STARTERS + SIDES
Q: What does the word "muddle" mean?
A: Muddling means mashing herbs in the bottom of a glass or pitcher.
Q: How can I make thin strips of lemon or orange peel?
A: Use a zester to make those thin citrus peel strips -- or zest. The tool peels off the aromatic outer part of the skin in ribbonlike strands.
Q: How can I tell if an egg is rotten?
A: To test a whole egg's freshness, place in a pot of water. If it floats to the top, it's old and has turned. If it's fresh, it will sink.
Q: Can I substitute salted for unsalted butter? How much salt is in a stick of regular butter?
A: You can substitute salted butter, but don't add any of the salt called for in the recipe. Salt content varies by brand, so be sure to check the package.
Q: Eggplant can sometimes be bitter. What can I do to lessen the bite?
A: Roasting usually does the trick. But to be sure you get rid of all the bitter flavor, slice the eggplant, salt it and let drain for 15 minutes. Then rinse, pat dry and cook.
Q: Can I refrigerate my leftover stew in the dutch oven I cooked it in?
A: If it's enameled cast iron, yes. If the Dutch oven is uncoated cast iron, transfer the stew to a glass bowl instead.
Q: How do I store fresh mushrooms?
A: Keep mushrooms loose in a paper or plastic bag in your refrigerator crisper for up to 5 days.
THE MAIN EVENT
Q: How do I use fresh herbs with a turkey -- whole sprigs or leaves?
A: Because a turkey roasts for hours in the oven, just stuff whole herb sprigs into the cavity or under the skin to keep them from burning. To use chopped herbs instead, mix them with butter to make a basting liquid.
Q: What's the difference in cooking time between roasting a whole bird and roasting turkey parts, like breasts and legs?
A: Turkey breasts and legs take less time to cook than whole birds do since they weigh much less. You can figure about 12 minutes per pound for roasting a whole bird at 400°F and about 8 minutes per pound for roasting turkey parts.
Q: How should I store my leftover turkey?
A: Cut every scrap of meat off the carcass, pack into airtight containers and refrigerate.
Q: How can I prevent cheesecake from cracking while baking and cooling?
A: To prevent cracking, place the cheesecake in a hot water bath set inside a large roasting pan while it bakes. To "fix" cracks, cover the cheesecake with fresh berries or chopped nuts.
Q: Which desserts should I bake in the middle of the oven and which ones on the lower rack?
A: Unless a recipe specifies otherwise, use the middle rack for even heat distribution. Keep in mind that long-cooking cakes and pies bake best in the lower third of the oven; foods that benefit from being browned, such as cookies, are often baked in the upper third of the oven.