August 2002 Food F.A.Q.s

Kitchen tips, cooking advice and ingredient tidbits from Southern Living Food Editors

Q. How long can I keep fresh artichokes?
A. To keep artichokes up to a week give them a light sprinkle of cold water and place in a vegetable-storage plastic bag (they're breathable). Refrigerate until ready to use.
 

Q. I see many types of mint on the market, are they interchangeable in recipes?
A. Spearmint is the most common variety that works well in all recipes. Peppermint has a strong flavor and should be used sparingly. Chocolate mint is a dark greenish-brown leaf with a subtle flavor.
 

Q. What is blue corn? Where can I find it?
A. Blue corn is a very flavorful variety of Indian corn with natural bluish-purple kernels used in Southwestern cooking. You'll find it sold as ground blue corn meal. In addition to specialty dishes it adds great flavor and texture to pancakes and waffles. If you can't find it in your area, try mail order from King Arthur Flour Baker's Catalogue, 1-800-827-8636.
 

Q. What is the difference between red and green cabbage?
A. The only difference is visual and, to some degree, the cooking methods. Red cabbage needs the addition of a little acid--such as apple, vinegar, or wine--to keep its color from turning an ugly dull gray. No matter what your preference, cabbage should be served tender crisp. It looses flavor and nutrients when cooked to mush.
 

 

Q. Can I reuse oil for deep frying?
A. Generally oil can be strained and reused to fry the same type of food. For example, chicken may be fried in oil originally used for chicken. Hot oil absorbs flavor from foods and will transfer those flavors. You wouldn't want to fry chicken or potatoes in oil used for frying fish.
 

Q. How can I keep spinach from turning black after cooking?
A. Steam spinach quickly, just until tender, and immediately "refresh" it under cold running water. This will stop the cooking and help maintain the vivid green color. If you are serving the spinach warm, a speedy reheat will not change the color.
 

Q. What is rémoulade sauce?
A. This is a classic combination of mayonnaise, capers, chopped gherkins, herbs and anchovies that is served cold. It is usually served with chilled fish and shellfish.
 

Q. What are white peaches and were can I find them?
A. They're very sweet, juicy peaches with a pale blush-colored skin and white flesh. The season for this variety is short and they are usually some of the first peaches available. Ask about them at the supermarket but you may have better luck at farmers' markets.
 

 

Q. How can I keep my fried chicken moist and juicy inside?
A. Soak chicken pieces overnight in the refrigerator. Buttermilk is our soaking liquid of choice; however some cooks like salt water. When you're ready to cook, remove the chicken from the milk--discard the milk, then season, flour and fry.
 

Q. Is there anything I can do to save a dish that I made too hot?
A. Try a little sugar. Sometimes the sweetness can counteract the bite of heat. If you choose to serve the fiery food, have yogurt or milk available to soothe the taste buds.