Question: I was wondering if you could tell me how to make a perfect hard-cooked egg. I usually have to guess how to do it and end up with a half-cooked egg anyway.
Answer: According to the American Egg Board, hard cook eggs by placing them in a saucepan with enough cold? tap water to measure at least 1 inch over the tops of eggs. Cover and bring rapidly just to boiling. Turn off the heat and, if necessary, remove the pan from the burner to prevent further boiling.
Let the eggs stand in the hot water 15 minutes for large eggs. Increase or decrease the time by approximately 3 minutes for each size larger of smaller. Cool immediately and thoroughly in cold water so shells are easier to remove and to reduce the likelihood of having dark rings around the yolks.
To remove the shells, crack the eggs by tapping them gently all over. Roll the eggs between hands to loosen the shell, then peel, beginning at the large end. Holding the eggs under running cold water or dipping in a bowl of water will also help ease off the shells.
Q: Reading the Nov. 19 You Asked About . . . column about bottled water brought another question to mind: How long should you keep bottled water once the seal has been broken?
A: The Los Angeles County Health Department conducted a six-week study and found no change in quality of opened bottled water during that period. It should be noted that the top was replaced on the water jug and care was used to prevent contamination from outside sources. So if stored in a clean place with the top on, opened bottled water should last at least six weeks, and probably longer.
Q: There is a way of draining unflavored yogurt so you can substitute it for sour cream or cream cheese. Do you substitute equal amounts of the drained yogurt for the other ingredients?
A: Distributors of the Really Creamy Yogurt Cheese Funnel tell us you substitute an equal weight of drained yogurt for sour cream or cream cheese. In other words, substitute three ounces of drained yogurt for a three-ounce package of cream cheese.
For those unfamiliar with the cheese-making device, the funnel is a four-inch tall plastic cone fitted with a micro-mesh liner. Up to two cups of yogurt may be placed in the funnel and set over a container to drain in the refrigerator. The yogurt may be substituted for sour cream after eight hours, for cream cheese after 24 to 36 hours.
The funnel is available by mail for $9.95 postpaid from Kitchen Arts & Letters, 1435 Lexington Ave., New York, N.Y. 10128.
In response to the Nov. 5 You Asked About . . . column on olive oil, S. Wilson of Los Angeles writes:
"As a fifth-generation Californian whose family has grown olives for hundreds of years, I feel it is my duty to try to correct some of the misinformation about olive oil in general and California olive oil in particular.
" 'Green' olive oil comes from the green state of the fruit and does not come from the first pressing. As the olive ripens it develops a fruity flavor and presses into a golden-colored oil. The greener, extra-virgin oil is currently the fashion food favorite . . . but this is not always so. Some cooks like the fruity flavor of the golden oils. The greener oil has less acidity. It is also more expensive to make, as less oil comes from the green olive than from the ripe, oily fruit."