Is your year racing to a close? – 11 December 2020
Is your year racing to a close?
The fabulous Women in Hospitality (WOHO) Board L to R: Lisa Hobbs, Lisa Margan, Julia Campbell, Cate Hall (admin), Kathleen Davies, Claire Van Vuuren & me
Welcome Well the year seems to be lurching to a finale and, while it’s been a year of lockdown, I also wonder where the time has gone? It has been a year where most of us have had to adapt and live or work differently. So a big shout out to everyone for surviving this challenging year.
a Not-For-Profit organisation that supports and fosters career development of women in the hospitality industry, we’ve been proud to have pivoted (is that THE word of 2020?) and had some online events and were even able to conduct our mentoring programme. We were very happy to be able to meet in person again and had a casual shared dinner after. It is so uplifting to be around positive women. Kudos to you all. I’ve also managed to mentor a TAFE student from my Tasting Success mentoring programme which has been running since 2007.
On Thursday night I caught up on radio 2GB with John Stanley to give him all the ins and outs to perfectly cooked turkey. You can listen here.
Facebook Live is on again at 6:30 pm Sunday nights AEDST or 5:30 pm QLD time, 3:30 pm Singapore time and an early 7:30 am UK time. More below.
May you find some joy in the week ahead.
Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.
I’m delighted to find that figs are back in season. They are so versatile and are delicious on bruschetta with goat’s cheese, pop them in a salad or try Prosciutto-wrapped Summer Figs for an easy yet elegant starter.
If you, like me, haven’t made a Christmas cake yet, why not try these incredibly easy Little Fruit Cakes. They only take 30 minutes to cook and you don’t even need to ice them, just cut a template into a Christmas shape and dredge with icing sugar. Enjoy!
Little Christmas Cakes
Chicken in Vin Santo paired with Longview Nebbiolo Rosato
Next Sunday I’ve been asked to make some nibbles for Christmas – so I’m thinking some baked savoury and sweet treats which can double as Christmas gifts and also some White Chocolate Rocky Road which you can make along with me. To make 32 small pieces you will need:
400g white chocolate, chopped
60g mini marshmallows
400g Turkish delight, chopped coarsely
1 cup flaked coconut, toasted
1 cup (140g) shelled pistachios, lightly toasted
Silver cachous balls, to serve
Last week I wrote extensively on pomegranates which I find very festive at this time of the year. I wrote about my friend, the great chef Janni Kyritsis and now I share his recipe for the Dolce Vita Cocktail, kindly named after me. This is in Janni’s own words: Serves one.
1 large pomegranate about 300g
30 to 40 mls gin
Make 4 light incisions on the pomegranate skin as you would do to and orange. With a knife try to break it in 4 pieces avoiding cutting it through. The skin and pips are very bitter so the less you cut through the better.
You should have about 200g seeds, reserve 1 tablespoon and place the rest on a stainless steel strainer over a bowl, squish them through with a pestle making sure you remove every drop. You should have about 100 mls.
Place in a container and freeze for a few hours; scratch the frozen pomegranate juice to create granita. Place granita on a martini class, pour gin over it and scatter the reserved seeds on top.
This is a laborious way to make a cocktail but is all worth it. If you want to stretch the quantity of the juice add 2 tablespoons water over the squashed seeds and squeeze again, you will gain an extra 1 1/2 tablespoons more juice, mix it with the rest of the juice. Of course it will not be as flavoursome as the pure juice.
Do NOT attempt to make this cocktail with some terrible bottled pomegranate juice it is nothing to do with the pure pomegranate juice.
Just keep the recipe for only special occasions.
Cooking Class for a Christmas Gift
A lovely lunch table with Seared Pepita Crusted Salmon, blue corn crepes, roasted yellow capsicum sauce, red cabbage slaw
Last week a friend and I were lucky enough to go to my friends, Victor Pisapia and Jim Bahr’s home for lunch. I have known these two Americans since the days they owned and operated Rattlesnake Grill in Neutral Bay. Victor had an impressive track record in restaurants in the USA and when they closed Rattlesnake, I really missed it, but we have been friends ever since.
Now he runs Victor’s Food which pre-Covid hosted amazing team building cooking classes. However, Victor is an incredible teacher too and so now he has just released his new programme for
Sydney Cooking Classes by VictorsFood, interactive hands on classes that take you on a food journey for a “little bite of the world”. They have classes for Beginners and Experts alike. The classes, in-person and online, are taught by seasoned teaching chefs whose main focus is creating a strong learning environment with a bit of fun thrown into the pot. There are many cuisines to choose from to hone your culinary skills. Gift vouchers are available so you can give the gift of Cooking for Xmas, or bring some friends along for their new classes in 2021.
So our lunch invitation to “come and eat tamales” turned out to be a bespoke cooking class for two which I wanted to share with you.
L: Prawn Ceviche with gold tortilla chips and R: Seared Pepita Crusted Salmon, blue corn crepes, roasted yellow capsicum sauce, red cabbage slaw
On arrival, with a glass of riesling, Victor served prawn ceviche and began explaining the tamales to us. He had already made the basic dough with masa harina (dried corn flour) and hot water and rested it in the fridge for an hour. Then the magic happened. He broke it up and beat it in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment and whipped it, gradually adding lard and whipping again. Then a small amount of salt, baking powder and stock is beaten in, the whole thing beaten more to be light. This dough was then rested again.
Although Victor mixed some roasted corn kernels through the dough, he prefers to keep the specific flavouring as a topping and not cooked in the tamale dough. The basic dough is wrapped in softened, dried corn husks. Once Victor put them in a steamer to cook, he produced Seared Pepita Crusted salmon, blue corn crepes, roasted yellow capsicum sauce and red cabbage slaw as an entree. With a lovely table laid by Jim, who also selected a chilled Slow Wine Company Pinot Noir 2015 from the Barossa, we were in seventh heaven.
Finally to the tamales which were incredibly light, flavoursome and with a generous amount of turkey and chipotle on top. Our other friend had lived in Mexico and we both pronounced them the lightest and best tamales we had ever eaten. Thank you Jim and Victor. Anyone who does one of your classes will be happy.
Manuela Darling-Gansser writes the most beautiful cookbooks. I first met her when I was Food Director of The Australian Women’s Weekly and we did a shoot at her home. She is also the loveliest woman. Born in Lugano, Switzerland, she spent the first nine years of her life in Iran. Pardiz (Hardie Grant) is a personal journey into this “paradise past” when she returned as an adult to reconnect with the country she remembered so fondly. This book is a celebration of that time; a compilation of memories, stories and beautiful recipes that underline the depth and broad appeal of this great and enduring food culture.
In Pardiz, Darling-Gansser shows flourishing food markets; the use of local ingredients; the health-giving aspects of vegetable-centric dishes; and the perennial joys of a shared table. Her recipes encompass restaurants, home cooking, picnics and street food. She focuses on recipes that are not too complicated or time consuming – encouraging readers to embrace the sociability that goes with the food as much as the food itself. Read her blog about creating this book here.
Barbara Santich is Professor Emeritus in the History Department and a culinary historian who initiated post-graduate courses in food history and culture at the University of Adelaide. She is also a food writer whom I have been pleased to know for many years. I was particularly pleased to see The Original Mediterrean Cuisine, subtitled Medieval recipes for today (Wakefield Press), as my partner is an historian rather than a foodie and I insist that food creates history and certainly reveals it. He thinks history comes first. I could have used this book some years ago when he ran an Ancient History Society and I would spend days researching the particular time to cook relevant dinners for the 20 or so people present. But I digress.
Barbara tells the story of authentic medieval Mediterranean food, and brings to the table recipes translated and adapted for modern kitchens from fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italian and Catalan manuscripts. She reveals that robust, gutsy flavours, sophisticated and subtly spiced sauces, the tang of fresh herbs typify the original Mediterranean cuisine. For example in Sicily you can still find a puree of broad beans essentially the same as eaten by the ancient Greeks and Romans and the same strips of candied zuccata that once would have been offered at a fifteenth-century banquet. The pan-Mediterranean dish of fried fish in a vinegary sauce goes back to the time of Apicius and the Roman Empire.
This is a complete revision of the previous edition, published in 1995, taking in new research with material and images not included in the first edition.
Next week I’ll be posting a blog on all you need to know about turkey, more recipes and useful information for year end entertaining so please do join me on Facebook and Instagram!
Little Christmas Cakes with Eggnog Butter Cream
Travel with me?
Wouldn’t you love to buy a pair of these in Morocco?
Covid vaccines come ever closer so I am optimistically planning my tours to Morocco and Puglia for late next year. If we deem it not safe to travel, we will postpone to 2022, but I think accompanied tours with well-reputed and experienced companies will be the safest way to go.