Welcome, Australia continues to be in and out of lockdown with half the whole country locked down as I write this. With no end in sight for Sydney, I have nevertheless felt happier this week – see my musings below. And here’s a bit of Sound of Music humour to start the weekend.
I am hoping we will be well and truly out of lockdown for my Moroccan Cooking Dem & Lunch which has been moved back and will take place from 11am – 3.30 pm on Sunday 24 October.
Meanwhile the Olympic Games are keeping me occupied, as with many of us around the globe. For us in lockdown in Australia it is a welcome diversion and even better that we are in a similar time zone.
Quite a bit for you to read this week.
Please look after yourselves, especially those of you who have the freedom to move around in the Northern Hemisphere. And stay in the loop onFacebookandInstagramif that’s your thing. I understand if not.
Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.
OK so this is a bit silly – but who doesn’t like peanut butter? . A YouTube Video of how to make a ribbon sandwich. However, when I had my catering business Cuisine Affaire from the early 80s to the early 90s, this was our most popular sandwich at cocktail parties for which we catered. My sister used to make them for us. She was the ribbon sandwich queen. I recreated this a few years ago for a charity and thought it might be fund to share. You don’t need a written recipe if you watch the very short video here. Let me know what you think?
Pork Chops with Celery Seed and Parsnip Puree Photography Chris Chen
I’ve been going through some recipes I’ve developed over the years and thought I would share these this week. Apples are wonderful right now, parsnip puree has the benefit it can be put in a food processor or blender (unlike potato) and the simple pork cutlet is livened up with a simple spice rub. Pork Chops with Celery Seed and Parsnip Puree is from the book Just Add Spice which I co-authored with Herbie (Ian Hemphill). It’s simple but delicious.
I am so engrossed with the Olympics. It makes much more cheerful viewing than our Premier’s daily press conference. I therefore shared my recipe for Chicken Yakitori last week to celebrate Japan’s hosting of the Games and because it is great finger food to eat while watching. Then this week Good Food followed up with a Japanese feature on Tuesday: A Guide to Japanese Pantry Essentials (plus how to make Karage Fried Chicken).I have to say, all those items are staples in my pantry. Co-incidentally this week Gourmet Traveller published an online piece entitle What is umami along with some Japanese ingredients which have that taste.
Unfortunately due to a Covid scare my radio interview from last week was postponed to this week. Hopefully Next Monday I am joining my friend Carol Prior to talk travel on Radio Blue Mountains 89.1 FM for Feisty Fabulous and 50 Plus with Julie Ankers around 11am for 20 minutes or so, though her programme goes until 12 noon.
As for next week, I am thrilled to say my stonemason is due to come next Tuesday to install kitchen benches and splashbacks and bathroom tops. This means the plumber can come on Wednesday so, even though I won’t have cupboards and drawers, I will have a working kitchen (and bathrooms) – so you never know what I might cook. You can stay up-to-date with me on FacebookandInstagram.
A morning walk with lots of blue water and sky
Something Cheerful No rants about food this week. Rather I have been musing on my improved humour. Partly it is because I feel I am getting somewhere with sorting out John’s things and taking the opportunity Marie Kondo-like of really thinking about my possessions too and which give me pleasure, so I am cleaning them too. Once this lockdown is over charities will be benefitting!Kindness and gifts come in many guises. I was part of a zoom group this week, when we were gifted with someone playing the piano for us for 15 minutes. As we were all on mute, I was able to sing along to my heart’s content. What a gift! Sound and aroma both bypass the cognitive part of the brain and go straight to the emotion and memory part which is why they are so emotive. I always find music and especially singing, so uplifting. For that reason, every day, I play my friend Jonathon Welch‘s CD Great Tenor Classics. Meanwhile a friend of a friend who is unwell has borrowed and is devouring his autobiography Choir Man.
This week I have also received some care packages. I’ve known the folk at Woombye Cheese since the company began but this gift was not looking for anything in return, paired with some Noosa Natural Chocolate Company chocolate coated nuts which I have not seen before. It was just to cheer me up. I am a fan of all-Australian product and I have started nibbling on these at night. Then my daughter’s father-in-law (whom I have known for longer than his son and mine went to school together), knowing I didn’t have a kitchen dropped off a lamb curry he had made. And Longview have sent me some wines to try, so watch this space.
However, invariably the highlight of my day is a walk with a friend in the glorious winter sunshine we are experiencing here, along with a chat and a takeaway coffee. It is a great way to start the day – along with my zoom pilates and strength and balance classes. Walking in nature allows us to notice things – like the fact that some magnolias are in full bloom, while others are only beginning to blossom. All to do with the microclimate I guess.
I was also fascinated to read in The GuardianBlue Spaces: why time spent near the water is the secret of happiness.It is something I have always felt. I know that to truly relax I like fresh air, water and sunshine. I am lucky that where I walk daily has water views. However, this piece made the observation that being near the coast is even more effective and I was pleased to take a walk right by the water this morning (photo above).
What lifts your spirits?
L: Care package of cheese & chocolates and R: Magnolia in glorious bloom
Cooking with Truffles
Truffled Egg Pasta
The truffle I received last week from Australian Truffle Tradersjust keeps on giving. I stored my truffle in an airtight container in some paper towel with some eggs and I have enjoyed a poached egg with that wonderful flavour most days. Except one day, when I did scrambled eggs (in the microwave so OK but not ideal) on toast for lunch. Yum.
Then, thank to the “singles bubble” allowed in Sydney I could access a stove and use maybe half of my truffle to make Truffled Egg Pasta with Parmesan cream – an homage to that made by Armando Percuoco in his restaurant Buon Ricordo. I’m pleased to say that though the restaurant passed on to his head chef a few years ago, it is still on the menu. My eggs were infused like his, (but a tad overcooked) though I added shaved truffle over the whole and it was stunning. The aroma of truffle lingered for hours afterwards. Tonight I am going to use the last of my truffle by baking a brie which three days ago I halved and covered with shaved truffle, then sandwiched back together. Recipe here.
L: weighing my truffle R: scrambled eggs with truffle
Focus on Bacon
Bacon hanging in old-style smoke rooms
As with so many products there are many called the same name but they aren’t all the same. Bacon is almost universally loved but have you ever been disappointed by cooking bacon, liquid being released and the end product not as appealing as you thought? That’s because there’s bacon and there’s bacon.
It begins with the product – and I would encourage you if you are in Australia to ensure the pork is Australian and not imported as so much is for smallgoods. Then it’s in the processing, dry brining rather than wet.
Late last year I interviewed Rick Boks from Bok Bacon in Tasmania. A third generation family business, I had met his brother Marcus who runs the production in 2008 when I set up the Regional Producers Market at the Good Food and Wine Shows around Australia. This was when I first tasted their product and was immediately impressed. Marcus came to the Melbourne Show a few times, while Rick joined the business later and they have now expanded to include sausages, ham and poultry.
However, it is the bacon I want to focus on here. I am always interested in Sydney Royal Fine Food Show medal winners (three in 2019 as there was no competition in 2020), as the consumers guarantee of excellence. I was pleased to confirm that they use Australian paddock bred Free Range pork from ethical and sustainable farms in Tasmania and Victoria’s Western District.
It is the curing and smoking process I find all important. Boks is dry cured and cold smoked, with only dry salt, which is hand rubbed, used for curing – a recipe handed down from their grandparents. Bear in mind dry curing means that the product loses 20% weight as opposed to those which are injected with brine to increase the weight by 30 – 50% (making the end product appear cheaper per kg). It will also last longer in the fridge because of the low water content which means that bacteria will not grow when stored under 5’C. The bacon is wood fire cold smoked with Tasmanian oak sourced from the Huon Valley, in atmospheric old style smoke rooms. Boks produce a range of nitrate-free bacon styles: streaky, full middle, short-cut, all traditional cold smoked. They have a newer product too, Pure Bacon which is sugar free and gluten free. These products are available at their online store or in Harris Farm and other independent grocery stores. See stockists.
L: Hand rubbing dry salt into the pork and R: Tasmanian oak used for cold smoking
Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022
Experience the authentic food in Morocco
Moroccan Culinary Tour begins in Rabat on Friday 23 September til Tuesday 4 October This trip will see us travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and to Marrakech the red city. On the way you will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, visit a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. You’ll discover the delicacies of Moroccan and French food, dine in local eateries through to upmarket restaurants, and experience the making and flavours of Moroccan dishes during cooking classes. Luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads. sometimes in exclusivity. Only 10 – 12 guests. This tour is nearly fully booked, so we are considering another tour later in October. Watch this space. 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.
Puglia Tour October 2022
Enjoy hands-on foraging and cooking class in Puglia
Puglia in the boot of the heel of Italy is still relatively unspoiled. A secret Italians tend to keep to themselves, it is a wonderful place to visit and so much less crowded than Tuscany. After Morocco I’m going on to host Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata 8 – 14 October 2022. Join me and share an unforgettable week of culinary and cultural exploration. Think hands-on bread, cheese making and cooking class; visits to wineries, olive farm, tours of UNESCO sites Alberobello & Matera & other cultural centres with local guides. All sensational meals and wines included. You only need money for the very inexpensive shopping you will find there.
Group size: an intimate 8-16 places only
Lodging in authentic, family-run noble estates and palaces
Operated by: Local Puglia specialist Southern Visions Travel: the leading experiential travel company in Southern Italy