February 2024 Food Champions Challenge: What are the dishes that you are best/worst at cooking?

One could try asking. Fresh fruit & veg shops and supermarkets though are not run by Michelin awarded Chefs, although one Aussie supermarket claims it’s where TV exposed home cooks shop.

My strategy is to mash the hot potato immediately and swiftly, drained and straight from the boil. I don’t add any butter, cream, milk etc until satisfied the mash is lump free. Watching the French chefs at work, one might ask if it’s really mashed potato with cream and butter, or is it creamy butter with added potato starch?

A minimum of butter is our preference, with a dash of milk. My GP knows when it’s not so.

Preferred implemented is a bent “flat” metal base SS implement. Gives plenty of surface to squish against the base of the saucepan. Solid benchtop required to resist the cooking brawn applied.

:rofl: to the French version of potato-flavoured butter.

I mash the drained hot spuds immediately, then add just enough plain yoghurt to moisten, and mix thoroughly with a fork. The slight tang of the yoghurt makes up for the fact that I never add any salt. The rest of the family are either resigned to this or have learned to like it. They don’t complain, anyway. :wink:

1 Like

Don’t stress about your lumpy mashed potatoes @kpa26287, as you can see the Epicurious link also mentions ‘rustic and chunky’ :laughing:

The Hand Mill is the one I use because it’s more versatile than the Ricer and gives just as smooth results.
The potatoes should be hot (it’s the best way to peel them easily anyway). It’s really a last minute job: cooked and served, for best results.

I must confess I’m inclined also to reach for my packet of Deb Instant mashed potatoes, never goes wrong and it’s ideal if there’s been some generous serving and more mash is needed urgently.:wink:

1 Like

What about “deconstructed”? If ever I do something where the texture is not textbook it is deconstructed, not damaged.

1 Like

Let’s make that the ‘Word of the Day’ :+1:

1 Like

I’ll 'fess up to burning things in the pan. I cook with gas and it seems to have a constant temperature, regardless of turning up or down, large or small ring.

Things start golden (non-stick fry pan with a little olive oil) and end up going burnt when I flip them. Things like crumbed chicken, egg plant, chips, omelette. I now cook one side and then turn off the gas, flip, and allow the residual heat to finish the other side.

As for lumpy mash spud - Mr Z has only just found out from his sisters that those lumps in his mother’s mash were choko or bunya nut when she couldn’t afford to buy (or the garden had run out of) english potatoes. This is 70 years ago.

I use the frozen mash potato which is pre-mashed. Community Co or BirdsEye. So much easier - zap in the microwave (I add milk) stir and serve. Depending on what’s in the garden, garnish or add, spring onion, herbs, parsley, curry plant, tomato, cheese. But he prefers just onion and/or gravy.


I like my mashed spud to be a bit lumpy. But I no longer mash. I’ve just read at the link above that kipfler are good for steaming so I’ll give that a try next time I buy spuds. I no longer boil, mash or fry spuds, I’ve got my veg steaming down to a fine art in the little microwave oven.


Like most of us, I need lots of practice before I learn to cook a dish well and my lack of troubleshooting with a new recipe means there’s a considerable waste of good expensive ingredients, therefore I seldom go beyond my tried and true recipes.
During the lockdowns in Melbourne I started making my own bread. The first loaf was just a bit higher than a pancake. After another couple of tries I succeeded in baking a ‘normal’ loaf of bread. As the baking does take a bit of time and lots of cleaning I now buy my sliced bread and have probably lost that skill by now.

1 Like

I love roast pumpkin, the type with a slightly burnt caramelised outer and soft, mushy inner. I have not managed to achive that.

Most pumpkins that I grow are Jap (Kent) pumpkins and those others for sale are usually butternut and occasional Qld Blue but expensive. Mr Z does not like the “watery” Jap and I have not managed to get the slightly crusty, caramelised, finish that the Pub does. We might go to the Pub once a year for a meal, so I have not been bold enough to get the cook’s insights & secrets.

The other thing I can’t match is the BBQ chook from the supermarket. Googled many recipes promising similar results, but never achieved it. I am guessing it is more complex than just herbs & spices; I think it involves steaming and roasting (and possibly flavour injection). At $8.99 it is easier to just pick one up on our fortnightly Big Smoke shop. Any insights gratefully accepted.


Neither have I by traditional baking.
Mostly we just drizzle with olive oil. Better if not EVO and choice of herbs fresh rosemary always to hand and pinch of coarse salt. But it never quite gets that final finish, hence glazed alternatives.

That tip - it’s not just pumpkin. Various recipes online including one from Steggles the chook people for Kent. Since we have a Weber, nuts optional, and plenty of Aussie sweet alternatives to maple syrup.

As some Pumpkins can be a little lacking in flavour there is plenty of opportunity to vary how strongly flavoured the choice of honey or syrup is. I’ve had some local raw immigrant bee honey that is dark like treacle and strongly flavoured vs the sweeter scented choices from the local macadamia plantations.

P.S. Miso paste is always in our pantry/fridge. Great when grilling or baking egg plant as well as for a glaze when baking fresh salmon fillets.

Caramelisation adds a rich flavour and colour and the general rule to caramelise veggies is to let all the moisture evaporate until the natural sugar starts to break down. This is done on a low heat (high heat will just burn) over a longish period of time. In case of browning before getting to the ‘soft inside’ stage, a few tablespoons of water can be added to further cook without burning.

Not a fan of pumpkin but I can share my basic recipe for a roasted pumpkin dish:
place slices (cut 3-4 cm thick) on a paper lined baking tray, add any herbs you prefer (rosemary, sage, thyme…) drizzle with any oil you prefer, season.
Place in a 180c. preheated oven for about 20 min or until soft.

Many recipes add flavour with a kick by using balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, pungent herbs, black pepper, hot chilli pepper…


Different varieties of pumpkin and slightly different cooking uses or needs. The Jarrahdale which is very common in the supermarkets is moister. More time needed to drive the moisture out when baking. It can be soft but will not caramelise if still too moist. My gran always went for the drier fleshed Queensland blue when baking. Less preferred for mash without lots of added butter etc.

6 pumpkin varieties and types in Australia | Better Homes and Gardens

1 Like