Monday, July 23, 2012

Do you have a cooking question?

I'm looking for good questions for our weekly Q&A feature. Can't figure out why boxed cornbread has a sticky texture? Not sure how long to grill your peaches?

If it's a question that can be answered (sorry, I can't tell you the meaning of life or which wine goes with rattlesnake), send it on and we'll try to solve it for you.

You can either post a question here in the comments, or email them directly to me, at kpurvis@charlotteobserver.com.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Kathleen Purvis said...

Helpful. Thanks.

Robie said...

My favorite part of the chicken is not the oyster. It is a little organ on the thigh next to the back bone. You get it when you have a full leg quarter. You have to sort of dig it out with your fingers. I don't know what it is, but is the best part of the entire chicken. Can you tell me what that part it is?

Kathleen Purvis said...

Thanks, Robie. I'll see if I can track that down for you. Just to clarify: Is it red, like an organ, or is it a section of the dark meat of the thigh?

Robie said...

Seems to be some kind of little red organ, not part of the muscle of the thigh.

lkm said...

What, exactly, is "pesto"?
I thought it always included pine nuts as an ingredient.
And, as that ingredient doesn't agree with me, I've avoided any dishes mentioning "pesto."
But I've seen a lot of things of late that don't contain pine nuts, yet are called "pesto."
So, please correct/update my knowledge.
Thank you.

Kathleen Purvis said...

What a great question, LKM. Thanks. Pesto is an Italian word for "pounded." Pesto was originally made with a mortar and pestle, a stubby tool you use to crush ingredients together. What you crush can include all kinds of things, from pesto to arugula, nuts from walnuts to pine nuts and many kinds of cheeses. I saw a great recipe yesterday for a mint pesto. If you make pesto using a mortar and pestle instead of a food processor, you'll get a different (and I think better) texture. Rougher, with more nuances of flavors.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen,
I have had the good fortune of living with a fantastic gas stove for most of my life. I recently bought a new house that has an electric stove with a 'cooktop' -- you know, the flat surface with 'burners' underneath? I find it nearly impossible to control the heat and often wind up burning things now, even at very low settings. Any suggestions for how to get even, less intense heat on a semi-crummy GE cooktop?
Thanks! Kathy

Kathleen Purvis said...

Robie: I have seen what I think you're describing, but I wasn't sure what it might be. So I checked with Ron Joyce, the owner of Ashley Farms, who knows more about chickens than just about any source I know. He thinks what we're seeing may be a chicken kidney. Chicken kidneys aren't as large as the more familiar organs, such as gizzards, livers and hearts. They're attached near the backbone and they may be left in place when a whole chicken is processed. I'll look the next time I'm handling leg quarters and see if that's what it is.

Robie said...

Chicken Kidneys. Delicious! I would not have guessed that. Thanks!!

Jennifer said...

How do I know if my nonstick pans are safe to cook with and up to what temperature? I have nice All Clad cookware, most of which is stainless, but I have a nonstick frypan and nonstick grillpan that I like to use for eggs, fish, etc. Can these pans withstand the normal heat of a cooktop without any toxins leaching out? Is there another brand of nonstick cookware that you were recommend instead?

Kathleen Purvis said...

Thanks for the good question, Jennifer. I got so many questions with this thread that it's taking a little while to answer them all. On nonstick cookware, there have been concerns and conflicting reports about toxic emissions. Most sources consider them safe with some precautions. Don't overheat the pans, which can cause the nonstick coating to break down. Most warnings are to keep them below 500 degrees, so you wouldn't use them under a broiler or on a high burner. Directions usually suggest using them on stove settings no higher than medium, and don't preheat an empty pan. Use the exhaust fan to reduce any risk of funes. And if the nonstick coating shows signs of flaking, throw the pan away.