Ask the Chef
Gabriel Gaté has learnt his craft from some of the great master chefs of France, knows the reality of being a family cook with little time, and communicates with dazzling success both the joy of cooking and how to make tasty food that is simple, easy and achievable.
Unfortunately, we're no longer accepting new questions, though feel free to browse our database of past cooking queries and Gabriel's responses.
I’d like to make my own chai tea from scratch. Is this feasible? What ingredients and utensils will I need?
Making chai tea is easy. You only need a saucepan. Chai tea is tea flavoured with spices and milk, and sweetened with honey or sugar. The spices are often ginger, cardamom, cloves, white pepper and cinnamon. The recipes vary depending on your taste. You can try this and adapt it to your taste. In a cheese cloth, place a 6cm piece of cinnamon stick, 2 cardamom seeds and 2 cloves. Tie the cheese cloth around the spices and place in a saucepan with 2 cups of simmering water and leave for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, then add 2 teabags or the equivalent in tea leaves. (Darjeeling tea is popular). Cover with a lid and leave for about 3 minutes. Strain into a cup, and add milk and honey to taste.
My aunt used to make a wonderful passionfruit curd to spread on sponge cakes. Do you have a recipe for this?
I love passionfruit curd and it’s easy to make. Place the pulp of 8 passionfruits and 125g cubed butter in a bowl. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk until the butter has just melted. In a second bowl, whisk 3 eggs with 3 egg yolks and ¾ cup caster sugar, then whisk this with the passionfruit preparation in the pan (still on the heat) until it just thickens. Place the bowl over cold water to stop the cooking of the curd. Transfer into sterilised jars and refrigerate until required. It keeps well for a few weeks.
What are some uses for bitter gourd? Is it suitable for children or is the taste quite strong?
Bitter gourd is a very popular vegetable in many Asian countries and in India. I’m sure that many children in such cultures eat it regularly as they have become familiar with the flavour and texture. Before cooking, the vegetable is cut in half lengthwise and the seeds and white part are scooped out – a bit like with a cucumber. The gourd is then cut into slices before cooking. Sometimes the slices are mixed with a little salt and left for a while, then rinsed. This removes some of the bitterness. It’s used in soups, salads, casseroles, stir-fires, curries and more. It’s easy to find recipes on the net.
I have made crème caramel many times, mostly with great success. However, sometimes the toffee at the bottom of the large mould turns rock hard and stays there when I upend the dish to serve. What am I doing wrong?
When you pour the caramel into the mould, it hardens as it sets. After cooking the crème caramel, the caramel slowly melts upon contact with the custard. If you leave the crème caramel in the fridge for a couple of days before eating it, the caramel will have melted a bit more.
I am interested in sous vide cooking. Would it be possible to perform it at home without buying expensive dedicated apparel?
Cooking with the sous vide method requires a machine that seals the food in a special plastic bag and removes the air in the bag. It’s sometimes called a vacuum packer. Then you need a special bain-marie with a heat sensor or special steamer to cook the food at a low temperature. Sous vide cooking only works if the process is perfectly controlled. Alternatively, use other methods of slow cooking like poaching, baking at a low temperature, or using a slow cooker.
Featured Food & Recipes
Soak and steam
Sticky rice needs to be soaked in cold water for at least 4 hours before steaming. If it’s boiled, the grains will collapse and go mushy.
A blend of black pepper and dehydrated lemon. Commonly used in salads, and on broiled meats, poultry, and seafood.