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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We asked our favourite confectioners and cafe owners from around the country for their hottest tips.
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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.
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"This cake is the new religion at Flour and Stone, and never fails to send those worshipping it into a dream of billowy clouds," says Ingram. "It has come to many parties, including one where its name was changed to reflect the euphoric place it transports you to."
Take the hard graft out of pounding your own spice mix and pick up a prepared paste to make light work of a flavour-packed Thai meal.
Curry pastes are a great addition to any pantry - they can be
used in many ways, from stir-fries to soups. We find, however, that
few supermarket brand pastes match a freshly pounded version and a
trip to an Asian grocer or to Thaitown is the only way to buy a
good alternative. Stock up with a few and you'll be ready to whip
up a curry at a moment's notice.
For a Thai curry, we're big fans of the Maesri and Mae Ploy brands (Maesri pastes come in 114gm tins that are perfect for single use), plus the choices in curry style are many, so experiment. We love massaman, red, green, prik khing, Penang and the extra-hot kaeng par pastes. The result is a curry with authentic flavour without the effort and time of sourcing the many ingredients they entail or the time and elbow grease of pounding your own ingredients.
Spicy prawn and coconut soup with vermicelli
Heat 1 tbsp peanut oil in a large saucepan over high heat, add 115gm kaeng par curry paste and stir until fragrant (1 minute), then add 670ml coconut milk and 500ml chicken stock, and bring to a simmer. Season with raw coconut sugar and fish sauce, then add 150gm sugar snap peas and 115gm baby corn. Bring to the boil and add 18 peeled medium-sized raw prawns and simmer until just cooked (2 minutes). Meanwhile, place 250gm vermicelli in a bowl, pour boiling water over and stand for 5 minutes. Drain and repeat. Drain and divide vermicelli among 4 bowls, top with soup and garnish with bean sprouts, coriander, julienned spring onion, and Vietnamese mint and serve with limes and fish sauce to taste.
Prik khing duck stir-fry
Heat 1 tbsp peanut oil in a wok over high heat, add 2 thinly sliced duck breasts (400gm) in batches and stir until golden (1-2 minutes), then set aside. Add 175gm broccolini and 4 spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths, and stir-fry until just tender. Return duck to wok, add 1 tbsp prik khing curry paste and stir-fry until fragrant (1 minute). Add 1 tbsp raw coconut sugar, 1 tbsp fish sauce (or to taste) and 1 cup Thai basil and stir-fry until basil wilts (1-2 minutes). Serve with steamed rice and lime wedges on the side.
Serves 8 as an appetiser
Pulse 250gm coarsely chopped skinless blue-eye trevalla fillet in a food processor until minced. Transfer to a chilled bowl with 65gm red curry paste, 40gm rice flour, 30ml fish sauce, 2 tsp crushed light palm sugar, 1 tsp baking powder, 5 julienned kaffir lime leaves, 4 thinly sliced snake beans and 1 small lightly beaten egg and mix well. Heat 400ml peanut oil in a wok over high heat, then add tablespoonfuls of mixture and turn occasionally until golden and just cooked through (2-3 minutes). Drain on paper towels and serve with sweet chilli sauce.
Pork and eggplant curry
Heat 1 tbsp peanut oil in a wok until smoking, add 1 thinly sliced pork fillet (about 300gm) and stir until just scorched (1-2 minutes). Add 80gm Penang curry paste, 6 halved apple eggplant and 1 cup pea eggplant and stir until fragrant (1-2 minutes), then add 550ml coconut milk and 7 torn kaffir lime leaves and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer until eggplant is tender (3-5 minutes), then season to taste with 20gm crushed light palm sugar and 2 tbsp fish sauce. Scatter with Thai basil and serve with steamed jasmine rice and lime wedges to the side.
+ Prepared curries tend to be concentrated in flavour with a high salt content from the addition of fermented shrimp paste, so be wary of adding further seasoning. Balance flavour at the end of cooking with lime juice and palm sugar.
+ Check labels on pastes - some have directions for best use. They have a very long shelf life so stock up with a few.
+ Curry pastes should be roasted in oil to release and toast the flavours. If unsure of your spice tolerance, roast the paste, set aside half and taste the curry when cooked; add more paste if you want a stronger flavour.
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