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.

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.

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."

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.

How to cook duck

Whenever I'm asked to cook a celebratory dinner, I think of duck. It's rich, it's special and it goes extremely well with pinot - which is just what I'm looking to drink on a special occasion.

What most people don't know, I think, is that duck isn't actually difficult to cook. Roast duck, for example, is incredibly simple (certainly just as easy as roasting a chicken), especially now that fresh ducks are readily available and are bred to be less fatty and more tender.

I have two rules for roasting duck: cook it in a hot oven and cook it until it's well done. A hot oven will get the skin all crisp and brown and help render the fat through the meat. Also, I find that if the legs are still pink they can be on the tough side, so that's why I think it's better to go for a well-done bird.

My friend Valerio Nucci, who is a brilliant cook, taught me to stuff the cavity of a duck with a whole orange, stabbed several times with a sharp knife to make the juices and aroma come out, along with a few juniper berries, a couple of fresh bay leaves and some salt. He then sprinkles salt all over the duck, closes the cavity with a skewer and puts it in a hot oven to roast until crisp and brown all over - about an hour to an hour and a quarter. This is the way I always roast my duck now, and I also lay it on a bed of mirepoix - carrot, onion, celery and a few sprigs of fresh thyme. The duck juices run over the bed of vegetables, and as they roast they combine to make a delicious sauce.

Once the duck is done (when a skewer in the thigh releases rosy to clear juices, or the leg yields when pulled gently), rest it in a warm place, pour the fat and juices into a large cup, then set the roasting pan on the stove. After a few minutes the fat will settle to the top and you can skim that off - you're left with duck juices. When the roasting pan is hot and bubbling, throw in a generous dash of good red wine, allow it to reduce a little, then add the skimmed duck juices. Check for seasoning, strain and voilà - a beautiful sauce.

One of my other favourite ways to cook and eat duck is to confit the legs. The meat is rich and falls off the bone, it's always succulent because it's cooked in its own fat, and, importantly, this is a dish that can be prepared well in advance. It's in fact better cooked a day or more beforehand.

Traditional duck confit is made by first salting the duck overnight and adding herbs such as thyme, bay, peppercorns or even a light sprinkling of quatre épices (a blend of peppercorns, nutmeg, cloves and ginger). The salt penetrates the duck and, with the herbs, helps to flavour and preserve the meat and give it a lightly pickled pink colour. It's important either to rinse off the salt before laying the duck legs in fat and cooking them, or to be careful not to oversalt them in the first place. The legs are then gently and slowly "poached" in duck fat until tender. They can then be kept refrigerated this way, covered in the fat, for days or even weeks. To serve, gently reheat the legs in the fat, remove them from the pot and crisp up the skin in a hot pan until golden brown.

With a dish as rich as duck confit, it would be a mistake to serve it with something equally rich, such as pommes purée or buttery Brussels sprouts. I prefer something piquant to cut through the richness, so I like to serve it with either braised Savoy cabbage with apple and pickled morello cherries, or bitter greens sautéed Italian-style (with a dollop of creamy potato underneath).

The wonderful thing about cooking with duck is that the meat is incredibly versatile: duck in a ragoût makes a rich and delicious sauce over homemade pasta, especially with porcini mushrooms; the fat is excellent for frying potatoes and whole garlic cloves, which you can then sprinkle with salt flakes and rosemary; and it is also beautiful cooked in a casserole.

A very special dish I sometimes make is Chinese red-braised duck. This involves browning pieces of duck, then simmering them in red wine, star anise, cassia bark, mandarin peel, white peppercorns, soy, Shaoxing wine and yellow rock sugar. The duck takes on an incredibly aromatic flavour.

Most fresh ducks on the market are the Pekin variety, but you might come across the muscovy duck, which is more closely related to goose. Muscovy duck has an intense duck flavour and is probably not as tender, nor does it have as much fat as the Pekin breed. I have rather unsuccessfully roasted muscovy ducks (three times) and found that, while the flavour is amazing, they are probably best suited to cooking in a casserole.

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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
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