On Channel 7’s The Daily Edition with Sally Obermeder and Ryan Phelan

Regular readers know that I have a soft spot and the greatest regard for farmers. Without them, we don’t eat or drink. If they are in drought or flood how do they produce and how can we support our local primary industry?

That’s why I am delighted to be a contributor to Farmer cookbook. This amazing book celebrates the beauty of good food with simple, honest, home-style recipes—a collection of family favourites from top chefs, farmers and foodies. The cookbook includes stories of joy and heartache from Australian farmers affected by drought. Everyone has donated their work – 80 recipes, photographers, stylists, props, couriers, designer, editor – you name it. Even the printers drastically cut their costs to enable the book to be printed in Australia. The 256 page book costs only $30 + $10 postage .

Therefore I was delighted to go on Channel 7’s The Daily Edition to be interviewed about the book. All proceeds (after printing) go direct to the Country Women’s Association of Australia (CWA)  who will work closely with their local community members to funnel the proceeds to those who are in need. All of it –  with nothing lost in admin fees. CWA have processed $8.32 million supporting over 5000 applications for drought aid. Typically, these support packages include a payment of $3000 of less to cover families amenities like electricity, gas and water bills, feed for animals, money for tools and fence repairs and health services. the farmers’ stories you read in the book are heartbreaking.
With only $30 you can make a difference. That’s the cost of 2 take-aways. Give them up and you have 80 recipes instead!

The book will be published in March/April and will be posted out mid-March to those who order in advance You can order the book at www.chuffed.org/project/farmercookbook
Here’s the direct link to the segment too:
https://au.news.yahoo.com/cookbook-raising-funds-farmers-035548262.html

L: Cover of the book and R: my chocolate souffle recipe. I chose this because it only uses 3 ingredients which everyone would have: chocolate, eggs and sugar + butter for greasing.
Photography Nicky Ryan, Styling Yael Grinham

Jump ahead to see:

This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
Recipe of the Week
The Week of Tastes
Henschke New Wine Releases
Interesting Reading
What’s On
Techniques and Know-how

Fruit galore – grapes, pears, limes and apples

FRUIT

Sweet eating seedless grapes such as natural sultana, Thompson and Menideee Flame and baby currant grapes are in season. Of special note look out for the new Cotton Candy grapes which taste like pink fairy floss and Sweet Celebration

Luscious, sweet figs are sublime. Figs team equally as well with savoury foods such as nuts, meats and cheese as they do with sweet ingredients such as citrus and chocolate. 

Full-flavoured rockmelons from the NSW Riverina are a bargain. A good rockmelon will have a characteristic melon aroma and feel heavy for its size.

Make the most of late season peaches and nectarines; both the white and yellow flesh varieties. Golden Queen peaches are in season and fabulous for preserving. Late season peaches are delicious roasted, poached or baked. Try these Baked Peaches With Almonds.

Juicy, sweet and economical Williams’ pears are tasty addition to a salad. Place slices of firm pear in a salad bowl, toss in rocket leaves, toasted walnuts and shaved parmesan. Drizzle with lime juice and olive oil and toss. Williams’ pears ripen from an attractive green to a buttery yellow colour in 2-3 days and need to be eaten quickly. Try these Pear & Muesli Muffins.

Limes are plentiful and top value. Great squeezed over papaya for breakfast, in cold drinks and to finish any Asian dish. When they are plentiful you can freeze the zest, juice them and freeze in ice cube containers.

Snap up a bargain with juicy Valencia oranges. Whilst the skin colour will be tinged with green pigment at this time of year the fruit is loaded with juicy and a generous serving of vitamin C. Many greengrocers offer a 3-kilo net bag at special prices like $3-$5.

Hass avocadoes, sweetcorn and golden sweet potato or kumara

VEGETABLES

Victorian sweetcorn is a thrifty buy as are field grown red capsicums.

Delicious roasted, baked or fried eggplant adds the smoky flavour to salads or pizza toppings or use layers of sliced grilled eggplant instead of pasta in lasagne. Try these  Eggplant schnitzels.

Zucchinis are better value this week. Grated zucchini is perfect for adding to a pasta sauces or sauté sliced zucchinis with crushed garlic until tender. This Zucchini, Tomato & Basil Spaghetti With Ricotta is an easy mid-week meal.

Slender, fleshy and dark green in colour, snake beans are tender, mild-flavoured and versatile. Snake beans are at their peak freshness and value in early autumn.

Kumara supplies have increased. The golden sweet potato tends to be cheaper than the purple one which is white inside.

Delicious served raw or cooked, fennel’s mild aniseed flavour teams superbly with pears, plums, oranges, potatoes, seafood, pork or chicken. 

New season Queensland grown Shepard avocados are now instore and a top buy. A pear-shaped avocado with a creamy flesh, this avocado does not oxidise (go brown) when cut, so it is ideal for adding to salads that need to be made ahead of time. Late season Hass avocados are plentiful too.

Recipe of the Week

Prosciutto wrapped summer figs – try jamon for a different flavour

Serves: 4
Preparation: 5 mins
Cooking:  8 mins

8 medium to large figs
8 tablespoons soft goat cheese or gorgonzola cheese
8 thin slices prosciutto
Vincotto
Baby rocket

  1. Preheat oven to 200’C
  2. Cut a cross in the top of each of the figs and open slightly.
  3. Push a tablespoon of the cheese into the fig, then wrap securely in the slice of prosciutto ensuring the base is covered and the top of the fig is visible.
  4. Place the figs on a paper-lined baking tray, and bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt and the prosciutto is crisp.
  5. Divide baby rocket between four plates, plate two figs on each and drizzle with vincotto

The Week of Tastes

The Week of Tastes is all about children seeing, tasting, smelling, hearing and talking about taste.

An absolutely incredible and selfless friend of mine set up The Week of Tastes some years ago, driven by a passion to educate children to the joys of exploring all five senses in relation to food and how it is produced. It has become an annual event with food professionals of many sorts going into schools to interact with 4th class students, aiming to enhance children’s relationship with food and address eating habits contributing to the obesity epidemic. It costs only $100 for a school to participate.

Students

  • learn how they use their 5 senses through actual contact with food – experiential learning and active participation
  • realize it is fun trying new and unknown foods – overcome food neophobia
  • improve their food literacy – develop a rich vocabulary
  • and that there are passionate food producers in their community eager to share their food knowledge – connecting with REAL people.

See more on Facebook , spread the word with schools and teachers who can register here .

“The destiny of nations depends on how they nourish themselves” – BRILLAT SAVARIN

Henschke New Wine Releases

A line up of Henschke latest red releases

I recently was fortunate to receive the latest releases from Henschke for appraisal. Knowing that they are reliably good wines from a fabulous winery, I decided to taste them in a different way. I had nine special friends coming for dinner on Monday night, whom I knew would enjoy a tasting, so I lined the wines up with the food, opening them in order of weight from lightest to heaviest.

First course was figs, like those in my recipe of the week, only wrapped in serrano jamon rather than prosciutto. I did this deliberately as the next course was paella, so I kept with the Spanish flavours.  First wine (after champagne as an aperitif) was the 2017 Giles Pinot Noir (RRP $50) which will be available in April. Light and elegant in style, though with concentrated berry flavours, it matched admirably.

Given we were moving on to paella the 2017 Henschke Stone Jar Tempranillo ($50 RRP) was the next wine to open. Tempranillo is the grape variety of Rioja and what a cracker this one is. Also available April 2019. Beautifully savoury with flavours of dark plum, blackcurrant, raspberry and a lovely hit of black pepper from the cool climate. It was absolutely sensational with the paella, but as we only had a small glass each, we needed to open the next two bottles. 2017 Henschke Five Shillings Shiraz Mataro (RRP $33) has already been released. It was a richer, more succulent wine, the use of mataro (mourvedre) tempering the richness of shiraz giving an earthiness along with forest fruits are a touch of pepper.

We saved the big Daddy for last 2016 Henschke Apple Tree Bench Shiraz Cabernet Sauvignon (RRP $70). This is a uniquely Australian blend. A stunningly balanced wine which caressed the palate (or mine anyway!). Rich berry fruits with pepper and spice, beautifully savoury and with a divinely long finish.
I was really impressed at the progression of the wines and how food friendly they were. A lovely experiment.

Interesting Reading

Fish and Chips from Captain Moonlite, Victoria in Gourmet Traveller

Gourmet Traveller shares Australia’s Best Fish and Chips.

Ghee is appearing more and more, given it is paleo friendly. Pure Wow explains What the heck is ghee (and Why Is It Better Than Butter)?

Gault Millau reveals a major French study which for the first time finds a link between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and a higher risk of death. Eating Processed Foods Could Kill You.

The Blue Mountains Gazette gives a preview to the Majestic Vintage Festival on Saturday 23 February in Chutzpah returns for majestic vintage festival

FOR UK READERS: The Drinks Business announces in New Wine Bar Comes to Frome, that this Somerset market town  is to get its first dedicated wine bar and shop this month with the opening of Stony Street House.

FOR GLOBAL READERS: The new ‘Australian Wine Made Our Way’ consumer website shares rich content that is educational and user-friendly to assist in Australian wine demand and wine tourism. It highlights Australia’s 65 premium wine regions with winemaker profiles, stories, regional events and insights into some of Australia’s most popular wine varieties. Content will be updated regularly and a simplified Chinese version will be published shortly.

Travellers will enjoy Understanding the Croation Way of Life and a list of The Best Dining Experiences in Venice.

What’s On

Vineyards in France

I am a massive fan of all that The Sydney Wine Academy offers to amateurs and professionals alike. There are two courses which they only offer once per year, and they are very soon to start: The Professional Sommeliers course, ideal training for people wanting to get started in a career as a Sommelier, and The French Wine Scholar, the most advanced French wine course on offer with some great wine tastings and resources. There are five places left in both courses with the sommeliers course starting on 18 February and the French course on 26 February. Apply online.

Urban Winery Harvest Grape Stomping in Moore Park, Sydney. This is a fun opportunity for anyone whose never done this with a tour through the  facility and then to experience the art of the wine making process right from stomping the grapes to sampling wines during different stages of the maturing process.
Classes run each weekend from the second week in March for the four week duration of harvest. They are held from 11am-12:30pm and 1pm-2:30pm. $100 including a shared NSW charcuterie and cheese platter and Souvinere bottle of A. Retief wine to take home.

The Mudgee Wine Region will celebrate its diversity with the annual Mudgee Food & Drink Trail held throughout the region on the weekend of the 23-24  March 2019.
The quality and range of wines, beers, spirits and food is one of Mudgee’s greatest drawcards, with new venues and menus included in the 2019 event. As a self guided trail, visitors can select their destinations and make their own way around at their own pace. This ensures that they are not rushed, and can stop and soak up the atmosphere at each venue.
Date:  Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 March 2019.
Trail + Bus Passes: 

  • Available to purchase at: www.visitmudgeeregion.com.au
  • Mudgee Visitors Information Centre at 84 Market Street, Mudgee NSW
  • Participating venues.

Tickets:  Trail Passes are $50.00 for five vouchers which can be exchanged for one dish and drink at participating venues. There is no limit to the number of Trail Passes available per person. Bus passes for unlimited rides from any venue on Saturday are $30 per person.
Bookings:  Groups of five or more are encouraged to book at each venue.
Transport:  On Saturday 23rd, buses will be running continuous loops around the trail (in both directions).

Techniques and Know-how

Chocolate ganache tart with cream topping

Gourmet Traveller gives a Masterclass on How to make a chocolate ganache tart. Much as I am usually an oyster purist eating them unadorned when freshly shucked, I rather like 10 toppings for oysters.
Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day, when traditionally true believers used up all the food in their fridges and pantries which they would give up for Lent, has been and gone. However worth looking at Women’s Weekly’s  How to make the perfect crêpe.
If I may add a tip of my own, many people throw out their first crêpe or pancake because they are invariably uneven, but I just melt butter in the pan, then wipe it out with kitchen towel and find the first crêpe is as good as the last. Here are my Ginger cardamom mango crêpes from Lyndey & Herbie’s Moveable Feast TV series.

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Lyndey

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