You've written to her asking questions about what you want to do in the kitchen -- and she responded.
Connie Abeling: I am trying to expand my horizons and would like to know how to pick a good white or red wine for cooking. I don't like the taste of wine to drink but would love to try and cook with it (maybe I will learn to like them if I cook with them). I have no idea how to pick a good white or red wine for drinking so that I could use one or the other in a recipe that calls for wine.(I know you don't have to use wine and you can use a substitution in place of it but I want to try to use wine in cooking.) Any suggestions on how to choose a good wine? Also how long will an open bottle of wine last and should it be stored at room temperature or in the frig? Thank you in advance if you could please help me.
Sara's Answer: Generally you are looking for a dry wine unless of course you are making a dessert. Pinot Grigio would be a good candidate in the white department and a Spanish Rioja would work in the red department. They are both food friendly wines, not too aggressive and won't break the bank. After you have opened them up to cook with, you can keep them in the fridge for a week or so or you can even measure the wine out in one cup amounts and freeze it for further recipes. Actually, adding wine to recipes is a good idea because even if you don't taste the wine itself, the dish will taste better because alcohol is a conductor of flavor.
Tom Mitchell: I would like to know of a good sauce for salmon. We eat mostly white flaky fish - flounder, cod, etc. and I usually do a shallot/ white wine sauce and it works fine. We would like to try and eat salmon but we are hestitant not having a good sauce to go with it.l
Sara's Answer: Salmon is a fatty fish so any high acid sauce would be the perfect compliment. For example – a tomato sauce flavored with garlic and olives (and anchovies if you like them). Also, salmon and most fish can handle strong flavors since fish is inherently sort of bland – sauces based on wasabi mustard or horseradish work well. You can even just stir some of those ingredients into sour cream, crème fraiche or yogurt for a quick sauce on top of cooked salmon.
Erika Plodzien: Half our house is vegetarian and half "meat and potato" lovers. Do you have any suggestions on a meal that I could make for all of us to enjoy?
Sara's Answer: Erika, One good way to handle that is just to make sure that there are plenty of vegetable sides on the table every night. And why don't you try this Lentil and Eggplant Casserole (excerpted from "Sara Moulton's Everyday Family Dinners," Simon and Schuster 2002)?
Lentil and Eggplant Pastitsio
Yields 6 servings about 9 cups
Hands-on time: 45 minutes
Total preparation time: 1 hour 5 to 10 minutes
1 cup lentils
4 cups water
1 medium onion
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 small Italian eggplant or 2 Japanese eggplants (about 8 ounces)
2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves or 1/3 teaspoon dried
One 8-ounce can tomato sauce (preferably fire roasted)
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups whole milk
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 ounces feta cheese
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) macaroni