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  Where should a meat thermometer be placed in a chicken or turkey in order to get a correct reading?
 

When using an instant-read meat thermometer, do not leave the thermometer in the bird during roasting. Insert into the thigh (dark meat takes longer to cook) to take the temperature. The tip of the meat thermometer should be placed in the thigh muscle just above and beyond the lower part of the thighbone, but not touching the bone and pointing towards the body. If the bird is stuffed, the tip of the thermometer should be as far in to the center of the body cavity as it can be. A stuffed bird takes longer to cook that one that is not stuffed. The safe temperature for poultry is 160F throughout. Some people prefer it cooked longer but it will dry out the more you cook it.

Another way to check for doneness if you don't have a thermometer is to pierce the skin slightly at the bottom of the thigh. If the juices run clear the bird is finished. If it is still cloudy or has a red tint it is not done!

   
  What is "mirepoix"?
  Mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwa) is a mixture of coarsely chopped onions, carrots, celery used to flavor stocks, soups, stews and other foods. Generally it consists of a mixture of 50% onions, 25% carrots and 25% celery by weight. (Definition from: On Cooking techniques from expert chefs 1995)
   
  My family loves soup and I like to make large batches, is it OKto freeze the leftovers?
 

Freezing soup is a great way to think ahead, There are many soups that freeze well but beware of the ones that don't.

Soups that freeze well: Chicken, vegetable and meat soups are all good to freeze. Soup stock freezes very well so you can always have a homemade base on hand. These kinds of soups will last up to four months in your freezer and the flavor will not change much in taste.

Soups that don't freeze well: Any dairy based soup. They may break down on reheating. Soured milk products (yogurt, sour cream, or buttermilk). They will become curdled. Fish does not hold up well when frozen in a liquid. Any soup thickened with cornstarch (it loses thickening power when frozen). Any soup with pasta. Cooked pasta changes when frozen, it turns mushy and is not very appetizing. The same goes for potatoes.

   
  What is the difference between a sweet potato and a yam?
 

Sweet potatoes are not related to potatoes; they are members of the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes are not yams, which are tropical vine tubers with thick, bark like skin and dry flesh, according to Jack Bishop, author of Vegetables Every Day (HarperCollins, 2001).

True yams, which aren't sweet and aren't orange-fleshed (they are white or yellowish), are imported from the Caribbean. The word "yam" has been interchanged by the produce industry to describe a sweet potato which has vivid orange color and sweet, moist flesh and looks nothing like a yam. Because of this, the Department of Agriculture requires that all sweet potatoes labeled as "yams" carry a "sweet potato" label, too. How the mislabeling began is unclear.

Yams are a very important staple in Caribbean cooking, and in many parts of the world, yam pieces are added to soups to make them heartier. Yams are also a staple food throughout much of Africa and Western Africa.

There are two kinds of sweet potatoes available at most markets. A pale sweet potato has thin, light-yellow skin and a pale yellow flesh, similar to a yam. After cooking, the flesh is dry and crumbly, much like a baking potato. The other popular variety of sweet potato has a thicker, dark-orange skin and vivid orange flesh. It is much moister when cooked.

   
  Many recipes only use egg yolks. How can I save egg whites and for how long?
 

According to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a branch of the United States Department of Agriculture, uncooked egg whites may be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for 4 days and frozen (0 degrees F.) for up to 12 months. After 12 months, according to the FSIS, the whites are still safe to consume but the quality begins to deteriorate. The home freezer is opened often, (the temperature is not maintained), that using them within 4 months will ensure better quality.

To freeze single egg whites put them in ice cube trays to keep them separated, since most recipes will call for a certain number of whites. After they are frozen, transfer them to a zip top freezer bag and write the date on the bag. Defrost the whites in the refrigerator but do not re-freeze them.

According to Shirley O. Corriher from her book Cookwise, frozen egg whites (if they have not been pasteurized) whip more easily than fresh and make good foams for high quality.

  Why do I have to knead bread dough, does it really matter?
 

Kneading is extremely important in strengthening the gluten strands that run throughout the dough. Gluten is formed by adding water to wheat flour causing the two proteins (glutenin and gliadin) in the flour to grab each other. This forms elastic sheets that hold air and gases allowing bread to rise. Without kneading the dough, carbon dioxide would escape and the finished bread would not rise. High protein flour is the best for producing a well risen and delicious loaf of bread.



 
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