Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 02/2010

You can find 1000+ of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch nearly 100 of my Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. Have fun!


~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (12/3/10) ~

Culinary Q & A #2

I truly hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and delicious feast.  I was pleased to receive feedback from some of you who tried my recipes, thrilled that you and yours enjoyed them,  and, are finding my detailed instructions and step-by-step pictures of great value.  After today, I'll be devoting December to as many recipes as I can post for elegant hors d'ouevres, festive meals and, of course:  cookies!

Since our last Friday Q&A (we didn't have one last week because of the holiday weekend), Kitchen Encounters has had two great questions and one lovely comment!  Here goes:

Q.  Gretchen asks:  My pumpkin pie recipe called for evaporated milk and I did not have any, so I used condensed milk instead.  My pie was too sweet to eat.  What is the difference between evaporated and condensed milk, and what should I have substituted?

Evaporated Milk & Condensed Milk #1 A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Gretchen, nice to hear from you again!  I'm sorry your pie didn't turn out for you.  We all make mistakes and that is how we learn!  Evaporated milk is a canned cow's milk product that has about 60% of the water removed from fresh milk.  Sweetened condensed milk (also refered to as condensed milk), like evaporated milk, has the water removed from it, but has quite a bit of sugar added to it as well.  These two products cannot be used interchangeablySubstitutions for evaporated milk are:  equal measures of light cream, half and half or cream, with cream being my first choice.  I have read that buttermilk can also be equally substituted, but the tangy taste of buttermilk may not bode well in certain applications.  If you happen to keep dry milk in your pantry, you can mix it with 40% of the water required.  Substitutions for condensed milk, if you do a quick search are "out there", but they require some messy, time-consuming machinations that don't consistently result in an admirable product, so  my recommendation on this one is:  hop in the car and go buy the condensed milk. 

Both products have a unique flavor, creamy texture (with condensed milk being much thicker) and on the shelf, physically take up half the space of milk.  Evaporated milk was invented by dairy farmers over 100 years ago, because fresh milk, without refrigeration, had a very short shelf life and could not be shipped very far.   In the 1920's and 1930's it gained favor as a baby formula.  Evaporated milk is still used widely in many countries were no refrigeration is available.  Sweetened condensed milk was invented in France by Nicolas Appert in 1820.  In 1853, Gail Borden, Jr. was the first to market condensed milk in the USA.  The US Government ordered huge quantities of it during the American Civil War, handing out its 14-ounce/1,300 calorie cans as field rations to soldiers.  By the 1860's the soldiers had spread the word and condensed milk became a major product in the American marketplace. 

All of this being said, once the cans are open, both must be refrigerated or they, like fresh milk, will spoil.  Even though both products have a long shelf life, with condensed milk lasting longer than evaporated milk, you still need to check the expiration date on the can before using either of them.  Condensed milk should be thick, yet drizzly and cream-colored.  Past the expiration date, it tends to seize up or crystallize and darken to a caramel-color, which does not necessarily mean it is spoiled, but if in doubt, throw it out.  In the case of evaporated milk, if it does not pour smooth and uniform in color, or has any lumps in it, throw it away immediately. 

When using either of these products for making desserts, which we all know relies on weights, measures and precise ingredients, remember to read your labels and check your expiration dates before even getting started!   

Q.  Jesse asks:  For those of us who are cooking Thanksgiving dinner and have only one oven, how is my oven temperature affected if I am baking casseroles at the same time as my turkey?

A.  Kitchen Encounters:  This is is a great question, as most people have only one oven.  It is also not the first time I've been asked this.  Keep in mind that each and every time you open your oven door you are losing heat to some degree, so you must strive to minimize this activity and have a pre-planned strategy:

#1)  Make sure your oven racks are properly positioned and in place before you preheat your oven, meaning:  know where your turkey is going (I recommend a rack positioned at the lowest third of the oven) and where your casseroles are going (I recommend a rack positioned at the highest third).  Do a "run through", meaning:  place your roasting pan and casseroles in the cold oven to insure eveything will fit.  You don't want any surprises once your turkey has started roasting.  

#2)  Remember that your turkey has resting time after it comes out of the oven, so account for that and wait to add your casseroles until the last moment possible.  I rest my turkey for 45-60 minutes, which allows most casseroles time to bake properly on their own once the turkey has been removed from the oven.

#3)  Most importantly:  NEVER add a cold casserole to the oven.  Remove any cassseroles that have been prepared in advance from the refrigerator and return them completely to room temperature before placing them in the hot oven.  This could take 2-3 hours.  This will insure minimal heat loss.

C.  Jeanne says:  Mel, I followed your instructions for cooking the turkey and making the gravy and I am so happy to say this is the FIRST Thanksgiving that I got rave compliments on everything.  My turkey came out beautifully browned (camera worthy) and was incredibly moist!  I used to think that gravy was a pain to make (as it always came out lumpy), but not this year.  It was rich and smooth and those hot turkey sandwiches the next day were fab!  Thanks for all of your great recipes, which make trying new things that one might perceive to be difficult easy.

A.  Kitchen Encounters:  Jeanne, this is such gratifying feedback.  I especially like your last sentence!  I always feel successful when someone says, "I always thought that meal would be so hard to prepare, but you've shown me how easy it actually is"! 

Enjoy your weekend everyone, and once again:  To leave a comment or ask a question, simply click on the blue title of any post, scroll to the end of it and type away!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Commentary and Photo courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/2010)   


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference ~ Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too (12/3/10) ~:


Phoenix! I'm glad you are enjoying cooking and I hope to hear more from you in the future. So glad you are enjoying Kitchen Encounters!

A great cook and teacher definitely can show the way. I know now that I've found a few places to check for well written instructions and recipes, I've actually started enjoying cooking!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment