Dorie Greenspan answered reader questions in a recent online chat
Skim milk can be used in most recipes that call for whole
White chocolate or cinnamon chips are fine substitutes for chocolate
Dorie Greenspan answered reader questions about her column in a recent online chat. Here are edited excerpts from that chat. Unless otherwise noted, recipes with capitalized names are found in our Recipe Finder at washingtonpost.com/ recipes or elsewhere online.
Q: I drink skim milk, so I have to buy milk with fat for some recipes. How much does using skim vs. 1 percent vs. whole milk matter? Some of the recipes I use it for are savory, and some are cakes and other baked goods.
A: I think that you'll be fine using skim milk in most recipes that call for whole. Some recipes, such as custards, do need the extra fat; some are just better with the extra fat - think cream soups. But the majority will be okay.
Q: I am gluten- and dairy-free but would like to try the recipe for Dorie Greenspan's Herb and Scallion Dutch Baby. Do you think that using gluten-free flour, margarine and rice or coconut milk might work?
A: The Dutch baby is a great recipe and also one that lends itself to variation. I'm sure that substituting margarine for butter and a reliable gluten-free flour for all-purpose will be fine. I think the rice or coconut milk would be fine as well.
Q: I made your World Peace Cookies recipe from your book "Baking: From My Home to Yours" for co-workers, who loved them. I thought the texture was a bit grainy, which I didn't mind, but I wonder if I didn't beat the sugars with the butter for the right amount of time? Or is that texture fairly typical?
A: At its heart, the cookie is a sablé, a French shortbread. Sablé translates from the French to "sandy," so, yes, the graininess is an inherent part of the cookie.
Q: A few weeks back, I asked for good cookie recipes to mail. You suggested blondies, but all of the recipes I can find include chocolate, which neither of my nephews will eat. Could I substitute white chocolate or cinnamon chips?
And other than snickerdoodles, what other kinds of cookies can you recommend? I will be baking some oatmeal, raisin and even chocolate chip cookies (so they can share with others), but I'm otherwise stumped.
A: Whenever the chocolate or nuts or dried fruits are add-ins, you can skip them or find substitutes for them without changing the balance of the recipe. So, yes, white chocolate or cinnamon chips would be fine substitutes for the chocolate.
In addition to the great selection you've chosen, think about shortbread, peanut butter or sugar cookies.
Q: My mom and I love to cook. For her birthday, I'd like to surprise her with a cookbook that we can then use to make something for dinner together. Can you recommend a book? We're headed to Normandy in June, so maybe something French. We already have (and love) your book "Around My French Table," so we're looking for something else to try.
A: How about looking at books by David Lebovitz, Mimi Thorisson, Susan Hermann Loomis and Patricia Wells, all great cooks who live in France?
Q: Do you know of a peanut butter cookie recipe that makes big, chewy cookies more reminiscent of a chocolate chip cookie in texture, rather than the typical peanut butter cookie with the crisscross fork design? I've tried a couple I've found online without much luck.
A: Try taking your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and adding some peanut butter to it. If the recipe has, say, two sticks of butter, start with 1/2 cup of peanut butter. You might want more, but I'd go lighter for a first try.
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