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Kitchen Shrink

Kitchen Shrink: How do you decide which level of the oven to use?

I recently received a question from Wendell who asked, “ how do you decide which level of the oven to use for a given task.” In most cases selecting the rack in the middle of the oven is a good choice unless the recipe tells you to use the upper…

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Kitchen Shrink: How can you make sure fruit pies don’t become too soggy when baked?

I recently got a question entitled “Soggy Fruit Pies” from Audrey, a viewer. That got my attention! She asked for my best tip for “making sure fruit pies don’t become too soggy when baked.” She particularly asked about blueberry and peach fillings. Here are my thoughts. If you are making…

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Kitchen Shrink: How do you clean burned-on fats from baking pans and keep them clean?

The other day I got a question on my web site from Aletha who is having trouble cleaning burned-on fat from a baking pan. She wondered how to clean the pan and then asked how I keep my pans clean. I’ll answer the second question first. I have had some…

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Kitchen Shrink: How do you decide which cornmeal to use when a recipe doesn’t tell you?

I recently got this question from John: “Every recipe that I read that includes cornmeal never states what grind to use. How can I determine which grind to use? Should it be Coarse, Fine or Corn flour?”  Until the last decade, it was very difficult to find anything but steel-ground…

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Kitchen Shrink: Is there a way to save lemon rinds after squeezing out the juice?

I recently received an e-mail from Elsie asking, “Is there a way to save lemon rinds after squeezing out the juice . . . .  I hate tossing those beautiful lemon shells.” I put on my Kitchen Shrink apron and thought of lots of ways empty lemon shells could have a…

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How do you buy and prepare Octopus?

  Grilled Octopus is a favorite on menus all across the country but people tell me that they are afraid to try to prepare it at home. I thought that would be a great topic for my show and my latest book so I enlisted the help of Dave Pasternack,…

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Kitchen Shrink: What is the easiest way to roast peppers?

There are a number of ways to roast peppers; all are easy. I have used roasted red peppers in all of my books and here are the instructions include to help readers make them: If you have a gas stove, turn on one burner to a low flame for every four peppers you want…

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What is Farro and how do you cook it?

I’ve been getting questions about farro ever since we cooked it in Season 2, Episode 211. This delicious, nutty, crunchy grain is now appearing on restaurant menus all over the country and is finally pretty easy to find in supermarkets as well. Farro can be any of three ancient species…

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Kitchen Shrink: What is the best way to melt chocolate?

One of the most frequent questions that come in to the Kitchen Shrink is, “How can I melt chocolate without the risk of it scorching or suddenly getting firm.” Chocolate is very sensitive to heat and it is best to melt it slowly. I like to melt it in the…

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Onions and Garlic: What does a medium onion or a medium garlic clove measure when chopped?

Linda recently e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask, “when a recipe calls for a medium onion, chopped, or a clove of garlic, chopped, what do they measure in standard measuring cups and spoons?” What a good question! Not everyone’s idea of medium is the same. When I wrote my second…

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Rice: How do you cook rice?

I just got an e-mail from Brent asking, “How long do you cook rice?” I thought I would just send him a link to my recipe for cooking rice and discovered that although I recommend serving my Simple Boiled Rice with several entrees, the recipe wasn’t up on the site.…

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Turkey: Where can I learn how to carve a turkey?

One of the questions I frequently get at this time of year is, “Where can I find out how to carve a turkey?” I have lots of information on the site about cooking and serving turkey (you’ll find it at turkey) and decided that carving the bird was the missing…

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Rice Vinegar: What is the difference between rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar?

Angelia recently e-mailed the Kitchenshrink to ask, “What is the difference, if any, between rice wine vinegar and rice vinegar?” There really isn’t much difference between rice vinegar and rice wine vinegar and they can certainly be used interchangeably in a recipe. To make rice vinegar, rice is fermented until it…

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Shallots and Onions: Can they be interchanged?

Recently Patricia asked the Kitchen Shrink, “what is the difference in shallots or onions , etc. can they be interchanged?” There are many varieties of both shallots and onions within the species Allium cepa. They vary in appearance in that shallots grow in clusters attached at the bottom and each…

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Packing Safely: How Can I Safely Pack and Carry a Picnic?

Now that summer picnic season is in full swing, I have had several requests for information on safely packing and carrying foods. Whether you are driving miles to a park or the beach or going next door for supper on the deck, the heat is on and you need to…

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Equipment: All about my bench scraper

Each time I use my special extra-large bench scraper on the show I get many e-mails from viewers who would like to have one. My search for a source was unsuccessful until I found out that I was looking for it by the wrong name. So here’s the scoop. My giant…

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Pancetta: What is Pancetta and how do you cook it?

Marvin e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink that he had enjoyed scallops with pancetta at a restaurant and wondered what pancetta is, how you cook it, and where to buy it. Although pancetta is often called Italian bacon, it is somewhat different from American bacon in that it is made only from pork…

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Cranberry Sauce: How do you make homemade cranberry sauce?

A viewer e-mailed me that he had recently had homemade fresh cranberry sauce at a holiday dinner and loved it. He added that he hadn’t known that it was something you could make at home and wondered how to do it. Homemade cranberry sauce is actually a very simple recipe. It is…

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Desserts: Here's One of my Favorite Desserts

I received an e-mail from Frances asking, “What is your all-time favorite dessert? How do you make it?”  Well, I don’t really have a favorite dessert, but I am rather fond of the Butterscotch Pudding Cake served with coffee ice cream found on page 341 of Sara Moulton’s Family Dinners.…

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Desserts: Here’s One of my Favorite Desserts

I received an e-mail from Frances asking, “What is your all-time favorite dessert? How do you make it?”  Well, I don’t really have a favorite dessert, but I am rather fond of the Butterscotch Pudding Cake served with coffee ice cream found on page 341 of Sara Moulton’s Family Dinners.…

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Kale: What are some good ways to cook kale?

As fall approaches it is definitely time to take a new look at kale. Kale has become one of the latest cruciferous vegetables to rebrand as a versatile ingredient in almost any recipe you can think of. Also known as borecole, this cousin of cabbage, collards, and Brussels sprouts has…

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Fruit: Selecting and handling early summer fruit

Freshly picked apricots are the first “stone” fruit of summer. Shortly after they appear on the market, cherries, nectarines, peaches, and then plums arrive. Prompted by the warmth of the early summer sun each ripens in its own time. Fruits have different ripening agendas, some stop ripening when they are…

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Buttermilk: Can you freeze buttermilk?

Gloria recently e-mailed the Kitchen Shrink to ask if she could freeze leftover buttermilk, thaw and use some, and refreeze the remainder. While buttermilk producers suggest that you not freeze buttermilk for best flavor and texture, when wasting it is the only other option, I suggest that you go ahead…

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Wedding Cakes: Tips for making a wedding cake from a favorite recipe.

I recently got an e-mail from Joan saying, “Our family loves your gingerbread recipe. In fact, my daughter is getting married and I will be making your recipe as their cake.  There will be 150 people.  Any tips for making this quantity?” When I make this recipe for a crowd,…

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