Another week gone ….. Well – John and I managed a dinner out for our anniversary! You can clearly see that I haven’t been to the hairdressers for months but I am so grateful that John was well enough for us to go out and celebrate our 13th anniversary. I booked Aqua Dining for 6pm, requesting a very socially-distanced table. It worked perfectly – only a few people there that early, and as the restaurant began to fill around 7.30pm we were leaving, ensuring we were ultra-safe. We were so happy to be able to do this, given only a few weeks ago we could not have dreamed of it. Moreover, it was wonderful to be able to support a local hospitality business. It is so hard for them, especially as they must limit their capacity for safe social-distancing. So while we’re talking dining, it’s worth reading Table Manners: The dos and don’ts of dining out in 2020.
On the subject of gratitude, I continue to be moved by my thoughtful and caring friends and family. I am also grateful that we are in Australia, and that the governments have been doing their best to control COVID-19. I do appeal to everyone, to be vigilant about social distancing and hygeine precautions so that as many as possible may remain safe.
Our life has settled into our new normal and so next week I am hoping to be able to do a bit more of my own work. I hope you are all doing well in your own lives.
L: complimentary canapes; R confit calamari, coconut, puffed wild rice, yuzu mayo
L: oysters, freeze dried raspberry, white balsamic R murray cod, cabbage broth, brussels sprouts, lemongrass
My easy cheat’s rag pasta with fresh tomato and basil
I have uploaded another YouTube video for your enjoyment. My Easy Rag Pasta with Fresh Tomato and Basil. Although tomatoes are out of season in Australia, they are still availabel and also bountiful in the UK right now. the main point is that I wanted to show you how easy it is to create fresh rag pasta without having to make your own! 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. Here’s another recipe using the same techniqueRag Pasta with Pumpkin and Sage.
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
Beef and Red Wine Pies
Some great cooking hacks in this recipe. I have adapted a French technique of hot marinating the meat in these beef and red wine pies. The flavour in this is just amazing and well worth the effort. Once made, it tastes even better the next day. I prefer the flavour of commercial butter puff pastry to shortcrust pastry and have developed a great technique to use it for the base of the pie as well as the top. Or, you can just use the beef mixture as a casserole. Try my Beef and Red Wine Pies here.
Focus on Pomegranate
Pomegranate showing its delectable seeds
Pomegranates can initially be deceptive. From the outside they don’t look like much, a bit like passionfruit if you think about it. But open them up and you’ll find beautiful ruby coloured arils or seeds that truly are jewels in nature’s crown. In Autumn and Winter, pomegranates grace us with their presence. So let their sweet perfumed scents fill your kitchens once again and revel in their beauty.
Fun fact about pomegranates, it’s name means ‘apple with many seeds’ however it technically is part of the berry family.
There are many ways to use pomegranates in your cooking. Firstly, to enhance colour, flavour and texture in a dish, add the arils to rice, salads, tagines and desserts. Or, secondly, add the gloriously tangy and fragrant pomegranate molasses. Pomegranate molasses is used extensively in Middle Eastern cooking, particularly in rice dishes and marinades. By adding a couple of tablespoons to a dish it provides an agro dolce or sweet/sour note which is flavour enhancing.
I remember when my lovely friend Janni Kyritsis had MG Garage restaurant, he served the seeds piled high beside a bottle of iced Bombay Sapphire gin and with a pink grapefruit granita. Unforgettable!
Pomegranates can be purchased whole, or even just packets of the arils, at your local fruit and veggie market. Purchasing tip: look for bright and freshly coloured ones that are plump and heavy. You can also freeze the seeds when they are in season.
Good for you – pomegranates
Contains almost 50% the recommended daily intake of vitamin C.
Anthocyanins found in the red pigment of pomegranates may provide anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits.
Pomegranates contain ellagitannins reported to exhibit numerous health benefits including anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antioxidant, prebiotic, and cardioprotective properties
In a cool dark environment, pomegranates will keep for up to a month. Refrigerated they’ll keep for up to 2 months. Pomegranate arils can be frozen for up to 12 months
Remove the arils and discard all surrounding skin.
Blot the arils with kitchen paper until completely dry.
Arrange arils on a tray lined with baking paper and place in freezer for 2 hours to flash freeze.
Transfer to a freezer bag and store for up to 12 months.
How to remove pomegranate arils or seeds
Roll the fruit first to loosen the seeds.
Then you can cut it in half and bash the outside with a wooden spoon or similar but be sure you do it over the sink with a big bowl as they can splatter.
Alternatively, score the outside into quarters. Then submerge the pomegranate in a bowl of water and and pull apart the quarters, releasing the seeds with your hands.
The pith will float and the seeds will sink. Remove the pith and discard, then drain the seeds.
Salad with pancetta, goats cheese and pomegranate molasses
Carol Selvarajah doing what she loved – popularising Asian ingredients
The week has not been without its sadness, though, with my late son Blair’s birthday and the passing of my great friend and colleague Carol Selvarajah. She was a visionary, a supporter of all, gifted teacher, magnificent chef, kind friend, wonderful mother and grandmother, a supporter of music and the arts, spirited, a determined advocate for equality of all sorts and just plain good fun. I found her socially-distanced funeral service all the more moving because of the restrictions, meaning we were seated far apart and could not sing the hyms. However her son, Rajah, did so beautifully. I am so grateful I could attend.
Carol Selvarajah pioneered ethnic food tours with her “Day Trip to Asia” in Sydney’s Cabramatta. This was in the early 90s when it was known for drugs, violence and crime. She revealed the cultural and culinary side of the destination first taking Australia food media, then members of the public and in 1994 the international food media there to learn what was on offer. I went on her first planning trip in 1990, taking along my 4 year old daughter Lucy, who Carol was amazed to see tucking into Chinese duck soup. They have been firm friends ever since. She gave Cabramatta pride and transformed the view of the area.
Carol, Malaysian-born, Perth educated, TV Presenter, author of eighteen cookbooks, migrated to Australia with three young children to teach at PLC Armidale in 1976-1977, leaving her husband, Selva, a GP, back in Kuala Lumpur, to join them two years later.
After a stint running a Café in Hornsby whhere she introduced locals to Malaysian cuisine, she became known as the “Queen of Nonya Cuisine” (Nonya being the melding of Chinese and Malay food in the Malay Peninsula). She understood Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures as well as that of the melting pot of Singapore. She lived there as a very small child under Japanese occupation and knew privation.
Carol has been hugely significant in advancing the knowledge of the food of South Asian Asian cuisines in Australia. As a teacher, through her books, TV programmes and print, and her culinary tours, she demystified Asian ingredients for Australians, something which has become almost common knowledge.
My TV Shows on Demand Globally
At Brasserie Bread when filming my Baking Secrets TV series
Next week sees the return of my Facebook Live cooking shows. Keep your eyes peeled for details, I will share the recipe ahead of time so you can cook along with me in real time.
I’m sharing a family favourite, a gluten free carrot and zucchini cake which works well as an afternoon tea treat or a lunchbox staple.
I will also share some words of appreciation and encouragement for my wonderful online community.
Travel with me in 2021?
Learning traditional bread making – just one of the fun activities in my trip to 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.