The Loy Krathong Festival celebrated at the Thai Consul General’s home
Welcome Remember Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days? How ironic that modern transport would make this easily achievable, yet for us in 2020, impossible? So I’ve had a week of virtual travel as, unfortunately, we can’t even travel around glorious NSW and Australia at the moment, though I am delighted so many others can. Lots of love and support to those in South Australia currently in a hard, but hopefully short lockdown. Thank you to those of you who enquired abut my partner John. He is home from hospital and on oral antibiotics which make him tired, but happy to be home. As ever, it is two steps forward and one step back.
Today is National Farmers Federation Ag Day, so my thoughts naturally turn to those on the land. I was thrilled to see this fantastic episode of The Living Room featuring my very dear young friend Sasha Cody and her family who run Chesleigh Homestead just out of Sofala in Central NSW. Like so many Australian farming families they had to survive drought, then COVID lockdown which meant their livelihood was cut off. It is a wonderful place to stay and I commend it to you – great for everything from kids camps to family getaways or a romantic back-to-nature experience. I’m hoping to get back there next year. Theirs is just one story on the land so I encourage you to travel regionally, buy locally and, if you can and support rural businesses.
At a Hong Kong Market, host Christian Yang explains with Annie Tong how to check that eggs are fresh under a light
On Tuesday I was off to Hong Kong on a virtual media family, highlighting the Hong Kong Wine & Dine Festival which has gone online this year. It made me very, very hungry as we virtually visited a tea house, soy sauce specialty shop, eateries and markets. I wrote about this festival extensively last week in my newsletter.Be sure to check out the Masterclass Programme, sign up for free and enjoy them this coming weekend.
That night I was zooming to the UK, to give a talk on my life in food to The Australian Women’s Club London. It was so great to see so many smiling faces of people I have not seen since March.
One of the follow up slides sent after my online experience in Japan
On Wednesday (after feeling very hungry during the Hong Kong Tour on Tuesday) I took the precaution of buying myself some sushi for lunch as I undertook the fabulous Arigato Tours Let’s Discover the Top 5 Japanese Foods. It was so much fun, with a great host, interactive with some short quizzes and really, really interesting. Each food was explained, its history, fun facts and how to eat like a local. These are very affordable and available to you anywhere in the world, as they will adjust the times if they have sufficient bookings. They have other online experiences too like Green Tea Time in Japan (you can get some green tea for yourself in advance to fully participate), Online Happy Hour and Virtual Experience in Shibuya and Shinjuku with a Local Expert. I actually did this tour in person in Tokyo last year when I hosted a trip to Japan. Highly recommended.
Screenshot from my virtual tour with host Alex explaining how to correctly eat sushi
Wednesday night was the delayed Loy Krathong Festival at the Thai Consul General’s home. Another international experience. This festival dates back over 700 years, a time for people to pay respect to Lord Budhha and seek forgiveness from the goddess of water for any misdeeds. The world loy means “to float”while Krathong is a lotus blossom-shaped vessel of candles, incense sticks and flowers which float on water. It was an evening of dancing, feasting, making of Krathong and floating them on the pool.
Now for my exciting news which I’ve had to keep under wraps until now: I will be a guest on 4 episodes of Adam Liaw’s new TV series on SBS Food, at 7:00 pm every week night called The Cook Up. More about it, and other great shows on SBS Food here. We’re filming next week though it won’t be shown until next year.
I’m back on Facebook Live this Sunday and have adjusted the time again to 7:00 pm AEDST, or 6:00 pm QLD time and therefore 8am UK time. It is so wonderful to have viewers in so many different regions so I am trying to accommodate them all. Sending my warmest wishes for the week ahead to you all.
Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.
I have had quite a few requests for Christmas recipes. Well, here is something perfect for a gift or to enjoy yourself: my chocolate truffles – with or without chilli! You can watch me make them on YouTube here. You’ll find the written recipe here.You can subscribe to my channel here, so you can see other videos including my meals in a minute.
Recipes of the Week
BBQ Rangers Rump with Garlic & Parsley served with Zucchini, Eggplant & Grilled Tomato Salad
Share seafood – suitable for Christmas and entertaining
I took a break last week and this week asked what people might want me to cook on Facebook Live. therefore, I am going to show some foods suitable for Christmas or any entertaining. Of course, there’ll be a wine to match. Come and join the Facebook Live here.
All About Eggplant
There are many varieties of eggplant
EGGPLANTS OR AUBERGINES
Eggplant, known as Aubergine in Europe are available everywhere, whatever hemisphere right now, so I thought it time to revisit this glorious vegetable.
Eggplants belong to the nightshade family of vegetables, which also includes tomatoes, capsicum and potatoes. They grow like tomatoes, hanging from the vines of a plant that grows to several feet. Also like the tomato, its skin and seeds can be eaten, but, like the potato, it is not advisable to eat it raw. The different varieties are largely similar in taste and texture. The spongy, absorbent fruit of the plant is widely used in cooking in many different cuisines, and is often considered a vegetable, even though it is a berry by botanical definition. Eggplants are all a good source of dietary fibre, which contributes to normal bowel function. A good source of vitamin B6 that plays a role in hundreds of biochemical reactions in the body, including contributing to energy metabolism. The purple skin is a rich source of antioxidants. Purple Eggplant – or Common Eggplant
When you think of eggplant, you probably envision the large pear-shape or cylindrical eggplant with shiny purple skin. Though this is the most common variety eggplant does vary in shape and size, from a couple of inches to a foot long. The colour varies with variety, including white, green, reddish-orange, and striated hues. The green and yellow are rarely seen in Australia. Finger or Japanese/Asian Eggplant
Also sometimes known as Lebanese eggplant, this long, slender, finger-shaped variety can range in colour from dark purple to striated shades. They have a tender and sweet taste.
Also known as Kermit eggplant, this variety is the size of a golf ball and features white/mauve skin with some green mottling. It is often used in red curries.
Used in Thai and Indonesian cooking, these tiny, pea-shaped eggplants come in clusters. Light green in colour, they have a bitter taste and many seeds. Available from Asian greengrocers.
Buying and Storing
Look for a firm, glossy-skin eggplant that is heavy for its size with a bright, mould-free top. Younger, smaller eggplants are usually less bitter than larger or older ones.
Store them whole in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To salt or not to salt? While this isn’t essential, it does help tame the bitter taste, especially of older eggplants, by bringing out the juices and letting them drain. Lay slices or cubes on layered paper towels and sprinkle all sides with salt. Top with more paper towels and a plate or something to weight them down. Let stand about 20 minutes, then rinse, pat dry, and use as desired.
Read why purple coloured foods are so good for us in The power of purple.
Because eggplant is so hearty, it makes an ideal meat substitute or side dish. It is very versatile and can be cooked in so many ways including grilled, roasted, fried, microwaved, stewed and even boiled. (I do this before making an eggplant sauce for pasta and it drastically reduces the amount of oil they absorb.) Soft and silky or smoky and full-bodied, they are a star ingredient in many cuisines.
Next week there’s International Espresso Day, Thanksgiving and much, much more so please do join me on Facebook and Instagram!
Travel with me?
Shopping in the Souk, Morocco
As we all know overseas travel is well and truly on hold for the forseeable future. However, with Covid vaccines on the horizon, I am optimistically planning my tours to Morocco and Puglia for late next year. If we deem it not safe to travel, we will postpone to 2022, but I think accompanied tours with well-reputed and experienced companies will be the safest way to go.