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Frequently Asked Questions about Side Dishes
Every day, the Allrecipes staff answer lots of email from cooks like you in the Allrecipes community. For a glimpse of this dynamic exchange of ideas and tips, and for answers to questions about food that you may have had yourself, please have a look at this FAQ! You can also browse all the articles about Side Dishes in our Cooking Basics section!

If you still have questions, take a look at the FAQ for another cookbook, or read our Allrecipes FAQ for tips on using this website.

Q. What is the difference between a garlic bulb and clove of garlic? What is the best way to chop fresh garlic?

A. The edible bulb or "head" grows beneath the ground. This bulb is made up of sections called cloves, each encased in its own parchment-like membrane. We have photo-filled, step-by-step tutorials about peeling garlic and chopping garlic in our Cooking Basics section.

Q. What does the term "sauté" mean?

A. To sauté is to cook food quickly in a small amount of oil in a skillet or sauté pan over direct heat. More definitions for cooking terms can be found in the Allrecipes Encyclopedia.

Q. How do I make homemade chicken stock?

A. There are actually many options for making homemade chicken stock -- your choices are limited only by the contents of your vegetable crisper, your leftovers, and your imagination. Keep in mind that stock provides a background to soup, so the ingredients you choose should be supportive, not overwhelming. Our photo-filled tutorial, Making Chicken Stock, provides step-by-step instructions for producing a good, basic chicken stock. Once you've got the basics down, feel free to experiment!

Q. What is the trick to making lump-free gravy?

A. Gravy becomes lumpy when flour particles get stuck together. This can be avoided by cooking together equal parts of flour with a fat, such as clarified butter, vegetable oil or grease. This mixture is known as a roux and serves as a thickener for gravy. As a general rule of thumb, 1/2 cup of roux will thicken 4 cups of gravy. Any type of liquid can be added to a roux to make gravy.

More gravy making tips can be found in our Cooking Basics article, No Guts... No Gravy. Take a peek at our other side dish articles for even more recipes, meal ideas and cooking advice.

Q. What is the best way to mash potatoes?

A. The best thing to use is a potato ricer, and the next best thing is a food mill. These two gadgets work so well because the potatoes achieve a uniform texture as they pass through evenly sized holes, and they get smashed only once. With these methods, the potatoes' cell walls are much less likely to break open, and the texture will remain light, fluffy and creamy.

Our Cooking Basics article, Matchless Mashed Potatoes provides additional tips for making mashed potatoes.

Q. How do I roast hazelnuts?

A. You can roast hazelnuts like you would any other nut: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Remove the shells of the nuts if this has not already been done, and arrange the shelled nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast until the nuts begin to turn a golden brown, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Q. I often find myself adjusting recipes in order to make enough for my family, but it doesn't quite work for some recipes. Do you have any advice for me?

A. Changing recipes in order to make more or less servings is called "recipe scaling." Whenever you alter the amounts of ingredients for a given recipe, you may also need to adjust the cooking temperature, cooking time, pan size and seasonings. But for food chemistry reasons, recipe scaling simply does not work well for some dishes: delicate foods such as soufflés, baked items requiring yeast such as breads, and recipes for a single large item that is meant to be later divided into smaller portions such as cakes, pies, breads and whole turkey.

Our Recipe Scaling Page will give you a reliable framework for successful recipe scaling: It offers detailed guidelines for recipe scaling and easy instructions for using the handy recipe scaling tool on our site. You can always find this tool and a link to our recipe scaling tips from any recipe at



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