You've written to her with questions about what you'd like to learn in the kitchen, and she has responded.
Sara Moulton Answers Your Questions
Cindy Heal: I need your recipe for homemade yogurt. I missed it when you were on GMA. Please, I love yogurt (greek) and haven't found one as simple as yours sounded.
Actually it was on Rachael Ray and it was creme fraiche but I will give you the recipe both for yogurt and for creme fraiche.
Here is how you make yogurt:
Take a 1/2 gallon of milk (any kind) and heat it in a large saucepan over moderate heat until it is almost boiling. Remove the pan from the heat, pour the milk into a bowl, and let it cool to lukewarm. Stir in 1/4 cup yogurt (store-bought yogurt that contains live cultures or homemade yogurt from a previous batch). Cover with a clean, damp dish towel and leave the mixture undisturbed in a warm place overnight. The next day it will look like a loose form of yogurt. If you like thicker yogurt, like Greek yogurt, you will have to drain it. To drain it, put a piece of cheesecloth in a sieve set over a bowl. Put the yogurt into the sieve and let it drain for several hours at room temperature or until it is the thickness that you like. Put the yogurt in a jar and refrigerate. It will keep for a week. Makes 1 to 2 quarts (depending on whether you drain it)
Note: this yogurt recipe was adapted from a book that came out last year called, "Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, What You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch" I recommend it.
Here is how you make creme fraiche:
Whisk together 1 cup heavy cream and ¼ cup buttermilk and transfer to a glass jar with no lid. Cover the top of the jar with a piece of paper towel and a rubber band to hold the paper towel in place and let the mixture stand at room temperature for 24 hours . Remove the paper towel, cover with plastic wrap or the lid and chill. OR, if using in a cold sauce, substitute 1 ¼ cups sour cream. The homemade crème fraiche will keep for 1 week in the fridge
Jean Burnett: We love the Ipswich fried clams we get in Maine while on vacation. Is there an easy way to "shuck" the clams before frying them? And do you have any tips for the actual breading and frying? Jean B.
If you buy your clams from a fish store, the fishmonger will shuck them for you. The traditional clams for fried clams are soft shells but I have made an acceptable version with littlenecks or cherrystones. Usually the clams are dipped in milk and then flour or cornmeal and then fried. I like to dip them lightly first in flour, shaking off the excess, and then in a beer batter made by whisking together equal parts flour and beer before frying them.
Cynthia Caufield: Dear Sara, My husband wants me to prepare more meatless meals. He thinks he wants to be a vegetarian but, hates vegetables except: asparagus, spinach and green beans. What do you have to help? Oh, spicy hot is best in his opinion.
Maybe you can get him there through pasta or tortillas? Just make a vegetable sauce and add hot pepper flakes to the pasta recipes or chiles to the Mexican dishes.
Jo Jordan: CHICKEN SKIN! I hate it, loathe cooking with it. All recipies put all seasoning(s) and glazes on the skin. If you discard the skin especially for white meat the end product is very often dry. Last piece to this rant is the "scrape up all the bits...". As near as I can tell, that is again only the fat product from the cooked protein. Can that great flavor be insinuated into a skinless chicken dish? I sure do miss seeing you regularly. Jo
Let's start with the chicken skin issue. It is okay to remove the skin if you protect the delicate white meat chicken some other way. You can dip it in flour before sautéing it or cover it with a "glue" like mustard or mayonnaise and crumbs before baking it. Another trick is to soak it in buttermilk with a hefty pinch of salt before cooking it. Buttermilk is a tenderizer and the salt will help to make the juices stay in the muscle.
Actually dark meat chicken does not dry out easily so if you use skinless dark meat you will be safe. But make sure that you do not overcook whatever chicken you are cooking - that will make it dry out.
Those bits at the bottom of the pan are not just the fat, but also the juices from the protein you are cooking which caramelize at the bottom of the pan. It is a good idea to take advantage of them to make a sauce. You can just add a little chicken broth to the pan and simmer it scraping up those brown bits until they are dissolved. Then pour the sauce over your cooked chicken.
By the way I have a new show on Public TV which I hope you check it out. Here is where you will find more information:
Sandy Levy: Can almond milk be substituted for regular milk, or does it have a distinct flavor in a meat recipe?
Almond milk is made with almonds and water. In its purest state it has a naturally sweet, light almond flavor and a milk-like texture. Many commercial varieties have added sugar or flavoring. You can use the plain unsweetened, unflavored version in most baking recipes that call for milk but it will not work as well in savory preparations except perhaps in Asian recipes where almonds might have been added anyway.