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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Food, Recipes, & Cooking, #145

Updated on July 12, 2020
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

I Wonder Why?

My page views have gone up in the past few months, but I've not really paid much attention to what is getting all of that attention. Just for fun, today I took a peek. These are the titles of my "Top 10" from the past 7 days:

  1. 10 Life-Changing Macaroni and Cheese Recipes
  2. How to Use One Dozen Quail Eggs
  3. Exploring Sauces: The 10 Green Sauces of World Cuisine
  4. How to Cook Perfect Pork Chops
  5. Tiramisu: Folklore and Fun Recipes for a Fantastic Italian Dessert
  6. The 5 Mediterranean Sauces and Why You Need Them
  7. Dungeness Crab: Cook, Clean, and Create Great Recipes
  8. Tilapia With Shrimp Recipe: Another Olive Garden Copycat
  9. How to Make a Perfect Loaf of Bread
  10. Loving Leftovers: How to Use Up Stale Tortilla Chips

For the life of me, I can't detect a pattern. A penny for your thoughts.

Well with that, let's get started with today's mailbox. If you're an old friend, you already know how this works. But, if this is your first visit, let me introduce you to my kitchen.

Each week I receive questions about food ingredients, cooking or baking terms or methods, requests for recipes, and queries about nutrition. Just about anything food-related has been covered here.

I'm sharing this past week's questions and my responses; it happens every Monday. Want to join in the fun? You can leave your question in the comments below, and next week the answer will be right here. It's that easy.

Why Is My Ground Turkey Gray?

My first question came from a neighbor.

"I know that ground turkey (or chicken) is healthier than ground beef, but I hate the way it looks. It always comes out looking gray and ugly."

The problem is that ground beef and ground poultry don't cook in the same way. Ground turkey (the one I've most experience with) exudes a lot of water. If you treat it like ground beef, mashing, and prodding with your cooking spoon to coax it into small bits, you will end up with turkey steaming in its own juices, not browning.

Here's what has worked best for me.

  • Heat your shallow saute pan/skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add a drizzle of cooking oil (olive oil is my preference).
  • Plop in your ground turkey (I don't cook more than 1 pound at a time).
  • Chop that turkey into large chunks. Use your cooking spoon/spatula/weapon of choice to move those chunks apart from each other. (Social distancing).
  • Wait. Really, I mean it. Don't continue to fuss with them or move them around. Leave them alone. First, you'll see copious amounts of water coming out. That's OK. Keep the heat at medium-high.
  • In a few minutes, you will see that the liquid is evaporating. When it is down to just a dribble in the pan, turn over those massive chunks of meat.

Bottom of the pan chunks waiting to be flipped. Top of the pan has already been tossed. (Yes, there is red bell pepper in there too).
Bottom of the pan chunks waiting to be flipped. Top of the pan has already been tossed. (Yes, there is red bell pepper in there too). | Source

You will find that the meat that was on the bottom of the pan is nicely browned. Now you can proceed to chop away with your weapon of choice to create smaller, more manageable bits for your chosen dish.

An added bonus—allowing those pan juices to almost totally evaporate creates fond, that wonderful, amazing browned stuff on the bottom of the pan that makes flavor. Just add a bit of water/broth/wine and stir.

Mashed Noodles (?)

Last week I gave Eric some suggestions on how to rescue a cooking disaster—over-seasoning, under- or over-cooking, etc. In response he said:

Such a great list of corrections. I bet I use them all in the year to come. For some reason this made me think of "mashed noodles". I mean why not? I will let you know. I am thinking mashed noodles pancakes.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Pile of sticky overcooked spaghettiLeftover spaghetti frittersLeftover spaghetti frittataClassic spaghetti pie
Pile of sticky overcooked spaghetti
Pile of sticky overcooked spaghetti | Source
Leftover spaghetti fritters
Leftover spaghetti fritters | Source
Leftover spaghetti frittata
Leftover spaghetti frittata | Source
Classic spaghetti pie
Classic spaghetti pie | Source

Eric, I'm never quite sure when you're serious and when you're just messing with me. Mashed noodles. Really? Oh, the things I do for my friends.

I found several variations on the same theme, namely combining leftover spaghetti with eggs to create fritters, or a frittata, or a deep-dish spaghetti casserole-pie.

  • When I'm searching for a rare (may I say odd?) recipe, I know I can depend on Nagi to solve the problem. For example, she had on her blog a recipe for pasta fritters. I love this recipe because it's so flexible. You can use any type of pasta sauced in any way. Three cups of pasta (it needs to be cold) is mixed with eggs and fried up crispy in just minutes. Eric, if you use your imagination could these somehow kinda sorta be akin to Asian scallion pancakes?
  • Cassie admits that she's an over-achiever when it comes to cooking spaghetti; she always makes too much. There will be leftovers. And so when dinner is spaghetti, her family knows that the next morning there will always be this spaghetti frittata for breakfast. But I prefer to work outside of the box. I love breakfast for dinner (brinner?). Eric, are you with me on this?
  • This classic spaghetti pie actually begins by cooking one pound of spaghetti. This is not the use of leftovers or an after-thought. Davorka cooks spaghetti and then immediately turns it into this savory dish. Be forewarned—this makes a lot of food, but there's nothing wrong with leftovers, right? Eric, big portions for a big guy, and goodness knows that Gabe is a pre-teen with the metabolism of a hummingbird, right?

Are any of these what you had in mind?

We're Organized

Did you know that there is a Table of Contents for this series? I have created an article that provides a detailed listing of each question I've received. It's broken down by category, and within each category, the questions are listed alphabetically. Each question is actually a hotlink back to the original post.

Here's a link to that Table of Contents.

I have also cataloged all of my personal recipes that I have shared with you in this weekly Q&A series and in all of my other articles as well. The link to that Index is here. There are hotlinks to each recipe and this will be updated as new recipes are shared.

Let's do this again next week. If you have questions about foods, cooking techniques, or nutrition you can ask them here. If you are in search of an old recipe or need ideas on how to improve an existing one I can help you. If you want to learn more, let's do it together. Present your questions, your ideas, your comments below. Or, you can write to me personally at this email address:

And, I promise that there will always be at least one photo of a kitty in every Monday post.

© 2020 Linda Lum


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