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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, and Cooking, #51

Updated on September 23, 2018
Carb Diva profile image

Exploring food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes... one ingredient at a time.

Step into My Kitchen

We live in a farmhouse in a quaint old town in Washington State (population less than 6,000 souls). Our home is surrounded by trees and seeing raccoons, possums, rabbits, chipmunks, deer, and even the occasional fox in our backyard is not at all unusual.

When not tending to the garden (did I mention that we have 1 1/2 acres?) or in my office/studio designing quilts or writing, you will find me in the kitchen. There's a large walk-in pantry, a wide French door refrigerator-freezer, a double oven, 4-burner gas cooktop in a large central island, and a 120-year old kitchen queen where I store all of my mixing bowls, herbs and spices, and cooking/baking gadgets.

And, this is where I imagine all of you, helping me to dice and saute vegetables for a homey kettle of soup. Or maybe I'm showing you how to knead bread dough for pizza. You're my friends and I love having you here, sharing, laughing, and having fun.

Let's get started.

Is Beef on the Bone More Flavorful?

I was living in the UK during the BSE (mad cow) time and beef was only sold off the bone because of this. My mother-in-law said, that meat nearer the bone was sweeter or more tender, is that true?

"Closest to the bone, Sweeter is the meat, Last slice of Virginia ham, Is the best that you can eat."

Popular song, The Closer To The Bone, by Louis Prima, 1957

Mary, I don't know about "sweeter", but there is no doubt that any meat (beef, pork, lamb, or even chicken) is more flavorful when cooked bone-in. The bones themselves are a source of umami, that savory flavor we crave. And bones are a source of collagen, that miracle protein which, when heated, melts into gelatin. It's the gelatin that makes the difference in whether a gravy or sauce or bone broth will be thin and watery or have a thick, rich mouthfeel.

But, is it more tender? For that answer, I went to my friend Kenji (of the Food Science Lab). He conducted an experiment:

"I cooked four identical roasts. The first was cooked with the bone on. For the second, I removed the bone, but tied it back against the meat while cooking. For the third, I removed the bone, and tied it back to the meat with an intervening piece of impermeable heavy-duty aluminum foil. The fourth was cooked completely without the bone.

Tasted side-by-side, the first three were completely indistinguishable from each other. The fourth, on the other hand, was a little tougher in the region where the bone used to be.

What does this indicate? Well, first off, it means the flavor exchange theory is completely bunk—the completely intact piece of meat tasted exactly the same as the one with the intervening aluminum foil. But it also means that the bone does serve at least one important function: it insulates the meat, slowing its cooking, and providing less surface area to lose moisture.

Just like air spaces in home insulation guard against temperature fluctuations, so too does the bone protect the meat closest to it. This is where the expression "tender at the bone" comes from (meat near the bone is less cooked, thus more tender)."

How to Store Parsley

So, here's my question: the aforementioned recipe called for fresh parsley. Since I don't currently have any growing in my garden, I had to purchase an already-cut bunch from the grocery store. How do I store the unused portion so it can go in my belly and not the composter? I tried setting it in a glass of water and storing in the fridge like I sometimes do with celery, but that didn't work. The entire bunch wilted.

Any ideas?

Shauna, your instincts are great. Treating the parsley like a bouquet of flowers is the way to go. But next time try these tips as well:

  • snip off the ends (make a fresh cut like you would for cut flowers) so that the stems will take up more water.
  • make sure that the tops are not soggy wet because the final thing you will do is
  • if your house is warm, slip a plastic bag over the whole thing (it should be loose) and refrigerate.

Change the water daily and your parsley should last for a week.

Alphabet Soup

Today I'm starting a new column-within-the-column. The first was an alphabetical cooking lexicon, then I shared with you the simple (i.e. low-cost) gadgets I have in my kitchen that I find indispensable.

This is the first of 26 articles I will be presenting on soups. Since in the Northern Hemisphere, the weather is turning cold and blustery, it's time to think about warm, steamy bowls of comfort, don't you think?

Today, we'll start with Albondigas, a traditional Mexican meatball soup loaded with vegetables.

Albondigas soup originated as an Arab dish imported to Spain during Muslin rule of the Iberian Peninsula. The name is derived from the Arabic word al (the) bunduq (small round object) because of the meatballs small, round shape. The soup eventually ended up in Mexico when the conquistadors were traveling about doing their conquistador thing.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup dry masa flour
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 3 quarts chicken broth
  • 2 teaspoons dry oregano (flakes, not powdered)
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground cumin
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl combine ground meat, salt, pepper, garlic, masa, egg, and minced cilantro. Form into 1-inch meatballs and set aside.
  2. In large stockpot heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, bell pepper, carrot, and garlic. Sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, broth, oregano and cumin to the pot and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the meatballs a few at a time, allowing the soup to return to a gentle simmer between each addition. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

Reheating Leftover Pizza

What is the best way to reheat leftover pizza? I don't use a microwave.

Mary the expression "leftover pizza" is almost lost on me. No such thing can ever be found in the Carb Diva house LOL.

Before we talk about reheating, can we take a moment to talk about storing the leftovers? I think a lot of people simply place the pizza box (assuming we're dealing with take-out or home-delivery pizza) in the refrigerator. Let's rethink that, OK? To properly store pizza so that it doesn't dry out do this:

  • put a paper towel on a dinner-size plate and place one slice on the paper towel. Top that slice with another paper towel.
  • repeat.
  • each slice should have a paper towel above and below and then the whole thing should be covered with plastic wrap.

Now let's pretend that this is Day #2 in the life of the pizza and you want to reheat it and still have hot toppings and crispy crust. What to do? Grab your largest skillet and preheat for a few minutes on the stove at medium heat. Add the pizza slices (in one layer, of course). Cover and cook for about 5 minutes or until the cheese on the edge is bubbly. If you don't have a cover for the skillet, use a sheet of foil. Your toppings will be hot and the crust perhaps even better than before.

Well, that's it for another week. Next Monday we'll have cake and ice cream to celebrate the 1-year anniversary (can you believe it?).

And, in the meantime, if you have a question you can leave it in the comments below or write to me at lindalum52@gmail.com.

See you next Monday!

© 2018 Linda Lum

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, better late than never. There's always room for one more. By the way, leave the door ajar for billybuc. He hasn't shown up yet. (He must have gotten caught up in the traffic between Olympia and Tacoma--always bad).

      I hear you about the pizza--but that sounds too much like college LOL.

      Yes, cilantro will also do better if treated like a bunch of flowers. Lettuce is a bit different. Look for my article "The Perfect Green Salad" for tips on how to prep and store lettuce.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda I really like coming to your cooking parties "fashionably late" as your guests are here when I arrive. What a great crew of friends you have. But I do have a bone to pick! Not about the bones, about the pizza. It is illegal to reheat pizza, it must be eaten cold with a beer for breakfast (nowadays it is Clausthaler).

      Cool about parsley - I am going to assume the same for Cilantro?

      Sign me up for Menudo or Albondigas from a cart in Rosarito!

      That is so cool about bone in. For sure.

      Is there a similar trick with lettuce storage?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Good morning RInita. I wonder if some people prefer to purchase boneless because they don't want to pay for something that they have to throw away (we purchase by the pound). But I think bones are never wasted. Roast them and then use to make stock.

      Yes, if you like a little bit of spice I think you will enjoy the soup. Have a wonderful day.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      2 months ago

      Another amazing mailbag. In our cuisine, we cook all animals bone-in, unless some special recipe calls for boneless. In my experience, the pieces with bone always turn out more tender and juicier than their boneless counterparts. Of course, the experiment you described above has similar results.

      Great to know about a new way of storing herbs. I always have a hard time with my celery bunch, so will give this a try.

      I love Mexican and Arabic too, so I am sure this first soup would be delectable!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, my walk-in pantry works well for me because I'm a munchkin (LOL). One-half of it is built into the space underneath the stairs to our 2nd floor. I make use of every square inch.

      I don't think 74 degrees is too warm, but it sounds mighty inviting to me. We keep our house pretty cool (68 in the day and 62 at night).

      I promise to have some masa recipes for your (and everyone else) next week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Manatita, the fox do not frighten me (and typically we see them only at night), but the coyotes do give me pause on occasion. I recall one time I was working at the edge of the wetlands and saw a pack of them watching me, sitting on a ridge. I retreated (backing out, not turning my back on them) and didn't return to that spot.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      2 months ago from Central Florida

      Linda, I would love to see your kitchen! Walk in pantry?? Oh, what I'd give for one of those!

      Thanks for answering my parsley question. Now, when you ask if my house is hot, is 74 degrees considered hot to parsley? I set my t-stat at 74 when I leave for work, then turn it down to 70 when it's beddy-bye time.

      Also, thanks for the soup-that-I've-never-heard-of recipe. A while back I needed some masa for a recipe and couldn't find a small bag. I ended up buying 5 pounds! Now, I can use 1/2 cup of it for this soup. Which poses another question: What else can I make with masa flour that's easy yet tasty?

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 

      2 months ago from london

      Interesting how you store the pizza. I never get that far. I also just grill the thing and eat it. Hope no one else is reading this.

      Your soups are a great idea for winter. Cool!

      You are blessed to live in what sounds like a wonderful place. I hear that the fox can occasionally attack humans. Be careful.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, I think the "Kitchen Queen" was an American invention. It was a very efficient storage cupboard with room for bowls and pans, a bread drawer, sugar bottle, spice rack, and flour storage with a built-in sifter. I'll post a photo next week.

      As for your question on belly pork (really? I can't believe some of the things I've researched for you LOL), I hope to have an answer next Monday.

      Thank you for stopping by. You are such a good friend.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      2 months ago from Brazil

      Hi Linda,

      Thanks for answering my questions about the meat and pizza reheating.

      You'll have to explain about the 'kitchen queen' you mentioned, I don't know what that is.

      Wonderful meatball soup recipe. I'm looking forward to the rest of them.

      Once when I was at my mother-in-law's house she made belly pork (teats and all!). This was roasted on top of stuffing. At the time I didn't ask her about cooking it, and sadly she is no longer with us. Any ideas about cooking time or hints to recreate this.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, I can't imagine having a "crop" of anything. (Imagine parsley surrounded by a 10-foot fence). Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a wonderful week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, I really enjoy making soup. It can be an all-day effort, but the stovetop actually does most of the work, doesn't it? I hope I don't disappoint with B through Z.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      John, I am not looking forward to the winter season. Perhaps I should pack my bags and move in with your family for the next 6 months? (LOL).

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      2 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I find storing the parsley important as I have a good crop this year. Now, that we are moving to the city in the winter and our condo there has pizza places close by, the ways to heat left-overs become necessary. Useful ideas.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      2 months ago from Sunny Florida

      Your kitchen sounds fantastic. I never thought of heating pizza that way. I have a toaster oven that I sometimes use as I don't like heating anything with bread in the microwave. The frying pan sounds like a good idea for those few times we have leftovers.

      The soup recipe sounds good, and I am looking forward to those recipes to come as I love soups.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      2 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This was great Linda, although weq5her is starting to warm up here in Australia, nights are still cool enough to enjoy soup for dinner.mi love the recipe for albondigas. Also, we usually make our own pizza so it is good to know how to reheat and get a crispy crust if there are leftovers. Like your household though, that rarely happens.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      2 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, it's not quite one year. Next week. I'm so happy to hear you feeling so welcome. Something inside of me coaxed me to do that intro this week, and it felt like something I SHOULD have been doing at the start. I love all of you and want to gather you in as friends to have fun, learn, and enjoy being together.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 months ago from USA

      Your introduction makes me want to move right in. It sounds so ideal, like a bed and breakfast, only better. I’ll sit at a counter and chop your vegetables and watch you cook as you explain what you’re doing. I’ll even teach your cat to enjoy mine (they all want to be only children). I can’t believe it’s been one year for this little series! How wonderful!

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