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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.

Gingerbread


You'll need

700 gm (4 2/3 cups) plain flour 190 gm each light brown sugar and dark muscovado sugar 1 tbsp baking powder 1 tbsp ground ginger 1 tsp ground cloves 220 gm cold butter, cubed 180 gm golden syrup 2 eggs

Method

  • 01
  • Process half of each of the flour, sugars, baking powder and spices in a food processor to combine well. Add half the butter, process to combine, then add half the golden syrup and 1 egg and process until mixture comes together (3-4 minutes). Turn onto a work surface, knead until mixture comes together, wrap in plastic wrap and repeat with remaining ingredients. Refrigerate to rest for at least 1 hour.

Fruit-laden British favourites such as Christmas pudding, Christmas cake and mince pies still sweeten our festive season, but these traditional favourites often share the table with Italian panettone, a classic pavlova, a pile of sweet mangoes and a bowl of juicy cherries. 

The gingerbread house is one of our favourite festive foods, and while it may seem incongruous, we say if ever there's a reason to abandon logic and embrace whimsy and the child within, Christmas time is it.

The spiciness of gingerbread is very much a matter of taste - ours sits somewhere in between; adjust the spice levels to suit your palate. The gingerbread dough is simple and can be made up to a week in advance and refrigerated. Let it stand at room temperature to soften slightly before rolling it out on a lightly floured surface.

The easiest way to cut out the pieces of gingerbread is to make cardboard templates as a guide. We made three templates: the side walls measure 14cm high and 24cm long; the roof pieces are 10.5cm wide and 27cm long; and the end walls are 13cm wide and 14cm high, with a 6cm-high pitch for the roof. Cut out two of each piece from the dough (you may need to re-roll the scraps).

Once the gingerbread pieces are baked, cool them briefly on the oven trays, then cool them completely on wire racks, ensuring they're completely flat, and store them in airtight containers between layers of baking paper until required.

A couple of piping bags and cake decorating piping tubes are a worthy investment. Cake decorating piping tubes are smaller than pâtisserie piping tubes, are made of metal and come in all manner of shapes to produce different decorative finishes. We found the most versatile were a 2mm plain tube and a 4mm scalloped tube. You'll also need a board or flat platter to act as the foundations of your house.

The quantity of royal icing we've made may seem enormous, but how much you need will depend on the amount of decoration you have planned. You may find it easier to make it in two batches, and that way you can adjust the consistency according to how you intend to use the icing - a thicker consistency is better for bonding the structure together, while a slightly thinner version is more suited to decorative work. Adjust the icing with extra icing sugar or water as you go, and do a test run on a piece of baking paper before you start.

We found it easiest to do all the decorative piping on the gingerbread pieces before assembling them, but ensure the icing is completely dry before you begin construction. Decorate the pieces with whatever edible fripperies you like, pressing them into the icing while it's still wet. Don't get too carried away, though, or your house might collapse under their weight.

To keep the walls upright and perpendicular to the adjacent pieces during assembly, you'll need to use straight-sided glasses. Ensure the walls are steady, secure and thoroughly bonded before you affix the roof.

The finishing touch is to disguise the board, using fondant or more royal icing to cover it. And now your work is done - at this point your creation will last for about a week.


At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people
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At A Glance

  • Serves 8 people

Featured in

Dec 2011

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