Les copio otro articulo del The Times del día de ayer donde aparecen algunos de los grandes chefs ingleses dando consejos prácticos sobre problemas frecuentes en la cocina.

Q&A: cooking problems solved by our experts
Lumpy white sauce? Perfect pached eggs? Eleven common kitchen dilemmas tackled by Britain’s top chefs
The Times

Q Why do my chips never come out fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside?

Hestor Blumenthal
Hestor Blumenthal

Heston Blumenthal: Not all potatoes are right for all dishes. When I first started looking into which spud was best for chip-making, I discovered that the key was the amount of “dry matter” the potato contained — what would be left if you removed the skin and the water content. Less than 18 per cent and the potatoes won’t give you a decent chip.

This may sound a bit technical, but all you really need to know is that when potatoes are harvested, those grown in the wetter part of the field contain more water. These spuds bruise more easily and don’t last as long, so they tend to be sold first. You need to wait a month or so from the time a crop hits the shops for the “drier” potatoes to come in. Charlotte and Belle de Fontenay varieties work well.
As for cooking fat, groundnut oil is probably the best because it is very pure and odour-free. Otherwise, rendered beef fat would be delicious, too.
Q How do you make the perfect vinaigrette? Mine’s always too gloopy.

Gordon Ramsey
Gordon Ramsey

Gordon Ramsay: You want to aim for a mix of about four or five parts oil to one part vinegar. To make it less cloying, I would mix 120ml extra virgin olive oil with 120ml groundnut oil, 50ml white wine vinegar, a couple of teaspoons of sherry vinegar, plus sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. If it is still too thick, you can always let it down with a splash of water.

Q When I roast chicken, I never get enough juice to make gravy. What can I add, without resorting to a stock cube?

Richard Corrigan
Richard Corrigan

Richard Corrigan: Boost the juices and add some lovely buttery, lemony flavour by squeezing half a lemon over the bird before roasting it, tucking the squeezed half inside the body cavity with some fresh thyme and rubbing the skin with softened butter scattered with a little more thyme. When the chicken is cooked, take it out of the roasting tin and let it rest. Skim the fat from the top of the juices and put the tin on the hob over a moderate heat. Now pour in a good glassful of white wine. Bring it to the boil, stirring to get all the bits of chicken from the bottom of the tin, then strain through a fine sieve into a pan. Bring back to the boil, season and add another squeeze of lemon juice.

Q How come my white sauce always turns out lumpy?

Angela Harnett
Angela Hartnett

Angela Hartnett: Because you’re not putting in enough arm work. Add the milk slowly, giving the sauce a really good beating with a wooden spoon after each addition. Don’t add more milk until you have got rid of any lumps.

Q With fan ovens, are there some things that cook better without the fan on, and vice versa?

Tom Norrington-Davies
Tom Norrington-Davies

Tom NorringtonDavies: Fan-assisted ovens distribute heat more efficiently, making them great for baking. But it’s a very dry heat — not so good for things such as roasting joints and baking bread. Add a gratin dish of water to the oven, or throw a glass of water (or wine) in the roasting pan to get some steam going.

Q What’s the secret to poaching eggs? I was told to add vinegar to the water, but they tasted horrible.

John Torode
John Torode

John Torode: That’s probably because you are using too much. A little white wine vinegar helps, but you need only a capful. Also remember not to salt the water. Salt is the poached egg’s enemy — it will make the white break up and it won’t set. One of the secrets of keeping the white together and getting a nice runny yolk is to use very fresh farm eggs. When an egg is just laid, its albumen (the white of the egg) is at its most solid and thick.

The other trick is to use very cold eggs, which helps to keep the whites together when they hit the boiling water — and use the deepest pot you have. That way the eggs will sink slowly and by the time they float up again the whites will have set. Have the water rolling rather than bubbling.
If you are poaching more than two eggs at once you may need to tweak up the water temperature a little. I prefer to break the egg above the water rather than into a cup first. You need to do this as close to the water as possible, so that the egg slides in and forms a teardrop shape.
However, if you are poaching a few at a time, it is easier to crack all the eggs into individual cups or pots before starting and drop them in one after the other, but not on top of each other. A good tip is to treat the saucepan like a clock, so that the first egg goes in at 12 o’clock, the next at 3 o’clock, then at 6 o’clock and so on. Two minutes in the simmering water and you will have great, soft eggs.
Q How can I stop my pastry from shrinking and cracking when I make tarts and quiches?

Yotam Ottolenghi
Yottam Ottolenghi

Yotam Ottolenghi: A few crucial points will help with this. The pastry mustn’t be dry, as this tends to create cracks, so if it feels dry add some more water. When you make the pastry, and again when you roll it, you are stretching the gluten in the flour, so you need to let it rest, relax and shrink back to size after each stage. That way it does most of its shrinking before it goes in the oven.

Once you have made your pasty dough, put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, then, once you have rolled it out and lined your quiche or tart case, put it back in the fridge, again for at least 30 minutes. Also, when you are rolling your pastry, keep turning it through 90 degrees: roll a bit, turn, roll a bit, turn, etc. That way you stretch the pastry in every direction, and if it does shrink in the oven at least it will do it evenly. To be on the safe side though, when you line your tart case, let the pastry overhang the tin by quite a few centimetres and leave it like that until it is baked. When it comes out of the oven you can trim off the edges.

Q How do you get soft, loose curds of scrambled eggs? Mine always end up dry and rubbery.

Allegra McEvedy

Allegra McEvedy: Quite simply, you’re over-cooking them. I use a rubber spatula as it gives better control over consistency than the rounded end of a wooden spoon. Also, opt for a decently weighty pan, which will ensure even, controlled cooking. And, most importantly, get those soft, creamy-looking eggs (known as baveuse) out of the pan asap. Ideally, everything else should be ready (warm plate, toast buttered, etc) before you swirl a knob of butter into the hot pan, followed by your beaten eggs (with a splash of double cream, a fraction of Dijon mustard and seasoning). Some rapid strokes of the spatula, and that’s it — in and out in two minutes, maximum.

Q Why do my meringues end up like bullets and not chewy in the middle?

Sally Clarke
Sally Clarke

Sally Clarke: You are probably cooking them for too long. Simply whisk three egg whites in a clean, dry bowl until stiff, and gradually whisk in 190g sugar little by little until the meringue is thick and glossy. Finally, whisk in a dash of vanilla extract, 2tsp cornflour and 1tsp white wine vinegar. Shape on silicone wax paper, either individually or spread into a thick disc for a “pavlova”. The cooking is the next tricky part – preheat the oven to 140C/gas 1 and bake for 40 minutes, or until crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. They should hardly colour at all.

Q When I fry onions and garlic at the beginning of making a casserole they sometimes have a bitter taste. Why is this?

Richard Bertinet
Richard Bertinet

Richard Bertinet: It sounds as though you have got your oil too hot before you put them in and you are over-browning them, instead of letting them cook gently so that their sweetness comes out. I suggest you put your oil, onions and garlic into a cold pan on the hob, then they will come up to temperature very slowly. Once they start to sizzle you can just keep them ticking over gently, stirring well, until they soften.

Q How do you stop the fruit from sinking to the bottom of a fruit cake?

Mary Berry
Mary Berry

Mary Berry: When fruit drops to the bottom it is because of one of three things: the mixture is too sloppy, the fruit is too wet or you have used the wrong fat. Usually you will have soaked your dried fruit in some sort of booze or juice, and you need to leave it until all the liquid has been taken up by the fruit. I leave mine for a couple of days, but if the fruit is old it can take longer. If you don’t have time to leave the fruit, drain off the liquid and pour it over the cake after it is baked. Whole glacé cherries are the most liable to sink, so halve or quarter them and wash and dry them before soaking.

Q My godson is nearly 2 and still without  a christening present from me. His wineloving parents are expexting the traditional godfather-godson present of vintage port, but is there a more imaginative alternative?

Jane McQuitty
Jane McQuitty

Jane MacQuitty. There is. Buy your godson a 40 £  «share» in The Wine Society (01438741177), a non-profit making society founded in 1874, and have them lay down the first bottle in your godson{s cellar, a gorgeous and truly great vintage champagne, Bollinger´s ripe, beefy 2000 La Grande Année for £ 59. By the time your godson has come of age it will have evolved into a richer, nuttier, dreamy mouthful that illustrates the wonders of cellaring wine. A generous godfather could easily add an extra bottle or two to his godson´s cellar every year.

Q Chardonnay send me to sleep, but sauvignon blanc is too grassy for my taste. What other perky white grape would you recommend?
A racy riesling, that´s what. Unfashinable and undervalued, riesling is a noble grape, arguably the finest white variety on the planet and much beloved by wine writers and merchants alike-but ignored by almost everyone else. Drinkers often dismiss riesling as cheap, sweat and nasty-liebfraumilch and laski rizling are to blame. It needn´t be so. If a low-alcohol, top- drawer, single-estate German riesling is a step too far, try one of the Aussies´finest offerings, a Clare Valley riesling such as the 2008 Knappstein Winery Riesling from the distinguished Watervale district, whose lively, tongue-tingling, floral lime zest and paraffin-spiked fruit is a treat.
Q  We were given a fancy cut-glass decanter for Christmas but neither of us has a clue about decanting. Can you help us?
Decanting all white wines and the majority of red wines is a waste of time, though the latter will look beautiful in your glass gift. Air is the enemy of wine and decanting exposes it to air air unnecesarily, because the minute you pull the cork the deterioration and oxidation process starts. Venerable reds cad fade in seconds and even decade-old reds start to soften alarmingly swiftly, so decanter fans have to move fast and open these wines no more than half an hour before drinking. The only bottles that merit decanting are those grnad reds and vintage ports that throw a bitter, flaky sediment that muddies the taste. Dow´s blackberry and black pepper-spiced 1998 Quinta do Bomfim Vintage Port would be just for such a bottle.
Total Perfection by Heston Blumenthal (£14.99)
The Clatter of Forks and Spoons by Richard Corrigan (£25)
Angela Hartnett’s Cucina (£25)
Gordon Ramsay’s Great Escape (£25)
Game: a Cookery Book by Tom Norrington-Davies (£25)
Jon Torode’s Chicken and Other Birds (£20)
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotan Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (£25)
Leon: Ingredients and Recipes by Allegra McEvedy (£20)
Sally Clarke’s Book (£16.99)
Dough by Richard Bertinet (£15.99)
Mary Berry’s Baking Bible (£25)

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