Weekly Update

With my friend and former colleague, Fran Abdallaoui from The Australian Women’s Weekly at the smeg’s 70th birthday party – loving the flowers.

Dolce & Gabbana toaster and refrigerator

It was a busier than usual time last week, getting ready for my next trip back to London via Singapore. Last Wednesday night smeg had a party to celebrate its 70th birthday, which is quite something, and to announce smeg’s small appliance collaboration with global fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana. After the speeches we were ushered in to another area to see some of these amazing decorated appliances.

No sooner had I sent last week’s update (literally from the airport) than I hopped on a plane to Singapore to spend some time with my daughter and family. Next day we flew to Siem Reap in Cambodia for a couple of days and nights. We loved it, and the Cambodian people who are gracious and gentle despite a sad past. Also had some great food and caught up with my friends Robert Carmack and Morrison Polkinghorne from Globetrotting Gourmet who live two hours away in Battambang. No time or space to write more about it this issue but watch out in coming weeks.

Jump ahead to see:

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

Fabulous offer
Cook for Dad on Father’s Day
More on truffles

Interesting Reading
What’s On

The best of this week’s fruit: strawberries, bananas and blueberries

Make the most of plump, antioxidant rich blueberrieswhile they’re in season. Make blueberry hotcakes; toss 125g blueberries through your favourite hotcake or pancake recipe. Dust with icing sugar and serve with sliced banana and extra blueberries.

Sweet strawberries are in abundance. Slice and serve strawberries on your favourite breakfast cereal with yoghurt, toss into fruit salad, make a healthy smoothie or use them for desserts. It’s the perfect time to make a jar of homemade microwave strawberry jam.

Bananas are well priced so try Banana buttermilk muffins.

Picked ripe and bursting with natural sweetness pineapple takes centre stage in Spring, it’s deliciously sweet and thirsty quenching. Toss pineapple with strawberries and serve with yoghurt, add thick slices to a pizza topping or team pineapple pieces with coriander, mint, chilli to make a pineapple & chilli salsa to serve with salmon.

Select rockmelon with a fragrant aroma and pronounced netting on the skin. Fruit should feel heavy for its size. 

With their rich raspberry-red succulent flesh and sweet flavour, blood oranges are still a top pick. Quick ideas for blood oranges.

  • Use blood orange juice instead of lemon juice to add a refreshing touch to salad dressings.
  • Toss blood orange segments with rocket, shredded fennel and toasted pine nuts for an easy side salad.
  • Make a marinade for chicken and fish, using blood orange juice, olive oil and crushed garlic.

Select whole papaya with golden-yellow coloured skin. A fragrant aroma is a good indication of flavour. If cut, select fruit with bright-coloured, undamaged flesh. For Asian salads choose unripe and very firm, green papaya. 

New season Kensington Pride mangoes from the Darwin area are at your local greengrocer. Have you tried Caramelised Mangoes, it’s a quick mid-week dessert.

Kumera, beans and asparagus

Kale is packed full of nutrients with just one cup providing about 100% of your daily requirements of vitamins A, C & K. Use kale in similar way to English spinach: young leaves for salad and larger leaves for cooking. Make a tahini and yoghurt dressing for a salad and team the kale with grains, nuts and raisins.

Premium quality large snow-white cauliflowers are a bargain and wonderful for making cauliflower rice.

New season Australian grown asparagus is now available while broccolini is a thrifty buy as is broccoli.  Add to pasta dishes, stir-fries or serve as a side veggie. Both Broccoli and Broccolini are good for your immune system and support a heart and circulation health.

Orange fleshed sweet potato, also known as kumara good value. Delicious mashed, diced and roasted or baked in peeled chunks kumara has a pleasant sweet flavour. Fill up with this scrumptious roasted kumara with eggs & avocado salsa.

With its delicious aniseed flavour and crisp texture, fennel adds vibrancy to spring salads. It has virtually no fat and few kilojoules, and refreshing raw or cooked. Try Fennel, tomato & Italian sausage spaghetti.

Machine harvested Bowen grown green beans are a choice buy this week so whip up this Asparagus & green beans with chilli & cashews

Crisp young and tender baby bok choy is plentiful. Select bunches with crisp pale-cream stems and fresh-looking green leaves. For and easy family dinner steam bok choy or toss into a hot wok and cook until just tender, or halve then blanch in boiling water.

Eat light and easy with fast cooking sugar snap and snow peas. Choose bright peas that are firm and plump, but not bulging. Toss together this quick and easy broccoli, snow pea, asparagus stir-fry with salt & pepper squid

Recipe of the Week

Slablova with strawberry curd

Servings: 8
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 ½ hours (plus standing time)

6 egg whites (it’s easier to separate eggs when room temperature)
1½ cups (330 g) caster sugar
1 tablespoon cornflour
1 teaspoon white or malt vinegar

Strawberry Curd:
250g (1 2/3 cups)  strawberries, hulled and roughly chopped
185g (¾ cup) caster sugar
125g unsalted butter softened
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 egg yolks

To Serve:
300 ml thickened cream
1 teaspoon caster sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 punnet each raspberries and strawberries
20 g dark eating quality chocolate, at room temperature

  1. For the Pavlova: Preheat oven to low (120’C/100°C fan-forced). Line a large baking tray (approx. 40 cm x 30 cm) with baking paper.
  2. Beat egg whites in a clean large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Only then add caster sugar, a heaped tablespoon or so at a time, beating until dissolved (to test, rub some mixture between finger if too graining keep beating until glossy.). Then fold in cornflour and vinegar.
  3. Turn out onto tray; using a palette knife or spatula, spread the mixture across the baking paper (approx. 30 cm x 24 cm), building up the sides a little and creating a few tips and dips in the meringue as you go. (A wet spoon, spatula or palette knife helps).
  4. Bake in very slow oven about 1 ½ hours or until set and dry. The surface should be dry to touch. Turn oven off and prop door ajar with a wooden spoon and cool in oven.
  5. For the Curd: Put the strawberries in a small saucepan with the sugar, butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Simmer gently for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat.
    Lightly beat the egg yolks in a large bowl then, stirring constantly, slowly add the strawberry mixture in a thin stream. The mixture will thicken as you add it.
    Return to low heat and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not allow the mixture to boil or the curd will curdle. Test by running a finger across the back of the spoon to ensure the curd is thick and does not run. Put into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming.
  6. To Assemble: Whip cream with sugar and vanilla. Spread a small spoon of cream on a flat serving plate. Place pavlova on top then fill pavlova with curd, cream (ensuring you can still see some of the curd), then berries.  Shave chocolate curls from a block of chocolate using a vegetable peeler.

Product Review

REPOUR is a disposable which absorbs oxygen in an open bottle of wine

Preventing a bottle of wine oxidising is an ongoing to concern for wine lovers – whether professionals who serve wine by the glass or those at home who might like to open a few different wines and so have some left open. I have never been a fan of the pumps which are supposed to extract air but have previously used argon gas in a canister with success, but find an open bottle can only be topped up successfully once. The second time, the wine tends to start to oxidise. Then there is the Coravin system which, while very good is also very expensive.
Now there is another choice. Developed by PhD chemist Tom Lutz in the US – the REPOUR product is the only disposable wine stopper in the world that is clinically-tested to preserve the integrity, taste and quality of wine for months – not days or weeks – after bottles have been opened. In fact, it is proven to reduce oxygen levels in wine down to less than 0.05%.  Read more about it and some testamonials here.

The science behind Repour is simple: an  oxygen-absorbing material is in the Repour stopper. Better yet, Repour keeps one bottle of wine fresh until the last glass. Each stopper is designed to save a full bottle of wine, even take glass by glass over days, weeks or months. If used on a second bottle, Repour may lose its oxygen-absorbing capacity before you are done with the bottle. So best to start with a new Repour stopper with each new bottle.
Cost for one is $3.99 at good wine retailers and department stores, so you are better off buying in bulk online: $13.99 for a pack of 4; $29.99 for a pack of 10; $180 for a pack of 72.
More information and online shop here.
FABULOUS OFFER: Readers of this update can use the coupon codeTBMF to receive a 10% discount on purchases. Also the distributor has kindly offered to donate another 10% to The Blair Milan Memorial Scholarship, so you would be helping a worthy cause too. A great gift for Father’s Day?Coupon Code:    TBMF
LINK:        www.mywinesaver.com.au

Fabulous offer

Readers of this update can use the coupon codeTBMF to receive a 10% discount on purchases. Also the distributor has kindly offered to donate another 10% to The Blair Milan Memorial Scholarship, so you would be helping a worthy cause too. A great gift for Father’s Day?
Coupon Code:    TBMF
LINK:        www.mywinesaver.com.au

Cook for Dad on Father’s Day

Spiced rib-eye with quinoa and stinging nettle salad

The greatest gift of all is your time so why not cook for Dad or Grandpa on Father’s Day?  This meaty recipe is a winner. The amazing thing about stinging nettles is that once cooked, they lose their sting. Use gloves when preparing them – or replace them with baby rocket. Find the recipe here.

More on truffles

Jane Austen with “workaholic” dog Maggie finding a truffle

As I led with last week, I spent a couple of hours with Jane and Richard Austen at Hartley Truffles in the Blue Mountains, 2 hours west of Sydney. The cold winters and the warm summers are perfect conditions for growing the Black Pergiord truffle, Tuber melanosporum.

Jane and Richard founded Hartley Truffles on their beef property after a trip to south western France, the origin of the Tuber melanosporum or ‘Black Perigord’ truffle. Inspired by what they learnt they decided they would attempt to cultivate truffle at their family farm in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales, Australia.

After some years of research and preparation they planted their first 400 oak trees in 2007, with the second planting of another 400 oak trees the following year.  Now 9 years on, the 2 different oak trees are producing some beautiful black truffle. They trained their dogs, Maggie and Koko to sniff out the truffles. Originally pigs were used in Europe but they tend to want to eat the truffles.

L: Truffles being washed to remove dirt and stones and R: the results of our morning’s hunt

Once the truffles are carefully washed and weighed, they can be used or stored wrapped in paper towel, in an airtight container in the fridge (better still put your eggs in the shell in there too).
After years of experimenting with truffles I think they are best shaved thinly and used with eggs, in a cream sauce for pasta or in a risotto bianco.  Fats and starches help them release their flavour and aroma. Jane had simply put some slices in a carton of cream and the flavour in the resulting whipped cream, to go on truffle scones, was extraordinary.
I used mine in scrambled eggs and risotto. It is best to let these dishes sit for a few minutes so that the heat from the eggs or rice can work its magic on the truffle, releasing more aroma and flavour. As a serving suggestion for truffle, allow and absolute minimum of 3g per person for an entrée and at least 5g pp for a main course.  A 50g truffle is about the size of a large hen’s egg.
Read more about Hartley Truffles here and find Jane’s recipes here.
Try my Twice Baked Cheese & Truffle Souffle here.

Interesting Reading

Are you perplexed when you try to read product descriptions?

LifeStyle FOOD explains how to Decode food labels.
And also a really handy piece on How to get the best from your sparkling wines and champagne.
Time Out has had its restaurant awards and delightful young chef Josh Niland and his wife Julie have again taken out the top accolade winning Restaurant of the Year and Josh also winning Chef of the Year. Results here.I’m a bit late with this news – but I went to Salt Tapas and Bar in Raffles Plaza, Singapore with my daughter on Tuesday, to learn, on messaging Luke Mangan, that he has pulled out of Asia. Business Insider reports it here.
Pure Wow gives 6 Genius Swaps for Refined Sugar in Baking.

What’s On

BangPop Thai Restaurant, South Wharf, Melbourne

It’s all happening for Spring at South Wharf in Melbourne with something for everyone whether it be  wine & cheese master classes, different dinners, vegan events & cooking classes.

Bohemian Wine Bar at South Wharf presents an informative masterclass presented by its own cheese master, wine makers and wine industry professionals. Learn about Pinots Noir, Grigio, Gris, Meunier and Blanc whilst enjoying the most delicious of matched cheeses.Saturday September 8 & October 6 | 2 pm – 5 pm | Tickets: $49pp
More info and to buy tickets
Another, similar event, focused on vegan cheeses matched with Lark Hill wines, is followed by a vegan risotto using these ingredients on Saturday October 13 | 5 pm – 8 pm | Tickets $65
More info and to buy tickets

Executive Chef Malcolm Williams, from Meat Market  shares all he knows about Macedon duck, paired with Coldstream Hills wines.
Thursday 13th September | 7 pm | Tickets $195pp
More info and to buy tickets

A 2 hour hands on master class on the different cuts of pork and how to make your own preservative & gluten free sausages including a gourmet sausage lunch & beer
Saturday October 13 | 10 am -12 pm | Tickets: $89

More info and to buy tickets here.

Bangpop’s Vegan Thai Dinner returns with a 7-course meal with clean vegan twists on classic curries, mouth-watering Thai snacks. There’s also an option to add natural vegan wines to match, specially selected to pair with each course.

Wednesday the 17th of October | 6.30 pm | 7 courses, food only: $85pp | 7 courses, food with matched wine: $119
Wednesday 24th October | 7 pm | Tickets $195pp
More info and to buy tickets here.

Travelling in Asia I am thrilled to be told that people have seen me on TV here. so if you happen to be in the region, you can see Taste of Australia on Nat GEO People. Times here.
You can also catch snippets on Foodnetwork in Australia, times here.
Keep up to date with my travels on all my social media channels:
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Enjoy what you cook, eat and drink.


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