With a Maiko, or apprentice Geisha at a tea house in Kyoto

My Japan trip with Mary Rossi Travel has concluded. A wonderful 12 days with so many highlights: travelling around Japan on all manner of public transport including bullet trains, just like the locals, led by our own English-born but local guide; relaxing in the hot springs – onsen – at the end of the day; staying in a traditional Ryokan; playing games with a Maiko (trainee Geisha) in Kyoto; meditating in the Zen garden of a Shinto temple; applying gold leaf to our own chopsticks, walking food tours of both Tokyo and Osaka and learning to make both soba noodles and prepare the typical contents of a bento lunch box. And all in great company; an easy-going group of travellers as well as Claudia Rossi Hudson and her husband Roger Hudson. You can see some of their photos here.

Japan is an amazing place, a land of beer and sake available in vending machines all over, immaculate toilets but no a strong coffee culture. The Japanese themselves are polite and honest and quick to laugh when you had the opportunity to engage them. More photos on my facebook page. I hope to find time to write more in the future but for now I am only just back in London for a month and trying to catch up with all things here. Stay posted.

L: with Claudia Rossi Hudson before our first trip on the Shinkansen (bullet train);
R: full kaiseki dinner in a traditional Ryokan in Takagawa

L: My room in the Ryokan in Takagawa and R: a bridal couple in Kenrokuen Garden in Kanazawa

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

Watch Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece
This Week in London
Interesting Reading
What’s On
How to …..

Join me in Morocco 16 – 28 April 2020

Kiwi fruit, oranges and the new fruit, papples


A nutritional gem, kiwifruit is a fantastic source of vitamin C and contains vitamin E as well as dietary fibre. Their flesh colour, taste and texture can vary. Green-fleshed kiwifruit is very popular and less sweet than the yellow-fleshed variety. It has a firm edible central core. Gold kiwifruit has very juicy, sweet, tender golden-yellow flesh. It’s slightly elongated in shape. Both are plentiful.

Noted for its crisp, firm and tart white flesh, the Granny Smith apple is perfect for winter cooking. The flesh softens while cooking and becomes golden and sweeter, making it ideal for stewing, baking, purees and sauces. If you’re a fan of hot fruity desserts, then you’re going to enjoy this apple & pear buttermilk cobbler

Have you tried a papple? They are a variety of pear, that looks like an apple but have the skin of a pear. Fruit is golden with a red speckled blush. The flesh is mildly sweet with low acid flavour, with a crisp and juicy nashi like texture. These are also available in the UK as reported here.

Hass avocados from Bundaberg are plentiful and this week.The quality of avocados is at its best during the cooler months. Serve creamy avocado with crisp bacon and egg on warm Turkish or ciabatta bread or smash an avo on toast with tomato and egg.

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

Zesty, juicy lemons are so versatile. Whip up a tangy lemon curda steamy lemon pudding or lemon and mint potatoes 

This year’s navel orange harvest seems to be yielding a larger volume of big sized fruit. The quality is outstanding and the fruit is extra juicy. 

Sweet persimmons are a seasonal fruit available from April to July. Eaten when the flesh is soft and resembles apricot jam, persimmons are for many people, an acquired taste. 

Rich in calcium and fibre rhubarb is tangy rich tangy flavoured. It is often teamed with apples or pears and always sugar to make scrumptious desserts. 

Cauliflower, Hass avocadoes and chestnuts


It’s a fabulous time to discover fennel’s subtle flavour and wonderful crisp texture. Finely shred then use raw in a salad teamed with tomatoes, potato or juicy navel orange segments. Fennel is also delicious roasted. Slice or cut bulbs into wedges and roast until tender. Use the delicate feathery fonts to garnish dishes or boost flavour in a risotto or fish dish.

Broccoli is flourishing and this week is a top buy as there are good supplies. Steaming and stir-frying are ideal methods for cooking broccoli to minimise the loss of vitaminsLearn more

One of the healthiest greens, vibrant curly leaf kale is a good source of vitamin C and folate, vitamin E, vitamin K and beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Kale also contains iron, calcium and potassium. Choose bunched kale with crisp deep green leaves. Refrigerate in a plastic bag in the crisper and use with 2 to 3 days of purchase. Try this scrumptious recipe for Mashed potato with kale & green onions

Cauliflowers are bursting with goodness and flavour. Add cauliflower to rich vegetable soup or puree with stock and add grated cheese for a tasty, creamy cauliflower soup. 

Vibrant and versatile carrots are shine in winter cooking. Enjoy them roasted in soups, stir-fries or casseroles. 

With their delicate sweet onion flavour, leeks are ideal for soups, casseroles, stuffing and cheese-based dishes like gratins. Leeks vary in thickness from pencil-thin to 5cm thick stems. Select firm leeks with satin-like stems and deep green leaves. 

Delectably different from other nuts, chestnuts natural goodness is obtained through cooking. Roast up a kilo and stock up your freezer so you can add that special wintery touch to meals year-round. Chestnuts are delicious pureed with mushrooms, cauliflower or pumpkin to make a tasty puree or add stock to create a nourish flavoursome soup or add a handful to a stir-fry. 

Recipe of the Week

Mushroom Strudel

This recipe comes from episode 2 of  Lyndey Milan’s Summer Baking Secrets but mushrooms are something which can be enjoyed all year round

Serves 4 as main or 6 as entree
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes

100g button mushrooms
100g mushroom caps
150g flat mushrooms
200g portabello mushrooms
2 tablespoons (40ml) extra virgin olive oil
60g salted butter
250g eschallots, peeled, halved if large
¼ cup (60ml) sherry or apple juice
½ cup (125ml) vegetable or chicken stock
½ cup (120g) sour cream
1 teaspoon cornflour
2 tablespoons chopped chives
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 sheet butter puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
To serve, sour cream mixed with chopped chives, optional

Wipe mushrooms. Quarter the buttons, thinly slice the caps, and slice the flats and portabellos a little more thickly.

Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan over moderate heat. When butter melts add the eshallots, and cook, stirring occasionally until just soft, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, set aside.

Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook stirring occasionally until all have softened. Increase heat, and add sherry or apple juice and cook for 1 minute or until sherry or juice has reduced. Return the eshallots to the pan, add the stock and cook until stock has reduced. Add the combined sour cream and cornflour, stir until bubbling, then for 1 minute, or until there is very little liquid left in the pan. Stir in the herbs, season well. Cool the mixture.

Preheat oven to hot 220°C (200°C fan-forced).

Lay one sheet of puff pastry out flat on a large flat oven tray lined with baking paper.Place cooled mushroom filling down the middle third, leaving one third of puff pastry free on each side. Using a sharp knife, cut these into 2cm strips from the mushrooms to the edge of the pastry. Fold over the mushroom filling alternately, as if the pastry is being plaited. Tuck ends under to secure. Brush strudel with the egg yolk.

Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to moderately hot 200°C (180°C fan-forced) and bake for 15 minutes or until strudel is puffed and golden. Remove from oven, stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream and chives if desired.

Lyndey’s note: You can make the mushroom filling in advance, keep it covered in the fridge for several hours or overnight. It’s best to assemble and bake the strudel just before serving.
You could use thinly sliced leeks in place of the eschallots.

Watch Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece 

Loukamades and Greek coffee which Blair and I enjoyed after visiting the Kalamata market

Lyndey and Blair’s Taste of Greece follows my lovely late son, actor and presenter Blair, and me, as we explore the beautiful cuisine and culture of Greece’s historic and picturesque Peloponnese. It is being repeated again, with double episodes from 6.30pm Saturdays on SBS Food (Channel 33).
This week begins with episode 5 in the
 Inner Mani. Blair jumps into the sea beyond Kalogria beach, where a cold spring from the mountains surfaces in the open sea, I learn to cook pumpkin balls, Fishermen’s soup and and marinate anchovies and we end the evening dancing on the beach. We visit a Gypsy market where we sample incredible pork, visit  the Diros caves by boat, then a cave at Cape Tenaro (reputed to be the entrance to Hades), Vathia and the Mani Museum . Finally I learn how to make authentic ‘diples’ with  the ladies in Stoupa while Blair enjoys the silence on a hike through Kardimili gorge.

Episode 6 is in the  Outer Mani beginning with a visit to Kalamata Market. Blair a lover of olives was thrilled to try kalamata olives in Kalamata Market, along with loukamades (Greek doughnuts) and extraordinary chocolate covered figs. We then visit an olive oil and fig-packing factory with a tasting. We visit Ancient Messine before I learn the secrets to cooking okra and cockerel in Ithomi Taverna. Then we’re off to Methoni castle and end up playing a vigorous game of backgammon with some locals. Lots of fun, characters and food.
Information, recipes and factsheets at www.sbs.com.au/tasteofgreece
Also more Greek recipes and ideas in the SBS newsletter.

This Week in London

With Wine Australia’s Laura Jewell MW and Matthew Jukes at his 100 Best Australian Wines launch at Australia House. Photo: Wine Australia

I hit the ground running on arrival in London late Monday. On Tuesday I attended wine writer Matthew Jukes’ 100 Best Australian Wines at Australia House. This is always an amazing tasting  and such a wonderful thing for Australian wines in the UK. In his 100 Best Jukes strives for a balanced, modern collection of all wine styles, at all price points, from as many regions as possible to give a snapshot of current trends in the best of Australian winemaking. He tastes 3,500 wines to get his 100 Best and ensures that UK agents have sufficient stock to last through to the New Year and beyond. Next he takes this roadshow around the UK to Australia, Beijing and Guangzhou. He also holds lunches for top sommeliers to taste and discuss the wines. I will be writing more on this elsewhere but was really impressed by the quality and value of the sparkling wines and how clean and elegant the chardonnays.  Read more here.
I am always delighted at the seasonal flowers in London parks. One close to us is Paddington Gardens in Marylebone and I was entranced by the roses.
On Thursday I was able to join a small group from the Australian Women’s Club London on a walk from Richmond station to Osterley Lock. This is part of the Capital Ring Walk, which they are gradually covering each month. We walked 8kms in lovely weather and I am now determined to try the ones I have missed.

L: Bridge over what was Grand Junction Canal 1820 and R: a riot of roses in Paddington Gardens, Marylebone

Interesting Reading

On the baking list: Chocolate, licorice and caramel loaf cake with licorice crumb.  Photo: Katrina Meynink

The Good Food Team share  Good Food’s mid-year review for 2019: What we’re loving, hating and anticipating and I totally agree with Jill Dupleix about getting rid of those 60’C soft eggs. I think they are revolting.
SBS looks at the different attributes of cow’s milk alternatives in
If you can’t drink cow’s milk, what’s the healthiest alternative?

I have only just discovered the website OAD – Opinionated About Dining and was fascinated to read The Lists 2019  They are divided up into various categories and countries. Fun reading. The survey factors experience into its rating system and the results are based on over 200,000 reviews contributed by more than 6,000 people.
I’m a bit late here but The Good Weekend wrote on Massimo Bottura’s tour through the world’s best restaurant. I was thrilled a couple of years ago to actually get a one-one-one interview with him which you can read In Selector magazine here.

What’s On

Pizza Napoletana

For UK Readers
50 Kalo, 7 Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5BY PH +44207 7930 9955
If you like pizza try it here as it has just been named Best Pizza in Europe. Ciro Salvo is the third generation of master pizzamakers from a renowned family. His research on extremely hydrated dough, where very large percentage of water is added to the flour, has resulted in awards and recognition from the most regarded national and international food critics , with particular emphasis to the lightness and easy digestibility of the dough. The title was awarded by 50 Top Pizza, in partnership with S.Pellegrino and Aqua Panna, an organisation that judges and lists pizzerias from all around the world in various categories: 50 Top Europe, Italy, North America, Africa, Japan and Oceania. Read more here.

English Wine week until 2 June
A bit late with this one but I am increasingly impressed with English wine and now there’s been a week to celebrate it. Still a couple of days to go and more information here. Moreover to celebrate English and Welsh Wine Week, industry body WineGB has announced that a total of three million vines are due to be planted this year, resulting in a 24% rise in land under vine in Britain in just one year. Read about it Three million vines to be planted in England and Wales in 2019.

For Global Travellers
Fine Dining Lovers list the Best Food Events June 2019: Worldwide

In Australia
Cook for Syria – Monday 12 August at 6.30pm
In the last three years, the #CookForSyria campaign has raised more than $1.5 million for UNICEF’s Syria Crisis Appeal to support children in Syria and the surrounding region with clean water, vaccinations, education and protection This year 
NOMAD’s head chef Jacqui Challinor will collaborate with the country’s top female talent and create a four-course menu, incorporating a Syrian stamp on their signature dishes. The line up includes Julie Niland (Saint Peter, NSW), Claire Van Vuuren (Bloodwood, NSW), Emma McCaskill (Sparkke at The Whitmore, SA), Thi Li (Anchovy, VIC), Shannon Martinez (Smith & Daughters, VIC), Sharon and Carol Salloum (Almond Bar, NSW), Jaci Koludrovic (Icebergs Group, NSW), Isabelle Caulfield (Poly, NSW), Federica Andrisani (Fico Dining, TAS), Imogen Czulowski (Africola, SA), Palisa Anderson (Boon Luck Farm, NSW) and Sarah Knights (Automata, NSW). Sommeliers include: Bridget Raffal (Sixpenny, NSW), Sam Payne (NOMAD, NSW). Running the floor will be: Kylie Javier Ashton (Momofuku) and Nikki Friedl (Africola, SA).

Tickets $295 each, including a four-course menu with matching wines. All food and wine has been generously donated so that all proceeds raised directly support UNICEF Australia’s Syria Crisis Appeal. 
Or you can host your own dinner at home. Details here

How to ……

Pasta alla grica (left) and cacio e pepe are simple classics – pre-grated parmesan is forbidden. Photo: William Meppem

I decided to change the name of this section in my updates from Techniques and Know-How to How to – because that;s really what it’s all about. How to do things.

I really like Dani Valent and her work. she is the Thermomix queen but has also written a lovely piece on Italian kitchen 101: Chefs’ guide to cooking great Italian food at home. She’s got the low-down from Italian chefs and it makes me want to be eating in Italy.

I always prefer sparkling water in batters but using sparkling water in different ways can bring some unexpected results 5 surprising uses for sparkling water.

Women’s Weekly’s Classic chocolate mousse recipe.

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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