How do I prevent scrambled eggs from going rubbery? L. Gammage
Time. It's an ingredient often lacking in cooking. I was told of a family who microwaved their "roast" chicken because it was quicker. They did this so they had time to watch the football. When I heard this I had a vision of a factory farm with humans eating pelletised food from a trough watching an endless loop of Australia's Got Talent. Enough dystopia. Take your time. The lower the heat they are cooked over and the slower you stir the eggs, the lighter and smoother they will be. As they are heated the protein in the egg whites forms a net-like structure that holds in moisture. If you hit the protein with too much heat too quickly, they coil up and squeeze out the moisture and you end up with scrambled eggs like the ones at that dodgy school camp in year seven – chewy egg lumps sitting in water. Heston Blumenthal has a recipe that requires seven eggs, 25 millilitres of milk, 20 millilitres of cream, 20 grams of butter and a pinch of salt. These are gently mixed together in a bowl, then cooked in a double boiler over simmering water and gently stirred with a spatula for 15 to 20 minutes. It is delicious, but it takes time.
When my strawberry jam recipe says to add a tablespoon of butter, can I substitute margarine? J. Smith
You could. But that would mean you would need to buy a tub of margarine. And why any educated person would have margarine in the house is another question. The fat in butter helps reduce the foam. If you have a problem with dairy for religious or health reasons, remember that most margarines contain some dairy content such as milk solids and milk-derived lactose. (Nuttelex brand is dairy-free.) You could try using extra virgin olive oil. Cobram Estate Hojiblanca variety is soft, delicate and slightly fruity.
I was told I should soak my oats overnight before making porridge. Why? M. Bell
Porridge is one of the dishes with an entire canon of etiquette. The dish, made from oats, should always be referred to with the third person subject pronoun "they". They should be stirred with a spurtle, which is basically a stick, and eaten standing up because "a staunin sack fills the fu'est", which translates from Scots to "a standing sack fills the fullest". Why soak them? It makes them more digestible. Peptides are naturally occurring short amino acids that stop the grain from attack by bugs and fungus. These peptides can upset the digestive system in some. They can be neutralised by a reaction that takes place in water. So soak your porridge o'ernight.
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