The Paris issue

Our October issue is on sale - the Paris special. Grab your copy for all-things Parisian, plus ultimate French baking recipes and more.

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Seven ways to do dumplings

Dumplings may be bite-sized, but they pack a flavourful punch. Here are seven mouth-watering recipes, from Korean mandu to classic Chinese-style steamed dumplings.

Best feta recipes

Feta's tang livens up all sorts of dishes, from beef shin rigatoni or blistered kale ribs to Greek-style roast lamb neck.

Recipes with zucchini

Whether served raw with olive oil, grated with fresh herbs, or pan-fried in a pancake - zucchini is a must-have ingredient when it comes to spring cooking.

Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie, Melbourne

Here’s Pickett’s inside running on the menu at Melbourne's new European-style eatery and wine bar Pickett's Deli & Rotisserie.

Apfel kuchen

"This is my mother's famous apple cake. The apples are macerated with sugar, cinnamon and lemon, and this lovely juice produces the icing," says Brigitte Hafner. The apples can be prepared the night before and kept in the fridge. This cake keeps well for four days and is at its best served the day after it's made."

Melbourne's best late-night bars

As the shutters come down in other Australian capitals, Melbourne's vibrant nightlife is just hitting it's stride. Michael Harden burns the midnight oil at the city's best late-night bars and diners.

Nougat, salted peanut caramel and milk chocolate tart

What's not to love about a Snickers bar? All the elements are here, but if you don't feel like making your own nougat, you could always scatter some diced nougat in the base of the tart instead. The caramel is dark, verging on bitter, while a good whack of salt cuts through some of the sweetness - extra roasted salted peanuts on top can only be a good thing.

Chicken stir-fried with holy basil and chilli

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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