About 70 Labor Party supporters will each pay $1000 a plate to attend a dinner on Wednesday to help pay for the ALP’s month-long leadership campaign between Bill Shorten and Anthony Albanese.
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Meanwhile, Mr Shorten, Mr Albanese and hundreds of volunteers will spend the next two days in a frantic telephone marathon to win last-minute support from ALP grassroots members.

In what is considered still a tight contest, Mr Shorten appears certain to emerge in a leadership role by next week.

Even if he were to lose the outright leadership ballot to Mr Albanese, Mr Shorten is expected to be chosen by the Labor caucus as Mr Albanese’s deputy.

If Mr Shorten wins, however, Mr Albanese will be overlooked by caucus in favour of Sydney’s Tanya Plibersek for deputy, according to party sources.

Labor members across Australia have until Friday to submit their votes, but both campaign teams are warning members they will need to have posted their votes by Wednesday.

The party’s national returning officer, Melbourne barrister Mr Tony Lang, will count the broader membership vote at ALP national headquarters in Canberra on Friday and Saturday.

The parliamentary caucus members will gather in Canberra on Friday to cast their votes, which will then be sealed, uncounted, by the caucus returning officer, Chris Hayes, the Member for Fowler in Sydney.

Caucus will be reconvened on Sunday where the parliamentary vote will be counted in the presence of MPs. The total national vote and the caucus vote will then be revealed – each worth 50 per cent – and the result, the first of its kind in the ALP’s history, will be declared.

Once the new leader is decided, the caucus will choose the deputy.

Mr Shorten will spend most of Tuesday and Wednesday in Melbourne trying to round up last-minute votes by telephone, and Mr Albanese will be in Sydney doing the same.

Mr Shorten’s team is claiming strong support in Victoria and NSW and relatively strong support in South Australia. Mr Albanese is receiving majority support in Queensland and Tasmania. Western Australia is about even.

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Tony Abbott speaks to Peter Slipper in 2011. Photo: Alex EllinghausenThe expenses scandal has taken a new twist, after it emerged Prime Minister Tony Abbott billed taxpayers to attend Peter Slipper’s wedding and repaid the cost seven years later.
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Mr Abbott, who attacked Mr Slipper’s character over alleged indiscretions including entitlement misuse, said he discovered he had billed taxpayers for a ”couple” of weddings after other MPs were exposed for such travel.

An emotional Mr Slipper accused Mr Abbott of ”breathtaking hypocrisy”, saying that while other MPs had been allowed to repay errant expense claims, the charges brought against him had destroyed his life. The Prime Minister last week repaid $1095 for former colleague Sophie Mirabella’s wedding in 2006 and $609 for Mr Slipper’s event the same year.

Mr Abbott, who is in Indonesia to attend the APEC conference, reimbursed the money after Fairfax Media revealed a week ago that taxpayers met the costs of Attorney-General George Brandis and Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce attending shock jock Michael Smith’s wedding.

Fairfax Media also revealed Coalition MPs Julie Bishop, Teresa Gambaro and Mr Joyce collectively claimed more than $12,000 in ”overseas study” payments to return from an Indian wedding they attended as guests of Gina Rinehart.

The Greens will re-introduce a private member’s bill to install a National Integrity Commissioner to rein in entitlements abuse. Independent senator Nick Xenophon also said politicians should write short reports explaining their reasons for domestic travel; downgrade from business class to economy for flights of less than two hours; and repay double the cost of incorrect claims.

Mr Abbott said he was advised it was ”unclear” whether his wedding travel was legitimate so he refunded taxpayers ”to avoid doubt”.

The Prime Minister warned his colleagues to ”err on the side of caution and if there is any doubt, they should act immediately to clear the matter up”.

Mr Slipper found it ”breathtaking” other politicians were allowed to pay back inappropriate entitlements while he faced court for his. ”I am before the courts for $964 when it seems to be carte blanche for Coalition figures simply to be able to write cheques for reimbursement,” Mr Slipper said.

Mr Abbott had previously used the elevation of Mr Slipper to the Speakership to attack then prime minister Julia Gillard’s ethics. Mr Abbott’s parliamentary motion – in which he said the government should have ”died of shame” – triggered Ms Gillard’s much-discussed misogyny speech.

Mr Abbott’s latest repayment came as news surfaced that a Coalition MP – who has previously lashed out at supermarkets selling halal meat – took ”arduous” taxpayer-funded study tours to Europe and Asia to broaden his cultural understanding.

Luke Simpkins argued he needed ”to visit the homelands of major non-English-speaking communities” of his WA electorate to better understand their concerns. His trips to Vietnam, Thailand, Greece and Macedonia in 2011 cost taxpayers $15,840 but he argued they were a success. He said he did not have any rest days but did go on an ”unscheduled” visit to the Acropolis.

A Fairfax Media review of travel reports has found a handful of questionable study tours, including Labor MP Laurie Ferguson’s investigation of the Roma population in Hungary after he ”was very much affected by Isabel Fonseca’s work Bury Me Standing”. And Queensland Liberal National Party MP Ross Vasta returned from a $14,345 study tour to Asia last year, calling on Australia to copy a ”phenomenal incentive” of placing a ”scratchie” on the corner of tax receipts to improve accuracy.

With Daniel Hurst

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the ABAC dialogue in Bali, Indonesia. Photo: Alex EllinghausenPrime Minister Tony Abbott has set down an ambitious deadline of just 12 months to conclude deadlocked free trade talks with China, signalling Australia would sign up for “whatever we can get”.
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Attending the annual 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia, Mr Abbott significantly stepped up the pace of Beijing-Canberra negotiations for a bilateral free trade agreement, even expressing the hope of using a high-level official visit to China within eight months to “consummate” an agreement.

“That might be a little too optimistic, but our intention is to move as quickly as we can. I have to say I would be disappointed if we can’t conclude a significant free trade agreement with China within 12 months,” he said.

In 2011, more than 70 per cent of Australia’s two-way trade took place with other APEC economies, with China leading the way followed by Japan, the United States and Korea.

But some trade officials regard the strategy of laying out such a short time-frame as tactically flawed.

“We have just sent the message to the Chinese that if they hold out, we’ll pretty much cave in in 12 months or else leave out the hard things we want from them like agriculture,” said one, on condition of anonymity.

Another former trade negotiator said the task was “not impossible” but the domestically thorny issues of lifting restrictions on Chinese so-called “state-owned enterprises” investing in Australia – and Beijing’s desire to allow more Chinese translators, cooks, and travel guides into the country to boost tourism – needed resolution.

Mr Abbott, who met with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday evening in Bali on the side lines of the APEC summit, has accepted an invitation to visit Beijing next year, announcing plans to take business leaders and even state premiers along.

He said both leaders were eager to make progress on the FTA.

“Of course they can invest in Australia and we want them to invest in Australia. It is just they face Foreign Investment Review Board scrutiny from the first dollar rather than simply at the standard $240 million-odd threshold,” he said.

“The President made it clear to me how much foreign investment China hopes to make in coming years and I want Australia to get a fair share of that … it should be good for government revenues and it will certainly be good for prosperity back home in Australia.”

He said the job of the FIRB was to “scrutinise investment under certain circumstances but it’s light-touch scrutiny because we know that, in the medium and long run, foreign investment is important for Australia’s economic development”.

The current threshold triggering FIRB review kicks in on private foreign investments valued above $248 million, however the Chinese would like that dramatically increased – perhaps to mirror the US rules of $1 billion.

While in Bali, Mr Abbott will also attend a meeting of the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership countries which has been spearheaded by the US President, Barack Obama.

The TPP talks are said to be progressing but with Mr Obama unable to attend, there are fears the talks on Tuesday will fail to materially progress the multi-lateral process.

Mr Abbott said the US was “ably represented by Secretary of State (John) Kerry”, dismissing any suggestion that the Obama no-show proved his Asia-Pacific “pivot” was just talk.

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Sideline chat: Tony Abbott and President Xi Jinping. Photo: Alex EllinghausenFederal politics: full coverage
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Prime Minister Tony Abbott has set down an ambitious deadline of just 12 months to conclude deadlocked free-trade talks with China, signalling Australia would sign up for ”whatever we can get”.

Attending the annual 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Bali, Indonesia, Mr Abbott significantly stepped up the pace of Beijing-Canberra negotiations for a bilateral free-trade agreement, even expressing the hope of using a high-level official visit to China within eight months to ”consummate” an agreement.

”That might be a little too optimistic but our intention is to move as quickly as we can,” he said. ”I have to say I would be disappointed if we can’t conclude a significant free-trade agreement with China within 12 months.”

In 2011, more than 70 per cent of Australia’s two-way trade took place with other APEC economies, with China leading the way followed by Japan, the US, and Korea.

Some trade officials regard the strategy of laying out such a short time-frame as tactically flawed. ”We have just sent the message to the Chinese that if they hold out, we’ll pretty much cave-in in 12 months or else leave out the hard things we want from them like agriculture,” said one, on condition of anonymity.

Another former negotiator said the task was ”not impossible”, but the domestically thorny issues of lifting restrictions on Chinese so-called ”state-owned enterprises” investing in Australia, and Beijing’s desire to allow more Chinese translators, cooks and travel guides into the country to boost tourism, needed resolution.

Mr Abbott, who met Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday evening in Bali on the sidelines of APEC, has accepted an invitation to visit Beijing next year, announcing plans to take business leaders and even premiers along.

He said both leaders were eager to make progress on the FTA, rejecting a suggestion Chinese state-owned enterprises were barred.

”Of course they can invest in Australia and we want them to invest in Australia. It is just they face Foreign Investment Review Board scrutiny from the first dollar rather than simply at the standard $240 million-odd threshold,” he said.

”The President made it clear to me how much foreign investment China hopes to make in coming years and I want Australia to get a fair share of that . . . it should be good for government revenues and it will certainly be good for prosperity back home in Australia.”

He said the job of the FIRB was to ”scrutinise investment under certain circumstances but it’s light-touch scrutiny because we know that, in the medium and long run, foreign investment is important for Australia’s economic development”.

The threshold triggering FIRB review kicks in on private foreign investments above $248 million, but the Chinese would like that dramatically increased – perhaps to mirror the US at $1 billion.

On SOEs, China wants the threshold lifted above zero, where it sits presently. Mr Abbott said any trade agreement was better than none.

”I want the agreement to be as comprehensive as possible but I’ve always taken the view that you should take what you can get today and pitch for the rest tomorrow when you’ve got a strong foundation to build upon,” he said.

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What’s the best way to open a non-screw-cap bottle of wine? Wine knife (aka waiter’s friend)? A corkscrew? What kind?
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The romance of cork, eh? Nothing sounds quite like that glorious, slippery pop. And nothing sounds quite like the cursing when the cork disintegrates. For a while there, during the glorious Screw Cap Revolution of the noughties, we Antipodeans looked as if we might be largely freed from the tyranny of cork and its tendency, too often, to ruin perfectly good wine. When New World winemakers abandoned corks en masse, I conducted a Maoist purge of the litter of corkscrews I’d acquired over years of wishing there was an easier, faster way to extract the thing separating me from my next glass of wine.

But we still need a corkscrew in the house, for older wines and European buys. Of the dozen-plus corkscrews in our second kitchen drawer – the classic T-shape, the old-school double-winged model, the plasticky promotional ”waiter’s friend” no self-respecting waiter would ever befriend, the Italian designer number, and quite a few others – I have kept two.

One is an ageing, basic-model screwpull – the kind where you keep winding until the coil makes its way into the cork, pulls it out, and screws it off again. I love it because it is idiot-proof and requires no muscle, although some say it can be a little rough on older, fragile corks. (You might want a special corkscrew for these – the kind with two flat prongs to insert either side of the cork.) The second corkscrew I kept is a waiter’s friend. It’s a good one but I rarely use it because wielding one of these with panache takes practice. My husband, however, scorns anything else.

There is a point to this: you can read all the consumer surveys you like but the best corkscrew is the one that works best for you.

That said, there are a couple of things to look for: a sharp point and a coil that’s sturdy but not too thick, maybe with a Teflon-type coating for ease of entry. Make sure it feels comfortable in your hand – especially if you have to grip it hard. If you fancy a waiter’s friend, a curved design will probably feel better than a straight one.

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Call me Bill: William Hardy from Hardy Wines.For the 40 years he has been in the Australian wine game, winemaker Bill Hardy at Hardys Wines has always been called Bill. Just Bill. He introduces himself as Bill, responds when being addressed as Bill, signs letters as Bill and indeed, with his ready boyish smile, you might even suggest he looks like a Bill.
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So why call a wine label struck for the company’s 160th birthday and named in his honour, ”the William Hardy range”?

It’s a bit of a puzzle. The range, now in Australia, was initially launched last year in Britain, where Hardys Wines is that country’s biggest-selling wine brand. Was it because the more formal moniker, one that shares a connection with royalty, would help fuel sales? No, the marketing department tells me ”William” had a better ring to it.

Hardys’ decision in releasing a tranche of William Hardy $21 wines in its 160th year is in keeping with its down-to-earth, drinker’s friend reputation.

For its 155th birthday it brought out not one but two new ranges priced under $30 a bottle, The Chronicles and Heritage Reserve Bin. No new glitzy flagships, just some good, everyday drinking wines.

Hardys is now looking for a wine to take drinkers from its standard Nottage Hill and Oomoto more profitable pastures. The William Hardy range is that stepping stone. No matter the Hardy family no longer has a significant role in the company, run by the very large Accolade Wines owned by private equity company CHAMP. No matter Bill Hardy is no longer a full-time winemaker but rather the brand’s ambassador.

The Hardy name resonates – for 160 years it has been producing wines of solid quality, most of that time with a member of the Hardy family at the helm or involved in the winery or on the board. Its use-by date isn’t up just yet.

Veteran Hardys white winemaker Tom Newton tapped into a variety back at the top of its game – chardonnay – and a variety that now assumes the mantle of underdog in Australia – sauvignon blanc – for the first release of the William Hardy whites.

Both the 2012 sauvignon blanc and 2012 chardonnay hail from the Adelaide Hills. Bill Hardy approves of the connection. ”My great-great-grandfather made wine from the Adelaide Hills back in the 19th century,” he said at the wine launch last month.

In the 1870s Thomas Hardy reportedly sourced grapes from 40 growers on the Adelaide plains and hills.

It has to be said, no doubt much to the chagrin of the growing Anything but Sauv Blanc brigade, that the grape looks bright and super sharp in Newton’s hands, bristling with tropical fruits, a light varietal grassiness and a mouthfeel courtesy of the winemaker working the lees (wine sediment of dead yeast cells, seeds, pulp), as he readily suggests, “heavily”.

Newton’s lees work is also evident in the 2012 chardonnay, providing attractive creaminess and texture, but there’s less of the brightness associated with the sauv blanc. Chief winemaker Paul Lapsley was behind the two William Hardy reds, a 2012 Coonawarra cabernet sauvignon and 2012 Barossa Valley shiraz.

The William Hardy range promises to grow in number, with possibly a pinot grigio to come and maybe a pinot noir.

The man behind the label is done proud, though he might wonder at its formality. “William is the name my wife uses when I’m in deep s—,” he quipped at the launch. Naming wines after various family members is a bit of a Hardys tradition.

The Nottage Hill label was struck in 1967 to celebrate the 60-year career of Thomas Hardy Nottage. Sir James (Jim) Hardy lends his name to the company bubbles and Eileen Hardy brings the lone touch of femininity with her own flagship label. William “Bill” Hardy completes the circle.

”In my family, after 40 years in business you either retire or die,” Bill Hardy says. ”To have a wine named after me while I am still working is nice.”Hardys: 160 years and counting …

1853: English immigrant Thomas Hardy buys land on the River Torrens at Adelaide and plants vines and fruit trees.

1857: Hardy makes his first vintage.

1876: Buys Tintara winery, stocks and vineyard at McLaren Vale.

1918: Buys grapes in the Barossa Valley. A winery follows.

1992: Thomas Hardy & Sons merges with Berri Renmano Ltd and becomes BRL Hardy, Australia’s second-largest wine company.

2003: Constellation Wines buys BRL Hardy for $1.9 billion. In 2008 BRL Hardy takes new name, Constellation Wines Australia (CWA).

2011: CWA is sold to CHAMP Private Equity and renamed Accolade Wines.

2013: Celebrates 160 years. CHAMP Private Equity announces $17.5 million investment to revitalise the Hardys brand.

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On the vine: Lakes Folly winemaker Rodney Kempe. Photo: Marco Del Grande On the vine: Lakes Folly winemaker Rodney Kempe. Photo: Marco Del Grande
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I was barracking for New Zealand in the recent America’s Cup challenge, although two key members of the victorious US crew were Aussies. Why back the Kiwis? Well, they’re our neighbours, and, more importantly, anyone who takes on the Yanks is the underdog.

So it was with some trepidation that the United States was invited to join the Five Nations Wine Challenge this year, making it a Six Nations Wine Challenge. The organisers and the wine writers who represent each of the five other nations were just a little concerned that the US would blitz the competition and dominate the awards – so large is its wine industry compared to the other nations.

Well, the results are in and Australia somehow managed to be the top-scoring nation, on aggregate points. But the US dominated the trophies – awarded to the highest scoring wine of each of the 17 classes – slamming home five trophies to Australia’s four, with New Zealand and Argentina three each, South Africa two and Chile none. Australia won the trophies for best chardonnay (Lakes Folly 2011), best sweet white (De Bortoli Noble One 2008), best other white varietal (Gartelmann Benjamin Semillon 2009) and best riesling (Pressing Matters R9, 2012). It was an especially strong result for the Hunter Valley.

But sadly Chile, which has won a trophy each previous year it has been included, failed to score one. This is partly because it enters fewer wines than it’s entitled to, as it lacks the depth to its wine industry that other countries have. Argentina, too, is shy on entries: both it and Chile produce a relatively narrow spread of grape varieties.

Each nation is represented by a leading wine scribe whose task it is to select and invite the entrants (about 100 wines from each nation) and then to participate in the blind judging that was held in Sydney in August.

The US, represented by veteran Californian wine writer Dan Berger, won the trophies for best sparkling wine, pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, other red varieties (with a zinfandel) and other red blends (with a cabernet merlot shiraz).

Argentina won best malbec, best red Bordeaux blend and best aromatic white other than riesling (with a torrontes).

It was interesting that while the US won the most trophies, it placed only fourth in aggregate points – after Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, in that order. In sparkling wine, for example, US won the trophy with Gloria Ferrer 2007 Blanc de Blancs, but Australia topped the class with ease. We also topped riesling (easily) and other white varieties, and positively crushed the opposition in chardonnay (scoring 244 points compared to 71 for South Africa, 42 for New Zealand, 33 for Chile and only 24 for the US). This is a surprise even for those who have been saying for years that Australia is second only to Burgundy in the world with chardonnay. In defence of the US, it had only four wines in the class: I’d like to see what might happen if it fielded a full team. The class was dominated by Australia, with five of the top six wines. Leeuwin Estate Art Series 2010 was runner-up; double-golds went to Dexter and Coldstream Hills Reserve 2011s, and gold to Cape Mentelle 2012.

However, we were humiliated in reds. New Zealand handed out a thrashing in shiraz almost as convincing as Australia’s dominance of chardonnay. It has been several years since Australia topped the shiraz class and in aggregate points we lagged behind New Zealand (200 points), South Africa (68) and Chile (57), scoring only 54 points. This may say something about the style preference of the judges and possibly the scoring system, which gives a heavy weighting to each judge’s top three wines in each class. The trophy winner, Kusuda 2010 Syrah from Martinborough, was a spicy, perfumed, elegant and soft-tannined marvel. It was a thoroughly deserving winner. It’s made by Japanese-born Hiro Kusuda, whose pinot noirs and syrahs have been attracting rave reviews.

Cabernet sauvignon, which has been a strong wine for Australia in previous competitions, turned into one of our biggest weaknesses this year and for no good reason that I can see. We came third behind the US and Argentina.

The trophy cabernet was a ripper: Kendall Jackson 2009 Grand Reserve, a beautiful wine of perfect fruit ripeness and great precision, balancing full body with miraculous elegance and persistence. Argentina won second place with Dominio Del Plata Susana Balbo Signature 2011: also an outstanding cabernet. I cannot argue about the result, as I myself placed these wines first and second on my scoresheet. C’est la vie.

Huonhooke上海夜网m

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Ploughman’s platter Photo: Steven Siewert Hot food: Ploughman’s lunch. Photo: Steven Siewert
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What is it?

Originally a British farm worker’s packed lunch – crumbly, cloth-bound cheddar, strong pickles and tough bread – the ploughman’s was promoted as a quick, easy pub meal in the late 1950s as part of a campaign to get Britons to eat more cheese. With the rise of casual eating, shared platters and craft beer – its ideal companion – the ploughman’s is being put to work once again.Where is it?

VICTORIA

In Melbourne, the ploughman’s is on the summer courtyard menu at The Commoner in Fitzroy, laden with house-made terrine, bresaola, wood-smoked ham, bread-and-butter pickles and toasted potato sourdough bread. “We call it cupboard love,” says co-owner Jo Corrigan.

“It takes a lot of time and dedication to prepare and yet it’s ready in a moment.”

At the Middle Park Hotel, head chef Andrew Beddoes maintains a ploughman’s platter counter meal that involves house-made pork pie, piccalilli, Isle of Mull cheddar, leg ham, apple, salad cream and toast. “It’s honest, it has a lot of different flavours, and people love it,” says Beddoes.

NSW

In Sydney, the ploughman’s platter for two at Manly’s new Rubber Duckie Tap House can be matched to any one of the 22 craft beers on offer. “Share food is becoming a big thing,” says general manager Piet Flynn.

But Sydney’s finest ploughman’s could well be at the charming Orto Trading Co in Surry Hills, where it’s dubbed ”the Gaffer” (British slang for the boss), and comes with a salt cod scotch egg, jar of pickled mackerel, rolled pork and rabbit terrine, Wagyu silverside, Maffra cheddar, piccalilli and char-grilled bread for two or more to share. “We chefs are sick of cooking for other chefs,” says co-owner and chef Chris Low. “We want to cook what we want to eat.”

Why do I care?

It’s easy, relaxed, grazing food that goes beautifully with a cold beer, a glass of wine or a cider.

Can I do this at home?

You probably do already.

Sourcing it

VICTORIA

The Commoner, 122 Johnston Street, Fitzroy 03 9415 6876

The Middle Park Hotel, 102 Canterbury Road, Middle Park 03 9690 1958

NSW

Orto Trading Co, 38 Waterloo Street, Surry Hills 0431 212 453

Rubber Duckie Tap House, 49 North Steyne, Manly Beach 02 9977 0999

Ploughman’s lunch

A good farmhouse cheddar (such as Pyengana, Maffra, Isle of Mull) is the heart and soul of a ploughman’s. Otherwise, you’re just eating antipasto.

300g wedge cloth-bound cheddar

6 thick slices rare roast beef or leg ham

4 pink radishes

4 pickled onions, gherkin, cornichon, etc

2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and halved

Sea salt and black pepper

Celery stalks and leaves

Crusty bread

Fruit chutney or piccalilli

Just plonk it all on a big wooden sharing board, scatter sea salt and pepper over the eggs, and sit down and eat.

Feel free to add watercress, fresh tomatoes, Branston Pickle, horseradish, hot mustard, Scotch eggs, cultured butter, pastrami, blue cheese, apples.

Serves 2

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I cooked ossobuco and over-seasoned it with salt. I ended up throwing it out and felt quite guilty about doing so. Was there anything I could have done? B. Leslie
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Yes. Taste it as you were cooking it. Cooks who don’t taste their food are like car companies who don’t crash test their cars. All my chef mates carry a dessert spoon in their back pocket and taste the dish from go to whoa. You often see chefs adding a sprinkle of salt to sauteeing vegetables because the osmotic effect of the salt draws water from the veg, which is then evaporated, thus intensifying the flavour. Remember that salt needs to be in solution to be tasted. So when you are finally seasoning the food make sure to stir it in and give it time to dissolve. If you accidentally over-season a soup, stew or braise, remember that you have a ratio problem – too much salt to the mass of stew. The solution? Increase the mass of stew. You could dilute it with more water, but you will lose taste and texture. By adding more bulk of vegetables, grains or pulses, you will return the ratio of stew to salt to a more acceptable level. Three or four peeled and chopped potatoes added to the sauce and cooked until soft will do the job. Remove the meat first, as you don’t want this to get overcooked and turn to mush.

Is rabbit an environmentally friendly meat option in Australia? C. McInnis

Call me cold-blooded, but I like eating rabbits. Wild rabbits. Wild rabbits shot just as they are about to eat another fledgling native plant trying to establish itself. Eat the bloody lot of bush-munching little conies, I say. Cam Walker at Friends of the Earth agrees saying, ”rabbits … constitute an environmentally friendly” meat option, because of the huge negative impact on vegetation and native species. (Large rabbit numbers can lead to large tracts of vegetation being destroyed, leading to the extinction of many plant species and the native animals that rely on them.) He is not so keen on farmed rabbit saying, ”It is hard to be certain that rabbits have been raised humanely. Feedlot-raised rabbits … will have a smaller footprint than broad acre grazing of cows and sheep, [but] do not bring the same environmental benefits of reducing numbers in the wild.”

When recipes say to put food into the oven at a certain temperature, they never say whether to put it on the bottom, top or middle shelf. W. McNulty

Unless stated otherwise, assume the recipe author intended you to place the food in the centre of the middle rack. One small tip: as many ovens have hot spots, turn baked goods such as cakes and biscuits around 180 degrees in the final quarter of the baking time to avoid one side browning more than the other.

I have so many recipes that require jicama, but can’t seem to find any. I’ve tried some substitutes but they didn’t produce the required result. C. Mandell

Jicama is a crunchy, swollen, legumous root that made its way from its home in Mexico to the Philippines with Spanish traders. From there it travelled to Vietnam and arrived here with the boat people. Look for it in Vietnamese grocers where it is known as san nuoc.

Letters

In response to a query about brik or malsouqa pastry, this suggestion came from T. Hoven who wrote, ”I have found spring roll pastry to be a good substitute. It’s easy to find, much tougher than filo and definitely crunchy.” Last month we answered a query about not using butter knives to cut bread rolls at the table, but breaking them by hand instead. To which reader GB2509 commented. ”Wow – I’m 26 and never heard the rule about using your hands to break the dinner role (sic). Can someone please explain this etiquette? I mostly use the knife and have never been picked up on this.”

Send your queries to [email protected]上海夜网m.au

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US Secretary of State John Kerry has insisted the capture of an alleged al-Qaeda operative in Libya in a US raid was legal, after Tripoli demanded answers about the “kidnap”.
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Abu Anas al-Libi, who was indicted in connection with the 1998 bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and has a $US5 million FBI bounty on his head, was captured on Saturday.

It was one of two US raids at the weekend, with US Navy Seals also storming a Shebab stronghold in the southern Somali port of Barawe, although the success of that assault was unclear.

The operation to capture Abu Anas drew fury from the Libyan government, which said it was unauthorised and described it as a “kidnap”.

But Mr Kerry on Monday defended the operation as within the law.

“With respect to Abu Anas al-Libi, he is a key al-Qaeda figure, and he is a legal and an appropriate target for the US military,” Mr Kerry told reporters on the sidelines of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Indonesia.

He added that Abu Anas had committed “acts of terror” and had been “appropriately indicted by courts of law, by the legal process”.

“The United States of America is going to do everything in its power that is legal and appropriate in order to enforce the law and protect our security,” he said.

But when asked whether the United States had informed Libya before the raid, Mr Kerry refused to say.

“We don’t get into the specifics of our communications with a foreign government on any kind of operation of this kind,” he said.

His defence of the operation came after Libya on Sunday demanded an explanation from Washington for the “kidnap”.

“The Libyan government has been following the reports of the kidnap of one of the Libyan citizens wanted by the authorities in the United States,” a government statement said.

“As soon as it heard the reports, the Libyan government contacted the US authorities to demand an explanation.”

Abu Anas was taken to a US Navy warship in the region after the raid and was being questioned there, a US official said.

Abu Anas , 49, had been indicted in the US federal court in New York for allegedly playing a key role in the east Africa bombings – which left more than 200 dead – and plots to attack US forces.

The Tripoli operation ended a 13-year manhunt for Abu Anas , whose given name is Nazih Abdul Hamed al-Raghie. FBI and CIA agents assisted US troops in the raid, US media reported.

His arrest paves the way for his extradition to New York to face trial.

Citing surveillance camera footage, Abu Anas ‘s son, Abdullah al-Raghie, said his father had been seized by masked gunmen armed with pistols, and that some of them were Libyans.

He claimed that the Libyan government was implicated in his father’s disappearance, a claim Tripoli vehemently denies.

US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Sunday that the operations sent “a strong message to the world that the United States will spare no effort to hold terrorists accountable”.

“We will continue to maintain relentless pressure on terrorist groups that threaten our people or our interests, and we will conduct direct action against them, if necessary, that is consistent with our laws and our values,” he added.

Kerry insisted that the capture of Abu Anas by US forces on foreign soil would not send a negative perception about the United States to the world and that he would be treated fairly.

“He will now have an opportunity to defend himself and to be appropriately brought to justice in a court of law,” Mr Kerry said.

He said people should focus on the “importance of the rule of law” when looking at the case.

“That is the perception that we believe is the important one for people to understand.”

While the operation in Libya achieved its objective, it was unclear whether the Somalia raid on the beachfront villa of a leader of the country’s al-Qaeda-linked insurgents had been a success.

A US official said a “high-value” Shebab leader was the target but according to The New York Times, SEAL commandos were forced to withdraw before confirming the kill.

The target was a Kenyan of Somali origin known as Ikrimah, the Times reported on Monday, citing an unnamed US official.

The strike follows last month’s siege of an upmarket shopping mall in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, where 67 people were killed.

The Times said that Ikrimah, identified as a top Shebab planner, was not linked to that attack but the raid was prompted by fears that the target could be planning a similar assault on Western targets.

AFP

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Shanghai Night Net.Read More →