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Ask Kirstin: Saving Guacamole; Mellowing Garlic

avocado

Does an avocado pit keep my guacamole green? — Michael F.

Nope! Well, yes it does, but only right where the pit is covering the guacamole…same as a hockey puck would. The key is to keep air from touching the guacamole, so if you can’t eat it right away, lay a piece of wax paper, a flat plate, or a thin layer of salsa directly onto the guacamole. A small amount of acid like lime or lemon juice will also help prevent the avocado from oxidizing too quickly. If you want to store half an avocado, leave it in its skin, rub the cut part with a little olive oil, and store it face down on a plate in the fridge.

 

There are too many mozzarellas out there! When do I use the shredded ones, when do I use the sliced ones from the deli, and how about the soft expensive ones in water? — Jennifer

The shredded “low moisture” mozzarella is great for anything you want a mild melted cheese in or on, the sliced deli ones are good for sandwiches (just bear in mind that it doesn’t have a lot of “cheesy” flavor). And use the kind you find in water in dishes where you can showcase its soft creaminess raw, like in a winter salad with roasted butternut squash, pomegranate seeds and hazelnuts or a simple ripe tomato and basil salad in the summer.

 

 

I love garlic, but is there a way I can mellow it out a bit? — Marie M.

Yes, for salad dressings and pesto you can always throw a clove or two into a (tiny) pot of water and poach them for a few minutes until they are soft. That will mellow the flavor a bit. When cooking greens I first saute the garlic until it is golden, then add ½ cup or so of water (the oil will spatter so be careful). Once the water has evaporated, I throw in the greens and cook them until they are tender.

Of course nothing relaxes the flavor of garlic as much as roasting it. Chop the top off a head of garlic, put it on a piece of foil, drizzle it with some olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Bake in a 350º oven for 50 minutes (preferably wait until you have something else savory baking in there so you are not using a lot of oven for a tiny dish). Use roasted garlic in mashed potatoes, spread on sandwiches, tossed with vegetables or meat, or spread on a crust of baguette with a sprinkle of salt, as a cook’s treat made for just yourself.

 

What is the difference between stock and broth? — Jodi W.

Technically a broth is made from meat and good for making soups whereas stock is made from bones, good for soups but also good for sauces as bones have gelatin in them.

 

Want to “Ask Kirstin” for help in the kitchen? Send your questions to kirstin@thefamilydinnerbook.com. And check out the “Ask Kirstin” Archive.

Follow Kirstin on Twitter (@Kirstin_U)

 

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