Want to know how to steam fish to perfection? Or make a tangy chut­ney that gets the most out of the fruit from your kitchen gar­den? Sil­vena has the an­swers. Plus she shares more of her recipes, this week mak­ing the most of the clean, fresh taste of cu­cumb

Friday - - Society Living Leisure -

Fri­day’s do­mes­tic diva Sil­vena Rowe is here to solve all your kitchen glitches.

Food colum­nist, reg­u­lar on Bri­tish TV, award-win­ning cook­ery book author – not to men­tion es­tab­lish­ing Quince, a con­tem­po­rary restau­rant at the May Fair Ho­tel in Lon­don – Sil­vena Rowe has a wealth of culi­nary knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence. And she’s go­ing to share it with you.

Celebrity chef Sil­vena has re­cently made Dubai her home, and as she im­merses her­self in the di­verse flavours and in­gre­di­ents of the re­gion, she’s invit­ing you to join her on her culi­nary jour­ney.

While she shares some of her favourite recipes with you, she’s also here to an­swer your ques­tions. If your meringue peaks are fail­ing to pique any­one’s in­ter­est, your lasagna is lack­ing in flavour, or you just can’t hunt down an in­gre­di­ent for a dish you re­ally want to try, drop her a line and she’ll try to help.

My fam­ily and I love chicken when we buy it from a ro­tis­serie or take-away as it’s nice and suc­cu­lent but when I try to make it at home it turns out dry and chewy. How can I en­sure my chicken stays juicy?

Grilling a whole chicken can be quite tricky so start by grilling chicken breast. Al­ways grill on medium heat – not high – and turn the chicken ev­ery few min­utes for even cook­ing. Also, while grilling chicken, leave the skin on as the fat in the skin pre­vents the chicken from dry­ing out. If you don’t like the taste of the skin, re­move it af­ter you’ve al­lowed the chicken to rest. The kind of mari­nade and mar­i­na­tion time also de­ter­mine the suc­cu­lence of the meat. I think a sim­ple mari­nade of olive oil, mus­tard, gar­lic, herbs and lemon juice is de­li­cious. Ap­ply it all over the chicken, cover in cling film and then re­frig­er­ate overnight for best re­sults.

On one hand, I am ex­cited about how well my tomato plants are do­ing but on the other, I don’t know what to do with a huge bas­ket of toma­toes that I know I’m go­ing to har­vest soon. Please sug­gest a recipe for a tomato chut­ney that’ll last a long time in the re­frig­er­a­tor, so I don’t have to give my toma­toes away as I am sud­denly feel­ing pos­ses­sive about them.

I to­tally un­der­stand how you feel about what comes out of your kitchen gar­den – af­ter all, th­ese are the fruits of your labour! So here’s a recipe that is not just de­li­cious but ex­tremely ver­sa­tile too.

Com­bine 1 cup of white sugar with 1 cup of packed brown sugar, 3 cups of ap­ple cider vine­gar, 3 ta­ble­spoons of finely chopped ginger, 1 tea­spoon of cumin pow­der and some salt in a large heavy-bot­tomed pan. Bring the mix­ture to a boil and stir un­til all the sugar dis­solves.

Next, lower the heat and add about 1.3 ki­los of toma­toes that have been de­seeded and roughly chopped, 2 large onions that have been chopped, 1 cup golden raisins and the zest and juice of 1 lemon. Stir well and al­low to cook, un­cov­ered, over a low heat for about 3 hours. Stir oc­ca­sion­ally.

When cooked, take the chut­ney off the heat and let it cool down com­pletely. When it reaches room tem­per­a­ture, spoon it into a ster­ilised jar with an air­tight lid and re­frig­er­ate. It stays fresh for a month. You can even store it in an un­cov­ered jar in the re­frig­er­a­tor.

I can as­sure you that you’ll prize this de­li­cious chut­ney as much as you prize your toma­toes.

Some Mid­dle Eastern recipes ask for pome­gran­ate mo­lasses. What is this and where can I buy it in Dubai?

It is a con­cen­tra­tion of pome­gran­ate juice and sugar, which has been cooked to a syrup-like con­sis­tency.

It has a con­cen­trated sweet and tangy flavour and is mainly used as a salad dress­ing. You would have tasted it in a fat­toush salad (see recipe on page 69). It also makes a great mari­nade and an en­joy­able drink. Just di­lute it with some wa­ter or soda and add a pinch of chopped mint for a re­fresh­ing taste.

It is widely avail­able in Ira­nian gro­cery stores and supermarkets sell­ing Mid­dle Eastern foods. In fact, look for it when you next go to the spice souq.

I think I am suf­fer­ing from oven phobia and what is adding to my trep­i­da­tion is the be­lief that ovens have a mind of their own. Is that true? How do you ‘do­mes­ti­cate’ this ap­pli­ance?

Ovens can be tricky so when you say that they have a mind of their own, I agree. Ev­ery oven is dif­fer­ent. The best way to get over your fear is by us­ing your oven as of­ten as pos­si­ble and mak­ing amend­ments as you go.

It is vi­tal that you know that there are largely two types of ovens. Fan-as­sisted ovens are com­monly those ta­ble top three-in-ones that go by the name OTG (Oven Toaster Grill) and the other one is a con­ven­tional oven that comes as a part of a gas cook­ing range or an elec­tric one.

Fan-as­sisted ovens are pre­ferred as they have a fan in­side that dis­trib­utes the heat evenly and there­fore en­sure the food cooks evenly. The con­ven­tional oven, on the other hand, does not have that fea­ture so it can lead to un­even cook­ing.

What you need to re­mem­ber is that most bak­ing recipes give oven tem­per­a­tures for con­ven­tional ovens as they are more com­mon than fan-as­sisted ones, un­less of course spec­i­fied oth­er­wise.

So if you have a fan-as­sisted oven, re­duce the oven tem­per­a­ture by 20°C. Also, en­sure you do not leave your oven unat­tended. Check reg­u­larly to en­sure you cook dishes right through at the cor­rect tem­per­a­ture.

When­ever I go to a Far Eastern restau­rant or an In­dian one, I like to try steamed fish if they have it on the menu. Now I want to try mak­ing it my­self. Is it dif­fi­cult to pre­pare fish this way?

I’m glad you asked this ques­tion as I be­lieve steamed fish is not only easy to make, it is ex­tremely healthy and ver­sa­tile, de­pend­ing on the flavour­ings you want to add.

What is vi­tal, how­ever, is the qual­ity of the fish. When buy­ing fish, make sure it is absolutely fresh. Clean it well, sea­son with flavour­ings you like and wrap it re­ally well in ei­ther ba­nana leaf or foil.

It is very im­por­tant that the fish is well wrapped and there is absolutely no pos­si­bil­ity of any steam es­cap­ing dur­ing the cook­ing process.

Place it in a hot oven and al­low 10 min­utes for a 180g fil­let.

Re­move from the oven and al­low the pack­age to rest few min­utes, then open very care­fully and serve. ● Do you have a ques­tion for our Do­mes­tic Diva, Sil­vena? Email her at Fri­ Please write ‘Do­mes­tic Diva’ in the sub­ject line of your email.

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