Peter Gordon: How to be offally successful
I am a new cook to offal, but have seen so many interesting liver, kidney and sweetbread dishes in restaurants I'd like to know how to prepare them. Do any of these require any special preparation to avoid poisoning me or my guests (cutting out nasty bits, etc)? Do they suit a fast pan-fry or longer, slower cooking? - Brad
They are all prepped and cooked quite differently so you'd be best to get a specialist cookbook. I've never heard of anyone being poisoned by the way.
On a recent MasterChef (in Melbourne), one of the cooks had to find two ingredients I'd never heard of - lemon aspen and aniseed myrtle - for a dish she was doing with Moreton Bay bugs. She found some in the Queen Vic markets. What are these two and what do they taste like? What could I use from New Zealand to get the same flavours? - George
They're indigenous plants from Australia - which has a rich history of such produce. Their names are very descriptive of their flavour - lemony and aniseedy. Lemon mixed with grapefruit juice can replace the aspen. Ground liquorice, star anise or fennel seeds can work for the myrtle.
I have recently returned from a trip to Brisbane and while there I visited a very good kitchen supply shop. The manager told me to always store knives upside down in the knife block so the blades are not constantly running along the wood. Is this correct? It does seem to make sense but you never see them displayed this way in shops or on food shows. Are knife blocks the best way to store good quality knives anyway? - Janet
I've never heard that, but I suppose there's some sense to it, although the way knife handles are weighted may not always allow them to sit as well upside down. Knife rail magnets are good, but more dangerous with young ones around. I use blocks myself.