Picnics Here We Come!

The top view from Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden


My friends in the Northern Hemisphere have been having variable weather, but when it’s good, perfect for picnics. For those of us in Sydney and NSW, from September 13 we can gather with four other people in an outdoor space for an hour. Roll on next week. You’ll find lots of ideas for picnics in this newsletter as well as a special negroni to drink.

We have also been promised more freedoms when NSW is 70% double vaccinated and projections show that as being October 18. At 80% we can go overseas and that is looking like November 1. We just need the vaccination rate to continue at the rate it is at the moment so fingers crossed.

I am lucky to live near Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden. Wendy created this as a distraction, mourning the death of her husband, artist Brett in 1992. It was overgrown, disused railway land beneath her home in Lavender Bay.  She didn’t ask permission she just did it and no-one stopped her. She was driven by aesthetics rather than any horticultural knowledge. Her work intensified when her daughter, Arkie, died at age 37. Ultimately then Premier Mike Baird granted a 30 + 30 year lease with a Trust to ensure the ongoing care for the garden, maintaining Wendy’s vision which she had funded herself. She still lives there and I was pleased to be able to thank her when walking by last week.

On Sunday 12th between about 9.15am and 9.30am AEST, I am joining The Lifestyle and Wine Show on  96.5 Inner FM . More about this below in Next Week.

It looks like we will be out of lockdown for my Moroccan Cooking Dem & Lunch now planned from 11am – 3.30 pm on Sunday 24 October, as that is the very day we are promised more freedoms. More information to come.

Please take care and stay in the loop on  Facebook and Instagram or email me with any requests or comments.


The specially created Gladys Picnic Negroni from Nip of Courage

Photo: Mr & Mrs Romance

Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.

Jump ahead to see:
YouTube Video
Recipes of the Week

Last Week and Next
Things to Make Us Smile
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

Prawn & Asparagus Linguine with Chilli Pangrattato

Asparagus season is with us in Australia so I am looking to cook with it as much as possible.  Prawn and Asparagus Linguine with Chilli Pangrattato is simple and delicious. You can watch me make it on YouTube. You can find the written recipe here.

Gourmet Traveller has a lovely collection of asparagus recipes too.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here for all my videos including other recipes in a minute. Enjoy.

Recipes of the Week

Smashed Broad Beans with Mint & Feta on Tortilla Triangles

Lots of new fruit and veg in the shops, so I’m celebrating those this week with  Smashed Broad Beans with Mint & Feta on Tortilla Triangles. However, it is worth noting that frozen broad beans are actually a good product too.

Conversely Blood orange season is drawing to a close, so here are a couple of recipes. You will find many more if you go on my website and search for blood orange. My Friday walking buddy told me he dried some blood orange  in his oven, on very low with the fan for a few hours, to use in cocktails. I am going to try that this week.

Here are Salmon & Blood Orange in Cartoccio & Smashed Potatoes
Blood Orange Salad with Baby Beets, Feta & Pinenuts

Salmon & Blood Orange in Cartoccio & Smashed Potatoes


Picnic scene set with Glass on the Grass coaster and food cover

Picnics aren’t only about food and drink – they’re about being able to enjoy these without fuss. Certainly spills and flies are something we can do without.

Picnic paraphernalia to make it easy
So I was pleased to find Glass on the Grass coasters and food covers. It all started because on a picnic some years ago, a very special bottle of wine was not able to be sampled because the glasses kept falling over and spilling the previous wine. It’s a great story. Twenty-one prototypes and several glasses of wine later, founders and inventors Stephen Flewellen and Lee Drury had Glass on the Grass™, the slide on coaster that stabilises a wine glass outdoors. The coasters are eco-friendly and made in the Northern Beaches of Sydney from recycled resin or bamboo. Cost is $35 for four. 

Next, they designed Shoofly food covers, made from fine stain-resistant, eco-friendly RPET mesh (recycled bottles) edged in eco linen with recycled zinc weights that can be thrown in the wash. So the wind can’t lift them off your food and let the flies in. thre are two sizes, Platter (60cm x 100cm), ideal for platters, cakes, coffee tables and small picnics and  Feast (100cm x 180cm) designed for kitchen islands, outdoor settings and large picnics. Platter costs $35 and Feast is $48. These are Australian textile designs, eco friendly and ethically made – but not made in Australia.  There is also a picnic club you can join with benefits to members.
Look here for stockists.

Some Picnic Recipes
Potted Prawns
Moroccan chicken, chickpea, carrot and spinach salad
Prawn Salad with Macadamia Dressing
Smoked Trout Mousse with Cucumber Salad
Pork terrine, Pear & Potato Relish
Glass Noodle Salad
Panazanella (but only if you can get ripe tomatoes)

Avocado, prawn & coriander rice paper rolls
Avocado, herb & chicken finger sandwiches

Chinese Roast Duck Salad
Muffins Three Ways
Passionfruit and Lime Cupcakes

Picnic Tips
Planning takes the pain out of picnicking so pack carefully. Remember to pack the heaviest food in the bottom of your esky – ideal for the muffaletta! Don’t forget the napkins and some garbage bags for rubbish and also to keep dirty plates and cutlery together. Don’t forget a board and a sharp knife.

Picnic Help?
If you want everything looked after for you,
Stedman’s Hospitality have launched Stedman’s Picnic Services, a joint venture with Bennelong Event Hire so they can provide everything you need for a deluxe picnic: fresh, seasonal food, bespoke beverage package, advice, great service, picnic blankets, chairs, cutlery, glassware – everything you need. they ask for three days notice. PH: 02 9281 24 33 or 0409 783 362 or bookings@stedmans.com.au

L: Avocado, prawn & coriander rice paper rolls and R: Avocado, herb & chicken finger sandwiches


Playing Tasty Trivia via zoom last week, one of the questions was “which is the only fruit with its seeds on the outside?” The answer, of course, was strawberries (actually with 200 seeds on average) and as they are so gloriously in season at the moment, I thought I would give them some love. They are not berries, but a fruit and belong to the rose family – well, they do have a wonderful fragrance.

Good for you as well as delicious
The Ancient Romans believed they had medicinal powers and were used to treat everything from depression to fever and sore throats.Certainly they are are an excellent source of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E and the B-complex group as well as minerals such as, potassium, manganese, fluorine, copper, iron and iodine. Vitamin C also contributes to formation of collagen and thus plays a role in healthy gums, teeth, bones, cartilage and skin.
They provide folate, a B vitamin needed for normal blood formation and dietary fibre, which is important for the normal functioning of the intestine.
They also contain lutein, one of the carotenoid family that is involved in normal eye health.

Select berries which are bright, red with an evening colouring. The calyx (leaves on top) should be vivid green and fresh, not wilted.

In their punnet in the fridge, or on a tray or plate lined with a paper towel to absorb moisture. Bring to room temperature to eat.
Make sure you wash them just before you want to eat them (to avoid speeding up spoiling) and only hull them AFTER they have been washed.
You can also freeze them by placing on a baking paper-lined tray and freeze until firm. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container. Thaw in the fridge, again on a paper towel.

Strawberries go with
balsamic vinegar
goat’s cheese,

Strawberry Recipes
Summer Pudding

Best Ever Scones with Quick Berry Jam
Slablova with Strawberry Curd
Strawberry Sponge Puddings with Strawberry Sauce
Strawberry Tart
Almond Flour Strawberry Cake
(gluten-free and paleo)

L: Summer Pudding and R: Best Ever Scones with Quick Berry Jam

Last Week and Next

Avocado Spring Salad

Its been a mixed week with it being RUOK day on Thursday, plus on Wednesday we were another week into Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Father’s Day can be one of mixed emotions for many people (including me) so I posted the tile below in honour of those we have lost or may be away from – and for anyone who may be stuggling.  On RUOK Day it was worth reminding people that :a conversation can change a life”. And the four simple steps:Ask R U OK? Listen; Encourage action and Check in. Especially poignant as it is 20 years since the dreadful terrorism of 9/11.

Following on from my bacon tip in last week’s newsletter, in honour of International and National Bacon Day (because here in Australia we want to use Aussie bacon)  on Saturday, I made myself a delicious yet simple lunch by cooking streaky bacon in the microwave and putting it on top of avocado and corn thins.
Avocadoes being in season, I also posted my recipe for Avocado Spring Salad.

I was delighted to share the link to the additional online material I wrote to my printed story in the September issue of delicious. I was able to visit Tweed and my friend Chris Manfield earlier this year in a gap between lockdowns. How fortunate I was. Here is all the info you need if you are lucky enough to visit the region.

Next week:
is Negroni Week so I will certainly be sampling my Gladys’ Picnic Negroni from Nip of Courage. In Melbourne you can try the Dan’s Egg and Spoon Negroni!

On Sunday 12th between about 9.15am and 9.30am AEST,  I am joining The Lifestyle and Wine Show. This is a fortnightly show where Angela Jones, Dennis Gambrellis & Jillian Upton discuss all the things that we love, including wine, food & entertainment, mixed with sensational music. It’s light-hearted, entertaining and informative and begins at 9am. Special guests join the show and share their passion with our listeners. Listen in to  96.5 Inner FM this Sunday 11 September from 9am.

L: RUOK tile for Father’s Day and R: bacon crisped in the microwave on avocado and corn thins

Things to Make Us Smile

Singapore Sling at Raffles, Singapore

Remember flying? In an aeroplane? To another country?
I always have a Singapore Sling when I fly with Singapore Airlines and yes, I have had one at Raffles in Singapore – but wow is it expensive. One is enough. Fun, though to read about the History of the Singapore Sling in Travel Distilled., along with a recipe. It goes back to 1915 when it was created in the Long Bar of the Raffles Hotel in Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon.
Getting in the mood to go to Morocco next year, look at this Moroccan Chronicles exhibition live online. It’s an exhibition of paintings by Daisy Perkins which is on in London where people can actually visit from 14 – 25 September in Clockwork Courtyard, 40 Southwell Road, SE5 9PG.Thanks Qantas magazine for sharing 26 Restaurant Experiences You Can Have at Home Right Now for spanning the breadth of Australia.Here’s a real superstar: Auschwitz author Eddie Jaku: How to be happy and live to 100. He never expected to live to 100 let alone become a first-time author just months after making that milestone. In the recently published The Happiest Man on Earth, he retells his powerful life story from stateless refugee to celebrated centenarian. Last year, at 99, he gave a TEDx talk that was met with a resounding standing ovation from the 6000-plus crowd at Sydney’s International Convention Centre. The book comes from that.
“This is the most important thing I have ever learnt: the greatest gift is to be loved by another person. Love saved me. My family saved me. Small acts of kindness last longer than a lifetime.”

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Glorious spices on sale in Morocco

Moroccan Culinary Tour begins in Rabat on Friday 23 September til Tuesday 4 October
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. This tour is nearly fully booked, so we are considering another tour later in October. Watch this space.
By Prior Arrangement is highly experienced and well-known in Morocco and I have confidence in working with them to bring this very special tour into being. Talk to them about the trip, or feel free to email me with any queries. I am excited!
Read Where to Eat Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Rabat.

Puglia Tour October 2022

Olive tree over 3000 years old at Masseria Brancati, Puglia

Puglia in the boot of the heel of Italy is still relatively unspoiled. A secret Italians tend to keep to themselves, it is a wonderful place to visit and so much less crowded than Tuscany. After Morocco I’m going on to host Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata 8 – 14 October 2022. Join me and 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
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

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

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