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Globe and Mail Update

Need some help in the kitchen?

Globe columnist and celebrity chef Michael Smith was online earlier to take your questions. Whether you're looking for some inspiration, advice on choosing the right gadgets for your kitchen or even a tip on what to have for dinner tonight, Michael Smith's got answers.

Your questions and Mr. Smith's answers will appear at the bottom of this page.

Michael Smith is an award winning cookbook author, newspaper columnist, roving Canadian cuisine ambassador, restaurant chef and home cook. His third cookbook, Chef at Home, is a smash hit across Canada. Although Mr. Smith is a true chef at large, his favourite role is Dad, home on Prince Edward Island with his partner, Rachel, and their 5-year-old son, Gabriel.

Mr. Smith is the winner of the James Beard Award for Cooking Show Excellence and host of Chef at Home, Chef at Large and The Inn Chef on Food Network Canada and in 26 other countries.

Editor's Note: editors will read and allow or reject each question. Questions may be edited for length, clarity or relevance. HTML is not allowed. We will not publish questions that include personal attacks on participants in these discussions, that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

Rasha Mourtada, Globe Life web editor: Michael, a big thank you for joining us today. We have loads of questions, so let's get started.

Proud New Brunswicker, Sussex NB: Hi Michael, As a Maritimer, I'm of the meat 'n' taters generation, but what can I do with seasonings to enhance, not overpower beef pork and chicken? Thanks

Michael Smith: You can have your meat 'n' taters and your seasonings too! If your aim is to enhance and not overpower than the key is finding where your flavour limits are. In essence that means the first step is the most important one: giving it a go. Deciding to add seasonings to your food on a regular basis. Trying more, trying less, until you feel comfortable. I suggest you start with one of my favourites, a good old beef stew. With an Asian twist. Orange Ginger Beef. Have fun!

Fred Dee, Whitby: Michael, does living in beautiful PEI inspire your cooking?

Michael Smith: Fred, You bet it does. I feel very fortunate to live here in the countryside and it flavours my cooking every day. Our relatively rural lifestyle is a constant source of inspiration. When I first came here 16 years ago, I came to meet the farmers and fisherman and cook. My seven years as a chef at the Inn at Bay Fortune was all about cooking with what's around me. With the seasons. Of time and place. Here is where I learned to let my cooking be personal, to reflect my personality and my many personal relationships with the amazing folks here who get up and early, get their hands dirty and produce the beautiful raw ingredients PEI is famous for. In the summer our favourite local farm, Fortune Organics, delivers us a field box every week. We never know what will be in it other than lots of fresh, local organic vegetables. Inspiration for the cook!

Rich Gong, Kingston Canada: Hi Michael, I'm a university student who loves cooking and eating too. However, I find it hard to create delicious meals on a budget. Can you suggest some cuts of meat that could make a great steak but are also easy on the wallet?

Michael Smith: Rich, To truly save money on beef I say give up the steak idea and go for the big flavour. The braising cuts. Fact is the most flavour is found in the cheapest, toughest cuts. Demand and thus price is highest for the most tender beef, the steaks that grill quickly. But the more tender a cut is, the less the muscle worked, the less flavour it has. The most flavour is found in the cuts that worked the most, thus the toughest cuts. The key is to try your hand at stewing or braising. Make a batch of simple old fashioned beef stew or a pot roast and you'll eat in-expensively and well for days!

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