Welcome, Wow – I’ve been out for dinner!
It felt really strange getting dressed up, putting on make-up and jewellery and going out! My partner’s son was with him, so out I went. It felt quite weird and so unusual – first time since early March. I had a lovely night with friends at Bambini Trust Cafe Restaurant, owned and operated by the lovely Angela and Michael Potts. Angela welcomed us with socially-distanced open arms and Michael was in the kitchen. So now I have a food photo to post – a sublime and seductive entree of Scampi with Truffle Butter and Samphire. Angela calls it their “glmaour dish” and so it was. Very indulgent, perfectly cooked. Everything else was great too – but I am so out of the habit, that I forgot to take photos!
It seems everywhere is opening up to a greater or lesser extent. After something like 14 weeks lockdown in Singapore, my daughter, Lucy, is thrilled to be going out for dinner tonight with her husband. I hear from my friends in the UK that things are slowly relaxing? How is the USA?
How do YOU feel about it all? I am still very cautious with social distancing and am concerned that a laissez-faire attitude may lead to a second spike of COVID infection. I have a friend who laughingly talks about FOGO (fear of going out) and I feel a bit of that too.
Things are settling into a new rhythm at home, with my partner’s symptoms greatly improved, though it is early days in treating the cause. He is much more himself and we now have our “new normal”, whatever that means. Thank you as ever to friends and family for their ongoing love and support.
Do you have a “new normal”?
Prawn and Asparagus Linguine
I have uploaded another YouTube video for your enjoyment. My Prawn & Asparagus Linguine. I know asparagus is out of season in Australia, but it is bountiful in the UK right now. In Australia you could substitute green beans for the asparagus. Watch me make it on YouTube here. You’ll find the written recipe here. You can subscribe to my channel here, so you can see other meals in a minute and I will be adding more videos over time.
Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.
Recipe of the Week
Lamb in Vine Leaves with Warm Cauliflower Salad
The Cauliflower Salad is good enough to enjoy on its own and cauliflowers are right in season, so well-priced. As for the rest of the recipe, you can use fresh or pickled vine leaves, substitute with silverbeet or leave them out all together. This is a recipe I created when I was filming my TV series Lyndey Milan’s Taste of Australia in Armidale. Click here for Lamb in Vine Leaves with Warm Cauliflower Salad.
Fennel the vegetable is from the same family as the herb and seed of the same name. It can also be called Florence fennel, finocchio (in Italian), or sweet fennel. It is very popular in Italian cookery, and has a bulb-like shape that looks a little like heavy-bottomed celery. The bulb, which is pale in colour, is topped by green stems and fronds. Both the bulb and fronds can be eaten
Raw, the texture is crisp and It has a distinctive aniseed flavour. Cooked, it’s softer and more mellow.
Availability All year round, but at its best in winter and early spring
Selecting Choose smaller, young bulbs, as they’re more tender. They should look white, with no blemishes, and feel heavy for their size. The feathery green tops should be fresh and bright, with no yellowing.
Preparing Wash, then trim off the green tops (reserve to use as a garnish). Slice off the shoots and root and peel off the tougher outer layer only if the bulb is large. To cook it whole, cut out the tough central core from the bottom, leaving a cone-shaped cavity, or slice if you prefer. Alternatively, cut into quarters and remove only some of the core from each so the quarters won’t fall apart.
Cooking Cut into very thin slices for salads (a mandolin or slicer is best). Boil or steam (up to 20 mins for a whole head, or up to 12 mins for wedges). Roast (40-50 mins).
Cut thickly, brush with olive oil and BBQ until tender crisp.
Storing Freshly cut fennel should be wrapped in damp kitchen paper and stored in the fridge. It will last for up to five days. Fennel tends to discolour as soon as it’s cut, so dress raw fennel for salads straight away, or toss in a little lemon juice to prevent it browning.
Pork with Blood Orange Glaze, Fennel & Blood Orange Salad – you can use any oranges you like
Quick ways with fennel
Sauté a thinly sliced fennel bulb, red capsicum and onion. Cook some gnocchi according to packet directions and combine with fennel mixture, a splash of extra virgin olive oil, chopped parsley and grated parmesan. If desired, add slices of cooked chorizo.
In a large bowl, combine chopped lettuce with a thinly sliced fennel bulb, 1/2 sliced red onion, a handful of trimmed snow peas, 2 segmented mandarins or 1 segmented grapefruit and a handful of chopped walnuts or almonds. Make a quick dressing from 2 tablespoons each extra virgin olive oil and orange juice, and drizzle over salad.
Use fennel instead of cabbage in coleslaw. Thinly slice 3 fennel bulbs. Toss with 1 thinly sliced onion, 1 grated carrot, a handful of sultanas, 1/2 cup extra light sour cream, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard and 1/4 cup lemon juice until just combined. Sprinkle chopped fennel fronds over coleslaw before serving.
Try adding sautéed fennel bulb as a finishing touch to a pizza base topped with tomato & basil pasta sauce and mozzarella. Sprinkle with dried oregano and chopped olives. Bake for 10 minutes, until cheese melts.
Keep all your vegetable scraps to make vegetable stock
Make Your Own Vegetable Stock from Vegetable Trimmings
Nourishing home-made vegetable stock is all natural and free from preservatives. Use any leftover veggies in your fridge and remember, all your vegetable trimmings can be frozen over time until you are ready to make your stock. I do the same thing with prawn shells, freezing them until I have enough for stock.
Pack a large saucepan with washed vegetable trimmings from leeks, celery, carrots, mushrooms and onions.
Add a few black peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves and some sprigs of fresh herbs like thyme and flat-leaf parsley. I like to add some lemon rind.
Cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and gently simmer for 1 hour, skimming off any scum that comes to the surface.
Strain the stock through a fine sieve into a large heatproof bowl. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Store in the fridge for up to 5 days or freeze in airtight containers.
You can also boil to reduce the volume and freeze in ice cube trays so you can add just a little concentrated stock during cooking
If you have a no-fuss approach to baking then my recipe for caramelised pear scones is for you. I promise you it’s the best kind of cooking, where you get maximum wow factor for very little effort!
I’m also sharing my tips for cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and busting a few myths while I’m at it.
A gorgeous shakshuka recipe for brunch will also be on social this week so don’t miss out, come and join me on Facebook or Instagram.
Travel with me in 2021?
There’s always fun at a cooking class, especially when you forage first, Masseria Montenapoleone, Puglia
MY HOSTED TOURS RETURN IN 2021
While I sadly had to postpone my wonderful culinary tours this year, we now have dates for next year. Many more details to come, but I wanted to give you, my subscribers the first heads up, although it is too soon to be thinking about travelling overseas again. Here are the dates: Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata: 10-16 October 2021 Full details and prices here, Morocco culinary tour approx 13 – 24 May – some information here.