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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.

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Stokehouse: Candied walnuts, fried spiced cauliflower, currants and pine nuts


You'll need

60 ml (¼ cup) maple syrup For deep-frying: canola oil 300 gm small cauliflower florets (about ¼) 50 gm toasted pine nuts For drizzling: extra-virgin olive oil   Wine-soaked currants 100 ml each red wine and tawny 1 golden shallot, thinly sliced 2 thyme sprigs 80 gm currants   Aïoli 2 egg yolks 2 roasted garlic cloves (see note) 1 tsp lemon juice ½ tsp Dijon mustard 160 ml (⅔ cup) olive oil   Cauliflower batter 100 gm (⅔ cup) plain flour 10 gm (just over 1 tbsp) each ground cumin and ground coriander 2 tsp ground nutmeg 1 tsp cayenne pepper 280 ml soda water

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 120C. Combine walnuts and maple syrup in a bowl, stir to coat, spread on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake until golden and crisp (1 hour).
  • 02
  • Meanwhile, for wine-soaked currants, bring wine, tawny, shallot and thyme to the boil in a saucepan. Place currants in a heatproof bowl, add red wine mixture and stand until currants soften (30 minutes). Strain (discard liquid and thyme sprigs) and cool completely.
  • 03
  • Meanwhile, for aïoli, whisk yolks, roasted garlic, lemon juice and mustard in a bowl. Whisking continuously, add oil, starting a drop at a time to prevent splitting, then gradually in a thin, steady stream, until incorporated. Season to taste and set aside.
  • 04
  • For cauliflower batter, mix dry ingredients in a bowl, then add enough soda water to form a light batter.
  • 05
  • Preheat oil in a deep saucepan or deep-fryer to 160C. Dip cauliflower florets into batter and deep-fry in batches, turning occasionally, until golden (4-5 minutes; be careful as hot oil will spit). Drain briefly on absorbent paper, then transfer to a serving bowl, scatter with wine-soaked currants, candied walnuts and pine nuts, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and serve with aïoli.
Note To roast garlic, preheat oven to 200C, wrap a head of garlic tightly in foil and roast until very soft (40 minutes). When cool enough to handle, squeeze garlic from skin.

This recipe is from the February 2012 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Drink Suggestion

Sánchez Romate "Regente" Palo Cortado.

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