we’re here to help Each month we ask our food­ies for their ex­pert tips and ideas for our kitchen queries.

taste.com.au - - KNOW HOW - need a lit­tle help? If you have a ques­tion for one of our food­ies, send it to tastemag@ news.com.au


QIs chop­ping ve­g­ies a few days ahead bad for them? I am a big fan of pre-prep­ping ve­g­ies for su­per-quick lunches and din­ners. Once veg­eta­bles are peeled and chopped, they do de­te­ri­o­rate faster than those in their whole state due to in­creased oxy­gen ex­po­sure, so keep them in air­tight con­tain­ers or seal­able bags. In re­gards to nu­tri­ents, all fresh veg­eta­bles will start to lose wa­ter-sol­u­ble vi­ta­mins from the time they are picked, so the trick is not to store them for too long. There are, how­ever, sig­nif­i­cant ad­van­tages of pre­par­ing ve­g­ies ahead of time. Be­ing or­gan­ised means you’ll be more likely to make good choices at meal­times, and that is a big tick for me.


QHow do you cook rice in the mi­crowave? This is re­ally easy – you just need to en­sure all the steam is trapped. There are lots of in­ex­pen­sive mi­crowave rice con­tain­ers on of­fer or you can use a large mi­crowave-safe bowl with a dou­ble layer of plas­tic wrap to seal. Add 2 cups of rice and enough wa­ter to cover by 2cm. Cover and cook on High (800 watts) for 5 min­utes. Re­duce heat to Medium (500 watts) and cook for an­other 7 min­utes. Let the rice rest for a few min­utes to con­tinue cook­ing, then use a fork to sep­a­rate the grains. Any jas­mine or bas­mati rice will work us­ing this method. You can stir through dried spices, such as saf­fron, turmeric, car­damom pods or cin­na­mon sticks be­fore cook­ing or toss some fresh herbs through at the end.


QHow do I re­move av­o­cado skin with­out dam­ag­ing the flesh? Start by re­mov­ing the seed. Slice the av­o­cado in half length­ways, around the seed. Then, gen­tly twist the halves so they come apart. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seed and dis­card. Place the av­o­cado halves, cut side down, on a clean work sur­face. Use your fin­gers or a sharp par­ing knife to gen­tly peel away the skin, start­ing at the stem end. This should leave you with 2 per­fect firm pieces of av­o­cado that you can slice or dice. A quick tip if you’re in a rush is to use a large spoon to scoop out the flesh in one piece. Hold the av­o­cado half, cav­ity side up, in your palm. Start­ing at the round end, sim­ply slide the spoon be­tween the flesh and skin.


QCan I sub­sti­tute light cream for reg­u­lar cream in desserts? Light cream is a great op­tion for savoury dishes, but some desserts need the full-fat ver­sion, usu­ally when they re­quire the cream to be whipped. When you need light and fluffy clouds of cream, for top­ping or layers, it is best to use the full-fat ver­sion as it aer­ates and holds its shape bet­ter. Pavlo­vas, tri­fles and mousses are good ex­am­ples. But if the cream doesn’t need to be whipped, light cream is fine – think choco­late sauce, ganache or desserts such as panna cotta and cus­tards.


QWhy don’t my eggs peel neatly? One of the rea­sons eggs don’t peel well is that the pro­teins in egg whites be­come sticky when heated, so they grip the mem­brane in­side the shell. The pro­tein in fresher eggs also seems to be stick­ier than in older eggs. So I sug­gest us­ing slighty older eggs to boil. Once cooked, plunge into iced wa­ter un­til cool enough to han­dle. Lightly tap on a work sur­face to crack all over, then peel un­der cold run­ning wa­ter.

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