The executive chef of dine by Peter Gordon at Sky City answers your cuisine questions.
I have two great recipes which include mussels added at the table. Because I'm unsure about the shelf life of mussels I make a dash to the supermarket 20 minutes before guests are due, give them a bit of a scrub, then store them in a bucket of water until I am ready to cook and serve.
- Nancye Bourke
The rule of thumb is if they're already open discard them, likewise if they float when washed. The latter is more difficult until you bring them home. Live mussels will keep in the fridge for two days, but keep them in a container covered with a very damp cloth.
I love to cook but one thing eludes me - producing tender beef. Even if I buy a good cut of beef, I never have the same success that I do with chicken or pork. Perhaps the secret it is to buy beef from a butcher, not a supermarket. Is there more to it than this?
- Don Markovski
The most important rule is always buy the best meat you can afford. A lot of New Zealand's best meat is exported, but not all, so ask around for the best supplier - phone your favourite restaurant and see if they can provide a name. No matter how you cook your meat, if it's not top quality it will never be tender. Chefs have no trade secrets on how to cook it - but resting after cooking always allows it to be more juicy.
This year I made my own Easter eggs and dipped them in chocolate. Instead of buying cooking chocolate for this task, I used 70 per cent cocoa dark chocolate. I melted the chocolate, dipped the eggs and left them to set. When I put them in the fridge they hardened, but as soon as they got back to room temperature the chocolate went soft again. Should I have used cooking chocolate, and if so, what's the difference between cooking chocolate and eating chocolate?
- Tristan Hooker
Cooking chocolate generally melts at a higher temperature than high quality chocolate because cocoa butter melts at around the same temperature as the human body - no wonder we love it. The higher the cocoa solid percentage, the lower the temperature it's likely to melt at. I'm not sure how you actually assembled your Easter eggs, but cooking chocolate probably would have made it an easier job, if less tasty and pretty. Avoid putting chocolate in the fridge too - it prefers a cool, dry, ambient temperature.
* To ask Peter a question, click on the Email Peter link below.
The best question to Peter in the next issue will win two tickets to the dine Uncorked: Winemaker Dinner Series on September 20 where you'll enjoy a Seresin five-course dinner and matching champagnes worth $165 per person.