My French friends all remove the green bit in garlic before cooking. I have never seen a television chef do this. Are my friends too fussy?
Chris V, Gloucestershire
Chris, your friends are right. That green bit is a sprouting shoot and normally appears in over-wintered garlic. Eaten with the rest of the bulb it gives many people a severe stomach ache and can be unappetisingly bitter. I'm sorry, but there probably isn't much you can tell the French about garlic.
For quite a few years I have been using good-quality stainless-steel saucepans for cooking and am generally very happy with them. However, when I moved into my current flat, which has a gas hob, I found that I couldn't simmer anything as everything quickly goes on to the boil. This was never a problem on the ceramic hob I had previously. Have you any suggestions?
Peter, you need a heat diffuser - a simple mat that keeps the heat down in tricky situations such as yours. They are great for taming flames that are too high, or hobs that just won't go low without blowing out. They are also just what you need for making custard or anything that is likely to curdle if it gets too hot. They are made from stainless steel and stocked by kitchenware shops, you will also find them available by mail order.
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