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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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.

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.

Twelve-hour Indian-spiced lamb shoulder with saffron pilaf

As the name indicates, this dish requires planning ahead. That said, the long cooking time is offset by simple preparation, with melt-in-the-mouth textures and deep flavours the pay-offs. Start this recipe two days ahead to marinate and roast the lamb.

First look: Cirrus, Sydney

Ahead of opening Cirrus at Barangaroo, Brent Savage and Nick Hildebrandt talk us through their design inspirations and some of their favourite dishes.

Shirni Parwana's masala carrot cake

"I'd love to make Shirni Parwana's masala carrot cake for our next birthday party. Would you ask for the recipe?" Emily Glass, Glynde, SA 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.

Flourless apple, almond, raisin and ginger cake

Cornersmith Annandale opens

Marrickville favourite Cornersmith opens a combined cafe-corner store with an alfresco sensibility.

Philippe, Melbourne review

Chef extraordinaire Philippe Mouchel returns with a new, finely tuned bistro delivering food of remarkable finesse, writes Michael Harden.

Top tips for picking a Christmas ham

Top tips for picking hams from a professional fleischmeister.

Horst Schurger says that the best way to find a good ham is to start with a good butcher. "If he takes care of the meat, chances are he'll take care of the ham, too."

We spoke to the German-born fleischmeister and master butcher as he was judging the National PorkMark Ham Awards for Excellence in Sydney with a view to picking up some tips on what makes a good ham.

When you're tasting, he says, you're looking for a balanced cure, a natural meaty texture (wet or rubbery is a big no-no) and a good smoky flavour. If you have to choose without first tasting the ham (a practice no fleischmeister would condone), look for smooth, even skin and an even colouring. "And if the knuckle is sunken, it's overcooked, which means the whole ham is overcooked."

A buckled or uneven rind is another sign of dryness and if there's a cut ham on display, look for smooth, well-bound meat with no bubbles (they result from fermentation, an indicator of an inferior cure).

Size and age matter, too. Older pigs make for tougher eating, and younger pigs have less flavour, making hams around the 10kg-12kg mark the sweet spot.

The take-home message? Find a good butcher and don't be afraid to ask questions: whether you can taste the ham, where it comes from, the sex of the animal it was cut from (female is best), and what kind of wood was used to smoke it.

And finally, for the best possible results, opt for fresh Australian pork. Hams can be made in Australia using imported frozen meat; make sure the ham you buy has been made with Australian meat (look for the pink "Australian Pork" label for your guarantee). "It supports the Australian farmers," says Schurger, "and, of course, it's better quality."

To see the National PorkMark Ham Awards for Excellence winners and for more information, visit pork.com.au.

Looking for some Christmas ham recipes? Check out our Christmas recipe slideshow

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