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Recipes for big cuts

Go big this season with cuts large enough to feed a crowd: legs of lamb, sides of beef, suckling pigs, and whole fish. The pineapple jerked pork neck with crushed pineapple relish and black bean and rice salad is calling your name...

Top 10 Sydney Restaurants 2014

Looking for the best restaurants in Sydney? Here are the top ten Sydney restaurants from our 2014 Australian Restaurant Guide.

Australian expats' most-missed hometown favourites

As we celebrate Australia Day, we ask leading expats about their most-missed hometown flavours and haunts.

Bali's best local food

You haven’t eaten on Indonesia’s most popular island until you’ve explored the rich, bold flavours found in the traditional warungs. Bali insider Maya Kerthyasa takes us on a tour of the best.

Jamaican goat curry

"Goat is the world's most consumed meat and we hardly give it a look in Australia. I adore it in so many different preparations, from South-East Asian dishes through to Italian braises, but my favourite is Jamaican curry with its heady spices," says Evans. "I see spices as nature's medicine cabinet and use them in as much of my cooking as possible. If you can't get your hands on quality goat meat (farmers' markets are a good bet or online), then feel free to substitute lamb or another protein. But if you've never had goat before, I urge you to give it a whirl."

Top 10 Melbourne Restaurants 2014

Looking for the best restaurants in Melbourne? Here's our top ten from our 2014 Australian Restaurant Guide.

Pavlova Recipes

Everyone loves a pav. Here are some of our favourite recipes.

Kung Pao chicken

"I'm a longtime GT subscriber and fan. My fiance is obsessed with the Kung Pao chicken from Mr Wong in Sydney. He keeps trying to replicate it every time he goes near the kitchen. The results haven't been too bad, but he isn't happy with them, which means further experimentation. Would you please ask for the recipe so we can move on to something else?" Jules Clancy, Cooma, NSW REQUEST A RECIPE To request a recipe, write to Fare Exchange, Australian Gourmet Traveller, GPO Box 4088, Sydney, NSW 2001, or email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au. Please include the restaurant's name and address or business card, as well as your name and address.

January

It always surprises me how speedily the last weeks of the year collapse like dominoes. I tried hard not to be panicked by too-early carols and bunting, and to avoid crowds, so my Christmas gifts tended to be bought in calm surrounds - sweet-smelling plant nurseries, bookshops early in the morning or at the end of the day, or specialist food stores to get treats for food-loving friends.

I suspect the end of 2012 seemed faster than ever because I had several major events around the Kitchen Garden Foundation to manage. Alice Waters, of Chez Panisse fame and vice-president of Slow Food International, invited me, along with foundation CEO, Ange Barry, to attend a panel on global food education in Turin. Every two years Slow Food hosts Terra Madre in Italy, a sort of global coming-together of many Slow Food representatives to discuss and raise awareness of global food issues.

Alice suggested that the panel variously address six guiding principles of an edible education manifesto. Our topic was public policy. The single factor that made our presentation surprising to many of the standing room-only crowd was the degree to which our work is supported by government, and recognised as an effective preventative health measure. We are very aware of the responsibility this brings and are deeply grateful. Without it the spread of our work would be greatly diminished.

And it was the extent of the program that impressed the Prince of Wales when he visited. Just back from Turin, I was then off to meet the Prince and the Duchess of Cornwall at Kilkenny Primary School, about 20 minutes from Adelaide. What a marvellous invitation. The Prince is well known for his deep interest in organics and sustainability. Kilkenny is an outstanding school and it certainly put its best foot forward. The sun shone, the garden was green and inviting. The Prince and Duchess strolled under an archway of grapevines, toured the vegetable beds, chatted to the young gardeners, admired the compost bins (truly!), then came to the kitchen via the chicken run and extensive orchard. The well-organised year-seven students were ready. They had done quite a bit of preparation, but every student was busy chopping, or stirring, or folding, or filling as the royal couple arrived. The Prince beamed as he complimented us on a wonderful program. On hearing of our level of government support he hinted that maybe I should visit the UK and try the same tactics. (It was a lighthearted aside, but the press pack nearby wondered whether he had invited me to visit Clarence House. He did not.) He pronounced the leek, fennel and broad bean risotto "frightfully good".

Finally to my own backyard. As I walk around my neighbourhood I admire several gardens displaying banks of sweetly scented gardenias. They seem to grow in these gardens as readily as mine grows nasturtiums. I did not have tomatoes for Christmas, but the first were just a few weeks later. I have so many tomato plants and I hope the season extends for a few months. Last summer I made a big pot of roasted tomato sauce and froze it in smallish batches. It was a fantastic resource.

I found it difficult to tear down the sweet peas that had been so enchanting for weeks but they were finishing and I needed the supports for climbing yellow beans. (I saved the seed, though.) For the past three years I've had bumper crops from two different varieties of yellow bean: Kingston Gold and Golden Wax Pole. I love them and have found it nearly impossible to find commercially available yellow bush beans or climbing beans that are tender and sweet. Even home-grown ones toughen after one day in the refrigerator, so it is a ritual for me to boil them within an hour or so of picking and enjoy them drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil. For an extra treat I make a summer salad of the beans mixed with small waxy potatoes, a few anchovies and a shower of freshly chopped parsley.

The capsicum plants from last year have put out plenty of new leaves. I was very doubtful about keeping these bare sticks all through winter and spring, but my gardener was right and I was wrong.

I've netted my doughnut peach tree and have high hopes the first crop will ripen without attack. The first yellow peaches and nectarines were delicious. I've had more trellising added to my carport and hope I have now excluded another possum corridor. Birds are starting to spy red strawberries in my hanging baskets. I'm growing two varieties of zucchini: a small round one and my favourite ridged Romanesco. They love the heat and respond with ever more fruit. Early in the morning is the time to pick the wide open male flowers. I store them in the fridge wrapped in damp kitchen paper to make a delicious appetiser. I have several recipes for stuffing zucchini flowers in The Kitchen Garden Companion (my favourite includes mortadella sausage), but they don't have to be stuffed. Twist the petals closed, dip into light batter or simply a whisked egg, then panko crumbs and shallow-fry in olive oil.

By the time you read this you will be planning to welcome 2013. I have a good feeling about this new year. Happy New Year.

More info

For more information on Stephanie Alexander's Kitchen Garden Foundation and schools, check out her website.

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