Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, & Cooking, #24
So happy, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and I'm busier than a cranberry merchant at Thanksgiving. Spring has finally arrived. I'm sorry for my friends who live on the East coast and are still struggling with wintery weather. I promise that it will get better.
But enough about my problems. It's time to start talking about food (that's why you're here, right?) The way this works is that you ask a question, any question about food. It could be how to use a specific ingredient or kitchen tool. Perhaps you recall a recipe from your childhood that you'd like to recreate. Or maybe you need recipes that are gluten-free, or vegan, or take less than 30 minutes to fix.
I can help. And, if I can't, I will direct you to the person/place/website that can.
Please note that this isn't a tutorial; each week I will be responding to questions from readers like you, so please feel free to jump in at any time. Leave your questions in the comments below, or email me (go to the end of this article for my address).
Can You Explain the Yolk-to-White Ratio of Eggs?
I was able to buy fresh duck eggs while I lived in California. They (like quail eggs) also have a higher yolk to white ratio and increased vitamins. Could it be that we have bred this out of chickens to increase the speed of egg production, or do you think chickens were always less?
Kari, in researching this topic one thing became quite apparent—not all chicken eggs are created equal. Some of this stems from nature, but some of it is nurture.
- When the hens are younger, the eggs they lay have a smaller proportion of yolk to white (and a chart in a 1997 research paper from the University of Iowa confirms that younger chickens lay eggs that have 10% less yolk to white).
- The trend for buying larger eggs has led to there being less yolk to white. This is because of the preference for bigger eggs now compared with 30 years ago. The size of the yolk remains the same in a large egg as in a medium one, with larger eggs simply containing more white.
- When compared to a grocery store egg, an organic egg has a much thicker shell. The yolk of an organic egg is also much more robust orange color when compared to the sickly yellow of a factory farm egg.
- Mass produced caged chickens that are fed a diet of bone meal and other additives produce eggs of inferior nutritional value when compared to free range organic eggs.
- A free-range chicken consumes a much more natural diet, therefore, producing eggs with superior Omega level-3 and nutrient content while mega farm eggs have less of the good stuff and more Omega level-6 fatty acids.
So I guess the moral of the story is if you want nutritious fresh eggs, find someone who raises chickens and make him or her your best friend forever.
Lexicon of Cooking Terms
We're continuing with the series that started in Issue #10. Past the half-way mark now. What will we do after we get to the end of the alphabet?
I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Quick bread - Bread that is quick to make because it doesn't require kneading or rising time. Quick breads rise with the aid of baking soda and/or baking powder.
Ramekins - Individual ovenproof baking dishes made of ceramic, porcelain or glass and used in the preparation of custards and other miniature sweet or savory dishes. A ramekin is typically shaped like a soufflé dish and measures from 3 to 6 inches in diameter.
Reduce - To boil a liquid until a portion of it has evaporated. Reducing intensifies the flavor and results in a thicker liquid.
Resting - Removing meat or poultry from heat before reaching ideal internal temperatures to allow the redistribution of juices in the meat. Typical resting time is 20 to 30 minutes, loosely covered with aluminum foil. This helps keep the meat retain its juices, evens out temperature and doneness and makes it easier to carve.
Roast - A dry-heat cooking method. To cook uncovered in hot air. Meat usually is roasted in an oven or over coals, ceramic briquettes, gas flame, or electric coils. The term also applies to foods such as corn or potatoes cooked in hot ashes, under coals, or on heated stones or metal. No liquid (such as water or wine) comes into contact with the food.
How To Stock a Pantry For Last-Minute Meals
Recently I had a 'lack of preparation moment' when dinner time rolled around and I had nothing other than a pot of beans on the stove. In the end, I cobbled together bean soup and had enough flour to make a 1/4 recipe of tortillas. I kept thinking, "What would Linda do?"
What do you consider staples that you always have on hand so you can throw a basic meal together?
Mary, I'm humbled that you had a WWLD moment. About three years ago I wrote an article entitled "How to Stock a Pantry for Every Skill Level, Novice to Pro." It's featured, so you should be able to access it with the search option or from my profile page.
However, I think what you're asking for is not how to completely stock a pantry, but what items you should have on hand for those times when things simply do not go as planned and you have NO time to cook or unexpected guests pop in.
Canned or Jarred Goods
- Pasta sauce
- Stock (beef, chicken, vegetable)
- Pasta (spaghetti, elbow macaroni, and several other shapes)
- Rice (long-grain white, brown, arborio)
- Nuts (walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts) (Note: I keep mine in a well-sealed container in the refrigerator to keep them from becoming rancid)
- Cheese (Cheddar, Parmesan)
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Bell peppers
Herbs and Seasonings
- Salt and pepper
- Dried basil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, red chili flakes, rosemary, thyme, turmeric
- Soy sauce
- Oil (canola, olive)
- Vinegar (rice wine, white wine, Sherry, balsamic)
- Mustards (Dijon, grainy, yellow)
With these types of ingredients, you can assemble a simple pasta dish, a soup, appetizers, a humble casserole, or even (my favorite) breakfast for dinner. Remember, your family and/or visitors are there to enjoy the pleasure of your company. The food is secondary. Relax and enjoy life and love.
Is There a Substitute For Cream Cheese?
I hate cream cheese. It’s yucky no matter what I pair it with. There are so many recipes that call for it though. Is there anything I can substitute for it? It's the taste that turns me off.
This question came from my dear friend Shandy. Part of the problem I faced in finding a solution to this problem is that cream cheese has so many different uses. It can be part of a frosting, a spread or dip, used in baking, or incorporated in a savory casserole. And each of those requires a different substitute ingredient.
- You want an ingredient that provides a bit of sweetness. In place of cream cheese use mascarpone. It doesn't have the "tangy" flavor of cream cheese. If you have ever eaten tiramisu, you've had mascarpone.
As a spread or dip
- Hummus has the same creamy consistency, and although it doesn't taste anything like cream cheese, well maybe that's the point, and there are many different types of hummus.
In baking and savory cooking
- Whirl an equal amount of ricotta cheese in the blender or food processor to replace cream cheese in baked goods.
Update - On August 11, 2018, I found a recipe for making a cream cheese substitute from canned coconut milk. The link is here.
Time to stop for today. As always I enjoy receiving your questions and researching the answers for you. New questions can be placed in the comments below, on my Facebook page, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2018 Linda Lum