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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.

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Kick off winter with a week of cheese tasting.

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.

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.

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.

Italian meringue


Soft yet substantial, this magical combination of hot sugar syrup and eggwhites can be used for dessert bases as well as frostings, writes Lisa Featherby. 

Try this recipe with our meringue recipes.

You'll need

200 gm caster sugar 4 eggwhites Pinch of cream of tartar

Method

  • 01
  • Combine sugar and 200ml water in a small pan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until sugar dissolves.
  • 02
  • Reduce heat to medium and brush down sides of pan with a clean, wet pastry brush to remove sugar crystals.
  • 03
  • Cook until syrup reaches 115C (soft ball stage) on a thermometer (10-15 minutes).
  • 04
  • Start whisking eggwhites with cream of tartar in the clean, grease-free bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  • 05
  • Meanwhile, bring sugar syrup to 121C (hard ball stage). Increase speed to high and with motor running, gradually pour syrup into meringue. Beat at medium speed until cooled to room temperature and meringue is thick and glossy (15-20 minutes).

Note  This recipe makes about 4 cups.


I've just got to say it, I'm a little over foam.

I'm a little over soil. And dust too for that matter. But one foam I don't think I'll ever get over is meringue. It's more than a foam really… it's foam with substance, and not just hot air with the vague taste of something that - poof - magically isn't there.

At its most basic, meringue is eggwhite and sugar whisked together. French meringue is baked from a raw form; Swiss meringue is a mixture of beaten eggwhite and caster sugar cooked over a bain-marie of simmering water; and the most stable, Italian meringue, is hardly ever used for baking as it's already cooked completely by the addition of very hot sugar syrup.

Italian meringue is the business. Its glossy, soft peaks make it perfect for frostings - bombe Alaska and lemon meringue pie are two desserts that spring to mind. The soft but pliable consistency can be piped through a star nozzle to create a swirly effect or it can be spooned over and peaked loosely with a spoon. After that, leave it silky snow white or toast it with a blowtorch for a baked look that highlights its textured surface.

Not only suited to frosting, Italian meringue has a versatility that allows it to be used as the base for fillings and frozen desserts, the most common being cassata gelato, where a mixture of Italian meringue and cream is used as a substitute for the ricotta filling in the legendary Sicilian cake. Or it's bound with extra cream and fruit purée to make a semifreddo sweet' like the nougat glacé we've done here.

There's a few key tips to making Italian meringue. First of all, you really need an electric mixer on hand. Although it's possible for one person to pour the boiling syrup and another to whisk by hand, the likelihood of getting a good result (and without a burn) is little to none, unless you've got arms like Popeye and the stamina of the Duracell bunny.

Also, use a grease-free bowl for whisking. Eggwhite and fat don't mix, and that includes all traces of fatty egg yolk. Use eggwhites that are a day or two old as these whisk more readily, more air can be incorporated and there's less chance of the foam collapsing after being whisked. A pinch of cream of tartar helps, too. It acts as a stabiliser and prevents the meringue from collapsing and becoming overcoagulated. Humidity will also affect the end product, but is less of a concern with Italian meringue, meaning you can make it all-year round. Yippee.

As for the sugar syrup, always make sure your sugar and saucepan are clean, then it's a game of timing. Cook the syrup to 115C, then start whisking the eggwhites to a soft peak about eight times the original volume in air (keep your syrup cooking in the meantime). This is the stage where a peak will hold the shape of a bird's beak. Don't overbeat the eggwhites. By this stage, the syrup should have reached 121C - also known as the hard ball stage. Carefully pour the syrup into the meringue and, while still whisking, watch as the foam erupts and transforms itself into something shiny, soil-free and magical. Poof!


At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 6 people

Featured in

Sep 2008

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