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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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

Madeleines


You'll need

120 gm butter Finely grated rind of 2 lemons 3 eggs, at room temperature 100 gm white sugar 1 tbsp brown sugar 1 tbsp honey 175 gm plain flour, sieved 1 tsp baking powder   Lemon sugar 40 gm (¼ cup) pure icing sugar, sieved Finely grated rind of 1 lemon

Method

  • 01
  • Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat, add lemon rind, set aside until cooled to room temperature but still liquid (2-3 minutes).
  • 02
  • Whisk eggs, sugars, honey and a pinch of salt in an electric mixer until pale and fluffy (4-5 minutes). Sift over flour and baking powder and fold through.
  • 03
  • Fold in butter mixture a little at a time until just incorporated, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to rest (4 hours-overnight).
  • 04
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Divide mixture between two buttered 12-hole madeleine moulds (do not spread it out). Bake until golden and cooked through (8-10 minutes), then tap tray to release madeleines.
  • 05
  • Meanwhile, for lemon sugar, combine ingredients in a bowl. Serve madeleines warm dusted with lemon sugar.

The French are quite justifiably renowned for their pâtisserie skills, and their famed picture-perfect madeleines are a delicious manifestation. Fragrant with lemon rind (and sometimes a hint of orange-blossom water) and warm from the oven, these miniature sponge cakes melt in the mouth and make the ultimate morning or afternoon treat.

Madeleines have an impressively lengthy pedigree, having first appeared sometime in the 18th century. According to the bible of all things French and culinary,Larousse Gastronomique, their origin "has been attributed to Avice, chef to Talleyrand, the French statesman… Other authorities believe the recipe is much older and originated in the French town of Commercy, which was then a duchy under the rule of Stanislaw Leszczynski." Certainly stories abound of the duke's visit to the town, his enjoyment of a small cake made by a peasant named Madeleine, and its introduction, now named in Madeleine's honour, to Versailles society.

History aside, there's no debate as to the delectability of these golden cakes and it's a simple task to make them for yourself. The fixings of madeleines are standard pantry ingredients - butter, flour, sugar, eggs et al. The only specialist equipment needed is a madeleine tray to form the signature shell shape. The trays are readily available from cookware shops and come in two sizes: one makes little cakes the size of petits fours and the other makes larger madeleines about 8cm long.

Once your equipment is sorted, making the madeleines is easy. Ensure the melted butter is cool before adding it to the dry ingredients, and don't overwork the mixture. A good rest is essential (for the batter, not the cook) - for at least four hours, or overnight if possible. Make sure your madeleine moulds are well buttered - use soft butter and a pastry brush to be certain you've reached every crevice - and only fill the moulds to about two-thirds full. Tap the tray firmly on the bench to expel air bubbles and into the oven they go. In the time it takes to boil the kettle and make a pot of tea, your kitchen will be filled with the buttery, lemony scent of madeleines.

As soon as the madeleines are risen and golden it's time to turn them swiftly out of their moulds. Use the tip of a small knife to extract any stubborn specimens and either dust them in icing sugar, as is traditional, or toss them in lemon-scented sugar, as we've done here, and eat them warm. It would be only fitting to read the much-quoted passage from Proust's Remembrance of Things Past while you enjoy the moment. Or not.


At A Glance

  • Serves 24 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 24 people

Featured in

Jul 2011

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