Page 2 | AMA - with world-renowned chef, Ollie Dabbous. Ask all your cooking questions and get the insider tricks of the trade - only on Mumsnet, 07/12/2021

(76 Posts)
SaraMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 02-Dec-21 13:23:11

Just in time for the festive season, we have Ollie Dabbous joining us for an “Ask Me Anything” special on Tuesday 7th December at 4pm for one hour.

After honing his craft in the world’s top kitchens, with top chefs including Raymond Blanc, Ollie is now Head Chef at famous restaurant Hide London. Ollie will be here to answer your most pressing cooking questions, impart some Chef secrets and perhaps give us a few clues about how to make the perfect roasts…

If you have a question for Ollie, please post them in this thread and he will be answering them (and more) at 4pm on Tuesday 7th December. If you are looking for a little inspiration this festive period, want to pick up some new recipes or are after a gift for the foodie in your life check out Ollie's book, “Essential” available now in hardback.

OP’s posts: |
SpindlesWinterWhorl Tue 07-Dec-21 09:01:04

@SilverHairedCat, no, I bought some gluten-free flour and it wasn't a great success! Thanks for the tip.

SilverHairedCat Tue 07-Dec-21 09:13:02

It's not as silky as one made from a roux, but it does work!

ApplesinmyPocket Tue 07-Dec-21 09:27:05

Hi Ollie,

I have had many, many attempts to make caramel. I seem to have watched lots of videos and read loads of tips but STILL my caramel comes out grainy.

I'm thoroughly confused now after watching Bake-Off too - I thought stirring caramel was a sure way to encourage the dreaded crystallisation - but they were all beating their caramel like the clappers and THEIRS turned out ok?!

Any tips would be MOST welcome, thank you.

PurplePorcupine20 Tue 07-Dec-21 10:04:45

Hi Ollie, what weird food combinations do you really enjoy?

Letsrunabath Tue 07-Dec-21 11:20:57

Hi, how do you make short ribs like you do

samsays345 Tue 07-Dec-21 14:30:08

Hi Ollie - what's your view on the Salt Bae ridiculously-priced steak controversy? Would you go/have you been?


eggsandham Tue 07-Dec-21 14:32:52

Straight after university, I spent a summer working as a commis chef. I loved it but the split shifts were an absolute killer. I was wondering - is it tough to combine being a chef with having a young family? Is it an occupation you'd encourage your children into?

acres11 Tue 07-Dec-21 14:36:06

If you could only go to one restaurant in London right now (excluding your own ;-)) which one would you book a table at?

allieverknew Tue 07-Dec-21 14:39:02

Hi Ollie - just wanted to say that I used Hide at Home a couple of times during lockdown for special occasions and it was incredibly good. Thanks so much for providing such a brilliant service at a tough time!

My question is - I think I read when Hide opened that you have a car lift - has anyone ever used it, and if so, can you tell us who?

Sevashakti Tue 07-Dec-21 14:53:49

Is it OK to cook food, freeze it and then microwave it for a weaning baby of 10 months? I need a 2nd opinion as I think its wrong. Baby is rejecting it and preferring to eat soil around house plants which he's prevented from doing by his mother, my relative.

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:02:41

Good afternoon everyone - Ollie has arrived at MNHQ and we are ready to get started. Ask away!

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:11:52


Hi Ollie I’m a regular at Hide. It’s my favourite restaurant in London and my kids love it too.We all want to know how you make the crispy potato cakes that go with the ribeye.They are incredible!! Also any chance if your cinnamon madeleines recipe!

Hi @GoingBacktoSchool123 Thanks for your question and regular custom grin. I'll get back to you in due course with the specific recipes. Essentially, the potato cake is layers of thinly sliced potato mixed with salt and clarified salted butter, baked for 90 minutes. Then pressed and chilled, we then deep fry and you would have a potato chip.

The secret of the madeleines is that the mix is deliberately a bit split. So by not having the fat completely emulsified when you bite into it, all of the butter oozes out; plus you get a crispy outside.

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:12:47


Hi Ollie. I'm really bored of the usual sides for roast dinners (carrots, roasties, parsnips, etc). Can you give a few suggestions for more exciting sides or how to level up the usual vegetables? Thank you.

@Eurotrotters. For root vegetables, about five minutes before they finish cooking you can toss with some cumin or zaatar or fresh grated horseradish. Also, honey and lemon to finish is a lovely glaze, even some orange/clementine zest in the winter.

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:17:26


Hi! Thanks for this!

I love to cook, but I never seem to get a huge depth of flavour into, say, gravy or tomato based sauces. Do you have any tips? I'm happy to spend a few hours on these things!

@SilverHairedCat For tomato sauces using half tinned tomatoes and half fresh you get a nice balance of depth and freshness. If you cook them down too much, they can become a little bit jammy. So it’s about getting the balance right for evaporating enough water content away so the sugars are concentrated without being cloying.

For gravy, there is no way to get depth without using a decent amount of bones or meat. I would recommend for Christmas dinner to get in some extra turkey legs/diced meat and make it before the Christmas dinner itself. When you roast the turkey, you want the juice to stay in the bird rather than leave it to become gravy.

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:25:01


Hiya, could you give any advice on consistently getting crispy roast potatoes? Mine either come out as lumps of char or dripping in oil/fat - I need help!

@cloudbedcat So start off with a floury potato (so a marris piper, chipper or Desiree). Then peel them, wash them briefly under cold running water, cut them into two-four pieces depending on size (not too small!). Once done, simmer from cold in lightly salted water until just cooked (you can always pierce with a small vegetable knife to test) then raise to a fast boil for the last couple of minutes because you want to break down the outside of the potato a little bit. Strain the potatoes and leave them for 5 minutes to allow the steam to escape, in this time pre-heat the oven to 220C and place a roasting tray inside with a shallow layer of vegetable oil. Toss the potatoes in the colander to scuff the outsides (this will increase the surface area that the oil will crisp) then place in the hot oil and roast for 15 minutes. Baste and turn, then lower the heat to 180c and baste and turn another two times. In total it should take about 45 minutes to an hour to get crispy!

You can you half virgin rape seed oil and half vegetable oil to give them a golden glow.

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:27:57


I'd love a simple, fail proof red wine jus and very slightly sweet.

@goldshade No problem at all, I’ll follow up via the Mumsnet Christmas elves in a few days. Keep and eye out for updates on this thread.

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:28:53



Can you explain which creamy dairy product is best for which job?
I always have fat free Greek yogurt in the fridge, but less often Creme fraiche, sour cream etc. I'd love a guide to the qualities of each product- doesn't split when warmed/rich/thickening etc.

Thank you!

@picklemewalnuts.Sour cream you can add to hot sauces and it won’t split. Crème fresh and Greek yogurt will split but you can bring it back by adding a cornflour solution, boiling to thicken and then hand blend it.

Also! If you ever curdle a custard - just blend.

bubbagumpSHRlMP Tue 07-Dec-21 16:31:17

What can I do to turn a borning tub of passata into a flavoursome sauce? It always ends up tasting bland - but I'm time-limited in the kitchen so fresh isn't always an option...

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:32:32


If you could only go to one restaurant in London right now (excluding your own ;-)) which one would you book a table at?

@acres11 Definitely not mine, I spend far too much time there already! Either Tayyabs for a tasty curry (I’m long overdue a repeat visit). Or to try something new, the Nomad in Covent Garden.

I generally don’t pick anywhere too gastronomical, my other go to is a burger at Smith and Wollensky.

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:36:28


Straight after university, I spent a summer working as a commis chef. I loved it but the split shifts were an absolute killer. I was wondering - is it tough to combine being a chef with having a young family? Is it an occupation you'd encourage your children into?

Yeah, properly the hardest @eggsandham, thanks for the perspective. Part of the hardest part of my life right now is juggling the workload with family time. I think it properly helps that I had kids a little bit later and I’m more senior, so I can decide my own rota so to speak (at the restaurant of course).

I’ll tell my wife each year that it’s going to get easier but it never seems to. I think cooking is a great skill to have and I’d never encourage my kids not to do something but I would insist they did time in a kitchen as a holiday job before deciding on it as a career.

I think it’s so important for kids to learn how to cook, so they can eat healthy and respect the amount of work that goes into making dinner.

AdaColeman Tue 07-Dec-21 16:37:52

Hello Ollie,
Do you have any ideas for a light first course course for Christmas Day please? Something cold to prepare beforehand, but not smoked salmon?

Merry Christmas to you! wine fsmile fsmile

goldshade Tue 07-Dec-21 16:39:03

Thanks Ollie

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:40:31


Hi Ollie, are you difficult to cook for?

@alwayswrighty. You won’t find anyone more appreciative, generally prefer something simple done well. So all chefs love eating the classics on their days off.

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:41:10


Hi Ollie,

If you don't have a meat thermometer, what tricks do you have so that you know when you're meat is ready to eat and not over cooked? I'm mainly thinking of this in regards to chicken, as I am always scared I'll serve raw chicken! Thanks

@walksinnature. After kitchen scales the meat thermometer is the most important piece of kitchen kit you can own (after a knife and chopping board of course). I would recommend a Thermapen (available on Amazon), they are a bit more expensive but they tell you the temperature instantly.

Apart from roast chicken you can use it to cook custard to 80C so it doesn’t split and check that your lasagne isn’t nuclear!

OllieDabbous Tue 07-Dec-21 16:42:05


What would make your perfect 'off duty' sandwich?

@oswaldcat BLT every time

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