Q&A we’re here to help
Each month we ask our foodies for their expert tips and ideas for our kitchen queries.
Q How do I prevent ice crystals forming on top of my ice-cream? There’s a ‘cool’ trick to keeping ice-cream soft and fluffy once opened. After you’ve scooped some ice-cream out the first time, place a piece of plastic wrap over the surface of the ice-cream left in the tub. Smooth it out so there are no air bubbles, then replace the lid. Each time you scoop some out, cover again with the plastic wrap and smooth it out. No more icy crystals or chewy dried-up edges!
Q Which is the best oil for homemade mayo? I find most olive oils too strong for mayo, so I use a neutral oil, such as grapeseed, then spike it with an oil relevant to the dish I’m making – maybe 20 per cent olive oil for a Mediterranean dish or 15 per cent sesame oil for a Korean gochujang mayo. The main thing is to find an easy, fail-safe recipe. I swear by what’s become ‘my’ instant mayo recipe. Crack an egg into a jug, without breaking the yolk. Pour over 250ml (1 cup) oil, 1 tbs fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp mustard and any seasonings you like. Position a stick blender over the yolk, so the blender’s basket covers and encloses it. Blend for 1-2 seconds to emulsify. Pull blender up to incorporate all the ingredients until a thick mayonnaise forms.
Q What’s the trick for perfect pavlova? There are a few key elements to bear in mind. First up, humid days are not good for making a pav, as the moisture in the air will make the meringue weep. Next, cook it in a conventional oven if you can (not fan forced). Use fresh eggs at room temperature to get maximum aeration, and make sure none of the yolk slips in – even a tiny amount will reduce aeration. A clean, dry glass or stainless-steel bowl is essential (avoid plastic, as the coating can retain a layer of grease, which ruins meringue). Lastly, the sugar needs to be fully dissolved. To test, rub a little mixture between your fingers – if it feels grainy, keep beating. Test often to avoid over-beating, which can cause the pav to crack.
Q How do I cook fish on the barbecue? Fish is one of my favourite things to barbecue. If cooking a thick, meaty fish fillet (such as salmon, tuna or barramundi), just drizzle with olive oil, season and cook on the grill or flat plate for 2 minutes each side (for medium). Fish fillets that are more delicate (such as snapper, whiting, trout) are best enclosed in a foil parcel. Drizzle the fish with oil and add fresh herbs, chilli, lemon slices, spices, capers or olives for extra flavour before sealing the foil. Cook for 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. This is also a great way to cook whole fish (such as snapper or salmon) – just increase cooking time to 8-10 minutes each side or until the flesh comes away from the bone when flaked.
Q What’s the best way to peel stone fruit? In summer, our stone fruit has two purposes – to be eaten straight up as a snack or to be turned into magnificent desserts. If eating as a snack, you’re best keeping the skin on, as this is where a lot of the nutrients are. Give the fruit a quick rinse and dry it if you want, then dive straight in. For desserts, you may want to remove the skin. The best way to do this is to use a sharp knife to make a small cross in the base of the fruit. Plunge into boiling water, then drain and rinse under cold water. For ripe fruit, this is all you need for the skins to slide off easily.
need a little help?
If you have a question for one of our foodies, send it to tastemag@ news.com.au