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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.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

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

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?

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.

Putting vegan cheese to the test

Otto's vegan cheese plate

Otto's vegan cheese plate

If you can’t or won’t eat dairy products and a cheese-free future isn’t one worth living, there’s another option.

Vegans want cheese. Or at least that's the impression Richard Ptacnik got in recent years cooking at Sydney Italian fine-diner Otto. Following a rise in vegan requests at the Woolloomooloo restaurant, Ptacnik had been on a mission to find a good vegan cheesemaker. In Sprout & Kernel he feels like he's ticked the box. Their smooth, tangy cashew cream cheese is now found inside the beetroot ravioli on his popular vegan menu, almost unnoticeably replacing goat's curd, while the company's original cashew cheese is used to finish the mushroom risotto.

From its base in Lewisham in suburban Sydney, Sprout & Kernel produces a range of dairy-free cheeses from macadamia nuts grown in Lismore and cashew nuts imported from Vietnam and India. Soaked nut pastes are cultured with rejuvelac - a natural probiotic harvested from sprouted buckwheat and other grains - giving the cheeses their distinct tang. They're then aged in fridges to develop their texture and flavour.

Husband and wife team Ben Wallace and Maria Ballesteros were long-time customers and fans of the business before they bought it in February 2015. Now, alongside their growing retail range, they produce specialty vegan cheeses for restaurants in Sydney, notably the cheeses for Otto and The Temperance Society in Summer Hill among them.

They also do a plain cashew nut cheese designed to have with crackers and fruit, crumble over lasagne or fry like haloumi. There's also an aged cashew cheese which certainly looks the part, with a drier texture and richer, darker taste than the unaged version; it's also less sweet. The macadamia cheese, meanwhile, is milder and more buttery, mixed with a little garlic and onion which gives it a slight French onion dip taste, but not unpleasantly so.

If you're a real-cheese die-hard, the cashew flavour may be tough to overcome, and the pasty texture and tang take some getting used to. But, if it's a dairy-free alternative you're looking for, you may have struck nut-cultured gold.

"You can't really compare them if you've spent your whole life eating normal cheese," says Ptacnik. "Gruyère is Gruyère  - you can't replicate it from the point of view of a non-vegan person. But if you're vegan, this is really, really nice." How does Ballesteros like to use it herself? Tossed through pasta to create a creamy sauce, crumbled over salad or "just in a Vegemite sandwich" she says. "I incorporate it into everything."

sproutandkernel.com

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