Brik questions: This delicacy appears can be found in various places in the southern Mediterranean and Balkans regions.
Brik questions: This delicacy appears can be found in various places in the southern Mediterranean and Balkans regions. Photo: Marina Oliphant

Richard Cornish

Where can I find proper brik pastry - alternatively, can I substitute filo for brik? K. Stevenson

Brik is a Tunisian dish, generally egg, tuna or other fillings wrapped in sheets of ''warka'' or ''malsouka'' pastry. When cooked the dish is called ''brik'' and is pronounced ''breek''. You'll find dishes like this around the southern Mediterranean and into the Balkans with similar names: borek or burek, which are made with bread dough. Malsouka pastry, although thin, has been worked before being rolled which strengthens the gluten, making it quite tough, tougher than its thinner cousin, filo. Filo is gentler and although you can substitute it, you won't get that pleasing crunch when you bite down on the cooked pastry. Try The Essential Ingredient in Rozelle, Sydney or Prahran, Melbourne, or look in the freezer in Middle Eastern supermarkets. For online sales see

Should I assume all modern recipes quoting oven temperatures would be for a fan-forced oven? C. McCarthy

Using ovens should be simple. But it is not. It is a bit like Canada. Canada is a perfectly normal country except it has two languages. English and French. Every time you write something in Canada, from serving suggestions on maple syrup bottles to handling instructions for beavers, it has to be written in both languages. Writing recipes involving baking or roasting these days is much the same. Authors should supply temperatures for conventional ovens followed by temperatures for fan-forced ovens, as in 180C/160C fan. But often they don't, giving only the conventional temperature. Home cooks need both because there is a big difference between how conventional ovens and fan-forced ovens work. In traditional ovens the gas flame or electric element heats the air and walls of the oven. In a conventional oven the food is cooked by heat radiated from the stove surfaces and from the hot air. In a fan-forced oven the hot air is blown towards and around the food, constantly blowing off the cooler air in contact with the food. Fan-forced ovens therefore cook faster. Cooking temperatures for fan-forced ovens are roughly 20C lower than those for conventional ovens but with the same cooking time. At lower temperatures this difference is less, 110C/100C fan. Conversely, at higher temperatures the difference is greater, 250C/220C fan. As all ovens are different please consult the manufacturer's manual, s'il vous plait.

What is the origin of the ''corndog''? R. Molloy

State fairs in the United States are breeding grounds for food ridiculously high in stuff that is bad for you, like the sticks of deep-fried butter recently served up at the Wisconsin State Fair. A corndog is a wiener dipped in corn batter and deep fried. A patent was filed for deep-frying wieners in 1927 but became popular after the Texas State Fair in 1938, and then spread to other fairs soon after where they were also known as Dagwood Dogs and Pluto Pups. Australia is the birthplace of the super-sized Dagwood Dog, with Kathleen Miller from Melbourne's The Carvery Catering Company creating the 12-inch-long Dagwood Dog which is sold at the Royal Melbourne Show (ends October 2). Miller uses a wheatflour-based batter, not a cornmeal batter.

I just love cooking with Meyer lemons. Are you able to buy them anywhere? E. Cooper

Fragrant, juicy and refreshing yet not overly sour, Meyer lemons are originally from China, possibly a cross between a lemon and mandarin or orange. Suburban Australians planted them at the back of the garden in their thousands, the juice and rind used in cakes, the juice for delicious lemonade and the tree itself for gentlemanly nocturnal micturition. As they have a thin skin they don't travel or store as well as the Lisbon, Eureka and Yen Ben lemons that dominate the shelves. They are in season now. May I suggest you try your local farmers' market. Failing that, perhaps try leaving a notice for produce swap in the comments section of this story online at

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