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Recipes by Christine Manfield
21.02.2017

As the '90s dawned, darling chefs were pushing the boundaries of cooking in this country. A young Christine Manfield, just starting out at this heady time, soon became part of the generation that redefined modern Australian cuisine. She shares some of her timeless signatures from the era.

Cirrus, Sydney review
20.02.2017

Cirrus moves the Bentley team down to the water and into more lighthearted territory without sacrificing polish, writes Pat Nourse.

How to grow rocket
20.02.2017

A vegetable patch without rocket lacks a great staple, according to Mat Pember. The perennial performer is a leaf for all seasons.

50BestTalks brings World’s best chefs to Sydney and Melbourne
16.02.2017

Massimo Bottura and more are coming to the Sydney Opera House.

Toby Wilson, Sean McManus and Jon Kennedy to open Bad Hombres
16.02.2017

Expect Mexican-Asian flavours and an all-natural wine list from two of Sydney’s edgier operators.

Local Knowledge: Moscow
16.02.2017

Director of Shakespeare theatre company Cheek by Jowl Declan Donnellan walks us through the essential sights and his favourite cafes and restaurants of his hometown.

On the Pass: Danielle Rensonnet
16.02.2017

Bellota chef Danielle Rensonnet talks us through the current menu at the restaurant and her favourite summer ingredients.

Melbourne's Tomato Festival is back in 2017
15.02.2017

Returning for another year, Melbourne’s Tomato Festival is ripe with cooking demonstrations, talks, and produce stalls dedicated to plump produce.

January: Honey-baked nectarines with orange-blossom and labne


You'll need

500 gm thick natural yoghurt 25 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped 6 ripe but firm nectarines, halved 100 gm honey 5 cardamom pods, bruised 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped ½ orange, thinly peeled rind only 1 orange, juice only 2 tsp orange-blossom water

Method

  • 01
  • Spoon yoghurt into a muslin-lined sieve placed over a deep bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight to drain.
  • 02
  • Preheat oven to 180C. Dot butter over the base of a baking dish large enough to hold nectarines snugly in a single layer. Place nectarines cut-side up in dish, drizzle with honey, scatter over cardamom, vanilla bean and seeds and orange rind. Pour over orange juice, bake until tender and golden (15-20 minutes). Sprinkle over orange-blossom water and serve warm or chilled with a dollop of labne.
Note You'll need to begin this recipe a day ahead.

This recipe is from the January 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.

Watermelon
I could spend the entire summer eating just fruit because it’s all I want on a hot, lazy day, and there’s such a great selection of wonderful produce at its peak. In January, my fridge is packed with a big wedge of watermelon, grapes, mangoes, nectarines, apricots and berries. I bought my first wedge of the season – which was seedless – back in late November on an unseasonably hot day, and I was delighted to find it was completely delicious, full of watermelon sweetness and flavour.

I used to think seedless varieties skimped a bit on flavour, but growers have obviously made improvements in recent years, which is excellent because watermelon pips were the only downside to this happy fruit. Now it is also possible to buy the Champagne melon, which has pretty much the same flavour as the traditional pink watermelon but has yellow flesh.

I find eating a big slice of chilled watermelon such a refreshing and simple pleasure. It’s also great in desserts and cocktails, such as watermelon juice with white rum, gin and mint, muddled and served with ice. I learnt a fabulous dessert from Greg Malouf where you cut neat little wedges of watermelon, pile them on the plate, drizzle them generously with a cardamom, lime and rosewater syrup and serve the lot with homemade cherry ice-cream – it’s a great way to finish a dinner party because it’s pretty as well as delicate and beautiful to eat.

It’s difficult to advise on selecting watermelon, because it’s now mostly sold already cut, and even full melons are not very revealing of their qualities. A whole melon should feel heavy for its size and have no cracks or blemishes on the outside. For the best and sweetest tasting watermelons, buy half or quarter pieces in the height of the season from a good source, and avoid those small poly-styrene trays of pre-cut fruit that have been refrigerated for who knows how long.

Mulberries
I have very fond memories of Christmases spent with a family in Castlemaine, Victoria, who had a huge mulberry tree in their backyard. I loved to stand under its lush green foliage on a hot summer’s morning eating mulberries that were ripe and soft. When the mulberries were ready to eat, they would turn from pale red to a deep blood purple, and the ground would be splattered with dark mulberry juice.

A mature mulberry will grow into a handsome gnarly tree with bright green heart-shaped leaves. The tree is quite beautiful and I have vowed to grow one as soon as I own a backyard big enough. Mulberries are rarely seen on the market because of their delicate nature – when they’re ripe they are squishy, full of juice, won’t last long and don’t travel well. They taste best ripened on the tree and won’t ripen further once picked. So hopefully you know someone with a tree, then you can enjoy mulberries stirred through homemade vanilla ice-cream (my favourite), in jam on toast, or on a custard tart made with buttery sweet pastry. They are also delicious baked in a simple lemon tea cake or made into a syrup to have chilled over ice water.

There are three different kinds of mulberry – white, red and black, the black being far the superior tasting of the three and the most commonly planted here. If you do find them at the market, look for fruit that is a deep shade of purple and is not bruised or seeping juice and eat them straight away.

Nectarines
One of the great pleasures of an Australian summer is the abundance of stone fruit. Every market, grocer and supermarket in December and January has its shelves piled with peaches, apricots and nectarines, and for me, their fruity scent is the harbinger of summer.

Nectarines, which are actually smooth-skinned peaches, are a highlight in January. There are the common yellow nectarines and then the more delicate and very pretty white nectarines, which I am pleased we are seeing more of lately. Enjoy them


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Additional Notes

ALSO IN SEASON

FRUIT
Apricots, bananas, berries, cherries, currants, lemons, lychees, mangoes, passionfruit, pineapples, plums, rockmelons, tamarillos.

VEGETABLES
Avocados, beans, capsicum, celery, chokoes, cucumbers, eggplant, lettuce, okra, onions, peas, radishes, squash, tomatoes, zucchini.

SEAFOOD
Balmain bugs, goldband snapper, mud crab, Sydney rock oysters.

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