Healthy Eating

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

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 25th June, 2017 and receive a Laguiole cheese knife set!

Gourmet digital

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad or Android tablet.

Aløft

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. 

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

Brae

Prepare to enter a picture of the countryside framed by note-perfect Australiana but painted in bold, elegant and unsentimental strokes. Over 10 or more courses, Dan Hunter celebrates his region with dishes that are formally daring (Crunchy prawn heads! Creamy oyster soft-serve! Sea urchin and chicory bread pudding!), yet rich in flavour and substance. The menu could benefit from an edit, but the plates are tightly composed - and what could you cut? Certainly not the limpid broth bathing fronds of abalone and calamari, nor the clever arrangement of lobster played off against charred waxy fingerlings under a swatch of milk skin. The adventure is significantly the richer for the cool gloss of the dining room, some of the most engaging service in the nation and wine pairings that roam with an easy-going confidence. Maturing and relaxing without surrendering a drop of its ambition, Brae is more compelling than ever.

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.

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.

Onions sans tears

Forget the chopping: the thing about onions that really makes me want to cry is seeing how often they're not cooked properly. Right now I'm looking at a pot of finely chopped onions. They're the base of my Bolognese, and in them I see the kernel of the finished dish. The way I cook and season these onions will determine in a large part the depth and quality of flavour of the sauce when it's done. Onions have all sorts of uses, of course, but perhaps their most essential deployment is in forming this sort of foundation, whether it's for a soup, a braise, a sauce, a tagine or a curry. These humble onions will eventually cook down and meld into the sauce, but far from disappearing, they play a major role in how the dish looks and tastes.

At the risk of stating the obvious, when you're making something such as a beef or lamb casserole (or, of course, French onion soup) you want the onions to give a deep and rich flavour, so you cook them until they turn dark golden-brown. If you're cooking something more delicate, such as a goat's cheese and onion tart or a chicken ragù, then you want your onions to be only pale golden-brown. In both cases the onions will lend a unique character and colour to the dish, and in neither can the cooking be rushed.

The more gently onions are cooked, the sweeter their flavour. As they get darker, they will take on a kind of richness, until they begin to acquire a bitterness. This is something you usually work to avoid, but in the right context a touch of bitterness can be desirable, as in a Vietnamese beef noodle soup. In such cases onions are fried (or roasted) until they are very brown to pretty much charred, which gives that beautiful shade of dark brown to the soup, pleasing to both the eye and the palate.

The thing that surprises me is how often this step is misunderstood in the home kitchen - either the cooking is not taken far enough or it is not done gently enough before the caramelisation is arrested by the introduction of liquid and other ingredients. I have witnessed chopped onions being placed into a pan along with the oil (often before the pan is hot), and once they've been cooking for barely five minutes, in goes the carrot, the celery, and very soon after the tomato paste, the mince and so on. It's a big mistake. The onions haven't had a chance to actually cook - they need to go from raw to cooked and soft before beginning their browning. If they're cooked too quickly, you'll have raw onion inside and brown outside, and never get the richness of flavour you're after.

I like to cook onions in generous amounts of oil and butter (a little bit of butter gives a nice flavour and the oil keeps it from burning) which have been warmed over a medium heat before the onions are added. This lets the onions sweat and sizzle, slowly turning soft and translucent before becoming a rich golden brown. This is the beginning of caramelisation, and it is precisely what I want. It is this reaction of the starches and sugars in the onions over a high heat which causes them to undergo their transformation.

I like to use a heavy-based pan for cooking onions because it gives an even, slow heat - as opposed to, say, a lightweight aluminium frying pan which tends to colour the onions too quickly. My favourite is a heavy copper saucepan - the copper distributes the heat beautifully. Start with a high heat, then, once the onions are added and have started to sweat, turn the heat to medium and keep stirring. They should be giving off steam and gently sizzling but not frying, which will make them brown too quickly. I always salt the onions once they've started softening - the salt draws liquid out into the pan and helps in the sautéing process. Salting early also gives a depth of flavour that can never be equalled by seasoning at the end of cooking alone. Add some salt in the beginning and adjust the seasoning when you've finished cooking.

To enjoy the magic of well-cooked onions on their own, make them the star of a dish and not just the bass line. French onion soup made with a rich beef stock and garnished with melted Gruyère on toast is the ne plus ultra at this time of year, while a flaky pastry filled with caramelised onions and goat's curd is also hard to beat. And then there's my all-time favourite onion dish, the Bavarian classic Käse Spätzle: small dumplings baked with caramelised onions and grated mountain cheese such as Gruyère.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Our June issue is on sale now
25.05.2017
What is rou jia mo?
28.04.2017
OzHarvest opens Australia’s first free supermarket for people in need
27.04.2017
Westmont Pickles, Belles Hot Chicken's pickle of choice
26.04.2017
Our Hot 100 issue is out now
24.04.2017
Does Newcastle have Australia’s best eclair?
21.04.2017
GT
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
Recipe collections

Looking for ways to make the most out of seasonal produce? Want to find a recipe perfect for a party? Or just after fresh ideas for dessert? Either way, our recipe collections have you covered.

See more
2017 Restaurant Guide

Our 2017 Restaurant Guide is online, covering over 400 restaurants Australia wide. Never wonder where to dine again.

See more

You might also like...

Blame the flame

Chef Lennox Hastie worked the coals at Spain’s famed Etxebar...

Prepared chestnuts

A fresh chestnut is a hard nut to crack, so we’re lucky, the...

Home-dried herbs

I’ve got a surplus of herbs in the garden; how do I get the ...

How to carve a jack-o'-lantern

We ask three American chefs to share their pumpkin carving s...

How to grow chillies

This is the time of year for vegetables that like it hot and...

How to grow garlic

Garlic has a long growing time, but low maintenance and fres...

How to grow broccoli

Broccoli is the most prolific member of the brassica family ...

How to pickle fruit and vegetables

I’m keen to get in on this pickling thing. Where’s a good pl...

How to plant broad beans

Plant broad beans now, when the weather is cool, and they’ll...

How to cook wagyu

I’ve been noticing restaurant-grade wagyu in good butcher’s ...

Classic Sunday roast ideas

What’s the key to nailing a really good classic Sunday roast...

Quick meals with chilli bean paste

This handy Chinese condiment is a sure-fire speedy way of ad...

What is Buddha’s hand?

This freakishly shaped fruit, aka fingered citron, hails fro...

Best meat for big parties

What can you suggest that’s low maintenance and high impact ...

Are any spring flowers worth eating?

With borage flowers and violets everywhere, it’s easy to for...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

×