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
Lisa Richards: Recipes call for "dry white wine." I'm not a wine drinker, so how will I know what wine to buy??? Is it a cooking wine or a drinking wine?
Cooking wine is a dreadful product invented for use by alcoholic chefs who tipple in the kitchen during service. Cooking wine has salt added to it to make it unpalatable to drink straight - why would you want to add any ingredient to a recipe that didn't taste good on its own to begin with?
So, stay away from cooking wine. There are many dry whites – pinot grigio is a safe bet or sauvignon blanc and you can find acceptable bottles for $10. If you buy the wine in a liquor store ask the staff for a recommendation. Keep whatever wine you don't use tightly corked in the fridge. It will keep for a week or so. If you don't think you are going to use it for cooking within that period, transfer it to Tupperware in 1 cup amounts and freeze it.
Ric Berger: Can I freeze pre-made waffles for serving at a later date? If so is there any special prep before freezing? Thank you,. Ric
I referred to a book I have on Waffles by Dorie Greenspan and here is what she says:
"Waffles freeze beautifully. Stack the cooled waffles between squares of waxed paper and pack in plastic bags. I find the most effective way to pack for freezer storage is to press as much air out of the bags as possible, then to draw the top of the bag together, holding it tightly around the "neck." To remove the last little bit of air from the bag, either insert a straw into the hole in the neck and draw out the air, or press your lips against the hole and suck out the air. Seal the top securely with a wire twist. Place this bag in another plastic bag and remove the air from the outer bag. Double bagging will allow you to keep the waffles in the freezer for up to 1 month.
"Heat them, still frozen, by placing them in a single layer directly on the racks of a preheated 350°F oven; bake for about 10 minutes."
Ken McConnell: I like to make a spinach quiche and I use frozen spinach to save time. The problem is there is allot of water in the spinach. Drying it involves the use of paper towels. Is there any easier way?
If you have a potato ricer (which looks like a giant garlic press) you can use that. You just put handfuls of the spinach in there and squeeze. If you don't have a potato ricer, put a handful of the spinach into a sturdy kitchen towel, twist the towel around it and squeeze. You end up with a green wet towel but this method works well without a potato ricer.
I know that fresh berries like strawberries, blueberries, etc. must be washed. If you are planning to freeze them, do you wash them before or after freezing? Thanks.
I reached for one of my favorite books for this answer, "The Berry Bible," by Janie Hibler, Morrow, 2004. Here is what she says:
"Berries need to be rinsed before being used. I pour the berries into my over-the-sink expandable colander and spray them with cold water, gently shaking the basket a couple of times. Another easy method is to put the berries in the basket of a salad spinner. Fill the salad spinner with cold water and give the berries a good dunking-just a few seconds in the water will do. Let the berries drain before using them. Raspberries, with their hollow cores, are particularly fragile, so rinse them only a pint at a time.
"To freeze, first rinse the berries and drain thoroughly, then transfer to a baking sheet lined with paper towels and pat dry. Pour the berries into self-sealing plastic freezer bags and freeze for up to a year."
Malcolm Delano: How does one make a cookie "chewy"?
If you use shortening as the fat in your recipe you will end up with a thicker, chewier cookie than if you use butter.
Bill Kreller: Please don't laugh, but what is the best way to sauté garlic mushrooms and onions for meats and poultry? I always seem to burn them.
It sounds like you are sautéing them over too high a heat. Keep the heat at medium low and stir frequently.