How to slice a boiled egg

Tricks: Follow these tips to stop eggs smearing.
Tricks: Follow these tips to stop eggs smearing. Photo: Marina Oliphant

I was slicing boiled eggs to make curried devilled egg and the knife was crushing the eggs and smearing yolk across the white. M. Broughm

I am thrilled to see such a wonderful culinary tradition being kept alive. The union of Keen's Curry Powder and boiled egg has been the foundation canape for a thousand country wedding receptions and the olfactory flashpoint for millions of family road trips up the Newell Highway. (Rule one - never eat curried egg on a hot day in a station wagon bound for the Sunshine Coast.) Devilled eggs require the careful slicing of a hard-boiled egg lengthways to reveal the yolk inside and create the perfect cradle of rubbery white to deliver the mashed yolk, mayo and curry powder to the lips. To stop the eggs smearing, wipe the knife with a damp cloth before cutting each egg. This lubricates the blade and wipes the egg yolk off from the previous cut. If you have a bread knife with a serrated edge, use this as it is perfect for slicing tomatoes, ripe fruit and hard-boiled eggs. If not, make sure your knife is sharp and draw the blade across the surface of the egg without too much pressure. Curried devilled eggs are best served with Australian lager or Ben Ean moselle. Delicious.

My mayo always ends up being thin and yellow then splitting. G. Fairlie

The hardest part about making mayonnaise is starting the process of emulsification. This is when the oil particles are surrounded by enough egg yolk to stop them joining up to form a separate layer - or splitting. To do this you add the oil, drop by drop, into the egg-vinegar-mustard-lemon juice mixture. I use a clean eye dropper we once used to measure out the kids' medication. After it starts to thicken a little I then slowly pour the remaining oil in, whisking continuously. Since I started using the dropper I have never had a split mayo.  

A grower at the Eveleigh Market was selling fresh bergamot. What can I do with it? C. Baker

Bergamot, despite the name, is not a European detective series produced by the BBC in the 1970s, complete with compelling and addictive theme tune. It is in fact Citrus bergamia, an ever-so-slightly pear-shaped orange with a ridged skin. Eighty per cent of global production comes from Calabria, where the skin is processed into oil used in the perfume industry and for flavouring Earl Grey tea. The Oxford has it named after Bergamo in Northern Italy but Webster's Dictionary suggests that it comes from the Turkish bey armudu, meaning the prince's pear. In Calabria the rind is steeped with other aromatics to make a digestive. A clever cook I know recently got hold of some bergamot and made a beautiful bergamot creme brulee by grating some rind into the cream and infusing it with the vanilla bean. Later, she made herself a cocktail that consisted of a jigger and a half of whisky, the juice of half a bergamot and a splash of ginger beer. The juice is quite bitter but is being hailed as a source of beneficial polyphenols.

In respect to the poor Scots, what is the correct way to make porridge?  F. Glover

According to the rules of the Golden Spurtle, the annual world porridge competition held in the historic Scottish highlands town of Carrbridge, "traditional porridge must be made with untreated oatmeal and not with oat flakes/rolled oats and with only water and salt", stirred with a stick called a spurtle. It is judged on consistency, taste and colour. The judges can taste the entries with milk, cream, salt or sugar.The competition allows for "speciality" porridge that sees other additions and ingredients to make the dish more palatable.

In regards to a recent letter about pastry sticking to rolling pins, P. Watson wrote in to say: "I have found that using nonstick baking paper under the pastry and also under the rolling pin (like a sandwich) is the best way. I use very little flour so it doesn't ruin my lovely short pastry. Perfect every time."

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