Healthy Eating

We're championing fresh food that packs a flavour punch, from salads and vegetable-packed bowls to grains and light desserts.

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There's nothing new about Nordic interiors - blond timbers, concrete surfaces, warm, mid-century charm without the twee - and thank heavens for that. It's a style that augments the beauty of everything around it, in this case, gorgeous Hobart harbour, which makes up one whole wall. What is new here, however, is the food - by veterans of Garagistes, which once dazzled diners down the road, Vue de Monde in Melbourne and Gordon Ramsay worldwide. There's a strong Asian bent, but with Tasmanian ingredients. In fact, the kitchen's love of the local verges on obsessive - coconut milk in an aromatic fish curry is replaced with Tasmanian-grown fig leaf simmered in cream to mimic the flavour. Other standouts include a gutsy red-braised lamb with gai lan and chewy cassia spaetzle, pigs' ears zingy with Sichuan pepper and a fresh, springy berry dessert. While the food is sourced locally, the generous wine list spans the planet. 

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

O Tama Carey's fried eggs with seeni sambol, coconut and turmeric

"I first cooked a version of this dish - inspired by the excellent deep-fried egg dish at Billy Kwong - while working at a restaurant in Sri Lanka," says O Tama Carey. "The lattice-like eggs are doused in a creamy turmeric curry sauce and topped with seeni sambol, a sweet-spiced caramelised onion relish. This dish is equally perfect for an indulgent breakfast as it is served as part of a larger meal." The recipe for the seeni sambol makes more than you need, but to get the right balance of spices you need to make at least this much. It keeps refrigerated for up to three weeks; use as an onion relish. The curry sauce can be made a day or two ahead.

Pasta master

It's crucial to make the distinction between fresh pasta and dried pasta. They're different products and they require different handling. Fresh pasta absorbs sauce more readily, so it's more suited to wet dishes such as lasagne, or meat ragù, or a tomato- or cream-based sauce. Dried pasta, on the other hand, can be used for all of these but is particularly good with oil-based sauces - spaghetti marinara or spaghetti aglio e olio, for instance.

I think handmade pasta is vastly superior to bought pasta. I always use organic eggs and very good-quality "00" durum wheat flour because this gives the best flavour and texture to the pasta. I like to use Sala Cereali brand farina di grano tenero tipo "00" (available from Simon Johnson). I've made pasta using a cheap supermarket brand of "00" flour with okay results but I find the pasta is quite soft and lacks resistance.

I usually make a batch of one kilo of flour to nine eggs, which is enough for an entrée for about 15 people, but for a smaller batch of 500gm flour, use four eggs. The ratio of egg to flour will vary with flours, temperatures and the size of the eggs, but it's easier to add flour to a wet dough than the other way around. The dough should come together but not be sticky on your hands; knead it for about 10 minutes, till it's firm but smooth. Make your dough in the afternoon of the evening you want to eat the pasta, and then dry it in a draught-free room. This is very important. When I worked for Stefano de Pieri, he'd make his fresh pasta only in the late afternoon, so that by the time he cooked it in the evening it would be perfectly dry, rather than brittle.

One of the uses of the hand-cranked pasta-rolling machine is to make the dough smooth and to work the gluten in the wheat to give the pasta a firm, strong texture. I remember Guy Grossi preferred his pasta super-smooth so that it had a beautiful silken quality to it; others prefer their pasta a little more rustic.

Dried pasta is made from hard durum wheat and water, mixed together and then pushed through a die and dried. The pasta factories in Italy that produce very high-quality artisan dried pasta buy the best durum wheat available, use bronze dies, and air-dry their pasta very slowly. The slow drying preserves the flavour and integrity of the wheat, and the bronze dies give the pasta a rough texture which grabs at the sauce, as opposed to the super-smooth finish commonly seen in commercially made pastas created using plastic dies. Artisan pasta can seem quite expensive compared to the mass-produced examples, but if the pasta is going to be the centre of the dish then surely, I think, it is worth spending a little more on it. The difference of only a few dollars across a meal for four, say, is certainly noticeable in terms of the flavour and texture of these beautiful pastas.

Pasta needs to be cooked in ample - and properly salted - water. You should use four litres of water for every 450gm pasta, and for this amount I recommend two tablespoons of salt. This quantity is imperative to ensure the pasta is well seasoned, and to ensure it can move around in the saucepan and not become gummy. Adding salt to the finished dish never tastes quite as good.

The water must be at a full rolling boil before you add the pasta. This way, when the correct amount of pasta is added to sufficient water, the pot will return to the boil very quickly.

Once it's done, pasta should be drained immediately, but don't drain all of the water - keep some of it back. This starchy, salty water is an essential ingredient in itself. You should already have all the other components ready to go: the sauce hot, the bowl in which you are going to serve the pasta warm, the parmesan grated and the table set.

If you have made a ragù or a Bolognese, don't just blob it on top; mix the sauce with the pasta in the pan - toss and work it in, adding a little pasta water to give it the correct consistency and body. Then add a knob of butter to enrich the sauce.

For oil-based sauces, use lots of oil and use a very good one. The sauce should be beautifully fragrant with garlic, parsley and perhaps the addition of prawns, pipis or chilli. I always finish the pasta with another fresh splash of extra-virgin olive oil before serving.


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