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Forming Hamburgers- Is There a Proper Method

by Elizabeth Skipper August 27th, 2014| Ask the Chef
burgers n flameIs there a correct way to form hamburgers? I have hand-formed them and used a patty maker.  I also have made patties that are flat and added a dimple to them to help with cooking. Are any of these methods better than another, or is there a totally different way that I should be trying?

Is there one correct way to form hamburgers? I wouldn't say so, although there are basic principles to follow. A good burger patty shouldn't be overworked and compacted, or it will be tough. Other than that, form them any way you like. And there's
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Ask the Chef- Keeping Leftover Avocados

by Elizabeth Skipper August 20th, 2014| Ask the Chef
avocadoI needed only half an avocado for a recipe. I spritzed the remaining half with lime juice and wrapped it in plastic wrap. When I went to use it two days later, it was brown. Is there an effective way to save unused avocado, or should I have just eaten it all in one sitting?

I'm surprised you were able to abstain from eating half an avocado; I can't.

There are many methods which claim to keep avocado halves or guacamole from oxidizing. I have yet to find one that I'd consider successful. But I'll tell you the most common ones if
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Lobster Tails vs. Claws- What’s the Difference

by Elizabeth Skipper August 13th, 2014| Ask the Chef
lobsterWhenever I eat lobster with a group of people, personal preference on favorite part falls into two groups: tail or claw. However, I have noticed that one can buy tails individually at the fish counter but not claws.  Is there a reason for this?  Is lobster tail meat different, more delicate, better for cooking?

It wasn't until a few years ago that I even thought about the difference between lobster tail and lobster claw meat. Someone asked me my preference, and I had to think about it. Until then, I'd just consumed as much of the beast as I could
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Pomelo Zest — Beyond Lemon and Orange

by Elizabeth Skipper August 6th, 2014| Ask the Chef
grapefruit-395345_640I have used lemons, oranges, and limes for zesting in an assortment of recipes. This has me wondering, can all citrus fruits be zested? In particular I was wondering if I could use pomelo zest? If so, do you have any suggestions for a recipe?

Here in NH, I seldom see pomelos available for sale, certainly not in the local supermarkets. Perhaps next time I'm in an Asian market I'll try to find one. You've aroused my curiosity. I seem to remember trying it once, wondering if it was like an ugli fruit. I also remember not being impressed –
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What You Need to Caramelize Crème Brûlée

by Elizabeth Skipper July 30th, 2014| Ask the Chef
french-170370_640I don’t own a kitchen torch to make crème brûlée. I have heard that I can use my oven’s broiler. However, I also am worried about putting the glass dishes under the broiler. Won’t the combination of glass and a broiler have bad results?

Putting glass baking dishes like Pyrex or Anchor Hocking under the broiler is definitely not recommended; the manufacturers tell you so. However, don't confuse glass with porcelain or terracotta, both of which are made of clay. Their qualities differ, and both of those can take the heat of a broiler. The predominant material of choice is
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Overwhelmed by Zucchini? Here’s How to Freeze It

by Elizabeth Skipper July 23rd, 2014| Ask the Chef
zucchini-176880_640Zucchini season has begun.  Is there any way to freeze it for use in the winter? I know that I can pickle it, but I would prefer to have plain zucchini, which I can use in an assortment of dishes.

It's that time of year, when if your squash plants haven't been attacked by bugs, they're starting to produce in such quantities you'll soon be over-run. One to three plants are sufficient for most families, but sometimes it's hard to believe that and so we over-plant. Even if we don't, the kitchen counter starts to get buried, the neighbors are
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Make Your Own “Jello”, Only Better

by Elizabeth Skipper July 16th, 2014| Ask the Chef
file0001082961770I make most of my desserts from scratch:  cookies, cakes, pies, pudding.  However, I never have made gelatin from scratch. I always buy the flavored box mix.  Is it difficult to make homemade gelatin? I know that I can purchase plain gelatin but wasn’t sure how I would infuse flavors. Any suggestions?

For a minute there, I thought you were asking about making gelatin, not jelled desserts, from scratch. Then I realized you meant making a Jello equivalent, which is whole lot simpler! Making gelatin can be done, but it's a lengthy, somewhat messy, process. Making homemade Jello is easy.

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Creaming Butter and Sugar: How Long Does It Take?

by Elizabeth Skipper July 9th, 2014| Ask the Chef
00019Almost all cookie recipes call for the butter and sugar to be creamed.  I have read that you should beat them for 3-5 minutes. Do I really need to beat the mixture for that long? The dough seems well combined in 30-60 seconds.

Creaming is a method used in making many kinds of cookies, cakes, and quick breads. It's more extensive than mixing, which is simply combining ingredients until they're well incorporated.

When softened butter is creamed with sugar, the individual grains of sugar are distributed throughout the fat and fluff up the mixture. It's obvious to think of air bubbles
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Real Whipped Cream: Keep It Real, Keep It Whipped

by Elizabeth Skipper July 2nd, 2014| Ask the Chef
whipped-cream-354174_640I saw a recipe that has whipped topping (non-dairy) with blueberries and strawberries to make a flag design.  I personally detest whipped topping.  However, I think that homemade whipped cream won’t hold up as well at a cookout.  Any suggestions on what I could use as a topping? The base of the dessert is a simple yellow cake.

I've seen this cake – didn't it originally come from an advertisement? It's perfect for any patriotic occasion, and with July 4th coming up, what a great dessert for a cookout. Of course, it's hot in July; and using whipped topping makes
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Keep Berries from Spoiling – With A Cookie Sheet

by Elizabeth Skipper June 25th, 2014| Ask the Chef
blueberries-269997_640I’m not sure if a chef is the best person to ask, but as you work with fresh ingredients, I thought I would ask.  How can I get soft berries, such as raspberries and blackberries to last longer than 24 hours.  It seems that they become mushy and moldy within a day of purchasing. Is there a way to store them that will allow them to last for a couple days more?

Fresh berries are particularly fragile and susceptible to spoilage. Rule # 1 is to never wash them before you're ready to use them. Any moisture will cause almost
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Pound Cake: A Pound of Everything?

by Elizabeth Skipper June 18th, 2014| Ask the Chef
cake-21422_1280I have heard that pound cake is named because it has a pound of sugar and a pound of butter.  In order to make a homemade pound cake, do I really need to use such great amounts?  (I am hoping to make one loaf pan.)

Pound cake is actually called that because it calls for a pound each of butter and sugar, but also a pound each of eggs and flour, for a total of four pounds in all. That makes enough batter to fill about two one-loaf pans.

It may be easier to think of this kind of cake in
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Turkey With What Sauce?

by Elizabeth Skipper June 11th, 2014| Ask the Chef
backdrop-22024_640Maybe once or twice a year I make a turkey or turkey breast, when it is not during the holiday season.  However, I am not able to find fresh or frozen cranberries to make cranberry sauce.  Is there another fruit I could use (and find easily) to make a different sauce that would complement the turkey?

It sounds as though you want to duplicate the Thanksgiving presentation of turkey as closely as possible, just at other times of the year. Interesting. I like to make turkey other times of the year, too, but I always prepare it differently from a
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