What are shallots?
—J.B., Nicholasville, Kentucky
Part of the onion family, shallots have a mild onion-garlic flavor. In place of 3 to 4 shallots, use 1 medium onion plus a pinch of garlic powder or, if you like the taste of garlic, 1 minced garlic clove.
My husband doesn't like onions or garlic. What else can I use to perk up his favorite dishes?
—J.R., Phoenix, Arizona
Herbs are a great alternative to season foods usually flavored with garlic and onions. Try dried thyme in beef or pork dishes, oregano or basil in ground beef casseroles and rosemary with chicken. Go easy the first time—add 1/4 teaspoon at a time and taste before adding more.
Recently, I enjoyed some caramelized onions at a restaurant. I'm wondering how I can make them at home.
—B.C., Leetonia, Ohio
Saute sliced onions in 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil or butter (or 1 tablespoon of each) and 1 teaspoon of sugar per onion. Cook and stir occasionally over low heat for 20-30 minutes or until onions are golden brown and tender.
I like to chop and freeze onions in 1/4-cup amounts. How much does a medium or large onion yield?
—M.B., New Glarus, Wisconsin
A medium onion, chopped, will equal about 1/2 cup; a large onion will yield about 1 cup.
I recently came across a recipe that calls for pickling onions. I have never heard of them and could not find them in the grocery store. What is the difference between pickling onions and regular onions?
—R.R. Keene, Ohio
Pickling onions, sometimes called "boilers," are small, tender white or yellow onions with a mild flavor. They range in size from 1/2 inch to 1 inch in diameter. Their small size and mild flavor sets them apart from the typical yellow onion. Pickling onions can also be used in place of pearl onions or any small, mild-flavored onion called for in recipes.
Pickling onions can often be found during summer and fall in the produce department of grocery stores.