With Kate McIntosh (daughter of Herbie) who gave a spice class for The Australian Women’s Club London, at my place. I matched wines to the food.
Smile ... Well, what can I say? We are in unchartered territory. We receive a barrage of information and counter-information, the situation with corona virus changes hourly with different regulations and advice in different countries. The world has gone mad with some ridiculous behaviour and some lovely kindnesses – so I hope this newsletter will bring a little joy to brighten your week wherever you are – and especially if you are confined to barracks for any reason. Stay safe and wash your hands with good old fashioned soap and water.
I am not trivialising the situation which is one we have not faced before (since 1919 Spanish flu crisis). I was disappointed to have to postpone my hosted Moroccan trip to April next year (watch this space) and our business, like all others will suffer – but there is plenty of informed comment elsewhere, many of us are lucky to remain healthy, so let’s try as much as possible to continue to live our lives and not just exist. Stay in touch with your friends via Facetime, Skype, Zoom or What’s App and keep talking in person – and make it a CV-free zone. My family spread from Australia to Singapore to London are hoping to have a virtual drink together over the weekend.
A Charles Darwin said “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change”. So let’s do that and help others to do so too.
I began the week on a high note, hosting a spice cooking class with Spice King Herbie’s daughter Kate McIntosh – which also happened to be vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free – and absolutely delicious. Best of all, Kate, (like me) does not think such dishes have to be deep-fried with loads of added salt and sugar as many manufactured such products are. So let’s keep on buying fresh produce and supporting agriculture wherever we are. See more below, including a recipe.
The shelves may be empty of pasta and pasta sauce, but the garden beds are full in London’s parks
It is a strange time. I happened to call in to my local Waitrose last Friday afternoon and the shelves were sadly empty – primarily of shelf stable items. However, when we visited an open air market on Saturday and our local Farmers’ Market on Sunday there was plenty of fresh produce on sale. The Managing Director of Sainsbury’s sent a calm email just asking everyone to buy what they need and not to stock pile and then there would be plenty for everyone.
Good to see special opening times for those with a disabilty, age or health issues and preference for home deliveries. Hopefully those of us who are fit and able can help family and friends who are not.
Such a shame there is a need for signs like this one on the left – we prefer walking in the open air in glorious Regent’s Park where Spring is peeking through
Last weekend we also visited the London Mithraneum underneath the European headquarters of media giant Bloomberg. Constructed around 240 BC, the Roman Temple of Mithras was discovered in 1954, when on the last day of excavations for a new office block on a WW2 bomb site, the stone head of Mithras was found. Excavations followed which unearthed an archeological treasure trove.
The cult of Mithras is still largely unknown, a men-only cult, attracting members mostly from the military. Evidently ceremonies took place by the light of flaring torches in underground temples and involved sacrifice of animals.
Entry is free, but it is best to book as only a few are allowed entry at any one time. The ground floor has a fun map of London by song, and an impressive display of artefacts unearthed from the original site. As you descend to the next level, lines on the walls indicate how you are passing the through the many historic layers that built up over the centuries. The lower levels has very informative digital images and videos, and finally, 7 metres below street level, is the Mithraeum itself which you enter in the dark for an immersive experience which attempts to bring Londinium (Roman London) to life.
The London Mithraneum
Remember- scroll down as this newsletter is full of info wherever you are in the world!
Kate McIntosh, daughter of Ian ‘Herbie’ Hemphill is a graduate of Leith’s School of Food and Wine in London, and does all of Herbie’s recipe development, while also teaching about cooking with spices, in particular with regards to healthy food. Now living in London, she has started a health food business called Goldenballs Goodness, making delicious vegan snacks which I can heartily recommend.
Kate said “Plant based never tasted so good with the addition of spices and we’re giving you recipes that are also gluten and dairy free. Guaranteed to please your family and friends, these dishes will become part of your everyday cooking, whether you’re vegan or not.” I was delighted to match these delicious offerings with McGuigan Wines. This was our menu: Beetroot and Cumin Hommous with Spiced Seeded Turmeric Crackers matched with McGuigan Frizzante NV, the crispness of the wine mirroring the crispness of the crackers and also picking up on the cumin in the recipe.
Middle Eastern Kofte with Tzatziki matched with McGuigan Shortlist Chardonnay 2017 because I have found that Middle Eastern flavours match very well with both chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon, as long as there is not a lot of chilli in the recipe. The acid in the tomato salad with sumac also found the same balancing note in the wine.
Mexican Pulled Jackfruit Tacos with Avocado and Black Bean Salsa Saffron, Spring Vegetable and Bean Cassoulet with Pumpkin Seed Sauce Verde both matched with McGuigan Estate Rosé2018. Based on pinot noir grapes it was wonderful with the smoky chillin in the tacos and sang with the tomato, peppers and spices in the cassoulet. Cardamom Sticky Date Cake with Caramel Sauce matched with McGuigan Founders Shiraz 2016 as I didn’t have a very rich dessert wine. The power of the wine handled the sweetness of the dessert and would also have been great with the chocolate in the take home Lamington Bliss Balls
Middle Eastern Kofte with Tzatziki Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes
These look deceptively like meat, and are extremely healthy and tasty. This mix also freezes well, and note variations below.
Kofte 400g pumpkin or butternut squash, roasted
1 tsp baharat Lebanese 7 spice blend (see below)
½ tsp smoked sweet paprika
1 400ml can black beans, drained
Handful (1 cup) flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
3 sprigs (1/4 cup) mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 small clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp lemon juice
140g (1 cup) cooked brown rice
70g (1/2 cup) milled buckwheat
140g raw cashews, soaked in boiling water for 2-24h
¼ probiotic capsule
1 Lebanese cucumber, cut into small dice
lemon juice and salt, to taste
1 sprig mint, roughly chopped
1 sprig dill, roughly chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 200C.
For kofte, add everything except the brown rice and buckwheat to a food processor. Pulse until just combined, then in a large bowl, mix with the rice and buckwheat. Taste for seasoning.
Shape the mixture around skewers and place on a lined baking tray/s. Brush with a little olive oil if desired, although not necessary.
Bake for 20 minutes until golden and serve with tzatziki, a fresh tomato and sumac salad, or use in pita with hommous.
For tzatziki: blend soaked drained cashews with 250ml water and probiotic capsule until smooth. Refrigerate uncovered overnight, then when ready to serve mix with cucumber, mint and salt and lemon juice to taste. Will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
Baharat spice blend
2 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
1/2 tsp ground cassia
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground green cardamom seed
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
Combine spices and store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Replace baharat spice blend with Italian herbs and the coriander and mint for fresh basil and shape into ‘meatballs’. Bake as above, then add to a tomato sauce and serve with pasta or rice.
Replace baharat spice with ras el hanout or chermoula spice blends and add 1/2 cup chopped apricots, shape into kofte or meatballs and serve with herby couscous or quinoa.
Lyndey & Herbie’s Moveable Feast on Amazon Prime
With Herbie on location in Northern NSW – see our 1961 Holden convertible “Edna” in the background.
While we are on the topic of Herbie and spices, Lyndey & Herbie’s Moveable FeastTV series is on Amazon Prime Video in the UK, Australia and New Zealand – along with most of my TV series. You can find the link here If you watch and like it, please consider posting a review directly on Amazon – even a very short one with a word like fabulous (!) and 5 star rating would be much appreciated. You can find a trailer on my website here (and that’s my daughter, Lucy, singing – see more about her below).
Peaking in autumn, vivid-green limes add zing to drinks, marinades, sauces and salad. Limes are in season and great value. Roll a lime in the palms of your hands for 30 seconds before juicing to maximise the juice yield.
New season Sheppardavocados are in store. A firm avocado will take 3-5 days to ripen, to speed up the ripening, place avocados in a brown paper bag with a ripe banana, and leave at room temperature. Did you know that Sheppard avocados will not brown once they are cut? This makes them ideal for adding to sandwiches and an ideal substitute for butter. Lots of avocados around and great value in London, especially at markets.
Pamper yourself this week and pick-up a sweet persimmon, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The unripe fruit is very astringent so wait until the fruit is soft and ripe and you will be rewarded by the powerful, sweet flavour and extra juicy texture.
Creamy, sweet custard apples are an autumn treat. Serve segments with ruby grapefruit or oranges as a healthy dessert. Citrus fruit reduces the richness.
Luscious tropical papaya is in plentiful. Start your day with a large wedge of these vitamin A and C rich fruits, enhanced with a drizzle of lime juice.
The juiciest of stone fruits, smooth-skinned plums come in many different varieties, some sweet and some slightly tart. They’re so versatile – add to salads and lunch boxes or gently poach, bake or stew.
Apple harvesting is underway across the country. New-season varieties fresh off the orchards include Royal Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Jonathon, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious. Storing apples in the crisper section of the refrigerator maintains their crunchy texture.
Put grapes on your shopping list as the range and quality are superb. With over a dozen different varieties to select from including seeded and seedless varieties, juicy grapes are at their best eating in autumn.
New-season Williams pears from Shepparton in Victoria are sweet, juicy and flavoursome. Add flavoursome pear slice to salads, toss with rocket, parmesan and toasted walnuts or bake a batch of these moist and delicious pear and pecan muffins.
Australia grown Valencia oranges are sweet and juicy. You will notice that the skin on the Valencia orange at this time of year has a green tinge; this simply means the fruit is sun-ripened and extra seet.
Eggplant, Sweet Potato (Kumara) and Choy Sum
Nourishing and versatile carrots are a thrifty buy. Carrots store well in a plastic bag and stored in the refrigerator.
Keep an eye out for delicious and seasonal pine mushrooms, small quantities are being harvested at this time of year.
Orange-fleshed sweet potato has a sweet flavour. Rich in vitamins A and C, sweet potato makes an extremely delicious soup or try them thinly sliced and deep-fried to make interesting chips.
Leeks are superb sautéed and used in egg-based dishes like quiche and frittata, they add a lovely sweetness to soups, casseroles, pies and vegetable dishes.
Pumpkins are a versatile, nutritious and sweet eating vegetable that are at their best value in autumn. Checkout the Jarrahdale pumpkin it roasts nicely and produces a rich coloured soup. Roast pumpkin is delicious hot or cold, try adding roasted pumpkin to a salad, like this roast pumpkin, chickpea, rice & barley salad.
Snake beans are easy and versatile. Add snake beans to stir-fries, pasta dishes, salads and curries. Green beans are still a little short supplied so prices are higher.
There is something inspiring about the smell of fresh herbs. Use fresh dill with seafood, basil with tomatoes, pasta and eggs and coriander enlivens curries and stir-fries. Herb butter is ideal for serving with grilled meats. Alternatively pick up potted herbs from your local greengrocer and snip as required.
Boiled, baked, mashed, roasted, steamed or fried potatoes can absorb flavours and yet still retain their own character and distinctive flavour.
Autumn is the peak time for quality eggplants. Choose eggplant that is firm, heavy fruit has a taut glossy deeply coloured skin and a fresh green stem. Eggplants can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, but handle with care as they bruise easily.
Asian leafy greens like bok choy, choy sum, gai lum and Kan Kong (water spinach) are terrific value. Add them to a healthy stir-fry for texture, colour and to boost the nutritional value.
Serves 4 as main or 6 as entree
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 30 minutes
100g button mushrooms
100g mushroom caps
150g flat mushrooms
200g portabello mushrooms
2 tablespoons (40ml) extra virgin olive oil
60g salted butter
250g eschallots, peeled, halved if large
¼ cup (60ml) sherry or apple juice
½ cup (125ml) vegetable or chicken stock
½ cup (120g) sour cream
1 teaspoon cornflour
2 tablespoons chopped chives
¼ cup chopped parsley
1 sheet butter puff pastry, defrosted
1 egg yolk, lightly beaten
To serve, sour cream mixed with chopped chives, optional
Wipe mushrooms. Quarter the buttons, thinly slice the caps, and slice the flats and portabellos a little more thickly.
Heat oil and butter in a large frying pan over moderate heat. When butter melts add the eshallots, and cook, stirring occasionally until just soft, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, set aside.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook stirring occasionally until all have softened. Increase heat, and add sherry or apple juice and cook for 1 minute or until sherry or juice has reduced. Return the eshallots to the pan, add the stock and cook until stock has reduced. Add the combined sour cream and cornflour, stir until bubbling, then for 1 minute, or until there is very little liquid left in the pan. Stir in the herbs, season well. Cool the mixture.
Preheat oven to hot 220°C (200°C fan-forced).
Lay one sheet of puff pastry out flat on a large flat oven tray lined with baking paper.Place cooled mushroom filling down the middle third, leaving one third of puff pastry free on each side. Using a sharp knife, cut these into 2cm strips from the mushrooms to the edge of the pastry. Fold over the mushroom filling alternately, as if the pastry is being plaited. Tuck ends under to secure. Brush strudel with the egg yolk.
Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce heat to moderately hot 200°C (180°C fan-forced) and bake for 15 minutes or until strudel is puffed and golden. Remove from oven, stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serve with sour cream and chives if desired.
Lyndey’s note: You can make the mushroom filling in advance, keep it covered in the fridge for several hours or overnight. It’s best to assemble and bake the strudel just before serving. You could use thinly sliced leeks in place of the eschallots.
Amusing (and Teaching) Kids Online
Lucy Sparkles with her own children, Isabel Sparkles (3) and Baby Sparkles (nearly 9 months)
It’s a difficult time right now for everyone, especially those who must now keep their children at home, cancel their various activities and even birthday parties. Global help is at hand with Lucy Sparkles & Friends HQ. All the UK businesses are running live stream classes from this week and the Australian based Business Owner, Gin Joy from Lucy Sparkles & Friends Canberra begins live streaming next week.You and your children can watch live stream drama, music or dance classes. For those of you who are at home self isolating, it’s a great way to pass the time and educate and entertain your kids simultaneously! You can see the timetable and buy tickets for just £4 here:
Don’t Miss a Child’s Birthday
They are also recording personalised character videos for the kids who will be missing out on their birthday party this year. Follow the Facebook page Lucy Sparkles & Friends HQ for updates.
No need to run out of wine with many Australian wineries offering free freight – like Balnaves of Coonawarra or great deals like Crittenden Wines. For these using the promo code SENDMEWINE at the check out to get a 20% discount off ALL wine products and free delivery Australia wide
Urban Winery Sydney has a Lockdown Dozen with free deliver in Sydney Metro.
And even though soap and water is how we should be washing our hands (given corona virus is a virus and not a bacteria) here is How to make your own hand sanitiser. Then you won’t have to pay the exhorbitant prices which are being asked.
Broadsheet Photography: Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash