In the past few weeks, several people have stopped me to say they enjoy my column and the cooking blogs.
"Thanks," I always reply. "But I wouldn't be able to do it without my Grandma Iva's tutelage when I was a child."
Sometimes there's an awkward pause before the conversation continues and the person asks a question. Here are two of the questions I've recently been asked:
* "Do you know how to make a flaky piecrust that tastes good?"
Most piecrust recipes concentrate only on flakiness, recommending cooks use shortening, which has very little to no flavor, but will make a crust flaky and tender.
Although they used lard for savory piecrusts, my grandmother and great aunts substituted salted butter when making sweet piecrusts. While it makes the piecrust tender, it also gives it really good flavor.
They would use a combination of half shortening and half butter for the best piecrust and also substituted a tablespoon of vinegar as part of the liquid used in the recipe to help further improve the flakiness.
And they always wrapped the edges of a pie in aluminum foil before baking to ensure it didn't overcook.
If making sweet dessert pies, or even cheesecake with a piecrust, try substituting half of the butter with cream cheese for a rich flavor. (You can also sprinkle a touch of sugar around the edges of the lightly buttered crust.)
* "I know it's affordable and better for my family's health, but I don't seem to be able to get ground turkey to brown like hamburger when cooking," a friend of mine asked recently after eating a pasta dish I made. "How do you get it to crisp up like this?"
Turkey does not have a very high fat content so you have to add it when cooking.
When cooking ground turkey, I add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to the frying pan at the beginning. As it begins to turn from pink to a light brown, I also add two tablespoons of butter to the remaining olive oil (and maybe another splash) to add flavor while constantly stirring so the meat remains moist.
It's been a busy week, and there are more questions for me to answer. Hopefully, I have a few moments over the weekend to look through Grandma Iva's cookbooks for the answers.
If you have a question about cooking and think I might be able to help, please leave them here. As soon as I find them, I'll post them here.