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Top 35 recipes of 2016

2016 was all about slow-roasting, fresh pasta and comfort food. These are the recipes you clicked on most this year, counting back to number one.

Christmas vegetarian recipes

The versatility of vegetarian dishes means they can be served alongside meat and seafood, or enjoyed simply as they are. With Christmas just around the corner, we’ve put together some of our favourite vegetarian recipes to appease both herbivores and carnivores alike.

Decadent chocolate dessert recipes for Christmas

13 of our most decadent chocolate recipes to indulge guests with this Christmas.

Best travel destinations in 2017

We're thinking big for travelling in 2017 - and so should you. Will we see you sunrise at Java's 9th-century Borobudur Buddhist temple, across the table at Reykjavik's newest restaurants or swimming side-by-side with humpback whales off Western Australia's coast?

Chilled recipes for summer

When the mercury is rising, step away from the oven. These recipes are either raw, chilled or frozen and will cool you down in a snap.

What the GT team is cooking on Christmas Day

We don't do things by halves in the Gourmet office. These are the recipes we'll be cooking on the big day.

Summer feta recipes

Whether in a fresh salad or seasonal seafood dish, feta's creamy tang can be used to add interest to a variety of summer dishes.

Christmas ham recipes

The centrepiece of any Christmas feast, hams can be glazed with many ingredients. Here are our favourite combinations.

Kylie Kwong on bush tucker

Every chef worth their saltbush is foraging these days, but Kylie Kwong knows her limits. "I couldn't go into the bush and forage because I'm not a trained botanist. I'd probably pick something and kill myself." She takes a box of warrigal greens from a high shelf in the cool-room of her Sydney restaurant, Billy Kwong.

"I can't do that. So I get in touch with people who are experts, and that's people like Mike and Gayle."

Mike and Gayle Quarmby run Outback Pride, near Kingston, South Australia, and Kwong's relationship with them has meant a whole new direction for her modern-Chinese diner. "Such beautiful produce," says Kwong. "The saltbush leaves Mike has developed, his amazing warrigal greens, the rosella flowers, the lemon aspens, the desert fruits, the finger limes. The flavours are unique. It really has made me re-assess the whole notion of what Australian-Chinese food is. I've found that many of these ingredients are naturally in harmony with the Chinese flavour profile."

In these recipes, then, you'll find pork belly simmered in the familiar soy, star anise and ginger of Chinese cooking, combined with native finger limes and lilly pillies. Or yabbies stir-fried with XO, sea parsley and samphire. "The flavours are amazing, the textures are incredible," says Kwong.

Her enthusiasm for bush tucker is shared by the likes of GT Chef of the Year Ben Shewry, Circa's Paul Wilson and Quay's Peter Gilmore, among others. "For Chinese new year, Neil Perry came in for dinner and I sent him my stir-fried saltbush with ginger and shiro shoyu. He got up out of his seat, he came into the kitchen and he said, 'Kwongy! Where did you get that saltbush? I love it!' So I threw a bunch of saltbush at him and I sent him Mike and Gayle's contact details the next day. He recognised the quality, the flavour. Mark [chef Mark Best of Marque and Pei Modern] did the same thing. And I'm always inspired by Ben [Shewry], who I adore and respect.

"It was the René Redzepi talk at the Sydney Opera House in October 2010 which first made so many of us chefs sit up and pay attention. I walked out of there and I thought, what are we doing? Why aren't more of us using our own native produce? Was it because we were so obsessed as a nation with all this stuff from overseas, all these exotic ingredients: the foie gras, the truffles?"

Saltbush and rosella flowers, though, are even more difficult to obtain than those imported ingredients, so what's a home cook to do? "There will be people who read this article and say, 'But I can't get that - what's the point?'," says Kwong. "Well, the point is opening people's eyes to the importance of using locally grown foods and native produce."

The Quarmbys established Outback Pride in part to provide employment and training opportunities in Aboriginal communities, and to benefit community health. "The Dalai Lama says one of the most important things in what people do is the motivation and the intention," says Kwong. "The very fact that more and more people are using this beautiful bush tucker is a very important statement in itself. We are saying, in my view, that we support and we respect the indigenous culture here. I mean, it's about time."

Billy Kwong, 355 Crown St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9332 3300, kyliekwong.org


Where to buy native ingredients

To find retailers of the native ingredients supplied by Outback Pride, visit outbackpride.com.au/food-service, then click on "distributor". Contact your nearest distributor for details of retailers in your area who sell the particular ingredients you're looking for. Outback Pride doesn't sell fresh or frozen produce directly to the public from its website.

To order frozen native fruits online, visit bushfoodshop.com. Thaw the frozen ingredients before using them.

I Love Warrigal Greens sells warrigal greens to restaurants but doesn't sell via greengrocers or markets. The company is happy, however, to sell small quantities to customers who visit its premises in Liverpool, New South Wales. For details, phone (02) 9600 8673 or visit ilovewarrigalgreens.com.au.

Kylie Kwong also recommends inquiring at your local farmers' market or specialist greengrocer.

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