Peter Gordon: Dried food at your fingertips
Dehydrated okra proved delicious dipped in chutney at an Indian restaurant.I had some amazing dehydrated okra at a South Indian restaurant the other night which we dipped into chutneys. I don't have a dehydrator machine, but do you think I could dry them in a long, low oven overnight? Would they need oiling or spicing first? - Denise
Good question. The dehydrator works well because it doesn't heat food too much, if at all. Oil will prevent it crisping and only spice it if that's the flavour you're after. I'm not sure what a dehydrator costs in Auckland, but it may be a good investment - they make great fruit leathers and the like.
What is xantana? Simon Gault used it on MasterChef last month as a gluten-free alternative to dredging meat in flour before browning. How is this different from cornflour? - Jeff
Xantana is one of the "ingredients" which has come from the molecular gastronomy school of cuisine and it's made from fermenting cornstarch with a cabbage bacteria. So it's pretty different. I ate lunch at The Fat Duck on Friday and I'm sure it was used there. You'll find it might be easier just to use cornflour.
And a reader writes:
"Regarding the reader inquiry concerning the knife block and its use, you were right on the case as one would expect. However, moving the knife down the block on its cutting edge could very well lose some of its burr and receive a little sharpen. For what it is worth I always insert the knife into the block slot with the back of the knife down, hopefully avoiding any potential damage. Bon appetit." - Ken Gilmour