I’m quietly back ……

with my partner John at The Butcher Shop Cafe in Mudgee, 6 March, 2009

Thank you those of you who have sent me kind messages and apologies for my lack of communication for several weeks now, especially to the new subscribers who have joined my newsletter mailing list. Welcome to you. 
Sadly my partner John Caldon and I lost his courageous, uncomplaining battle with non-smokers cancer on 16 February. He was my soulmate, my business and life partner and I was honoured to care for him. His adult children and I were by his side – another privilege. I won’t say more here, except that he is the love of my life and we farewelled him in fine style. He would have been blown away by the many obituaries which appeared in the press, the eulogies and the performances which ensued.
I slipped away up north to Bangalow for a few days with close friends last week and took the opportunity to quietly attend some events during the Tweed Artisan Weekend. It is a region I have known for many, many years but I was blown away by the wonderful evolution with more and more producers, showcased on menus and generally celebrated in the area. Read more below. Next week, I’m back to the same area for some quiet time at Gaia Retreat & Spa. John had wanted to give me a break there as my Christmas present, but he was too unwell for me to leave. I was last there in 2011 or 2012 when I was filming Lyndey & Herbie’s Moveable Feast. The same chef is still there, so I am looking forward to some lovely food and a nourishing time, so I won’t be able to write a newsletter next week. However, I am gradually getting back onto 
 Facebook and Instagram!
Stay safe and well,

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:
YouTube video
Recipes of the Week
The Week Just Gone

Some Things to Read
Travel with me?

YouTube Video

With the tremendous rain and cold weather coming down the east coast of Australia, it’s time for some warming, yet simple to make soup. Watch my Fragrant Asian Chicken Soup  You can see the written recipe here.
You can subscribe to my channel here, so you can see my other videos including other meals in a minute.

Recipes of the Week

Lemon Poached Chicken with Silverbeet Risotto and Herb Dressing

A friend gave me silverbeet, zucchini and squash from his garden yesterday. I really enjoy freshly picked silverbeet so try my Lemon Poached Chicken with Silverbeet Risotto and Herb Dressing. I created this recipe especially to go with Hunter Valley semillon when I was filming my Taste of Australia TV series.

In the southern hemisphere we are sadly coming to the end of the stone fruit season so make the most of plums with my Five Spice Plum & Almond Crumble Pie.

Five Spice Plum & Almond Crumble Pie

The week just gone

Seafood Coddle

I’ve been pretty quiet on social media, as you may imagine. However, I couldn’t let St Patrick’s Day go by without acknowledgement. Seafood Coddle is my twist on the classic to utilise seafood rather than sausages, bacon, cabbage and potatoes which traditionally bubbled away on the back of the stove.

Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland. Kidnapped aged 16 from Roman Britain in the late 4th century he was taken to Ireland as a slave. He escaped but returned around 432AD & converted the Irish to Christianity. Legends include his driving the snakes out of Ireland & used the shamrock to explain the Trinity. It’s a great day to celebrate our Irish heritage.

It was 40 years ago, St Patrick’s Day 1981 that the legendary Edna’s Table restaurant was opened by brother and sister Raymond & Jennice Kersh. Their father Abe, was of Eastern European Jewish extraction, their mother, Edna was Irish Catholic and they had been introduced to interesting and flavoursome food at home. With Edna’s Table they pioneered the use of indigenous Australian ingredients and taught so many of us about them. They were visionaries. The wrote a book in 1998 and looking at it now, Raymond, the chef, was so ahead of his time. His unique blend of ingredients and techniques from myriad cultures, all delivering food which packed a punch with flavour.

I’ve been poring through the Edna’s Table cookbook. I rang Ray and Jennice but, of course this was published before digital photography so I have taken a photo from my book and reproduced a recipe to share below. If you have my Taste of Australia cookbook there is Ray’s recipe for Crocodile Nori Tempura Cigar.

Crocodile Swag Bags from Edna’s Table Cookbook 1998

Crocodile Swag Bags
Makes: 16 Swag bags (2 each as a starter, or 1 each for finger food)

2 leeks, sliced into ½ cm strips (reserving several whole sheets of outer leeks leaves)
1/3 cup (80ml) Garlic and Ginger Oil*
500 g minced crocodile meat
1 large corn cob, kernels cut off
1 large carrot, sliced into julienne strips 3 cm x 2 mm x 2 mm
2 medium zucchinis, sliced into julienne strips 3 cm x 2 mm x 2 mm
salt and pepper to taste
16 sheets rice paper, 8-10 cm rectangular
vegetable oil, for frying

  1. Sauté the leeks in the Garlic and Ginger Oil until soft, then set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the crocodile meat, corn kernels, carrot and zucchinis with the sliced leeks and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cut the reserved leek leaves lengthwise to form 16 ribbons 15-20 cm long and 5 mm wide and blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Blanch the rice paper in boiling water for a few seconds until pliable. Place 2 tablespoons (or 1 tablespoon if the swag bags are to be used as finger food) of the crocodile mixture into the centre of each rectangle, then gather the edges of the rice paper above the mixture and tie securely with the leek ribbons. Deep fry the swag bags in hot oil for about 3 minutes or until crisp and golden, then drain well on kitchen paper.
  5. Serve on mixed salad leaves with Native Mint Pesto or with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.

Garlic and Ginger Oil: makes: 2 cups (keep in a sealed jar in fridge for up to 2 months)
1 cup raw garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup green ginger, unpeeled and roughly chopped
3 cups vegetable oil
Purée all of the ingredients in a blender until very well combined. Use this oil as you would ordinary cooking oil, whenever the flavours of garlic and ginger will enhance the recipe.

Native Mint Pesto: makes: 2 cups (keep sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks)
½ cup pine nuts
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 ½ tablespoon native mint
½ bunch basil, stems removed, roughly chopped
½ bunch mint, stems removed, roughly chopped
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Lightly roast the pine nuts on a baking tray at 150°C for 5 minutes or until golden.
  2. Puree the nuts with a quarter of the oil, then add the parmesan cheese, mint, basil, native mint, salt and pepper and the remaining oil. Purée well.
  3. Serve the pesto with fish, lamb or pasta, or add to dressings for a fresh twist.

Some Things to Read

Thinking about the different cultural backgrounds of Ray & Jennice’s parents (see above) I have been musing on how fortunate we are in Australia to have the influence of so many cultures. I loved this piece on the SBS website The food of our immigrant parents can culturally empower our children. How we feed our children, from the time they are in utero is inestimably important. Exposing them to diverse flavours and aromas makes for adventurous and healthy eaters. I found this piece incredibly moving.

We Can All Eat That! (Hardie Grant $39.99)
When I was in Bangalow I was able to go to some friends book launch. Pam Brook was the powerhouse behind Brookfarm, now run by Pam & Martin’s son Will. I filmed with her at the same time I filmed at Gaia all those years ago. Now a grandmother, she has authored a fabulous book, with recipes by two other friends, chef/nutritionist Sam Gowing and chef Sarah Swan. Sarah worked at Rockpool for many years and was a wonderful mentor for Tasting Success, the female chef mentoring programme which I founded in 2007. She co-founded the 100 mile table, but more recently opened The Bay Grocer, the location for the launch.

With medically-based advice from qualified experts, We Can All Eat That! is the food allergy prevention bible that’s a joy to use. It’s all commonsense to me, and how I brought up my children to be adventurous and happy eaters. However,  many people lack confidence and cooking skills and this book is ideal. Combining education, guidance and exciting, fresh recipes the whole family will love, it reveals how to introduce allergens to your children from when it matters most — the beginning. It makes raising healthy, adventurous eaters easy and rewarding.

Great photos and 95 nutritious, achievable recipes the whole family can enjoy across  seven chapters: Breakfast; Soups and salads; Rice, Polenta and pasta; Vegetable dishes and sides; Meat and fish; Cakes, puddings and desserts; and Dips, dressings and sauces.

 Travel with me?

The wonderful food of Morocco

Dates and accommodation with a couple of upgrades have now been confirmed for my hosted tour to Morocco. Best of all Covid vaccinations have started in Morocco and their numbers are dropping. Also, By Prior Arrangement reports that their  first overseas travellers are now going there!
Moroccan Culinary Tour begins in Rabat on Friday 29 October until 9 November. 
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.My hosted tour to Puglia is currently on hold and we are looking to move it to the first half of 2022. Watch this space.

There is wonderful shopping in the medinas in Morocco

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