Dear Barbara: What does it mean to deconstruct a recipe?
— Lynn from Lodi
Dear Lynn: When you build something, maybe a special dish, you would be constructing. So if you deconstruct a dish, you are separating the ingredients either to serve it separated into parts, or to build a new dish from the same ingredients. Just remember that the whole is a sum of its parts and it doesn’t really matter how they are served just as long as it is delicious and the presentation is beautiful.
Dear Barbara: I’m making a dish tomorrow that seems to have a lot of eggs in it, but very few whites. Can I save the whites for something else, like a meringue or egg white omelet? If so, how would I store them? Do I freeze them and then thaw? How do I know how many eggs those whites came from ?
— Jewel from Lockeford
Dear Jewel: Let’s take one question at a time.
Yes, you can save the egg whites for future use. The easiest way to save them is to freeze them. A silicone ice cube tray would work best. Start by cracking one egg and let the whites fall into a small bowl. Then pour the whites of each egg into one ice cube holder. Never put the whites all in one bowl. A speck of yolk or shell could ruin the whole bowl. When they are frozen solid (overnight), you can pop them into a freezer bag. Now you know that each cube is one egg.
When you are ready to defrost the egg whites, be sure that you put them in a covered bowl and thaw them in the refrigerator. If you are making a meringue, you will get the most volume if you bring the whites to room temperature and use a copper bowl to beat them in.
Dear Barbara: I would like to know if all canned hams are cooked. Thank you.
— Kim from Lodi
Dear Kim: The label will tell you if you need to cook it. Some canned hams don’t have to be refrigerated until they have been opened.
You can freeze leftover ham for up to six months. Cut off what you need and put the rest back in the freezer.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.