Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes & Cooking, #19
Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, but he doesn't live in the Pacific Northwest (thank goodness!)
Hints of springtime are popping up in every flower bed. Primroses and hellebore's are in full bloom in my garden, daffodils are beginning to awaken, buds on the fruit trees are swelling, and even the rhubarb is pushing up through the mulch. This is my favorite time of year!
If you are new to this series, let me quickly explain how it works. If you have cooking questions I have cooking answers. Is there a cooking term that puzzles you or a technique you don't understand? Perhaps you need help finding the recipe for a specific type of food or dietary need. Leave your queries in the comments section below and next Monday, in Installment #20, I will have an answer for you. I promise.
The mailbox was filled with great questions again this week, so let's get started.
I Want To Make Round (Not Rustic) Tortillas
My pie crusts come out okay but for some reason when I roll out my tortillas, they aren't very round. Although I have a tortilla press, I find it to be more hassle than rolling. I am cooking the tortillas at the same time so I don't give myself much rolling time. Currently, when the shape is wonky, I just call them 'rustic' LOL What is the secret to getting them round?
Mary, I have never attempted to make my own flour tortillas, but this is definitely something I need to add to my repertoire. I found these suggestions at What's Cooking America:
- After mixing your dough, cover it and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Pinch off 1-inch diameter balls. Knead each of these into a tight ball by folding them over with your fingers, turning and repeating until it is shaped like a fat disk. Place it to one side of the mixing bowl and continue to do this until you have used all of the dough.
- Allow the dough balls to rest at least 10 minutes. This will permit the gluten to relax and make them much easier to shape and roll.
- On a lightly floured surface take one of the dough balls and begin to roll it out. To keep a somewhat round shape, roll from the center to the edge, make a 1/4 turn and roll again, make another 1/4 turn and roll. Continue to roll and turn until you the dough is about 1/8-inch thick and 8 to 10 inches in diameter.
--- Lexicon of Cooking Terms --
A few weeks ago I was asked to explain some of the lesser-known cooking terms. We started with Letter A, and have progressed to letter "I". If you want to catch up, a link to the first installment is here.
Ice - I’m not talking about frozen water ice but instead the act of drizzling a baked good (cake, cupcakes, etc) with a thin layer of frosting.
Ice bath – a bath of ice and water used to quickly chill a food or beverage. Remember the word “blanch”? After you give your vegetables a hasty dip in boiling water, you plunge them into a bowl of water and ice (an ice bath) to stop the cooking process.
Infusion – The extraction of flavor from ingredients by steeping them in a liquid (water, oil, or vinegar). This is commonly done with herbs, tea leaves, or fruits.
Juliene - To cut vegetables, fruits, or cheeses into thin strips.
Jus – natural juices released by roasting meats.
Knead - To work and press dough with the palms of your hands to develop the gluten in the flour.
Ladyfinger - Shaped like a fat finger, it is a delicate sponge cake that is used for making desserts like Tiramisu and Charlottes. You can usually purchase them in bakeries, supermarkets, or specialty markets.
Leaven – To cause dough or batter to rise, lightening its texture and increasing its volume by adding egg whites, baking powder, baking soda, and/or yeast.
Lukewarm - Neither cool nor warm; approximately body temperature.
Must "Healthy" Oatmeal Be Bland and Boring?
I have a round box filled with all the best oatmeal. Something to do with organics and something ground with absolutely not additives or flavoring. It tastes bland as can be. But if I just go and put something sweet on what is the point. (blueberries are a little helpful)
Eric, you're on the right track. Oatmeal is a great way to begin your day—it's rich in nutrients, antioxidants, and soluble (cholesterol-reducing) fiber. But, as you acknowledge, without any flavoring it is bland. You don't have to punish yourself by eating plain oatmeal. Here are a few suggestions:
If you like it sweet add
- a super-ripe smashed banana
- vanilla extract
- dried fruit (cranberries, raisins, apricots) and chopped nuts
- fresh fruit (peaches or nectarines are my favorites)
- a sprinkle of coconut and some pumpkin pie spice
- a spoonful of agave nectar or honey
If you are daring, perhaps make it savory by adding
- a spoonful of peanut butter
- a poached egg
You have inspired me to write an article on oats. I will publish it tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Please Explain Measuring Cups
Measuring cups confuse me. Some are glass with a spout, some are nested and in various shapes.
The glass (or plastic) cups with a spout are for liquid ingredients only (water, milk, broth, oil, syrup, etc.)
- Fill the cup to the appropriate line, place it on a level surface, and read it with your eye at the level of the liquid.
- The surface of liquids curves downward, so use the bottom of the curve for accurate measurement. This is helpful for bread recipes in which the exact amount of water is crucial.
The nested cups are for measuring dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, powders, etc.)
- Spoon or scoop the powder lightly into the cup.
- Run a knife or spatula across the top to level the surface and scrape any excess back into the jar or canister.
- One exception—when measuring brown sugar, pack the sugar into the cup.
Well, that's it for another week. Remember, you can leave your questions in the comments section below, or write to me at email@example.com.
© 2018 Linda Lum