Does kale taste like cabbage?

Hail kale: It's the new juicing star, but don't overcook it.
Hail kale: It's the new juicing star, but don't overcook it. Photo: William Meppem

Kale seems to be the vegie of the moment. Is it a relative of the cabbage and does it taste like one? How is it best served? J. Griffin

We get the word ''kale'' through northern English dialects and Scots, a northern form of ''cole'' or cabbage. Think coleslaw, kohlrabi, cauliflower - they all have that original Latin root, ''col''. Kale has an earthier, greener, fresher flavour compared to cabbage. Wash kale first and pick over organic kale for bugs. Juice kale with oranges, beetroot and ginger for breakfast. Slice it finely and add it to a salad of grains and dress with vinaigrette. Chop coarsely and saute with smoked bacon and perhaps some of last night's potatoes. Dice and add to a lamb and barley soup. Kale loves olive oil, citrus, sweet vegetables and pork products, but - like cabbage - is not nearly as appealing when overcooked.

I really love butter. I eat it like cheese. I have to go back to margarine, which I love much less. What are the differences between butter and margarine in terms of processing? L. O'Neill

This is entirely a matter of moderation. To quote the well-known thinker and philosopher Eminem, "Yo. I can't do anything in moderation. I don't know how." If you can't control your desire for butter, consider a cool and velvety smear of goat's cheese on your toast (sensational with fig jam). At this time of year my young girls make themselves pan Catalan. They take toasted bread, rub it with garlic, smear it with tomato pulp, sprinkle it with a little salt and drizzle it with extra-virgin olive oil.

Low-fat ricotta and strawberry jam is delicious. Try anything before hoeing into the marg. Although it is not nearly as delicious as butter, it is still about 80 per cent fat, similar to butter. It's made by solidifying vegetable oil by hydrogenating it - adding extra hydrogen molecules at high temperature, sometimes with another compound to help the reaction. Skim milk is often added, as are colours, flavours, emulsifiers, antioxidants and salt. Butter is made by churning cream until the fat particles cling together to form a solid. During this process most of the liquid is expelled. The butter is washed and often salted. So here are the rules: 1. Don't eat butter like cheese. 2. Eat less fat. 3. Try a less addictive alternative. If all else fails, try a brand of margarine such as Australian-owned Nuttelex.

I use frozen berries and frozen overripe bananas to make muffins and banana bread. Are these then safe to freeze considering the fruit has already been frozen? A. Colasante

Juliana Madden, executive officer from the Food Safety Information Council, told us that freezing cooked foods made from frozen ingredients is totally safe. She said that goes for muffins and banana bread, and curries, casseroles and other foods, too. Refreezing food, in itself, is not a food safety issue, but one of food quality. The food quality suffers each time food is frozen, as the structure of the food's cells are affected, causing them to become mushy.

Does anyone have a recipe for hollygog pudding? S. Rosenberg

We published this question a few weeks ago. Many people replied, including Mrs J. Althorp, who wrote: "My copy of [The National Trust Book of] Traditional Puddings by Sara Paston-Williams says hollygog pudding comes from the Oxfordshire village of Kiddington and the recipe has been passed down among farming families. Start with 225 grams plain flour, a pinch of salt, 125 grams butter or lard, about 45ml cold water, 60ml warm golden syrup and about 250ml milk. Sieve flour and salt into a mixing bowl and rub fat into flour until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add water to form a stiff dough. Roll out into a rectangular strip, spread with syrup and roll up like a Swiss roll. Put in a well-buttered rectangular dish and pour over enough milk to come halfway up the side of the pudding. Bake at 200C/180C fan for 30 to 45 minutes. Serve hot with cream or custard. N.B. This recipe does not have the Heart Foundation tick, but it is delicious."

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