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Ask Carb Diva: Questions & Answers About Foods, Recipes, and Cooking, #52

Linda explores food facts, folklore, and fabulous recipes one ingredient at a time.


Fifty-Two Weeks Ago

I took the advice of my dear friend (you know her as Flourish Anyway, the lady with a playlist for every occasion) and turned a one-time article into a weekly series. I'm so glad I gave this a try because it has been so much fun. I don't know about you, but I've learned so much in the past 52 weeks.

Happy Anniversary!


I don't plan on stopping, and I hope that you don't either. Let's look at what came into the mailbox this past week, OK?

What is a Kitchen Queen?

Last week I mentioned that I have a "kitchen queen" and that raised a few questions. "What the heck is a kitchen queen?" Well, here's a photograph and explanation:


The kitchen queen (also known as a Hoosier cabinet) was popular during the period 1890 to 1930. This efficiency cupboard on wheels (casters) served as both storage and workstation at a time when most kitchens did not have built-in cabinets.

There is storage space for mixing bowls and equipment, a spice rack, bread drawer, a sugar bottle and even a flour bin with a built-in sifter. I bought mine about 38 years ago when the seller had no clue how prized they would be (honestly, I didn't either). My $200 investment is now worth more than $1,300, but I wouldn't sell it at any cost.

How to Cook Pork Belly

Once when I was at my mother-in-law's house she made belly pork (teats and all!). This was roasted on top of stuffing. At the time I didn't ask her about cooking it, and sadly she is no longer with us. Any ideas about cooking time or hints to recreate this.


Mary, to answer your question I went to the Olive Magazine, a U.K. publication. Olive is a monthly food periodical published by Immediate Media Co. and features recipes, restaurant reviews and food-focused travel.

They provided this recipe for pork belly simmered in milk. I recognize that this isn't exactly what your mother-in-law served, but if you are looking for a method to create perfectly tender pork belly, this is your ticket.


  • 1 pork belly about 1.5kg (3 1/4 pounds), skin scored
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 750 ml (3 cups) whole milk
  • 6 bay leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika


  1. Heat the oven to 465F/240C/fan 220C/gas 9. Season the pork all over with salt and pepper and put it in a medium-sized roasting tin or shallow casserole dish. You want the pork to have a little space all around (about 6-8cm) but not too much or when you add the milk it won’t cover the meat enough to gently poach it.
  2. Slide the pork into the oven and roast it for 40 minutes until the skin has started to crisp nicely. Cook for another 10 minutes if the skin hasn’t started to crisp. Remove from the oven, and reduce the temperature to 300F/150C/fan 130C/gas 2.
  3. Gently pour the milk around the pork–it should come well up the sides of the meat but not go over the top of the skin. Tuck in the bay leaves and garlic cloves and sprinkle in the paprika, seasoning with a little more salt and pepper. Put the pork back in the oven and cook for 2 hours. The milk should be pretty much absorbed and the pork fall-apart tender.
  4. To serve, cut the pork into thick slices

How To Use Up Masa Flour

A while back I needed some masa for a recipe and couldn't find a small bag. I ended up buying 5 pounds! Now, I can use 1/2 cup of it for this (albondigas) soup. Which poses another question: What else can I make with masa flour that's easy yet tasty?

easy-peasy tamale dough

easy-peasy tamale dough

Shauna, have you ever eaten tamales? I think they are absolutely Heavenly, but making them is an (almost) all day process. You have to cook the filling, make the sauce, prepare the tamale dough, soak the corn husks, and then begin the assembly-line of smearing dough on one half of a husk, dab in the filling, cover with more dough, roll, and tie (again, and again, and again).

Scroll to Continue

There is another way. If you can talk yourself into believing that tamales don't have to be enclosed in a corn husk, here's an easier recipe:

Tamale Dough Ingredients

  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 2 cups warm chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

Instructions for Tamale Dough

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Stir together until well combined and the dough is soft. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.

Tamale Filling Ingredients

Assemble Individual Tamale Ramekins

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Bring a teakettle of water to boil and set aside.
  3. Spray 4 individual (1-cup size) ramekins with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Press one-half of the tamale dough onto the bottom and up the sides of the ramekins.
  5. Fill with shredded meat. Spoon a generous amount of enchilada sauce on top.
  6. Cover with remaining tamale dough. I find it easier to dab on small amounts with a spoon and then spread them to cover the filling completely.
  7. Place ramekins in a large roasting pan or cake pan (mine fit perfectly in a 13x9-inch cake pan). Pour boiling water into the pan to create a water bath. The water should be a depth of about 1 inch.
  8. Cover pan with foil (seal tightly) and then carefully place in preheated oven. Bake (steam) for one hour.

Want a few more ideas?

  • You can use masa to make cornbread. They are tender, and (I think) not quite as gritty as cornmeal muffins.
  • Blueberry-masa pancakes. Sweet, nutty flavor, gluten free.

Best Ways to Cook Salmon

I've never made fish much but my husband loves salmon. What's the best way to prepare it?


Flourish, to answer your question, I borrowed a page from my book. This is my husband's favorite recipe for salmon:

"My recipe collection contains dozens of dishes lovingly prepared by my mother. But to be honest mom was not an adventurous cook. Simple meat and potatoes and "normal" vegetables were served in our dining room. It wasn’t until I moved away from home that I discovered the wonders of seafood, couscous, mushrooms, and a wealth of vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts to name a few). Once I broke away from the meat-and-potatoes framework, I started to really enjoy cooking; my new-found enthusiasm made me eager to share my experience with others. So I began to submit my "creations" to monthly magazines (Sunset, Cooking Light, and Better Homes and Gardens were a few) and to enter cooking contests.

"This recipe was a winner in one of those cooking contests and my break away from meat and potatoes dishes. The theme of the competition was to create a dish featuring local ingredients. Since I live in the Pacific Northwest salmon and hazelnuts were an obvious choice—both signatures of our region. You might think that mayonnaise is an odd partner with cooked salmon, but it keeps the flesh moist. The combination of citrus (lemon) with fish is as routine as peanut butter and jelly, so orange marmalade and zest seemed a natural addition. Hazelnuts provide a contrasting crunch. And this dish wouldn’t be the same without the color and tangy taste of dried cranberries."

Hazelnut-Crusted Salmon with Dried Cranberries


  • 1 pound salmon fillet, cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 1/2 cup low-fat or fat-free mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, rough chopped
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2) Place salmon pieces on baking sheet, skin-side down. Stir together mayonnaise and marmalade and spread equal amounts on each piece of salmon. Top with hazelnuts, Panko, and dried cranberries. Sprinkle on tarragon, zest, salt, and pepper. Bake in preheated oven 12-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork

Alphabet Soup


In 1995 Marjorie Druker was finally able to live a long-sought dream and opened the first "New England Soup Factory" in Brookline, Massachusetts. It was so successful that three years later she and her husband opened a second establishment in nearby Newton. Since then they have served thousands of customers and have been recognized in Restaurants & Institutions magazine, Nation's Restaurant News, Restaurant & Business magazine, and even Newsweek.

In 2007 she shared her passion, and her recipes, in the New England Soup Factory Cookbook. This recipe is from her book.

Beef and Barley Soup


  • 3 pounds stew beef, cut into bite-size pieces
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 12 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • ½ pound pearl barley
  • 1 cup Burgundy wine
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 8 cups beef stock
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Place the beef, vinegar, water, and salt in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 1 ½ hours. Drain and reserve.
  2. Rinse out stockpot and return to medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, and carrots. Sauté for 7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the cooked beef, barley, wine, tomato paste, stock, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring every 15 minutes, for 1 ¼ hours.
  4. Remove from heat and add the Worcestershire sauce, parsley, salt, and pepper. Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.

I'm so glad that you stopped by today. If you have a question, please feel free to leave it in the comments below, or you can contact me via email at

See you next Monday!

© 2018 Linda Lum


Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 02, 2018:

Eric, you have warmed this old lady's heart. Thank you so much my friend.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on October 02, 2018:

Linda I sure remember when you decided to do this series. Looking back I felt the same as today. You Rock Lady.

My test for writing is quite simple. Does it enrich me?

Never a doubt if Linda wrote it.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 02, 2018:

Audrey, I truly enjoy writing this. As long as there are questions, I will keep this going, I promise.

Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on October 01, 2018:

These mouth-watering recipes make me want to dash into the kitchen, put on my apron, and start using my pots and pans. Beautiful photos!

I'm beyond thrilled that you started this series. I've learned so much and eager for the next 100!

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 01, 2018:

You can also check in the seafood section of your grocery store, or your local fish market.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2018:

I'm going out today and will swing by BedBathandBeyond and see if they have one in stock. Otherwise, Amazon here I come.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 01, 2018:

Santa might need to come early to me. Which reminds me, did you order your shrimp tool?

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2018:

Shauna, I love mine. I have a set of French white, smaller ceramics in sage green, and teeny tiny ones that are ridiculously cute.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on October 01, 2018:

Linda, I absolutely love tamales! Funny tho, I very rarely see them on the menu in Mexican restaurants here in Florida. I'll take a tamale over an enchilada any day!

Now, I have something else to buy for my kitchen: ramekins. Can you believe I don't have any???

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2018:

Mary, I remembered that tough meats are an issue where you lived so hoped that the pork belly recipe I found would be the ticket. Thanks for stopping by.

Mary Wickison from USA on October 01, 2018:

I didn't know it was FlourishAnyway who suggested the Q & A but I'm glad she did. It has been a year of interesting articles.

The belly pork idea sounds great and I never would have thought of poaching it. That may be just the ticket for our tough meat here.

Love that kitchen queen, it looks so useful.

The beef and barley soup would be a hit here, I'm sure.

Great stuff.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2018:

Good morning Bill. I have every intention of keeping this thing going as long as I have questions to answer. It's out of my hands.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2018:

Pamela, you are most welcome. By the way, don't tell anyone, but 34 years ago I was using that kitchen queen as a baby changing table. It has served me well over the years.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2018:

Rinita, my daughter and I made the "shortcut" version of tamales just a few days ago. Putting the dough and filling into individual ramekins is the way to go.

I hope you have a wonderful day.

Linda Lum (author) from Washington State, USA on October 01, 2018:

Good morning Flourish, and thank you. Without your advice and encouragement I would not have traveled down this path. It's probably the thing I enjoy doing most each week.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 01, 2018:

One year? Amazing! Congratulations, dear friend. It has been a very enjoyable and informative journey. Let's do it for another 52, shall we?

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 01, 2018:

I like beef and barley soup, and your recipe sounds great. The salmon also looks wonderful. Thanks for some new recipes and I love the kitchen queen. It is so practical for organization and cooking. I wouldn't sell it either!

Rinita Sen on October 01, 2018:

A very happy anniversary to the dear little mailbag series! So happy to have learned and shared so much. Delicious mailbag today. Loved the tamale recipe. Maybe I will drop by when Shauna makes it, because all day cooking is definitely not for me *laughs*.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 30, 2018:

Congratulations on one year of this wonderful little series! You are a treasure full of answers and this is a fun column to read. Thank you for the salmon recipe. I will try it on my husband. Also, I didn’t know the name “kitchen queen” but lo and behold that’s one of the furniture items I have from my great grandmother. I store cat food in it now. She loved cats like I do so I know she would approve. Here’s to another successful year of this series!

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