The Christmas issue

Our December issue is out now, featuring Paul Carmichael's recipes for a Caribbean Christmas, silly season cocktails and more.

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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.

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.

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?

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

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

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.

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.

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 ham recipes

The centrepiece of any Christmas feast, hams can be glazed with many ingredients. Here are our favourite combinations.

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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Our 2016 Christmas issue is out now
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