It’s time! This is the week I answer your food and cooking questions, and share your favorite recipes.
Q: I keep hearing the food term ‘mise en place’. What is it? A French technique? – Terry in Coatesville
A: Mise en place roughly translates from French to English as - set up. It refers to being prepared before cooking. Read your recipe thoroughly. Gather all the ingredients. Prep the ingredients: chop veggies, let meat come to room temp, etc. When all is ready, then turn on the stove.
When cooking a Chinese stir-fry it’s essential to have everything mise en place. Turning your back on the hot pan for a minute could result in overcooked shrimp or burnt garlic. Chop all the veggies, prep the meat, and set the soy, fish, or teriyaki sauces within easy reach.
Q: I’m newly married with a brand new kitchen and a craving for peanut butter cookies. At my parent’s house I baked them all the time, but now they turn out terrible. Some cookies are burnt while others are underdone. What am I doing wrong? - Kathie in Reamstown
A: If cookies on the same pan are unevenly done, or your brownies are burnt on one side of the pan, you probably have hot spots in your oven. To test your oven, set the temp to 300°. While you are waiting for it to pre-heat, arrange slices of bread on a large sheet pan. Place them in the middle of the oven for a few minutes. The darker (or burnt) pieces of bread will reveal the hot spots. Simply avoid putting pans in that area, or rotate them while baking.
Knowing your oven will help too. My gas oven circulates heat by sending it up the sides. So I have to position my pans in the center, or be vigilant in rotating them. I hope this helps your cookie craving!
Toaster Oven Apple Crisp
From Elsie in Chesterbrook
I just moved to a nursing home, and can only have a little toaster oven in my room. I miss baking, so I’ve been trying different recipes in my toaster oven. Here’s my favorite.
1 Tb white sugar
Splash of water
1 or 2 Tbs quick-cooking oats
1 Tb flour
1 Tb brown sugar
1 Tb soft butter
Preheat the toaster oven to 350°. Core and slice the apples. Peel them if you need to.
Mix together the white sugar, a pinch of flour, and the cinnamon. Toss them with the apples and sprinkle with the water. Arrange in a heat safe bowl.
Mix together the oats, 1 Tb flour, brown sugar, and soft butter. Sprinkle over the apples. Bake until the apples are soft. My toaster oven takes 40 minutes. Enjoy!
The last Tuesday of the month I will endeavor to answer your questions, and share your favorite recipes. Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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