I’ve had my first picnic! Four friends and I decided to do one as soon as possible when allowed so on Wednesday we went to Observatory Hill (as being in an overlapping area we could all access within our 5km radius). We decided to splash out, and splash out we did. There are some bargains to be had as the hospitality industry and therefore suppliers are doing it so tough, so we splurged on some well-priced caviar from Two Providores, prawns and oysters from the Fish Markets, pate, fresh bread, Holy Goat cheese, the fabulous pecan pate from Bloodwoodwashed down with some lovely champagne and wines. When we split the cost it was less than a main course if we were able to go out and such a wonderful luxury and fun.
Despite predictions of rain early in the week, I was able to get out and walk everyday, though it was cooler, which is always wonderful. We are so blessed where I live in Sydney, that there are so many walks and bush walks possible in the 5km radius, though I do live close to the city. Added to that are all the Spring blossoms coming out and it helps us to feel more cheerful.
It is nearing the end of the blood orange season, another favourite of mine so here is a very versatile recipe Blood Orange Compote with Yoghurtas the compote can be used with pancakes or myriad other things. enjoy this for breakfast, as pictured below with fresh blood orange juice, or have it as a dessert.
Blood Orange Compote with Yoghurt
Hints and Tips
Dehydrated blood oranges
Dehydrating Blood Oranges – without a dehydrator
I adore blood oranges and as the season is drawing to an end I wanted to preserve some to enjoy later. A friend had done this so I decided to as well. I washed my oranges, thinly sliced them, placed on a rack on a baking tray and put in a very low fan-forced oven – only about 70’C for three hours. Then I turned the oven off and left them in there to cool. Now I have stored them in an airtight container. Perfect for a drink or cocktail and also a snack. There is no need to sprinkle anything on them as they are sweet enough and I like the slightly tart flavour of the finished product.
Cake Batters and Cakes
I have been asked by Indira Naidoo on ABC Radio Sydneyto explain to her why it could be that she prefers cake batter to cake, so I thought I would share it here too.
First up, you could not possibly eat a lot of raw batter, as I am sure you would feel somewhat sick, given it has raw flour in it, uncooked eggs and it is quite rich. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun to lick the beaters or the bowl! I think the point is that a little bit of batter may taste better than a little bit of cake.
The thing is we are wired to find sweet food appealing – breast milk is sweet. The batter actually tastes sweeter than the baked cake because it is dense and heavy and coats all of the taste buds on your tongue and invariably you will register the sugar molecules. The baked cake, however is much lighter and has air bubbles in it, so the concentration of sugar molecules in the cake surface is not the same as the concentration in the batter. Added to that you then chew the cake, saliva gets involved and so it tastes less sweet.
Certainly there’s a lovely flavour that eggs, flour, sugar and butter combined make – but this could also be the texture: the goeey sweetness which is even better licked off a wooden spoon. It simply melts in your mouth, which is also appealing. There is a chemical reaction when these ingredients are cooked – which is what makes the cake rise and hold its shape but also changes its flavour. And let’s not forget the time – honoured tradition of being allowed to lick a beater or two.
I am also sharing a recipe with her for an easy 5 ingredient sponge cake and for myPink Lady Apple and Coconut Cake which is simply made in the food processor.
Pink Lady Apple and Coconut Cake
A Fiver For A Farmer
This campaign A Fiver For A Farmer is the brain child of 12 year old Jack Berne. He has already raised $1.8 million in the last three years but now he has new idea.
Though a Sydney boy, he thinks about where his food comes from, what life is like for farmers and how hard it must be due to drought and the terrible mice plague. So he decided to do something to help. As Jack has written on his website: “We know that our Australian Farmers are resilient. With Drought, fires, floods and now the Mouse plague. The problem is so severe that mice are biting people whilst they lay in their beds. With the Mouse plague stretching across NSW to Southern QLD, Northern Victoria and into South Australia. The mice have caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to farmers crops, fodder and homes. The financial destruction, and the experience of the plague is impacting our farmers yet again.” He is asking us to donate $5 to farmers to help. He suggests you dress as a farmer for the day or download a farming image for your screen saver to use on zoom or however you like.
I know the official day is today when I send this newsletter out, but it’s not too late to help.
Register for or donate toA Fiver For A Farmer Day by visiting the official website. Such a great cause and such a simple thing to do.
Last Week and Next
Passionfruit and Lime Cupcakes
I’ve been sharing lots of recipes on social media this past week, as I have loaded some more on my website. I thought sweet little Passionfruit and Lime Cupcakes would be something lovely to bake last weekend and then share this week. For an easy Sunday night dinner of only 5 ingredients, most of which you probably have already, I turned to pasta with Spaghetti with Prosciutto and Rocket
Then it was the beginning of Negroni week which inspired me to look for an Italian canape to accompany one and so this inexpensive and easy one sprang to mind: Pasta Shells with Tomato, Basil and Tapenade.It proved incredibly popular. I also put up my Muffalettarecipe which I shared here in my Picnics feature last week. Lots of ideas there if you missed it last week.
Next week: Well tonight (Friday) I am looking forward to a zoom dinner focusing on the Bordeaux area of France. The food comes from Manta Restaurant and the sommelier there, Jean, has set himself up as The Quarantined Sommelier. They will deliver for two or more people within a 5km radius. I am doing this with my “bubble buddy” so the delivery is no problem. You get last minute instructions for finishing off the three courses, wines to match and Jean hosts you via zoom to talk about the area and the wines. We did one on South West France a couple of weeks ago and it was sensational. So this time we have spread the word amongst some family and friends so we will all be in our on homes but on zoom together. Can’t wait. I have another picnic planned with a friend tomorrow and next week I am also interviewing my friendStephanie Alexander, again via zoom, about her new book Home. Who knows what else the week may bring?
L: Pasta Shells with Tomato, Basil and Tapenade and R: Spaghetti with Prosciutto and Rocket
The Australian Waterhole range of tonics
Tonic for your Gin? Regular readers will know I am a massive supporter of Australian producers. Quite by chance I was recently introduced to Waterhole Mixers range of tonic waters and, when I was impressed, I made contact with founder Jodie Lording. It made sense to me. I am so delighted with the incredible range of high quality Australian spirits, surely we should be pairing them with Australian mixers?
The story of Waterhole Mixers came to life in late 2019, when Jodie was holidaying in central NSW with her husband, Rob. “While driving through the drought-struck towns of Mudgee, Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo, we had a light globe moment. We had been giving serious thought to creating our own gin distillery and realized the great love Australia already has with Aussie gin. What we realized, is that these great top-shelf gins, using awesome Australian native ingredients, were being paired with supermarket or imported tonics. It just didn’t make sense.”
The business planning stage took six months; mostly because COVID-19 arrived. “Our philosophy is simple – our tonics should complement, not mask, the great spirits our distillers are creating. We are about celebrating unique and distinctly Aussie flavours, and the opportunity to play and have some fun trying different flavour pairings and combinations.”
The signature tonic can be enjoyed with any spirit or straight up. The Native Citrus uses the uniqueness of finger lime and lemon myrtle, designed to support that citrus note that Aussie gins are favouring. The Native Botanical Tonic Water features lemon aspen, native thyme and wattleseed and goes well with other white spirits like vodka. The name and logo are representative of Australia. “The Australian waterhole is essential to life across our arid landscape. The waterhole quenches, satisfies and supports life. Meanwhile, our logo gives a nod to the Australian way of life – people coming together at the pub or local waterhole.”
Waterhole natural Australian mixers are increasingly available at local distilleries premium bottle stores and you can order online.
My favourite is the Waterhole Native Botanical Tonic Water which uses Lemon Aspen, Native Basil and Wattleseed,
Every yearShaw and Smithusually have a fun launch of the new vintage of theirSauvignon Blancat Yum Cha of recent years at Mr Wong.Clearly that has not happened, but a bottle of the wine has arrived. Now I am not generally a fan of sauvignon blanc but this wine from the Adelaide Hills is an exception. I find it refreshing, aromatic, citrussy and lively rather than pungent. The 2021 vintage is the 32nd vintage and, incredibly, I remember the first! RRP is $29.50 but you may pick it up for less.
I also recently received some samples of Miles From Nowhere winery, a range called Best Blocks. Miles from Nowhere not only alludes to the geographic remoteness of the vineyard in the Margaret River, but also in recognition of the owners forebears who arrived in Australia some 100 years ago from the Ukraine, bewildered by what they were confronted with in their new home country, and feeling every bit Miles from Nowhere. I sampled the 2018 Best Blocks Shiraz. It has a gorgeously rich nose of dark plum, blueberries and chocolate. In the mouth it is all ripe fruit flavours like dark cherry, with soft tannins making it very approachable. RRP is $24.50 but again, depends where you buy it.
2018 Miles from Nowhere Best Blocks Shiraz
Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022
The Atlas Mountains 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
Orecchiette drying in the back streets Bari, 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