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Braising is a cooking method that can turn tough meats into tender and succulent offerings. In this case, chicken thighs on the bone coupled with verjuice and stock allows the meat to remain tender, while enhancing its natural flavours. The key to many braises is cooking low and slow, depending on the size and thickness of the meat cut used; however this recipe calls for a relatively fast preparation and cooking method. It promises to…

Throughout the deeper reaches of the Swiss and Austrian alpine valleys, German forests and Russian villages, traditional winter foods, preserving techniques and family recipes are handed down from grandmother to granddaughter (ot babushki k vnuchke). In the spirit of giving, Essentials’ Megan Chalmers has reinvigorated one of the finest European treats to help celebrate the Christmas season. Mini Black Forest Cake with forest floor of chocolate soil, mascarpone white chocolate mousse, cherry kirsch jelly cubes,…

Finely milled roasted wattleseed is a wonderful ingredient in ice cream. Flavour extraction is via hot, not boiling water, similar to a plunger coffee. The wattleseed presents an earthy, yet unique coffee/nut-like flavour. Outback Chef, Melbourne (Jude Mayall), is a leading supplier of premium roasted wattleseed. Method 1. After infusing, filter out the grains and use the liquid to flavour vanilla the ice cream anglaise base (see recipe below). As a rule, Jude suggests 3…

I had this salad in a restaurant in Los Angeles, and it completely transformed the way I prepare brussels sprouts. Gone are the days of boiling these baby cabbages to death; now it’s all about roasting, grilling or even eating them raw, as in this recipe. The key here is to shred them as finely as you can, which gives the slaw a more refined flavour as the dressing is better able to coat the…

Andrew Sutherland Smith, owner/winemaker of Rutherglen’s iconic Warrabilla Wines could be labelled one of Australia’s most passionate. A true unsung winemaking hero, and an altogether top bloke, Andrew is proud of his product and firmly states that ‘typically’ his product is ‘like no other’. ‘It’s not necessarily a regional or Rutherglen styled product – it’s a “Wobbly Villa” product!’ he laughs. Annually, wine club members, friends and fans of the winery get together for a…

It’s never too early to practice and perfect your Christmas offerings, and we feel this traditional Christmas eggnog recipe, served chilled OR warm, by Hilton Brisbane’s Executive Chef, Matthew Wood is one to get down pat. ‘Eggnog is the quintessential Christmas drink. A rich, frothy, and stiff alcoholic punch of sorts that always reminds me of sitting near a warm fire while the weather outside turns sour. However serving it as as cold drink makes…

It’s starting to look a lot like silly season; but we prefer to think about the arrival of stone fruit season. It’s a time for enjoying ripe juicy peaches, rich dark plums and sweet and fragrant nectarines. Essentials’ Megan Chalmers has put together a multi-textured recipe that uses stone fruits in the most celebratory and creative way. Spiced Poached Plum and Stone Fruit Trifle with Orange Blossom Marshmallow Serves 4 Spiced Poached Plums 1kg blood…

There comes a time when decadent desserts are the order of the day. Essentials’ Megan Chalmers knows how to unleash the most creative and sweet extravagant flavours, designed to warm your soul, like these Banoffee Buttermilk Pancakes. Banoffee Buttermilk Pancakes Serves 2, in large stacks 1½ cups self raising flour, sifted 2 teaspoons baking powder, sifted ⅔ cup caster sugar ¼ tsp nutmeg 1½ cups buttermilk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 4 whole eggs Unsalted butter,…

Essentials’ Richard Cornish recently caught up with artisan cheesemaker Andre Kogurt of Mornington, Victoria’s Blue Bay Cheese company; an interview that was long overdue. But learning to be patient in all things dairy it seems, is par for the course. Cheesemaker Andre Kogut is a patient man. He spends a lot of time waiting. He waits hours for his milk to turn to curds. He waits weeks as the curds set in their hoops. He…

We don’t tend to celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, but I have always loved the sentiment behind this special day. Having one day a year to sit back, relax and talk to your family about what is making you happy in life, what you appreciate and what your dreams are for the year ahead is something we don’t do nearly enough. This wonderful holiday is all about giving thanks, so, whether you do this on Thanksgiving…

Cucumber Avocado Gazpacho with Watermelon, Mint and Pepitas 4 cups quality vegetable stock 1 ripe avocado 2 continental cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped ¼ bunch fresh-picked mint leaves ¼ bunch chopped dill 1 cup plain natural yoghurt Salt and pepper to taste Method 1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and blitz until smooth. 2. Season to taste. 3. Refrigerate until chilled. To Serve Serve chilled, garnished with watermelon cubes and a scattering of…

Looking for a deluxe retro entertainer? This Vine Leaf Baked Camembert with Beechworth Honey’s Bee Quirky Honey & Nuts, pickled carrot, muscatels and crostini is a sure bet. Baked Camembert Cheese 1 small wheel of quality Camembert cheese 6-8 vine leaves, rinsed and patted dry 1 jar Beechworth Honey’s Bee Quirky Honey & Nuts Preheat oven to 180C Method 1. Wrap the cheese wheel with vine leaves, ensuring that the wheel is completely covered. 2.…

Beechworth Honey has long been at the forefront of championing Australian varietal honeys. The business was created 25 years ago by husband and wife team Steven and Jodie Goldsworthy in Beechworth in North East Victoria. This honey cake recipe with dried flower petals and raw Australian honeycomb is a great way to celebrate their single origin 100% pure/raw honeys. Honey Cake with dried flower petals, raw Australian honeycomb Cookie Layers 170g Beechworth Honey’s Bee Bold…

Presenting the best in Australian seafood, this deluxe spaghetti marinara recipe is the ultimate entertainer and is designed to pair with Buller Wines’ (Rutherglen, Victoria) fragrant King Valley Pinot Grigio. Serves 6 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1 brown onion, peeled and finely diced 2 garlic cloves (large), peeled and finely diced] 1 fennel bulb (small), diced (reserve green fronds for garnish) 1 cup Buller Wines King Valley Pinot Grigio 1 pinch saffron threads…

Capturing Tropical and Fresh Fruit Flavours: Essentials in-house chef Megan Chalmers has collaborated with New Zealand freeze dried ingredient company Fresh As and Whitsunday’s newest resort, Elysian Retreat to present a range of tropical inspired menu items, including this flame-grill assisted dessert. Brown Sugar Pudding with rum-glazed flame-grilled pineapple, Fresh As Freeze Dried Pineapple Chunks, double cream Brown Sugar Pudding Preheat oven to 180°C. 250g pitted dates, chopped 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda 1½ cups…

Individual panna cotta served with a tablespoon of orange blossom honey syrup and  segments of candied orange. 2 tsp powdered gelatine 3 tbsp chilled water 1¾ cup thickened cream 6 tbsp caster sugar 2 tsp orange blossom water 1¼ cups Meredith Dairy goat’s milk yogurt Method 1. In a small bowl add the chilled water and gently scatter the powdered gelatine into the water using a teaspoon. Allow to stand for five minutes until the…

Featuring a unique, easy-to-digest unleavened kefir pizza dough, this rich in umami French-style pizza will have you coming back for more. Caramelised onions 10 brown onions, peeled, thinly sliced 100g unsalted butter Salt flakes to taste 4 tbsp balsamic vinegar Method 1. In a large saucepan over a medium heat, add butter and melt, then add sliced onions and stir well. 2. Reduce the heat slightly and continue to cook slowly until onions become softened…

This cheeky little bourbon cocktail is an easy to create American spring-inspired gem, taken from Chyka Keebaugh’s new book Chyka Celebrate. Maple Bourbon Cocktail 1 untreated orange 60ml bourbon 30ml freshly squeezed orange juice 15ml pure maple syrup 1–2 dashes angostura bitters ice cubes, for shaking and serving mint sprig, to garnish Serves 1 Using a small knife, cut a thin, long strip of orange peel and twist it. Add the ingredients, except the garnishes,…

Rosewater Meringue with poached strawberries and rhubarb, vanilla mascarpone cheese and dried rose petals. Serves 5 Rosewater Meringue Pre-heat oven to 90C 6 egg whites 375g caster sugar Pinch salt 1 tbsp white vinegar 1 tbsp rose water Method 1. Whisk egg whites while slowly adding caster sugar. Whisk for 10-12 minutes until stiff peaks form and all sugar has dissolved. When it’s right you should be able to hold the bowl upside-down. If you’re…

Freshly-picked blue swimmer crab meat is a luxurious ingredient. Its delicacy and texture makes it a great addition to fresh pasta. This Blue Swimmer Crab Poached Ravioli with Yarra Valley trout caviar recipe is one of our all time favourites. It can be finished with either a classic bisque sauce or simple white wine and butter sauce. Serves 4 Nage Stock – Makes 2 litres 3 brown onions roughly chopped 1 leek, washed and roughly…

Syrniki are Russian fried quark (cheese) pancakes that are traditionally garnished with light sour cream, varenye (jam), honey or apple sauce. The cheese mixture may contain raisins for extra flavour. Melbourne’s Blue Bay Dairy quark cheese is the perfect ingredient for making these quick-as-a-flash breakfast recipe gems. They’re simply delicious! Syrniki (seer-nee-kee) Russian Sweet Cheese Fritters Makes 12-14 medium size pieces 250g Blue Bay Quark Cheese, or drained cottage cheese 2 eggs pinch of salt…

Have you tried grilling fruit? The intense heat of the grill adds a caramelised texture to most fruits, also adding sweetness and a more pronounced flavour profile. Just about any fruits can go on the grill as long as they are fairly firm and not overripe. The perfect pairing, we feel, is a quality homemade granita. These are a synch to make, and can be prepared quickly. Here our a few of our favourite grilled…

It’s one of the best best BBQ recipes we know and is incredibly simple to put together. Its winning secret ingredient: the added premium smoked paprika. Get this one together for family and friends this silly season down under and you’re sure to be awarded King of the BBQ. Coriander and Lime Mayonnaise 3 egg yolks 2 tsp Dijon mustard 2 tsp white wine vinegar 200ml olive oil or sunflower oil ½ bunch coriander, well…

It’s the perfect luxe Aussie BBQ recipe – perfectly designed for spring and summer season celebrations: Crayfish Tail Brioche Sliders. Simply grab some crayfish tails from your fish monger, some fresh brioche buns from your local baker or even Aldi (shhh! we didn’t say that), and get the BBQ firing – assuming it’s a non total fire ban day of course! Crayfish Tail Brioche Sliders Freshly BBQ’d crayfish tails, sliced into medallions Fresh brioche buns…

Bowel Cancer Australia has announced the return of Meat Free Week, September 23-29, challenging Australians to try a plant based foods menu for seven days and raise funds for a great cause. The campaign aims to get people thinking and talking about how much meat they’re eating, and the impact consumption has on health and the environment.  Now in its seventh year, support for Meat Free Week continues to grow with international celebrity campaigners and…

Farmer’s breakfast cheesecake or zapekanka is a healthy breakfast that can be made the night before. Zapekanka was once served as a breakfast dish in schools and kindergartens all over the former Soviet Union. Makes 6 individual zapekanka 500g Blue Bay Quark 100g sugar 50g milk 50g butter, softened at room temperature 2 free range eggs 1 tsp of vanilla sugar 100g semolina Preheat Oven to 180C Method 1. In a large mixing bowl add…

This is the one recipe that’s a must to include in your French cooking arsenal and it’s the perfect use for those baby Aldi supermarket truffles. Makes 4 individual serves 8 slices of freshly brioche bread 4 tbsp unsalted butter 500ml truffled béchamel sauce (see recipe below) 8 slices of smoked leg ham 4 cups grated mix of emmental and gruyere cheese 4 tbsp Dijon mustard freshly sliced black truffle pickled cornichons Pre-heat oven to…

Complimenting Ros Richie’s aromatic High Country (Mansfield, Victoria), Pinot Gris, this fast, authentic French seaside classic is a recipe to indulge in. Pippies with Ros Ritchie Pinot Gris and butter sauce, frites and lemon aioli 1kg fresh pippies (vongole clams), soaked in cold water to remove grit White wine sauce (recipe below) Lemon wedge, frites, aioli, and freshly baked baguette to serve White Wine Butter Sauce 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 4 shallots, peeled…

There comes a time when a decadent dessert is the order of the day and this sweet extravagant bread and butter brioche pudding is designed to warm hearts and minds. Makes 4 individual puddings 4 eggs ¼ cup caster sugar 1 tsp vanilla extract ¼ tsp cinnamon 2 cups full cream milk 300ml thickened cream 4 small brioche buns 50g softened unsalted butter 1 small punnet of raspberries 1 small punnet of blackberries ½ cup…

The secret to a good Café de Paris Butter, lies in a balance of fragrant herbs, curry powder, anchovies and of course a quality cultured French butter. The following recipe is inspired by one of Australia’s best, Neil Perry of Rockpool Bar and Grill; and is icon of his Rockpool’s culinary history. Café de Paris Butter 150g unsalted butter, warmed to room temperature 2 anchovies, finely chopped 2 tbsp finely chopped chives 2 tbsp finely…