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Picture Perfect MERINGUE

October 23, 1986|JOAN DRAKE | Times Staff Writer

Question: When I make a meringue-topped pie, it always weeps. The liquid collects between the meringue and filling and also soaks into the edge of the crust. What am I doing wrong?

Answer: In their book "Understanding Food" (John Wiley & Sons: 1969), Lendal H. Kotschevar and Margaret McWilliams say this problem can be avoided by carefully beating the meringue until the peaks just barely bend over and then baking the meringue to a golden brown. The tendency to weep can also be reduced by adding half a teaspoon of cornstarch for each egg white. Sift the cornstarch lightly over the meringue just before beating is completed.

The authors also point out that meringues weep less when placed on hot, rather than cold, pie fillings. The hot fillings help cook the lower part of the meringue, which receives only limited oven heat during the brief baking.

Q: Can you tell me if Ben Hur Cyprus Sage is still being sold? If not, is there another spice company distributing Cyprus Sage?

A: The American Spice Trade Assn. tells us the Ben Hur company is no longer in business. Sage from the island of Cyprus has not been recorded on the U.S. import list for some years, so they know of no other American company distributing the product.

Q: I have a pecan tree that's suddenly bearing nuts. A large number of green-covered pecans are falling. How does one process and open them and know if they're eating quality?

A: According to Charles Brown Farms in Littlerock, Calif., the green color indicates the pecans are not yet ripe. The nuts are probably falling because the weather is changing back and forth between warm and cool too quickly.

They recommend gathering and spreading the nuts in a single layer on a concrete or wooden floor. As they dry,the shells should turn black and crack open naturally or with very little effort. This will expose the inner brown shell, which can be opened with a nut cracker, exposing the pecan halves. If the nuts dry properly, they should be good eating quality.

Q: Years ago I purchased a set of Guardian Service pots and pans with glass lids. I need to replace the lids and would like to purchase a few more pieces. You published the address of this company some time ago and I failed to cut it out. Would it be possible to do so again?

A: Guardian Services Cookware is located at 8402 Monroe Ave., Stanton, Calif. The telephone number is (714) 828-0750. They currently have supplies of the lids, but will not have pans until sometime in 1987.

In response to the Sept. 25 You Asked About . . . column on preventing curdling when making cream of tomato soup, Mrs. H. Sims of Camarillo writes: "Add a very small amount of baking soda to the hot tomatoes. They will foam up and the acid will be neutralized; then you may add cold milk and cream without curdling."

Address questions on food preparation to You Asked About . . ., Food Section, The Times, Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles 90053. Personal replies cannot be given.

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