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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, and Cooking, #53

Updated on February 20, 2019
Carb Diva profile image

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

Last week marked the one year anniversary of writing this series. I honestly didn't think it had the legs to last more than a few weeks. Thank you to all of you for continuing to ask questions and for your interest in all things foodie.

I have a quotation from M.F.K. Fisher that I want to share with you. It's lengthy, but speaks to everything I think and feel about writing for all of you.

It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.

The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water,
is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight I am more modest now, but I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, I with my brain and my hands, have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.

No yoga exercise, no meditation in a chapel filled with music will rid you of your blues better than the humble task of making your own bread. A writing cook and a cooking writer must be bold at the desk as well as the stove. Too few of us, perhaps, feel that breaking of bread, the sharing of salt, the common dipping into one bowl, mean more than satisfaction of a need. We make such primal things as casual as tunes heard over a radio, forgetting the mystery and strength in both.

When I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and it is all one.

But, you're not here for philosophy. You're hungry, so let's look at the questions that came into the mailbox this week.

So Many Onions. Are They All Alike?

I'm confused about onions? How do I know which kind to buy? Are they all the same, interchangeable? Please help.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
yellow onionswhite onionsred onionchivesshallotsspring onions (aka green onions, scallions)leeks
yellow onions
yellow onions | Source
white onions
white onions | Source
red onion
red onion | Source
chives
chives | Source
shallots
shallots | Source
spring onions (aka green onions, scallions)
spring onions (aka green onions, scallions) | Source
leeks
leeks | Source

Dear Anonymous, your identity is safe with me. Now, to answer your questions, I'll borrow a page from my book "Past and Present: History of the Foods We Eat."

Yellow Onions

These are considered the universal, all-purpose onion and make up about 75 percent of the world onion production. They are astringent yet sweet, and their sweetness intensifies with low, slow cooking. They can be round and fist-sized or flattened (Italian cippolini). The sweet varieties (Vidalia, Walla Walla, and Maui) have a higher moisture content and so do not store as well.

White Onions

White onions have all-white skin and flesh. They are slightly milder in flavor than the yellow onion and are a great substitute if you’re in need of an onion flavor, but don’t want it to be too powerful.

Red Onions

These beauties have purple outer skins and red flesh. They’re similar in taste to yellow onions. Because of their color, they are often used raw in salsas and salads. If you find that the flavor of red onions is too sharp, but you want to use them for their color, soak slices in water before preparing.

Chives

Chives are perennial, meaning that they return year after year. Unlike other members of the onion family, only the top (green) part of the plant is harvested. The bulb remains in the earth. Chives are one of the first plants to appear in early spring. They are best eaten fresh (not cooked) and are commonly used as a garnish on baked potatoes. Their cheerful purple flowers can also be eaten and make a lovely decoration on fresh salads.

Divide chives every three or four years to stimulate new growth. Chives can be started from seed or nursery transplants.

Shallots

Shallots have a mild, delicate flavor and are simple to grow at home, but (oddly) are quite expensive. They have a mild but distinctive flavor that is amazing in soups and sauces. They are small, about the size of a head of garlic.

Green Onions

Also known as scallions; they usually have a mildly pungent flavor Scallions are long, with a white stem end that does not bulge out. They have an onion-y but mild bite that is not as intense as regular onions (the white parts contain the most intense flavor). They can be used raw or cooked, and while some cooks discard the darker green tops, the whole thing can be eaten and is often used in Asian cooking. Scallions are usually available year-round. Look for a bright color, undamaged leaves, and firm stem ends.

Leeks

Like shallots, leeks are easy to grow, yet inexplicably expensive to buy at the grocery store. When small, they can be harvested like green onions. Plant them in a deep trench and mound soil around them as they grow. This "mounding" will keep the bottom of the plant from turning green. In about 120 days, when the plants are 1-inch or more in diameter, you may harvest your leeks; you will be rewarded with snow-white, tender stalks. Leeks have a mellow flavor and can be used in place of yellow onions.

Are Quail Eggs Good for Kids?

Another anonymous query.

Source

My friend Bill Holland (you know him as billybuc) sells quail eggs. First, let me say if you have never seen them, quail eggs are absolutely adorable.

How Do Quail Eggs Compare to Chicken Eggs?

Ignore the obvious—chicken eggs are larger and are white or brown. Quail eggs are small and speckled. The ratio of yolk to white is higher in a quail egg, so the numbers for calories and cholesterol are a bit higher. But the nutritional bonuses are hard to ignore.

Of course, you can't compare one chicken egg to one quail egg. So that all things are equal, let's compare 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of chicken eggs and the same amount of quail eggs. That's 2 medium chicken eggs compared to 1 dozen quail eggs.

 
Chicken Eggs
Quail Eggs
Calories
143
158
Cholesterole
372
844
Iron
10%
20%
Vitamin A
540 IU
543 IU
Vitamin B12
.089 mgh
1.58 mcg
Vitamin D
82 IU
55 IU
Riboflavin
0.457 mg
0.79 mg
Folate
47 mcg
66 mcg
Iron
1.75 mg
3.65 mg

Yes, quail eggs score a tad higher in cholesterol but keep in mind that it's the GOOD cholesterol. Children are small, with equally small tummies and appetites, so it's important that the foods they consume are nutrient dense. Quail eggs are certainly that and children are always enchanted by foods that are cute and tiny.

How To Change Your Salmon Recipe

I want to try to make a version of your salmon recipe, will set to cracking some hazelnuts here in a bit. I have no orange marmalade (but have LOTS of other jams/jellies), no orange zest, no cranberries (but I have raisins and dates), and no fat-free mayo (just a small amount of regular mayo and whipped plain salad dressing, which is like Miracle Whip). Suggestions?

Source

In case you missed it, here is the recipe that my niece Karin is referring to:

Hazelnut-Crusted Salmon with Dried Cranberries

Ingredients

  • 1 pound salmon fillet, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, rough chopped
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Place salmon pieces on baking sheet, skin-side down. Stir together mayonnaise and marmalade and spread equal amounts on each piece of salmon. Top with hazelnuts, Panko, and dried cranberries. Sprinkle on tarragon, zest, salt, and pepper. Bake in preheated oven 12-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork

************************************

Karin, orange marmalade is not a must. Any jam/jelly that is on the 'tart' side would probably work. Use whatever mayo you have—we just happen to prefer low-fat options. Honestly, I think the mayo is the key to the success of the recipe and whatever you stir into the mayo for flavoring will be fine.

I like the flavor of hazelnuts, but walnuts, pecans, or almonds would work equally well. The dried cranberries could be replaced with diced dried apricots or lemon/orange zest.

Source

Here is the 3rd installment in our new article within an article. Each week I will feature one soup recipe; the name of the soup will be based on the letter of the alphabet. Thusfar, we've explored Albondigas and Beef Barley soups. This next soup is in my Top 10 list of comfort foods. Creamy potatoes simmer to falling-apart tenderness, rosemary adds a woodsy herbal note and cooked crumbled bacon...well, what can I say, it's bacon.

Ingredients

  • 6 slices bacon
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup onions, minced
  • ½ cup carrots, finely diced
  • ½ cup celery, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 to 2 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled and cubed

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place bacon on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes or until cooked and crisp. Remove to a rack to cool. When cool enough to handle, crumble into small bits.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, salt, black pepper, and rosemary. Sauté until soft. Add flour and stir with the vegetables for a few minutes to cook off any floury taste.
  3. Add milk, a little bit at a time, stirring after each addition until smooth and creamy. The soup should start out very thick and eventually thin out as you add milk. Add the potatoes, and one cup of the broth.
  4. Simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are very soft. You want them falling apart (which will help to thicken the soup).
  5. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup. (If you don't have an immersion/stick blender, transfer the soup to a food processor or jar blender and process, following manufacturer's instructions for handling hot liquids).
  6. If the soup seems too thick, add enough of the second cup of broth to thin it to the consistency you want.
  7. When ready to serve, garnish each serving with some of the crumbled bacon.

Source

Did You Think I Would Not Have a Picture of a Kitty?

This week I'll be busy getting the garden ready for winter, but don't worry. I've hired an assistant to handle the mailbox. Remember the rules—no question is a "dumb" question. I've been asked for dog food recipes, how to cook pork belly (with nipples attached), and even how to avoid eating disgusting food (roast guinea pig) but not offend your host. (After that last one, I think I'm shock-proof).

You may leave your questions in the comments below, or write to me at lindalum52@gmail.com.

© 2018 Linda Lum

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    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Rinita, I know that many people right reading this have the same problem. Mary Wickison (otherwise known here on Hub pages as Blond Logic) lives in Brazil. I will research this for you and have an answer on Monday. I hope that I can provide a solution for you.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      8 months ago

      Linda, I have a question for you. What is the best way to store bananas at room temperature without fruit flies hovering above them all the time? I always keep my kitchen clean yet these little bugs find a way in. Also, the tropical climate I live in gives them an opportunity to party all year. I wish I could buy 2 bananas every day so I could get to them before these little monsters. Unfortunately, that is not feasible, and I mostly buy a larger bunch that lasts about a week. Any tips you can share would be great. Thanks!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Chitrangada I am happy to have you here and am glad that you are finding this to be of use to you.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      8 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Congratulations for completing one year of this wonderful series! I wish you continued success. The series is so interesting and useful and every time I learn something new from it. For example, the onion question this time.

      Thanks for sharing!

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, you bring so much joy to my life. I love your questions and I will certainly put them in the queue.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Linda I am sorry to bother you again but the soup stuff got me wondering of two "dishes"? Now what is the difference between Ceviche perhaps a cocktail and Gazpacho a soup. I note you can call Ceviche a cocktail. What is what with these classifications?

      Perhaps in a different article than my substitutes question. After all "what is in a name?"

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Mary, so many good questions. I might need to spread them out over two weeks lest I have a 5,000-word article (and NO one wants to wade through that).

      The bio that had me roaring was Anthony Bourdain's first book "Kitchen Confidential." It is not a book for the faint of heart. Tony was more than a bit rough around the edges. Crude and rude, immoral, a heavy drug user and he had the mouth of a sailor, but his descriptions of some of his antics and things that occurred in the kitchen just happened to hit my funny bone at the moment, a sort of gallows humor.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, I have not addressed sugar and/or salt substitutes, but it's about time that I do just that. Thank you for that question (it's a great one) and I'll have the answer for you next week.

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 

      8 months ago from Brazil

      The bacon soup will definitely be on the menu in our house.

      Interesting information about the onions, why are some so strong to the point of making one cry? I once had to wear a swimming mask when I attempted onion soup. (I'm not joking).

      I have recently been experimenting with different combinations of fruit for juices. Just today I had cantaloupe and those sour tangerines I mentioned ages ago. It was a tasty combination.

      In a month or two I will have more mangoes than I can cope with. Mango juice on its own, can get boring, any suggestions. Also other juice combinations besides mango would be great.

      Just out of curiosity, what is the biography you said had you in stitches? I could do with a good laugh.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

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

      Fantastic. I can feel the excitement over the outside renovations.

      That soup looks and sounds great.

      Around here we do not care about the weather. Vietnamese and Mexicans eat soup everyday it seems. I am all in.

      That Bacon difference is so true. I just have to save up my fat and salt use for a day.

      So perhaps I missed it somewhere. But what are your thoughts on usage of salt and sugar substitutes. Certainly some are ok to cook with and some not. I just wonder though.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Shauna, isn't everything better with bacon? I (always) use turkey bacon (it's much leaner and they also produce a low-sodium version). A few months ago my husband and I went out for breakfast (a rare event indeed). He was almost orgasmic over the bacon. "You've got to taste this! What makes this bacon taste so good?".

      "Honey, it's real bacon, made with pork."

      Dead silence.

      Poor man had eaten turkey bacon for so many years he had forgotten what "real" bacon tastes like. But he's in his 70's and does the work of a 40-year old and has low BP and cholesterol, so I guess I shouldn't modify his diet.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, my husband and I had hoped to make it down to the farm this past Saturday, but we were hip-deep in a major demo in our backyard. We ripped out the back deck and will be replacing it with a much smaller porch and then a poured hardscape. (No more weeding--whoo hoo!).

      Thank you for the question about Copper River salmon. There are (as you know) several types of salmon, and each has a distinct flavor. I know the secret, and I'll share it with you next week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Pamela, you are so very welcome, and thank you for your kind words. I really enjoy making soup. You could cook a different one every day. Next week is letter "D". Any ideas what it will be?

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Rinita I'm glad you liked the intro. I stumbled upon that passage while looking for something else entirely. Life's like that, isn't it? I hope you are 100 percent back to health. Have a blessed week.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      John, I don't use leeks very often because they are (I don't know why) ridiculously expensive where I live. Perhaps I should try to grow my own. As part of the onion family, I'm pretty confident that the deer would leave them alone. The chives survive.

    • Carb Diva profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Lum 

      8 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Flourish, good morning. Your idea of odd foods around the world is a good one. Sounds a little bit like what Andrew Zimmern does. I think I'll add that to my "to do" list. (I just hope I can successfully pen it without gagging).

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      8 months ago from Central Florida

      You've chosen a very capable assistant, Linda. She looks very astute!

      Your creamy bacon and potato soup sounds delicious. I used to make potato soup all the time but never put bacon in it. Perhaps if I do, my son, who doesn't eat soup, will actually eat it.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      8 months ago from Olympia, WA

      I am quite pleased to see quail eggs mentioned in your popular series. It won't increase my sales, but it is nice nonetheless.

      Copper River Salmon.....why is it so darned delicious? It has a distinctive taste and I'm curious. :)

      Have a super week of approaching sunshine and good vibes.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 months ago from Sunny Florida

      This is always an interesting article, and I particularly appreciate the recipe for the soup. Thanks for answering so many great questions.

    • Senoritaa profile image

      Rinita Sen 

      8 months ago

      The introductory quote by Fisher was wonderful, loved it. Cooks who write and writers who cook - brilliantly expressed.

      As to the mailbag, big thanks to whoever asked the onion question. I have had the same confusion for years. I once purchased shallots instead of regular purple onions by mistake (I do most of my grocery shopping online). Tasted good, but took way longer to peel. Since then I have stuck to my beloved purple onions. Haha.

      The soup sounds yum but rich - potatoes AND bacon! I guess that's why it qualifies as comfort food :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      8 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Linda, congratulations on a year of this series. Great job. I enjoyed this edition and it was interesting to compare all the different types of onions. We use many of them in our cooking regularly and grow our own chives and garlic chives. The bacon and potato soup certainly sounds like a comfort food for the cooler months. It sounds simo=ilat to a potato, leek and bacon soup my wife cooks. Have a great week.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      8 months ago from USA

      Loved that onion question and your answer, and that last paragraph is truly priceless. I still can’t get the pork belly with teats attached out of my mind. That gave me the willies. Makes me think a good article would be weird stuff different cultures around the world eat as delicacies.

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