Celebrate all things Australian

With other Australia Day Ambassadors and friends at the Australia Day lunch. L to R: Paula Duncan, Maria Venuti, me, Kerryn Phelps

Australia has been blessed with cooler weather and some rain – but also dust and hail storms.  Now it is hot and windy again. But the community is responding with many going to affected regional areas this coming Australia Day weekend to stimulate tourism. The resiliance of ordinary Australians is amazing, and they are doing extraordinary things. It is humbling to hear of people opening their homes, their wallets and their hearts.

This week I went to the NSW Australia Day Address.  Regular readers will recall that I recommended #buyfromthebush for buying Christmas gifts with meaning and an ability to help rural communities. Well, the speaker was the incredible young woman, Grace Brennan, farmer’s wife, mother of 3 with another on the way and businesswoman, from Warwick who founded this.  The campaign has saved businesses and given others income when crippled by drought.  She was galvanised when she heard a radio interview with the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. The interviewer was tenacious in emphasizing the urgency of a great national disaster. And this was before the bushfires started. So she came up with a solution.

Very quickly, the #buyfromthebush campaign took flight. In the first six weeks $2.6 million of revenue was generated for businesses featured on their social pages. In that period, 25 jobs were created in rural communities facing drought because of increased sales. More than $320,000 was spent at local Australia Post franchises benefitting small businesses in small towns. Businesses reported an average revenue increase of 660% on the same period last year and an average increase in visits to their websites of over 1,000%. All of this was achieved before the busy Christmas period of December.

Buy From The Bush is less about crisis relief and more about sustainable support for rural communities in the long term. It is not about charity. It is about investment. To really achieve long term impact, this ‘bush brand’ needs to be developed, marketed and celebrated within the context of a global trend toward meaningful consumption. And not only retail. There is a wealth of services and remote skill sets to be tapped in to in the bush also.
You can watch it on Youtube or read the transcript here.
Australia Day means many things to many people – the theme is everyone, every story – so it is a day for us all to reflect on what it means to be Australian, whatever our background. I wish you all a Happy Australia Day – also to my friends at the Australian Women’s Club London who have an amazing lunch organised. As mentioned last week I am thrilled to be going to Murrurundi as Australia Day Ambassador, a town which has been out of water for 18 months and is on Level 6 water restrictions. So let me close with the words of Banjo Paterson:

“It’s grand to be a lot of things in this fair southern land
but if the Lord would send us rain that would, indeed, be grand!”

This is what I’ll be doing on Australia Day

Remember- scroll down as this newsletter is full of info wherever you are in the world!

Jump ahead to see:
New Youtube video
This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
Recipe of the Week

All about Okra

What’s On
How to’s?
Interesting Reading
Chinese New Year
Come Travelling with me in 2020?

New Youtube Video

Here’s my latest Youtube recipe Salmon with Prosciutto, Asparagus and Smashed Potatoes.  Watch it here or Full written recipe here. Subscribe to my Youtube channel here to find lots more how to videos and easy recipes.

Australia Day Recipes

Prawn Salad with Macadamia Dressing

Well, Australia Day is upon us and while many of us will have sausage and onion rolls at early morning ceremonies, others may be at home or going on a picnic, weather permitting. There’s a total fire ban in many parts of Australia so here are things which you don’t have to cook on the barbie.

I love the green and gold colours and Australian ingredients in Prawn Salad with Macadamia Dressing
Pearl Meat with Native Australian Flavours
Poached Yabbies with Lemon Myrtle Butter and Macadamia Warrigal Greens
Big Aussie BBQ Burger
Mark Olive’s Wallaby Stack
Veal Cutlets with Australian Indigenous Flavours
Barbecued Beef Sirloin with Native Flavours
Lamington Trifle
Lifestyle Food has a collection of Australia Day recipes
Chocolate, Pepper & Macadamia Brownies
Slablova with Strawberry Curd
Celebratory Slablova
Women’s Weekly has collated Traditional Australian recipes
Gourmet Traveller shares 35 lamb recipes for Australia Day

Blackberries, Passionfruit and Nectarines

FRUIT

Late summer yields a plentiful supply of tangy – sweet passionfruit. Choose fruit that is heavy for its size, a slightly wrinkled appearance is quite acceptable. Look for bulk buy specials at your local greengrocer.

You can’t go passed the tremendously good value of quality peaches and nectarines at this time of year. Golden peaches which are ideal for preserving have started to arrive at your local greengrocer. It’s a good week to whip up a peach and passionfruit tart.

Crisp, crunchy and naturally sweet new season Sunraysia grown grapes are superb eating. The Menindee and Flame seedless are perfect for packing into a school lunch box or eating as a healthy snack. 

Over the next few weeks is the peak time for luscious blackberries. Team with new season apples for sweet desserts or toss with peaches or nectarines for a quick dessert.  Try this blackberry, apple & almond crumble.

Your local greengrocer is sure to offer specials of bulk buys of juicy limes . To obtain the maximum amount of juice from a lime, warm the fruit in the microwave for 30 seconds or roll firmly on the kitchen bench then juice.

Quality tropical tasting mangoes continue to arrive at your local greengrocer. If you’re looking for more delicious ideas for serving mangoes, in salad, salsas or desserts  Sydney Markets has lots of recipes

Late summer to autumn is the peak season for juicy and tangy red and yellow fleshed plums. Many varieties plums are available from your local greengrocer.

Rich in flavour and a bargain this week, smooth and creamy and rich potassium bananas are storehouse of sustained energy. They also make a scrumptious cake or banana bread.

Fragrant and juicy rockmelon from the Riverland of NSW are a thrifty buy.

Desiree Potatoes, Sweetcorn and Okra

VEGETABLES

Locally grown sweetcorn is one of summer’s star vegetables. Add corn to salads, salsas, fritters, pasta dishes, meat patties and rices dishes for colour and sweetness. 

Fire up your wok and toss together a quick stir-fry using economical and great tasting Asian leafy greens.

Deliciously different and so versatile okra is fabulous. Okra is excellent sautéed or fried. Very young, tender pods can be sliced, dipped in egg, breaded with corn meal and fried or try sautéing okra with corn kernels, onion and sweet peppers. Okra can also be steamed, baked, pickled, boiled or stewed. 

Eggplants are a superb buy again this week. Fresh, young eggplants do not require, disgorging (salting) unless you intend deep-frying. Cut eggplant into 1 cm slices brush with olive oil and grill until soft and golden. Use in a vegetable lasagne or add to a pizza topping.

Add that sweet caramelised onion flavour and aroma to your Australia Day barbecue. Red, white and brown onions are all good value. For an Australian Day recipe recommendation try balsamic red onion & lamb salad.

Add grated zucchini to cakes, pasta sauces and meat loaf or thinly slice lengthwise and add to a salad. They are also delicious slice them in half and cook on the barbecue.

Potatoes from South Australia are plentiful. Whip up a potato salad, made with Desiree, washed or brushed potatoes.

Bullhorn capsicum are a sweet, mild tasting capsicum that are about 15cm long, with a tapering shape that look like a bull’s horn. Available in red, orange, yellow or green colours, bullhorns are sometimes referred to as chillies when in fact they’re not hot. Perfect for stir-fries, casseroling or stuffing in season now, so try them this week.

Choose firm, vibrant green snow peas and sugar snap peas this week as they are plentiful and prices have dropped.

Firing up the barbie than don’t forget to cook up a few mushrooms. Apart from being perfect for vegetarian’s mushrooms are delicious served as a side dish. Best of all mushrooms fill you; all with the added benefit of being low in kilojoules These portabella mushroom & roast capsicum baps are ideal for a meat free meal. 

Golden fleshed kumara tubers are excellent value. Add diced and roasted kumara to a salad, they make delicious wedges or serve roasted kumara with eggs & avocado salsa.

Recipe of the Week

Very Berry Trifle

I have chosen this recipe as one suited to Australia Day entertaining. Also because it was inspired by the beautiful berries I collected from River Clyde berry farm and Carole Ruta’s walnuts in honey when I was filming my award-winning TV series Taste of Australia. Moreover it was named for the town of Berry and we all need to be revisiting the Shoalhaven and South coast to get their economies going again after the dreadful bushfires.

Servings: 10 – 12
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

250g thin Savoiardi or lady finger sponge biscuits, approx. depending on size of bowl
½ cup (125ml) local dessert wine
500g blueberries (4 x 125g punnets approx)
2 x 500g different berries e.g. marionberries, loganberries, raspberries, strawberries
Carole Ruta’s walnuts in honey

Sabayon Cream
6 egg yolks
1/3 cup caster sugar
180ml sparkling wine
300ml thickened cream, firmly whipped

  1. To make the sabayon: whisk egg yolks and caster sugar in a medium bowl until pale. Place over a saucepan of simmering water and gradually whisk in the sparkling wine until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Don’t rush this – it will take 5 – 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool, whisking occasionally. (Ideally whisk over a bowl of ice until cold). When cool, fold through whipped cream.
  2. Place 1/3 biscuits in the bottom of a large glass bowl. Drizzle with a couple of tablespoons of the dessert wine. Spoon 1/3 sabayon over the sponge. Layer blueberries on top. Layer another 1/3 of the biscuits on top, drizzle with half remaining dessert wine, then 1/3 sabayon, then a layer of other berries; then last 1/3 biscuits, remaining dessert wine, sabayon and other berries.
  3. Decorate with walnuts in honey. Place in fridge for at least an hour or overnight for flavours to meld and biscuits to soften.

Lyndey’s Note: To make your own walnuts in honey, toast walnuts in a frying pan or oven, pour over honey and allow to bubble up. Remove and cool.

All About Okra

Okra sometimes known as Ladies’ Fingers

Okra (Pronounce it: oh-kra)
Originally from Africa, okra is now widely used in cuisines such as Caribbean, Creole, Cajun and Indian. It is essential to gumbo.  It’s also known as bhindi or ladies’ fingers, in reference to the long, elegantly tapering shape. I also found it used in Greece when I was there filming Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece. 
A member of the cotton family, okra plants are easy to grow, appearing as pods inside beautiful pale yellow flowers with crimson centres. In fact, they are very decorative as plants. The young pods are sought after for Greek and Middle Eastern cuisines, while South East Asians prefer them larger and longer. Eaten raw, hibiscus esulentus contains large amounts of calcium, phosphorus, vitamin A and iron. It is also a good source of soluble and insoluble fibre and vitamin B6 and folic acid, when cooked.Ridged along its length, the green, slightly fuzzy pod contains rows of edible seeds that release a mucilaginous (sticky, viscous) liquid when chopped and cooked, which has led to it being used to thicken soup and stew recipes, such as Cajun gumbo, but it’s also served whole as a side dish.In Asia the preference is  to slice mature okra into soups or stir-fries, eating it barely cooked and still crisp. As mentioned above, Mediterranean tastes prefer younger, crisper pods and tend to cook it well (classically with tomato and onions and finished with a little lemon juice) to capitalise on the thickening effect the vegetable has on stews and casserolesIts flavour is quite subtle, so it benefits from being cooked with strong, spicy ingredients.

Choose the best

Look for firm, brightly coloured pods. Avoid those that are limp or which have brown marks – they won’t be so fresh. The bigger they are, the tougher they are; around 7-10cm is best.

To prepare

Wash and dry. If you are serving the okra whole as a side dish, and don’t want the liquid to be released during the cooking, trim around the stalks in a cone shape, so that the pod isn’t pierced.
Soaking the whole pods in acidulated water for an hour can also help eliminate some of their liquid. If you do want to release the liquid, so that it can thicken a stew or soup, chop or slice thickly or thinly, according to your recipe.I learned in Greece that to avoid it becoming mucliaginous, quickly deep-frying in extra virgin olive oil first, then cooking as you wish, helps this.

To store

In a perforated bag in the fridge; they will keep for a few days.

To cook

Stir-fry, chopped or whole (6-12 minutes); steam whole (5 minutes); grill whole (2-3 minutes each side); deep-fry whole (2 – 3 minutes); hop and add to soups, stews and casseroles.

Okra Recipes
Spiced Okra Curry
Chicken Gumbo
Okra Ladthera
Some great
recipes at SBS online

Okra Ladthera
Photography by Chris Chen

How to’s?

Dr. Berg’s Healthiest Bread in the World Recipe is here.

Interesting Reading

Australia is open for business.
Photography Tim Bond

Following my opening heading last week, this Magnificent Life has a story Australia is open for business.
On a sadder note, Catherine Marshall writes Kangaroo Island paradise lost
Love this in International Traveller  A guide to baggage carousel etiquette 101

What’s On

Dragon Boat Racing at Darling Harbour

In London

Harrods Lucky Set Afternoon Tea – 11th January and 16th February 2020
£68 per person                                       

Harrod’s Tea Rooms
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7XL
+44 (0)20 7225 6800  / 
reservations@harrods.com
You can
read about it here.

For an alternative Chinese afternoon tea, do check Tea at Tangs – an afternoon tea at the Dorchester

In Australia
Eat, Drink and be Kerry lists Australia’s Top Food Festivals. Great resource to plan a break.

In Sydney
On TV, delighted to say that my Summer Baking Secrets TV series is back on SBS Food, with lots of recipes. Times here.

Very proud that the latest winners of The Blair Milan Touring Prize will be performing their winning piece Good Mourning 3 – 8 March at 6.30pm. $25
Old 505 Theatre,
5 Eliza St,
Newtown.

Bookings here.

The Vigil at Barangaroo Reserve on Saturday 25 January
This offers an opportunity to gather campfire-side and experience a night of performance and reflection on the eve of Australia Day. A time to consider Australia’s Indigenous heritage, as well as its colonial institutions and contemporary multicultural migration, from dusk on 25 January until dawn on 26 January.Hear live music and guests alongside choral and poetry performances, and experience the resilience, beauty and joy of First Nations culture.

Time Out has collated 44 Things to Do in Sydney this Long Weekend
Also, Celebrate Lunar New Year in Darling Harbour

In Brisbane
Brisbane’s Bucci Restaurant & Bar will once again rollout its popular Sunday Series lunches celebrating nine Italian food regions. Kicking off with Veneto for the first Sunday Series event on 23rd February, Bucci’s Sunday Series 2020 will then venture to Calabria (29th March), Abruzzo (26th April), Piedmont (31st May), Tuscany (28th June), Lazio (2nd August), Sardinia (30th August), Sicily (27th September) and Puglia (25th October).
In a very Italian celebration of food, wine, music and adventure, guests enjoy eight shared dishes from each region and a glass of prosecco for $59.
Bucci
11/15 James St,
Fortitude Valley
07 3252 7848
admin@buccijamesstreed.com.au

Chinese New Year

Kylie Kwong’s prawn dumplings in Gourmet Traveller

Chinese New Year always falls near Australia Day and I am so busy with planning and writing my speech in my role as Australia Day Ambassador, that I sometimes run out of time to give this the attention it deserves. Although it is now going to be the Year of the Rat,  read my blog 
Kung Hei Fat Choy, or Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year!
and
Special foods ensure good fortune in the Chinese New Year
Gourmet Traveller shares Our favourite Chinese New Year recipes

Come Travelling with me in 2020?

In front of trulli in UNESCO site Alberobello, Puglia

What are you doing in April and October this year?
I love hosting tours and have done a lot in the last five years. All the organisation and stress is removed while lifelong friendships are made. What’s not to love? I am with my guests 24/7 and am able to offer visits and experiences both on and off the beaten track.
The next tour I am escorting is with By Prior Arrangement to Morocco 16-27 April 2020. We have a maximum of 2 rooms (single, twin or double) left.  This 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, 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$8850 pp shared, or $10,550 single.
Details here
Read my article Where to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in Rabat
Read
Off on The Road to Morocco in this Magnificent Life
Read
Lyndey Takes Us On a, Exotic Food Journey Through the Cobbled Streets of Morocco.

Wonderful sublty spiced traditional Moroccan dishes. The salads (left) really transform seemingly ordinary ingredients like carrots

Culinary Adventures in Puglia 30 September – 6October 2020.
Puglia is a relatively undiscovered part, in the boot of the heel of Italy, it’s where Italians go for holidays! 

“I loved every moment of the tour, Lyndey is an excellent host, great fun & very  knowledgeable in wine & food while our tour guide, Max, knows the history of Puglia so well, which was great as we visited lovely old towns with amazing old buildings.Our accommodation was 4 to 5 star & wonderful & we had some truly amazing meals & wines.” writes Julie Tulloch, a fellow traveller in May last year.
It was such a fabulous experience, we are repeating it in October 2020 to 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
Price: $5499 per person for all ground arrangements (single supplement $799)
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 
here

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

Sea urchins fresh from the sea, ready to eat and a happy group last tour in Alberobello, Puglia

No newsletter for the next two weeks as I am off giving various presentations on a cruise. Keep up to date with my travels on all my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Pinterest and my Youtube channel.

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Lyndey

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