Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Cleaning Out the Inbox

OK, today I'm going to answer some questions that have been submitted to the site and some others that have been submitted to me directly. I'd encourage all of you to post your questions on site. There are no bad questions; if you have a question about a particular post chances are good someone else has the same question. Here we go.

Q 1: to anonymous x 2,

Some of you have had questions regarding the cook times in my recipes, particularly the roast chicken. In every case, the cook times I list are the ones that work for me. If yours are different there are a couple of possible culprits:

1. Please be sure to bring whatever you're cooking to room temperature before you start. This makes more of a difference than you think. Imagine being outside on a cold day and coming in for a hot drink to warm up. You will take longer to feel warm than someone whose been inside the entire time, cooking is the same way. If time doesn't allow for a 30-45 minute warm-up, you're realistically going to have to add 10-20 minutes of cooking time.

2. My roasting chickens run 3-4 lbs. If you've got one of those 5-7 pound, raised next to a nuclear power plant chickens, well, even though they should be glowing on their own, that bird is going to take a little longer to cook (a 7 pounder may need as much as 2 hours to get the job done).

3. If the cavity is stuffed full of anything that will also slow the cooking time.

4. If times are way off you may want to check to be sure your oven is heating to proper temperatures. A $5 oven thermometer would do the trick.

Q2: to runwithperserverance,

I posted a quick response to your question, but wanted to highlight it here. You asked about vintage differences in the J. Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon. While I'm waiting on WW Bob's response, weather plays an important part in how wine tastes. 2005 was a hotter growing season, which tends to ripen grapes faster and produce greater fruit flavor in the final wine. I suspect that this is the difference you're noticing in the two bottles. I'll update the answer when WWB gets back to me.

Q3: to internetwhackjob,

You present an interesting case for a second gunman on the grassy knoll. Thanks for sharing.

Q4: to mrsklondike,

re: Pork Roast Recipe. I'm not really sure why they "french" the pork roast bones, (looks?). You could use a bone-in pork loin roast with the recipe, you could even use thick cut pork bone-on pork chops with a cooking time of about 45 minutes depending on their thickness, (you'd have to cut the vegetables into smaller pieces to insure that they'd roast in time however). The only cut I wouldn't use is a pork tenderloin. It's too lean and would cook too quickly. You just wouldn't get that tart-sweet caramelization of the lemon-orange juice that longer roasting buys you.

Q5: to imabean,

re: Desperate Soup. This is a great soup for emptying out the leftovers from the fridge. Put whatever you have sitting in there. You want to simmer for at least 20 minutes just to have some hope of blending the flavors. I'd also consider dropping the lentils and if you have some leftover cooked pasta add it in the last few minutes just to bring it up to heat. It shortens the cooking time even more and makes for a heartier meal.


Q6: to sildainnyc,

Spitzer? I hardly even know her!

Well that's it for today. Later this week, (Thursday or Friday) I'll be posting a veal stew recipe. Until then, remember, you can do it, you can cook.

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