Q - What is the difference between an herb and a spice? A - Herbs are the stems and leaves of plants whereas spices are the seeds, bark, roots, and fruit.
Q - What is buttermilk? How is it made? What is an alternative? A - Originally, buttermilk was the low-fat liquid left over from the churning of cream into butter that was contaminated by airborne bacteria, causing it to thicken and sour slightly. Today's buttermilk is not a butter byproduct and is prepared in a controlled environment. It is made from pasteurized skim milk that has a culture added to develop a flavor and thickness similar to old-fashioned buttermilk. Some manugfacturers introduce butter and cream particles to buttermilk to give it an authentic appearance.
A grat alternative to liquid buttermilk in cooking is cultured buttermilk blend, a powder that lasts for a year in the refrigerator after opening. Made from the dehydrated milk left over from commercial butter-making, it is the next best thing to real buttermilk. The blend should be used according to package directions and should not be reconstituted with water and drunk as liquid buttermilk. It is available in supermarkets throughout the country, however it is sometimes difficult to find in large metropolitan areas. For more information call Saco Food, (800) 373-7226. Q - What is the best way to clean leeks? A - Clean leeks by trimming away the roots (flush with the base) and then peeling any blemished outer layers from the bulbs. Cut off the tough green part, reserving it for stock, so that the leeks are about six inches long. With a sharp knife slit them in half lengthwise to within about two inches of their white base and rinse under running water, separating layers by rubbing them to remove dirt lodged between the leaf layers.
If a recipe calls for sliced or chopped leeks, slice or chop them first, and then put them in a bowl of water. Agitate the water with your hands to dislodge dirt and let the dirt settle in the bottom of the bowl. Lift the leeks from the water and drain them well in a colander. Q - What is callaloo? A - Callaloo is a classic Caribbean soup made with callaloo greens and okra and flavored with thyme and salt pork or ham and sometimes seafood. Trinidad is credited with the invention of this popular dish, although virtually every island in the Caribbean has its own version, resulting in a number of different names. The soup is green in color and can range in cinsistency from hearty to thin.
The callaloo greens come from a variety of tropical plants with edible leaves. The leaves go by the names taro, elephant ears, dasheen, malanga, and Chinese spinach and can be found in Caribbean markets.
Swiss chard or spinach can be substituted for them.
Gourmet Magazine April 1995
Submitted By DIANE LAZARUS On 04-18-95
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