leaves. Choose from the white-pale jade green or deep purple-skinned varieties. The smaller bulbs are milder and crunchier so opt for ones similar in size to baseballs.

To eat: At its best in colder months, kohlrabi can be eaten raw or cooked. The leaves and stems are edible but must be very fresh and crisp. Trim then finely slice or shred the bulb using a V-slicer or sharp knife. Alternatively, cut kohlrabi into matchsticks.

  • Team kohlrabi with savoy cabbage and thinly sliced pear in a winter slaw.
  • Toss into a stir-fry with chicken, chilli and green onions then splash with sesame oil and soy sauce.
  • Add kohlrabi to enhance veggie and minestrone soups.

Special Offer in Japan

Great fun and food on the Arigato Osaka Food Tour

If you read my weekly update after my Japan trip, you may recall I mentioned fabulous walking food tours in Tokyo and Osaka. These are run by Arigato Japan Food Tours and are available for anyone but give an exclusive insiders view, along with generous tastings, from a local. I went on the Golden Gai tour in Tokyo and the Nightlife Osaka Food Tour. You can see some photos of Tokyo here and Osaka here.
Both tours had fun, informed and energetic hosts, lots of hints and tips, delicious food and great value for money. They have tours in other cities too. Now, they are offering 10% off all their tours in Japan  except their 
Ultimate Ramen tour in Tokyo) for subscribers. Just quote “Lyndey10” when you are booking and enjoy. Let me know if you go?

My TV Shows on SBS Food

Cooking in the Harland & Wolf drawing room where the Titanic was designed, Belfast

I am absolutely thrilled that hot on the heels of Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece’s successful run on SBS Food (Channel 33) (now available on catch-up), both Baking Secrets and Taste of Ireland begin screening this coming weekend! As noted above in recipe of the week, Baking Secrets is on every night from this Sunday 16th at 6pm for 6 nights. Taste of Ireland begins with double episodes weekly from this Saturday 15 June.
To whet your appetite,  Episode 1 is set in Belfast where I visit the home of the most famous ship in the world, Titanic. I dine from the first class menu of Titanic’s very last night. Further afield is the Antrim coast, filled with tales of fighting giants and a magnificent castle perched on a cliff. Then it’s back to the city with a tour in Billy’s taxi cab to explore the city and St Georges Market before visiting Irish chef Andy Rae for a contemporary take on classic Irish food.

Episode 2 is in County Cork where I begin at The English Market meeting shopkeepers in this Aladdin’s Cave of food. Then onto the stunning 100-acre Ballymaloe organic farm of Ireland’s most influential ‘slow food’ family, the Allens, cooking with their matriarch, Darina and catching up with her daughter-in-law Rachel who is shooting her new TV series. Then on to the charming seaside village of Kinsale, home to celebrity chef and fish restaurateur Martin Shanahan, who takes me hand-fishing for mackerel before I cook it on the beach in sight of the historic Charles Fort.

L: Duck breast with madeira and R: with the legendary Darina Allen from Ballymaloe

There’s a whole six nights of viewing from 6 – 6.30pm of Baking Secrets on SBS Food (Channel 33) starting Sunday 16 June. Here’s a taste of what you’ll see:
Episode 1: Heartwarming Classics
I share some classic recipes (see above), but also with a twist making a  lamingtini cocktail. I visit the Sydney Royal Easter Show where the baking competition is very serious indeed – measuring tape at the ready!
Episode 2: Pies & Puds
I create a rich beef pie, laced with red wine –ideal for cool winter nights,  a vegetarian Mediterranean pie, followed by a gooey delicious banana caramel sticky pudding.  Finally, it’s back to school at to the Australian Patisserie Academy to meet the bakers of the future.
Episode 3: Bite-Sized
They say good things come in small packages, and baking is no exception. Think sumptuous almond cupcakes, decadently dressed with white chocolate cream cheese icing and a crown of crunchy, irresistible honeycomb. Then I visit the Cake, Bake and Sweet Show to hobnob with baking royalty and swaps secrets with Duff Goldman and Dan Lepard.
Episode 4: Baking Bad
It’s all about butter, chocolate and sugar for an unashamedly indulgent episode! Master Patissier Eric Lanlard samples my glossy chocolate tart before getting hands on to create a salted butter caramel chocolate cake. After that, a show-stopping layer cake and baked donuts.
Episode 5: Lazy Baking
Lots of handy hints in this episode to help ensure high impress, low stress easy baking. On the cutting-corner menu is a no knead bread, peppered with spicy chorizo and my best ever scones topped with caramelized pears. I am joined by Tobie Puttock who cooks a recipe  by his dad that is a cinch to make but a joy to eat!
Episode 6: Go Global
Taking inspiration from classics like the South American alfajore, I create an ice cream sandwich, mini Middle Eastern orange cakesand a tear and share savoury loaf laden with herbs, garlic and cheese!

You might also care to read my baking tips that will make all your cakes and biscuits better.

L: Chocolate ganache tart and R: Luscious ginger layer cake

This Week in London

I couldn’t resist taking this snap of a man relaxing on his canal boat on a Sunday morning reading the paper with his dog

Last Friday I was lucky enough to go to Cora Pearl again for lunch. I wrote it up last time in a weekly update and was delighted to find the food just as good and the service just as caring. I’ll be back.

London is the most wonderful city for walking and we try to do as many as we can at the weekend. Last Sunday, in pleasant weather we walked to Regent’s Park then along the Regent’s Canal down to Little Venice. Many people have permanent moorings and live on their long boats so it’s fascinating people watching. Then we walked down the Paddington Canal which is much more commercial and built up, with restaurants and cafes alongside. Next time we will go the opposite direction to the Thames.

My friend and colleague Tyson Stelzer, 2015 International Wine Communicator of the Year and many other accolades, is a devotee of champagne. He holds wonderful Taste Champagne events in Australia and Hong Kong, and this year brought it to London. The venue was Christ Church Spitalfields, which still operates as a church, but was a marvellous venue for the trade tasting. I was only there for a couple of hours, but what impressed me were the many champagnes which were pinot meunier dominant. Champange is only ever made from three varieties: chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier. While I believe that the major, well-known champagne houses are always reliable, with consistent quality and don’t disappoint, I was pleased to try some which were new to me: Andre Clouet (read the lovely stories on the website), Cattier, Champagne Geoffroy, Philipponat and Fourney & Fils.
Then it was off to a
 tour for the Australian Women’s Club of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s world-renowned fashion collection covering changing styles and tastes in garments, textiles and accessories from beautiful 17th Century fashions to contemporary times. London can offer so much – and the week is not yet over.

L: Inside Christ Church Spitalfields for the champagne tasting R: Courgettes, gnocchi & black garlic at Cora Pearl

Interesting Reading

How do Michelin inspect a restaurant?

From Fine dining Lovers: The Michelin Guide’s inspection process.

I am conscious that I have readers around the world and that seasons are so different. However, I do like to keep What’s In Season in Australia in these updates. Yet, I like to cover off other regions for my growing number of readers in the UK and for those who travel. Mind you it’s as cold in London this week as Sydney.

Fiona Beckett is a UK-based friend and colleague, a wonderful wine writer with a facility for matching food and wine. She is the wine writer for The Guardian and has written a seasonal piece In the pink: why rosé is the drink for this summer

Gault Millau writes a piece It’s State of Origin season! Whether you live in Queensland or New South Wales, or simply watch the games from other locations, it is a time to reflect on where we came from and to enjoy some classic fast food like pies, sausage rolls and beer – classic Aussie fare!

Further to my listing of what’s in season in June, Women’s Weekly has What food is in season in June? with recipes to match.

Wherever you are, spice King Herbie’s Winter Newsletter is worth a read.

Ever wondered what’s hot in restaurants? Sommelier insights into Australian wine trends.

How do you store your cookbooks? I gave away over 12 over-sized boxes when I moved from my house to an apartment around 14 years ago. I have a full wall bookshelf in my spare room, bookshelves in my office and now some in London. There is never enough room. This might give you some ideas, but I don’t think the author undersatnds the volume of cookbooks us cookbook junkies have How to store cookbooks

In the UK, Fortnum and Mason have prestigious annual food awards Food and Drink Awards 2019

What’s On

One of my favourites: a Manly day trip from Sydney Photo Shandos Cleaver

For UK Readers
Huon Hooke writes in The Real Review that Australia has done extremely well in the 2019 Decanter World Wine Awards, winning six Best in Show Awards.

For Global Travellers
You may care to visit The 100+ Best restaurants in Europe.

In Australia
Time Out shares 5 Fantastic Day Trips from Sydney. Best of all, most are do-able by public transport.

Only some of us are lucky enough to be able to try some great wines. Wine by the glass is such a great opportunity to try a wine where you may not to invest in a whole bottle.  One of Australia’s premier wineries, Henschke has teamed up with some of Australia’s most wine-savvy restaurants to servie the 2015 Mount Edelstone by the glass. Read more here. Hurry because it is only until the end of June.

How to ……

Pauline Kwong’s chiffon cake with citrus and ginger from Gourmet Traveller. Photo: Ben Dearnley

Gourmet Traveller explains 5 sweet ways with oranges.
Jules from Stonesoup explains the Ultimate Guide to Vegetable Substitutes.
From Good Food Why you should thaw frozen puff pastry in the fridge and Tips for making the perfect home-made pizza and also 20 brilliant ways to use up browning bananas.And if you will forgive me an indulgence, this is the best banana cake ever. I shared it when I was Food Director of The Australian Women’s Weekly and here they post it again. However, here it is with more detail, just before what would have been his 38th birthday. I usually make one every year in Sydney to share with his friends.

Join me in Morocco 16 – 28 April 2020

How about joining me on my next tour with By Prior Arrangement? I first went to Morocco in 1978 and then again on an amazing food trip in 1994 with the International Olive Oil Council and have been entranced by the place ever since. Morocco is an extraordinary destination, but one best visited with specialised knowledge and contacts to ensure a happy and seamless experience. Carol Prior of By Prior Arrangement focusses only on Morocco, a country she has known for 30 years and where she lived for over a decade.  I could think of no-one better to plan the tour with.

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, hike or ride a mule to a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. You will 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. Your luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads.
Highlights of the tour include:
– personal hosting by me
– must see destinations Rabat, Fes, Essaouira, Marrakech
– visit of an authentic Berber village in the Atlas Mountains
– a unique foodie tour of Marrakech souks and some cooking classes
– historical and cultural visits throughout with local licensed guides
– the Majorelle Garden and the Yves Saint Laurent museum
– accommodation in traditional riads, sometimes in exclusivity

Details here

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