ASK THE EXPERT
FROM NAILING A CLASSIC TO PICKING PERFECT PRODUCE, OUR EDITOR SOPHIE GRAY HAS THE ANSWERS
Our food editor Sophie Gray covers your queries
Is there a secret to the perfect egg carbonara? Mine always seem to be either swimming in raw egg or clogged in a lumpy dry sauce! A The difficulty is that you need enough heat to melt the cheese and thicken the egg, but not so much as to scramble the egg, which starts to happen at 62°C. I advise mixing the eggs and cheese in a separate bowl, then draining the pasta, reserving some of the water. Dry the pasta in the pot over the heat for a few seconds, remove from the heat and toss through the egg mixture; the residual heat will begin to thicken the egg. Now add a dash of reserved starchy water to stop it becoming too thick. Don’t return it to the heat or the eggs will scramble. Q I recently had a delicious snapper en papillote in a restaurant, but I struggled to recreate it at home. Is there a trick to wrapping the paper around the fish – and how do you check if it’s done without all the steam escaping?
A French for ‘in parchment’, baking the fish in a tightly sealed paper pouch locks in flavour as the fish cooks in its own juices and the seasonings you’ve added. You can’t take a peek without losing the steam, so calculate the cooking time first. As a rough guide, allow 10 minutes per 2.5cm thickness – measured at the thickest part, cooked at 180°C. To wrap, fold a piece of non-stick baking paper in half and cut out to create a heart-shape when the paper is opened out. Ensure it’s large enough to include a 4cm border around the fish. Place fish in the middle of one side of heart, add seasonings (such as herbs), drizzle with olive oil, then fold the other side of heart over fish, lining up the edges. Starting at the rounded end, crimp by rolling the edge over on itself, continuing all the way around twice to create a double layered rolled edge. Place on a rimmed baking tray and bake.