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If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc

January 2, 2011

Happy New Year, boys and girls. Old 2011 has done sprung itself on us. I have been expecting it, so it was not a big surprise. The late 2010 was not all that bad for the doctor. I managed to get my Texas Cooking copy in twelve times. I’m going into my 14th year here at Texas Cooking. And they said it would never last.

Texas cooking is the best style of cooking in the world. It incorporates foods and techniques from all over the world. I guess that's what makes it so popular. There is something for everyone.

Let's get started and see what can be done to help the food fans out there.

Alice has bad onions: Dr John, the onions I have been getting have a sort of black soot on them. What causes this and is it harmful? I always trim it off.
Alice, the soot is a form of black mold that can cause very unpleasant reactions to persons susceptible to it. It has a long scientific name, but all you need to know is to get rid of the onions that have the mold. The mold starts to form when an onion is bruised or otherwise damaged in the trip from the field to the store. It is more common in onions grown in a hot climate. Also, the white onions seem to be more infested with the mold than the yellow onion. I have found that keeping my onions in the vegetable compartment of the icebox works best. As soon as the media finds out about this, they will be issuing dire warnings as to the dangers of a common vegetable. All you have to do is be watchful. If you see an onion with black spots in the pile at the store, more than likely they will all have the mold. Get your onions where you don't find the mold. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John
Jackie wants to make candy: Dr John, I have been studying candy recipes, and I don't understand "soft ball stage". What is this?
Jackie: "Soft ball stage" refers to a test to see if your candy has cooked long enough (or too long). As you know candy is mostly sugar. Sugar is a crystal. The process of making candy is heating sugar to a liquid state where flavorings can be added and then letting the candy crystallize again. The soft ball stage is for medium hard candies like fudge. For fudge you have to cook the mix to 234°F. Not everyone has a candy thermometer to determine the temperature, so you drop about a half teaspoon of the mix into a cup of cold water. If the temperature is right, you can form a soft ball from the test piece with your fingers without it staining the water. The best way to learn the "ball" test is to use a candy thermometer and the water test. That way, you can see how the correct temperature feels in the cold water. After you learn, you don't have to get your thermometer out every time you make candy. You can just use the "soft ball" test. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John
Charlotte wants to know: What is a chipotle? I see chipotle everywhere in the store and in the restaurants. I'm just curious.
Charlotte: A chipotle is a ripe jalapeño pepper that has been smoked. The end product is not exactly dried; it is more like jerky. A lot of people really like the smoky flavor the chipotle gives various dishes. I'm not sure how the commercial chipotle makers prepare their product. It is probably turned in a large drum with smoke applied. The original and traditional method of preparing chipotle involves a pit dug in the ground for the fire and clay pipe to funnel the smoke to the container where the peppers are being cured. This gives a cold smoke rather than a warm smoke. Fair warning: Some of the dried chipotles you can get are very hot. Proceed with caution. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John
Doug is cooking chicken: I am told I should marinate the chicken breasts I'm cooking for a barbecue this weekend. I'm new to cooking, and I don't know where to start with the marinade. What is marinating and how do I do it? We like our chicken really, really hot.
Hey Doug: Mix this up:
  • 1/2 cup oil (vegetable or olive)
  • 1/2 cup thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon or more Tabasco sauce (for the heat; if you want it really, really hot put in a teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper)
Wash your chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. One hour before you get ready to cook, put the chicken and the marinade mix in a zip-lock plastic bag big enough to accommodate it. Squish it around so the marinade gets all over the chicken. Let it set at room temperature for the hour. Remove the chicken and put it on the grill. Save the marinade in a bowl and every time you turn the chicken give it a brushing with the marinade. The marinade tenderizes the meat with the acid from the OJ and adds flavor. In the future you may want to experiment with different spices in the mix. (Editor's Note: Readers should also read John's full article about marinades.] Thanks for writing Dr John

Jackie writes: I was introduced to Taco Soup for the first time and found it delicious. I would like to find a good recipe as I will be visiting family and friends in Colorado soon and would like to dazzle them by making this wonderful soup.
Hi Jackie: Here's an easy one. Enjoy.
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes with juice
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 17-ounce can whole kernel corn with juice
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1 package taco seasoning mix
  • 4 cups water
In a Dutch oven, brown the beef and onion. Drain fat and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for one hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cornbread.

Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

If you have a question for Doctor John, send an email to moc.oohay@nevarkeerc
end article

Traditional Texas Food Articles
By Dr. John, Ph.B.

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