ContactMessage BoardsLinks  Home  
Featured Chefs
Hywel Jones
Christophe Megel
Rob Feenie
Previously Featured Chefs
Gourmet Articles
Environmental Kitchen
Cookbook Reviews
Recipe File
The Wine Guy
Career Center
Ask An Expert
What's Your Cooking Question?
featured chefsrainer zinngrebecooking questions
We can help...
Do you have cooking questions? Techniques, recipes and methods. Whatever your cooking question may be - if you need help here's your man. Rainer Zinngrebe executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Cancun is waiting to be put to the test.

E-mail your question.

This month's featured cooking questions...

What would be the reason for my yeast bread to fall during the baking?

Dear Gayle, there could be a few things that you are doing not quite right.
First of all you have to make sure your yeast is fresh (if you are using dry yeast, make sure it isn't expired and make a primary starter fermentation by mixing some flour, warm milk or warm water a bit of sugar and a bit of salt and leave for 15 minutes until it starts to bubble).

Use this fermentation and add to your mix. Leave to rise for about 45 minutes and then knead again. Shape and leave to rise again for another 30 minutes before baking.

When you bake it make sure your oven is preheated to the right temperature.

That should do it.
So the areas to pay attention to are
Yeast (fresh and if dry not passed the expiry date)
Fermentation (if you add oil to your mix, make sure you do a prefermentation as described above)
Fermentation - make sure you leave it to ferment twice, but not too long or too hot.
Baking - make sure the oven is preheated to the right temperature. If your oven looses a lot of temperature when you open the door, preheat it 50 F higher then turn down once the product is in the oven.
Hope this solves your problem
Happy cooking.

I need a great recipe for Torchon of Foie Gras
For a good one I suggest the following method. I don't like to give you amounts as they really depend on the lobe that you have and how much it can absorb.
Clean the foie gras and remove all the veins. Sprinkle generously with port (you can use Chinese wine, dry sherry, armagnac or other such liqueurs).
Sprinkle with rock salt, pepper mill, paprika powder and a little bit of pickling salt.
Leave to marinate 6 hours, covered, in a refrigerator.
Take the foie gras and wrap tightly in a triple layer muslin cloth and shape into a tight roll.
Heat either veal jus or duck fat to 80 degrees centigrade and "poach" the foie for about 35 to 45 minutes depending on the thickness of your roll.
Remove, place on a tray and place immediately in a freezer.
Leave for 1 hour in the freezer, then place in the chillier. after 2 hours take off the muslin cloth and wrap with cling film, trying again to tighten it as much as possible.
Leave to macerate for at least 48 hours before using.
Note that you will have a fair amount of loss cooking it that way and if you calculate for a certain weight take this into account.

I am planning two large family dinners next week and would like to prepare as much as possible ahead of time. How would I cook a 14 pound turkey days ahead of time and reheat it when ready to serve?
To be honest I would not recommend cooking a turkey ahead of time. Firstly is not too hygienic when cooling and reheating it at home, it will also dry out. Think about cooking and cooling your veggies the day before and then reheating them in the microwave, peeling the potatoes and setting the table and wine glasses the day before. Then focus your attention on cooking a great turkey as this will be the "main attraction" of your dinning event.

Do you have a recipe for Marsala Cream Sauce? I had it recently over rigatoni and it was rich but wonderful. Would you recommend it for a vegetarian lasagna sauce? Thank-you, Dear Adelaide,
There are really two or three ways that you can make a Marsala Cream sauce. But if you are looking for a vegetarian one, here is the recipe i suggest. (Keep in mind that the given quantities can be adjusted to suit your taste.)

Ingredients: (to make 1 liter of sauce)
10 pieces shallots, fine chopped
3 tablespoons clarified butter or sunflower seed oil
100 ml dry white wine
1 liter vegetable stock
300 ml whipping cream or 100 gram crème fraiche
200 ml Marsala wine

Chop the shallots very fine, heat the butter and saute the shallots in a pot large enough to accommodate all of the ingredients, until they become transparent.

Deglaze with the Marsala wine and leave to reduce by half. Add the white wine and reduce by half again.

Now add the vegetable stock and leave to reduce by half.

Add the cream or the crème fraiche and leave to simmer until it has thickened to the required consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Strain through a fine strainer or china cup.

If you like the sauce to appear lighter place in a blender and blend on high speed until foamy or due the same using a stick blender. Sometimes it might be nice to add a few lumps of fresh butter to the sauce while mixing it.

Would you please help me with some new inventions for sweet potato's for a vegetarian?

Oven roasted sweet potatoes with pumpkin and chili.
Cut sweet potatoes into chunks, do the same with pumpkins. slice some chilies (I prefer to use medium hot red ones).
Place on a roasting tray and sprinkle with olive oil. Sprinkle some black onion seeds, crushed coriander seeds and salt and pepper over the top.
Place in a preheated oven at 220 degrees centigrade and roast until nicely caramelized and soft. Remove from the heat; if necessary add a little more extra virgin olive oil and seasoning.
Add some fresh coriander leaf and toss well. Serve immediately.
This is my favorite but there are obviously many other ways you can prepare those things.
Fork mashed sweet potatoes with olive oil and basil.
Another great way is to use mashed sweet potatoes mixed with coriander leaf, chili, calamata olives, roasted macadamia nuts, toasted pumpkin seeds, maple syrup and a bit of butter as a ravioli filling which you serve with a carrot ginger reduction.
I hope I gave you some ideas with this, if you want to get some more let me know.

I was wondering if you get the same amount of meat in a 4 lb lobster as you would in two 2 lb lobsters.
Sarah, no you don't get the same amount out of a 2 lb as you get out of 4 lb, however the amount that you do get out is not nearly double the weight. Depending on the lobster and depending how long it has been in captivity (they loose meat weight as longer they are kept) you get about 20 to 30 % more meat from that size, the biggest difference to me is the quality of the meat as a 4 lb one is not as succulent, the best size for taste is a 1 1/2 lb one.

I hope this helps.

April 2003
I am writing an article for a class at school on barbecuing I am looking for someone who can talk to me about tips on cooking with peppers and also possibly be able to share a recipe or two with me.

First, what is the right way to work with peppers to avoid burning yourself? Second, what are some of the more common chili peppers? Third, what advice would you give someone who is new to cooking with chili peppers? Finally, I was wondering if you could pass along any recipes you have on barbecuing using chili peppers. I am looking for recipes for hamburgers and other foods traditionally served at a barbecue, but using chili peppers to change the taste.

Hi Lisa, sorry it took me so long to get back to you, but I was on an overseas trip to Jakarta and Singapore and just got back to my office today.

In regards to your questions, here are some answers that I hope will help you.

First of all the best way to handle spicy chilies is to wear latex or clear plastic gloves at all times while working with them. Also make sure that you use a chopping board that you can thoroughly rinse and scrub after you cut these spicy little things on there.

Second, there is about 150 different types of chilies in the world. The most common used ones are (by degree of spiciness) Habanero (Mexico), Birds Eye (Thailand, Malaysia etc.), Serrano (Mexico), Jalapeno (Mexico), Chile Boh (Malaysia), these are just to name a few.

There are lots of varieties that are not super spicy but have a lot of flavor.

As for recipes with chili peppers I recommend that you buy a book or two on this, there is plenty of chili cookbooks available on the net or in book stores, even spicy barbecue ones.

Basically you can add any one or any variety of chilies to your barbecue sauces, or add fine chopped chilies to your hamburger meat or even use jalapeno jack cheese on top of your burgers to give them a kick. My favorite however is the Mexican way of cooking meat on a flat griddle next to serrano chilies and onions and eat it all together, that way the meat absorbs some of the flavor already and you don't have to eat the chilies if you don't want.

Hope this helps

Please help me - I am planning a very special dinner party for 6 people and would like to give them a trio of fish which I planned as being monkfish, John dory and turbot. I would love to produce a sauce which will both complement the fish and "stun" my guests - I am sparing no expense with this sauce and would love some suggestions/recipes if you can please? Also, I had thought I might oven-roast the fish in some parchment paper lined with oil, white wine, garlic - but just an idea - would very much appreciate your expert views. Thank you in advance of any help you give me.
Greetings I would serve a simple butter sauce, finished with chopped chives and diced tomatoes (peeled, and deseeded) with these three fish. If you wanted to be very showy you could even add a little caviar at the last moment. I would also suggest that you sauté the fish as they will be quite small in size and will cook well in this fashion. Once the fish has been cooked spritz them with a little fresh lemon and they will be delicious!

I presently use argo corn starch as a thickener. When i do this, it adds a sheen but doesn't thicken to the desired texture. I've used argo and water as per the directions on the box in Italian sauces and my chili, but again, when I go to heat it up as left-overs, it is like I never thickened the sauces in the first place. What would you suggest as a good thickener.
Well, any thickener that you use will do that, the Chinese use maizena corn starch or pure rice starch for best results, try that, but be aware that after reheating most of them will not hold up. that's why Chinese food for example must be eaten when you cook it and not later. hope this helps.

January 2003
Do you know what escaliballa is?
I am not sure if you got the spelling right, but I have not heard of anything that is spelled like that, however I have come across something very similar and if you spell it in Spanish the double L is a similar sound to a B, so it would be Escalibada. Escalibada is Catalan (the area around Barcelona, that has its´s own language) and it is a dish made from grilled red peppers, grilled eggplants, grilled onions mixed with garlic sautéed in olive oil and then chopped parsley is added at the last minute. of course it is seasoned with salt and pepper.

When preparing wild duck, what is the best way to get rid of the gamey taste?
Marinade the meat with carrots onions, herbs and red wine. The wine must be brought to a simmer and cooled down before being introduced to the bird. Orange juice and spices can work well too. Roast the bird slowly and cook it until it is well done... Have fun!

I am trying my hand at Scottish baking and one of the items called for is caster sugar. What is caster sugar? I was not able to find it at the grocery store so I assume that it is under a different name in the states?
You can use granulated (white) sugar in place of caster. Caster sugar is a finer version of granulated, take your granulated sugar and pulse it in your food processor and you will be good to go.

When I bake sweet breads, like banana, etc. the top gets hard and crusty. Can you tell me what causes this, is my oven too hot, am I doing something wrong when I mix up the batter.

Greetings Vicki, you should be looking for a crust on these types of baked items. If it is a really hard crust your oven may be too hot. If you are looking for no crust, the best thing to do is to wrap the breads in plastic wrap while they are still warm. This traps in the moisture and gives you a crust free bread. This is also a good technique to use if you over bake an item. The trapped in moisture stops the bread from drying out. I hope this helps. (Answered by Jeremy Emmerson)

November 2002

I have been making California Rolls [Maki sushi] for quite sometime now [and excellent as well, according to many friends feedback], and for fish I use, smoked salmon, crab meat canned and cooked shrimp. I love the raw fish as well, but prefer to go to a restaurant for real sushi rather than make the raw version, because of the worry of food poisoning. Can you please advise on how to take this next step for me to purchase say fresh sea bass or squid and use it for sushi? What should I be avoiding, looking for etc.
There are a few things one should consider.
Using prawns I would suggest that you cook them no matter what anybody tells you, I would buy live prawns if available or quick frozen iqf ones. Make sure you thaw them correctly in a refrigerator for about 36 hours at 0 to 1 degree centigrade. Then cook them the right way and use them within the next 4 hours or so.

For tuna it is best to buy maguro loins that are already cut into blocks and frozen, the same thawing process applies here.

Any saltwater fish you can basically use fresh, especially if they are deepwater, here you have to make sure that the stuff is really fresh. Check the gills, the eyes, the firmness of the flesh etc. if you are not sure what to look for, send me another email and I will be happy to be specific.

For any freshwater fishes (that includes salmon) it is advisable to buy quick-frozen products which assist in the elimination of parasites and some bacteria. Of course the product must be of superior quality and the freshness must be ensured. You could potentially purchase some of these hard to come buy products directly from Japanese food suppliers, some of them are willing to sell over the counter.

Squid is a delicate one, I prefer to use only fresh squid that is slightly blanched. Avoid things that are not traditionally used in sushi making, for some more info please also check out, I really think that is a great site with lots of info and demo videos etc.

Please can you give me a recipe for coconut pie? Here is the recipe, it's a real simple one like a custard. hope it works out.

3 whole eggs
2 cups full fat milk, scalded
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (if available, if not double the vanilla)
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup grated coconut (fresh if possible, if not use desiccated)
pinch of salt
sufficient sweet pie dough to line a tin.

Method: Beat the eggs and add the salt and sugar. Add gradually the scalded milk, then the coconut and flavorings. Line your pie mold with pie crust. Pour in the coconut-custard mixture. Bake in slow oven at about 150 degrees centigrade for about 30 minutes or until the mixture has set. Serve with toasted coconut shreds over the top and maybe a pineapple compote.

I really enjoy pepper encrusted seared Ahi . . . Can you suggest some nice sauces to enhance this dish.

I would suggest a few options to you. With a crusted tuna you can do some interesting varieties, I have served it in the past in a broth like a bouillabaisse and topped it with rouille, I have also served it sliced on sautéed spinach with candied orange peel and a black bean vinaigrette or with a warm baby vegetable salad in a white balsamic vinaigrette, I would stay away from anything that overpowers the delicate sweetness of the tuna and generally recommend that you use a vinaigrette or a very light infused stock reduction rather than a cream sauce or a powerful red wine sauce. Hope this helps.

Looking for rich ricotta cheesecake recipe. HELP !!!!!
Here is the one I am using these days...
Butter mixed with Ground nuts for the bottom part.
4 eggs, separated
2 lb. ricotta cheese,
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. each: orange and lemon zest
2 Tbs. lemon juice Preheat oven to 375F.

Method: Butter a 10-inch springform pan, then dust lightly with flour, fine crumbs, or ground almonds. Put the nut-butter mixture on the bottom and press down. Beat the egg whites to a peak. Set aside. Mix together the ricotta, sugar, flour, flavor extracts, salt, zests, and juice in a large bowl. Gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Transfer to the prepared pan. Bake for 50 minutes in a waterbath, or until set in the center. Cool completely before serving.

Can you please tell me how to make a Hot and spicy, Jamaican Chicken Stylie sauce (Jerk Chicken?).
Here is a recipe I am using at the moment roughly..... 1/2 cup of lime juice
1 cup of orange juice
1 to 11/2 cup of vinegar, white or rice vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil

2 TSP Allspice
2 TSP Thyme
2 TSP Sugar
2 TSP Salt
2 TSP Garlic powder
1/2 TSP Onion powder
1 1/2 teasp Cinnamon powder
1 - 1/2 teaspoon Nutmeg powder
1 teaspoon chili flakes or cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ginger powder

1 TSP fresh Garlic fine chopped and mashed with a bit of salt
1 cup Shallots fine chopped
1/2 cup Spring onions fine chopped
1 piece of Serrano Chile or similar, very fine chopped

Method: Heat the oil and add the garlic as well as all the spices to it, leave to gently cook for about 5 minutes, making sure that none of the herbs start to burn. Add the vinegar and the juices and immediately remove and leave to cool.
Combine all the ingredients and then marinate any meat in it for a minimum of 6 hours, then chargrill the meat and baste with the marinade.
You can also use the marinade that is leftover and bring it to a simmer and then use it as a dressing.
Good luck with it
September 2002
I really enjoy pepper encrusted seared Ahi . . .Can you suggest some nice sauces to enhance this dish.

Hi, I would suggest a few options to you. With a crusted tuna you can do some interesting varieties, I have served it in the past in a broth like a bouillabaisse and topped it with rouille, I have also served it sliced on sautéed spinach with candied orange peel and a black bean vinaigrette or with a warm baby vegetable salad in a white balsamic vinaigrette, I would stay away from anything that overpowers the delicate sweetness of the tuna and generally recommend that you use a vinaigrette or a very light infused stock reduction rather than a cream sauce or a powerful red wine sauce. Hope this helps.

I am trying to find a good recipe for garlic fennel sauce. This sauce is wonderful, and I'd love to be able to prepare it myself.

Roasted Garlic Fennel Sauce
1 bulb Garlic
1 bulb Fennel
1 piece Onion, sliced
½ liter Chicken stock
¼ liter Cream
1 TSP Olive oil
1/8 piece Bay leaf
10 pieces Black peppercorn crushed
1/5 liter White wine
Pour the olive oil in a small container that fits the garlic and the fennel only. Cut the top of the garlic so that some cloves tips are exposed, clean the fennel and cut the stem out. Place the garlic and the fennel into this container and season with salt and pepper. Cover with aluminum foil and place into a preheated oven at 180 centigrade. Roast until the garlic and the fennel are totally soft, approximately for about 1 hour, maybe longer. Remove from the oven and chop the fennel, remove the garlic cloves from the bulb and discard the peel. Heat some of the oil in a pot and sauté the onions until they are soft but not colored. Add the fennel and the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, deglaze with white wine and then add the bay leaf, peppercorn and the chicken stock, bring to a simmer and leave to cook for about 20 minutes. Add the cream and blend either in a blender or with a stick blender until all ingredients are well combined. Bring back to the fire and reduce further if necessary or add more chicken stock if necessary.

May 2002
I am currently looking for something called "RED SOY SAUCE". It is used in a Thai dish that I tasted and enjoyed. Could you please tell what this is and what makes it "RED"?

Also could you tell me anything you know about ROSE POUCHONG TEA?

Your question is a difficult one. I have personally never come across a red soy sauce although I lived 3 years in Thailand. I have come across a dish that is calling for a red braising liquid, which is used in Thai cooking for a stewed pork dish. This liquid has soy as a main ingredient and is basically a mixture of sugar, soy, star anise, cinnamon as well as red fermented beancurd (this is why the color is almost reddish).

There is a recipe for this liquid in my cookbook. Please see below a brief description about soy sauce in general. Soy Sauce Soy sauce is a staple condiment and ingredient throughout all of Asia. Produced for thousands of years, soy sauce is a salty, brown liquid made from fermented soy beans mixed with some type of roasted grain (wheat, barley, or rice are common), injected with a special yeast mold, and liberally flavored with salt. After being left to age for several months, the mixture is strained and bottled. The sauce's consistency can range from very thin to very thick. Flavors, too, vary by type and have very subtle differences. Today, soy sauce is not only made in the traditional manner; it is synthesized artificially as well, which results in a chemical-flavored, but inexpensive product.

As for the rose puchong tea. I am not sure where you can get it in the us of a, but basically it is a puchong tea with added rose leaves. a good Chinese grocer might be able to help you there or an Internet site that specializes in teas will also be helpful.

(April 2002)
Dear chef, could you please explain/describe to me what a "wet
market" is?

Hi, a wet market is an Asian market which can be in street alleys or in designated places where all types of food are sold. You can buy fresh fish, live fish, chicken both live and slaughtered as well as all other types of meat, shellfish, fruits, vegetables etc. it is called a wet market because due to the lack of refrigeration food is often doused with cold water and there is a lot of buckets with water around where meat is washed etc., so generally the pavement of wherever the wet markets are, are very wet.

You can look at some pictures of such markets on the net or in my book "beyond fusion".

(April 2002)
If I made a fresh pesto,how long can I keep it in the fridge? Can I freeze it? If so for how long?

A good pesto can be stored in the fridge for easily a month, yes you
can also freeze it. If you want to keep it in a fridge for longer I suggest
you blanch the basil prior to blending it, that way it will keep longer. Also
ensure the pesto has sufficient olive oil to swim on top so that the basil
or other ingredients are not exposed to air.

(April 2002)
Can help me with the original Turkish name for Turkish flat bread and perhaps also a recipe.. Thank you.. (This question called for chef Ciaran Hickey - Executive Chef of the Four Seasons Hotel Istanbul.)

Turkish flat bread , the very soft , thin kind is known here as Lavas ( pronounced Lavash).There is not a crisp version like in the Middle East. Its used primarily as a base for grilled kebabs and kofte , also rolled in a wrap called Durum with various meats , salad and tomatoes inside. It is usually cooked in a clay wood- burning oven and should be eaten right away, a pizza oven would be the best option for getting the authentic taste from the bricks.

The recipe is pretty basic,

3kg flour
1.5 litre water
100g yeast
60g salt
60g sugar

Mix all the ingredients together and allow to sit covered in a warm place for an hour to allow the dough to rise.When ready knock back and form into 50g balls,Roll out on a floured work surface until very thin approx 2 mm. Put on a wooden spatula and place in the oven , cook on both sides for approx 3 minutes , remove and serve,Cover with a soft cloth if you will not use straight away as it will dry out quickly.

In a hot skillet cook some small pieces of diced lamb in olive oil with some dry thyme , salt and black pepper .When ready add a little butter and red chili flakes to finish .Open out the lavas bread and put the lamb pieces down one side,add thinly sliced onion , flat leaf parsley , chopped tomatoes and a drizzle of yogurt and lemon. Roll up to form a wrap and serve sandwich style wrapped in paper.

(March 2002)
Please could you assist me with recipes for:Thai crab cakes & Thai sweet chilli sauce.
Thai chili sauce is best bought in bottles as it is rather labourous to produce. Even in Thailand's best restaurants the bottled version is used. Look for the one that has a cockrel on the bottle - it seems to be the best.
As for the thai crab cakes, well.... There is no such thing in Thai cooking as crab cakes the way we know them, I am assuming that you are looking for a recipe of - thord man goong or thord man plah, which are prawn or fish cakes.

300 g Tiger prawns
150 g Pork Fat
1 Tsp Fish sauce
1 or 2 Eggwhite, whipped lightly
1 Tsp Sesame oil
2 leaf Kaffir lime leaf, fine chopped
120 g Freeze dried breadcrumbs
Oil for frying

Method - Mince the prawns with pork fat and add the salt, sesame oil and kaffir lime leaf. mix well and form into little patties. press into the breadcrumbs and shallow fry in hot oil. if you want to spice the patties up a bit you can add some fine chopped chili or a little tom yam chili paste to it. normally these are served with a "salsa" made from cucumber, shallots, vinegar, sugar, chili, water and fish sauce.

(January 2002)
Hi from Downunder, I am looking for a basic White loaf bread recipe, the kind of recipe would be appropriate for breakfast?
6 cups of white bread flour.
2 teaspoons of salt.
2 1/2 cups of warm water.
3 teaspoons of dried yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar.

Method - Dissolve sugar and yeast in the water. Sieve the flour into a bowl and make a well in the middle. Sprinkle the salt around the outside of the flour. Slowly add the yeast mixture to the flour and rub in as you go. Be careful not to add too quickly as it will make the bread mixture to wet. Once all the yeast mixture is in the flour turn out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Place in a greased bowl and allow to prove until doubled in size. Knock back, cut into two and shape allow to re-prove. Cook at 350F for about half and hour.

What are you waiting for? E-mail your cooking question.

Back to Top
Apricot Smoked Salmon
Asian Duck Confit
Woo Gok
Read The Review of Beyond Fusion
Copyright © 2008