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Good Question: Yams vs. Sweet Potatoes
Dear Kitchen,I’ve got a Thanksgiving related question. Every year my Aunt Gayle brings her famous candied yams, which I’m really looking forward to. I was always under the impression that yams and sweet potatoes are the same thing, but someone told me recently that they aren’t. Now I’m a little confused and I’m not exactly clear on what the difference between them is. Any help with be greatly appreciated.
Nov 21, 2006
Good Question: What’s the deal with Shallots?
Dear Kitchen,I was making a recipe recently and it called for 5 thinly sliced shallots. As I started to cut and peel my shallots I realized that each one was made of two smaller shallots and then I got confused as to what the “five shallots” actually refers to. Is it like garlic where you count each individual clove or do you count the entire bulb or head or whatever you call it?Thanks a lot,Lauren (To All Good Questions)Dear Lauren-Shallots are interesting little vegetables.
Nov 14, 2006
The Cheesemonger: Tomme de Savoie
Name: Tomme de SavoieProducer: Various (Haute-Savoie)Milk: Raw/Pasteurized CowAge: 2 monthsPrice: $16.00-$18.99 I had intended to start this article by clarifying the meaning of the word “tomme”, as there seems to be some confusion about tomme cheeses being a family of similar flavors. As it turns out, after consulting three different sources, I got three different definitions.
Nov 8, 2006
The Cheesemonger: Original Blue
I’ve moved my cheese! Though I loved my time at Murray’s Cheese, I will now be mongering the cheese and other gourmet food items at the newly opened Cobblestone Foods on Court Street in Cobble Hill. It’s in the spot Tuller Foods used to occupy, for those who visited that shop. Please stop by and say hello!Name: Original BlueProducer: Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co. (California)Milk: Raw CowAge: 6 monthsPrice: $15.99-$19.
Nov 1, 2006
What’s the Deal With: Persimmons
Chances are you’ve seen them at the farmers’ market lately. Like pomegranates, pumpkins, apples and pears, fall is the season for this somewhat perplexing fruit known as a persimmon. Usually some shade of orange and resembling a tomato with a sort of brown flower bud in leiu of a stem, persimmons are likely conjur a jumble of questions to swirl though the heads of those unfamilar with them. Are they a fruit? Are they a vegetable?
Oct 31, 2006
Word of Mouth: Friandise
Friandise [free-yawn-DEEZ]n. A small sweet or plate of sweets served at the very end of a meal. Friandise seems to be used interchangeably with mignardise, another French word for the tiny pastries and confections offered after the dessert course or during tea. Sometimes the word is used to refer to the whole assortment, and sometimes to the individual sweets.
Oct 30, 2006
Good Question: Ground Turkey Packaging
Dear Kitchen,I noticed that ground turkey is now sold in these bubble-like packages. Is it safe? What is it?Stephen(To All Good Questions)There is something a bit frightening about these meat packages. We’ve long been tough to avoid canned goods that have bulging sides, but this time it’s intentional.I emailed your question to Shadybrook Farms, a main seller of ground turkey in the stores here in NYC. Shadybrok is owned by agricultural giant Cargill.
Oct 27, 2006
Word of Mouth: Mushroom Duxelles
Duxelles [dook-SEHL, deu-SEHL]n. A thick mixture of minced mushrooms and shallots slowly cooked with butter and herbs, used for flavoring soups and sauces and for fillings. This admittedly unphotogenic mushroom mixture is a deceptively simple way to add rich, intense flavor to many dishes, and it’s easy to make ahead and have on hand for quick appetizers. Wrap a teaspoonful in puff pastry and bake, or stuff into chicken breasts.
Oct 2, 2006
Good Question: What Turns Pesto Brown?
Dear Kitchen,What makes pesto turn brown? This weekend I bought a ton of basil from the greenmarket and made a nice green pesto, but within a minute of being exposed to the air it turned a deep unappetizing shade of brown. What did I do wrong? I used basil, olive oil, walnuts & pine nuts, and garlic. (I left out the parma). This happens when I make guacamole as well. Is something wrong with my water?Thanks,M (To All Good Questions)Dear M,There is nothing wrong with your water.
Sep 26, 2006
Word of Mouth: Génoise
Génoise [zhen-woz]n. Buttery sponge cake made without any leaveners other than eggs, which are whisked over a hot water bath until greatly increased in volume. Génoise is the foundation of many layered desserts, like Pierre Hermé’s famous cakes. Sometimes bakeries or restaurants will label any yellow or sponge cake a génoise, but an authentic génoise is distinguished by the technique used to prepare it.
Sep 20, 2006
What’s the Deal With: Whole Wheat White Flour?
[This tip comes from a reader named Laura.] It’s been a year or two since I first heard of white wheat bread, and I’ll admit I immediately assumed it was just a marketing ploy based on tiny print and asterisks. Not true. White whole wheat flour is making a good run at becoming part of mainstream American baking.
Sep 14, 2006
Tip: Tenderizing with Kiwi
If you don’t have twelve hours to marinate meat, using a little bit of kiwi can make tender whatever you’re choosing to cook in minutes. I’m not sure how it started, but my mom and every other Korean mom I know rub kiwi pulp on thin strips of flanken-style short ribs before dunking the ribs in a sweet soy sauce and garlic mixture, and grilling them to charred perfection.
Aug 14, 2006
Good Question: Who Invented Penne alla Vodka?
Dear Kitcheners,Paula Franzese (a lecturer with a company that gets future lawyers ready to sit for the bar exam), claimed in a lecture that her father invented Penne alla Vodka while working as a chef in an NYC restaurant in the 1970s. Could this be true? Does anyone know who invented the dish? When? Where?thanks, Sarah (photo: accompanies a Penne alla Vodka recipe at Williams-Sonoma.
Jul 28, 2006
Good Question: Pastry Flour vs. Cake Flour
Dear Kitchen,I’m confused about the difference between pastry flour and cake flour? Can I use them interchangeably?Thanks,Rita (To All Good Questions)Dear Rita,It all has to do with protein.Pastry flour contains 8.5% – 9.5% protein, which is low relative to all purpose (10% – 12% protein) and bread flour (12% – 13% protein). It is used in delicate cakes and pastries, pie crusts, cookies and muffins. . Absorbs less liquid in recipes.
Apr 20, 2006
How to Caramelize Sugar
here was a good bit of chatter on the weekend open thread about how to caramelize sugar. Readers really came through for one another with some great tips. Of course, the technique depends on what you’re using the caramel for, so care should be taken to note in your recipe what kind of caramel is called for. For example, the caramel needed for caramel candies is much less cooked than what’s needed for spun sugar.
Feb 6, 2006
Good Question: Cleaning Ceramic Mortar and Pestle
Dear The Kitchen,I was recently given a beautiful, cream coloured ceramic mortar and pestle. I’m dying to use it, but have no idea how to clean it (and it came with no instructions!). Can I just give it a wash in some warm soapy water?Thanks, Mairi (To All Good Questions)Dear Mairi,If your mortar and pestle has an unglazed interior, the best way to clean it is to rinse it out and let it drip dry.
Jan 20, 2006
Getting Ready for Thanksgiving: Turkey Tips
(We promise, this is the last discussion of turkey until next year.) To determine what size turkey to buy, count on each person eating 1/2 – 3/4 pounds of meat. If you want guaranteed leftovers, plan on 1 pound for each person. Remove the your fresh turkey from the refrigerator at least a half hour (no more than an hour) before putting it in the oven.
Nov 21, 2005