Peter Gordon: Making the most of mushrooms
I've seen lots of different mushrooms at the market, including a big flat beige one (slightly frilled at the edges). What sort of recipes could I use it in? Can I substitute regular button mushrooms for these fancier mushrooms in recipes or do they have totally different flavours? - Grant Singleton
All mushrooms differ in taste and texture - button mushrooms taste nothing like porcini or girolles, for example. Hopefully the vendor at the market can talk you through them all, but it is worth experimenting yourself. Consider buying some porcini flavoured oil, or dried wild mushrooms, to add to your dishes - you'll notice the difference. * This question is the winner of our competition for two tickets to the dine Uncorked: Winemaker Dinner Series on September 20.
I love stews and curries when the meat is really tender and succulent. Mine always ends up going tough and then I have to spend hours cooking it and it becomes stringy. Is there some secret in the browning or cooking process? - Oriole Wilson
The whole point of a stew is that it is cooked for a long time (at least 90 minutes, depending what you're cooking) on a low temperature. This breaks down the cartilage and sinews and makes for a tender eat. If you don't have time, don't cook a stew, grill a steak. Invest in a crock-pot or similar and it looks after itself.
I watched the programme on the telly where you prepared a hangi at the Turangawaewae Marae, with all the different seasonings, and would like you to tell me what seasonings you used on which meats. We would like to try and enhance the taste of the food that is cooked in a hangi as my hubby quite often cooks for large amounts of people. - Chris Hape
I've cooked two hangi at Turangawaewae - the first had seven different meats and the second had four. We marinated the chickens in manuka honey, sliced fresh ginger and kawakawa. The pork belly we split open, rubbed with soy sauce, then stuffed with grated apple, walnuts and fresh sage, before wrapping in banana leaves. The lamb legs were butterflied and rubbed with horopito, chopped garlic, fresh mint and olive oil.