Dateline: April 2, 2005

Here we are in April already. I hope everyone is about over all the sneezing and sniffles that were too common over the long winter. We have a couple of patients with complaints and one with a home remedy for us to try.

John, one of our faithful readers, has sent in a couple of tips on how to add some extra zip to your meals.

I enjoyed reading your article about cabbage recipes. We enjoy cabbage that has been chopped and then steamed in a skillet until it softens up. Then pour off the water and add bacon drippings to fry until it just starts to brown. Eaten hot with vinegar sprinkled over it (from the little skinny bottles of green Tabasco peppers), that's good. I also use the same vinegar when I mix the dressing for coleslaw, and it spices the slaw up. I refill the jars with white vinegar until I use up the peppers. I also use a couple of the little green Tabasco peppers diced and stirred into stovetop stuffing for an unexpected flavor.

Isn't that nice? Thanks so much, John. You have a great name.

Here's a sticky problem from Carol: I'm having problems with meringues. When they cool, the meringue, or lemon pie, becomes very watery. Help!

Hi Carol: Yuk! What a mess. First thing, you want the filling to be hot when you put the meringue on. Spread it all the way to the edges until it touches the crust. Don't leave any gaps or the meringue will shrink away from the crust when it bakes. If that doesn't cure the problem, mix a little cornstarch with your meringue. Dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1/3 cup of water. Heat and stir until it thickens. Let it cool. Beat your egg whites to soft peaks, then slowly add the cornstarch mix and continue to beat until the stiff peaks form. Add the sugar as usual. If that still don't do it, you go to cooked meringue.

No-Weep Cooked Meringue

Combine 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch and water. Bring to light boil and cook until thick. Cool. Beat the egg whites and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar until soft peaks form. Slowly drizzle in the cooked mixture and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.

Let me know how it works out. Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Linda wants to serve some Gorditos: How do you make a good Gordito from scratch? Or if I buy the store bought ones, how do I get them to puff up?

Hi Linda: Here we go.

Cream the shortening or lard until fluffy. Mix in the masa harina, salt and water. Mix well. Form into a ball, wrap with plastic, and let it set about 15 minutes. Divide into 6 equal portions, and form rounds about 1/4 inch thick.

Fry in 1 inch of 375F degree oil. Spoon hot oil on the tops as they cook. This puffs them. When they are puffy and brown, they are done. Cool on paper towels.

Thanks for writing.
Dr. John

Rita needs a Cajun cake recipe: I ate this cake at one of our seafood restaurants and it was so, so good and really moist. The cake is called Cajun Cake, and it is made with pineapple, pecan and coconut icing. Can you give me a list of all the ingredients to make this wonderful cake? Thank you so much.

Hi Rita: Here you go:

Cajun Cake

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease and flour a 9x13-inch pan.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, 1-1/2 cup sugar, salt and baking soda. Add eggs, pineapple and juice. Mix at low speed until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake at 350 degrees F (175C degrees) for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. Have topping ready when cake is done.

To make the Topping: In a saucepan, combine milk, 3/4 cup sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the pecans and coconut. Remove from heat. When cake comes out of the oven, pour on the topping and carefully spread while cake is still hot.

Thanks for writing.
Dr. John