Tuesday, December 11

Let batter rest

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Tips for solving some tricky cooking moments, like when the mayo separates

Experts: “Godforsaken Grapes: A Slightly Tipsy Journey Through the World of Strange, Obscure and Underappreciated Wine” author Jason Wilson (JW) and cookbook author Cathy Barrow (CB)

Q I tried to make mayonnaise and used a whole egg instead of the egg yolk. Can I salvage what I mixed or should I just throw it away?

A I’ve made mayonnaise using a whole egg. You just keep blending and adding oil until it gets to where you want it to be. Did it break and/or separate? Even then, you can whisk your broken mayo into another fresh yolk and usually save it. (JW)

Q Is it okay to freeze or refrigerate muffin batter? Also, how long can it sit on the counter without becoming unusable? I made a recipe for two loaves of banana bread but decided to make mini muffins instead. Halfway through the batter, I discovered I had enough muffins for weeks.

A I often refrigerate muffin batter overnight (portioned out into the pans, to be baked fresh in the morning). I’ve forgotten where I saw this tip, but it suggested letting the batter rest overnight so the dry ingredients more fully absorb the wet ones, and guarantee moist muffins. It goes against most advice with baking powder activation and so on, but it works.

I would refrigerate the batter – you don’t have to portion it out – rather than leave it on the counter. It’ll be good for at least eight hours. (JW)

Q I bought a watermelon that left something to be desired. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. What could I have done with it to make it a bit better? I was thinking of blending it, straining it, and then using the juice in cocktails or lemonade, but I tend to do that every summer.

A Restaurants have tricks to deal with less-than-ideal watermelons. One is to drizzle a citrus syrup on the cut melon. Also just salting helps. (JW)

Q When I squeeze lemon juice, I hate to throw the whole shell into the compost, but I haven’t found a good way to keep the shavings of peel – I use a vegetable peeler – from drying out in the freezer. Any recommendations?

A Zest the lemon using a vegetable peeler and wrap the swaths of peel tightly in plastic wrap, then put it in a ziptop bag in the freezer. Air is the enemy here, so wrap tightly. (CB)

Q I sometimes find myself with extra tomato paste because even with the little cans, there is too much for my purpose – usually upping the tomato taste in spaghetti sauce that has a lot of extras in it. Would it be better to freeze it in an ice cube tray and pull a cube out for making a chicken breast for one?

A I cut a piece of plastic wrap and place it on a pan or plate. Dollop tablespoons of tomato paste on the wrap, freeze it, then place all the dollops in a ziptop bag. Also, metal tubes of tomato paste might be an option. (CB)

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