Where Has the Year Gone?

Who needs makeup when you’re playing with your grandchildren?


Time seems to be speeding up as we lurch to the end of the year, still with many unknowns and interrupted travel plans. Wherever you are, I hope things will be as smooth as possible for you. It’s been such a weird year for everyone, so let’s roll on to next?

However it has been so special to spend time with my daughter and now, finally my grandchildren too. More of that to come with stories to read, games to play and cuddles to have. There’s nothing like seeing Christmas through a child’s eyes and I am under strict instructions to make Isabel a “big butterfly cake” for her fifth birthday on Christmas Day as she is a big girl now. I made her a butterfly garden for the last birthday I was able to share with her, her second and she remembers it clearly. Hence the request.

I’ve also been out to two different but fabulous live events: The Wharf Review: Can of Worms at the Seymour Centre, an annual comedic review of the year and Plate?e by Rameau,  performed by the Pinchgut Opera, an amazing contemporary interpretation, also satirical and brilliantly conceived and performed. Both highly recommended. Great to catch up with friends at last too, as well as try some restaurants which have been on the wish list  with a really lovely meal with great service at 10 William Street. The week before I took Lucy for a special dinner at Cirrus and it was, as always, outstanding with exceptional seafood, sensitively handled and superlative wine service.

Update on my hosted tour to South Australia. (More below.) We realise that things are still uncertain with borders within Australia so rest assured, that should Covid prevent interstate travel, deposits will be refunded in full up to 1 February. Also new contact details for the holiday season.

Please stay in the loop on  Facebook and Instagram or email me with any requests or comments. 


The fabulous set of Plate?e with the orchestra onstage from before the opening

Now read on or scroll down, remember there’s something for everyone in this newsletter wherever you are in the world.

Jump ahead to see:
YouTube Video
Recipes of the Week

Countdown to Christmas
Things to Read and Share
South Australian Tour
Morocco Tour 2022
Puglia Tour October 2022

YouTube Video

Snapper two ways: steamed and fried in 3:50 minutes: each in one pan/steamer

Now is definitely the time of year for simple, quick, one pan meals. so here’s a video I shot showing how quick and easy it is to either steam snapper fillets (all on one plate ready to serve) or pan-fry them (all in one pan). You can use any white fleshed fish and the fried version is cooked on one side so doesn’t need to be flipped over. Simple. Watch Delicious Snapper Fillets Two Ways on YouTube.  Here is the link to the written recipe for Steamed Snapper with Ginger, Shallots and Soy and here is the link for Crisp Skinned Flathead with Capsicum Subscribe to my YouTube channel here for all my videos including recipes in a minute. Enjoy.

Recipes of the Week

Burnt Carrot Salad

Great for lunch or as an interesting side dish Burnt Carrot Salad. It’s vegetarian and you can replace the feta with tofu and the honey with maple syrup for vegans.
Spiced Cherries are lovely served with your Christmas ham, or as a gift.

Spiced Cherries

Things to Read & Share

2022 Rural Aid “Spirit of the Bush” Calendar $25

Rural Aid  has produced a calendar featuring 12 months of stunning photographs capturing life on the land in all parts of Australia, taken by farmers as part of the “Spirit of the Bush” photography competition. From mustering in March to fighting fire in September, each image tells a story of rural living, straight from the lives of those living on the land.
Size: 21 cm x 29.7 cm. Free Shipping Australia wide only. International shipping costs apply. Calculated at checkout. Get in quick and
order it here.
Or just donate to For our mates in the bush as 10 December is their Annual Giving Day.  Australian farming families are facing an ongoing mental health crisis brought on by the relentless challenges of rural life. Rural Aid is tackling this crisis head-on in a number of ways, from free on-the-ground counselling and financial relief services to water and hay donations and volunteer support. You can donate here.

Matt Moran’s Kitchen Tales on YouTube is really worth a look for some recipe ideas. It is very easy viewing. He has some devoted to Christmas and entertaining.

Wonderful food writer Ruth Reichl has started a newsletter about cooking, eating and making life more delicious. Read Welcome to La Briffe.

Annual Wineslinger Awards
This is an annual list of Top venues as determined by a cross section of Australia’s leading wine and hospitality tastemakers – winemakers, sommeliers and journalists – who vote on their favourite wine haunts. The public then decides which of the Top venues wins the ‘People’s Choice’. The other trophies include top spot ‘Wineslinger’, ‘Best New Haunt’, and the ‘Maverick’ which recognises a venue pushing the boundaries of possibility. So, here are the results and all the info about these awards.

Countdown to Christmas

Simple Christmas Pudding

I’m not sure how I feel about Christmas this year, and I know many feel the same. One thing I do know is that I am thrilled to have my family with me. The other thing is to keep it stress free, whatever you decide to do. In our family we share the load so it isn’t too much for any one person.

However, the best thing you can do is to plan and prepare ahead if you can. We are just over two weeks out, so if you like to have a hot pudding, it’s time to make it if you haven’t already. Here is a very Simple Christmas Pudding. Not too many ingredients and not hard to make.

If you haven’t made a Christmas cake, a really easy option is to make cupcakes – so you could try either Little Christmas Cakes with Royal Icing or Little Christmas Cakes with Eggnog Buttercream. Or even forget the icing and dust them with icing sugar like these Little Fruit Cakes.

One week out you can make your brandy butter.
Just beat together 100g butter, 100g caster sugar and three tablespoons of brandy – enough for six people. Or try Rum and orange –  beat 100g of softened butter with 100g of brown sugar, three tablespoons of rum and the grated zest of an orange. Pack into a jar and store in the fridge.

If turkey is your thing (and I understand for many it is not) read my blog Let’s Talk Turkey

And here are my Ten Top Tips to Make Christmas Day Easy

Next week I’ll give you lots of last minute ideas. However, do feel free to email me any questions you may have. I’m always happy to help.

Little Christmas Cakes with Eggnog and Buttercream

South Australian Tour
29 March – 3 April 2022

A Christmas Gift with a Difference? Come with me  Behind the Scenes in Adelaide and the Barossa Valley 29 March – 3 April 2022
I’ve really enjoyed planning this trip and promise lots of fun and great experiences. with all the uncertainty with border restrictions, Insight Vacations have promised that should Covid prevent interstate travel, deposits will be refunded in full up until 1 February. So book your space to enjoy:
  • Food, wine and quality time with living legends
  • Meeting, greeting and feasting with Maggie Beer 
  • Learn about Chinese tea and wine at Bai Long Store with the tea master and me
  • Cooking dem and tapas-style feast at the Central Market with Mark Gleeson and me
  • Think outside the square at d’Arenberg where wine meets art
  • Taste and learn abut Barossa  smallgoods and wines with David Franz Lehmann
  • Hear a private recital of the Baroque Organ
  • Meet former Young Chef of the Year at the newly opened Arkhe Restaurant
  • and much, much more with some surprises along the way. Lots of meals included as they are specially planned.no more than 22 (plus Insight travel host and me). Cost is $4,4495 twin share ($925 single supplement)  with lot
If you would like to join me in March 2022 on a close to home journey to explore behind the scenes in Adelaide and the Barossa Valley, follow this link for the brochure, and different contact details for the holiday season email directadmin@insightvacations.com.au or PH 1800 001 778.

Morocco Tour 23 Sept – 4 Oct 2022

Colourful tagines on sale in Morocco

It is full steam ahead for my two overseas tours in 2022

Moroccan Culinary Tour begins in Rabat on Friday 23 September til Tuesday 4 October
This trip will see us travel from Rabat the capital, to spiritual Meknes and Fes, and to Marrakech the red city. On the way you will explore the archaeological site of Volubilis, visit a Berber village in the Atlas Mountains, and relax by the coast in tranquil Essaouira. You’ll discover the delicacies of Moroccan and French food, dine in local eateries through to upmarket restaurants, and experience the making and flavours of Moroccan dishes during cooking classes. Luxury accommodation is in charming, authentic riads. sometimes in exclusivity. Only 10 – 12 guests. There are only two spaces left but we will run another tour, probably in 2023. If you are interested please contact us? 

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.

Puglia Tour October 2022

In the unique town of Alberobello

Puglia in the boot of the heel of Italy is still relatively unspoiled. A secret Italians tend to keep to themselves, it is a wonderful place to visit and so much less crowded than Tuscany. After Morocco I’m going on to host Culinary Adventures in Puglia and Basilicata 8 – 14 October 2022. Join me and share 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.

Group size: an intimate 8-16 places only
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
Full brochure

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

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