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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Flour and Stone Recipes

Baker extraordinaire Nadine Ingram of Sydney's Flour and Stone cooks up a sweet storm for Easter, including the much loved bakery's greatest hit.

Savoury tarts

Will your next baking project be a flaky puff pastry with pumpkin, goat's curd and thyme, or a classic bacon and Stilton tart? As autumn settles in, we're ticking these off one by one.

New cruises 2017

Cue the Champagne.

1980s recipes

Australia saw some bold moves in the ’80s, and we’re not just talking hairstyles. Greater cultural references started peppering the menus of our restaurants, and home-grown ingredients won a new appreciation. The dining scene was coming of age and a new band of pioneers led the charge.

Fast autumn dinners

Autumn weather signals the arrival of soups, broths, roasts and more hearty meals.

Roti canai

Here, we've made the dough in a food processor, but it's really quick and simple to do by hand as well. If the dough seems a little too wet just add a little more flour.

Melbournes finest meet Worlds Best

Leading chefs descend on Melbourne in April for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. We asked local hospitality folk who they’d abduct for the day and where they’d take them to show off their city. There may be coffee, there may be culture, but in the end it’s cocktails.

Apple desserts

Whether baked into a bubbling crumble, caramelised in a puff-pastry tart or served in an all-American pie, apples are a classic filling for fruity desserts. Here are the recipes we keep coming back to.

How to grow your own basil

For Mat Pember life is not complete without basil, making this heat-loving herb a highlight of summer.

Life is often defined and then separated by moments, both good and bad. There are pivotal events that divide your life, be they work, former partners, even flashy new cars, and anyone with children could easily describe their existence as pre-kids and post-kids. I find that each year there's a seasonal sliding door that can throw life into turmoil: the time when there is basil and the time when there is not.

As a gardener, I've broadened my horizons beyond the tomato and basil man I used to be.

But successfully growing these plants continues to have a profound impact on me - life seems brighter, and I'm not discounting the impact my culture has here, too, being an Italian-Australian.

Basil is one of those charismatic plants that changes a garden for the better. Each year, around February or March, my bond with sweet basil peaks as we push oversized leaves into the VB bottles we've so lovingly prepared for storing pasta sauce. But it's not all about sweet basil.

I've come to love others, such as the red-leafed Sapphire or almost bonsai-style Greek - even the anise-flavoured Thai variety. They all find a place in my garden.

Basil can be planted any time from late spring, to late summer, but come January the heat is on and that's prime time for basil. It's also late in the growing season, so it's preferable to grow the herb from seedlings and jump a step closer to harvest, but growing it from seed also works fine.

When choosing where to plant basil, snuggle it up to tomato plants if you're growing them, too. Working in small spaces, we don't often promote companion planting, but this is a notable exception. While we often keep tomatoes apart from most other spring/summer crops, basil is its close companion - each is happier in the other's company. Sow basil seeds about 20cm from your tomatoes. Place two seeds in each hole at a depth of one centimetre - giving just enough cover to keep the birds and wind from dislodging them - and 10 centimetres apart, then keep them well watered.

Given the time of the year, it's likely to be hot, and once the seeds germinate (roughly a week after they've been sowed) they'll need daily watering for the first month. Getting the plants and their delicate young leaves through the early phase is a challenge, but once established, they're known to survive and even thrive with a little tough love.

After a month, basil will have found its feet and won't mind a bit of picking to kickstart further growth. Pinch off the top portion of each stem just above the next leaf junction. At this stage a little less water won't be as harmful as in the early stages. This doesn't mean it's okay to leave town for an extended holiday, but if the daily routine slips, basil will hang in there. In saying that, an irrigation system - drip or wicking (see below) - is advisable, and mulch two to three centimetres deep with nitrogen-rich sugarcane, lucerne or pea straw to provide extra food.

When harvesting basil, don't pull off random leaves or attack it with scissors; again, take off sprigs down to the next leaf junction to encourage growth, meaning more leaves over the plant's lifetime.

As the season progresses, the plants will begin to produce seed-heads, but before you make the obligatory end-of-season pesto, saving the seeds for the next season, pinch the seed-heads off to refocus he plants' energy on more foliage.

Once the plants' colour dulls and the seed-heads start emerging faster, however, it's time to let go. Basil is over for another season and life loses that little bit of sheen.

Tip of the month: wicking beds
By some fluke you have a patch full of edible plants on the cusp of delivering their bounty. It's hot, you're tired and about to go on a long-anticipated holiday. Your neighbours are fed-up with pulling your garden through the month yet again, and instead use an extension hose from your tap to water their garden. It's payback time.

The solution
This scenario can easily be avoided by growing your plants in a wicking bed. A wicking bed is essentially self-watering; using a reservoir of water below to "wick" moisture through the soil to be used by the plants as they require it. Ever dipped the tip of a tissue in a glass of water? The way the moisture is drawn through the tissue is called capillary attraction and the same happens with your soil in this system.

The theory
Some might think of wicking beds as the inherently lazy person's style of gardening, but it's the smartest system for busy people who often don't have the time to water their gardens. It's also the most water-efficient.

What to plant
Cool/mountainous
Artichoke seedling
Asparagus seedling
Basil seedling
Beans seedling
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Strawberry seedling
Zucchini seedling

Temperate
Artichoke seedling
Asparagus seedling
Basil seedling
Beans seedling
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Strawberry seedling
Zucchini seedling

Sub tropical
Basil seedling
Beans seedling
Beetroot seed
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Carrot seed
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs seedling
Lettuce seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Pumpkin seedling
Silverbeet seedling
Spring onion seedling
Strawberry seedling
Squash seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Zucchini seedling

Tropical
Basil seedling
Beans seedling
Bok Choi/Pak Choi seedling
Capsicum seedling
Chilli seedling
Cucumber seedling
Eggplant seedling
Herbs seedling
Lettuce seedling
Pumpkin seedling
Rocket seedling
Radish seed
Silverbeet seedling
Spring onion seedling
Squash seedling
Strawberry seedling
Sweet corn seedling
Tomato seedling
Zucchini seedling

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