Friday, November 20, 2009

Food Q&A: We get a lot of questions

Here's a roundup of questions I've gotten recently.

Q. What is the best way to freeze pomegranates?
A. It's better to seed them, then freeze the seeds. To get the seeds out without getting splattering your kitchen with enough pomegranate juice to look like "Saw XII," fill a large bowl with water. Cut into one side of the pomegranate with a sharp paring knife. Hold the pomegranate under water and pull it apart. Run your fingers around and through the sections to separate the seeds, which will sink, from the pith, which will float. Scoop off as much of the pith as you can and discard it, then pour the bowl through a sieve to catch the seeds. You can freeze the seeds as-is, or puree them in a blender and strain again to make pomegranate juice.

Q. How do you prevent food from getting soggy in a chafing dish?
A. The simplest solution here is to choose another recipe. Some foods are suitable for holding in a warmed container, while others aren't. Something that is crispy or has a crust is inevitably going to get a little soft. Something that is soft to begin with, such as chicken in a sauce, can be kept warm for serving without a noticable change.

Q. Can you freeze potato or cheese soups with a cream base?
A. Freezing can work, although milk- or cream-based soups can separate when frozen, and potatoes are always tricky. They can darken or take on an off-flavor. If the potato is pureed, not chunky, it should be OK. To get around the separating problem, you could reheat the soup in a double boiler over water and whisk it well to bring it back together.

Q. When making a souffle, is it best to use cold eggs or room-temperature eggs?
A. Room-temperature eggs always beat higher and hold air better than cold eggs. If you don't have time to let them sit at room temperature for a half hour or so, you can place them in a bowl of tepid water to take the chill off.