Healthy Eating

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Aløft

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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Brae

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.

Grilled apricot salad with jamon and Manchego

Here we've scorched apricots on the grill and served them with torn jamon, shaved Manchego and peppery rocket leaves. Think of it as a twist on the good old melon-prosciutto routine. The mixture would also be great served on charred sourdough.

Discovering Macedonia

Like its oft-disputed name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia defies simple definition but its rich diversity extends from the dinner table to the welcoming locals, writes Richard Cooke.

2017 Australian Hotel Awards: The Finalists

This year's finalists across 11 different categories include established and new hotels, all with particular areas of excellence. Stay tuned to find out which hotels will take the top spots when they're announced at a ceremony at QT Melbourne on Wednesday 24 May, and published in our 2017 Australian Hotel Guide, on sale Thursday 25 May.

Pear dartois


When choosing pears for poaching, those in between hard and ripe are best. Ripe fruit will become soft and squishy when poached, whereas unripe fruit will stay hard and discolour. I always buy slightly underripe green pears and let them ripen for several days before poaching. Frangipane is a pastry chef's staple. Versatile and simple, traditional frangipane owes its distinct flavour to almonds ground with sugar. If you want to flavour up your frangipane, you can easily replace some of the almond with other types of nuts such as pistachios and hazelnuts. I use it as a filling in my fruit tartlets and it can also be baked as a shallow cake.

You'll need

500 gm caster sugar 3 small, just-ripe pears 450 gm puff pastry For dusting: plain flour 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp milk and a pinch of salt, for eggwash For dusting: pure icing sugar   Frangipane 125 gm almond meal 125 gm pure icing sugar 125 gm butter, softened 2 whole eggs 1 egg yolk 25 gm (2 tbsp) plain flour, sifted

Method

  • 01
  • Place sugar and 1 litre water in a wide saucepan that will fit the fruit snugly and bring to the boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • 02
  • Peel pears from stalk downwards, then cut in half lengthways and remove seeds with a melon scoop. Add pears to the simmering syrup and increase the heat. Cover the surface directly with a round of baking paper, then place a plate on top to ensure the fruit stays submerged. Bring syrup to the boil, then reduce the heat to low so the syrup is just simmering and gently poach the pears until you can easily pierce the flesh with the tip of a knife (10-15 minutes). Cool pears in syrup (1 hour), covered with baking paper, then refrigerate in the syrup until needed. The pears will keep submerged in syrup for a week.
  • 03
  • For frangipane, pulverise almond meal in a food processor, then sieve. Combine with the icing sugar and set aside. Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and work the butter until smooth. Add the almond mixture and continue beating until very pale and fluffy. Add eggs and yolk, then flour and mix to combine. Makes 500gm. (You'll only need 150gm; remainder can be refrigerated for another use.)
  • 04
  • Roll 200gm puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a 30cm x 13cm rectangle. Roll this around the rolling pin, then unroll it onto an oven tray lightly sprayed with cold water and prick the pastry with a fork. Using a spoon, spread 150gm frangipane along the length of the pastry, leaving a 2cm border on either side. Brush pastry borders with eggwash. Pat pear halves dry and arrange on the frangipane in alternating directions so they fit snugly head to toe.
  • 05
  • Roll remaining pastry into a 30cm x 16cm rectangle. Fold the pastry in half lengthways without applying pressure. Make incisions down the length of the pastry at roughly 4mm intervals with the heel of a chef's knife, leaving a 2cm strip intact on the two outside edges. Unfold the pastry into its original shape. Drape it over the rolling pin and unroll it onto the pears to cover. Lightly press the edges together with your fingertips and refrigerate the dartois for 30 minutes.
  • 06
  • Preheat oven to 200C. Trim off about 3mm pastry along the length of the rectangle. Delicately and sparingly brush the top of the pastry with eggwash. Liberally brush the sides with more eggwash. With the tip of a small, sharp knife, make light, diagonal incisions in the borders, then along the edges and bake for 25 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 220C, dust the dartois with icing sugar and return it to the oven for 1-2 minutes, or place it under a hot grill for a few seconds, until beautifully glazed. Serve the dartois warm cut widthways into portions.

At A Glance

  • Serves 4 - 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 4 - 6 people

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