May Newsletter

Colourful tagines in a market in Morocco

As I am about to host my trip to Japan, I am pleased to highlight another trip for 2020.
I first went to Morocco in 1978 and then again on an amazing food trip in 1994 with the International Olive Oil Council (when my love of extra virgin olive oil was born) and have been entranced by Morocco ever since. Therefore, I am thrilled to have teamed up with Carol Prior of By Prior Arrangement to create a very special new tour. Morocco is an extraordinary destination, but one best visited with specialised knowledge and contacts to ensure a happy and seamless experience. Carol 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.
You can find out more about my Morrocan Culinary Tour here. Why not join me?
We will travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and to Marrakech the red city. On the way we will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, hike or ride a mule (or go by car) to a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. 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. What fun!

Morocan bazaars are endlessly interesting and colourful

Jump ahead to see:
What’s In Season in May
The best in fruit and veggies this week

Super Green Goodness
Focus on Pomegranates

Recipe of the week
Tips of the Week
Interesting Reading
What’s On
Techniques and Know-How

What’s In Season in May

Clockwise from top left: apples, King mushrooms, kale and dragonfruit

Fruit

  • Apples
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Custard apples
  • Dates
  • Grapes
  • Kiwifruit
  • Lemons
  • Mandarins: Imperial
  • Nashi
  • Oranges: Navel
  • Pears
  • Persimmons
  • Pomegranates
  • Quinces
  • Rhubarb

Veggies

  • Asian greens: Bok Choy
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Celeriac
  • Chestnuts
  • Eggplant
  • Fennel
  • Kale
  • Ginger
  • Leeks
  • Mushrooms
  • Okra
  • Parsnips
  • Silverbeet
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Swiss chard
  • Turnips

The best in fruit and veggies this week in Australia

Clockwise from top left: kiwi fruit, quinces and mandarins

FRUIT

Autumn raspberries are a sweet buy and your local greengrocer is likely to have specials on multiply buys.

Mandarins are sweeter eating this week. Versatile and tangy-sweet use mandarins as you would oranges. Just pierce the skin and they are peeled in seconds. Their perfect size makes them ideal for school lunch boxes. 

Start your day in a healthy way and add diced fruit to your favourite breakfast cereal. Try adding Australian grown green kiwifruit this week or New Zealand grown gold kiwifruit. Both varieties are easy to prepare and rich in vitamins.

Despite their creamy texture bananas contain no fat at all. Bananas make an ideal snack. Use bananas in or serve with pancakes, add to muffins and cakes or shake up a delicious smoothie. There are good supplies of bananas around this week at very reasonable prices. 

Australia’s apple season is in full swing and there is a fabulous range of apples in-store now. Fuji, Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Kanzi, Jazz, Royal Gala and Pink Lady are firm and crunchy. 

Attractive ruby-coloured and antioxidant-rich pomegranates contain jewel-like seeds bursting with juice and flavour. Sprinkle the seeds over a range of dishes; use the juice for salad dressings or marinades. Pomegranate complements lamb, duck and chicken dishes. Liven up couscous, eggplant and hummus with a spoonful of pomegranate seeds. 

Exotic looking quinces are sweet and aromatic.. While a quince is a member of the apple and pear family, this fruit needs to be cooked to be enjoyed. Try wrapping peeled, halved and seeded quince in foil, top with a dab of butter and a drizzle of honey or maple syrup, then bake until tender or try our slow baked spiced quince recipe.

Fill your fruit bowl with golden coloured lemons. This super versatile fruit is a kitchen staple, ideal for using in savoury dishes, marinades, dressings, sweet tangy desserts or baked goods. Add a squeeze to liven up your sauces. An average sized lemon will yield approximately 1/4 cup of juice and 1 tablespoon grated zest (be sure not to grate the white pith which can be bitter). Team lemon zest, parsley and garlic, make a flavour boosting gremolata. A classic to finish Osso bucco, or try it on any pasta or casserole.

L: kumara or sweet potato top R: top Savoy cabbage and bottom R; eggplant

VEGETABLES

Orange fleshed sweet potato also known as kumara is a thrifty buy this week . Add kumara to curries, casseroles, enjoy it mashed and roasted.

Nutritious Brussels sprouts are versatile and can be cooked in numerous ways. Perhaps they will become the next star vegetable after cauliflower? Toss thinly sliced Brussels sprouts in a hot wok with a little oil and sliced bacon until just tender, toss through noodles and soy sauce and serve. Or cook without the noodles as a side dish.

Celery is economical, healthy and discreetly delicious. Raw celery is crisp, tasty and low in kilojoules. Serve celery sticks with peanut butter, whip up a creamy celery soup or add flavour and fibre to hearty winter soups with celery.

Fennel’s delicate aniseed taste, is a delight eaten raw or cooked. Fennel teams superbly with in season oranges, seafood and lamb shanks. Pork sausages team deliciously with fennel in this spaghetti dish.

Broccoli is bursting with natural goodness. Fresh broccoli should be rapidly cooked to retain its vibrant colour and flavour. 

Eggplant is a savvy buy this week. There are so many ways to enjoy eggplant, roasted, grilled, barbecued or add to a curry. Layer cooked eggplant slices with a rich tomato passata and mozzarella cheese and bake until warm and bubbly. Try this baby eggplant, tomato & ricotta lasagne.

Truss tomatoes prices are easing with fruit now available at your local greengrocer.

It’s time to roast up a kilo or two of chestnuts. Having cooked and peeled chestnuts in the freezer is a tasty and easy way to add a boost of flavour to autumn salads, tossed with roasted cauliflower, steamed Brussel sprouts or adding to your weekday evening meals. Chestnuts sweet nutty flavour, health benefits and versatility make chestnuts a fantastic option to make meals extra special.  This creamy cauliflower & chestnut soup is packed with flavour and so easy to make.

For value on the vegetable scene, you cannot go past cabbage. This humble vegetable is versatile, nutritious and flavoursome. Select from red, plain and savoy cabbage. Try braised cabbage with chorizo & creamy mashed potatoes.

Super Green Goodness

Know your greens: from top down: kale, cabbage, watercress, English spinach, cavolo nero or Tuscan cabbage

KALE

This super-nutritious leafy green offers so much goodness. Crisp and crunchy kale is loaded with beneficial antioxidants, vitamins and iron. Toss the trimmed leaves into stir-fries, soups and smoothies. Finely shred kale to add to salad bowls.

CABBAGE

A powerhouse of essential nutrients, cabbage is packed with vitamin C. Look out for the delicious variety of crisp cabbages at your local greengrocer including savoy, green, red and Chinese cabbage (Wombok). Add finely shredded raw cabbage to a range of autumn slaws, soups and stir-fries or use it instead of lettuce as the base for a salad.

WATERCRESS

A salad essential, this peppery green is loaded with antioxidants, vitamin C and minerals as well as omega 3. Watercress teams perfectly with avocado, chicken, nuts, seeds, salmon and soft creamy cheeses. Wash well before using. For optimum crispness, plunge watercress into a bowl of iced water and stand for 10 minutes.

ENGLISH SPINACH

High in nutrients including vitamins A, C and K, manganese, calcium and folic acid, English spinach is sold by the bunch or baby leaves are sold in a bag for salad. Wash the leaves thoroughly, eat raw or rapidly cook in a small amount of water to retain the most nutrition from this versatile green.

CAVOLO NERO (ALSO KNOWN AS TUSCAN CABBAGE)

Brimming with goodness, deep green Cavolo Nero is very rich in antioxidants. Simply sauté this robust green with olive oil and garlic. Add to casseroles, soups and stir-fries.

Focus on Pomegranates

Pomegranates can initially be deceptive. From the outside they don’t look like much, a bit like passionfruit if you think about it. But open them up and you’ll find beautiful ruby coloured seeds that truly are jewels in nature’s crown. Now that Autumn is here, pomegranates have graced us with their presence. It’s time for their sweet perfumed scents to fill your kitchens once again and for you to revel in their beauty. Fun fact about pomegranates, it’s name means ‘apple with many seeds’ however it technically is part of the berry family.

There are many ways to use pomegranates in your cooking. Firstly, to enhance colour, flavour and texture in a dish, add the seeds to rice, salads,  tagines and desserts. Or, secondly, add the gloriously tangy and fragrant pomegranate molasses. Pomegranate molasses is used extensively in Middle Eastern cooking, particularly in rice dishes and marinades. By adding a couple of tablespoons to a dish it provides an agro dolce or sweet/sour note which is flavour enhancing. I remember when my lovely friend Janni Kyritsis had MG Garage restaurant, he served the seeds piled high beside a bottle of iced Bombay Sapphire gin and with a pink grapefruit granita. Unforgettable!

Pomegranates can be purchased whole, or even just packets of the seeds, at your local fruit and veggie market. Purchasing tip: look for bright and freshly coloured ones that are plump and heavy. You can also freeze the seeds when they are in season.

How to remove pomegranate seeds

  • Roll the fruit first to loosen the seeds.
  • Then you can cut it in half and bash the outside with a wooden spoon or similar but be sure you do it over the sink with a big bowl as they can splatter.
  • Alternatively, score the outside into quarters.  Then submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of water and and pull apart the quarters, releasing the seeds with your hands.
  • The pith will float and the seeds will sink. Remove the pith and discard, then drain the seeds.

Try making my Salad with pancetta, goats cheese and pomegranate molasses dressing from Lyndey & Herbie’s Moveable Feast TV series.Perfect Salad to enjoyed this weekend over lunch.

Recipe of the week

Spiced Rib Eye with Quinoa and Stinging Nettle Salad

Recipe from the award-winning TV series and book,  Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia.  I cooked this with the beautiful backdrop of Arthur Boyd’s property, Bundanon and took inspiration from the cattle farm and landscape to create a dish of my own.

Servings: 4
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 25 minutes plus resting time

2 (approx. 600g each) beef rib eye steaks
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
¼ cup (60ml) olive oil

Nettle & Grain Salad
1 cup quinoa
1 cup stinging nettles (or baby rocket)
1 bunch coriander, shredded
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, shredded
1 bunch mint, shredded
1 eschallot, finely sliced
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons slivered almonds, toasted
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
½ cup (80g) currants or sultanas
Seeds of 1 pomegranate (optional)

Vinaigrette
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup (60ml) extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper and Sea salt to taste

Dressing
½ cup (140g) thick Greek yoghurt
1 teaspoon ground cumin

  1. Rinse quinoa, drain and toast in a small saucepan. Add water and cook according to packet directions. In the last couple of minutes of cooking, add the stinging nettles, and cook, stirring until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Rub steak with cumin and coriander and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to allow to absorb flavours.
  3. Mix remaining salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Add quinoa and nettle mixture.
  4. Heat a large frying-pan over high heat, add olive oil. Add beef and cook for 5 minutes or until brown and crusted on one side. Turn and cover with a lid or foil and cook for a further five minutes or until brown, crusted and cooked as desired. Remove to a warm plate, covered loosely with foil to rest for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile mix together vinaigrette and toss through salad. Combine cumin and yogurt.
  6. To serve, carve the meat off the bones and then slice downwards to make thin slices. Divide salad among four serving plates and surround with steak and drizzle over the yoghurt mixture.

Lyndey’s Note: To remove the seeds from a pomegranate, slice in half then turn and bash with the back of a wooden spoon over a small bowl.

In Season Recipes

Pete Evans Crisp Kale Chips with Stracciatella 

Pete Evans Crisp Kale chips
Pork with blood orange glaze, fennel & blood orange salad
Blood oranges are not yet in season but you can substitute navels for them.
Chicken, Vegetable and Pearl Barley Soup
Muffaletta
Haloumi with fennel, orange and kalamata olives salad
Greek lamburgers
Easy pulled pork with apple and brussels sprout slaw
Oven roasted King salmon with braised lentils and spinach
Persian chicken with walnuts and pomegranate Jewel rice
Spiced olive oil and orange dessert cake with botrytis oranges

Tips of the Week

Try grating cold, hard butter before rubbing in with your fingers to make pastry

All About Butter

  • Butter is an emulsion of water, fat, and dairy solids, so the trick to successfully using butter in baking is keeping the emulsion intact.
  • Don’t defrost frozen butter in a microwave, as this will destroy the emulsion. Instead, cut it into chunks and leave it out until it’s cold but malleable
  • You know that butter is the right temperature if the cube easily bends without cracking or breaking, and unwrapping it leaves a bit of residue on the wrapper.
  • If your mixing bowl begins to warm, stick it in the freezer for a few minutes to keep butter’s emulsion intact.
  • In its purest form butter is made from cream, with or without a little salt added for flavour.

Pastry tip
When making shortcrust pastry, if you’ve forgotten to take the butter out of the refrigerator or freezer and it’s too hard to handle, don’t soften it but instead, grate it coarsely onto a plate or piece of baking paper. When rubbing it into the mixture, make sure you use only your fingertips – your palms of your hands may be too hot. In fact, I always prefer doing this whenever making pastry.

Interesting Reading 

Lots of interesting reading about wine ( (Photo: Pxhere)

Huon Hooke reveals the best times to drink wine in Drinking windows explained.

The 2019 Australian grape harvest is well under way in even the coolest parts of Australia, but it has taken a hit from the fact this summer has been one of the hottest and driest on record. Read in Good Food How climate change is affecting the Australian wine industry.
Global warming also means the UK is now becoming a bonefide wine producing country. The Drinks business focusses on The Future of English sparkling wine.

Pure Wow shared 5 Foods a nutritionist would never keep in her pantry.
Spectator Life on How to eat like the Spanish – wherever you are.

What’s On

Vivid Sydney is coming. What will the Opera House look like this year?

The Vivid 2019 program has been announced here. Read Time Out’s Here are the 11 most exciting things on at this year’s Vivid Sydney.

Throughout May, O Tama Carey of Sydney’s Lankan Filling Station will be serving a cashew curry special, with $5 from every sale to be directed to a charity in Sri Lanka.
The curry, which has never been offered on the Filling Station’s menu before, is the chef’s culinary response to the devastating April bombings in Colombo. Her mother, born in Colombo, is of Burgher heritage, and the chef has friends and family who live in the country. Although they were unharmed, Carey was deeply saddened by the attacks. The cashews have been donated by produce suppliers Two Providores. Read about it in Gourmet Traveller.

Melbourne Good Food Month is on during June. All manner of events and tastings to be had. Information here.

Grampians Olive Co. Open Harvest Day – Sunday June 9 2019   
With “all you can eat” wood-fired pizza served from 12.30pm, guests can enjoy lunch followed by a harvesting/pressing tour including learning about the process from olive tree to bottle, sustainable growing to harvesting and watching cold pressed fresh organic olives made into oil.
The historic ‘Toscana’ Olive Plantation is one of the country’s oldest and is the Grampians’ leading olive producer.  100% Australian family owned, run by two generations of the Mathews; Andrew and Susan and son Greg, the Grampians Olive Co. team will be on hand to answer questions about olive tree pruning, olive curing and general care of olive trees at home.
Date: Sunday June 9 2019
Time: Pizza will be served from 12.30pm – 1.30pm
Cost: $30 per person includes all you can eat wood-fired pizza, first glass of wine (or tea/coffee or soft drink), harvesting, pressing tour and demonstration ($15 per child – with under 12 free)
Location: 376 Olive Plantation Road, Laharum, Victoria

Bookings: https://grampiansoliveco.com.au/2019-harvest-open-day/

FOR UK READERS
The Great Austraalian Red dinner at M Victoria, 11 June from 6.30pm

Award-winning wine communicators UK Matthew Jukes and Australian Tyson Stelzer have long been fans of the traditional Australian wine blend of Cabernet and Shiraz. An Australian institution, they love it, hold a competition for it, write books about it and say Australia championed it, refined it and still does it better than anywhere else in the world!

They will both be at M Victoria, 11th June for The Great Australian Red Dinner to showcase the truly world class wines from their Great Australian Red competition. I know them well and both are great raconteurs, amusing and at the top of their games, so it should be a fun and informative event – 4 courses, exceptional wines & awesome conversation.
Cost: £120
M Victoria, 74 Victoria St, London SW1E 6SQ
Bookings  PH: 020 3327 7775  Email: lenart@mrestaurants.co.uk
Details here.

Techniques and Know-How

How to stop bananas browning so quickly?

Some great advice and tips in Good Food’s recipe writers share their top tips and tricks.
and also
Step-by-step: How to read and follow a recipe

Pure Wow explains How to keep bananas from browning so freakin’ fast.
Gourmet Traveller gives a Masterclass: Chongqing noodles

I’m cooking on the Morning show on Channel 7 next Thursday with something from The Farmer charity cookbook,  so tune in between 10.30am and 11am.
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What are you cooking, eating and drinking?
Lyndey

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