Believe it or not, there are some parts of cooking that make Nigella Lawson hesitant. Like poaching eggs. "I am afraid to say I have spent a lifetime being nervous of poaching eggs," she admits. "This might seem entry-level, but it always defeated me."
But no longer. "Now I poach eggs with the greatest of breezy ease," the 58-year-old home cook says. "My method is as follows:
1. Crack the egg into a tea-strainer over a jug and let the very watery bit of white (the bit that would become unruly fluff in the pan) drop through.
2. Tip the egg gently into a cup and add a teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar over the white, and leave to stand a minute.
3. Tip gently into some nearly but not quite bubbling water, and poach in the still calm water for about 4 minutes.
4. Remove with a slotted spoon."
During Nigella Week on MasterChef Australia, Lawson will challenge the contestants with other tests that might seem simple but should not be underestimated. "My challenges are always in essence simple: I am a home cook, and not a technique-savvy chef," she says. "However, simplicity is not always easy to achieve under the extraordinary pressure the contestants are under. Any test I give will be a reminder of the importance of focusing on each ingredient on the plate, of the balance of flavours, the contrast of textures. It’s not about showing everything you know at once."
Lawson has some words of warning for contestants wanting to run before they can walk. "The fundamentals have to be right before you can get onto the flourishes," she says. "That in essence is what my tests are about. That and time management. You have no idea how quickly the clock ticks on MasterChef!"
For more of our interview with Lawson, grab this week's issue of WHO magazine.
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