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COOKERY Q&A - Here to help.

Summary: Our expert chef Andy Campbell offers practical advice to tackle all your cooking dilemmas.

I'm confused by the various pasta shapes - do they make any difference to a dish at all?

A. People tend to buy the pasta shape they prefer, but the shape does affect the flavour of a pasta dish. For example, penne adheres well to the consistency of tomato or meat ragu style of sauces, while orecchiette sticks well to creamy sauces. I like to have angel hair pasta with a delicate shellfish sauce.

Could you please tell me which herbs can be used in juices?

A. I love adding various herbs to juices as they have health benefits and taste great as well. I use mint and basil in just about any juice, as they grow plentifully in my garden. You can used dried, fresh and even frozen herbs.

I've been seeing cocoa butter in desserts - is there a particular way of using it and can it be heated up?

Please give me your tips on how to use it?

A. It is becoming quite a trend to use cocoa butter as it makes desserts creamier in texture. I like to melt cocoa butter on a double boiler or bain marie, and then add cocoa powder to it. I then sweeten it with coconut sugar and blend it all together before freezing in ice trays. I like to eat these on its own, as you would with chocolate squares.

Q. My husband is vegetarian and I always struggle with creative yet quick recipes for him. What is your go-to

vegetarian dish?

A. Stir fries are super easy to make and take hardly any time. I make a stir fry of tinned pulses and beans, chickpeas and lentils with onions, celery, and carrot, cooked for 10 minutes in canola oil and thickened with tomato puree. Add smoked paprika and finish with chopped herbs and a squeeze of lemon. This tastes great with caramelised pears.

I boiled potatoes the other day and they were still hard in the middle - the same happened when I baked it. What am I doing wrong?

A. The best way to find out if a potato is baked or cooked is to check it with a small thin knife. Pierce it all the way through the centre and if it comes out clean it's cooked. Always boil old potatoes in cold water, and new potatoes in boiling water.

Andy's ingredient of the month

My favourite summer fruit is watermelon, and I use it in everything from fresh juices, to salads and curries. Watermelon has 92 per cent water content and is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as potassium. Eat it fresh or in vegetable curries.

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Publication:BBC GoodFood Middle East
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Jul 19, 2014
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