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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:49 pm

Lined Cake Pan

I make a Brazil nut cake that calls for lining the pan with waxed paper. I grease the pan and then put in the paper. But the paper sticks to the nuts at the top edge of the pan, and I have a terrible time getting the paper off. The cake is cooled for about 10 minutes before I remove the paper. Could I use one sheet, grease again and then use another sheet? —D.O., Canandaigua, New York

It is probably not necessary to use two sheets of waxed or parchment paper. Instead, try greasing the pan, lining only the bottom with the waxed or parchment paper, greasing the paper, and then flouring the pan and the paper. Make sure you use solid vegetable shortening or vegetable oil spray to grease your pans. Butter and margarine can cause cakes to stick to pans.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:50 pm

Fudge Flavors

I love making fudge for gifts and family gatherings. Can I substitute different flavors of baking chips for chocolate chips in my fudge recipe? —J.B., Kettle River, Minnesota

It depends. Different flavors of baking chips are made from different ingredients and have varying melting points. So you might try substitutes for chocolate chips in recipes that don't require the candy mixture to reach a specific temperature during cooking. Recipes with ingredients like marshmallow creme or sweetened condensed milk also are safer bets because these ingredients help stabilize the fudge. Some flavored chips, such as butterscotch or peanut butter, are sweeter than semisweet chocolate chips, so you may want to reduce the amount of sugar in the recipe to compensate.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:52 pm

Egg Substitute

I have a recipe for lemon bars that calls for 1/2 cup egg substitute. Can I use fresh eggs instead and how many? —E.O., Parma, Ohio

You can substitute 2 fresh eggs for 1/2 cup egg substitute in your recipe. There might be a slight change in texture, but it should not be too noticeable. Many people who are seriously watching their cholesterol use egg substitute, which mostly contains egg whites.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:53 pm

Light Versus Dark Brown Sugar

What is the difference between light brown and dark brown sugar? Can they be used interchangeably? —W.S., Middle Grove, New York

Both types of brown sugar are a mixture of granulated sugars and molasses, with dark brown sugar containing more molasses than light brown sugar. Light brown sugar has a delicate flavor while dark brown sugar has a stronger more intense molasses flavor. They can be used interchangeably depending on your personal preference.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 5:59 pm

Flour Facts

I have a lot of bread flour that I use in my bread machine. Can I use this flour when a recipe calls for all-purpose flour? If not, how long will bread flour last if I store it in the original bag and then inside a plastic bag? —K.D., Schenectady, New York

Bread flour is made from high-gluten hard wheat flour that gives strength and elasticity to yeast doughs. Bread flour can also be used for other yeast-raised doughs, strudel, puff pastry, popovers and pasta where strength and elasticity are desired. All-purpose flour is a blend of both high-gluten hard wheat and low-gluten soft wheat flours. It, too, can be used for yeast breads, but the loaves will not rise quite as high. All-purpose flour is ideally suited for baked goods where tenderness is desired. Unfortunately, bread flour is not suitable for making cakes, quick breads, muffins, pie crusts and pancakes. Bread flour should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dry place and has a shelf life of 10–15 months. For longer storage, freeze in an airtight container. Before using refrigerated flour in yeast doughs, warm it to room temperature so it does not slow the rising of the dough.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:23 pm

Glazed Doughnuts

My husband and I made glazed doughnuts, but by the next day, all the glaze had soaked into them. How should they be stored so this doesn't happen? —D.C., Normal, Illinois

Doughnuts are best eaten the day they are made, preferably while they are still warm…or no more than an hour or two out of the fryer. Unfortunately, the tightly covered containers that help keep doughnuts fresh also keep moisture locked in, which enhances the absorption of the icing by the doughnuts. Try glazing only those doughnuts that will be eaten that day. Any remaining doughnuts can be frozen in a resealable plastic freezer bag. To reheat, place the frozen doughnuts on an ungreased baking sheet. Cover doughnuts lightly with foil and heat at 350° for 10-15 minutes or until heated through. Glaze while warm.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:24 pm

Fruit Pectin

Some jam recipes call for liquid pectin and others call for powdered pectin. What is the difference and can they be interchanged? —D.D., Mapleton, Maine

Both powdered and liquid pectin are made from the naturally occurring pectin in apples and citrus fruits. However, they are not interchangeable. Always use the type of pectin called for in the recipe. Usually, powdered pectin is stirred into the fruit and brought to a boil before the sugar is added. Liquid pectin, on the other hand, is added to the mixture after all other ingredients have been brought to a boil.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:24 pm

Noodle Soup

When making soup, how do you keep noodles from absorbing all the liquid and becoming big and soggy? My soup gets really thick the next day or sometimes after just sitting awhile. I add the uncooked noodles directly to the soup. Is this the correct way? —A.I., Lake Elsinore, California

When pasta is cooked in soup, it absorbs quite a bit of liquid and gives off starch. This makes the noodles very mushy and the soup broth very thick. To avoid this, try cooking the pasta separately, then adding it to the soup at the end of the cooking time. Refrigerating soup can also thicken it. When reheating leftover soup, add extra broth, water, cream or milk to the soup to achieve a thinner consistency.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:25 pm

Garlic Infused Olive Oil

I love to infuse my olive oil with fresh chunks of garlic. How long can I keep it on my countertop? —T.B., Delray Beach, Florida

According to the Food and Drug Administration, you shouldn't do it at all. Because garlic is low in acid, it can promote the growth of bacteria that causes botulism—a definite health hazard to humans. Rather than make your own, we recommend that you use only commercially prepared infused oils…and store them according to the manufacturer’s instructions on the label.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:26 pm

Meringue Topping

Each time I make a pie with meringue topping, a clear liquid develops under the meringue that causes the crust to get soggy. What causes this and is there a solution? —A.E. Bossier City, Louisiana

Weeping (the watery layer between the meringue and the filling) can happen when the meringue is placed on a cold or warm filling and then browned in a moderate oven. Basically, the meringue is not cooked completely. To prevent this, place the meringue over hot filling. Either keep the prepared filling hot in a saucepan until you are ready to fill the crust…or reheat the filling in a saucepan over low heat until it is heated through. Pour the hot filling into the crust, immediately spread with the meringue and bake.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:27 pm

Preventing Soggy Pie Crusts

Could you please tell me what to do to keep my pie crusts from getting soggy? Thanks for your help. —M.Y., Midland, Texas

There are several tricks you can try to prevent soggy crusts: Choose a glass pie plate or metal pie plate with a dull finish. If your pie pan is shiny, you might need to bake the crust a little while longer for more browning. For double-crust fruit pies, cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to get out. The escaping moisture will help prevent soggy crusts. Bake your pie in the lower third of the oven. This will allow the bottom crust to become crisp while the top shouldn't get overly browned. Brush beaten egg white or whole egg onto the sides and bottom of pie shells (for single-crust pies).

First, place the pastry in a pie plate and prick the bottom and sides with a fork to prevent it from bubbling as it bakes. Then line the pie shell with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5-6 minutes longer or until dry and crisp. Finally, brush the bottom and sides of the crust with egg, then reheat at 400° for 4 minutes to set the glaze. Add filling.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:28 pm

Yeast Alternatives

When a recipe calls for quick-rise yeast, can active dry yeast be used in its place? —C.D., Shelby, Ohio

For best results, use the type of yeast called for in a recipe. But in a pinch, active dry yeast can be used as a substitute for quick-rise yeast in equal parts. However, the methods for incorporating the yeast and proofing the dough must be changed. Quick-rise yeast was designed to save time and eliminate steps when baking yeast breads. Quick-rise yeast is added directly to the other dry ingredients without being dissolved the way active dry yeast is. Also, the traditional first rise is replaced with a 10-minute rest. Then after the dough is shaped, it's allowed to rise just once before baking. When using active dry yeast, first dissolve it in warm water before adding it to other ingredients. Use 1/4 cup of warm water (110°-115°) to dissolve each 1/4-ounce package of active dry yeast. Finally, the dough will need to rise two times before baking, once after kneading and once after shaping.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:29 pm

Roasted Meats

When cooking two different meats in the oven that require two different temperatures, how do I adjust the recipes? For instance, if I cook a small turkey breast and a 7-pound ham, at what temperature would I roast them? —N.M., Parkersburg, West Virginia

Adjusting oven temperatures for roasting meats is not an exact science. All meats and poultry can be safely roasted at 325° or 350°. It is not recommended that any meat or poultry be roasted below 325°. Depending on the total roasting time for each meat, you may need to start one before the other, so they are cooked at the same time. Rely on the package directions for minutes per pound for each meat and continue to use a meat thermometer to determine the doneness.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:31 pm

Popover Do-Over

I recently made popovers that tasted great but didn't rise very high. What am I doing wrong? —S.S., Maynard, Massachusetts

You could get a higher return on those popovers by following a few simple tips. First, start with ingredients that are at room temperature. To save time, eggs may be set in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes, and milk can be warmed to lukewarm. Grease and lightly flour custard or muffin cups to give the batter something to cling to as it rises and for easy removal of the popovers once they’re out of the oven. Finally, avoid opening the oven door during baking. Drafts may cause popovers to collapse.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:32 pm

Crispy Crust

How do you make a crispy pizza crust? I make mine from scratch with yeast, and it bakes completely but is not crispy. Is that what the new mesh pizza pans are for? I do use the bottom oven rack. Thanks! —J.H., Fountain, Michigan

Pizza screens and pizza pans that are perforated with holes do produce a more evenly baked crust by allowing moisture to escape. Using the bottom oven rack may help because the lower part of the oven is generally hotter. You might also want to try one or more of the following suggestions. First, prebake the pizza crust for a few minutes before adding toppings. Vegetables that have a higher water content, such as mushrooms and spinach, may produce a softer crust. Try lightly sauteing them before adding them to your pizza topping. Second, try using fewer toppings, especially sauce. You may be overloading your pizza. Finally, you could sprinkle a thin layer of shredded cheese over the dough before adding the sauce and toppings to create a moisture barrier between them.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:32 pm

Shoepeg Corn

I have several recipes that call for shoepeg corn. What type of corn is it? I'm having a hard time finding it in grocery stores. —J.H., Hart, Michigan

The term "shoepeg corn" dates back to before the American Civil War. The corn was named for its peg-like shape. Shoepeg has smaller kernels and is sweeter than yellow corn. If you cannot find it at your grocery store, substitute either white or yellow corn in your recipes.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:33 pm

Golden Roast

When I roast a chicken or turkey, the skin always ends up looking pale. How can I get a nice golden-brown color? —H.H., San Jose, California

First, choose a shallow roasting pan, about 2-1/2 inches deep. Pans that are too deep can interfere with browning. Placing the bird on a roasting rack in the pan will help keep the skin crisp and prevent it from sticking. Before roasting, brush the turkey or chicken with oil or butter. This will keep the skin from drying out and enhance that pretty golden color. Roast according to recipe directions.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Mon Jun 16, 2008 6:42 pm

Potato Skins

Is it safe to eat baked potatoes when they have a hint of green in the skins? —L.P., Cleveland, Ohio

It's best not to. The green tint comes from high levels of solanine, which can be toxic when eaten in quantity. Although it is unlikely that enough solanine would be consumed to cause harm, it is best to peel or cut off the green portion before eating the potato.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Tue Jun 17, 2008 11:31 am

Chopped Nuts

When a recipe calls for "1 cup nuts, chopped," what does this mean? Should I measure a cup of nuts first and then chop them? Or do I chop the nuts and then measure them to make a cup? —D.B. St. Paul, Minnesota

That's a good question and an important one, too, because chopping an ingredient before or after measuring it can make a difference in the outcome of the recipe. Here's a trick that might help you remember. If the word "chopped" comes before the ingredient when listed in a recipe, then chop the ingredient before measuring. If the word "chopped" comes after the ingredient, then chop after measuring. Using your example of "1 cup nuts, chopped," you should measure 1 cup of nuts and then chop them.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:16 pm

Pure Vanilla Extract

Is pure vanilla extract equal to double-strength imitation vanilla? Are they interchangeable? —P.R., Burt, Michigan

Actually, it's just the reverse. Double-strength imitation vanilla is double the strength of pure or imitation vanilla. So if you are using double-strength imitation vanilla, add only half of the amount of vanilla called for in a recipe. Regular-strength imitation vanilla can be used interchangeably with pure vanilla extract. However, imitation vanilla does not have the smooth flavor of pure vanilla extract and is best used in strong or spiced foods.


Last edited by justmecookin on Wed Jul 16, 2008 3:22 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:17 pm

Slow Cookers

I own a Crock-Pot and a slow cooker. When recipes say to use a slow cooker, can I use either one? —J.S., Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota

Actually both appliances you mention are slow cookers, but they operate differently. The term Crock-Pot is the trademarked name given to stoneware slow cookers manufactured by Rival. This type of slow cooker has a crockery insert or stoneware liner that may be removable and has two temperature settings: low (about 170°-280°) and high (about 300°). The metal unit that encases the crockery contains the heating coils, which allow for continuous even heat to surround the food and help prevent scorching and burning.

The other type of slow cooker has a removable thin metal cooking pot that sits on an electric heating base. Some foods have a tendency to stick and cook unevenly, though, since the heat comes from underneath the pan and cycles on and off during cooking. In both appliances, foods may need to be stirred during cooking. Since heat escapes every time the lid is lifted, you may need to add 15 to 20 minutes to the overall cooking time each time you remove the lid.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:18 pm

Storing Sweet Onions

Is there any way to store Vidalia onions? I would like to buy them in quantity when they're in season. —L.L., Brick, New Jersey

Vidalia and other sweet onions are mild-flavored onions that are high in sugar and water content and low in tear-inducing sulfur compounds. Because of these properties, they are not suited for long-term storage, so you should use them within several weeks of purchase. Fortunately, different varieties of sweet onions are available almost all year long, so while you may not find Vidalia, you should be able to find other types of sweet onions at your grocery store.

When storing sweet onions, it's important to keep them cool, dry and separate. Place in a single layer, wrapped separately in foil or paper towels, in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator. If it is not possible to store them in the refrigerator, store them in the coolest area of your home with good air circulation.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:19 pm

Cream of Tartar

I've noticed that every recipe I've seen for lemon meringue pie calls for cream of tartar. Is it really necessary to use that ingredient? —J.D., Downers Grove, Illinois

Cream of tartar is used in meringues to provide stability to beaten egg whites. It does increase the firmness of the meringue; however, you can still make a successful lemon meringue pie without it. Just take these precautions: Make the meringue on a dry day—humidity will add unwanted moisture and can make a real difference in the outcome of your product. Choose a clean deep glass or metal mixing bowl, and gradually add the sugar after the egg whites are foamy.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:19 pm

Doubled Cake Recipe

I have a cake recipe which calls for an 8-in. square baking pan. I would like to make a larger cake in a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan. Can I simply double all the ingredients? —A.P., Glastonbury, Connecticut

Yes. The volume of a 13-in. x 9-in x 2-in. baking pan is almost double the capacity of an 8-in. square baking pan, so you can just double all the ingredients. When you pour the batter into the pan, make sure it reaches from one-half to two-thirds of the way up the sides of the pan. Also, you'll likely need to lengthen the baking time, but test for doneness as the recipe suggests.

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Re: Questions and Answers

Post  justmecookin on Tue Jun 17, 2008 12:20 pm

Transparent Pie

What is transparent pie? —S.J., Anaheim, California

Transparent pie is popular in the South and has a glossy sweet filling based on brown sugar, molasses, corn or maple syrup. Pecan pie is a good example. Transparent pie is typically thickened with egg and can include tart jellies, lemon or vinegar to cut the sweetness. Cream, butter, spices, nuts or dried fruits are often added as well.

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