Dateline: March 2, 2005

A nice group of people have Marched over to the office and are waiting patiently for answers. Let's get to it.

From Mike: I'm looking for a recipe to make Caribbean Jerk Seasoning. I hope you can help.

Mike: Here's a favorite of mine straight from Jamaica.

Jamaica Jerk Seasoning

Mix all ingredients together. This can be stored, sealed, in freezer for up to six months.

Lacey says: I was recently in South Texas and ate the most amazing thing: Fried Avocados. Have you ever heard of these, and do you have a recipe for them? I would love to be able to make these for a family gathering soon.

Hi Lacey: I would assume the avocados were batter-fried, as that is the only way I've seen them fried. You need a can of warm, flat beer and a cup of flour. Open the beer and let it set on the counter overnight. Mix it with the cup of flour and a little salt until it stops foaming. The batter needs to be about as thick as Latex paint. If it's too thick, there will be too much batter on your avocado. Slice the avocado into the size you desire, dip the pieces in the batter and drop into 375F degree oil. Fry until golden brown, drain on paper towels and keep warm. You can season them further after you take them out of the oil if you like. Try a batch before the company gets there to make sure you have it right. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

T. writes: I love chili powder, but does it have any sodium content? Thanks.

Hi T.: The chili blends or chili mixes that we commonly call "chili powder" all have a lot of salt in them. I don't think the pure ground chile pods have a lot of sodium in them. You might check with someone smarter than me on this subject. I can't find reference to amount of sodium in peppers. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Lonnie wants to know: What is espazito seasoning? Thanks.

Hi Lonnie: Epazote, sometimes known as "Mexican tea," is a pungent herb used in Mexican and Caribbean cooking. Norte Americanos use it mostly in beans as it is supposed to cut down on the amount of gas produced. It's a common weed, and grows all over the place in Texas. Some say it tastes a lot like kerosene. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Herbert asks: A friend of mine would like to know how to cook salmon on a plank of wood. Does the type of wood matter, and what do you oil it with?

Hi Herbert: You use a cedar plank. You have to decide what size you need. It should be about one inch thick. If you are going to cook on a grill, you soak the plank in water overnight. Put a brick on it so it stays underwater. If you are cooking in the oven, the soaking is not needed. Brush your fish with some olive oil before you put it on the plank. On the grill you put the filets on the plank and close the lid. It should cook in 10 to 15 minutes. It flakes easily when done. In the oven, bake the dry plank at about 400F degrees for 10 minutes before putting the fish on. Don't forget the oil. This should cook in about the same time as on the grill. Good luck and thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Kathy in the Wilderness: I recently moved to England, and they do not have Velveeta Cheese here. I'm not sure which cheese to use in a traditional nacho cheese dip. Can you help me? Thanks!

Hi Kathy: I thought England was a civilized country. Nacho cheese dipů If you can get American cheese, use it. If not, a mild Cheddar should do. The process is to melt the cheese and milk or cream together. About two cups of shredded cheese for a cup of milk or cream. Slowly heat the milk in a heavy pot until it is near boiling, and start mixing in the cheese. When you get the consistency you like, add a tad of yellow mustard. Taste to make sure it's the way you like it. That's about all there is to it. You can try other types of cheese. You might even invent something new. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Leo has steak problems: Well, it was warm enough to barbeque for the start of NASCAR. We threw the steaks on the pit, cooked them about 20 minutes on each side at 250, and they were the rubberiest steaks I have ever tasted. What did I do wrong? Thank you.

Hi Leo: Steaks want to be cooked hot and fast. You need a bed of real hot coals. Put the steaks about two inches over the coals. This will sear the outside and seal in the juices. A one-inch thick steak should cook about five minutes per side for medium rare. You have to work on the timing to get the doneness you prefer. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Marvin wonders: I need to know the origin of the peach cobbler.

Hi Marvin: The word "cobbler" (meaning dessert) goes back to the old English word "cobble," which meant rounded, like cobblestones. The surface of the cobbler resembles cobblestones. The peach cobbler came about when the first cobbler maker met the first peach. Who knows where or when? I do not. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John