The camaraderie of food. Flashback to the kitchen team assisting me on the Pacific Explorer last year when I was on board as a guest presenter
Welcome, I’ve been reminiscing a bit lately. It started with publishing some of my old recipes on my website. I have always thought that a good recipe is a good recipe and stands the test of time and I’m so happy to be sharing them. The photos may be a bit old but the recipes are great.
Friends are like that. A good friend is a good friend. One who is there for you in good times and bad. They too stand the test of time. And indeed relationships – a good one is where you bring out the best in each other, whether that is a work relationship, friend relationship or primary relationship. I only remarked on that today, to my best friend, John, who is also my partner and sadly back in hospital. His son had told him today what an amazing couple he thinks we are together. A lovely thing to hear. Our dream is to return to Greece again when it is safe to travel and if John might be well enough. That’s what we are visulaising.
So then, I was wondering what to put in this newsletter, given long days this week have been spent at the hospital. I thought about not sending one, but then again there’s always something to say and share. So I looked back to what I was doing last year. Happily I was at sea. Covid was something happening in China and from 28 January until 8 February I was a presenter on a cruise from Sydney to Bali. I love travel and cruising and the ability to present to and connect with a different audience is something I really enjoy. Some of the lovely people I met then subscribe to this newsletter – so greetings to you and all those I have hosted on tours, cruises, trains and more. I am so hopeful that we will return to all of this once more – hence my plans to host tours to Morocco and Puglia.
My wish is that we all make new memories, good memories this year. So may you have a great week ahead.
Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.
In line with my theme of looking back, but in a good way, here’s a YouTube Video which is four years old. If you do not have an air fryer, you can adapt this recipe, but having tested one, I am a convert. I love the way you can roast or fry so quickly, without turning on the oven or heating up the kitchen. So important in February which is steamy in Australia. Watch my Spiced Chickpea, Pumpkin & Spinach Salad. You can see the written recipe here. You can subscribe to my channel here, so you can see my other videos including meals in a minute.
Recipes of the Week
Coconut and Chilli Curry with Salmon, Corn and Snake Beans
Nectarines are right in season in Australia, and I love macadamias so try this Nectarine and Macadamia Tart. You can substitute with any stone fruit and almonds. Enjoy!
Nectarine and Macadamia Tart
Last Week and Next
Salmon and Nori Rolls
Last week we bade farewell toLucio’s Restaurant, a Paddington, Sydney institution since 1983. I think I was just about the first person to review it way back in the 80s, and Lucio and I both remember where I sat and he remembers what I wore! It has been a wonderful family business and we will miss them all.
I’m still enjoying looking at recipes from my cookbooks and publishing them on my website. Only a few this week as I have been occupied elsewhere. Smoked Salmon and Nori Rolls Potato Roesti with Seared Beef & Wasabi and some for Chinese New Year (see below).I will be publishing more through next week and perhaps something for Valentine’s Day so please do join me on Facebook and Instagram!
Crisp Skinned Barramundi with Corn Puree, Charred Corn and Pickled Broccolini at Lucio’s
Lunar New Year
Kung Hei Fat Choy, or Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Chinese New Year! The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, has more than 4,000 years of history and is the longest holiday of the year. In the 21st century, the national holiday begins on the first of the Lunar Calendar and lasts until the 15th of the first month. In 2021, Chinese New Year begins on February 12th and ends February 26th with the Lantern Festival. I thought it best to write about it this week so you can be geared up for next Friday.
Not only is it Chinese New Year, the Lunar New Year is celebrated by many Asian cultures. It is a festival for 1/4 of the world’s population (7.7 billion), with over 2 billion celebrating in some way. Public holidays are held in Mainland China (1.41 billion), Hong Kong (7M), and Macau (0.6M), and nine other Asian countries — Indonesia (264M), The Philippines (105M), Vietnam (95M), South Korea (51M), Malaysia (31M), North Korea (25M), Taiwan (23M), Singapore (5M), and Brunei (0.4M). Add to this the sizable Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. populations who celebrate in cities like New York, London, Vancouver, and Sydney and you can see how widespread it is.
Myth and Legend It is a time of wondrous celebration, with origins which go back to a time of myths and legends. There are paper-dragon dances, parades and red clothing to commemorate the legend of Nian, a mythical beast who terrorized villagers once every year. The colour red and the din that is created is meant to drive away any lingering devils or spirits. Now the word Nian, in modern Chinese means “year”.
The Year of the Ox The New Year is marked by animal, for according to legend, Buddha invited all the creatures in his kingdom to appear before him. The 12 animals which completed the journey – the rat, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, goat, monkey, cock, dog and pig – were then honoured with rotating names of the year. The exact date in the Western calendar changes because it is fixed using a Chinese lunar calendar in which each month begins with the new moon. People born in a particular year are believed to share some of the personalities of that particular animal.
The Ox is the second of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. The Ox was about to be the first to arrive, but Rat tricked Ox into giving him a ride. Then, just as they arrived, Rat jumped down and landed ahead of Ox. Thus, Ox became the second animal.In Chinese culture, the Ox is a valued animal. Because of its role in agriculture, positive characteristics, such as being hardworking and honest, are attributed to it.
There are five Taoist elements which are Fire, Water, Earth, Wood and Metal. In 2021 the Ox are aligned with Metal.
Feasting It is a time of feasting, with particular foods for different good wishes. Delicacies include prawns, for liveliness and happiness, dried oysters (ho xi), for all things good, raw fish salad (yu sheng) to bring good luck and prosperity, Fai-hai (Angel Hair), an edible hair-like seaweed to bring prosperity, and meat-filled dumplings boiled in water (Jiaozi). “Jiaozi” in Chinese literally mean “sleep together and have sons”, a long-lost good wish for a family.
No New Year Eve’s meal would be complete without fish. The Chinese character for “abundance” sounds the same as “fish”. There is also a vegetarian dish with a special seaweed called fatchoi, which sounds the same as the word meaning prosperity. Try my Betel leaves topped with spicy fish. Vietnamese Barramundi Salad
Dates and accommodation with a couple of upgrades have now been confirmed for my hosted tour to Morocco. Best of all Covid vaccinations have started in Morocco and their numbers are dropping. Moroccan Culinary Tour begins in Rabat on Friday 29 October until 9 November. 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.My hosted tour to Puglia is currently on hold and we are looking to move it to the first half of 2022. Watch this space.
There is wonderful shopping in the medinas in Morocco