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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes & Cooking, #7

Updated on February 9, 2019
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Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.

Let's start today with a quote from one of my favorite cooks:

The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking, you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.

— Julia Child

If you enjoy watching cooking shows on television, you have Julia Child to thank; she was a pioneer in the field and produced the first live cooking show on Public Television in 1963. Her on-screen career spanned four decades and she authored or co-authored 17 books on cooking, the most famous, of course, is "Mastering the Art of French Cooking."

I mention her today because she was fearless in the kitchen. Her on-air broadcasts were taped, but unedited and all of us were given the chance to truly observe grace under fire. Her miscues, mistakes, mess-ups, and bloopers were out there for all of us to see. It gave me some bit of reassurance that perhaps I wasn't quite so bad; if even the best of the best cooks make mistakes (and recover from them), then I can be a bit less critical of myself.

With that introduction, let's start with a question today from Mary.

Safety of Food Dyes

I have never eaten a red velvet cake, isn't there a concern over the E numbers in the red dye? Does the color give any flavor, or can we make the cake without it and just have a......velvet cake?


Mary – I had not heard of “E” numbers, so this was a learning experience for me. E numbers are codes assigned to food additives in the European Union and Switzerland. In the United States, the red dye used in cake and frosting food coloring is Red Dye 40 (Allura Red). It has an E number of 129. It is approved for use in the EU but is undergoing a voluntary phase-out in the UK. It is approved for use in the USA but banned in Switzerland.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it should be avoided if you suffer from asthma, rhinitis (including hay fever) and urticaria (an allergic rash known as hives).

The red color provides no discernable flavor--it's all for the drama. So you can certainly make this cake without the red food dye. You'll have a tender, moist chocolate cake (with AMAZING frosting).

Do You Have a Recipe for Chile Relleno Breakfast Casserole?

I cannot find my mom's recipe for chile relleno breakfast casserole.


Eric, probably the most important part of chile rellenos is the chilies. I am going to give you a recipe for an eggy chile relleno breakfast casserole which uses whole canned chiles. But I’ll also provide detailed instructions for how to roast, peel, and prepare your own.


  • 1 10-ounce can whole green chiles
  • 3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, cut into strips
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • ½ cup flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¾ cup Cheddar cheese, shredded


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, set aside.
  3. Drain chilies. Insert a strip of cheese into each one and lay in prepared pan.
  4. Mix together eggs, milk, flour, and baking powder and pour over chilies.
  5. Sprinkle grated cheese evenly over top.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until egg is puffed and cheese is melted.


The best (and only) pepper you should use is poblanos. They are large enough and have a mild, pleasant level of heat. If you are doing only a few (and you have a gas range) the easiest way to roast is over an open flame. If you have an outdoor grill you could use that also. However, if your poblanos are smaller and/or you are doing a large quantity the easiest method is to place them on a foil-lined baking sheet, place under the broiler, turning them a few times so that they char and blister all over. This will probably take about 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven, wrap in the same foil that lined the pan (careful, it’s HOT!), and allow to sit about 10 or 15 minutes. Unwrap and you should find that they have now steamed, which loosens the blistered skins. Gently pull them off (don’t be too forceful because you don’t want to tear the flesh. If a little bit of the skin stays on, it’s OK).

Slice off the top of each pepper. Carefully make a vertical slit in each and remove the seeds and membranes. Now they are ready to stuff.

Eric, I hope this answers your question, but of course, since I never had the pleasure of tasting your mom's casserole, I have no idea if this is even close to what she made for your family. If it is, great, but if it's not I'll be glad to try again if you can give me a few more clues.

And, the Inbox Is Empty Once More

I can't believe that next week we (in the United States) will be celebrating Thanksgiving. (I still haven't finished my summer gardening chores). If you need some helpful advice on preparing the holiday turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, or cranberries please check my profile page. They are all featured in the Highlights.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week, and I'll meet you again here next Monday.

© 2017 Linda Lum


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