September Newsletter

Foodservice magazine has revealed the 2018 Nestlé Professional Women in Foodservice Awards finalists

I arrived in London earlier this week to find that Foodservice magazine had announced the finalists in their annual awards. I was thrilled, amazed, humbled and delighted to learn I am a finalist in the Fine Food Australia Legend of the Industry category. I’m up against stiff competition: Alla Wolf-Tasker who is truly legendary and about whom I have written previously in these pages, and another friend and colleague Julie Cameron, Co-owner and Manager of Meredith Dairy in Victoria. Both more than worthy finalists. Read more here and all will be revealed on Wednesday September 12 at Aerial Restaurant as part of the Women in Foodservice Charity Event at Fine Food Australia.

I had a lovely time in both Cambodia and Singapore with my daughter and family. Apart from spending precious time with my granddaughter, I also ate some great food: friends cooked one of my favourites Hainanese chicken rice, I lunched on ramen and gyoza in the basement of the Japanese store Takashimaya, dinner at Meat Smith Little India, my favourite hawker food with work colleagues for lunch; a fun night out discovering some funky bars and then Japanese for dinner at The Flying Squirrel and farewell catch-up lunch with a friend who runs LeVel 33 which has the most amazing views.  I posted much of it on my social media channels (for links see below) so won’t go over it again here.

Jump ahead to see:
What’s In Season
Celebrate the Best of the New Season
In Season Recipes
Tip of the Month 
All About Chocolate
Wine of the Week
Book Review
Interesting Reading
What’s On
Come Travelling with Me?

What’s In Season

Pineapples, strawberries and blueberries
Images thanks to the Sydney Markets


  • Apples: Lady Williams
  • Berries: Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons
  • Mandarins: Honey Murcot
  • Rockmelon
  • Oranges: Blood
  • Oranges: Seville
  • Papaw
  • Papaya
  • Pineapples
  • Pomelo
  • Tangelos


  • Artichokes: Globe
  • Asian greens
  • Asparagus
  • Beans: Broad
  • Beans: Green
  • Beetroot
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Chillies
  • Garlic, fresh
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions: Spring
  • Onions: Green (Shallots)
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Silverbeet
  • Spinach

New season’s asparagus and zucchini flowers

Celebrate the Best of the New Season

Add some tropical flavour and sweetness to your day with fresh pineapple. At its best from mid-spring through to the end of summer, this delicious fruit is picked ripe and ready to eat. Once home, leave your whole pineapple at room temperature, out of direct sunlight and use within 4 days. When cut, peel and store pineapple in an airtight container in the fridge.

Easy to prepare. Trim the ends and cut down the sides making sure you cut away the thick skin and the ‘eyes’ of the pineapple. Slice in quarters lengthways and cut away the thick core, or alternatively, leave whole and slice into rounds.

Team pineapple with the fresh flavours of mint, lime, chilli, passionfruit, ginger or coconut.
Add chopped pineapple to Mexican-style salsas, pavlova toppings or fresh fruit salads.
Caramelise pineapple wedges in a pan with brown sugar.
Char-grill pineapple, chicken & red onion skewers.

New season’s asparagus


Bursting with flavour, with a delicious nutty crunch, Australian-grown asparagus is now in season.

When buying, look for firm asparagus with even-sized spears and tightly closed tips. Then simply snap or slice off the woody end from the spear before using. Asparagus is best cooked rapidly to retain its colour and crunch. About 1-3 minutes (depending on thickness) is all that’s required.

SO EASY TO COOK …boil, steam, deep-fry, BBQ or bake

  • Plunge asparagus into a saucepan of gently boiling water, or steam,  for 1–3 minutes. Drain and either serve steaming hot with a drizzle of lemon-infused olive oil, or refresh in cold water, pat dry with paper towels and add to a salad.
  • Brush asparagus with olive oil and barbecue, turning occasionally, over medium high heat. Serve with aioli and a drizzle of sriracha hot chilli sauce.
  • Toss chopped asparagus into stir-fries or roast whole spears brushed with olive oil.


  • Using a vegetable peeler, thinly shave asparagus lengthways into ribbons. Add these crunchy morsels to all sorts of salads.

Zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta. From my first cookbook Plates. Real Food for Fast People published in 1995 but still a great recipe

Delicate zucchini flowers with their bright-golden petals bloom at this time of year. The female flower has a tiny zucchini attached, whereas the male flower has a thin stem. The slightly nutty flavour is unique.

How To Select
Choose fresh-looking zucchini flowers that are not wilted. If the baby zucchini is attached to the flower, it should be firm, slender and glossy green.

How To Store
These spring flowers are highly perishable. The flowers are best used within one day of purchase while those with the baby zucchini attached will last for a little longer when stored covered with damp paper towel in an airtight container in the fridge.

Ways To Use Zucchini Flowers
Stuff zucchini flowers with a mix of fresh ricotta, grated parmesan and basil then roast or fry until golden.

Dip zucchini flowers in a light tempura batter and shallow or deep fry in vegetable oil until golden. Serve with lemon wedges and sea salt.

Drizzle a tray of zucchini flowers with the baby zucchini attached with olive oil, season and roast with cherry truss tomatoes. Sprinkle with crumbled feta to serve.

Click here to get my stuffed zucchini flowers recipe.

In Season Recipes

L: Layered Hazelnut Meringue Cake;  R: Redbelly Blood Orange and Chia pudding

Crispy Zucchini Flowers with Lemon & Mint Filling
Shaved Asparagus, Rocket & Parmesan Salad

Asparagus with Parmesan
Redbelly Blood Orange Salad with Baby Beets, Feta and Pinenuts
Pasta Primavera
Redbelly Blood Orange Poke Bowl
King Salmon Wrapped in Prosciutto with Asparagus, Crisp Capers “wafer of skin” on Soft Polenta
Seared Wagyu with Mushroom Ragu and Zucchini Salad

BBQ Rangers Rump with Garlic and Parsley served with Zucchini, Eggplant and Grilled tomato Salad
Layered Hazelnut Meringue Cake – this recipe also includes cute pineapple “flowers”
Redbelly Blood Orange and Chia Pudding
Hummingbird cake with Cream Cheese Icing
Gluten-free Carrot & Zucchini Slab Cake

Tip of the Month 
How to keep herbs fresh

Potted herbs and fresh cut herbs in a jar to keep in the fridge

Potted Herbs
Fresh herbs really give a zing, freshness and lightness to a dish. They are great for adding flavour without extra calories, so I always like to have lots on hand. I live in an apartment (in both London and Sydney) so I tend to have herbs growing in pots to use spontaneously and I am astounded how much they can cost to buy every time a recipe calls for them. I have just arrived back in London and am pleased to see my chillies, Greek basil, thyme, flat-leaf parsley and sage have survived the hot summer. However, I couldn’t resist and have already bought coriander and mint plants too. 
Mine are planted in larger pots outside but with a little natural light and occasional watering, potted fresh herbs keep for weeks on your window sill or kitchen bench too, saving valuable fridge space. Simply snip off the herbs that you require!

Fresh Cut Herbs
Soak in water in the sink to remove all dirt before you want to use them. Drain and dry. Then place in a glass or jar with water in the fridge, cover with a plastic bag. For herbs like mint, wrap in paper towel and keep in the crisper. Herbs can also be chopped and frozen with a little water in ice cube trays.

For more about Keeping it fresh read my short blog here.

All About Chocolate

Different types of chocolate

“If I were a headmaster, I would get rid of the history teacher and get a chocolate teacher instead and my pupils would study a subject that affected all of them” wrote  Roald Dahl the British writer.
Certainly, he was right because nine out of ten people like chocolate, the tenth person always lies (John G.Tullius, American artist and cartoonist).

Yes, it seems we all love chocolate – and little wonder as it has proved to increase serotonin levels and endorphins to give us the “feel-goods”  and is just as good an antioxidant as a cleaning agent as red wine and tea. However there are many different types of chocolate.
Made from a high proportion of cocoa liquor. The more cocoa is has, the more intense the flavour. It needs tempering (heating, cooling and heating again to exact temperatures) if used for dipping or coating as in chocolate making, but can be used as is in baking. Cooking chcoolate falls into this category.
Has the same ingredients as dark chocolate, with the addition of milk. It is more sensitive to heat, not as rich in flavour and is more difficult to work with than dark chocolate. It is not always suitable to replace dark chocolate in cooking.
This is technically not chocolate is it contains no cocoa liquor. Good white chocolate contains cocoa butter and is sweeter than dark or milk chocolate. Sensitive to heat, it melts slowly. It is not always suitable to replace dark chocolate in cooking.
French for “coating”, it is a smooth, richly flavoured chocolate, high in cocoa butter and cocoa liquor. It needs tempering (like dark chocolate) if used for dipping or coating, but not if used in mousses, filling or baking.
The cocoa butter in chocolate is replaced with vegetable fat, making it less expensive and easier to work with as it does not need tempering before dipping and coating. It sets at room temperature and is available in blocks or buds. Easter eggs are usually made from compound chocolate. Personally I don’t like the flavour of compound chocolate and often put in my recipes “easting quality chocolate” so you can make up your own mind.
CHOC BITS  are small pieces or pure dark, milk or white chocolate containing cocoa butter which keep their shape during baking, so are mostly used in biscuits.

Used unsweetened, cocoa powder has a bitter, intense chocolate flavour and is mostly used in baking. It is low in fat compared to chocolate and is useful when no liquid or fat is needed. Seived over cakes it can hide any cracks!
More information about chocolate here.

Wine of the Week

Gartelman Rylstone 2015 Mudgee Petit Verdot $35

Gartelmann Wines in the Hunter Valley was founded by Jan and Jorg Gartelmann in 1996. With some expert help and a move to the property, by January 1999 they had built a Cellar Door. However, since then they have sold their vineyard and instead concentrate on selecting the best fruit from a range of regional growers  to make their wines. Accolades have followed.

Petit Verdot (“peh-tee vur-doe”) takes its name for the size of its berries. It is a full-bodied red wine native to Bordeaux and  highly desired as a blending grape with the other four varieties of the region including cabernet sauvignon, because of its plentiful colour, tannin and floral aromas of violet. Because Petit Verdot is such a bold wine, it commonly only provides 10% of most wine blends. Very occasionally it is made into s single varietal, as with the Gartelman. It is a powerful wine, with some smoky black fruit characters and a touch of herbaceousness and spice.
Drink it with Middle Eastern lamb dishes, byriani, Mexican dishes like adobo and Chinese BBQ pork, game and good sausages.
Buy online here.

Book Review
Lonely Planet Ultimate Eatlist

Ultimate Eatlist $39.99 AUD Hardback

This is a book for avid travellers or armchair voyeurs. Lonely Planet asked its food-obsessed writers, bloggers and staffers to name their favourite, most authentic gastronomic encounters. They then ranked the entries: where should you go for the world’s must-have food experiences? With contributions from Andrew Zimmern, Gail Simmons, José Andrés, Curtis Stone, Eric Ripert, Florence Fabricant, Ben Shewry, Dan Hunter, Monica Galetti, and many more iincluding chef and TV presenter Adam Liaw and food blogger Leyla Kazim – who evaluated the entries according to the taste of the dish, its cultural importance, and the special atmosphere of the location. The result is Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Eatlist – 500 delicious dishes around the world that will put you in thrilling touch with a place, its people and their way of life.
Much as there are thirteen such culinary experience in Australia, I used it as a reference for my trip to Cambodia and Singapore and it certainly didn’t let me down. You’ll discover the planet’s most authentic and famous culinary experiences, the culture behind each one, what makes them so special, and why the experience is so much more than what’s in the plate, bowl or glass in front of you.

You can view the world’s top 10 foodie experiences here but better still buy the book and have access to
Visitors to have the opportunity to enter a competition for a chance to win the ultimate eating experience for two courtesy of Intrepid Travel’s Northern Spain Real Food Adventure. Terms and conditions apply.

Interesting Reading

Cracking sugar-fuelled creations: Strawberry watermelon cake from Black Star Pastry. Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald. Photo: Jennifer Soo

Scott Bolles writes in Good Food about the 20 Food Moments That Shaped Sydney
Epicurious writes that It’s Time to Stop Underestimating Vanilla.

Pure Wow warns about the 10 Mistakes Everyone Makes when Brewing Coffee

What’s On

Taste of Sydney has morphed into a new festival, Taste Sydney Collective in a new venue, The Cut at Barangaroo. There are different things on offer and packages: The Playground, Butchers Block; Johnnie Walker Highball Experience, Tanqueray Terrace Bar and VIP Lounge .

As for chefs, there will be a curated roster of local and national chefs, restaurants, artisans, and performers engaging in themed collaborations. The 4-day festival features 6 immersive sessions, where collaborators will work with unique themes each day. The themes will guide not only the culinary experience, but also the music, atmosphere, fringe events and vibe. Inspired by culture, geography and style, the themes will inspire how the days are structured and challenge the chefs creativity.

Thursday 8th November
 | 17:30 – 22:00
Friday 9th November | 12:30 – 16:00 & 17:30 – 22:00
Saturday 10th November | 12:30 – 16:00 & 17:30 – 22:00
Sunday 11th November | 12:30 – 17:00

Tickets start from as little as $10 but you’ll have to get in quick, up to a VIP package of $130.09
More information about the chef line-up, curated by Mark Best

Time Out Reveals 48 fun things to do in Sydney this month – including lots of festivals.

Come Travelling with Me?

Japan will be a new destination for me next year, hosting a land content tour here in May, a cruise with land content too to New Zealand in January and a repeat of my land content only trip to Puglia in October 2019.

 I am hosting three tours next year (2019) all very different. They are always fun, full of lovely people and it would be great if YOU could join me.

1. Japan – A Culinary & Cultural Adventure 14-25 May 2019 with Mary Rossi Travel. I have known the MD, Claudia Rossi since high school and we have worked to come up with a very special itinerary.  We have an upper limit of 20 people and there is a reasonable single supplement. Details here.

2. Closer to home, for those who don’t want the long flight, I am again hosting a cruise and tour, this time beginning in New Zealand and returning to Australia from 14 – 31 January 2019
. I hosted the media onboard Celebrity Solstice last year when she was in Australian waters and found her a lovely ship with some great activities on board including “Taste of Film” where you sit on the top deck, watch a foodie film and eat the food in the film. I will again be researching special experiences for our group when ashore.  Details here.

3. The Food Adventure in Puglia trip in May with Southern Visions was a great success and so we are going to repeat it 14 – 20 October, 2019. The program is very similar to what we did this year . Details here.

It would be wonderful to have YOU on one of these.

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