How are YOU? How are we all?

Prime Rib of Beef with Baby Bean, Corn & Sweet Pepper Salad


As I begin to write this I have such mixed emotions. I am sure you do too. In hindsight, I think making daily video isolation diaries and written diaries gave me focus in the day, and helped me deal with forced hotel lockdown. I am very concerned for the mental health of everyone, whether in self isolation or forced isolation. The world has changed indeed for all of us. I worry about people who feel isolated and alone, those needing to home school their children and indeed everyone. I think it is our community, whatever that may look like for us now, which is ever more important. We need to stay in touch with family, friends and colleagues and support them too.

I think it can be very hard to stay focused and productive. I have so much to do, wanting to transform some of my business at least, to online, but can find it challenging to focus. I am supposed to be writing a thesis for the course I undertook last year,  Advanced Studies in Gastronomy (HEG). I can’t get to it, but neither can many of my 25 co-students from around the world.

Are you able to focus? 

Added to this, I had a flu vaccination with no side effects except a sore arm, but now I have had the Pneumococcus one to prevent pneumonia and it has knocked me for six. My partner is also not feeling great (phew Covid-19 test just came back negative)  – so I am sure many of you are feeling similarly?

So this is now a very different weekly update. No photos of me out and about, on TV or travelling. So instead a lovely photo of food. You’ll find the recipe here.  And let’s virtually travel together – to Morocco?
I’ll keep this newsletter short and sweet and share what I think may be especially relevant at this time.  Let me know if you agree?

Most of all, we all need to find ways to have FUN. Whether that is “virtual drinks” via Zoom, playing scrabble remotely or whatever, we need to ensure we have our fun quotient. I am loving my half hour pilates classes via Zoom. I received a request this week for a recipe exchange. Not something I would normally join. but I think “Why not?” and it could be so interesting to see what recipes I receive. However, can’t remember the last time I laughed out loud. And all those “jokes” circulating, cluttering up our inboxes don’t do it for me.
Therefore I am gong to challenge myself. First step, to do a recipe on Facebook Live. I am going to do this at 7:30 pm Australian EST this Sunday, so that is 10:30 am BST. You will be able watch it here, on my Facebook page. If you miss it, it will go up on my Facebook page after. Best thing is, you can ask me questions as it is interactive. I have no idea how it will go but it will be fun to challenge myself and see the interaction. This will be a short trial for my Zoom cooking classes which should start later next week. One step at a time!

Well OK, I did find this online joke funny. I hope it makes you smile?

Morocco at Home

My Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea, Carrot & Spinach Salad

I should be hosting a wonderful tour of Morocco right now with By Prior Arrangement.  We are postponing until next year, hopefully in May – but who knows what will happen? So I thought it could be fun to share Moroccan recipes so we can all feel like we are travelling.
So click through to my Moroccan Chicken, Chickpea, Carrot & Spinach Salad. 
or you could try 
Chia crusted Moroccan Chicken Breast with Chia Couscous
While not very different, if you wish to see how to cook it Here’s a link to me cooking a Moroccan-inspired recipe: Moroccan Chicken Breast with Almond Couscous.

Online Deliveries

A mixed fruit and veg box I received

I’m not usually a huge fan of shopping online for fresh produce and grocery items. For the former, I like to choose my own, see what’s fresh, in season and in good condition. For the latter, often there are only large sizes available or limited brands. I also like to support farmers and producers in whatever country I am in and ensure produce is not imported.
But, we all live in a different world now and there are some good options available.

I was delighted to receive this box from Fruit At Home and Snowgoose. Of course, a box such as these means you need to cook whatever you find in it which is how I like to cook anyway. That’s why I adapted the recipe at the top for the Prime Rib of beef, using the corn, the red capsicum, cherry tomatoes and using zucchini instead of baby beans. the plums and bananas were great for breakfast and the avocado and cucumbers in salads.
However, many people are not sure how to cook, others are just over having to do it every night and some of us like a change. Well this was me this week, with not feeling great and so I decided to sample Harvest@Home by Darren Taylor.

TOP: the complete delivery BOTTOM L: Meat pie and R: Risotto et Funghi

I have known Sydney-based chef Darren Taylor for many years. He has worked in many good restaurants but set up a catering business some years ago. With the COVID-19 crisis all his bookings were cancelled. Fortunately he had already been working on an “at home” concept which he was able to accelerate. So I am trialing it.

First up, it was well-packaged for delivery and I was impressed by the very long “use by” dates. Darren advised “the reason the food keeps as long as it does is the whiz bang packaging machine from Germany we have. As soon as the food is cooked it goes into the container, brought down to 1’C in our blast chiller, normally within 10-15 minutes and then sealed in the packaging machine. I’ve eaten the beef cheeks at 5 weeks and you’d think they had just been made. Plus the jars are sterilised. We have been running tests since last September with good results, amazing how it works really.”

I found the portions very generous for one and so we have been sharing a bit. The meat pie excellent. The risotto I found a tad sweet for some reason but was amazed at how the rice was still perfect, yet somehow had kept that lovely moisture so important to a risotto. I added the cheese myself. The packaging is great as it goes in the microwave and you only need to peel up one or two corners to release the steam. It works well. However, I would prefer the instructions to be in larger type as, even with my glasses on, they were a bit hard to read. The beef cheeks, organic mash and broccolini with almonds were sensation. Again amazed at how the broccolini was still fresh green and tender crisp. Watch this space.

Supporting the Hospitality Industry
This is what I will get onto next. To start with, after hotel lockdown, I was so thrilled to be home and able to shop and cook. Now I have tried deliveries. Next up restaurants. There are lots of initiatives, you  the following two are Broadsheet Live Lists and are updated:
.Sydney Restaurants Pivoting to Takeaway
Melbourne Restaurants Pivoting to Takeaway

And in the UK
London’s Top Restaurants Now Offering Online Ordering And Home Delivery

Join me – interactive cooking classes from home

I love teaching and demonstrating. This is in our studio when I was shooting Summer Baking Secrets

Thanks for the emails of interest for my planned Zoom cooking classes. sorry for my delay but I am working out how to do it I am also keen to know what type of recipes and techniques you may find interesting? Please let me know? 

These will be intimate, interactive classes on Zoom, which is easily accessed from a computer or phone. It will be done quite simply in my home kitchen. You will need to register to attend the class at a small cost. I will then email you the recipe in advance so that you can have the ingredients. I will then show you how to cook the dish, tips and tricks, all  in real time. You will be able to see me and I can see you. You can ask questions which I can answer then and there. The recipes will be approachable and feature easy to get ingredients, how to extend meat, what’s in season in my no-fuss style.

Stay safe, healthy and happy. Keep up to date  on all my social media channels: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter Pinterest and my YouTube channel.

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