Looking Forward

At Glass Brasserie in the Sydney Hilton with two dining buddies


As I sit down to write this a day early I am feeling excited. I really believe now that my daughter, Lucy and family will be coming for Christmas, so I’ve had fun ordering a new Christmas dress for my grand daughter Isabel (it is a tradition that I give her one), a Christmas T shirt for Rafferty and some other goodies to surprise them with. I have also booked for all of us to go to see Bluey’s Big Play  at the Sydney Opera House.  I feel it very keenly that sharing experiences is something I have been denied (as have many others) in the last two years. I was lucky to go with Lucy and Isabel to her first movie in Singapore a few years ago, but when they are small these firsts are so important. Now I have to catch up on just what Bluey is! Also Raffy was a babe in arms the last time I saw him in person, though he does cheerfully say “Hello MaMa” to me on Facetime, copying his sister.

Next bit of excitement is that I have just had some other possessions delivered, which were in my late partner, John’s holiday house. And, the upright piano fits exactly where I hoped it would, an antique loveseat my parents gave me will fit in the lounge and there will be room on the freshly painted walls for some different artwork.

Of course, I think we are all elated at four year old Cleo Smith being found near her home in Carnarvon WA 18 days after she was abducted from a tent. Australia and the world breathed a collective sigh of relief. This had followed on for sadder news this week of the passing of TV great Bert Newton. I worked with him on and off over the years but from 1997 – 1999 Channel 10 would fly me to Melbourne every fortnight to cook on Good Morning Australia. It was always fun. He was the ultimate professional and just such a lovely human being, so quick with the quips and always hysterically funny. It was an honour to have been a tiny part of his incredible career.

I’m hoping to get this out a day early as I am driving to and from Bathurst on Friday to attend a Media Summit at Charles Sturt University where both my kids studied Theatre/Media. John and I started a scholarship there in memory of my late son, Blair and we have been very active donors ever since, engaged with the various winners.

I finally had to vacate my apartment for several nights due to the painters, but found it lovely to stay with friends one night, my sister and brother-in-law for two more and a wonderful weekend with another friend in Bilgola Plateau. I just love the fresh sea air, walking on the beach, eating prawns, mangoes and fresh bread and on Sunday could even swim. I slept so much better too.

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Aperol Spritz – a great start to the weekend, the Pacific Ocean in the background

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

Last Week and Next
Interesting Reading
How to Purge Clams
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

German Schnitzel and German Potato Salad

Well those of us who are double vaccinated are allowed back into pubs which are surely the home of schnitzel. However, if you want to make one at home here is my recipe for German Schnitzel and Potato Salad which I cooked on Facetime Live last year and then put up on my YouTube channel. This German Schnitzel and Potato Salad is made with pork, not veal. “Wienerschnitzel” is a geographically protected term in Germany and Austria and is always made with veal, though it does not come from Wien (Vienna).  German Schnitzel or Schweineschnitzel is made with pork in the same way. The technique of breading and frying thin cuts of meat is attributed to the Romans from around 1 BC. Here it is on YouTube

Subscribe to my YouTube channel here for all my videos including recipes in a minute. Enjoy.

Recipes of the Week

Broad Beans with Coriander and Cumin or Green Foul

Broad beans are finishing soon in Australia. However, they can be used fresh or frozen for this zingy recipe of Broad Beans with Coriander and Cumin or Green Foul in Arabic countries. It depends how small and young the broad beans are if you need to double pod them.
Nectarines have been around for a few weeks now, though this Nectarine and Macadamia Tart can be adapted for just about any fruit. Based on a frangipane tart, macadamias in the pastry and the filling take it to a new level.

Nectarine and Macadamia Tart

Last Week and Next

L: Kingfish sashimi, dashi & sesame dressing, crème fraiche, grape, jalapeno shiso and R: Grilled split prawns, seaweed, garlic, yuzu & chilli butter

Staying away from home several nights and having the disruption of painters in every day from 7am meant I did not do much posting on social media. However, I have been out and about, enjoying new freedoms.

Two friends and I were especially pleased to get back to glass brasserie where we always get a warm welcome and have a favourite table. I’ve known Patron/Chef Luke Mangan since he was 28 and returned to Australia from working in the UK. Along with Neil Perry and other well known chefs he was a firm voice in support of the hospitality industry suffering through Covid, so we were delighted to be able to get out and support him and the industry, which, of course, flows on to the suppliers and producers.

The food and service were, as always, excellent. Kingfish sashimi, dashi & sesame dressing, crème fraiche, grape, jalapeno shiso ($29) sang with freshness, a great contrast of flavours and textures, the chilli incredibly restrained. Grilled split prawns, seaweed, garlic, yuzu & chilli butter ($38) featured three fat, moist, perfectly cooked prawns, the sauce a great addition, again the chilli restrained and with the appealing zing of yuzu. Both of these were entrees but that left room for the latest incarnation of Luke’s famous dessert, Liquorice meringue roll, lime, mint ($21). I was also pretty excited to visit clothing and shoe stores in the city for the first time since lockdown.

My recipe for Pumpkin and Coconut Soup, along with advice on butting a Jack O’Lantern  made it up on Happy Ali just in time for Halloween, but the recipe is good anytime.

In advance of Melbourne Cup and Sandwich Day, I posted Carrot, Peanut Butter and Raisin Sandwiches. You can also watch me make them on YouTube here. It may seem like an odd combination but when I had my catering business in the 80s through to early 90s it was one of the favourite combinations at cocktail parties. It’s also vegetarian.

If you missed The Cook Up on SBS Food, you can watch it at SBS On Demand. Here is my recipe from Thursday night 4th for Cherry Galette.

Next week:
Thursday 11th is Remembrance Day, so I have a special post in mind.  Aside from that I’m looking forward to returning to the theatre to see
Merrily We Roll Along. I’ll be dining out some more, hooking up with old school friends and hopefully finalising my renovation by hanging paintings. However, hoping to go to Jamberoo for the weekend from Thursday, so not sure if I will get a newsletter out or not next week. Please forgive me if I don’t?

Carrot, Peanut Butter & Raisin Sandwiches

Interesting Reading

Greece – one of the 5 safest countries to visit

Thank you delicious.com.au for Dust off your passport, these are the 5 safest countries to visit now.

Not so joyous but interesting Hard battle: Why shops are still closed despite the end of Sydney’s lockdown.

Now, I am a fan of good mortadella, but not less good ones which are more like the devon of my childhood. So here is an interesting podcast, FYI,  the first for Broadsheet, hosted by Editorial director Katya Wachtel with a different reporter each week. It aims to bust myths, help you cook better, and give you a deeper understanding of a particular piece of the Australian cultural puzzle each week. so listen to Mortadella: a rags to riches story.

Did you know that Ado Campeol was widely regarded as “the father of tiramisu”, the Italian dessert meaning “pick me up”. On his passing, look at the history of this dish: The Father of Italy’s “Pick Me Up” Dessert, Tiramisu, Has Died.

Pretty sad t see the closing of longtime Chinatown stalwart Marigold, victim of Covid-19 and development plans for the building. Marigold’s final service will be yum cha (day time) on Sunday 5 December 2021. Read After 39 years, Sydney’s Marigold is closing

How to Purge Clams

A reader has asked about purging clams saying that he sees them under running water at the fish markets, so assumed they had been purged. However, he was disappointed they were still gritty when he cooked with them. I explained that when purchased in a cryovac pack, they were already purged, but not usually if they are sold loose. The best clams are sold live, so you want to keep them in peak condition. Clams live buried in the sandy bottom of the ocean floor and accumulate grit, sand, and dirt because they do not fully close their shells. Live clams need to be purged of the sand and grit prior to cooking:

1. Rinse clams quickly under water, remove any with crushed shells or that are open and don’t move when touched or squeezed. Put the clams in a large glass or ceramic (non-reactive) bowl.

2. Cover the clams in salt water by a knuckles length. Actual seawater (filtered to remove any sand) is best, but usually not practicable, so use sea salt (not regular table salt) and water to a salinity of about 3.5% or 35g per 1 litre water. Fresh water will kill the clams. Keep them close to their current temperature, so if they have been chilled, use cool water and keep them chilled in the fridge, or otherwise put them in a cool corner of the room.

3. Purge for at least 1 hour but no longer or they may die.  When you tap or agitate them, they should close (perhaps slowly, but they should eventually completely close). Purging works because as the clams breathe they filter the water which pushes the sand out of their shells. Adding a tablespoon of polenta (or cornmeal) can help the process too. Dead clams can’t breathe.

4. Gently transfer the clams to a colander using a slotted spoon or your hands (rather than tipping directly into the colander when you may pour purged sand back over them).

5. With a plastic chopping board underneath, tap or bounce the clams one by one. Live ones will stay tightly shut. If there is a dead one in there, it will open when you do this – and will likely be full of sand that you’ve just saved from getting into your sauce. Now they’re ready to cook.

Do you have any questions you would like answered?

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Wonderful, aromatic spices in the markets in Morocco

The world is opening up so join me on one of my two overseas tours in 2022?

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 yet to be determined. If you are interested but these dates don’t suit, contact us? 

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

Mkae fresh mozzarella by hand in Puglia, right on the farm

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
Full brochure

Read more about my adventures in Puglia
Explore Puglia in House & Garden Magazine
Seven dishes you must try in Puglia, Italy in the Sydney Morning Herald
Puglia, the undiscovered heart in Selector Magazine

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