Q: This Christmas, I am responsible for cooking the Christmas ham. I thought that would be a very simple task. However, when I started putting together my list, I realized I had never cooked a ham before. Can you tell me what to buy and how to prepare my Christmas ham? I hope this doesn't sound like a stupid question.
Q. This is the first year that I am responsible for cooking the entire Thanksgiving meal. I plan to use the brining method for the turkey, however, I do have three questions. What are the secrets to making good turkey gravy? As far as the stuffing, I have tried baking it in a covered casserole, but have never gotten satisfactory results. Does baking it in an uncovered casserole result in a dry stuffing? My last question is: What is the best wine to serve with Thanksgiving dinner?
Q: Is there a difference between calamari and squid? My whole family enjoys fried calamari and I was told that they are interchangeable. I use a mixture of egg and bread crumbs, dipping the calamari in egg first, then bread crumbs. Is there another method for crispy calamari?
Q: Some of my family members are not pork eaters. During the holiday season, they prefer turkey ham instead of a regular baked ham. Do you have any ideas on how to make this dish a little more flavorful? I have pre-sliced and baked the turkey ham, adding a sweet glaze, but my glaze recipe is always crappy. Your expertise is greatly needed and appreciated. Thank you!
Q: I would like to stock up on peaches for the winter. Please tell me how I go about freezing them, or is it better to go the preserving jar route? I would also like to know why the yolks always turn dark around the edges every time I hard-boil eggs. They don't look right in a salad; what am I doing wrong?
Q: I have some recipes that call for Cajun seasoning. I also have some recipes that call for Creole seasoning. Is there a difference, or are they interchangeable? Would you please send me recipes so I can make my own spice mixes?
Q. I am looking for any back-to-school lunchbox recipes. My son, 14, and daughter, 11, are not picky eaters, but they would rather have a packed lunch than order lunch at school. We all enjoy your TV show, and I'm sure your recipes would be well received. Many thanks.
Q: I am part of a group of male amateur cooks, and we have a question for you that we couldn't go ask our wives and girlfriends. What is the difference between yams and sweet potatoes? Some group members think they are the same, but I don't agree. There is such a thing as sweet potato pie, but I've never heard of yam pie! We read your articles and follow your TV show, "Flavors of America," so everyone in the group will respect your opinion. Thanks.
Q. I receive many magazines a month with wonderful recipes. These national magazines rarely mention gluten-free recipes. I wanted to say thanks to you because you have provided some gluten-free recipes. I am the parent of a child with celiac disease, so it's nice to see a chef take notice.
Q: I am looking for two salad dressings that involve avocados. First, I want to find a recipe for a good dressing for an avocado salad - not your typical vinaigrette, something that will enhance the flavor of the avocados. The second dressing is one like my mother used to make that had avocados in it. She called it Avocado Goddess Dressing. Other than avocados, I know it also had anchovies, and it was creamy. Thank you for your attention.