On set in Flame Studio Kitchen at the end of shooting Lyndey’s Cracking Christmas Classic episode – recipes on www.lyndeymilan.com

Every year I think I am going to take the week off before Christmas and indulge myself in the Christmas spirit and enjoy doing all things Christmassy. Yet here I am again, starting this less than one week out, with so many work related things to do that I don’t have time to mooch around as I would like. My gifts are long organised (we do Kris Kringle with my extended family which makes it easy, only one gift to get) and Christmas Day food, though there will be 24 of us, is easy because in my family we spread the load so there is none. Just fun. We all love Christmas, something inherited from my parents.
This year will be very special as my granddaughter Isabel (named after my mother) will be in Sydney with her parents and it is her 2nd birthday on Christmas Day. However, I have never been so unprepared for my annual drinks party with 60 or so people coming by, that I will need to take some of my own advice about how to handle things without stress and at the last minute!
For our Flame Media Christmas party we again played barefoot bowls at The Greens and then feasted on delights which came from Nathan Tillott’s kitchen. It is such a fun, inclusive thing to do, and rivalry is fierce. I make sure we mix people up, but I was lucky to be on the winning team again this year – not that I am competitive – much!
So I am trying to get this weekly update finished, along with everything else. I hope you enjoy it – I do like getting feedback. Wishing everyone a safe, happy and peaceful Christmas, with special thoughts for those who are no longer with us.
To cheer us all, watch the Sydney Children’s Choir on Bridgeclimb thanks to The Starlight Foundation.

L: It always cheers me up to see Christmas trees outside for everyone to enjoy, this one in Martin Place (though only the top of it), Sydney and R: Flame Sydney Christmas party, barefoot bowls winners in front

Jump ahead to see:

This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
Traditional Recipes
Contemporary Recipes
What to do with left-overs
The gift of travel for Christmas?
Interesting Reading
What’s On
Techniques and Know How
Last minute gift for Christmas
Wines for Christmas and New Year

A fruity Chrismas wreath, lychees and figs


Fresh berries make the ultimate summer dessert. Select from raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, loganberries, red currants and strawberries all are in season. One of the easiest and impressive desserts to make a head of entertaining is a Berry, Chocolate & Yoghurt Ice-Cream Cake. Berries are at their very best for value and quality in December. 

Your local greengrocer has the most highly fragrant peaches and nectarines. These stonefruits will delight your senses and your budget. Consider buying fruit by the tray as it is more economical and the fruit keeps better as it is handled less.

Celebrate the festive season with sweet eating cherries. For maximum quality use within 2-3 day of purchasing. This Christmas treat the family to Roasted Cherries served with turkey or ham or round of a festive meal with chocolate dipped cherries.

Exotic and flavoursome; fresh lychees are a sweet summer sensation and now is the best time to make the most of lychees. To store lychees, place in a sealed plastic bag in the refrigerator. 

Blushing apricots make a scrumptious and nutritious snack but have you tried char-grilling apricots and adding them to a salads? Serve apricots with turkey or chicken or make tangy relish with these gems. 

Luscious, juicy mangoes are a summer favourite. There is plenty fruit available this week, so celebrate with a Mango, passionfruit & raspberry cream trifle.

Serve large creamy fleshed Hass or Reed avocados in salads, with prawns or on toasted with Christmas ham. Avocado makes a meal more luxurious. This Avocado, baby spinach & prawn salad makes a fabulous light team or starter. 

New season grapes are firm and bursting with flavour. 

Plump flavour packed, new season figs are now in season. Try this Fig, Honeyed Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad it’s delicious.

Medium to large sized rockmelons are great value. Try the new Queensland grown Candy melons with a golden smooth rind and a super sweet orange flesh.

Heirloom tomatoes, a vegetable Christmas wreath and asparagus

For a festive coloured roasted or salad, combine green zucchini and red capsicum together with garlic cloves and red onions.

Toss Queensland grown premium handpicked beans,  with a drizzle of olive oil, lemon rind and roasted garlic and serve hot.

Sweet potato wedges made with kumara are delicious, alternative sweet potato makes are delicious gratin or add to a cold to a potato salad. 

Carrots are a bargain. Roasted carrots are deliciously sweet, sprinkle with fresh thyme for added flavor.

Fresh herbs make add flavour to festive cooking. Sprinkle fresh thyme sprigs across roasted vegetables, add sage and parsley to your meat stuffing’s. Team lots of basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, sliced heirloom tomatoes and black olives to serve as a side dish. 

Serve up fresh Victorian grown asparagus in stir-fries or salads. Fresh asparagus can also be eaten raw, it has a delicate nutty flavour – try this Shaved Asparagus, Rocket & Parmesan Salad. .

Perfect to roasting or a potato salad desiree, pontiac, and brushed potatoes are in store as are gourmet potatoes such as kipfler and Dutch cream.

Traditional Recipes

Glazed ham is a perennial favourite

Many of these recipes come from my TV series Lyndey’s Cracking Christmas
Many more on my website www.lyndeymilan.com/recipes

Smoked trout mousse with cucumber salad
Honey glazed ham with mustard fruits & cranberry relish

Read my Christmas ham – tips and tricks blog
Roast turkey with Italian sausage seasoning and vegetables
Here’s how Jamie Oliver prepares and cooks his turkey
Crackling Christmas roast pork – step-by-step guide
Sago Christmas pudding with custard and brandy butter

Having given you all these recipes, in our family we have been keeping the heat out of the kitchen and cooking our turkeys on the BBQ. We have anything up to 28 people so need to cook a lot of vegies too. For a gas BBQ, place the turkey in the centre of the BBQ with the two most outer burners set to medium (on a 4 burner BBQ) and close the lid. Allow 20 minutes per 400g for unstuffed, 25 minutes per 400g for stuffed. We cover ours with the ham skin to baste as it cooks.
Find out more in my blog Ten Top tips for Making Christmas Day Easy.

Roast turkey with all the trimmings and Smoked trout mousse

Contemporary Recipes

Roast salmon fillets with salsa verde, potato and rocket salad and heirloom tomato salad

Here in Australia, many people opt for seafood, or something different. Or you might like a combination. Here are some recipes to inspire you:
Seafood platter with chimichurri sauce and chipotle mayonnaise
Roast salmon fillets with salsa verde, potato and rocket salad and heirloom tomato salad
Roast beef rib with spiced salt and anchovy and parsley béarnaise
Frozen Christmas pudding
Baklava Dome Cake
10 Christmas dessert recipes

 Seafood platter with chimichurri sauce and chipotle mayonnaise and Frozen Christmas pudding

What to do with left-overs

L: Turkey quesadilla R: Ham or turkey croquettes

Christmas comes with such a great flurry of culinary activity and joy, then it’s over and those left-overs can hang on and on. Here are some ideas to help you transform ham, turkey and chicken into new meals.
Quick ideas

    • Mix up an Asian style dressing with lime juice, fish sauce, a little palm sugar, finely chopped fresh chilli, plus lots of chopped mint and coriander to toss through diced turkey.  Add some bean thread noodles for texture and serve in lettuce cups. You can also do this with left over salmon.
    • Stuff a split pide with sliced turkey or ham, avocado and tomato.
    • Toss warm cooked chat potatoes with chopped ham and a mustardy dressing.
    • Make a Spanish omelette by combining lightly beaten eggs with ham chunks, a few semi-dried tomatoes, olives and chopped parsley. Pour into a large frying pan and cook over low heat until just set.  Finish under a hot grill and serve in generous wedges with salad or smaller squares with a drink.
    • Fill crepes with turkey, ham and mushrooms in light cheese sauce.
    • Grab a sheet of puff pastry from the freezer for a quick freeform quiche.  Place the pastry on a baking sheet, crimp to create a 1cm pie edge, pour over beaten egg, top with a few spoonfuls of ricotta, diced ham and a generous sprinkle of thyme.  Bake until crisp.
    • Toss ham strips through just drained pasta and mix with beaten eggs, finely grated parmesan and lots of black pepper for a speedy pasta carbonara. I like to add a little chilli for bite. Recipe here.
    • Combine chunks of chicken and ham with wilted leeks, spinach and a little cream, top with mashed potato and bake until golden.
    • Add sliced ham or turkey to an American-style chef’s salad with quartered hard boiled eggs, baby cos leaves, cherry tomatoes and avocado.
    • Transform leftover steamed rice and diced ham into Chinese fried rice.  In a hot wok toss ham with frozen peas and sliced green shallots.  Add rice and mix until heated through.  At the last moment, add omelette strips, a few drops of sesame oil and a sprinkle of soy sauce for authenticity.
    • Stuff croissants with sliced ham and cheese and grill until the cheese melts.  Serve hot with a salad.
  • Jazz up a risotto bianco with ham, chicken or turkey.  Add mushrooms too and, just before serving, stir through some rocket or spinach until wilted.

Roast Vegetable
Blend your leftover roast pumpkin, potatoes and sweet potatoes with chicken or vegetable stock to make a chunky veg soup. Top with any leftover herbs you have leftover from Christmas cooking. Roast veg also makes for an easy frittata or quiche – all you need are eggs and cream or milk .as above. Herbs and leftover cheese grated from your cheese platter wouldn’t go astray in here either!

Leftover Roast or Poached Salmon
Flake leftover fish and remove all bones. For fish patties, add a cup of your leftover mashed potatoes, 2 eggs and leftover herbs (dill, parsley or coriander would be fab). Shape into patties, dip into flour, egg wash, panko breadcrumbs and fry until golden and cooked. You can also add leftover flaked fish to pasta or rice salads or stir through scrambled eggs for a luxe experience.

Leftover Ham/Turkey/Roast Beef
There’s more to your leftover Christmas roasts than just a sandwiches, salads and wraps (although those are fabulous too!) You can reinvent your turkey with a turkey curry, dice your ham to use in fried rice or thinly slice beef to wrap around lightly steamed veggies for a great Boxing Day picnic treat? Don’t forget to use your leftover bones to create beautiful homemade stocks which you can freeze for future use.

Leftover Desserts
Yes, I know this is a rare occurrence but there are a few fun ideas you can use your leftover sweets for! Use my leftover Cointreau dark chocolate truffles for a decadent hot chocolate – simply add 1-2 truffles per mug of milk and microwave for a minute at a time, stirring with each minute until the chocolate has melted for a chocolatey drink with a hint of orange. My white chocolate mascarpone mousse makes an excellent frosting or filling for cakes, especially with the berry topping swirled through. Freeze any leftover brioche or similar sweet breads (such as panettone or croissants) to make bread and butter puddings.Don’t forget! You can also freeze leftover wine, homemade stocks and herbs from your Christmas events for future meals.

Turkey quesadillas
Turkey salad with ginger and lime mayo
Ham or turkey croquettes
Panettone bread and butter pudding

The gift of travel for Christmas?

Just some of the amazing food you can experience in 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
•            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

Enquiries: Patricia McEwen patricia@maryrossitravel.com or Direct: +61 2 8923 6109

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

Interesting Reading

Buck’s Farm Australian Native Finger Lime from delicious.com.au

Delicious shares  The hottest dining trends of 2018 in NSW
and also The hottest dining trends of 2018 in Victoria.Recent research suggests that a siesta can reduce the risk of heart disease and lengthen working men’s lives – regardless of their age. Read Viva Siesta, how modern science is now suggesting that we should all be taking a short siesta after lunch – to rest, relax and recharge our batteries. Winsor Dobbin explains six lesser known wine varieties worth a spot on your shelf.The first ever long list of the World Restaurant Awards which will be held for the first time in Paris on 18 Feburary has been announced. The long list has been compiled with the input of 100 judges which include some of the top names in the restaurant world as well as food writers from around the world. The World Restaurant Awards are comprised of 18 categories, divided into 12 ‘Big Plates’ and 6 ‘Small Plates,’ including ‘Arrival of the Year’; ‘House Special’; ‘Off Map Destination’; ‘Atmosphere of the Year’; ‘No Reservations Required’; ‘Enduring Classic’ and ‘Ethical Thinking.’
See the various lists here, with the shortlists to be announced in January.Google has released its annual list of the nation’s most trending food seraches and it turns out Australians are more curious about cooking corned beef than anything else. Read Why is corned beef back on the boil?London Eater debates The Impact of Brexit on Restaurants: Two Leading London Restaurateurs Discuss

What’s On

Nicholas Seafood will be part of the Sydney Fish Market’s 36-Hour Seafood Marathon

Sydney Fish Market is again hoping to reel in more than 100,000 visitors to its annual 36-Hour Seafood Marathon. The marathon kicks off at 5:00am on Sunday, 23 December, with retailers open all the way through to 5:00pm on Monday, 24 December.
Sydney Fish Market, Bank Street, Pyrmont, NSW 2009

Here’s a round up of what’s on in the Gold Coast.

Techniques and Know How

Sous vide turkey thigh bath

How to sous vide turkey

Pure Wow reveals The 15 most common mistakes people make cooking a turkey.
Also The 5 essential tips for carving turkey, according to knife experts.

Delicious shares tips from chefs in Be smart and host Christmas like a chef this year.

And in Gourmet Traveller Australia’s best chefs share their Christmas cooking tips.

Food52 advises How to make gravy in advance.

Last minute gift for Christmas

Order his cookbook in aide of farmers doing it tough and download the gift voucher in time for Christmas

Even though many parts of Australia our now experiencing heavy rain and flooding, there are still so many farmers doing it tough without a single drop as we lead into the festive season. I have chosen to donate my chocolate souffle recipe to a special cookbook, @Farmercookbook. The proceeds after printing of the book are all going straight back to Aussie farmers which will see over $20 per book go direct to the farmers in need.

If you have left your Christmas shopping to the last minute…you can download a digital gift voucher for the book which you’ll receive via email and can slip into a stocking with anyone noticing you printed it on Christmas Eve! The book will arrive in your hot little hands in February 2019 and it’s loaded with delicious, soul nourishing recipes by some of Australia’s top chefs and farmers. Please join me in supporting the heart of Australia, our farmers. Hit this link to secure a copy for your loved ones.

Wines for Christmas and New Year

2018 Grosset Alea and Springvale Riesling

Some friends came for lunch last weekend and, given the heat, I made two salads: Squid and pink  grapefruit with glass noodles, and Crunchy noodle salad, with pineapple & shaved coconut – both with a hit of chilli. So my first choice of wine was:
Grosset Alea Riesling 2018, Clare Valley, AUD $37.50
An amazing, intense  riesling with a subtle off-dry character, perfect with the chilli.  Floral but not sweet, with herbal, lemon and lime aromas  and a long, dry finish.
Once that was finished we opened

Grosset Springvale Riesling 2018 AUD $40
It flowed on well, another outstanding rielslng with all the purity that all Grosset’s rieslings have. (His Polish Hill is more expensive and not as approachable as this wine right now.)  Full of intense lemon and lime, some floral character and a finish which is long, zesty, and bone dry. 

Champagne and Sparkling Wine
These are ever popular at Christmas so you may like to read my blog about Champagne and sparkling wine.
Here is my Christmas tip for keeping punch cold.

Industry research company IBISWorld expects prosecco, craft beers, and rosé will be among the most popular alcoholic drinks this silly season. Read Prosecco and Kombucha Among Top Tipples This Festive Season

Here’s my recipe for Aperol and red grapefruit cocktail (pictured below).

Enjoy your seasons eatings and drinkings.
May you and yours have a peaceful, happy and safe festive season. I’m taking a break for a couple of weeks but you can k
eep up to date with my travels on all my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

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