MONDAY Q & A
Nick, can you tell me what "compound" butter is? (Jean C., Tampa,Fl.) Jean, compound butter is simply mixing butter with various ingredients and spices to create mixture that can be used to either top various meats, vegetables, and dishes, as a spread for bread, or for adding to sauces. A basic example of compound butter is the "garlic butter" you spread on bread to make garlic bread. You use butter, parsley, and garlic salt, and mix it until well blended. The variations you can come up with to make compound butter are endless. Experiment with your favorite ingredients.
What is the difference between Pinot, Merlot, and Cabernet wine? (Bob W., Boise, ID) Without going into the technicals of the grapes that are used in each, thus avoiding a long dissertation, Merlots and Cabs are probably the more popular varietals drunk in the U.S. while the Pinots are a bit less popular but have a following no less devoted to them than Merlots and Cabs. Cabernet has a tendency to be more robust than the Merlot. The Cabernets are usually more tannic and spicier as well. Without confusing you, there are exceptions to this general rule. Pinots are milder in the tannins and tend to be a more delicate wine to the Cabernets. Pinots also have a reputation for producing great vintages and thus commanding higher prices. In defense of Merlot and Cab drinkers, I have found some wonderful Merlots and Cabernets as well as Pinots. It comes down to personal taste. There have been volumes written about the 8 major types of red wines over the centuries and to get detailed on this site would be an endless process. For a more indepth view of these three and more importantly, the explanation of the grapes, I urge you to visit www.frenchscout.com, which will provide you with an abundance of info on a number of topics regarding wines and grapes.
Nonchefnick, when buying seafood, particularly fish, is it a real issue when you can't find the fresh kind? (Beverly E., Reno, NV)To be honest with you, most "frozen" fish are flash frozen, meaning that they are frozen very quickly to help lock in the freshness, so buying frozen is really not a problem anymore. If you do buy frozen, I would suggest that you intend on cooking it within a week or so. The sooner frozen is consumed, the fresher it will taste. Don't be fooled by choosing "fresh" over "frozen" and be aware of what to look for. You could be purchasing a fresh fish and it not being as "fresh" as its frozen counterpart. Sight and smell are the two ways of telling how fresh fresh is. When buying whole fish, look for shiny scales and clear eyes. Look for fresh cuts that are not dull in color or that look dry. As far as smell is concerned, fresh should not smell like anything other than the ocean, period. If it smells fishy, it's not that fresh. I recently went shopping at the supermarket to purchase some fresh fish. As I got to the fish department, I could smell fish, you know , that fishy smell? Well, I kept walking and didn't buy any. As far as frozen is concerned, look for discoloration and indication of freezer burn, which tell you the fish wasn't flash frozen as soon as caught. Also, pick up the pack and put it to your nose and if you can smell that fishy smell, ever so slightly, don't buy it. Basically, just remember what to look for and you should have no problems fresh or frozen.
Posted by Dominique Roche