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Julie’s Q&A

Ask Julie your cooking questions.

Featured Q&A
Q Julie, I have about a kilo of cold topside roast meat left from a dinner party and was wanting to do a shepherds pie type meal to utilise it.
Can you help?
Thanks, Bruce

A Hi, Bruce.
This is tricky…I only have a recipe for cottage pie using mince…but you could adapt it. I would soften the vegetables as described then stir in the flour, and add stock, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, thyme and tomato paste. Stir until bubbling then cook gently for 10 minutes. Then add your diced topside and cook it through just for 5 minutes. Transfer it to a cooking dish and top with potato as described. I hope that helps!

Q Hi Julie.
A wee while ago you responded to my request for utilising left over topside as a cottage pie. I followed your recipe, substituting tomato paste with a can of tomatoes and was a winner! Just printed your rhubarb and ginger crumble out and am uncertain of “chopped stem ginger in syrup”. Is this a made up deli/supermarket ingredient or can it be made from root ginger? Seems a nice combination with rhubarb. – Bruce

A Hi Bruce, I’m glad that worked out. Rhubarb in syrup is found in supermarkets in jars – it’s peeled ginger in a heavy syrup. It’s usually called ‘stem ginger in syrup’. Hope you find it.

Q Hi Julie.
You had a recipe in Woman’s Day back in 2007 for Pumpkin Soup with Thyme. We made this many times but I seem to have misplaced this sheet and wondered if you could oblige by sending me a copy.
Many thanks,
Annette Bishop

A: Hi, Annette.

Adding fresh thyme to pumpkin soup gives it a new dimension. When fresh tarragon is available, try it in place of thyme. Happy Cooking!

Pumpkin Soup with Thyme.


Hi, Julie.
Some years ago I printed off your recipe for Sticky Lemon Slice that was on Kerre’s ZB show. It is one of our fav’s and always gets rave reviews. However the other day it got wet and is
now illegible – oh the dilemma!! I can’t find it on your website, could you possibly resend it to me or point me in the right direction to find it. Much appreciated.

-Sticky Lemon Slice Fan, Lisa Nola

A: Hi, Lisa.

I’ve added the recipe to my website. This super-delectable, sweet-but-tart ‘slice’ is quickly made in a food processor. If you don’t have a food processor, cream the
butter and icing sugar and work in the flour. For the topping, whip the sugar and eggs together with a rotary beater. Enjoy!

Sticky Lemon Slice.

Q Hi, Julie.
I heard you talking about a 7 hour lamb recipe on National Radio. I’d love to try it. Have looked for it on the site but can’t find it. Could this be cooked in a slow cooker, do you think? – Sue Iversen

A: Dear Sue,
Here is the 7-hour Lamb with Potato Puree and Leeks a la Grecque. Yes, you could use a slow cooker, but the most important thing in this dish is the initial browning, it’s where a lot of the flavour is developed, and also, the colour – otherwise the lamb will look grey. Therefore I suggest browning it as described then using the wine and stock to deglaze the pan, then pouring this liquid with any bits into the slow cooker with the lamb (and vegetables, herbs etc). This ensures you don’t leave valuable flavour behind in the pan.


Q: Hi Julie. I have been reading great reports about your cottage pie recipe but can’t find it anywhere. I would like to cook it for dinner on Saturday for 12 people, is it possible to have it emailed to me. By the way, I loved your book, dancing on the table, highly recommended.

Helen Flashman

A: Hi Helen. Here is the Cottage Pie
recipe – hope you enjoy it. We love it served with broccoli – a great winter dish. Glad you enjoyed Dancing On My Table.
Happy cooking.


Q: Greetings Julie
Can you please suggest the NZ equivalent for Fontina cheese? It is used extensively in overseas recipes, but am uncertain which NZ cheese I should use as a substitute.
Many thanks,

A: Hi Mavora. There are a few cheeses you can try, depending on the end use, but none is an exact equivalent. If you are wanting the lovely melting quality of fontina, raclette, a semi-soft cheese made from cow’s milk (like fontina), could do the trick. Gruyere, also made from cow’s milk, but much a much firmer cheese, is often given as a substitute and can be used for grilling and in fondue. It’s possible to use fresh mozzarella in some recipes that call for melted fontina, though the flavour profile will be very different (mozzarella is milky and bland, but you could add an acid tang with lemon or balsamic vinegar). Fontina has a fat content of around 45%, is buttery and nutty when young, though with a mild tang, becoming more pungent and earthy as it ages. It’s an exceptional table cheese, and is excellent for melting or grilling.


Q: Julie, how does one thicken yogurt?
– R. Ward, Monterey, California

A: How to Thicken Yoghurt
To make yoghurt thick and velvety, like Greek yoghurt, it is necessary to drain off some of the whey. Line a small sieve with a piece of absorbent kitchen paper or, if straining it for longer than 4 hours, line the bowl with clean muslin. Set the sieve over a bowl. Pour in the yoghurt, cover and leave to drain for at least an hour, but up to 36 hours.

Carefully turn the yoghurt into a clean bowl and use as desired. After an hour the yoghurt will be thicker and sauce-like. After 36 hours it will be very dense and creamy and can be shaped into small ‘blobs’, dusted with chopped herbs, paprika or ground pepper, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil and served as a fresh cheese. The thickened yoghurt can be mixed with capers, spices, lemon zest, garlic, green peppercorns, gherkins, olives etc., and used as a dip or sauce. The whey, which contains worthwhile nutrients, can be used in baking bread, muffins etc.