Chef Sara Moulton Answers Your Cooking Questions

Got a cooking question, Sara Moulton's got the answer.

Feb. 02, 2012— -- Celebrated author and TV chef Sara Moulton is the food editor at "Good Morning America."

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

Linda Oreer: I love brussels sprouts, what can I do about the bitterness?

Sara's Answer:


My favorite way to prepare brussels sprouts is to slice them thinly using the slicing disk of the food processor and then to quickly saute them in one layer in a large skillet in vegetable or olive oil (it only takes 3 minutes) and finish them with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Sometimes I start by sauteing a few strips of bacon or pancetta, and then cook the sprouts in some of the leftover fat combined with olive oil.

Anyway, shredding and quick cooking the brussels sprouts has turned haters into lovers of sprouts.

Jennifer Greiling: Hi Sara, Can I reserve chicken meat that was used to make stock? My recipe has raw veggies unpeeled, herbs, etc all in the pot with the entire roasting chicken?

Sara's Answer:


I think that is a fine idea to use the chicken meat that was simmered to make a stock. Why waste it? I know it gets a little overcooked but it is still very tasty. My husband also loves the overcooked vegetables. You can put all of the above into a chicken pot pie. Just thicken the stock with a little roux, combine it with the chicken meat and vegetables and top it off with pastry.

Theresa Gelineau: I need to toast pine nuts. How do I do that?

Sara's Answer:


You can toast them in a preheated 350 F. oven on a sheet pan for 8 to 10 minutes or until they are golden. The hazard here is that you might forget to set the timer and they burn. And they aren't cheap. You can also toast them in a dry pan (no oil) on top of the stove over moderately low heat, shaking the pan frequently, until they turn golden. That is safer but more work on your part.

Daniel Anzola: Hi Sara, I tried to brine some pork loin last weekend but it ended up inedible because it was brutally salty. The recipe said I should keep the meat in the binning solution for two hours, and I just kept it there for one for and 45 minutes. Should I make a brining solution with less salt, or should I brine the meat for a shorter period?

Sara's Answer:


I think there must have been way too much salt in the brine. Why don't you cut the salt in half and try it again?

Ruth Smith: When you deep fry, how long can you keep the oil after straining? Should it be keep in the refrigerator?

Sara's Answer:


I don't recommend reusing the oil for a bunch of reasons. When you fry something in oil the oil can pick up the flavor of the food which will impart flavor to the next item you fry in the oil. Also, every time you heat oil, it starts to break down and become less stable. If you overheat it by mistake, you will lower its smoke point so that the next time you use it, it will catch fire at a lower temperature.

I realize that it is expensive to throw out oil, so if you must reuse it, make sure not to overheat it, strain it after you have used it and it has cooled, and keep it in a cool dark place for up to three months. Don't keep it in the fridge.

Lee Meyers: We have moved to Santa Fe,N.M., altitude 7,000 feet. What should I do when baking to allow for the altitude? Thanks.

Sara's Answer:


Lee, I'm going to recommend an excellent book written just for people who live in high altitudes. It is called "Pie in the Sky, Successful Baking at High Altitudes" and the author is Susan G. Purdy. She is one of my favorite baking authors. and I know she did serious homework before writing this book.

Gail Noren: How do you cook rice perfectly? I never seem to get it right.

Sara's Answer:


Welcome to the club! I am rice-impaired too. I can never seem to get the proportions right. So, fasten your seat belt. I cook rice like pasta -- I just put a big pot of water on the stove, bring it to a boil, add salt and the rice, give it a stir and let it gently boil. It generally takes 17 minutes before it is cooked (but I check it at 15) and then I drain it well, put it back in the pot to dry out a bit for a minute or two over a low flame and then add butter.

My Asian friends are completely horrified by this. If you want to make rice the more traditional way, which is to work with a water-to-rice ratio, I recommend that you get a rice cooker. I think that most of the problem you and I are having with our rice has more to do with our burners than with anything else. Rice cookers provide a consistent perfect temperature. Anyone who has one swears by it. If you eat a lot of rice and have the room for a rice cooker, I would make that purchase.