Ask Cynthia a Question – July 29, 2014

Pie, Berry 7-2014Dorine asked: My homemade berry pies generally turn out runny even after leaving them in the refrigerator overnight. It’s very discouraging. What am I doing wrong?

My answer: Here are a few suggestions you might try. 1) For berry and cherry pies, use Minute Tapioca instead of flour. The conversion from flour to tapioca is on the box. 2) Vent the bottom crust with lots of fork pricks and cut large vents into the top crust so the liquid can evaporate. 3) Don’t cut the pie until it is completely cool, preferably refrigerated overnight. 4) Bake the pie longer, and 5) if you live at a high altitude, getting things to thicken properly might prove to be challenging. Good luck Dorine, and thanks for your question.

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Making Berries Last Longer

Berries will last longer if they’re (gently) run through a salad spinner after they’re washed to remove excess water.

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Slade’s South Carolina BBQ

Hope Roo Orange TThis week’s post comes from C. Hope Clark and her protagonist, Carolina Slade, from The Carolina Slade Mystery Series. It seems Hope and Slade both enjoy a hardy South Carolina BBQ, but then, who could resist a southern spread dripping with the state’s finest sauce whether it comes from mid-state or the Pee Dee region?

Slade’s South Carolina BBQ

By C. Hope Clark

When you write a series, you come to know the characters very well, down to what type of barbecue sauce they prefer. The Carolina Slade Mystery Series is set in various rural counties across South Carolina, and anyone from the region understands that four sauces define barbecue.

Barbecue in South Carolina is consistently pork, so when anyone references what kind of barbecue, they’re referencing the sauce.

Slade, as my main character likes to be called, is a far cry from a debutante and excels at sleuthing as a US Department of Agriculture investigator. She understands farming, and she loves her pork flavored with a mustard-based sauce.

The four sauces consist of mustard, vinegar pepper, light tomato and heavy tomato, but the majority of residents chow down on mustard-style barbecue. Residents understand that mustard defines the middle of the state, vinegar along the coast, light tomato in the northeast Pee Dee region, and heavy tomato in the northwestern section, but mustard is unofficially the signature flavor, originated by German settlers in the 1700s, a culture with an adoration for the yellow condiment.

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You’ll find all sorts of variations where grill masters add items like peaches, apricot preserves, soy sauce, molasses, oregano, thyme, or celery seed, but the foundation for this sauce is as follows:

Slade’s South Carolina BBQ

1 ½ cup yellow mustard
½ cup apple cider vinegar
½ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp. tomato paste or tomato ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. cayenne

Combine all ingredients, simmer low for 30 minutes. Cool and store in airtight container in refrigerator. Let the flavors combine for at least four hours. You can add to the meat during cooking as well as after for dipping. You can thin it or thicken it. Experiment on the amounts, depending on whether you lean to the tangy vinegar side (more vinegar) or the sweeter sugar side (more sugar or even honey, or dark brown instead of light brown sugar).  But however you enjoy it, your tongue will smack your head silly and never let you go back to hickory sauce ever again.

For more on SC barbecue, go to http://bbq.discoversouthcarolina.com.

BIO

C. Hope Clark is author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, with the latest being Palmetto Poison, set in the midlands of SC where the sauce is definitely mustard. www.chopeclark.com   

Hope Bridge

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Ask Cynthia a Question – June 24, 2014

barbequeLee Ann asked: What’s the difference between grilling and barbequing? It all seems the same to me.

My answer: To best explain the difference between barbequing and grilling, I’d like to quote Tori Avery from her blog, INSPIRED BY OUR DELICIOUS PAST.

Before we dig into some smoky, charbroiled, lip-smacking history, let’s clear up a common misconception: grilling and barbecuing are not the same thing. While the terms are often used interchangeably (particularly in the northern United States), the truth is that grilling and barbecuing are two very different cooking methods. Grilling is the most basic form of cooking—it is, quite simply, the method of cooking a food directly over an open flame or high heat source. Barbecue, on the other hand, is a low and slow method of cooking over indirect heat.

THE HISTORY OF BARBEQUE AND GRILLING from Tori’s blog is an entertaining and informative way to learn the history of cooking methods, foods or recipes. People have been grilling and barbequing since caveman days (some believe even longer), which makes both cooking methods vintage.

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Thinning Barbeque Sauce

Thinning barbeque sauce with water will dilute the flavor; try thinning it with fruit juice to enhance its flavor.

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Carol’s Chicken Salad with Fresh Tarragon

Carol’s Chicken Salad with Fresh Tarragon

chicken salad w fresh tarragon2 to 4 skinless chicken breasts
1/4 cup each chopped celery and onions
2 to 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh tarragon, finely sliced
Salt & pepper to taste
Mayonnaise to desired consistency
1/2 to 3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
Spring greens

Poach chicken breasts in water with 1/4 cup each chopped celery and onions. Shred chicken leaving it in somewhat larger pieces; cool.

When chicken is cool, add lemon juice, chopped green onions, chopped celery, finely sliced tarragon, toasted almonds, salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in mayonnaise according to preferred consistency. Chill thoroughly and serve on a bed of spring greens. Yield: 2 to 4 servings

Cook’s Note: All ingredients are adjustable according to personal taste.

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