Q&A Your questions answered – from making custard and coconut milk to cooking corned beef!
we’re here to help Each month we ask our foodies for their expert tips on sticky kitchen questions.
QHow do you make perfect custard? There is nothing like the taste of homemade custard, and in a busy kitchen, just standing and stirring can be so calming. I like to make a traditional crème anglaise by whisking 4 egg yolks and 60ml ( 14⁄ cup) caster sugar in a bowl. Next, warm 375ml (1 12⁄ cups) milk with a vanilla bean. Allow the milk to cool slightly and add it to the egg mixture. (If it’s too hot, the egg may scramble.) Pour the mixture into a saucepan and let the stirring begin; slow and low is the key! Best of all, you can make custard ahead – just cover the surface with non-stick baking paper to prevent a skin from forming.
Q What’s the best way to store cheese? Cheese contains micro-organisms, so correct storage makes a big difference to its flavour and freshness. The best way is to wrap in waxed paper or parchment, followed by a loose layer of plastic wrap. This allows cheese to breathe and stops it sweating or drying out. (Plastic wrap alone will suffocate cheese.) Notable exceptions are blue cheese, which is best wrapped in foil, and fresh cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta, which should be kept in brine or their original containers. Store cheese in the fridge’s vegetable crisper, as it’s not too cold. Ideally, buy cheese in small quantities, so you eat it at its best and not stored for too long.
QHow do I make coconut milk? You can make your own coconut milk by blending coconut flesh with water and then straining through cheesecloth. Fresh coconut milk doesn’t last long, however, and must be consumed within a couple of days. In fact, you’ll get the best flavour from both fresh and canned coconut milk by using them quickly. You can freeze leftovers, but be sure to defrost slowly in the fridge to avoid curdling.
QWhat are some healthy comfort foods? With the beginning of cooler weather, we all start to crave comfort food. The good news is that it can be healthy! Try tomato-based braises and curries, and choose leaner cuts of meat such as blade steak or trimmed lamb leg. Add lots of vegies – or even better, some legumes – to reduce the quantity of meat and increase dietary fibre. You don’t have to skip the mash, but try cauliflower as a low-carb and low-cal alternative to potato.
QHow do you cook corned beef? I love simmering it with peppercorns, coriander seeds, star anise, a cinnamon stick and a splash of vinegar and port. At home I serve it with a white sauce and kipfler potatoes cooked in the stock, so they get all salty and flavour-filled. At the restaurant, it’s a bit edgier: topped with buffalo-milk curd and pears. One of the best bits about cooking corned beef is making sandwiches from the leftovers. My favourite is with sourdough bread, English mustard and cheddar, fried until the cheese melts and the bread is all caramelised and crisp.
do the mash!