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
Debra Griffin: Often when I try to make English toffee, I fail. Just as the mixture of 2 C sugar and 2 C butter reaches the temperature of 300 degrees, the butter separates from the sugar. What am I doing wrong?
I am not quite sure what went wrong so I reached for a recipe from one of my most reliable sources, my mentor and friend, Jean Anderson, who has written over 30 cookbooks, the most recent being "Falling Off the Bone," John Wiley and Sons. The following is a recipe from "The Doubleday Cookbook," which Jean co-authored.
Old English Toffee
Yields: 1 pound
1 cup butter (no substitute)
¼ cup light cream or evaporated milk
2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Melt butter in a large, heavy saucepan over moderate heat; mix in cream and sugar, insert candy thermometer, and heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking, uncovered, moving a wooden spoon across bottom of pan occasionally (but not actually stirring) until thermometer reaches 280°F. or a little mixture dropped in ice water separates into firm but not brittle strands. Remove from heat, let bubbling subside, add vanilla, and stir only to blend. Pour into a well buttered 8" x 8" x 2" pan and cool 10 minutes – candy should be hardening but still plastic. Turn onto a foil lined board and score in 1" squares. Cool to room temperature, break into squares, and wrap each in foil, cellophane, or wax paper. Store airtight.
June Oppenheim: I am looking for large leaves to put under a fresh fruit platter. What can I use and where would I purchase them?
If you want to go with fresh leaves you should make friends with a local florist and ask them if they have UNSPRAYED lemon, fig, chestnut or grape leaves. I have used fresh bay leaves as the base of a cheese platter and you can find those at many supermarkets and hopefully at your local farmer's market when it is the season. If you want to go "faux" Williams Sonoma has some nice looking paper leaves which you can find on their website under the category "Decorative Cheese Leaves."
Tamara Shaw: How long should I let a roast (either beef, pork, or poultry) that has been rolled and tied with kitchen string rest after removing it from the oven before removing the string and slicing? Thanks! Tammy
The larger the roast, the longer the time you should give it to rest. I let a pork tenderloin roast rest about 10 minutes, covered loosely with foil. I let a standing rib roast rest about 20 to 25 minutes and I let a 16-pound turkey rest 30 minutes.
ChrisTina Birt: I am having trouble making sugar-free buttercream frosting -- it does well until I add the vanilla. After that it looks like cottage cheese. I am a diabetic so I cannot use the usual recipe that you use with all the powdered sugar. Please help me.