The executive chef of dine by Peter Gordon at SkyCity answers your cuisine questions.

We will shortly have a huge crop of fresh figs - too many to make into jam or eat fresh. Can we dry them and will they last or do you have other suggestions for preserving?
Bev Ramsay

Invest in a dehydrator - they're not too expensive and soon pay for themselves. Otherwise poach and freeze, or simply freeze whole - figs are great added to chicken stews in winter.

A New Zealand artisan cheesemaker told me there was no difference in taste between pasteurised and unpasteurised blue cheeses. I'd always thought that was the holy grail for stinky cheeses, which is why there's been such a fuss about allowing them into the country. Have I been misinformed, is a stinky NZ blue just as good as a roquefort?

There are some amazingly good and bad examples of both. For example, stilton, by law, can only be called that if made from pasteurised milk - a long story that started after WWII. The import fuss was really around the fact there are too many myths about what's safe to eat and not.


While my carrot cakes taste good, they are never high and soft-textured like cafe cakes. Mine are heavy-textured, stodgy and oily and only rise to half the height I would expect. I tried a beautiful cafe parsnip cake. The chef gave me the recipe. It included 1.25 cups canola oil, 4 cups grated parsnip (or carrots), 3 eggs, 1.75 cups flour, 1/4 cup crushed pineapple. Again, my version didn't rise and was stodgy. If I used the same proportion of ingredients as the chef, what is the trick to getting the carrot cake to rise with a nice texture rather than turn out heavy and oily? The only difference was that he used gluten-free flour and 1 cup of coconut.
Janine Leighton

You need to make cakes exactly as instructed, or they won't be the same. Baking is a precise "science" unlike other cooking fields. Try that gluten free flour and add the coconut and see what happens.

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