Richard Cornish

Scorched lemon sauce.
Recipes call for the 'juice of one lemon' to make it easier for the home cook.

I want to know how much juice a lemon or orange yields. Recipes ask for the juice of a lemon or orange but not the measurement in millilitres. Please don't say it depends on the size of the lemon. A Fisher

Despite supermarkets demanding our farmers grow more and more standardised fruit and vegetables, there are some frustrating little things such as weather, climate and varietal variation that stop the production of identical fruit and veg. So, until that time arrives, yes, it does depend on the fruit. The reason recipes call for the ''juice of one lemon'', for example, is to make it easier for the home cook. The recipe writer works on the assumption that you'll either have lemons or buy them for the recipe. But for the record, the average orange contains about 70 millilitres of juice and the average lemon 45 millilitres.

Is it possible to have a copy of your recipe for chicken and freekeh soup spiced with cinnamon and garlic please? L. Hammond

Recently Good Food ran a story on freekeh, a type of toasted wheat originally from the Middle East. In the story I mentioned a recipe given to me by the wife of an Egyptian shop owner for chicken and freekeh soup flavoured with cinnamon and garlic. It is simple. ''Even a man like you can cook it,'' I remember being told. Take a small chicken and place it in a large saucepan with a stick of real cinnamon, half an onion, a few cloves, two large cloves of garlic and a few bay leaves. Cover with water, bring to the boil then simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the chook and strain the stock. Brown two chopped carrots in a little oil, add two cups of freekeh and toast grains, then add the stock. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 35 minutes, until the freekeh is soft but still chewy. Meanwhile, remove the skin from the chicken, shred the flesh and return to the pot once the freekeh is soft. Season with a little salt and serve. The recipe feeds four hungry people.

Where we can find cassata? My husband loves this dessert but can never find it on menus. Bring back the cassata! J. Kauffman

I think anyone over 30 who has dined in an Aussie-Italian restaurant will be familiar with red gingham tablecloths, giant pepper grinders, chianti bottles in raffia, posters of leaning towers of Pisa courtesy of Alitalia, and cassata. And I reckon you're referring to the frozen Italian dessert and not the Sicilian version made with sponge, liqueur, candied fruit and ricotta. Cassata is less common on dessert menus these days as restaurants prefer to offer a more sophisticated selection than a factory-made frozen dessert. Melbourne-based Aurora Foods still makes a good version and sells it direct from its factory at 96 Bakers Road, Coburg North, and from its Sydney distributors, Suprema Foods at 81 Bourke Road, Alexandria.

What is nixtamalisation? B. Farrer

The Meso-Americans of Mexico worked out long ago that dried corn treated with alkali derived from ashes and calcium hydroxide from crushed rock would grind more easily, would have any toxins from fungus neutralised and would be more nutritious. The word ''nixtamalisation'' gives you a clue to its meaning. ''Nextli'' is Nahuatl for ''ashes'' and you probably recognise ''tamalli'' or ''tamale'', which translates as corn dough. The alkali treatment changes the niacin to make it easier to absorb. Niacin is known as vitamin B3 and a lack of it leads to a condition called pellagra. I once watched a Mexican family soak dried corn, grown by their uncle, in what they called limewater before they took it the town miller. The family made tamales by flattening out the dough by hand into tortillas, coating them in mole sauce, wrapping them in corn leaves and then steaming them. Delicioso!

Send your queries to brainfood@richardcornish.com.au