Christmas Newsletter

Sharing some fun with my longtime friends Mitch and Mark who won the latest season of The Block


And so this is Christmas – and may it be as nurturing for everyone as possible. Hold your dear ones close if you can and take some time out to breathe and reflect on the year. Ttoo for all the support you have all given me this year.

I’m racing to the finish as I will be cooking on The Morning Show on Channel 7 on Christmas Eve at about 10.30am AEDST. You’ll have to tune in to see what I cook, but it will be a last minute festive meal.

I am thrilled to say I will be visiting Dubbo on Australia Day, for my 19th annual post as an Australia Day Ambassador. For me it is an opportunity to give back, learn about regional communities and acknowledge all Australians from honouring the original owners to valuing the contributions by all the other cultures who have made this place home. If you live near there come and say hello.

Enjoy your seasons eatings and drinkings
May you and yours have a peaceful, happy and safe festive season. I’m taking a break for a couple of weeks, probably back w/c 10 January,  but you can keep up to date on all my social media channels so please stay in the loop on  Facebook and Instagram.


Another old friend to catch up with Manu Feildel

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:
Video Recipe
Recipes of the Week
Christmas Recipes
Tips & Tricks for Easy Entertaining
Drinks for Christmas & the New Year
What to Do with Left-overs
South Australian Tour
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

Video Recipe

Honey-glazed Ham with Mustard Fruits and Cranberry Relish

Christmas just isn’t Christmas without a glazed ham. I have been doing this glaze for innumerable years, and, though I have come up with many others, this is the one I return to and which is the most popular with my guests. I cooked it for last Christmas on The Morning Show on Channel 7. You can watch me do it here. The written recipe is here Subscribe to my YouTube channel here for all my videos including recipes in a minute. Enjoy.

Recipes of the Week

BBQ Asparagus

There’s so much to enjoy with season produce right now. Asparagus is still wonderful so try this BBQ Asparagus.

Chocolate Sponge Kisses with Rose and Raspberry Filling are delightful as finger food at the end of a party, as dessert, morning or afternoon tea.

Chocolate Sponge Kisses with Rose and Raspberry Filling

Christmas Recipes

Christmas Zabaglione Semi Freddo

Christmas is a time when many entertain, even those for whom it is not a regular occurrence. So here are some recipes and menus to help you out.
Last year I put this Christmas Menu together for Happy Ali comprising Cheese biscuits, Roast Loin of Pork with Crackling and Summer Pudding along with wine style recommendations.. Another menu will be going up this weekend so be sure to check the Happy Ali website.

Seafood Recipes
Rillettes of Salmon with Horseradish Crème Fraiche and Mustard & Dill Pikelets
Smoked trout mousse with cucumber salad
Seafood platter with chimichurri sauce and chipotle mayonnaise
Snapper in a Salt Crust with Gremolata

For Traditionalists
Roast turkey with Italian sausage seasoning and vegetables

Christmas Desserts
Frozen Christmas pudding
This is very easy and if perfect if you’ve left it all to the last minute as it is best made on the day you eat it. Sago Christmas pudding with custard and brandy butter
Christmas Zabaglione Semi-freddo
White Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse with berries in sparkling shiraz syrup
Raspberry Ripple Nougat Parfait

For the vegetarians amongst us, and, indeed, those who enjoy vegetarian food on occasion, here are the All Time Vegetarian Christmas Favourites.
Not forgetting those who are gluten-free or following a FODMAP diet here is a Gluten-Free Newsletter with links to all these.

Snapper in a Salt Crust with Gremolata

Tips & Tricks for Easy Entertaining

Make a ring of fruity ice to keep your punch cold

I always like to serve a non-alcoholic fruit punch for Christmas entertaining and here is my tip for keeping it cool.
If you are cooking pork this Christmas I have a step-by-step guide to make glorious
Crackling Christmas Pork.
If you’re planning to cook fish, here’s How To Cook Fish with a Crisp Skin.

Or How to Tell if Your Roast Beef is Cooked.
Further to my video showing this, here’s Christmas Ham tips and Tricks.

Roast Loin of Pork with Crackling

Drinks for Christmas & the New Year

Aperol and Red Grapefruit Cocktail

Champagne and Sparkling Wine
Regular readers will know I am a fan of sparkling red wine – any time of year, but at Christmas especially. For me it goes with everything from breakfast, to the ham, turkey or salmon on to the pudding. Sparkling red can be made from different red wines, and when looking at food matches it is the base wine that should be considered. A cabernet with minty, chocolate overtones could go well with chocolate. A pinot-based wine may go better with lighter food, such as seared tuna, perhaps with native pepper, as it can handle the spice. Wineries of all sizes are now making sparkling reds, and at all price levels.

Champagne and sparkling wines are ever popular at Christmas so you may like to read my blog about Champagne and sparkling wine.

Aside from that I love the modern style of Australian Rosé which finishes dry and on a hot day, the heaviest red I can go is a Pinot Noir, which can still go with everything from oysters and seafood to ham and turkey.

And if you’re not drinking sparkling red, the match for Christmas pudding is Pedro Ximenez, a style of sherry with rich caramelised, toffee flavours.

Here’s my recipe for Aperol and red grapefruit cocktail (pictured above).

Finally, if you are looking for good Australian wines, you can’t go past looking at the results of the KPMG Sydney Royal Wine Show and the ICC Sydney NSW Wine Awards.

What to Do with Left-overs

Croquettes can be made from left over ham, turkey or even fish

Christmas comes with such a great flurry of culinary activity and joy, then it’s over and those left-overs can hang on and on. Here are some ideas to help you transform ham, turkey and chicken into new meals.
Quick ideas

  • Mix up an Asian style dressing with lime juice, fish sauce, a little palm sugar, finely chopped fresh chilli, plus lots of chopped mint and coriander to toss through diced turkey.  Add some bean thread noodles for texture and serve in lettuce cups. You can also do this with left over salmon.
  • Stuff a split pide with sliced turkey or ham, avocado and tomato.
  • Toss warm cooked chat potatoes with chopped ham and a mustardy dressing.
  • Make a Spanish Omelette by combining lightly beaten eggs with ham chunks, a few semi-dried tomatoes, olives and chopped parsley. Pour into a large frying pan and cook over low heat until just set.  Finish under a hot grill and serve in generous wedges with salad or smaller squares with a drink.
  • Fill crepes with turkey, ham and mushrooms in light cheese sauce.
  • Grab a sheet of puff pastry from the freezer for a quick freeform quiche.  Place the pastry on a baking sheet, crimp to create a 1cm pie edge, pour over beaten egg, top with a few spoonfuls of ricotta, diced ham and a generous sprinkle of thyme.  Bake until crisp.
  • Toss ham strips through just drained pasta and mix with beaten eggs, finely grated parmesan and lots of black pepper for a speedy pasta carbonara. I like to add a little chilli for bite. Recipe here.
  • Combine chunks of chicken and ham with wilted leeks, spinach and a little cream, top with mashed potato and bake until golden.
  • Add sliced ham or turkey to an American-style chef’s salad with quartered hard boiled eggs, baby cos leaves, cherry tomatoes and avocado.
  • Transform leftover steamed rice and diced ham into Chinese fried rice.  In a hot wok toss ham with frozen peas and sliced green shallots.  Add rice and mix until heated through.  At the last moment, add omelette strips, a few drops of sesame oil and a sprinkle of soy sauce for authenticity.
  • Stuff croissants with sliced ham and cheese and grill until the cheese melts.  Serve hot with a salad.
  • Jazz up a risotto bianco with ham, chicken or turkey.  Add mushrooms too and, just before serving, stir through some rocket or spinach until wilted.
  • Make ham or turkey (or even fish) croquettes. Recipe here.

Read  my 17 Ways to Enjoy Your Christmas Leftovers.

South Australian Tour
29 March – 3 April 2022

A Christmas Gift with a Difference? Come with me  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
  • and much, much more with some surprises along the way. Lots of meals included as they are specially more than 22 (plus Insight travel host and me). Cost is $4,4495 twin share ($925 single supplement)  with lot
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 or PH 1800 001 778.

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Aromatic spices on sale in Morocco

It is full steam ahead for my two overseas tours in 2022

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. There are only two spaces left but we will run another tour, probably in 2023. If you are interested please contact us? 

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

In the unique town of Alberobello

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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