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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. 

Secret Tuscany

A far cry from Tuscany’s familiar gently rolling hills, Monte Argentario’s appealing mix of mountain, ocean, island and lagoon makes it one of Italy’s hidden treasures, writes Emiko Davies.

Farro recipes

Farro can be used in almost any dish, from a robust salad to accompany hearty beer-glazed beef short ribs to a new take on risotto with mushrooms, leek and parmesan. Here are 14 ways with this versatile grain.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

Moon Park to open Paper Bird in Potts Point

No, it’s not a pop-up. The team behind Sydney’s Moon Park is back with an all-day east-Asian eatery.

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.

Chocolate and hazelnut babka


Take a buttery, brioche-like loaf, add a generous swirl of rich chocolate and what do you get? A little slice of heaven.

You'll need

180 ml lukewarm milk 14 gm (2 sachets) dry yeast 110 gm (½ cup) caster sugar 485 gm (3¼ cup) plain flour, sifted 2 eggs 1 egg yolk 210 gm softened butter 100 gm hazelnuts 100 gm dark chocolate (56% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped For brushing: eggwash For scattering: demerara sugar

Method

  • 01
  • Combine milk, yeast and 1 tbsp sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle and set aside in a warm place until foamy (5-7 minutes). Add 75gm flour, mix to combine, then add eggs, yolk, remaining sugar and a pinch of salt, mix to combine. While mixing on low speed, gradually add remaining flour until combined, then add 150gm butter, a little at a time, beating until dough is shiny and elastic (3-5 minutes; dough will be quite soft). Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in size (1-1½ hours).
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Place hazelnuts on a baking tray and roast until golden (5-7 minutes), cool slightly, then rub with a tea towel to remove skins and cool completely. Process in a food processor until coarse crumbs form, combine with remaining softened butter to form a paste and set aside at room temperature until required.
  • 03
  • Knock back dough and divide into two. Working with one half at a time, roll dough on a lightly floured surface into a 20cm x 32cm rectangle. With longest side facing you, spread over half the hazelnut paste, leaving a 4cm-border, then scatter over half the chocolate. Roll away from you to form a cylinder, brush ends with a little eggwash, then join ends to make a loop, twist into a figure of eight and place in a 9cm x 19cm loaf tin lined with baking paper. Set aside in a warm place until dough reaches the top of tin (1 hour). Repeat with remaining dough. Brush babkas with eggwash, scatter with demerara sugar and bake in centre of oven until golden and cooked through (35-40 minutes). Cool in tins for 10 minutes, then turn out, cool on a wire rack and serve warm or at room temperature. Babkas will keep, stored in an airtight container, for 3 days, and are best served warm or in toasted slices.

Note This recipe makes 2 loaves.


'Tis the season to be baking. As the weather cools, it suddenly makes sense for the kitchen to be cosied by the warmth of the oven and filled with the comforting smell of home-baked treats. And with Easter nearly upon us, it makes greater sense still.

Our European cousins have a long history of Easter baking, a veritable cornucopia of festive breads and cakes, often laden with dried fruit and heady with spices. Saffron-scented Russian kulich served with pashka, Greek tsoureki - golden, braided and studded with red-dyed, hard-boiled eggs, Italy's dove-shaped colomba Pasquale and, of course, the ever-popular hot cross bun; the spotlight's on baking. After the weeks of traditional Lenten fasting, the only logical antidote was plenty of butter, eggs and sugar. The eggs are especially relevant, being symbolic of fertility, new life and rebirth.

The Polish babka, in particular, took our fancy. Meaning "grandmother", this buttery loaf is traditionally baked in a fluted ring tin, thus its resemblance to an old woman's full skirt.

We've given our version a twist (quite literally) and baked it in a loaf tin. Chocolate isn't a traditional addition, but let's face it, it's now an inextricable part of Easter. And what's not to love about a brioche-like sweet stuffed with chocolate and hazelnuts? We especially love it toasted and buttered for breakfast. The crunchy, sugary crust yields to a tender crumb and when you get to the gooey chocolaty, nutty filling, it's clear this is much more than simple bread. Simply put, it's a slice of heaven.

At A Glance

  • Serves 6 - 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 - 8 people

Featured in

Apr 2010

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