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."

Taming the Wilderness

Heading to Canada’s far-flung places means a whole lot of adventure with life’s luxuries on the side.

Vegetarian canape recipes

If you're skipping meat at your next party, try these fast and fresh vegetarian canape recipes.

Lemon aid

It's hard to imagine Greek food without lemon. A squeeze of lemon over barbecued seafood and meats is an absolute must. Lemon sharpens dolmades and lifts grilled haloumi; a splash at the end of cooking transforms lentils or vegetables braised in olive oil. Then there are more traditional dishes such as avgolemono, a wonderful soup of chicken broth made rich, tangy and creamy with lemon juice and egg; or the salty, fishy flavours of taramasalata, a mayonnaise balanced by the sharpness of lemon. It's easy to imagine that the humble lemon introduced the first note of vital acidity into this and many other cuisines.

Leafing through a Greek cookbook recently, I found a recipe for fish braised with tomato, olive oil and wine. Its rusticity appealed to me and I brought home some fresh snapper to cook that night. I braised onions and garlic gently in olive oil, then added ripe tomatoes, fresh oregano and a splash of white wine. I laid the fish on top, covered the dish and simmered it slowly until it was cooked. I finished it with a splash of fruity olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. It was sublime, in the way cooking with just a handful of superb ingredients can be. The familiar flavours of the Mediterranean - olive oil, onion, garlic and tomato - blended beautifully with the fish. But it was the lemon juice that gave vitality to the dish and highlighted each individual flavour, even the oregano leaves.

Nature provides a perfect little package in a lemon. It is a hard, robust fruit that transports easily. It has a fragrant skin full of vitamin C; a thick, bitter pith essential for a gin and tonic; and tart, juicy flesh that awakens every ingredient with which it mingles. I love the way Pablo Neruda describes this fruit in Ode to the Lemon: "We opened two halves of a miracle, congealed acid trickled from the hemispheres of a star… the most intense liqueur of nature."

In Australia we have four key lemon varieties. The Eureka, Lisbon and Villa Franca are commercial varieties that look and taste fairly similar. The Meyer lemon is a hybrid between an orange and a lemon. It's much sweeter than the other types, and its golden skin makes it easy to distinguish. Lemon trees fruit throughout the year and lemons will keep for a long time in the fridge. Once they're cut, though, they should be used swiftly, before they oxidise. Lemon juice should be squeezed fresh and used at once; it never tastes quite as good when stored for any length of time. I remember, many years ago, discovering a bottle of lemon "juice" in the fridge of my share-house and wondering what could be more ridiculous.

Lemon juice makes a good counterpoint to flavours that are earthy, rich or dulled from long cooking. Like all citrus juices, lemon juice loses flavour when cooked, so if you're adding it to grilled or cooked meats or braised vegetables or beans, do so at the last minute so that its crisp acidity can be fully appreciated. Lemon juice will cause the chlorophyll in green vegetables and herbs to dull - another reason to add it at the very last minute.

A good way to use an abundance of lemons - if you have a lemon tree in your garden, say, or you find them cheap at a farmer's market - is to preserve them. Cut them lengthways into quarters without cutting all the way through to the base, pack them into jars with salt and perhaps some spices such as coriander seed, cinnamon and fresh bay leaves, then leave for several months. A good way to speed up the preserving process is to cut the lemons the night before and freeze them whole. This way they can be ready in three months. Jars of preserved lemons make a wonderful addition to the pantry. The lovely bright-yellow contents are a pleasure both to look at and to use - particularly in winter, when a little preserved lemon adds zing and brightness to those slow-cooked wintry casseroles.

Lemons have perhaps their sweetest ends in desserts. Whenever I am baking a cake or a tart, I add a little fragrant zest or a squirt of sour juice to leaven and lift all that butter, sugar and flour. I remember a fabulous Sussex Pond pudding that chef Andrew McConnell once made for a lazy Sunday lunch with friends. This is a gorgeous and decadent suet pudding filled with brown sugar and lemon, and it's a great example of how the vibrancy and acidity of the lemon complements the sweetness of sugar and the richness of fat. Lemons perfect so many desserts: lemon delicious pudding, lemon curd (only homemade will do), lemon gelato, pancakes with muscovado sugar and lemon juice, a butter cake flavoured with lemon zest, still warm from the oven, drenched in lemon syrup. Delicious.

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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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