2022 is Well Underway
Onwards & Upwards

Cutting the cake with Australia Day Community Award winners, Dubbo


I hope Australia Day was as good to you as it was to me. This year, my 19th consecutive as an Australia day Ambassador I went to Dubbo for two delightful nights. I know this can be a contentious date, but I see it as a way forward to honour our traditional owners while acknowledging the contribution of successive waves of migrants in an harmonious way. I was delighted to talk about this with the Wellington Australia Day Ambassador, Corey Tutt, a Kamilaroi man who was NSW Young Australian of the Year last year for his charity and work with Deadly Science which provides science books and early reading material to remote schools in Australia.

The theme was  Reflect, Respect, Celebrate. For me, this means
Reflect – to pause and take time to think on what it means to be Australian, our achievements and our failings, what makes us unique, where we are headed and our role as global citizens.
Respect – for all those who have gone before, the traditional owners, their culture and heritage and what we can learn from them, for the many others who have chosen to make this land their home and the wonderful diversity waves of migration have brought and for all those marvelous, often unsung heroes who care for our communities and our land. I am grateful to be a 5th generation Australian.
Celebrate – the wonderful thing about Australia Day is that it is not an elitist celebration and can be both diverse and inclusive. Most community celebrations are free and, especially in the bush, invariably begins with breakfast (to beat the heat) and a sausage sizzle.  However, we can all celebrate in a way that suits us and many people have their own traditions. For me that means delivering my thoughts on Australia Day, engaging with and learning from the community I am in, singing some of our great songs (though that was not allowed this year)  and having a cold beer in a local pub wherever I am.

The ceremony in Dubbo was fantastic. Mayor Mathew Dickerson narrated Dorothea Mackellar’s poem My Country and gave a meaningful address. As always, I was humbled by what the Community Service Award winners had achieved without looking for recognition, enjoyed my bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast and meeting the local community. In the afternoon I visited the Taronga Western Plains Zoo for the first time and was astounded at the number of critically endangered species they have helped save by careful breeding and repatriation to different countries. Well worth a visit.

If you missed my TV segment on Christmas Eve it is now up on my website – a great way to use Chinese roast duck to create an easy but impressive meal. More on Chinese New Year below.

Next week I am very much hoping to get on a flight to Singapore on Wednesday to visit my daughter, so I may not send a newsletter for a couple of weeks.

However, please stay in the loop on  Facebook and Instagram or email me with any requests or comments. 


My Australia Day pins from the last 19 years and delivering my Australia Day address, Dubbo

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

Lunar New Year
Things to Read and Share
South Australian Tour
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

Minced Beef in Lettuce Leaves

When I was Food Director of The Australian Women’s Weekly, we were always aware that butchers reported highest mince sales in February. People were paying off Christmas credit card bills, holidays and new school shoes leaving less to spend on food. So we would invariably feature mince recipes. this led me some years ago to present a video Cooking Mince 5 Ways : chicken larb with rice noodles, minced beef in lettuce leaves (in fresh lettuce leaves or steamed) and mini lamb burger for finger food or larger Greek style lamb burger.  You can read my blog on Cooking with Mince

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

Recipes of the Week

Five Spice Plum & Almond Crumble Pie

Plums are glorious in Australia at the moment – but if you are elsewhere you can make this Five Spice Plum & Almond Crumble Pie with tinned plums as with fresh plums you need to poach them first.

Arabic cheese salad is great in any season as cherry tomatoes are pretty good all year round. It was inspired by a visit to the incredible Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai and eating in their Al Iwan restaurant. It can be served as an appetiser or with the main meal. The original recipe calls for Baladi – a soft creamy white cheese with a mild rich flavour, but I found that feta works well. Choose one which is soft and creamy rather than dry.

Arabic Cheese Salad

Lunar New Year

Chinese Chicken Wonton Cups

Kung Hei Fat Choy, or Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year!

Lunar New Year 2022 falls on Tuesday, February 1st with celebrations culminating with the Lantern Festival on February 15th. Lunar New Year is celebrated not only in Chinese society but other Asian cultures and marks the transition between zodiac signs and 2022 is the Year of the Tiger.
Tigers are the third of the Chinese zodiacs. According to legend,
 Buddha invited all the creatures in his kingdom to appear before him. The 12 animals which completed the journey – the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, goat, monkey, cock, dog and pig – were then honoured with rotating names of the year. Tiger was confident that no one could compete with its speed and vigour for the celestial race that would decide the order of the zodiacs. However, when Tiger climbed out of the river, thinking it was first, it was informed that Rat placed first for its cunning and Ox placed second for its diligence. This left the king of the jungle having to settle for third place.
Like their eponymous zodiac animal, people born in years of the Tiger are believed to be active, vigorous, ambitious, daring and courageous, enthusiastic and generous, self-confident with a sense of justice and a commitment to help others for the greater good. They love a good challenge and adventure in life.
There are lots of beliefs around what is good to eat to ensure good fortune in the ensuing year. You can read more in a blog about Chinese New Year which  I published a few years ago, along with links to some recipes. Here are some more: 

Chinese Chicken Wonton Cups
Chinese Roast Duck Salad
Chinese-style Roast Chicken
Pork Dumplings
Roast Duck Rice Paper Rolls
Duck Soup with Coriander and Noodles
Steamed Pork Dim Sims
Steamed Snapper with Ginger, Shallots and Soy
Prawns Poached in Lemongrass Broth

Duck Soup with Coriander and Noodles

Things to Read & Share

Ottolenghi and Noor Murad’s Grilled Zucchini with a Tangy Yoghurt and Saffron butter

SBS has curated some great content on Lunar New Year including TV, celebrations and recipes.
Another piece The sweet lowdown on the sugars of Asia is well worth reading too. David Lebovitz muses on, and shares his recipe for what he calls “world’s best” mac & cheese I’m a bit late with this but Hospitality Magazine published their 2022 food and beverage trends and also a recipe with video for Tortelloni with parmesan cream Broadsheet shares Ottolenghi and Noor Murad’s Grilled Zucchini with a Tangy Yoghurt and Saffron butter.

South Australian Tour
29 March – 3 April 2022

Behind the Scenes in Adelaide and the Barossa Valley 29 March – 3 April 2022
I’ve really enjoyed planning this trip and promise lots of fun and great experiences. with all the uncertainty with border restrictions, Insight Vacations have promised that should Covid prevent interstate travel, deposits will be refunded in full up until 1 February. So book your space to enjoy:
  • Food, wine and quality time with living legends
  • Meeting, greeting and feasting with Maggie Beer 
  • Learn about Chinese tea and wine at Bai Long Store with the tea master and me
  • Cooking dem and tapas-style feast at the Central Market with Mark Gleeson and me
  • Think outside the square at d’Arenberg where wine meets art
  • Taste and learn abut Barossa  smallgoods and wines with David Franz Lehmann
  • Hear a private recital of the Baroque Organ
  • Meet former Young Chef of the Year at the newly opened Arkhe Restaurant
  • Barossa Farmers Market, dinner at Seppeltsfield Winery, interactive gin tasting at Seppeltsfield Road Distilleryextensive tour and lunch at Yalumba and much, much more with some suprises along the way. Lots of meals included as they are specially planned.no more than 22 (plus Insight travel host and me). Cost is $4,4495 twin share ($925 single supplement).
If you would like to join me in March 2022 on a close to home journey to explore behind the scenes in Adelaide and the Barossa Valley, follow this link for the brochure, and different contact details for the holiday season email directadmin@insightvacations.com.au or PH 1800 001 778.

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Aromatic spices on display in a market in Morocco

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.
Details of the adventure include:

  • Meals as per itinerary: breakfast daily, 9 lunches, 11 dinners with ½ bottle of wine per person at dinner or sometimes lunch
  • Transportation throughout in luxury air-conditioned vehicles with professional experienced English-speaking driver, including related expenses and allowing for physical distancing
  • English-speaking escort
  • English-speaking local licensed guides in Rabat, Volubilis, Meknes, Fes, Marrakech and Essaouira with all entrance fees included to the sites visited with the guides
  • Atlas excursion including mules and the specialist trek guide
  • 3 cooking classes

You can enjoy this experience from AUD $9600 per person twin share (flights from Australia not included). Cost for single travelers is AUD$10,700.

By Prior Arrangement is highly experienced and well-known in Morocco as Principal, Carol Prior lived there for 13 years and has been arranging tours there for over 30. 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

Cheesemaking on the farm in 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. 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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