The executive chef of dine by Peter Gordon at SkyCity answers your cuisine questions.
The simplest dishes rely on the best ingredients for their success. I have a simple question for you regarding cheese and onion sandwiches. On occasion one strikes a really sharp, flavoursome combination whereas mine are just cheese with onion. I use grated tasty cheese with chopped onion. Am I missing something?
- John Burke
The simplest of dishes rely on TBI - a very simple rule of thumb: The Best Ingredients. If a cheese and onion sandwich is to stand out from the crowd, then you need to have the best white or wholemeal bread and the strongest cheese. Something as generic as "tasty cheese" won't cut the mustard. When it comes to onion, you need to decide on red, white or spring onion. For me, it's always the former, with spring onions in second place. Butter or mayonnaise and a tiny bit of mustard will add character, along with salt and freshly ground black pepper if you don't want the mustard.
Thinly slice a red onion, then slice a really flavoursome and strong tasting cheddar-style cheese into 2mm slices. Choose a white bread (or wholemeal, but not granary) that has some guts to it - you don't want fluff. Mix some room-temperature butter with a little hot English mustard and butter both sides of the bread with it.
Layer with the onion, then two to three slices of cheese, then a little more onion, then more cheese. Press firm and hold for 10 seconds. Cut into fingers and eat, or better still, chill for an hour. Or another method is to grate 10 per cent white fleshed onion with 90 per cent grated extra strong cheese and put between two buttered pieces of white bread.
If you're a fan of blue cheese, caramelise red or white onions in a little olive oil and finish with a slosh of balsamic vinegar. Once cold, spread on two slices of buttered bread and top with fat chunks of gorgonzola and some grated parmesan and you will have a more gourmet, but still basic, cheese sandwich.
Another concern could be chutney vs piccalilli. Chutneys can be cheese's best friend, but some of the fruitier sweeter ones can be overbearing or challenging. Blue cheeses and soft goat's and sheep's cheeses go well with fruity chutneys, but hard cheddar types sometimes lose their personality. Piccalilli however is a great match most of the time (it's acidic, savoury and grunty).
After last week's question about rock and sea salts we had a number of letters from readers anxious that we point out that these salts have no added iodine, unlike iodised table salt, and thus were to blame for increased incidence of diseases caused by low iodine. We asked Massey University food chemist Dr Rana Ravindran to clarify. Current food regulations in New Zealand mean that from Oct 2009, most breads contain the vital nutrient iodine, with about 120 micrograms - the recommended daily intake for women - in three slices of bread (men and pregnant or lactating women require 150 and 170 micrograms, children less). People eating organic breads or not eating bread can get iodine from seaweed or foods such as sushi or seameal custard or by using iodised salt in their food.
* To ask Peter a question, click on the Email Peter link below.By Peter Gordon Email Peter