Ask Julie

You’ve Asked, and I’ve answered

What is the best restaurant you have ever been to?

Well I think I am pretty lucky to have been to many wonderful restaurants but there is still one that stands out – Prime 112 in Miami – for the desserts alone!!

Is it possible to make my own vanilla extract?

Yes it is and it is really simple. You just need to fill a jar with vanilla pods – as many as will fit then fill the jar with vodka and leave in a pantry for a minimum of six months but the longer the better. That said, I use shop bought good quality vanilla extract.

Where to find your published recipe books?

You can find my books in online stores like amazon and some book stores. All links just click here.

Is it not healthier to remove the chicken skin before cooking?

The skin does contain a lot of fat and calories compared to the meat but it is best left on in many recipes for the cooking process to keep the meat moist and tender then it can be removed prior to serving.

Do you always add salt to your water when cooking pasta?

Yes. I always add quite a lot of salt to my water before I add my pasta as this flavours the pasta during the cooking process. I also add olive oil which not only adds more flavour but prevents the pasta from sticking together.

How do you store your condiments?

I store ketchups, mayonaise, tartar sauces, salad creams etc in the fridge but oils in the cupboard at room temperature.

What do you mean when you refer to good quality dark chocolate?

I mean that it should have a minimum of 70% cocoa solids.

What is your favourite thing to cook?

I actually love baking more than cooking so it would be cakes, cookies, desserts, toffees etc – my husband said he has to train hard every day to stay in shape living with me!

The top of my baked cheesecakes always crack – any tips on how to prevent this?

Yes and it is super simple. Once your cheesecake is baked, turn the oven off, open the door slightly and leave to cool completely in the warm oven. This works well top prevent merengues cracking also.

Why do you roll out your cookie dough between baking paper?

It means I do not need to add additional flour to my worktop or rolling pin and the dough will not stick – I think it results in a better cookie

I am looking for a vegan parmesan substitute, any recommendations?

There are some amazing vegan parmesan substitutes available now but you can quickly whip up one at home with either cashew nuts or hemp seeds, nutritional yeast, onion powder and salt.

When making madeleines or bundt cakes, how do I avoid having lumps or raw flour on the outside of the cakes when they are cooked without them sticking to the baking pans?

This used to happen to me until I started making a paste with flour and butter and brushing it into the pans as opposed to greasing the pan then flouring it. It works perfectly everytime.

Can I make profiteroles in advance?

Once the profiterole dough has been made and piped into individual profiteroles, at this stage they can be frozen for several months and then cooked straight from the freezer.

You often talk about room temperature or softened butter, what exactly does that mean?

So for room temperature or softened butter I tend to leave it out of the fridge for several hours or overnight if I will be using it the following morning.

What brands of food processors and blenders do you recommend?

I have a Kitchenaid food processor and mixer and think they are really fantastic and worth the investment.

Do you re-use cooking oil after use?

It can be re-used but I never ever re-use mine. I either pour it back into the bottle in which it came once cooled then dispose of it or you can now buy a product that makes the oil into a solid when you have finished which can then just be thrown away. Do not pour it down your sink or drain or you are likely to end up with blocked drains!

What vegan substitute can be used in place of eggs in recipes?

There are several options – flax and water combined work well in breads and savoury recipes so one tablespoon of ground flax to four tablespoons of water per egg. One cup of silken tofu works well as done as done one teaspoon of baking soda mixed with one tablespoon of white vinegar. You can also use mashed banana in sweet recipes.

Every time I try to make creme anglaise or creme patisserie it seems to curdle and split. What am I doing wrong and can it be saved at this point?

So one of two things could be happening here, you are cooking it on too high a heat or cooking it for too long. But don´t panic, if you blitz it with an electric whisk it should return to silky smooth and be perfectly fine.

Everyone talks about Quinoa but I am never sure when to use it. Can you give me any advice on recipes?

Well you are seriously missing out as Quinoa is an amazing superfood and super versatile. I use it all the time in place or rice, pasta or potatoes. I add it to pancake batter, in salads and I even make quinoa porridge with quinoa flakes. It is also great added into soups to make a hearty meal. 

Why do you not use garlic in anything?

I am allergic to garlic so never use it in cooking and as a result no one in my family really loves much of it now. I use other products to flavour our food such as chopped shallots, onion powder, herbs and spices.

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