Questions from Readers: Can this (insert noun) be saved?

Gentle readers, if you haven’t noticed, the Practical Cook is a fan of the advice columns of old. From Miss Manners to Dear Abby to LHJ, she devoured and enjoyed them. And now, thanks to the internet, the Practical Cook can follow in those hallowed footsteps. Here are 3 reader questions, complete with spiffy monikers, just like when newspapers and magazines were printed.


Dear Practical Cook,
So today, I made “easy applesauce muffins.” They are really, really easy. I cut the butter by two tablespoons to see if they would taste the same, and they do—except now they stick to the paper wrapping and leave much of themselves behind. Do you think I should add back the butter? Spraying Pam on paper baking cups seems ridiculous. 


Cool the muffins in the tin for a few minutes.

Cool the muffins in the tin for a few minutes.

Dear Perplexed,
First, I would suggest sharing the recipe with me because I do adore an easy muffin (see All-Purpose Blueberry Muffins and Raisin Bran Muffins). But that solves my problem more than yours. There are three ways to approach this problem:

1. Don’t use paper liners at all, just spray the muffin tin. I’ve done this before with stickier recipes with great success.
2. Use foil liners. These are also better for the sticky.
3. Let the muffins sit in the tin for a few minutes, then let cool on a rack before you attempt to peel them. Even when I cut the fat in a muffin recipe, this seems to be the key, a bit of time. Cooling off yields more muffin in mouth than on liner.

Good luck, and send us a picture (and, er, a muffin),
The Practical Cook


Dear Practical Cook,
I just made your Salmon Cakes, using dried bread crumbs, and they kept falling apart! The crumbs were delicious, but I’d like a whole cake. What’s your prescription for success?

Doctor Particular

Crispy Salmon Cakes

Crispy Salmon Cakes

What’s up Doc?
Oh, I’ve waited years to say that. First, make sure that you’re adding enough moisture for the dried bread crumbs. The ratios should work, but feel free to add a bit more moisture if you have exceptionally thirsty crumbs: a smidge more mayo and mustard, even an additional egg if you’d like. Second, this is a hands-on food. You’ll need to press the cakes together and give them a chance to set. Third, size matters. If you make them as thin as pancakes, you’ll have trouble flipping them.

Keep up the practice!
The Practical Cook


Dear Practical Cook,
Help! I’m making the Rustic Chard Tart, and I don’t know if I can eat the stems of the chard. Do I chop or discard? Call back fast, I’m making it now.

Blended Familia

Hello, My Beautiful Tart!

Hello, My Beautiful Tart!

Dear BF,
Great question! Chard stems (especially rainbow) are beautiful and delicious. Chop and discard just an inch or so, and then dice the rest into bite-sized pieces and continue with the recipe.

The Practical Cook (exchange via vmail)


Thanks for the great questions, keep them coming! Do you have a question? Pose it here or send a Tweet. You could earn a nickname and an answer in a future edition of Questions from Readers!

Send your successes, questions, and confessions to practical cook at gmail dot com. Connect on Facebook: The Practical Cook Blog. (Like, like, like! Press “like” on Facebook today! Thank to everyone for helping to earn our very own name:

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On deck tomorrow, Extremely Practical Slaw, or Punting! with Cabbage.

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