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Using white cooking wine.

If you are not prepared to drink it, you shouldn't use it in cooking.

Have you ever been so disappointed by a meal that you cried?

I was on a restaurant review assignment. This particular restaurant had actually called the paper and asked them to get me to review: I told them asking for reviews was a bad idea. They said they were very confident about their food. It was a bad idea. I stared at a menu which had as its highlight "Rack of lamb stuffed with banana prawn with a strawberry & mint peppercorn sauce." I played safe: ordered gammon steak with chips. It reeked of boar taint - inedible. A side salad had tinned asparagus and julienne carrots with refrigerator 'burn'. Didn't quite cry - but had to go find another place to fill the column.

Weekend Cook and Tell: Kitchen Tool Crossover

The hypodermic syringe: Brilliant for feeding Christmas cakes. Then there's the famous Gigot de La Clinique - marinate leg of lamb in red wine + vegetables for a week, inject the marinade every day. Total transformation of lamb into really complex, game-y meat. Marinating by injection gets marinade flavours far deeper into meats than normal marination can.

Taste Test: The Best Chocolate Chips for Chocolate Chip Cookies

For real indulgence, use the pure Coverture buttons eg Callebaut dark chocolate instead of chocolate chips.

Orange Marmalade: Good; Seville Oranges: Rare

If you have space, grow your own tree. They will grow very well in pots. Other great citrus marmalades are Blood Orange + Meyer lemon (an accidental one that I made up because I ended up with an abundance of both a couple of years ago; but turned out to be BIG hit with friends) and of course, kumquat marmalade. Kumquat marmalade seems to be a very Australian thing. I give it to my sister in London - all UK friends big fan of it too!

Was that a goat?

Love goat meat. Roast kid - fantastic! Excellent curry as well.


Salmana, the rise and spread of Islam over 7th - 10th centuries across Europe resulted in many foods (eg citrus like lemons & bitter orange like the Seville) being spread beyond their origins; and local food cultures were likewise influenced. As it has always happened throughout history - whether it was Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire etc.

Food history is fascinating. dhosrt - what an interesting post!

The importance of eating seasonally...

Seasonal eating underpins traditional medicine philosophies (Chinese, Ayurvedic, etc..and actually also the Hippocrates school although the latter went a different way subsequently.) The rationale is about balance: disease stems from dis-ease within your body and between your body and the environment.

In the course of research for an article on seasonal eating, I spoke to a Western nutritionist to get views from Western science on these traditional approaches to diet. One thing that she did bring up was that the exponential rise in food intolerances in recent times is possibly the result of eating the same foods (and a limited variety) 365 days a year. Natural food chemicals build up in the body resulting in these adverse reactions.

If you really want to explore this further, "Food for the Seasons" by Professor Lun Wong OBE is very approachable. You might have difficulty getting it in the US as it published by a very small publisher (Red Dog) in Melbourne. I don't know if they ship overseas. Their website is www.

The other book that is a great reference is "Healing with Whole Foods - Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition" by Paul Pitchford (publisher is North Atlantic Books) - you should be able to find this online pretty easily.

Plov (Uzbek Rice Pilaf)

The mention of Uzbek and plov caught my attention.

What fascinated me about plov when I was travelling the Silk Road several years ago was the colour of the carrots they used (right through from Xinjiang to the various 'Stans): really bright yellow. They use a different breed of sheep - fat tailed lambs. And yes, the tails really are fat and the fat is used for cooking.

Serious Vacuum Sealer (chamber, planning ahead)

Thanks for raising the topic, Maztec. I must look into this Vacmaster 112. Want to be playing with sous vide soon....I have temperature controller on the shopping list at the moment.

A good food processor?

Robot Coupe. I have a Magimix (the old name for them) that I bought in 1980. It doesn't have a pulse button, the handle has fallen off the original bowl BUT it's still going strong despite all the work it's been put through over the year. I soooooo want a new one but can't justify buying another when this 30 year old one is still going strong.

Yes it costs more but you will never have trouble with it and it will last a lifetime.

No recipe cooking

If you like eating, you will know instinctively how to use any of those ingredients without a recipe. Ate something you liked? Get your palate trained for flavour memory and you can put anything together.

What is a good coconut milk substitute?

There really isn't a substitute for coconut milk if you want to achieve the "authentic" flavour. Perhaps you have used some really bad brands of coconut milk before (plenty of those around). Coconut milk should be fragrant. Give it one more go: have a look at the Ayam Brand products. Very hard to beat its quality - I've tried others over the years but nothing (apart from fresh or snap frozen) beats the quality.

What is the best/cheapest college meals to make?

Assume you want to save time as well as money. Curries freeze very well. Lots of great vegetarian ones to save cash. Mince meat (beef or pork) always great value. Recommend you make up big batches of bolognaise sauce or other mince-based sauces to go with pasta or rice (you don't want to be eating one type of meal ad nauseam!). Freeze them in single serve portions.

When Did Waiter Become "Server" Anyway?

Another case of political correctness gone mad!

Risotto - How do you cook your risotto?

Been using this method since the 90s when I first saw Ferron do it in Melbourne. Ferron's "no stir" risotto only works with Carnaroli and Vialone Nano. It's the nature of these rice varieties. The true arborio variety has long been lost. Fortunately, Vialone Nano has had IGP status since 1996. Have a look at my article on no-stir risotto at

Poll: Do You Do 'Salad' on Your Pizza?

Only if there's a few leaves eg radicchio, ruchetta..and only if they are meant to be the primary (or one of primary) flavours on the pizza. Not a mountain of the stuff. Let 2011 be the return of the traditional Italian pizza - thin crust, a mere smattering (not mountain) of toppings....please!

The Food Lab's Top 6 Food Myths

Pasta cooking: I use an asparagus cooker (that tall narrow stainless steel pot with an insert basket) to cook pasta. Uses much less water but has enough depth to get the long pastas into boiling water quickly. Also means the pasta is well covered by water during cooking. One stir to make sure all the pasta is loosened, cover, drop heat, set timer. And yes, use the water for the sauce. I transfer the pasta straight from the pot to the pan with the sauce (taking along some cooking water with it); saute the pasta into the sauce for a minute or two.

Where to get pandan extract (w/out too many additives?)

Don't use the extracts: they are hideous. Skip the dried. Use the frozen. For kaya, you don't need the extract - you knot the leaves up and put it into the mixture before you steam. (have a look at my blog at For cakes etc you do need the extract: pound the leaves or process in food processor, and squeeze the juice out. Yes, it's a bit of work but the different is incredible.

Rice Cooker: brown rice button

Rice cooker can also be used for steaming food - as long as you put a shallow steamer rack inside! Sliced Chinese sausage & other Chinese "charcuterie" can be placed on top of the rice about 5 - 10 minutes before the cooking time is up. The fat seasons the rice, the sausage is perfectly steamed. Yummy! Or try diced chicken seasoned with oyster sauce, soy sauce (light & dark) - put it on top of the rice (adding Chinese sausage as well is also nice) about 15 minutes before the rice is done. Leave the rice cooker on for about 15 - 20 minutes after the rice is done to ensure the chicken is cooked through. Serve with stir fried Chinese greens.

Rice Cooker: brown rice button

The different settings reflect the different timing & liquid ratios different rice types need. The insert of the rice cooker should have markings showing you the water levels required for the different rice types. This type of rice cooker is fantastic for cooking Nasi Lemak (Malaysian dish - rice cooked with coconut milk) - not possible with the old single setting rice cooker.