Q I once saw a recipe in a French interiors magazine served in a porcelain heart dish which had perforations in the base. I found some of those little moulds, but I don't remember what the recipe was. Can you give me some idea of how I could use them?
A The dishes you have bought are not the most useful in the world, but they are among the prettiest. The recipe is probably coeur à la crème. It's a simple one, made with fromage frais and whipped cream, and you will find something like it in any classic French cookery book such as Elizabeth David's. The dishes are based on those used for making cream cheese - the holes drain away liquid or whey. If you are going to turn your little cream cheese desserts out, line them with muslin and leave a little overhanging. It makes them easier to flip out of the moulds.
Q Nigel, I tried making French onion soup with leeks the other day, but it was very bitter. What did I do wrong?
A Fraser, it is essential to cook the onions till they are very soft and almost caramelised, browning them here and there - this gives French onion soup its sweetness. But leeks must never brown. Try chopping them then cooking in butter over a low heat, but with a layer of greaseproof paper over them and then a tight lid on top of that. The leeks steam in the moist heat under the paper and soften sweetly without colour. You can then use them as a base for a wonderful soup.
• If you have a cooking question for Nigel, email firstname.lastname@example.org