With Celebrity Chef Manu Fieldel when hugs were allowed
Oh we are so close to seeming to be allowed out of lockdown, so practising patience is the name of the game this week. If vaccination rates continue in Sydney and NSW restrictions may be relaxed by 11 October, a week earlier than at first thought. Wonder of wonders. I’m already on the waiting list to get into Neil Perry’s new restaurant Margaretwhich was about to open when we got locked down.
I really feel for those in areas still locked down and people in Melbourne especially, having to contend with demonstrations and an earthquake. As if life wasn’t scary enough? I just hope we don’t get more infections which will delay any more freedoms.
I have been having picnics, though one with a friend on Saturday got washed out. Despite the promise of good weather, the heavens opened and it poured and we were wet through. Happy though. Therefore pleased to spontaneously ask my sister and brother-in-law on Sunday morning if we might have an impromptu one which was bliss. Then with my nephew and his wife for a quick lunch during the week. Looking forward to a reprise this Saturday. I am quite sociable by nature and love the joy of sitting in the open air with family and friends.
I was looking back to times when we could socialist and so on Thursday I posted this photo taken at the Australian Film Television and Radio Schoolin November 2014 with Manu Feildelwhere we were both on a panel talking about presenting on TV. Fun times. I met Manu in 2004 when he became Executive chef at the new Bilson’s in the Radisson Plaza Hotel for another dear friend, the late Tony Bilson.. My partner & I knew Tony separately and had our first date there and returned often for monthly or annual anniversaries. Manu is a magnificent high end chef though now he is better known as a Celebrity TV chef.
Big news for me is that my carpenter/joiner can resume work on Monday. He is fully vaccinated and is finally able to come and install kitchen cupboards and drawers, bathroom cabinets, lounge room entertainment centre and new bookshelves in my spare room. I won’t know myself! I might even get back to Facebook Live?
Highlght of the week was organised by my incredible daughter Lucy Sparklesfor her husband Toby’s 40th birthday. He had hoped we could all go to the Margaret River for an extended celebration. That clearly wasn’t an option so she planned a zoom call with his immediate family and then the four people allowed to visit their home in Singapore to come over later for dinner. However, Lucy arranged for many more of us – 64 screens in total from all around the world to then drop in on this zoom chat. Not only that in the previous many weeks she had asked us to send video messages, old photos and also video of us singing John Farnham’s the Voice – as he did it in the old days. We had strict instructions on how we were to do this. She edited that all together into the most incredible 15 minute montage of vision and photos. We were all alternately laughing and crying. What a memory. thank you Covid!
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Just one screen of the 64 groups of family and friendswho joined my son-in-law’s surprise lockdown 40th birthday. Lucy & Toby middle top, I’m on their left
Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.
Simple Reduction Sauce
I co-hosted a zoom wine tasting last week with my friend Darren Jahn from Robert Oatley Vineyards. Darren did a great job talking about the company, the joys of the Margaret River and we tasted a chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, both classics of the region. I talked about food and wine matching, and specifically what would go with these wines.
During conversation, I mentioned how easy it was to make a reduction sauce, and how versatile such a sauce is. It can be made in a saucepan or when deglazing a frypan while resting meat, chicken or even fish. there was a lot of interest in this so I thought it worth sharing here. Just put everything in, bring to the boil and then reduce until thickened.
The simple quantities are 1 part stock to 1/2 part wine and then a dollop or two of something interesting. So for steak or lamb this might look like 1 cup (250mls) beef stock 1/2 cup (125mls) red wine 3 tablespoons redcurrant jelly or quince paste
or for a creamy sauce for chicken or fish 1 ½ cups (375 mls) chicken stock or consomme or fish stock ¾ cup (180 mls) dry white wine ½ cup (125 mls) cream1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
I loved Huon Hooke’s honest piece aboutMatching ramen with wine and how potentially unfortunate it was that he was eating it on World Cabernet Day.
with wines from Neil McGuigan’s personal vineyards
Bookings are well and truly open for my Moroccan Cooking Dem & Lunch from 11am – 3.30 pm on Sunday 24 October. I am teaming up with my long term friend (he calls me Mummy) and fabulous chef, Martin Boetz from The Cook’s Shed, Carol Prior fromBy Prior Arrangementand multi-award-winning winemaker Neil McGuigan who will be presenting wines under his own personal label. I have worked with everyone before and it will be huge fun.
We will begin around 11am with a welcome drink, then sit down for a cooking demonstration from Martin and me, then a three course meal, eating what we’ve demonstrated, with accompanying wines. We will wrap up around 3.30pm.
The Cook’s Shed is a bespoke events space, recently refreshed. It’s located at 2 West Portland Road Sackville where Martin first set up Cook’s Co-op growing and supplying outstanding produce. It’s all Covid-safe. Think wood-fired oven, bubbling pots of warming food, recipes to take home and fun, fun, fun. An absolute maximum of 50 people. Cost is $145 all inclusive and all bookings here.
Last Week and Next
Profiteroles au Chocolat
I have always had a knack for making choux pastry. Back in my catering days I would even make croquembouche for clients. I was immensely flattered when Stephanie Alexander used my recipe in the revised version of her definitive Cook’s Companion. Therefore I decided it would be good to explain my Top Secrets for Perfect Choux Pastry on the Happy Ali website. It’s such a fabulous pastry to master for everything from savoury Gruyere Gougéreto more complicated sweet applications likeParis Brest. I take you through it step-by-step. I hope you find it useful.
It’s been a roller coaster week with the weather going from summer to winter in a day. I have tried to reflect this with the recipes I shared and chose this comforting Cheat’s Tuscan Bean Soup which uses mainly pantry items.
I also got a great response to my post of the photo above, hugging Manu.
Next week: I’m excited that my renovation will be resuming so not sure how much time I will have. Monday is World Tourism Day so not sure what that might look like – maybe a flashback to when we could travel freely.
Also it’s my birthday on Wednesday, so having another picnic. Whatever you are doing, I hope you eat and drink well?
Cheat’s Tuscan Bean Soup
The refreshed MadFish range of wines
Refreshed Range from MadFish
To help celebrate its 30th year, MadFish Wines has just released its new range complete with a refreshed look. The new label artwork designed by local artist Kyle Odgers-Hughes draws inspiration from the rough and wild South West coastline that MadFish Wines calls home. They are all a very reasonable $18.
My pick of them, and so suitable for this time of year when the weather holds was the 2021 Madfish Rosé. A blend of grenache and pinot noir it is an attractive pale pink, with all the berry, citrus and pomegranate you might want. but finishing dry. Perfect for picnics.
Tonic Tasting Just for fun, as I had several different tonics in the fridge a week or so ago, I decided to do a tonic tasting. You may have read last week how pleased I was to be introduced to the Australian Waterhole Tonics so I thought I might try them all. I tried them in random order, but unfortunately as there was only me, I could not do it blind. Then I ordered them from left to right in my preferred order. then I tried them with Stone Pine Orange Blossom ginfromNip of Courage – and the order of preference changed. Now given this was not a blind tasting it is just a record of what I thought on that evening. However, it does show, I think, that different gins suit different tonics.
What do you think? Do you have any favourite combinations?
Tonic Tasting L tonics in preference L to R and R: gin & tonics in preference order when tasted with gin
Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022
Medinas in Morocco have something for everyone
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 but will wait until Australia has opened up to overseas travel to finalise these details. 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
Handmaking cheese 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. 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