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Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

13 of our most decadent chocolate recipes to indulge guests with this Christmas.

Top 35 recipes of 2016

2016 was all about slow-roasting, fresh pasta and comfort food. These are the recipes you clicked on most this year, counting back to number one.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Sydney's best dishes 2016

For our 50th anniversary issue in 2016, we scoured Australia asking two questions: What dishes are making waves right now? What flavours will take us into the next half-century? Sydney provided 16 answers.

Best travel destinations in 2017

We're thinking big for travelling in 2017 - and so should you. Will we see you sunrise at Java's 9th-century Borobudur Buddhist temple, across the table at Reykjavik's newest restaurants or swimming side-by-side with humpback whales off Western Australia's coast?

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Christmas vegetarian recipes

The versatility of vegetarian dishes means they can be served alongside meat and seafood, or enjoyed simply as they are. With Christmas just around the corner, we’ve put together some of our favourite vegetarian recipes to appease both herbivores and carnivores alike.

Sydney's best lasagne?

How do we love thee, lasagne? Let us count the ways. Melty of cheese, meaty of ragù and all wrapped up in layers of pasta, you're both ancient and of the now, a versatile crowd-pleaser ready to rock a party or enrich a Tuesday night supper. You're as comforting as Italian food can be, and that's pretty cosy. But just how good do you really get?

The good people of the Sydney Italian Wine and Food Festival, which is being held at the Town Hall this Sunday, 14 September, intend to find out.

A lasagne challenge has been thrown down by Ormeggio's Alessandro Pavoni. The festival is taking recipe submissions and Pavoni's picks go through to the finals on the day, where they'll be tasted by the chef plus a panel of restaurant reviewers, including Time Out's Myffy Rigby, the Sydney Morning Herald's Callan Boys and GT's own Pat Nourse.

"Lasagne is a very underrated dish," Pavoni says. "Italians do it better and we do it very well, but we wanted to give people the opportunity to show us how they can do it."

He likes his lasagne as trad as possible - Bolognese, béchamel and plenty of cheese. His advice for people attempting it at home? Don't underestimate its complexity. "Bolognese, which is the core flavour of lasagne, you could say, is a very unique and technical dish to cook," he says. "People think you can do Bolognese in half an hour; it's actually several hours, up to six or eight hours of cooking using particular cuts, mincing the meat yourself."

He suggests choosing secondary cuts and cooking the meat down until it's nearly buttery. "That's one of the most important things because when you eat it you don't want chunky bits of meat which are chewy," he says.

Balance, too, is an important factor in Pavoni's books: "The combination between béchamel and Bolognese has to be perfect - not too much of one or the other. They both have to complement each other very well."

The pasta should be thick enough to retain some texture, and as for the cheese, for Pavoni, it's parmesan or nothing. "It's important, in my point of view, that we use Parmigiano-Reggiano and not mozzarella," he says. "It's a great cheese and I love it, but I think lasagne in particular doesn't need mozzarella in it."

Giovanni Pilu of Pilu at Freshwater, on the other hand, doesn't mind a bit of variation - or mozzarella. "The traditional lasagne is the Bolognese one but I think the whole of Italy has a little spin," he says. "The southerners put mozzarella. My mother-in-law is from Abruzzo and she puts boiled egg grated in between the layers and some spinach and I love it."

If there's one thing they both agree on, though, it's what they don't want to see in a lasagne. "No pineapple," Pavoni says.

Steer clear of the deep-fryer, too. "Never, ever fry lasagne," says Pilu. "That's crazy stuff."

Sydney Italian Wine and Food Festival, 14 September, Lower Town Hall, Sydney. For tickets and more information visit the SIWFF website.

Need some inspiration? Here's one of our favourite lasange recipes.

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