Weekly Update

Fun photo: Joanna Savill taking a photo of two of the outstanding graduates from Tasting Success 2018

I’m back in Sydney. Flew in overnight on Sunday and arrived early Monday morning.  Time to unpack the bags, do a couple of loads of washing and go to a delightful lunch at Bentley Bar & Grill for the launch of the Australian ham season and announcement of the Australian PorkMark Ham Award Winners. Make sure you buy Australian this, and every, Christmas.
Tuesday night was the graduation of this year’s Tasting Success female chef mentoring programme and the launch of next year’s. I am proud to be the Co-Founder and Patron of this which we have run with TAFE since 2007.  It aims to encourage female chefs to remain in the industry, via a range of masterclasses, experiences, additional training, support and also mentoring for 35 hours with a top Sydney chef. I interview the applicants and match them up with a chef they can learn from, and work well with.
The delightful Brent Savage from Bentley, Yellow and Monopole mentored Rachel Potter, who made a speech on behalf of the students and in part said “This program has been fun, informative, educational and life-changing for me”. That’s our aim.
Vanessa Harcourt, Executive-Chef for NSW Parliament House spoke on behalf of the mentors.  She handed out little cards which said “A coach has some great questions for your answers; a mentor has some great answers for your questions”. I thank them all.

L: Rachel Potter delivering her student speech and R with some of the Tasting Success participants, L to R: Faye Gibbens, Vanessa Harcourt, Sheridan Marz, Head Teacher Commercial Cookery, Rachel Potter and Bineta Diagne.

Jump ahead to see:

This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
Recipe of the Week

The gift of travel for Christmas?
Singapore Snapshot
Cure Cancer Silent Auction
Farewell for now, London
Australian wines triumph
Interesting Reading
What’s On
Techniques and Know How

Peaches and nectarines, limes and watermelon

FRUIT

Mango lovers rejoice, this season is a bumper one and the quality and value is outstanding. Select from Kensington Pride, Calypso, R2E2 and Honey Gold varieties. Trays of mangoes are $20-$30 each, depending in size and variety. Sweeten up rice paper rolls with a slice of cheeky mango. Try these Mango, Cucumber & Chicken Rice Paper Rolls.

Golden velvety apricots are coming in though some are still a bit expensive for me. Pan-fry halved apricots in a little butter and brown sugar until warmed through. Serve with vanilla ice-cream or yoghurt or whip up a batch of these delicious Balsamic Apricots it is delicious served turkey or chicken.

It’s time to enjoy a succulent and natural sweet Aussie grown nectarines and yellow and white-fleshed  peaches. There are numerous varieties to select from each varying in colour, flavour and flesh texture. Early season nectarines are in now. Try this Roasted Peaches With Pistachio Crumble.

Cherries are the star of the fruit bowl. New season cherries will continue improving in size and value as the season progresses. Tip: Invest in a cherry pitter this season to make stoning them fast and easy. Then create luscious cherry desserts or a fruity Cherry Relish to serve with leg ham.

New season lychees are delectable. Refreshing and juicy taste, lychees vary with size and can be a larger or small seed variety. The fleshier the fruit the higher the price. 

Pink fleshed papaya is a delightful tasting tropical fruit ideal for a healthy breakfast. Papaya is available in three forms small and oval shaped, large and round or long and narrow. 

Harvesting of new season grapes has started. Look for green skinned Menindee seedless variety for sweet eating and value and the pink skinned Flame Seedless variety. Wash grapes and store in the fridge to ensure they are crisp and firm eating. 

Lime prices are easing as the weather warms up and lemon prices however are on the increase. I was shocked at what one cost me on my return as I lot hot lemon juice first thing in the morning.

Seedless watermelons are picked ripe and ready to eat. For the best flavour ensure whole watermelons have a good yellow coloured underside, pleasant aroma and feel heavy for their size. Cut watermelon should have a rich, even-coloured crimson flesh. Pack colourful chilled melon wedges to serve at the beach or on a relaxed picnic. 

Hass avocadoes, asparagus and tomatoes

Irresistible asparagus is still in season. Barbecue, sauté or steam, serve with cracked black pepper and Parmesan cheese. Mix it up and team your green asparagus with purple and white spears in a salad.

Warmer weather is great for tomatoes. Try full flavoured punnets of cherry tomatoes, large Truss tomatoes, fleshy, oval shaped Roma tomatoes and salad tomatoes.

Fast to cook, nutritious and versatile, Asian leafy greens are simply a busy cook’s best friend. Slice and add to stir-fries and noodle dishes or steam and serve as a side dish topped with fresh ginger and soy sauce. I will certainly be getting into these now I am home.

Versatile celery is a bargain this week. Add celery to stir-fries, salads or team in a classic partnership with carrot and onion and use to add flavour to a risotto or sauce. After washing by soaking in cold water (which helps it stay crisp), I cut off the tops and make celery soup and eat the rest raw.

Choose plump zucchinis with glossy, unblemished skin or bags of imperfect looking fruit. Adding grated zucchini to burger patties, increases the nutritional value, keeps them moist and is a great way to hide veggies from fussy eaters. These Vegetable Quinoa Burgers are popular with all ages.

Versatile Iceberg lettuce is delicious cut into 6-8 wedges. Place lettuce wedges on a platter and create a salad rich in colours and textures. That is then drizzled with your favourite creamy dressing. 

Hass avocados prices remain steady. Try this Watercress, Avocado and Tuna Salad.

Tender, juicy and full of flavour Lebanese cucumbers are a top buy, or I love the baby cukes. Thinly slice into ribbons and toss with Smoked Salmon for a healthy salad.

If your firing up the barbecue don’t forget to add mushrooms. Fleshy flats (large open mushrooms) have a rich intense flavour and meaty texture and buttons are perfect for threading onto kebabs. 

Cauliflower  and broccoli both are a healthy and thrifty buy.

Recipe of the Week

Roasted Summer Tomato Tart

This recipe comes from my TV series  Lyndey Milan’s Summer Baking Secrets

Serves 4 or 6 as entree
Preparation Time: 20 minutes + roasting and resting time
Cooking Time: 25 minutes

1¾ cups (260g) plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
160g salted butter, chilled, cubed
1 egg yolk
¼ cup (60ml) cold water
1 tablespoon polenta
8 sprigs fresh thyme
100g creamy feta, crumbled
baby salad and beetroot leaf salad mix, to serve

Roasted Summer Tomatoes
350g tub tomato medley
250g packet baby truss tomatoes
3 medium sized vine ripened or heirloom tomatoes
3 small green plum tomatoes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt flakes

Lemon Mascarpone
250g tub mascarpone
Finely grated zest and juice one lemon
Freshly ground pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan-forced). Line two large baking trays with baking paper.
  2. Place the flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse 15 – 20 times while adding cold water all at once. It should just come together into a smooth ball. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead gently.
  3. Place on one of the prepared trays and, using your fingers, push the pastry into rectangle shape measuring about 30cm x 23cm. Sprinkle dough with polenta. Place tray in fridge and refrigerate pastry base for 30 minutes to rest.
  4. While pastry rests, prepare the roasted summer tomatoes: Depending on the size and shape of tomatoes, quarter, thickly slice or leave whole so there is a mix of shapes and sizes. Place the tomatoes on the remaining prepared tray, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake tomatoes for 15 minutes, or until they have softened. Don’t overcook as they cook again on the pastry base. Leave to cool for 15-20 minutes.
  5. For the lemon mascarpone: Combine all ingredients, stir gently.
  6. To bake tart, spoon a tablespoon of lemon mascarpone over pastry base. Place roasted tomatoes evenly over pastry. Sprinkle thyme leaves and sprigs over the top. Either sprinkle with the crumbled feta now (or for a fresher finish add after baking). Bake for 20-25 minutes until pastry is golden and crisp. Rest the tart for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with a dollop of lemon mascarpone and a salad of baby lettuce and beetroot leaves.

The gift of travel for Christmas?

A small taste of Japan

The older I get, the more I am a fan of experiences rather than things.  Things take up space, can break or not be used. Memories live in your mind forever. This is just one reason I enjoy travel to much – but better still to share it with others.
So join me next year on one of my two tours – both bespoke and intimate but otherwise very different.

JAPAN – Tokyo, Hakone, Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, Takayama, Kyoto.
Japan is one of the hottest travel destinations and I have worked with experienced travel agent Mary Rossi Travel to put together this fabulous itinerary, your opportunity to immerse yourself in the cuisine and culture, visiting the major sights along the way. This exploration of the island of Honshu, Japan is for a maximum of 16- 20 people.  Some of the many tour highlights:
•           master the art of sushi rolling in a restored machiya townhouse
•            glimpse into the geisha world during a visit to a traditional tea house in Kyoto.
•            learn how sake is made in a traditional brewery in Kanazawa dating back to 1625
•            explore UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go and its unique thatched roof
buildings
•            taste famous Hida beef in Takayama
•            spend the night in a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan).
We will be accompanied by a local Japanese speaking tour guide who will enhance the journey offering personal insights into Japanese culture and society along the way. Plus I am with you all the time, and we are even joined by Claudia Rossi Hudson, MD of Mary Rossi Travel and her husband Roger Hudson.

Details:    Japan – A Culinary & Cultural Adventure with Lyndey Milan
Dates: 14 – 25 May, 2019
Group Size: only 16 – 20 people
Price: $11,995 per person twin share, $2,990 single supplement

www.maryrossitravel.com/lyndey-milan-japan
Enquiries: Patricia McEwen patricia@maryrossitravel.com or Direct: +61 2 8923 6109

PUGLIA AND BASILICATA, ITALY
Puglia is a relatively undiscovered part 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.
The travel plans were up to expectations & Ali Pike from Southern Visions Travel very efficient, we were in a very comfortable bus for touring each day.”
writes Julie Tulloch, a fellow traveller in May this year.
It was such a fabulous experience, we are repeating it in October 2019 to share the joy with others. You might like to come on 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.Details: Culinary Adventures in Puglia & Basilicata with Lyndey Milan
Dates: 14-20 Oct 2019
Group size: an intimate 12-16 places are available on the tour
Price: €3499 per person for all ground arrangements (single supplement €699)
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
Enquiries and bookings:Alison Pike, ali.pike@southernvisionstravel.com
Cell: +39 348 755 93634 (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

L: Trulli houses in Alberobello R: a cooking class at Masseria Montenapoleone where we also stayed

Singapore Snapshot

Hawker Chan, one of the Michelin-starred hawker/restaurants in Singapore

I really love going to stay with my daughter and family in Singapore. It is an amazing place and so diverse. It can be very expensive, or very inexpensive with everything in between. Similarly you can get just about every type of food there, which is all part of the fun.
It was big news in 2016 when the Michelin Guide awarded two hawker stands Michelin stars. I hadn’t been so one morning took myself for brunch, at 11am to avoid the long queues to 
Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle in Chinatown. However, it is not exactly as it was as the chef-owner partnered with Hersing Culinary to open Liao Fan Hawker Chan, a casual dine-in offshoot located meters away from his Chinatown Complex Market & Food Centre-based stall in SingaporeHe  created this quick-service restaurant to harness the sudden worldwide fame and, consequently, customer demand following his stall’s groundbreaking induction into Singapore’s inaugural Michelin Guide in July 2016. The menu has expanded a little but I went for the traditional Soy Sauce Chicken and Rice. The cost for one to eat in, one to take away and a beer was $Sing 13.40, an absolute bargain and now there are three outlets. It was fun and the chicken was very good, though perhaps not quite what you might expect from Michelin. Do go early, as even at 11am I had to queue for about 10 minutes.
On the weekend we also went to the Danish Seamen’s Church annual Danish Christmas Bazaar. It was great fun and we really enjoyed traditional Danish fare like open-faced sandwiches and hotdogs with pickled cucumbers, mustard and tomato sauce washed down with beer. We were also amused by the Singaporean choir, singing Christmas carols in Danish (as well as English).
On my last night we went to a Greek restaurant, Bakalaki Greek Taverna. It was absolutely authentic and really enjoyable

L: Traditional Danish hotdog and beer R: tender Greek lamb chops

Another night my daughter, granddaughter and I walked to Chijmes, a delightful, renovated historic building complex, which began life as a Catholic convent known as the Convent of the Holy Infant JesusThe complex was restored in 1996 for commercial purposes as a dining, shopping  and entertainment centre with diverse ethnic restaurants, shops and a function hall, providing a backdrop for musicals, recitals, theatrical performances and weddings.
We arrived soon after 6pm but even then Ramen Professional had a queue, so we put our names down and went and had a drink for 20 minutes. Other places were not so busy, so that was a good sign. It is very stream-lined with somewhat bizarrely complimentary hard-boiled eggs on each table, even though eggs come in some of the dishes. It did not disappoint with a rich traditional ramen and a spicy one, preceded by gyoza. My granddaughter loved the gyoza and golden fried rice. Another very reasonably priced meal.On my last morning, we made our way to the Tekka Market in Little India. Here there was the usual hustle and bustle of a market, food stalls with all manner of ready-to-eat Indian offerings and meat stalls specialising in goat and other meats, seafood, and fruit and veg. However, everywhere you go in Singapore, it is concerning to see how much plastic is used unnecessarily.
In the market I was delighted to find one butcher, certainly a cut above the rest who imports Australian and New Zealand meat at reasonable prices. On talking to him, I learned he is a Master Butcher and trained in Western Australia. Butchery is a real passion for him. I will be seeking out Joe’s butchery next time I am in Singapore.

L: Spicy and R: traditional Ramen

L: Joe’s Butchery and R: lots of plastic in evidence at a fruit stand, both at Tekka Market

Cure Cancer Silent Auction

Regular readers will know I am proud to be an Ambassador for Cure Cancer Australia, an innovative charity which supports brilliant young researchers at the start of their careers, when few other funding bodies will take the chance.  Over the past 51 years, it has raised $64.7m to support lifesaving research across all cancer types, funding over 500 research grants to young researchers with groundbreaking, innovative ideas, many who have gone on to become leaders in cancer research globally.

Our vision is to make this the last generation to die from cancer. You can help make this a reality by bidding in the online special Christmas silent auction There are all sorts of categories from holidays, theatre and experiences, to culinary items, wine and beer. I have donated my Brilliant Cut Knife and a personally signed copy of Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece cookbook. Go for it and help cure cancer too.

Farewell for now, London

Even the smaller streets have Christmas lights – Albemarle Street

A bientôt London, I’ll be back. It’s strange living between two, or three cities. Like anything it has its ups and downs. I was not sorry to leave the 4’C it was the day of my departure for the steamy heat of Singapore. Landing in Sydney, the weather was delightful until we had the biggest downpour in over 30 years on Wednesday. It doesn’t rain like THAT in London.
I continue to notice the subtle differences between the UK and Australia. The UK is much more weather conscious and it is a daily topic of discussion. So many people define time by season, so many have said “see you in the Spring” rather than in March. I guess Spring and Summer are much anticipated.
I was very pleased to be able to dry my hair in the bathroom, in front of the mirror this morning – but equally am missing the convenience of London transport as I need to get from Artarmon to Paddington and there is no direct train line.

Having commented on the always wonderful Christmas lights in London, I was pleased to see this piece in Time Out on The Best Christmas Lights in Sydney.

Australian wines triumph

Some of the prestigious trophies. Photography Rob Lawson

Australian winemakers picked up 393 medals in the latest round of the International Wine Challenge (IWC), the world’s most influential wine competition. Last year it brought home 256 in total – making this year’s haul a 54% increase from last year.

Of these, 22 were Gold medals. Only one country, France, collected more Golds this year with 23, however, there were more Australian chardonnays receiving gongs than French.

The McGuigan Shortlist Chardonnay 2015 from Adelaide Hills was the joint highest scoring wine in the competition, with 97 points. The other 97-pointer, also made from Chardonnay, was William Fèvre’s Chablis Grand Cru Vaudésir 2016 from France’s Burgundy region.

Eight of Australia’s Gold medals went to wines made from Chardonnay of which the judges “found some truly delicious, savoury, balanced examples”, explained IWC co-chair, Oz Clarke.

Another eight Gold went to Shiraz wines.

South Australia came out as the dominant region with 11 Gold medals. New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia also fared comparatively well with three apiece. Two Victoria producers, Bellvale Wine and Trentham Estate, were also awarded Gold medals.

Australian Vintage, owner of the McGuigan and Tempus Two brands, was the most highly celebrated with five Gold medals. Taylors Wines, which trades as Wakefield Wines in the Northern Hemisphere, took home two Golds.

The other Gold medal winners from Australia are:

  • Zonte’s Footstep
  • Hahndorf Hill Winery
  • Tenafeate Creek Wines 
  • Shingleback Wine
  • St Hugo
  • Jim Barry Wines
  • Sidewood Estates
  • Tolpuddle Vineyard
  • Winemaking Tasmania
  • Freycinet Vineyard
  • Victory Point Wines
  • Flametree Wines
  • Bruce Dukes of Domaine Naturaliste (a regular IWC winner)

In its 36th year, the International Wine Challenge is accepted as the world’s finest and most meticulously judged competition. The IWC assesses every wine ‘blind’ and judges each for its faithfulness to style, region and vintage.  Each medal-winning wine is tasted on at least three separate occasions by a minimum of 12 different judges including Masters of Wine.  Awards include medals (Gold, Silver, Bronze) and Commended awards. The first part of the 2019 International Wine Challenge – Tranche 1 – saw 212 wine experts from 23 countries judging the wines over four days in London. Tranche 2 judging will take place from April 1-11, 2019, with the results announced on May 8.

Interesting Reading

Why do we eat what we do?

Jeremy Ryland writes about Why do we eat what we eat?
Also in Gault&Millau Top 10 food trends for 2019 from Whole Foods Market’s global experts.
Wine Tasmania has launched the 2019 Tasmanian Wine Trails guide, featuring 70 cellar doors and vineyards, together with complementary dining and visitor experiences. The free Tasmanian Wine Trails publication reaches more than 250,000 people through the printed and interactive digital versions. Copies are available by contacting Wine Tasmania on 03 6223 3770 or mail@winetasmania.net.au, visiting www.winetasmania.com.au/wine_trails, and from cellar doors, airports, tourism outlets and visitor information centres.Gourmet Traveller has collected some gluten-free desserts.Delicious has revealed its top 100 restaurants in each state of Australia.Eater has revealed The Best Pub Food in London. Pleased to see my local, The Royal Oak, which we visited soon after its revamp, made the cut.

The latest edition of Tasmanian Wine Trails

What’s On

Anna Polyviou in her gigantic gingerbread train at the Shangri-la Hotel, Sydney

Anna Polyviou has created a gigantic gingerbread train which is in the foyer of the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney from 29 November to 31 December 2018. The four metre gingerbread train and carriage combines over 1,000 kilos of gingerbread bricks, 500 kilos of lollies, 100 kilos of fondant, giant lollipops and candy canes, with oodles of cheery icing.

“It’s a fantastical fun world we invite our guests to enter, and I want everyone to gasp with delight when they see the epic train, inhale the tasty gingerbread aroma and eat loads of sweet treats,” Polyviou said. there is also a pop=-up store with lots of Christmas sweet treats for sale.

You can catch my two Christmas TV specials, Lyndey’s Cracking Christmas on LifeStyle FOOD several times so check the broadcast times here.

You can see snippets of my award-winning Taste of Australia on SBS Food. Times here.


The Essential Ingredient

has a Pop-up store at its future home at 146 Foveaux Street Surry Hills from Monday November 19, 2018. This will showcase the very best of The Essential Ingredient offering, with a focus on hampers, gifts and essential cookware and quality ingredients for the holiday period.

An overnight knife sharpening service will also be available every Thursday for those looking to freshen up their much-loved kitchen blades. The Rozelle store will also continue to trade through Christmas 2018 to Sunday January 6 2019 before the Grand Opening of the NEW Surry Hills store on Friday February 1, 2019.

Techniques and Know How

Cured meats for a salumi board explained

Gourmet Traveller asked Pino Tomini Foresti to give them the low down on 10 of Italy’s most essential cured meats for a salumi board. I interviewed Pino, an industry legend, for a blog I wrote some years ago but which is still relevant and timely Christmas ham – tips and tricks.

Women’s Weekly shares their best glazed Christmas ham recipes (I recognize some of these from my time at The Weekly – and they’re fab.) there’s also a useful video on how to carve the ham. And they also share How to make perfect lemon roast potatoes.

There’s also a video with Gourmet Traveller’s Christmas ham glazes from Australia’s best chefs.

It’s lovely to be home in time for Christmas. I’ll be sharing lots of recipes, short cuts and advice in the coming weeks so keep reading.

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Lyndey

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