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Autumn recipes

Comfort food and fun Easter eats feature in our collection of autumn recipes, featuring everything from an Italian Easter tart to carrot doughnuts with cream cheese glaze and brown sugar crumb and braised lamb with Jerusalem artichokes, carrots and cumin to breakfast curry with roti and poached egg.

Top 10 Sydney Restaurants 2014

Looking for the best restaurants in Sydney? Here are the top ten Sydney restaurants from our 2014 Australian Restaurant Guide.

Top 10 Melbourne Restaurants 2014

Looking for the best restaurants in Melbourne? Here's our top ten from our 2014 Australian Restaurant Guide.

Italian Easter tart

"This is a traditional tart eaten in Naples at Easter," says Ingram. "The legend goes that a mermaid called Parthenope in the Gulf of Napoli would sing to celebrate the arrival of spring each year. One year, to say thank you, the Neapolitans offered her gifts of ricotta, flour, eggs, wheat, perfumed orange flowers and spices. She took them to her kingdom under the sea, where the gods made them into a cake. I love to add nibs of chocolate to Parthenope cake because I think it marries nicely with the candied orange and sultanas, but, really, do you need an excuse to add chocolate to anything?" Start this recipe a day ahead to prepare the pastry and soak the sultanas.

Easter Baking Recipes

Dust off your mixing spoon, man your oven and have your eggs at the ready as we present some of our all-time favourite Easter baking recipes, from praline bread pudding to those all-important hot cross buns.

Apple and cinnamon hot cross buns

The mix of candied apple and dried apple combined with a sticky cinnamon glaze provides a new twist on an old favourite. These buns are equally good served warm on the day of baking, or several days later, toasted, with lashings of butter.

Momofuku's steamed buns

Sydney's Best Restaurants 2015

Looking for the best restaurants in Sydney? Here are our favourites from our 2015 Australian Restaurant Guide.

The best of times

I was having a potentially reflective time last week, doing a short stint in hospital having my battery changed. Hospital is naturally a place for reflection of happier times past.

My best times have been spent on a Hebridean island off the coast of Scotland. Confusingly, these are meant to be summer holidays, but the wind blows and it can rain for a month at a stretch. But when the sun appears, it is heaven. I've got a Cat in the Hat Dictionary with an inscription by my mum saying "Happy 4th birthday" and the name of the island, so we must have been going for 44 years. But don't think this gives me any kudos there. Shona at the co-op barely betrays a glimmer of recognition that we danced passionately at the céilidh some years ago. Nan the butcher no longer starts talking Gaelic when you walk into his shop.

It's not a big island - about 800 people, swelling to twice that number in summer. The island's size means that everything is possible, in good time. The islanders are crofters who farm small holdings, most of which have lobster pots. A huge truck full of saltwater tanks arrives to take the lobsters to Spain, and if you ask a crofter what they think of lobster, they'll reply, "Aye, too expensive. Rum old do!" On top of this, everyone wears several hats: you might see the phone mechanic in that guise in the morning, but by lunch he'll be picking up his lobster pots, and the same night he'll be pulling pints at the Lodge Hotel. It's a very rounded life.

I always have my birthday on the island. Let me give you a small taste of my heaven. Breakfast is devilled kidneys on toast. The lamb, having eaten wild thyme and been blown about by the salty wind, is self-seasoned. The kidneys, shining like jewels, are delicious. We toss them in a spot of flour seasoned with English mustard powder and cayenne pepper, pop them in a pan with a knob of butter, cook them for a few moments on each side, add a splash of Worcestershire sauce and chicken stock, and let the pan contents get to know each other. Removing the kidneys onto buttered toasts, we add a little more butter to the pan, shoggle until emulsified, then pour it over the kidneys. One or two Black Velvets - half Champagne, half Guinness - and you're ready to face whatever the day might bring.

A fortifying and uplifting breakfast.

Then it's on to the issue of which beach to go to for lunch. "Not that one. Last time we went there were two other people on it." Apart from the requirement that no one else be there, driftwood is a deciding factor in choosing your beach. Since fish boxes are no longer made of wood, driftwood gets more and more scarce. It's dismal to pack your picnic then discover you've got no fuel to cook it over. It's almost as bad as forgetting the corkscrew.

Most of our picnic equipment is old plastic that has been misshapen in a Gaudì-like fashion by straying too close to driftwood fires. A bap is the standard delivery vehicle for lunch. Ox tongue, mackerel, leg of lamb, fillet of beef, lobster, sausages - all need lubrication, so a battery of condiments is essential. The oatcake-and-cheese moment is about as good as it gets, revitalising your thirst for red wine.

The sea is a bit like a perfect gin martini: painfully cold. But this is ideal for the lobsters and crabs, and the freshly caught mackerel grilled on the barbecue. The island itself is covered in machair, a splendid mixture of wild thyme, orchids and grass growing in a thin green layer on sand. The rocks and houses pop out of the machair like mushrooms. It's satisfactorily bouncy and therefore makes for a very soft landing after too many drams. I fear I am talking from experience.

Malt whisky of the peaty Islay nature complements the salty wind, and when it's taken with shortbread, you commence upon an almost unbreakable cycle: a little steadying shortbread, as we all know, puts great demand on your spittle levels; one takes another wee dram, followed by another little bite of steadying shortbread, and on and on and on. There goes the afternoon.

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