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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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.

Koh Loy Sriracha Sauce, David Thompson's favourite hot sauce

When the master of Thai food pinpoints anything as his favourite, we sit up and listen.

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."

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.

Gifts under $100 at our pop-up Christmas Boutique

Whether it's a hand-thrown pasta bowl, a bottle of vodka made from sheep's whey or a completely stylish denim apron, our pop-up Christmas Boutique in collaboration with gift shop Sorry Thanks I Love You has got you covered in the $100 and under budget this Christmas.

First bite

The first spell of brisk weather sends me into my kitchen, eager to fill the house with warmth and delicious smells. I like to celebrate the change in season and produce by spending an entire day preparing for a long Sunday lunch with friends. Even wine takes on a renewed appeal; at last, a deep hearty red makes sense.

It's about this time of year that my Uncle Wilfried appears with a big box of apples from his property in Victoria's Strzelecki Ranges. A cross between the Granny Smith and the golden delicious, these apples are beautiful to eat and especially good for baking. I am prompted to hunt through my old recipes, searching for different ways of cooking with these gorgeous apples. They'll spend weeks perfuming my kitchen until I've worked my way through them.

I also enjoy buying up bags of Cox's orange pippin and reinette apples from the farmers' markets - since they appear only briefly and are the finest apples for baking - as well as some of the lesser-known varieties that make particularly good eating, such as the Rome beauty, the Mutsu and Gravenstein.

Throughout most of the year, particularly in the summer months, I see the same old apple varieties sitting on the supermarket shelves, having been in cold storage for who knows how long. I confess, I don't get very excited about them. It's difficult to believe that the 2000 varieties of interesting and wonderful apples that have come to Australia have been ruthlessly culled to a mere four in general production.

In contrast, when apples arrive in the markets in the peak of their season, freshly picked, they are quite simply stunning. And now there's even greater choice in varieties that come from orchards still producing heirloom apples. So right now, I am really inspired to bake with apples, whether it's a simple apple tea cake with cinnamon and walnuts, or one of my favourite apple cakes from an old Joël Robuchon recipe.

Robuchon's recipe calls for lightly caramelised Cox's orange pippins with sugar, butter and almond flakes, covered with a batter enriched with crème fraîche. It's essentially an upside-down cake - the apples are all golden and gooey, and you top them with a syrup made with a splash of Calvados. It's well worth hunting down the recipe because it's one of those incredibly simple yet entirely delicious and satisfying desserts, especially if eaten while still warm with homemade crème Anglaise.

I also like to make spiced apple fritters for a Sunday afternoon treat. I spice the apple slices in either an eau de vie of prunes, a Poire Williams, or the Spanish liqueur Anís del Mono, allowing them to soak up the liqueur for at least an hour before coating them lightly in batter. For the batter, I use 2 eggs, 110gm caster sugar, 125ml milk, 60ml extra-virgin olive oil, 225gm self-raising flour. Then I dip the scented apple slices in the batter and shallow-fry them in a combination of olive oil and butter. They come out all puffy and golden-brown and are just perfect eaten with nothing more than a sprinkling of caster sugar.

There is a beautiful German apple cake I make that always reminds me of my mother. I remember her stretching the strudel pastry out over the dining table until it was so thin you could see her hands through it. Shop-bought filo just cannot compare with a homemade strudel pastry, which, when turned into freshly baked apple strudel with vanilla ice-cream, is a delicious winter dessert.

When I have a surplus of apples, I like to make an apple compote. This can be as simple as throwing peeled, cored and quartered apples in a pot to simmer with some sugar, a cinnamon quill and a little water and lemon juice, or it can be a little more refined if I want to use it as a dessert. Then I make a poaching syrup of 1 part sugar to 1 part water with a little lemon rind, a cinnamon quill, 3 cloves and a vanilla bean. Bring this to the boil, then add peeled, cored and quartered apples. Simmer gently, topped with baking paper and a saucer to weight the fruit, until the apples are only just soft. Remove from the heat immediately and cool. Refrain from stirring unless you want your poached apples to become a purée. This is the perfect filling for crêpes, sprinkled with icing sugar, or for the bottom of a rice pudding. It also makes a delicious partner to roast game or pork. At Easter, for example, I served a roast goose and the soft-poached apples were perfect with the rich, fragrant red meat.

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Latest news
Explainer: wild scampi caviar
30.11.2016
GT's Christmas hamper
29.11.2016
David Thompson's favourite hot sauce
28.11.2016
Our 2016 Christmas issue is out now
28.11.2016
Bruce Pascoe’s crowd-funded Indigenous agriculture project
27.11.2016
Where to start with French beef cuts
18.11.2016
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