The Humble Cheese Toastie

Our top 5 cheesy delights that you may want to make for lunch each day this week.  

THE CLASSIC:

2 slices of cheddar between 2 slices of country white bread – cook until golden.

THE NACHO:

2 slices of white bread with 1 slice of American cheese, pickled jalapeno slices and 1 slice cheddar – add 1 tablespoon crushed corn chips to the mix and you have a better concoction then Pizza Hut’s Dorito crust. Cook until golden.

THE ITALIAN:

2 slices of sourdough bread with 1 slice provolone, 1 slice mortadella, chopped pickled vegetables (your choice) and another slice of provolone to top it off. Cook until golden.  

THE MACARONI:

2 slices of potato bread with 3 tablespoons of warm mac and cheese – it can be home made, packet made or store bought but make sure it’s cheesy. Toast until toastie.

THE NANATELLA: 

Spread 1 slice of brioche with ricotta, spread another slice with nutella and sandwich with sliced bananas. Cook until golden. 

Australia Day Lamb Baste

Don't know what baste to use this Australia Day? Don't worry, the BBQ experts from The Meat & Wine Co have a great basting recipe for you to try. 

Ingredients: 

500ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil


3 Tbl Dried Lemon Myrtle


1 Tbl Crushed Peppercorns (Black or Mixed)


1 Tsp Sea Salt Flakes 

1 Tsp Fresh Minced Chilli

Method: 

Create a bouquet garni to use as a basting brush of young lemon/lime leaves and fresh lemon myrtle. 

Tie it at one end to secure and use this side as your handle. This will be your tool to baste all your BBQ meats. 

Heat olive oil until just over warm, but cool enough to touch, this will help release all the flavours into the oil. 

Pour olive oil into an unused jar. 

Blend and infuse all your ingredients by adding them and giving the jar a good shake. 

You can baste right out of the jar. 

Adrian Richardson in time for Summer

AGFG asked Adrian a few questions as we gear up to the month of BBQ's, the outdoors and great times. Author of The Good Life and Meat, we thought January was a perfect time to get a few tips for Australia Day.                           

 

AGFG: What do you love about your career? 

Adrian: I learnt early on that my station in life is to cook good food and make people happy, this is what I love about working in the career I have chosen.

AGFG: Who are your greatest inspirations?

Adrian: Young chefs inspire me, I am impressed by the calibre of young chef’s coming up through the ranks. As a tradesman I feel like it’s my duty to pass on my skills, young lads are like sponges soaking up my skills. I feel my trade has a very bright and inspiring future.  

AGFG: What are your favourite recipes from your book Meat and The Good Life? 

Adrian:

The Good Life:

Ravioli is one of my favourite recipes, this is a recipe passed down from my grandmother and I carry this tradition on by making ravioli for my family every year. I also love the ricotta gnocchi from The Good Life, it is a quick, easy, tasty and very satisfying recipe.

Meat: 

I love the suckling pig, it’s just lots of fun and there is nothing better than the crackling from a little suckling pig.

AGFG: What are your feature flavours these days? 

Adrian: I have done and always will love fresh herbs, I love walking into my garden, snipping off fresh herbs and sprinkling them into whatever I am cooking.

Summer for me is all about honey, standing down wind fills the air with the sweetness of honey. We use honey in our bread, for roasting goat & in desserts at La Luna Bistro.

AGFG: What ingredient could you not live without? 

Adrian: Salt, because meat loves salt & salt loves meat.

AGFG: What would be your suggestions this Australia Day? 

Adrian: Sleep in relax, enjoy time with friends and family, whether it’s barbecued lamb chops or just a couple of beers with mates. It’s all about recognizing we live in the best country in the world and there is no doubt about that.

AGFG: If you were a food what would you be? 

Adrian: Ice cream.

Take a look at Adrian's article "Meat -  The Barbecue" for all your needs this January, you definitely can't go past chicken skewers, beefs burgers or that lamb and spinach salad

No Nonsense Barbecuing

Ross Dobson has written the bumper book of no nonsense barbecuing with his latest book King of the Grill. 

With 13 books already under his belt, Dobson's King of the Grill brings you 200 recipes for the grill and hotplate. A cooking book that takes you back to the simplest of times, raw food on hot metal: simple, stressless, tasty and no nonsense food.  

 

From an electric to wood 'BBQ,' his recipes can be cooked either by direct or indirect heat - so it''s the perfect book to help you out this Australia Day. 

Simple, flavoursome and colourful recipes are what you'll find, enjoy grilled green olive breads as an appetizer before moving onto a plate of grilled mixed meat. Although Christmas has passed, Dobson's Christmas Barbecued Glazed Ham is an impressive recipe. 

Catering to meatlovers and vegetarians alike with recipes for salads, breads and dips, King of the Grill is an essential for your kitchen. 

King of the Grill is available from Murdoch Books for $39.99.  

AGFG 2015 Chef Hat Awards

Another year has passed, another year of change and evolution in Australia’s dining scene. The results are as follows: 

462  restaurants have been awarded AGFG Chef Hats in 2015. 

In brief:

- Chef Hat Award Winning Restaurants in New South Wales (125)
- Chef Hat Award Winning Restaurants in Victoria (117)
- Chef Hat Award Winning Restaurants in Queensland (86)
- Chef Hat Award Winning Restaurants in South Australia (53)
- Chef Hat Award Winning Restaurants in Western Australia (41)
- Chef Hat Award Winning Restaurants in Tasmania (23)
- Chef Hat Award Winning Restaurants in Australian Capital Territory (12)
- Chef Hat Award Winning Restaurants in Northern Territory (5) 

See the list of all the award winning restaurants.

Economically 2014 has remained a tough year for restaurants with numerous establishments closing their doors; notably Guillaume at Bennelong (NSW), Tomislav (NSW), Foveaux (NSW), Jacksons (WA) and Dear Friends Restaurant (WA). However, there has been much improvement in the economic climate since 2013 and as chefs are masters of improvisation and going with the flow, they have adjusted, rebranded and reworked their restaurant concepts according to diner’s spending and taste habits. 

Photo - Attica, 4 chef hats. 

So what were the trends of 2014? 

Since the onset of the GFC there has been a significant shift away from fine dining with many chefs, capable of intricate award winning food, choosing instead to serve up crowd favourites that are at a more ground roots level. 

There remains a continual swell in the ‘casual dining scene.’ Justin North is gastro pubbing it at Hotel Centennial, Neil Perry is fashioning burgers at The Burger Project and George Calombaris is continuing to expand his souvlaki empire with Jimmy Grants. 

With an explosive year of food trucks, pop up restaurants, burgers, toasties, Korean, gastro pub, bar dining and paleo, Australians are dining out more but spending less. At the same time we are becoming more particular about our food and expect better quality for as little as $20.

Chefs have answered the call from Australian diners. The diversity of food styles has increased with many chefs creating a more relaxed casual offering. For the diners it means quality has increased with more affordable dining.

More sustainable, ecological and local methods of produce is being seen on menus, with restaurants like Brothl from Joost Bakker using unused bones and offal from other restaurants, James Parry from Sixpenny using produce from his own farm and newcomer Roy McVeigh from Dragoncello having his own herb garden at the back of his Surry Hills restaurant in Sydney.

We’ve had our say now it’s over to you!

At the AGFG we acknowledge that reviews are truly subjective. What we consider exceptional you may consider average or even terrible, and just like that the food critic debate is born.

By opening up our site to your comments the whole process is more democratic, and open to debate. Supporters can reinforce positive assertions, and contenders can argue their estimations; after all, a ‘well-thought-out' reader comment has proven to hold as much weight as an awarded Chefs Hat.

New Year's Resolutions - Honestly?

Happy New Year! Since all our facebook friends are making lists and spending half a day adding appropriate emoji's to them (like the 2014 word of the year <3) - there's really no way of getting out of making our own is there?

So while you're writing a list, remember to be honest - thanks buzzfeed. 

5 New Year's Eve Cocktails You Must Try Before 2015

Here's to a tasty 2015

As the clock strikes midnight, charge your glass of sparkling ... and pass it along to your neighbour. There’s a variety of tasty options to accompany the positive new year’s vibes, so this year why not veer from the bubbly and shake up something a little different to ring in 2015? Start off the year with something you’ll remember (hopefully...).

5. Lavender Collins

For: The sophisticatedly chic dinner party

 

 

Manicured gardens by dusk, gleaming silverware and gourmet goods by evening and floral infused gin by the glassful; if this sounds like a delight to all senses, then this is just what you need.

Created by the aptly named Couture Craft, this recipe for the lavender collins cocktail is light, fragrant and refreshing, perfect for keeping your New Years Eve a sophisticatedly chic event. However if you’re looking for something a little more serious...

4. Red Velvet Jelly Shots

For: Those looking to kick their New Year’s up a notch

 

Usually associated with socialising and hitting up the dance floor, New Years Eve celebrations can have you so caught up in the moment that your drink can be pushed aside ... well, that may not be entirely true. But this red velvet jelly shot makes it a damn side easier to consume when making your signature moves on the dance floor.  Plus, it wobbles to the beat, too.

Infused with a strong hit of whisky, mellowed out with the sweetness of Chambord, these shots (which you can find here at Bakers Royale) pack a punch. Remember, it’s basically like eating a cocktail, so be sure to space these bad boys out with plenty a glass of champagne water.

3. Vanilla latte martini

For: Ensuring you can keep your eyes open to see in the New Year

 

Synonymous with seeing the night through till the break of dawn (or at least until after the clock strikes 12), New Year’s Eve is often a large sized celebration. Some people need a little boost to last the night, so if that person is you, make your way to All Day Long I Dream About Food.  

Alternatively, this creamy concoction is perfect to kick off a New Year’s Eve morning. Skip your coffee – brunch cocktails anyone?

2. Lime sherbet margaritas

For: Those looking for a little fizz in their sip.


Refreshing libations all around – just the ticket for a balmy summer New Year’s Eve. Fizzy, slushy and citrusy, this recipe from Just a Pinch is perfect for blending up for a group of friends and having a simultaneous brain freeze.

If you can’t find sherbet, you can always try your hand at making your own! All you need is citric acid, icing sugar, jelly crystals and baking soda.

1. Strawberry blood orange rum punch

For: Having an easy refill at your fingertips



Have a New Year’s Eve pool party/barbecue/literally any kind of NYE event happening this year? Punch is perfect for refuelling the masses, and this recipe by Bojon Gourmet is just the ticket. Tangy and not overly sweet, this vibrantly coloured gem is a mouthful of spring.

Be sure not to veer too far from the punchbowl – this is guaranteed to be a crowd pleaser. 

Recipes: Christmas Gear Up

Whether you like it hot or not, try to keep the stress low by preparing ahead of time, freeing yourself up to cook with a lighthearted spirit. Know what you love and spread it around with sweet and savoury dishes; it's as easy as icing a cake with smooth butter cream. 

We have put together the perfect summer menu to share with those you cherish most. Opt for family classics with a delicious lineage, pick new and funky dishes, or strike a balance between old and new. 

The Day Before Christmas:

Time to prepare your sweets, if not more (or all) of your meal, aside from the fresh picked berries and greens. 

Some of our suggestions are: 

Strawberries in Jelly - Unflavoured gelatine powder will help with consistency in what will be the next recipe you put on repeat. 
 
Rhubarb Crumble - Slightly bitter with a quiet intensity, this common dessert is one we crave for its nourishment, a reliable favourite in good company or sneaky solo snack afterwards. 
 
Maple Nut ‘Cheese’ Cake - Fresh cashew nuts are the key to this vegan cheesecake.  Topped with mango coulis, there’s nothing traditional about this recipe but once your guests try it they’ll never tire of requesting it year after year.
 
Tis the season for cherries and three unforgettable, elegant recipe concoctions for you to ease into:  cherry pie ice creamvery cherry trifle, and chocolate cherries. For those who love chocolate but can do without the cherries, conclude your festive food spread with deep, dark chocolate and almond praline mousse
 

Simple Celebrations and Christmas Starters:  

Good food and the Christmas colour theme can really go together and complete the picture.  If red and green didn’t scream Christmas once before, marketers have made it their mantra to ensure your mind goes straight to requisite seasonal shopping at first sighting of ruby and emerald reflections in coincidence. Brightening up your holiday spread with these two Christmas colours will add to the festival feel.  
 
Mexican Dip - With tomato, shallots and capsicum to boot.  'Ole' as the old Spanish say amongst cheers and applause. Kidney beans are king in this one so it’s low fat, high fibre and low GI.  
 
Cherry Quinoa Salad with Lamb - Tri-coloured quinoa offsets the cherries and parsley, and it’s as if this dish was created just to impress those guests you’ve welcomed in your home.
 
Beef Chorizo and Potato Tortilla - A legendary and flavourful combination that will win over everyone.  Be innovative with your garnish to embellish the red and green theme and allow the flavours to work their magic.


Christmas Snacks and In Between Nibbles:  

Besides unwrapping gifts, catching up on family goss, impromptu photo sessions with the in-laws and dusting off the backyard cricket set, a huge part of the holiday fun is eating all day long.   Depending on what part of the special day you’re in, a soup may hit the hot (or cold) spot.  Perhaps opt to follow the raving Mexican food trend.
 
Gazpacho - Straight from the refrigerator to the peckish mugs of your relatives.  Use Grandma and Grandpa farm tomatoes from your local market (or the true blue source) and opt for top quality sherry vinegar to ensure that country tang is just so.
 
Pumpkin Soup - This is a warm one and works as a starter, side or small bite.  Cooking the pumpkin or squash quickly releases its natural sweetness.  As you remain chatting and laughing well into the evening’s cool, this is the dish that will sustain you into nightlong fun.  
 
Duck Tacos - Cherries are ripe for the picking and when combined with lime salsa bring sweet zinginess to this popular dish that’s perfect as a hot tropical aperitif.   Smooth avocado soothes the spiciness of smoked paprika, ground cumin, and chopped coriander.  


We're not just talking Turkey:

Chances are you have a model turkey or tender ham recipe that’s been passed down through the generations.  If you alter any of the ingredients someone’s in an uproar.  Why not keep it simple and go a different route altogether?  We can’t guarantee this will keep the peace because someone’s sure to question the missing gobbler or general porklessness, but you can’t go wrong with this herb, garlic and lemon roasted chicken.
 
Rather than hamming it up on the roast side of things, consider picking pork spare ribs with an Asian style spin featuring barley malt, tamari, dry-roasted Sichuan peppercorns and dry sherry.  If serving roast is imperative, another alternative is lamb with preserved lemon and chargrilled vegetables.  If potatoes and gravy must be part of your annual meal extraordinaire, here’s a lamb back strap recipe with red wine jus and spicy garlic mustard mash.  
  

Interview: Gearing up for the 2015 AGFG Chef Hats

With the new year approaching, AGFG is getting ready to announce their Chef Hats for 2015. With that notion we spoke to Hadleigh Troy a 4 Chef Hat winner for Restaurant Amusé in East Perth, WA.

Hadleigh's menu is influenced by long forged relationships with West Australian growers and producers, their products inspire dishes such as Marron, carrot, fennel and quinoa as well as beef, beetroot, black garlic and salted plum. Restaurant Amusé will be closing in 2017, so if you haven't yet been it's an experience of which you cannot miss. 

Beef, beetroot, black garlic and salted plum. 

AGFG: Which dish at Amusé, so far, has been the most fun to create?

Hadleigh: I would have to say one of our amuse-bouche that has been on and off the menu since our early days. It combines white chocolate, black olive toffee, red wine vinegar, chicken liver parfait and salmon roe. It's Fun for me as it’s a combination of some of my wife Carolynne’s favourite flavours. It was a nice challenge putting it together for her and the reaction that it gets from our guests is always rewarding.

AGFG: What is your favourite way of combining chocolate into a dish?

Hadleigh: My name is Hadleigh and I am a chocoholic… seriously I am! I love any excuse to work with chocolate however it’s always fun to use it when its least expected such as in savoury salty combinations like the one above.

AGFG: We’ve heard you’re wrapping up Amuse in 2017, what’s your vision for your last three years?

Hadleigh: Yep 2017 will be when we close our doors. Until then, our commitment is to our loyal guests, delivering on their expectations of us and sharing special nights and memories with them. We are so fortunate to be the ‘special occasion’ destination for so many people, many of which have been dining with us since the start. We feel so privileged to be a part of their celebrations and look forward to celebrating with them all for a few more years before the curtains close.

AGFG: If you could dine anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

Hadleigh: Burnt Ends in Singapore. The chef/owner David Pynt, is a great mate and a brilliant chef.  For me it is everything that I look for in a restaurant.

AGFG: What has been your proudest moment and why?

Hadleigh: Every time we host a ‘get together’ for our team I have a moment when I take a step back and take in all the people that make up the ‘Amusé Family.’ I am proud that I run a business that can provide for them and hopefully inspires them.

Food for Thought - A Read for Every Foodie

Just as there’s a plate for every palate, so there is a cookbook for every culinary creator. Seldom beats a brand new read that you can experiment year round with, so what better gift to give than one that will yield delicious, delicious results. We have compiled a list of our favourite cookbooks making an appearance in our kitchen this year, so whether you’ve got a sweet tooth or a global culinary connoisseur on your hands, we’ve got the perfect solution.

For the serious foodie

Sepia; the Cuisine of Martin Benn – Martin Benn

Menu example: Scarlet prawns with shellfish jelly, white cucumber crème fraiche, tempura batter and matcha tea oil.


Get on board with world renowned chef Martin Benn as he takes you on a global culinary journey, ending with a menu of upmost refinement. Not for the casual kitchen dweller, this read will be most appreciated in the hands of a serious foodie, looking to recreate Discover the back story behind Martin’s passion for cooking, his penchant for perfection and his journey to creating one of Australia’s most successful restaurants.

Presented in five different menus, with around fourteen dishes in each menu, each dish within Sepia has made an appearance on the restaurant’s menu throughout the last five years. Basically, if you give this gift, it’ll be like having Sepia in your very own kitchen. 

For those with an insatiable sweet tooth

Dessert Divas – Christine Manfield

Menu example: Honey trap – cider poached pear, honey mousse, pear cream, elderflower yoghurt and pear sorbet with almond meringue.


Ripe with seduction, Dessert Divas doesn’t shy when it comes to the art of indulgence, welcoming you to the ‘pleasure dome’ from the very first page. Carefully crafted by the Dessert queen herself, Christine Manfield steps into the kitchen to give you the 101 on desserts; namely, that dessert shouldn’t take a back seat to a meal and deserves the aftermath of praise rather than guilt.  

Divided into seasons and finished with a platter of phenomenal photography for your eyes to feast upon, this timeless hardback looks just as decadent as it sounds, perfect from the inside out.  

For those who need to be where it’s at

Flavours of Sydney – Jonette George

Menu example: BBQ Hawkesbury calamari with Balinese sambal matah and pork scratching.


Why limit yourself to a single venue when you can bring the whole city into your kitchen? ... figuratively speaking. Go big with this impressively sized hardback, taking you on a historical tour of the big smoke before delving into the delights that Sydney city has on offer. From pearls of wisdom from the city’s top chefs through to a comprehensive restaurant timeline, Flavours of Sydney ensures you a thorough journey throughout the city’s culinary culture, with a smorgasbord of venue reviews accompanied by their signature recipes.

Categorized into suburbs, each of the venues and accompanying recipes are tied together with a captivating collection of cityscapes, food culture and delectable recipes just waiting to be recreated.

For the weekend host

Easy Weekends; Food by Neil Perry – Neil Perry

Menu example: Chargrilled baby octopus with olives and hand pounded pesto.


When summer weekend gatherings come in droves, allow award winning chef Neil Perry to assist. Easy Weekends celebrates the flavours of home cooking, featuring over 100 recipes that will take your next weekend get together to the next level – unexpected guests included.

Whether it’s an intimate Friday night in for two (featuring roast lobster with butter), lazy weekend breakfast, or a classic Sunday family roast (roast pork shoulder with mustard fruits and aged balsamic vinaigrette), these easy and approachable recipes make dining in at home an enjoyable experience to be shared and savoured with your loved ones.   

For the fun, casual foodie

What Katie Ate; At the Weekend – Katie Quinn Davies

Menu example: Buffalo inspired wings with blue cheese mayo.


The second cookbook of very talented food blogger and photographer Katie Quinn Davies, What Katie Ate is a light, bright cookbook full of fun flavours. All about the joy of eating, sharing and creating the perfect plate to share with your dearest, this delightful hardback is a staple for the kitchen, resulting in a feast of decadent homemade goods that look as good as they taste. Inspired by Katie's travels around Tokyo, the US, Italy, London, Ireland and around Australia, the recipes are infused with international influence, perfect for a global gastronomic feast.

It goes without saying that the photography in this book alone is reason enough to purchase, but try your hand at the likes of spiced apple and salted butterscotch pavlova – we guarantee that what Katie eats on the weekend will take you through every day of the week with ease.