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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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

A festival of cheese hits Sydney

Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

Choux pastry


It can seem daunting, but once you know the trick to choux you'll be able to create light, perfectly puffed pastry shells for savoury and sweet affairs.

You'll need

100 gm butter, chopped 150 gm (1 cup) plain flour 4 free-range eggs

Method

  • 01
  • Preheat oven to 220C. Combine butter and 1 cup of water in a large saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat, ensuring all butter melts.
  • 02
  • Add flour, beat vigorously with a wooden spoon to incorporate and continue beating until mixture leaves the sides of the pan (about 1 minute). Remove from heat and set aside for 10 minutes to cool.
  • 03
  • Add eggs to paste, one at a time, beating vigorously to combine after each addition before adding the next.
  • 04
  • To make profiteroles using choux pastry, spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 12mm-plain nozzle. Pipe into 3cm-diameter mounds onto a baking paper-lined oven tray. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 180C, prick pastries with a skewer or tip of a small knife and bake until golden and dry (about 5 minutes). Cool pastries on a wire rack to room temperature.

Note Pastries will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Alternatively, cooked choux pastry stores well in the freezer for up to 3 weeks.


Choux pastry takes a deep breath and holds on, creating a seemingly magical hollow shell that's just right to fill with custard or cream. While the French word choux refers to the cooked pastry's cabbage-like appearance, the perfect choux should be light, airy and crisp - which is not very like a cabbage!

Choux pastry contains a large amount of water in the paste or dough, which turns to steam when baked, puffing the pastry. The first stage of cooking is to create a paste by boiling together butter and water, to which flour is added. It's important the butter and water mixture be boiling rapidly when the flour is added so the starch cells in the flour burst open, allowing them to accept more water, which in turn creates more steam and consequently more puff. When the flour is added, the mixture needs to be vigorously stirred to incorporate the flour evenly and prevent lumps.

Once you have the paste at this lump-free stage, you're home-free. Now the paste needs to cool slightly before adding the eggs, which must be stirred in one at a time. A little perseverance needs to be observed at this stage because you'll find at first the egg doesn't want to co-operate, sloshing around the pastry before it surrenders and combines to give the pastry a glossy sheen. For large quantities, the eggs may be added - again, one at a time - and combined in an electric mixer.

Some recipes advocate the use of sugar in a choux paste if it's to be used with a sweet filling, but this can lead to the pastry browning too quickly. Allowing the pastry to be browned by the flour's natural sugars means they can be cooked longer, which dries out the centre. If it's not properly dried out, choux pastry will soften and become soggy in a matter of hours.

A piping bag is generally used to distribute and shape the choux paste onto a baking tray, but if you find this fiddly and don't require a specific shape, it may be spooned onto the trays. This gives a more rustic shape, which can look beautiful for cream puffs, especially when they're dusted with icing sugar. Ignore the temptation to open the oven door for a peek while you're baking. It's hard to resist, especially the first time when you can't believe the transformation from dense, sticky paste to light fluffy puff, but the loss of internal steam will prevent your choux pastries from becoming all they could be.

When your puffs are nearly done, cut them open or prick them with a skewer and return them briefly to the oven. This allows the puffs to dry out and stay crisp in storage. When cooled, the choux puffs should be stored in an airtight container. If you find the puffs have softened in storage, they can be crisped up in the oven before filling and serving.

Choux can be used for savoury snacks: gougères are choux pastry that have Gruyère cheese incorporated into the paste, and they make great canapés when split and filled like a sandwich. No sweet tooth can resist choux in desserts: profiteroles filled with custard, dipped in toffee and formed into a tower become a celebratory croquembouche; when piped into a circle, topped with flaked almonds, then filled with raspberries and Chantilly cream, it's Paris-Brest. Best of all, the ultimate crowd pleaser, the chocolate éclair.


At A Glance

  • Serves 30 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 30 people

Featured in

Apr 2008

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