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

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Mango recipes

Nothing says summer like mangoes. Go beyond the criss-cross cuts - bake a mango-filled meringue loaf with lime mascarpone, start off the day with a sweet coconut quinoa pudding with sticky mango, or toss it through a spicy warm weather Thai salad.

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.

Shark Bay Wild Scampi Caviar

Bright blue scampi roe is popping up on menus across Australia. Here's why it's so special.

Dark chocolate delice, salted-caramel ganache and chocolate sorbet

"The delice from Source Dining is a winner. May I have the recipe?" Rebecca Ward, Fitzroy, Vic REQUEST A RECIPE To request a recipe, email fareexchange@bauer-media.com.au or send us a message via Facebook. Please include the restaurant's name and address, as well as your name and address. Please note that because of the volume of requests we receive, we can only publish a selection in the magazine.

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.

Paul Carmichael's great cake

"Great cake, also known in Barbados as black cake or rum cake, is a variation of British Christmas cake that's smashed with rum and falernum syrup," says Momofuku Seiobo chef Paul Carmichael. "This festive cake varies from household to household but they all have two things in common: tons of dried fruit and rum. It's a cake that should be started at least a month out so the fruit can marinate in the booze. Start this recipe up to five weeks ahead to macerate the fruit and baste the cake."

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.

The hot seat

I like politicians. I can't help it. I like their exotic little personal cocktails of panicky insecurity and breathtaking overconfidence. I like their determination and the fact that most are well-intentioned. I like the fact that they mostly keep doing their jobs even though they can't be having very much fun, most of the time.

And I like having dinner with them. This isn't entirely a function of personal greed, although of course that plays a substantial part. The truth is that adding food to an interview changes everything. It renders virtually useless the evasions that are now traditional to the televised political interview. Try saying "As I have consistently promised, the Australian government will walk the reform road with confidence" while tackling a lamb chop, and you'll see what I mean.

Sharing food is the quickest way to get around the awkwardness of the journalist-politician relationship, a relationship that - even at its most civil - is plagued by an episodic asymmetry of need. Sharing food loosens the lips and gives everyone something to do with their hands.

You've got to be careful not to overdo it, of course, especially in the liquor department, where the aim is to induce pleasant emboldenment in the interviewee, while avoiding irretrievable soakage of one's own mental faculties.

(Sometimes, it goes horribly awry. I remember one dinner with several ministers at which a series of excellent confidences were imparted. The wine was flowing, so I absented myself to the bathroom regularly, in order to maintain a Biro record of the highlights on my leg. This seemed foolproof at the time, but less so the following morning, as anyone who has ever tried to read shorthand notes off a bedsheet with the aid of a hand mirror will instantly recognise.)

Anyway, for the last six months, I've been inviting myself round to politicians' houses for dinner, as part of an extended laboratory trial of whether any of the above principles hold true when four cameras and a substantial TV crew are added to the equation. The results are positive (as they are for the subsidiary investigation - whether a modern public broadcaster can be persuaded that going around to people's places, eating food and rummaging through their expired condiments constitutes legitimate paid work).

The subjects in the Kitchen Cabinet series - some of whom you'll recognise immediately, while others are well-kept national secrets - pony up all sorts of stuff. Thoughts on politics, of course, but much more besides. One of them confesses to having once shot a mud crab with a .44 pistol. One bakes her own dog biscuits - shiny, liver-based treats I declined to sample. One still has a recipe book she started in Year Nine. One startled me rather thoroughly by marching into his kitchen with a four-foot salmon clasped to his breast. Another has written and recorded a new alternative to the national anthem.

Selfishly, I chose only targets who can actually cook, and decreed that barbecuing does not count. Harsh, I know, but the rewards were many; a delicate watercress soup from Penny Wong, for example. Fragrant yellow curry puffs made by Northern Territory Country Liberals senator Nigel Scullion with creamy, sweet yabby tails. Tanya Plibersek's herbed spaghetti, whose heat alone was enough to cook, perfectly, the cubes of luminous ocean trout she tossed through it at the last minute. She nicked the recipe from Environment Minister Tony Burke, another surprisingly handy Cabinet cook. The brilliant primary colours of a tagliata, assembled jointly - amid spirited repartee - by Christopher Pyne and Amanda Vanstone.

Ask someone "How did you learn to cook?" and chances are what you'll hear in reply will be the story of a life. And nothing goes better with a political life than a glass of wine, and a plate of something delicious.

Kitchen Cabinet airs on Wednesdays at 9.30pm on ABC2 and is repeated on Mondays at 10.30pm.

This article is from the March 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

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