Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

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OzHarvest opens Australia's first free supermarket

"This is about dignity. This is about anyone walking through this door, taking what they need, and only giving back if they can."

Anzac biscuit desserts

These four desserts have one thing in common – Anzac biscuits.

Six sexy panna cottas

We say si to these six takes on the Italian classic. From coffee and caramel to red wine and figs, panna cotta proves to be a versatile dessert to suit all palettes.

Persian red lentil soup with tahini, beetroot and fried mint

Lentil soup may not sound like the sexiest of dishes, but rest assured, it's a heart-warmer. We've added warming spices and served the soup with a dollop of garlicky tahini. Thin slivers of shaved raw beetroot add earthiness and texture - the beetroot is also excellent simply grated and served piled on top. The poached egg is optional, but highly recommended.

Blue Nile's Ethiopian eggplant dip

"I'd love the recipe for the eggplant dip the wonderful Fatuma Tikuye serves at Blue Nile in Blacktown." - Helena Rosebery, Annandale, NSW REQUEST A RECIPE To request a recipe, email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au or write to Fare Exchange, Australian Gourmet Traveller, GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001. Please include the restaurant's name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.

Eclair recipes

Here are four spins on the classic French eclair, from Flour & Stone's pillowy choux pastry with salted caramel to a colourful take with strawberry-flecked creme fraiche filling and sprinkled pistachios on top.

Okonomiyaki with sticky soy pork belly

Fifty-four thoughts at Noma Mexico

"12. I'm now sitting at Noma with no shoes on. I feel like a toddler in a sandpit."

Indispensable kitchen gadgets

1. Digital scales
Set your spring scales to zero, weigh a 250gm block of butter, remove butter. Now press hard on the scale, so the needle goes all the way around the dial. Release. Weigh the butter again. Most spring scales show a difference of up to 50gm the second time around. In the case of pastry, that’s the difference between a cardboard-textured crust and flaky perfection. You need digital scales.

2. Rubber spatula
If you’ve always scraped out the mixing bowl with whatever’s at hand – a wooden spoon, a plastic spatula, a small child – you’ll be surprised at how much more cake batter you’ll get out of there with a rubber spatula.

3. Mortar and pestle
To make curry pastes without sending ingredients richocheting off the walls, you don’t want an apologetic pestle, one that says, “Oh, excuse me, would you mind terribly if I pounded you now?” You want a big, drooling, fully pumped pestle that crushes on the first blow. Look for it on the floor of your nearest Asian supermarket. If it’s light enough to be shelved up high, it’s too small.

4. Probe thermometer
This won’t hurt a bit. A probe thermometer, or instant-read thermometer, has a skewer attached to it. Stick it into your meat or fish, and presto, internal temperature is revealed. Seventy degrees means a pork and veal terrine that is juicy yet safe to eat. Five degrees higher and you’re looking at a loaf of expensive dry meat rubble.

5. Pastry brush
The material you want in your pastry brush is hog bristle, never silicon or nylon. Natural bristle is stiffer than silicone, but soft, so it gives a good even coating of eggwash or redcurrant jelly or what-have-you without leaving marks. Silicone bristles, in contrast, flop around like so many pieces of flaccid spaghetti, and nylon bristles melt on contact with hot surfaces.

6. Microplane grater
If you cleave to the old ways – bloodied knuckles, rust smudges on the Coon, citrus rind that will not leave the surface of the gadget unassisted – then use a box grater. If not, use a Microplane.

7. Whisk
There’s something about the mere action of whisking that will make you feel like a better cook, even more so if you can manage to quaff from a glass of French and banter with your guests at the same time. Béchamel, hollandaise, pancake batter, gravy – all are unthinkable without a whisk. Outside an operating theatre, it’s the closest you’ll get to a guarantee of no lumps.

8. Melon baller
Although it all depends, really, on how strongly you feel about making balls from a melon.

9. Mandolin
Perhaps the only useful kitchen gadget ever to have been advertised on late-night television, the mandolin slices! It slices! For the very fine cutting required for bread-and-butter cucumbers, tarte fine aux pommes and shaved fennel salad, there’s no substitute. Operators are standing by to take your call.

10. Garlic crusher
Most utensils that contain the name of the ingredient they are intended to process – the avocado slicer, mango splitter, egg separator, prawn peeler – should be banished forever from your kitchen. But on the garlic crusher the GT office is divided. In the pro camp are those who enjoy its ease. In the rather larger and more vocal anti camp are those who regard it as “drawer-clogging crap”, preferring to use the flat of a knife or a mortar and pestle. We stand united in our hatred of washing it.

PHOTOGRAPHY JULIE CRESPEL  

This article is from the November 2011 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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