Ask Chef Rachael - September 2011

Q. What is the difference between kosher and regular old "salt"?
A. Generally kosher salt and the salt most of us know as plain old "salt," or table salt, are the same chemical compound, though kosher salt is less uniform in shape and larger grained than table salt. Some brands of table salt also include ingredients to help prevent the grains from sticking or clumping together. You can fit more table salt than kosher salt in the same dry measure, so a teaspoon of table salt is technically "saltier." If you want to substitute kosher salt for table salt, use approximately 50% more.

Q. I love to use canned chipotles in adobo sauce but never need the whole can. Can I save the leftovers?
A. I love the spicy kick chopped chipotles and adobo sauce give to my Mexican recipes, but like you, I can never find a single use for the entire can. I portion out the leftovers into very small freezer-safe containers so the next time I need some, I have just the right amount. You can safely freeze the pre-portioned leftovers for at least two months.

Q. I can never seem to prevent my scrambled eggs from getting too dry. Is there a secret to keeping them moist?
A. Eggs cook quickly, and it can be challenging to keep them from overcooking. In general, get everything ready for your meal before starting the eggs. Everything! If I am making eggs just for one or two people, I start the toast before I start the eggs—that's how quickly the eggs will cook. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and in it melt a small amount of butter or oil or spray the pan with cooking spray (I prefer butter, and it definitely helps keep the eggs soft and supple. The more the better—1½ tsp. per egg is my personal preference.) Add your beaten eggs and stir occasionally and gently as you move the pan on and off the heat. The idea is to let the egg mixture heat up, then move it off heat while you stir and distribute that heat throughout. When the eggs appear to stop cooking, move them back to the heat for a few seconds, and then off again to stir. Repeat until the eggs are almost done, but still quite soft and glossy. Remember they will continue to cook the last time you take them off the heat. Remove the eggs from the hot pan right away so they don’t overcook while you grab your plate. Enjoy immediately. Happy breakfasting!

Q. It seems to take me way too long to whip my egg whites. Am I doing something wrong?
A. There may be a couple of reasons, but more than likely it is because you started with very cold eggs. For many cooks this is confusing because we’ve always been told that to whip cream it should be super cold. But when it comes to egg whites, warm is best. You can leave the eggs at room temperature for a half hour (cracking them into a bowl first will speed this up), or run them under warm water. Be very careful when separating the eggs, too. Even the tiniest speck of yolk in egg whites may cause them to be impossible to whip. My last tip is to make sure your bowl is absolutely clean and dry. A tiny drop of water can cause big problems when you’re trying to whip whites. Good luck.

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