Weekly Update

On set in Flame Studio Kitchen at the end of shooting Lyndey’s Cracking Christmas Contemporary episode – recipes on www.lyndeymilan.com

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, so lots of Christmassey things in this weekly update. I’m right in the swing of it with concerts, lunches and dinners. Highlight of the week was the annual Blair Milan Memorial Scholarship dinner which my partner, John and I host in Flame Studio Kitchen. This is to welcome the new individual winner and group winners each year, plus any previous winners who can make it and some of Blair’s cohort.  It is always such a special occasion and it was great to see that the 14 people who could make it this year are all working in the industry. We must have chosen the best!
I cooked from Lyndey & Blair’s Taste of Greece in honour of Blair, as this is about being an inspiration to other Theatre/Media students, helping them and keeping his name alive.
The group winners were the producers and some of the cast of Schapelle Schapelle  which was brilliantly reviewed. They are taking it to the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and hoping to get into the Sydney Comedy Festival, so watch this space.

L: 2018 touring prize winners,L to R, Gareth Thomson, Mitch Lourigan (also the individual winner), Abby Gallaway, Jack Dodds, John and me also R: with John (left), previous winner Ben Rodwell (front) and me.

On that note my condolences to anyone who has lost someone in the past year, or ever, as Christmas can be a difficult time. Blair absolutely loved Christmas, so that is what I try to remember.

Blair after pre-Christmas drinks we always hosted together, sitting in a Christmas present with a glass of Peter Lehmann Black Queen sparkling shiraz – a favourite for both of us. His last 2010.

Jump ahead to see:

This Week’s Best Fruit and Veg
Recipe of the Week

The gift of travel for Christmas?

Book Club DVD Winners
Recipe Requests
Some things I’ve eaten this week

Interesting Reading
What’s On
Techniques and Know How

Figs, apricots and berries


December is a great time for berries particular strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, boysenberries, loganberries, blackberries, red currants are all available. Whip up a classic make ahead berry dessert Berry, Chocolate & Yoghurt Ice-Cream Cake

Put some zing in your day with Aussie grown limes, supplies have increased and prices have eased. Pop a kilo in the basket this week to use in cocktails, marinades, salad dressings and to enjoy with seafood. Look for bulk buy specials.

Watermelon is picked ripe and ready to eat. For a simple summer dessert, serve a platter of chilled juicy watermelon wedges with cubes of luscious Turkish delight or for watermelon appetizers, top cubes or watermelon with feta, olives and mint. 

Sweet and juicy mangoes bring a lush tropical taste to your summer table. Choose firm mangoes with a fresh sweet tropical fragrance. Ripen mangoes at room temperature until the fruit yields to gentle pressure around the stem. Celebrate with a Mango, Passionfruit & Raspberry Cream Trifle or add mangoes to the Ultimate Fruit Platter.

Glossy and plump cherries are a quintessential Australian summer fruit. With so many different varieties coming from a wide area the includes Young, Orange, South Australia and Victoria there is sure to be a quality, size and price range to suit everyone. Delicious enjoyed fresh and natural but ridiculously good when dipped in chocolate or roast cherries to serve with turkey or ham. 

New season grapes are firm and bursting with flavour. Grab a bunch of Flame or Menindee seedless. Alternatively, new season lychees deliciously sweet and so juicy. 

Your local greengrocer has the most highly fragrant and delicious apricots, peaches and nectarines. This fruit will delight your senses and your budget. 

New season figs have started, plump and flavourful figs are delicious added to salads like this Fig, Honeyed Walnut & Blue Cheese Salad

Heirloom tomatoes, kumara and Lebanese cucumbers

Versatile kumara is perfect roasted, boiled for a potato salad or served as a mash. 

Heirloom tomatoes are packed with flavour. They vary in size, colour and texture but are bursting with taste. You pay a little more but they are worth it. See your local greengrocer.

Broccolini is a top buy. Fast and easy to cook, serve broccolini warm with a dressing or toss cold through a salad.

Sweetcorn is a family favourite that is fast to cook. Wash corn cobs, place in a single layer in a microwave-safe bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 2-3 minutes (per cob) until just tender. Stand to cool for 5 minutes before serving. 

Asparagus is still great value. Add to fresh and light salads, serve with poached eggs, or toss in a hot wok and stir-fry.

Refreshing and super crunchy Lebanese cucumbers are a top buy.

For a festive coloured roast team chopped zucchini and red capsicum together with garlic cloves and Red onions.

Potato supplies are traditionally lighter at this time of year and this tends to increase potato prices. Supplies are currently from Atherton, South Australia and Hillston. Desiree, Pontiac, and brushed potatoes are a little less than Gourmet potatoes such as Kipfler and Dutch Cream. Try this Kipfler Potato, Celery & Pancetta Salad.

A kilo bag of versatile carrots is a bargain. Add grated carrots to coleslaw, juice carrots (they are delicious teamed with orange and ginger) roast carrot batons with a sprinkling of fresh thyme and a drizzle of olive oil.

Summer radishes add a pleasant peppery flavour to salads and crudités. As I explained last week in my focus on radishes, newer varieties of radish include the water melon radish, French radish and the multi coloured mixed bunches. Fabulous for making salads colourful and interesting. 

Take your cooking to a fresher and tasty level by using herbs. Herbs add flavour to festive cooking. Sprinkle fresh thyme sprigs across roasted vegetables, add sage and parsley to your meat stuffing’s. Team lots of basil leaves, extra virgin olive oil, sliced heirloom tomatoes and black olives to serve as a side dish. 

Recipe of the Week

It’s not too late to make Little Christmas cakes with eggnog butter cream

This recipe comes from my TV series Lyndey’s Cracking Christmas. The contemporary episode is on LifeStyle FOOD at 3.20pm on Saturday 15th

Servings: 20-22
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

1 cup (150g) mixed dried fruit
½ cup (75g) chopped dates
½ cup (75g) chopped prunes
¼ cup (35g) slivered almonds
1 orange, zested plus ¼ cup (60ml) juice
2/3 cup (150g) brown sugar
½ cup (75g) plain flour
3/4 cup (110g) self-raising flour
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon bi-carb soda
1 ½ tablespoons (30g) butter, melted

Eggnog Buttercream
¼ cup (60g) butter, softened
2 cups (320g) icing sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon (20ml) milk, approximately
Nutmeg, extra to serve

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C (160’C fan-forced). Line two 12 hole (1/3 cup/80ml) muffin tins with paper cupcake liners.
  2. Place mixed fruit, dates, prunes, almonds, orange juice and zest in a large bowl. Add brown sugar, flours and spices and mix to combine.
  3. Dissolve bi-carb soda into 2/3 cup (160ml) cold water and stir through pudding mixture with melted butter. Spoon cake mixture into paper liners and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick or skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Allow to cool.
  4. For Eggnog buttercream, beat butter, icing sugar and spices until smooth. Continue to beat while gradually adding milk until mixture is a spreadable consistency.
  5. Frost cooled cakes with Eggnog buttercream, sprinkle with extra nutmeg and serve immediately.

The gift of travel for Christmas?

Just some of the amazing food you can experience in Japan

The older I get, the more I am a fan of experiences rather than things.  Things take up space, can break or not be used. Memories live in your mind forever. This is just one reason I enjoy travel to much – but better still to share it with others.
So join me next year on one of my two tours – both bespoke and intimate but otherwise very different.

JAPAN – Tokyo, Hakone, Kanazawa, Shirakawa-go, Takayama, Kyoto.Japan is one of the hottest travel destinations and I have worked with experienced travel agent Mary Rossi Travel to put together this fabulous itinerary, your opportunity to immerse yourself in the cuisine and culture, visiting the major sights along the way. This exploration of the island of Honshu, Japan is for a maximum of 16- 20 people.  Some of the many tour highlights:
•           master the art of sushi rolling in a restored machiya townhouse
•           glimpse into the geisha world during a visit to a traditional tea house in Kyoto.
•           learn how sake is made in a traditional brewery in Kanazawa dating back to 1625
•           explore UNESCO World Heritage Site Shirakawa-go and its unique thatched roof buildings
•           taste famous Hida beef in Takayama
•           spend the night in a traditional Japanese inn (ryokan).
We will be accompanied by a local Japanese speaking tour guide who will enhance the journey offering personal insights into Japanese culture and society along the way. Plus I am with you all the time, and we are even joined by Claudia Rossi Hudson, MD of Mary Rossi Travel and her husband Roger Hudson.

Details:    Japan – A Culinary & Cultural Adventure with Lyndey Milan
Dates: 14 – 25 May, 2019
Group Size: only 16 – 20 people
Price: $11,995 per person twin share, $2,990 single supplement

Enquiries: Patricia McEwen patricia@maryrossitravel.com or Direct: +61 2 8923 6109
Puglia is a relatively undiscovered part of Italy, it’s where Italians go for holidays!
My trip to Puglia in May 2018 was a fantastic experience. The trip was organized through Southern Visions Travel and Lyndey Milan was our host. Puglia is a wonderful region full of history and it has a rich tradition in wine and food. We were so fortunate to have Lyndey as our host as she had so much knowledge and interest in the area which made the the whole trip very entertaining. We were also fortunate to be able to experience all the things we did – visiting wineries, a cheese factory , an artisian bakery and an olive oil Masseria. We ate the most amazing food and drank fantastic wines.  It really was a truly authentic wine and gastronomic experience. Our tour guide Max also had a wealth of knowledge about the region and kept the group amused and entertained with all of his anecdotes throughout the trip. The group size was small and everyone was friendly and very relaxed. It was certainly a trip to remember with thanks to Southern Visions Travel and to Lyndey Milan for their expertise in putting this all together – we couldn’t have been in better hands.’ writes Nicki McPherson, a fellow traveller in May this year.
It was such a fabulous experience, we are repeating it in October 2019 to share the joy with others. You might like to come on 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.

Details:Culinary Adventures in Puglia & Basilicata with Lyndey Milan
Dates: 14-20 Oct 2019
Group size: an intimate 12-16 places are available on the tour
Price: €3499 per person for all ground arrangements (single supplement €699)
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
Enquiries and bookings:Alison Pike, ali.pike@southernvisionstravel.com
Cell: +39 348 755 93634 (Italy)
Full brochure here
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

L: Trulli houses in Alberobello R: a cooking class at Masseria Montenapoleone where we also stayed

Book Club DVD Winners

Thanks to all those who entered this competition.  I know many people no longer have DVD players but I loved the responses and have decided to give away 11 DVDs. The winners are, in no particular order, first names only for privacy:
1. Janise B:
I would love to see a fabulous recipe for trifle. My aunt Louisa always served it on Christmas Day in crystal parfait glasses and it was adorable. As someone who can’t cook – I would love this Christmas to make a heavenly trifle and contribute it to the fare my sister will prepare for the family. A trifle will take me back to childhood!”
2. Claire S “I would like to answer both questions as my entry 🙂
1) My fav recipe this week was the Spiced Bocconcini Salad – the whole family love Bocconcini and I buy it by the bucket at Costco so I always have it in the fridge.
2) Recipes I would like to see in the Christmas newsletter are Christmas made easy ideas for what to do with the leftovers and maybe some guidelines on what can and can’t be frozen – we always end up with too much meat that goes off before we eat it all so maybe some ideas on how to prolong its life – mini omelet cups that can be frozen? etc.
3. Kathryn H: “I absolutely love the cheesy zucchini & carrot nuggets!!! What a great way to get some extra veggies in & super tasty!!
Also I would love some recipe ideas for using asparagus, I never do much but pan fry along side some fish, would love more ideas. Fingers crossed I’d love to watch the book club again with some girlfriends & a big bowl of zucchini carrot nuggets! Of course can’t forget a bottle of wine to wash it down!
4. Janet C “Xmas Recipes needed : pre Xmas brunch for 10 hungry people, some littlies. Need savory and sweet, not too complicated. Thank you, love your newsletters. Seasons greetings.
5. Helen B “My favourite is Roasted Peaches with Pistachio Crumble.  But all are delicious. My reason why:  So easy to make using fresh seasonal fruits at this time of year is so pleasing to the palate.  Yum! 

6. Suz A “I have wonderful memories of my grandma making brawn in the late 60s and early 70s.  Sadly, she is long past now.  I would love a modern take on this wonderful way of utilising a whole animal, from both a taste and texture perspective.  A great way of doing a ploughman’s lunch perhaps!  Love to see your ideas on how I might bring this to life.”
7. Lindsey N “My favourite recipe from the website is your Redbelly Blood Orange Chia Pudding. Easy and refreshing! Yum ?. From this week’s newsletter –
Apple coleslaw & Peri Peri chicken burgers. And I absolutely love Greek food so any recipes you might have with the beautiful flavours of the Mediterranean would be wonderful!”
8. Larissa C says “All your recipes look delightful however I will have to go with the Classic Rum Balls. Mainly because I love making them also, one of my favourite all time recipes great for Christmas time and other catering occasions.I also really like your recipe for the Rum Balls, the orange rind is a great addition. I would like a recipe for a nice roasted lamb with a rosemary and mint jelly dipping sauce and balsamic glazed roasted vegetables.”
9. Barbara C writes “I love all of your recipes and enjoy making them too! I plan to make your  Christmas Zabaglione Semi-Freddo, it looks fabulous and I know my family will love it on Christmas Day. I especially like it because it’s do ahead! Thanks Lyndey for taking just a little of the stress out of my Christmas!
Love your work.
10. Bozana F asks “I would like to see more bread making recipes my partner loves to make his own bread and any ideas are great.”
11. Wendy P says “Love your ginger cardamom mango crepes because they’re simple, sing of summer and Christmas.”

Recipe Requests 

Orange and Lime Marmalade Trifle

Please feel free to ask for recipes or advice at any time. Here I respond to the competition winners.

Janise asked for trifles:
Orange and lime marmalade trifle
Lamington trifle
Very berry trifle

Claire asked about leftovers – and they will be in next week’s update, my last for the year.

Kathryn asked about asparagus. I love it because you can cook by any menthod: steam, boil, microwave, BBQ, fry, bake or put in batter and deep-fry as tempura.
Asparagus with parmesan
King Salmon with prosciutto and asparagus
See all Sydney Markets asparagus recipes here

Janet C has a big ask – but why not (and that’s another reason you are a winner) – simple pre-Christmas brunch for mixed ages. I think anything you can do-ahead is great. As a rule, start with some seasonal fruit, even just a platter with some cut up small for little fingers. Soufflés can be frozen and reheated, or kept in the fridge overnight uncooked and baked in the morning. here are some suggestions:
Melon with spiced sparkling drizzle, quark and pistachios
Prosciutto egg cups
Mexican and Turkish inspired brunch tarts

Parmesan topped savoury muffins
You can always just leave the truffle out of Twice-baked cheese and truffle soufflé
Baked Scotch eggs
Prawn Slice with Basil Mayo

Roasted summer tomato tart
No knead bread with olive oil and chorizo (or mushrooms) this recipe is also for Bozana
Honey glazed ham with mustard fruits and cranberry relish – this works on a small boneless ham, or a half ham too.

Suz A asked for brawn, which I also love but have never made. With anything meaty, I always trust Adrian Richardson’s knowledge and Cooked.com.au had his recipe for Classic jellied brawn.
Ross O’Meara is another good chef and he has a recipe for Braun or headcheese, so named because you use a whole pig’s head.
I would serve it with crusty bread, good butter and pickles. I don’t know where you live but you can google to buy it. Kaczanowski are a very good smallgoods maker and have often won Sydney Royal medals. They make a beef brawn. You could ring them to find out about distribution. Let me know how you get on, if you make it yourself, or buy some.

Lindsey N would like something Greek. I always think Greek at Easter – and other times (see above) – but in the festive mood would like to suggest:
Greek mezze plate
Duo of Greek dips
Pork souvlaki with skordalia
Barbounia (rouget) wrapped in vine leaves & marouli salad

Larissa C wanted roast lamb with mint sauce, but I am going to move her out of her comfort zone and suggest Slow roasted Tunisian spiced lamb in paper

Some things I’ve eaten this week

Three tastes of kingfish sashimi at Glass Brasserie, Hilton Hotel, Sydney

I have two friends with whom I enjoy a few lunches per year.  Living and working in diverging areas, we try different locations. Our Christmas lunch is always one we look forward to. A few years ago we went to Glass Brasserie, and, having decided it was our favourite venue we went back again this week. We were not disapopinted and it was good to see chef/patron Luke Mangan much in evidence on the floor.
He has reinvented his kingfish sashimi ($31), retaining the old favourite dressing of ginger and shallot, but adding two new tastes: white kim chee and nam jim with coconut cream. All three of us chose it, though we often share, and found it a light, refreshing starter, growing in intensity from the first to the last flavour. Highly recommended and perfectly matched with the Coteau de la Biche 2017 Vouvray Sec ($70) which I spied on the menu and was then recommended by the sommelier.
The Japanese style crab omelette, pickled red ginger, bonito, dashi broth ($33) has also had a make-over with the inclusion of a Japanese pancake inside the omelette, giving it extra crunch. Grilled king prawns, chilli and dashi butter, parsley, capers, onion ($34) were another perfectly cooked entree while Roasted barramundi, cashew curry sauce, cauliflower, broccoli, lime ($49) was a well-balanced and not too heavy main.

L: Fried cauliflower and R: Bannockburn 1/2 chicken with pickled celeriac at The Alcott

I have followed the food of chef Nathan Tillott for many years, probably since he was Executive Chef at Liquidity Restaurant in Rozelle. We reconnected when he began as Executive Chef at The Greens, North Sydney in 2015. Now he is Executive chef for the group which also owns Norths and now The Alcott in Lane Cove. this means “from the old cottage” and is a nod to the building’s origins as a home on a sandstone block dating from the early 1900s.
I went there last night and found it delightful. More upmarket than your regular club (though it is one), with the TV tucked away in a corner and a pleasant dining area inside and out. House wines, a couple of cocktails and beers are on top, which is great fun, but also a good, concise wine list. Best of all, not too noisy.
We began with a platter of starters (the latter two small salads): Hiramasa kingfish with beetroot labne, ocean trout roe, dill and bread wafers; a gem lettuce cup with smoked salmon, baby beets, radicchio, marinated feta & chardonnay vinegar and a salad of heirloom tomatoes, watermelon, mint and torn burrata. Standout was the Fried cauliflower in the lightest of batters, wtih caramelised red wine vinegar, watercress, parsley and smoke paprika salt.
I would not usually order chicken as a main course but the chef there highly recommended the grilled free range Bannockburn 1/2 chicken, pickled celeriac and toasted almonds. It was a terrific recommendation, boneless and carved downwards into thick slices, with the tantalising celeriac and a sweet dressing.
We will certainly be back.

Interesting Reading

 Candelaria, 52 rue de Saintonge, 75003 (metro Filles du Calvaire) – through an unmarked door at the back of a taqueria

International Traveller reveals 5 secret bars in Paris and how to find them.

Good Food shares their 10 most popular cake recipes.

Fine dining Lovers reveal the Le chef compilation of the 100 best chefs in the world for 2019 with chef Arnaud Donckele from the La Vague d’Or restaurant in Saint-Tropez named the best chef in the world. Five of the top 10 on the worlds best chefs list were from France, with Yannick Alléno, Alexandre Couillon and Emmanuel Renaut all taking top positions. Chef Rene Redzepi once again featured in the top of the list in position 10. The Le Chef list is compiled by asking two and three-starred Michelin chefs to provide a list of five names they think best represent the cooking profession and one name they would like to see at the top of the list. Heston Blumenthal comes in at 41 and congratulations to Ben Shewry from Attica in Melbourne, Australia for coming in at 46.

Australian Food News reports Nutella completes massive $70m hazel tree planting in Australia.

In The New Yorker, Nora Ephron writes about My cookbook crushes. This is a really good read, so print it out and save it to read later if you can’t now.

Huon Hooke writes in The Real Review about The joy of old wines and the memories they evoke.

The latest edition of Tasmanian Wine Trails

What’s On

Noosa Food & Wine Festival 2019 Full Program Announced

The Noosa Food & Wine Festival is happening again 16-20 May 2019 and whether you are looking for beachfront brunches, dinners with celebrity chefs, live cooking demonstrations, hinterland trail experiences or a party under the stars, the 2019 program has it all. For the full program and tickets head to www.noosafoodandwine.com.au

You can catch the second episode, Contemporary Christmas TV special Lyndey’s Cracking Christmas on LifeStyle FOOD at 3.20pm on Saturday 15th December.

Techniques and Know How

Cut the pomegranate in segments to make it easier to remove the seeds

The dish from Food & Wine reveals How to cut a pomegranate
Also explains The difference between stock and broth
Some shortcuts so you can Make your own puff pastry in just 15 minutes
Watch this a video from Hospitality magazine which show Ruth McDonnell from Simon Johnson talking about three top Australian cheeses for your cheeseboard including how to store.Women’s Weekly explains How to cook white rice perfectly every time.

I’m loving being home for Christmas. Next week lots of Christmas recipes, shortcuts and advice – so keep reading.

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