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

Updated on February 9, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, additives in our food is probably one of the biggest hurdles to eating healthy. That's one of the reasons that I do so much of my own cooking instead of relying on processed foods.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      I’m back to comment. I must have been so stunned by the E numbers thing I forgot the first time! Learning a lot!

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      3 years ago from Ohio

      LOL, Thanks! I knew they were somehow. :)

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Kari, a study was conducted at U.C. Berkeley which showed that the burning sensation caused by capsaicin is addictive. This substance, which stimulates pain receptors scattered in the mouth cavity, causes the brain to release endorphins, which are natural painkillers, and creates a slight sense of euphoria. So yes, I guess you could say that they are addictive.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      3 years ago from Ohio

      That is very interesting about the food dyes. I never knew. The casserole looks wonderful. I need to try this. I am a big fan of green chilies, after living in NM for 12 years. I still get cravings for them. The more I eat them the more I want them. I have read there is something addictive in them, is this true?

    • manatita44 profile image


      3 years ago from london

      Looks like I have lost my comment here. I was saying that hearing of Julia Child's made me want to challenge you until I remembered that you are an American. Ha ha. I'm too close.

      Yes, about the colour and dye thing, reminds me of sugar. They are both deadly. Pepper is good, but sometimes too hot for me.

      Do you make semolina pudding? One for you next week. It's so nice in Germany! They call it Greis or Greisbrie. So let's see you do it better, eh?

      A loving and happy Thanksgiving to you. Gratitude is the life-breath of the Supreme.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, I will be delighted to give you and the other readers some pointers for achieving the perfect soft boiled egg. That was one of my dad's favorite things to have for breakfast, along with a good cup of coffee and a slice of whole wheat toast.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita - you are definitely challenging me, and I'm happy to take on the challenge. But first, I'll have to find a recipe for semolina pudding. I've not had it, nor had I even heard of it. Stay tuned.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I'm glad that you enjoyed the chile relleno recipe. As for coaxing little ones to eat certain "I don't like that" foods, I will have to do some research and talk with friends. I never had that issue with my two. But I promise to have an answer for you next week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, it was a light load this week, but I already know that #8 will make up for it. However, you must admit that the quality of this #7 was stellar.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      3 years ago from Washington State, USA

      Rochelle - That's an excellent question, and a problem that I believe befuddles many cooks. I'll answer this for you next week.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      3 years ago from Brazil

      Thanks Linda for answering my question. I lived in the UK for so long that their lingo is still ingrained in my brain. I just assumed that 'E numbers' was a universal term.

      I love the quote by Julia Childs, she was, as you say a pioneer. She and the Galloping Gourmet I guess started it all. I do think fear has a lot to do with those who are less confident in the kitchen. Also getting everything to finish at the same time takes a heck of a lot of practice.

      My ex and I had a falling out over soft-boiled eggs. Basically my lack of skill at getting them perfect. Well lo and behold I read a cookbook by Delia Smith which explained the difficulties associated with cooking them perfectly.

      There had been a big hoo-hah in the UK when it was alleged Prince Charles had 7 soft boiled eggs prepared for him every morning so he was assured of getting one which was to his liking. (that rumour was stated as untrue by the palace)

      Perhaps you could discuss the best way of getting a perfectly soft boiled egg.

      Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    • manatita44 profile image


      3 years ago from london

      Happy Thanksgiving. Gratitude is one of our Lord's greatest virtues.

      I was about to challenge you on your TV cook, then remembered you are American. I'm too close. LOL.

      I suppose all dyes and colouring can be harmful in one way or another. A bit like sugar.

      Chillies are hot stuff!

      I like the semolina pudding here in Heidelberg. They call it Greis or Greis brie. Can you surpass the Germans? One for next week.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      That was great Linda. Not quite the same as mom's but very much close enough. It for sure brought back all the great memories. Thank you. I think mom layered hers more than stuffed them.

      Quite often 2 or 3 of us kids would join mom to watch Julia Child. "Joy of Cooking" was her's?

      I did such a bad job on this question before that I thought I would make it more general.

      What are techniques to get children over the hump of thinking they do not like a certain food? I find that it is some kind of preconceived notion.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Short but sweet! Happy Thanksgiving to you and you wonderful family, my friend. May peace be your constant companion.

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 

      3 years ago from California Gold Country

      How much tasting do you do when you cook? I am finding that my sense of taste and smell is less sensitive than some other people in my family who seen to be "super tasters"... I'm hesitant to salt or spice some things to my taste when I know others might not be pleased.


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