Christine Gallary's Recent Articles
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Does Anyone Have a Recipe for This Eastern European Spread?
Q: A friend of mine told me about a traditional Eastern European spread that is made from eggs and yogurt, but he wasn’t able to really explain how to make it even though someone had taught him (he is not a cooking enthusiast). I’ve been scouring the Internet trying to figure out what on earth it is called and how to make it, but I can’t find anything similar anywhere! I was wondering, do you know what this could be?
Sep 29, 2015
5 Alternative Ways to Use a Wok
I invested in a wok a few years ago, mainly to stir-fry and do high-heat cooking. I didn’t make the decision lightly, though, since a wok takes up a fair amount of room and needs care and maintenance to work at its best. I was worried it would only be able to do one thing well, but it’s actually a really versatile piece of cookware!
Sep 28, 2015
Why Does Spinach Leave a Weird Film on Your Teeth?
I’m a spinach fan and love that it cooks quickly so I can stir it into eggs, pasta, stews, soups, or just about anything I choose. What I don’t love, however, is that strange film it leaves on my teeth. You know what I’m talking about — that unpleasant coating that’s both dry and chalky. “Spinach teeth” is such a weird phenomenon; where does it come from, and is there anything that can be done to minimize or prevent it?
Sep 28, 2015
Help Me Find a Strainer or Colander That Actually Does Its Job
Q: Why do so many big colanders/strainers function so poorly? Most of them can’t drain out all the water — instead of getting dry pasta or veggies, everything is left in some water that won’t ever drain out of the holes! My mom has an old, beat-up metal one that does work, but we’re not sure why this one drains water properly.
Sep 28, 2015
Why Won’t Muffins Rise in My New Gas Oven?
Q: I have a fail-safe muffin batter recipe I have always used with much success in my electric oven. I have now installed a gas oven, and while it has been perfect for browning dishes like mac and cheese, the muffins are not as impressive. They do not rise as much as when they bake in the electric oven (they are about 20 percent smaller). They don’t have that classic crunchy outer shell that you would expect in a muffin, they take longer to bake, and they don’t brown.
Sep 25, 2015
A Visual Guide to the 7 Major Types of Canned Tomatoes
A lot of recipes rely on canned tomatoes for flavor, acidity, richness, liquid, and so much more. Canned tomatoes are definitely a pantry staple we can’t live without, especially when it’s the middle of winter and there aren’t any good fresh tomatoes to be found. The canned tomato aisle at the grocery store is pretty impressive, with so many varieties and brands competing for your attention. How is each kind made, and how is it best used?
Sep 24, 2015
Here’s a Visual Guide to the 34 Ingredients in Cool Ranch Doritos
New book Ingredients takes popular processed foods and photographs their individual chemical components. So what does it take to make Cool Ranch Doritos? The 34 ingredients you see pictured. Turns out even the cheese in Cool Ranch Doritos is composed of 10 flavors and chemicals. This book delves into other popular foods, like Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and Quaker Instant Oatmeal, and visually explores just how processed modern food production has become.
Sep 22, 2015
4 Important Tips for Using Cooking Thermometers
Food thermometers take the guesswork out of cooking and give us some peace of mind and reassurance that food is cooked properly. There’s a wide range of them out there on the market, from simple ones with a dial to fancy digital ones that promise quick results. They’re an important part of cooking, so we’re here to give you some tips for buying, using, and maintaining them. Not all kitchen thermometers are created for the same purpose.
Sep 18, 2015
How Do You Clean a Self-Basting Cast Iron Lid?
Q: How do you clean and season a self-basting cast iron lid? Our pan is in great shape, but the lid is full of sticky cooked-on gunk, and the tips of the little spikes are totally unseasoned. What can we do to get it back in good shape and then maintain it? Sent by Liz Editor: Have you tried soaking it in some warm water to loosen the gunk first? I would then try scrubbing it with a soft brush or perhaps even an extra toothbrush.
Sep 16, 2015
California’s Pistachio Trees Are “Shooting Blanks” This Year
“Shooting blanks” is not a phrase you usually see associated with nuts, but that’s the phrasing used to refer to pistachio nuts that never produce the meat inside, just hollow shells. And this is a surprisingly widespread problem this year in California. While hollow pistachios aren’t unusual, they usually only occur in about 10 percent of the crop.
Sep 15, 2015
These Are the 4 Types of Cooking Oils You Should Have in Your Kitchen
Oils are extracted from all different kinds of seeds, nuts, and plants, and to be honest, choosing one can be a bit overwhelming. What oils should you have in your pantry — ones you’ll actually reach for on a regular basis when cooking? Here are the four categories of cooking oils we use the most, and the best ways to use them!
Sep 15, 2015
When Do You Add the Fruit When Making Kombucha Tea?
Q: In your tutorial on how to make kombucha, it says you can add fruit to flavor the kombucha. When is the fruit added? Sent by Gundi Editor: In our recipe for kombucha tea, fruit is added in step #8, the bottling stage.
Sep 10, 2015
Here’s an Easier Way to Brown Meat
Browning is an essential step in many recipes that involve meat. Since you’re essentially caramelizing the surface of the meat, browning takes pale, flabby meat and gives it real flavor and better texture. Typically you sear meat on the stovetop to get that signature browning, but what if you could skip the searing and still get that same delicious flavor? There’s no doubt that searing meat is important for flavor development, but it’s not always my favorite task.
Sep 9, 2015
The Best Way to Keep Takeout Food Warm Until You’re Ready to Eat
I was visiting friends a few months ago and we decided to order takeout for dinner. After dinner showed up, though, we weren’t quite ready to eat since they were still putting their son to bed. My friend did something smart with the food to keep it warm — I was surprised at first, but now it’s a trick I use too! My friend immediately put the takeout food into the microwave, shut the door, and walked away.
Sep 9, 2015
Why Is My Second Batch of Pancakes Always Better than the First?
Q: Just read the post 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Cooking Pancakes. Good read, but I’ve always wondered: Why is the second batch of pancakes off the griddle always better than the first? Does this just happen to me or have you experienced this also? Can you explain why? Sent by Dave Editor: This definitely happens to the best of us, and we found a great explanation in this article from CHOW.
Sep 8, 2015
I Have Knife Skill Problems with These Two Things. Help Me Out?
Q: I have been cooking since I was a teenager, but I have not mastered the proper way to cut tomatoes and chicken. Every time I try to cut either one of these, the slices are uneven and I end up making a mess. Do you have any suggestions on how to cut these ingredients successfully without smashing the tomatoes or messing up the chicken? Thank you! Sent by Maia Editor: For cooked chicken, I like to let the chicken cool off a bit, as it’s easier to cut up when it’s firmed up a bit.
Sep 3, 2015
4 Reasons Why Sous Vide Cooking Is Actually Practical for Home Cooks
The technique of sous vide cooking has become very popular in the last few years and is closely associated with “modernist” cooking techniques — you know, foams, gels, and other everyday dinner techniques. Home sous vide machines also aren’t cheap, hovering around $200 for ones you can use with your own cookware. Are these newfangled machines really worth investing in for everyday home cooking?
Sep 3, 2015
Why I Chose a Vitamix Blender Over a Blendtec
I once spent a lot of quality time testing three high-end blenders — and I mean a lot of time. My family drank tons of smoothies, I made enough hummus to serve at my cousin’s bridal shower, and I turned pounds of carrots into carrot purée. After the blades stopped whirring, I was faced with a choice: Which one was worth keeping in my kitchen? After some intense hemming and hawing, I chose the Vitamix.
Sep 2, 2015
5 Food Safety Tips for Your Lunch Box
Whether you’re packing a lunch for the office or lunch for the kids, you want to make sure you pack the right foods properly to help prevent food-borne illnesses. We talked to Katie Morford, registered dietitian and author of the book Best Lunch Box Ever, to share her tips on how to safely pack lunches so you keep everyone healthy and happy! “Avoid putting certain foods in lunch boxes altogether.
Aug 28, 2015
A Trick for Getting a Bigger Chipotle Burrito Without Paying More
Dylan Grosz ordered 35 different burritos at his local Chipotle over several days and measured each one back at his office. Yes, how you order your burrito makes a difference in size. Here’s how to max out your burrito’s size, if that is the desire of your heart. Each was a different permutation of a burrito with white rice, black beans, chicken, mild salsa, and cheese, and Grosz found that you can eke out some extra ingredients for free just by changing up the way you order.
Aug 27, 2015
What’s the Best Way to Freeze and Defrost Cake Layers?
Q: I have to make the cakes for a party three days in advance of the event because of an already-scheduled weekend trip. I have a couple questions about how to do this. I know I can freeze them, but what is the best way to wrap them before freezing? I’m planning on decorating the cakes the morning of the event — when should I take the cakes out of the freezer, so that they will be defrosted in time for the event? The night before? Thanks so much!
Aug 27, 2015
Do I Need to Soak Dried Hominy Before Cooking It?
Q: I have purchased dried hominy for the first time — do I need to soak it overnight before cooking or can I put it straight into a stew? Sent by Mike Editor: You should definitely soak dried hominy in water overnight before cooking it, so it starts rehydrating. After soaking, it can finish cooking in the more flavorful liquid in a stew or soup until tender. You can also just cook the dried hominy in salted water until tender and use it in recipes that call for precooked, canned hominy.
Aug 26, 2015
What’s Considered Perishable Food?
It’s important to know how long foods can be stored and the right ways to store them — especially for perishable foods — but how exactly is the term “perishable food” defined, and which foods fall under this category? Perishable foods are items that aren’t safe to eat unless they’re kept refrigerated at 40°F or below, or frozen at 0°F or below.
Aug 21, 2015
Can Rice Keep Muffin and Cupcake Liners from Getting Greasy?
When I’m using muffin liners for baking cupcakes or muffins, I’m always frustrated with how the liners absorb the grease and never come out looking as nice as when they came out of the package, especially if I’ve spent the money on pretty patterned ones.
Aug 19, 2015
What Does “Cover with 2 Inches of Water” Mean?
Q: What does “cover beans with two inches of water” mean? Is it two inches above the beans? Exactly two inches of water in the pot? Or what? Sent by Joan Editor: Since pots and pans vary in sizes, covering something with two inches of water means there should be two inches of water covering the top of the food, not that there are exactly two inches of water in the pot. This means that there is plenty of water to keep the food completely covered in water as it cooks.
Aug 18, 2015
The Easiest Way to Grate Ginger
I love always having fresh ginger around to add a spicy kick to sweets or depth to savory foods, but I don’t always use it up. Another thing that annoys me is when I grate ginger, there are usually lots of stringy bits that don’t break up in the grater, and I’m left with weird pulpy bits. Here’s a trick that solves both problems!
Aug 17, 2015
What Science Says About Washing Pesticides off Fruits and Vegetables
There are lots of ways to wash pesticide residue off of fruits and vegetables. You can scrub with a vegetable brush, use a purchased vegetable wash, or just use water straight from the tap. But what does science have to say about this? There is apparently no method that will ever remove all of the pesticides, including what’s absorbed into the flesh itself.
Aug 17, 2015
5 Ways to Drink Fruit Like a Lush
The abundance of gorgeous summer fruit available right now is just begging to be used in as many ways as possible. While you can use it in salads, smoothies, and pies, don’t forget you can also feature it in drinks! Here are five ways to turn fruit into cool, liquid refreshments. Freeze fruit and turn it into tasty ice cubes. You can drop fruit into ice cube trays before filling them with water for pretty ice cubes, or just freeze chunks of fruit.
Aug 14, 2015
5 Ways to Use Up Leftover BBQ Sauce
Summer is the season of barbecue sauce; it’s hard to imagine eating a big slab of ribs without a nice side of sweet, tangy sauce, and a pile of napkins. Whether you buy sauce from the store or take the time to make your own, sometimes you have some still kicking around in the fridge. Fret not — here are some easy and tasty ways to incorporate barbecue sauce in other dishes!
Aug 12, 2015
How Much Coffee Do You Need to Serve at a Wedding Reception?
Q: I want to have a dessert and coffee bar at my wedding reception. We are not able to use the church’s coffee percolators, so I have considered renting some. My question: Do you have any idea how to estimate how much coffee to make for a guest list of about 175 since all of them will not necessarily drink coffee? Do you have any ideas how to prepare the coffee for that many people? Thanks!
Aug 12, 2015
I Cooked with Curry Leaves for the First Time, and Here’s What I Made
I’ve been trying to expand my cooking repertoire lately since I feel like we eat the same thing over and over again at home. Part of this involves forcing myself to grab something new at the grocery store and cook with it, and last week fresh curry leaves caught my eye! Native to southern Asia, curry leaf is an herb that comes from a tree — it’s used in a lot of East Indian food. Fresh curry leaves look like small, shiny lemon leaves, and smell pungently of curry.
Aug 11, 2015
Is It Safe to Use Plastic Wrap in the Microwave?
When cooking or reheating food in the microwave, you have a quite a few options — like paper towels, a plate, microwave-safe lids, or plastic wrap — for covering it. But is the last option, plastic wrap, actually safe to use in the microwave? If so, what’s the best way to do it? I like making sure my food’s covered in the microwave to both contain any possible splatter, as well as keep moisture in so the food doesn’t dry out.
Aug 11, 2015
Can You Recommend a Food Processor That Slices Well?
Q: We bought a Cuisinart 14-cup food processor a few months ago. When using the slicing blade, any food we slice (carrots, courgettes, eggplant, etc.) ends up turning sideways after about three-quarters of the vegetable has been sliced. That means the last quarter is sliced lengthwise, and you suddenly have very long slices instead of the nice short ones you had at the beginning. Have you experienced this?
Aug 6, 2015
Hold the Phone! Is It Actually OK to Refrigerate Tomatoes?
Conventional wisdom admonishes you should never put fresh tomatoes in the refrigerator because they’ll get a mealy and unpleasant texture, but is this actually true? We’ve heard rumors to the contrary, and since this is serious business in food-lover land, we had to investigate. Serious Eats has done extensive taste comparisons to analyze the effect of refrigeration on a variety of tomatoes, from cherry to unripe supermarket to juicy farmers market tomatoes. Their conclusion?
Aug 6, 2015
5 Tips for Better Salad Dressing
Salad dressing can sometimes seem like an afterthought, something to quickly pick up at the supermarket while we focus more on the greens and toppings. But think about it this way: Dressing is like the music score to a movie, the undercurrent that weaves its way through the entire experience. A good dressing, like a good music score, works with every part of the salad and rounds everything out into a complete package, so it’s worth a little bit more attention.
Jul 31, 2015
How Many Times Can I Reheat Food?
If you have a big pot of soup or a lot of leftover casserole, you can pat yourself on the back that you’ve now got a quick meal waiting in the fridge. But just how many times can you reheat those leftovers safely? As long as you reheat the leftovers to at least 165°F each time, the food’s technically safe to eat.
Jul 31, 2015
What Are Some Good Cake Decorating Resources?
Q: As someone who has always been pastry bag-phobic, I have had a few occasions to use one in the last month and have been pleasantly surprised at the results. I’m now thinking I’d like to be able to create a nice-looking birthday cake, or something on that level. I browsed some cake decorating blogs, but what I found wasn’t to my taste and/or skill level.
Jul 31, 2015
Can I Use Salted Butter in a Wedding Cake?
Q: I accidentally bought four pounds of salted butter through a delivery service and I can’t return it. I’m practicing baking a wedding cake, and the recipe calls for unsalted butter. I know I can freeze butter, but there is no way I would consume so much butter from day-to-day cooking or baking — I try to eat a healthy diet. Should I play around with the salt ratio in the wedding cake recipe and use the salted butter when I bake the final cake, or can I donate it?
Jul 30, 2015
The Simplest Way to Make Radishes Less Spicy
Some people might find that radishes are too spicy and intense for them in their raw state. While you can cook or roast the radishes to mellow them out, here’s an easy step you can take to help tame the spicy bite so you can use them with abandon in your next salad! This tip comes from Cara Mangini, author of upcoming book The Vegetable Butcher and the star of our recent Vegetable Butcher series: “If you can’t take the heat, peel your radishes.
Jul 29, 2015
Genes May Be a Factor in How We Taste Sugar
Just as some people have the genes that make them more sensitive to bitter flavors, scientists have discovered that the same applies to one of the other tastes: sweet. Researchers asked subjects, both twins (with the idea that twins have at least half to almost all of the same genes) and non-twins, to rate the sweetness intensity of two natural and two artificial sugars.
Jul 28, 2015
At What Point Can I Pause Bread Making?
Q: Is it okay to set aside bread dough before the last rise, and then come back to the process? Since time can be so precious for a lot of us, I find that if I could halt my bread making and then continue it later, I might make more of it. I don’t always have the four hours or so to devote in one block of time. Sent by Barbara Editor: My favorite shortcut is to let the first rise occur overnight in the refrigerator, rather than on the counter.
Jul 24, 2015
If You Haven’t Grilled Short Ribs Yet, You’re Missing Out
Tired of just grilling hamburgers or hot dogs this summer? Ready to try something different than grilled steak? Consider a juicy cut of beef that’s usually reserved for cold-weather braising instead: short ribs. Trust me, they’re worth throwing on the barbecue! Short ribs are usually reserved for braising because they contain a lot of muscle and tendon that needs moist, low heat and a lot of time to cook until tender.
Jul 23, 2015
The Best Way to Store Leftover Ice Cream
The concept of leftover ice cream is probably foreign to many. It’s just too delicious leave some behind, right? But if you’ve exercised some restraint, here’s the best way to keep the freezer burn away from your beloved ice cream, especially if it’s homemade! Air is the enemy of ice cream, as the surface of ice cream develops ice crystals if left unexposed. The easy solution? Make a barrier between the air and the ice cream.
Jul 22, 2015
Why Hot Fudge Doesn’t Belong on a Sundae
Warm summer weather begs for a cool ice cream treat, but sometimes just a plain ole’ scoop doesn’t cut it — sometimes only a classic hot fudge sundae will do. But here’s the thing: Hot fudge doesn’t belong on a sundae. “Wait!” you’re probably saying, “It’s not a hot fudge sundae without that drizzle of hot fudge on top!” And you’re completely right. In my opinion, though, hot fudge belongs on the side.
Jul 21, 2015
Can I Use an Immersion Blender in a Le Creuset?
Q: Can I use an immersion blender in my Le Creuset pans, or will it scratch the finish? Sent by Tonya Editor: Because there is usually a guard at the end of the immersion blender, the blades usually cannot hit the bottom of a pot or pan. I’ve never had any problems using an immersion blender in my Le Creuset Dutch ovens. Readers, do you use an immersion blender in your Le Creusets? What’s the Difference Between a Dutch Oven and a French Oven?
Jul 17, 2015
Why I Didn’t Do a Champagne Toast at My Wedding
I love Champagne. I think it goes with absolutely everything, I like it more than regular wine, and I even belong to a sparkling wine club to satisfy my bubble cravings. But when I got married, I refused to do a Champagne toast and recently advised my bride-to-be cousin to do the same. If I love Champagne so much, why did I skip the iconic wedding ritual? Let’s get this clear right away: I’m not against toasts at weddings. In fact, I love them!
Jul 15, 2015
In Defense of Fruit for Dessert
What do you think of when you hear the word dessert? Does your mind automatically go to ice cream, cookies, pies, or other decadent treats? Is it something you reserve as a special treat once in awhile? Do you only have it when you’re eating out at a restaurant? Those who avoid dessert because they worry about calories or think that dessert isn’t good for them should think again.
Jul 14, 2015
NYC Gets Its First Tempura-Focused Restaurant
I used to think tempura was just an obligatory menu item for Japanese restaurants here in the U.S., sitting alongside chicken teriyaki and miso soup. Then friends took me out to a dedicated tempura restaurant in Tokyo, and the experience blew me away. Tempura there was elevated to an art form. We sat and watched as the chef carefully fried each piece of food to order; the whole experience turned tempura into a delicious multi-course meal.
Jul 13, 2015