Got your noodle in a knot over whether to parboil your potatoes or reheat your rigatoni? Stars of the Katering Show, intolerable foodie Kate McLennan and food intolerant friend Kate McCartney, tackle your vexing culinary questions. Our serving suggestion? Take their advice with a generous pinch of salt.
When I come home from work I'm exhausted and all I want to do is sit on the couch and eat pizza. How can I make midweek dinner? - Susan
McC says: Look Susan, this really depends on how tied to eating you are. For instance, tardigrades can exist in a dehydrated state with neither food nor water for up to five years, so you could do that, if you really don't want to make yourself a cheese toastie.
If you do feel philosophically tied to eating though, you can do as I do and open and close the fridge door for an hour, glaring at a half a container of takeaway rice from two days ago. Eventually, you crack and heat up the rice - in a manner that ensures it has vastly different and clearly demarcated temperature zones - and eat that angrily over the sink with some cutlery intended for a fat-handed toddler.
McL says: Susan, I'm going to read between the lines here, you have some self-esteem issues, don't you? Judging by the way you're sitting on the couch, eating take-away every night, because you and your partner are too tired to cook because having a new baby is really hard, I'd say that you're very sad.
You have a weight problem, don't you Susan? You're fat, and unlike all the fat people I know, you're probably miserable. But the good news is there's help out there, Susan. Simply enrol in an online diet regime, where an expert with a Cert IV in fake tans can deliver a range of nutrition, exercise and mental health triggers to your inbox every day. If that doesn't work, just prepare some mid-week meals on the weekend or alternatively, quit your job and don't have kids.
I've burnt my daughter's birthday cake and there is only an hour to her party, how can I save it? - Hector
McL: Thanks for your email Hector. We'll let you in on a secret: kids are idiots. McCartney's parents once put a ribbon on her sister's old tricycle and gave it to her as a birthday present and she had no idea until she put their web of lies together when she was 21. So technically, you could cover a salad spinner in fondant and the partygoers won't pick up on the difference.
But, if you want to try a bit, then we have a solution for you. In keeping with the aesthetic of the burnt cake, just rethink the birthday's "Frozen" theme and make it a "Fire" theme. Singe the curtains, spread ash across the carpet, burn down a linen cupboard.
Not only will it mean you don't have to do any last minute cleaning before the guests arrive, but the kids will love it when the fire department kicks down your door! Firemen are a lot more fun than the 34-year-old children's entertainer called Rosie, who's currently in your bathroom choking because she just inhaled some glitter and whose ukulele is soon to be "accidentally" smashed against a wall.
I'm always talking about my impressive culinary skills. Some friends are coming over on Thursday and I have performance anxiety. What should I do? - Lenora
McL: Hi Lenora. Sorry to hear that. Obviously your first mistake was to have friends, and your second mistake was to have self-confidence. But not to worry, we're here to help you rectify these grievous errors in judgement. Start drinking at 3 o'clock; this isn't so much related to the fact you're having a dinner party as it is a good rule for life.
When your guests arrive, mix them each a very, very strong cocktail. Then, when the "meal" comes out, wander around the room with a smoking gun. This will serve no practical purpose but it will show your guests that you're not f%#*ing around, and might even frighten a few into leaving before the main is served.
McC: For the fussy eaters, I like to pre-prepare a crusty roll of homemade bread for the side, and then also large-scale paranormal event, to distract from the taste of the rest of the food. This can be done with cans strung up against a window, a loop of howling playing on an MP3 player hidden behind a DVD box-set or with a ouija board and a vengeful ghost from our convict past. Just have fun with it! This is your night!
I forgot my green shopping bags again! How do I deal with the guilt of 20 plastic bags in my house ... some of the groceries came double bagged! - Ronaldo
McC: Oh Ronaldo! Plastic bags really are a scourge, aren't they? They're ugly, they're wasteful and they only sometimes work as a toilet.
Scientifically speaking, the best thing you can do for the environment and assuage your guilt is to continue to stuff them into that useless cranny next to your fridge. That way, it's like those plastic bags never existed and you can look any sea turtle you meet in the eye with a clear conscious. Then, in 1000 short years, those plastic bags will break down and you'll be completely in the clear, morally. Then finally your immortal soul will be admitted to Valhalla where, as outlined in the Nordic sagas, everything is compostable.
Should I rinse the pasta once it's boiled, out of the pot, or do I just serve it up? - Madonna
McL: I'm so glad you asked this question, Madonna, because I have a great little trick that I use at home. For perfectly cooked pasta (I use penne, spaghettini, linguine - i'm not fusilli!), I simply drain my cooked pasta in a colander and then rinse in a new pot of boiling water for five minutes.
This process helps leach out any excess moisture that has been absorbed by the pasta during the cooking process. Repeat this rinsing process until all the moisture has been rinsed. The pasta should now be al dente, which is Italian for 'no teeth'. Serve with rice and cheese.